Off Duty Mom

Thoughts from an exhausted mom who is NEVER really "off duty"

Archive for the tag “babies”

Conversations with my Post-Baby Body Parts

 

This might help.

This might help.

1.  EYES —

Me:  Hey!  Let’s stay up on Friday night and watch Gravity on Blu-Ray.

Eyes:  Sounds great.  We’ll be done with our job by like 8:30, though, right?

Me:  Well, no.  I will need you until the movie is over.

Eyes:  We can’t promise that.

Me:  Come on.  8:30?

Eyes:  We’re already tired of this conversat—-

 

2.  BACK —

Back:  I hurt.

Me:  I know.  I am not gonna tell anyone, though, because they’ll think we’re old.

Back:  But you groan every time you stand up and you sigh ridiculously loudly every time you sit down.  Who do you think we’re fooling?

 

3.  SKIN —

Me:  Discoloration, zits AND wrinkles?

Skin:  Yeah, and the kids’ college funds have made us too poor for surgical solutions.  If only you could exchange sarcasm for collagen…

 

4.  HAIR —

Me:  I am sure glad I had 9 months of prenatal vitamins that made my hair glossy, thick and luxurious.  That was nice while it lasted.

Hair:  It is so fun when we all jump out of your scalp at once and then the poor schmucks we leave behind all start to turn gray!  Good times!

 

And, it just keeps getting worse.

And, it just keeps getting worse.

5.  BOOBS —

Me:  What the hell?!

Boobs:  Hey, look!  We’re still here!  No.  Down here.  Hello?

 

6.  BRAIN —

Me:  Ugh.

Brain:  Totally.  Hey, let’s worry every minute of every day forever now.  I am totes going to make you cry at greeting card commercials and shout like a lunatic when your kid scores his first soccer goal.  Don’t delay the anti-anxiety meds, lady.  Get me the good stuff, too.  I have a lot going on up here.

 

7.  UTERUS —

Me:  I hate periods.

Uterus:  I hate not having a baby in here.  It’s lonely.

Me:  Hey, um, I put two babies into ya.  That was good, right?

Uterus:  Fuck you.  I want more babies.  Give me more babies!  Every month you don’t give me a baby, I’m going to tear down these walls and make your life a living hell.  I am going to make it feel like there is a giant fist inside your gut grabbing and twisting your vital organs like you’re being juiced.

 

8.  KNEES —

Me:  Hey, what the hell?  You guys never hurt before.  Now all of a sudden I can tell when it is about to rain.  What’s up with that?

Knees:  You’re old.  And chubby.  It’s hard to carry you around.  Less chocolate.  More kale.

 

9.  LEGS —

Me:  Wow.  That’s ugly.

Legs:  So’s your face!  Ha!  Ha!

Me:  No, seriously, veins?  They’re everywhere.  I can’t possibly need that many transport lines for my blood.  Can’t we do some rerouting or something?

Legs:  They got doctors for that, you know.

Me:  I know.  But that shit hurts.  Why can’t you all just straighten up and fly right?

Legs:  Why can’t you embrace our newfound blue beauty?

 

This is what we have to look forward to, then?

This is what we have to look forward to, then?

10.  BUTT–

Me:  Holy shit.  I think I could put a can of soda under my ass cheek and hold it there against my thigh.  When did you get so droopy?

Butt:  I started heading South during Baby #1.  You were too busy designing a nursery motif to notice.  Ever hear of Prenatal Yoga?  Come on, now.

Me:  Sorry.

Butt:  You are sorry.  In about three more years you’re going to have to start getting your drawers at Sears.  SEARS!

Me:  Are you sure?

Butt:  And, they won’t be called “panties,” anymore.  They won’t make “panties” in your size.  They will be “underpants.”

Me:  That sounds awful.

Butt:  And, stop having kids.  With your constant expansion and refusal to do Kegels, you’re going to be a fatty who is also, charmingly, incontinent.  Then, you’ll be on to adult diapers.

Me:  That sucks.

Butt:  Yuppers.

If they fit, we should just get them in every color.

If they fit, we should just get them in every color.

11.  FEET —

Me:  Hey, guys.  My shoes hurt.  I don’t ever remember complaining about that before having a coupla babies.  What gives?

Feet:  Oh, so you thought we’d go back to “normal” size after your babies were born?  That’s cute.  Hey, Cankles, that sparkly boutique downtown called and said they had shoes in our size.  You know the place.  They also cater to guys like Larry who stocks lumber at the Home Depot by day, but who by night hosts a cabaret show under the name of Hillary Clit-Ton.  Sure, Larry’s alter ego’s typical footwear choices make Gaga look more like Amy Farrah Fowler, but whatevs.  They have your SIZE.

 

 

body

 

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Babies, boobies, bosses

If you’re expecting, you have probably read What to Expect When You’re Expecting to help you know what you can expect while you’re expecting, except nothing can prepare expectant parents or help them better accept the truth about what happens after the expected baby arrives.

Fo’ real, though.

If you are pregnant right now, you may or may not be joking with others about how “crazy” you are.  You probably have heard of “pregnancy brain” and have lost your car keys a few times.  Your mood swings may either be cute and quirky or fully alarming.  You probably complain about things like swollen feet, missing ankles, blue veins, hemorrhoids, stretch marks, nausea, vomiting, heartburn, heart palpitations, blood sugar, back aches, head aches and an inability to drink alcohol to make you forget all of this nonsense.

If you are pregnant right now, you probably hate skinny people.  You probably lament the fact that no one makes a decent business suit for pregnant women and/or no one makes “maternity shoes” or “maternity bras” for temporary size changes.

Your boobs probably hurt.

You’ve no doubt noticed that maternity clothing is no less expensive than regular clothing (and sometimes is much more expensive) and you HAVE to fucking buy it because you can’t be naked and the Belly Band doesn’t help your pre-pregnancy pants fit over your pregnancy-ass.

If you wore high heels before your pregnancy, you are probably now wondering who the FUCKBALLS invented high heels and what giant ASSHOLE bought so many of them and put them in your closet.  Why doesn’t the Shoe Fairy come bring you some nice, sensible footwear from Lands End?

And, I hate to break it to you…

YOU’RE SCREWED.

With science what it is these days, if you are pregnant, you may not have been screwed, per se, but you are screwed in a more metaphorical and less fun way.

You’re gonna have a BABY.

They make you CRAZY.

You will actually feel like a real lunatic a few weeks after that baby is born.  You may cry for no reason.  You may feel completely incompetent.  You may be completely overwhelmed.  You may be super-duper pissed that your significant other’s life and body were not as completely RUINED by this tiny, beautiful, precious, angelic, life-destroying animal.

You will have nothing that is yours:  not your body, not your clothes, not your space, not your time, not your food, not your one-goddamn-minute-alone-on-the-fucking-toilet-in-silence.  That baby is the boss of you.  He decides when you sleep, what you eat, when you pee, whether you shower, and whether your clothes stay clean or vomit-laden.  He is your warden.  And you love him.  And kinda hate him (or maybe just the situation) soooooooooo much.  And then you feel enormously guilty for the “hate” part and you’ll cry and be certain that you’re the worst parent who ever parented in the whole universe of parents ever.

You will want to say (or even really say out loud and everything) “SHUT THE FUCK UP!” more than one time.

You will meet several “good” moms who have their lives in perfect order and just “love” being a mother and who have no idea what you mean when you say that it is a really hard job.  You will want to murder these women, but please don’t because your boss baby needs you.

Look:  this is going to suck.  Being a parent sucks.  But, people don’t really want you to know that.  And THAT sucks, because when the baby arrives and you realize it all just sucks so much, you will feel like a complete asshole because no one else talks about how much it sucks, so you are left to believe that it only sucks for you which means that you are a bad parent and an even worse person.

But, for all of its suckitude, one day you will realize that you are no longer just treading water.  You’ll be swimming.  And your kids will be able to care for themselves.  And, you’ll not have to change diapers or wipe up sour-milk-vomit or buckle anyone in but yourself when you get in your car.

And, you’ll cry because you will wonder what happened to your beautiful babies and you’ll look back on those days that sucked with such fondness and gratitude and bliss.  And you’ll miss holding a lavender-scented sleeping infant in your arms.

And you’ll have absolutely no desire to do it all over again.

The long, winding path to our family

The December series on fertility issues is, of course, over now.  However, we received this guest-post the other day and felt that it was important to include as well.  Many ODM readers may find this story touching, relevant and hopeful.

Many thanks to guest-poster, JD, for the submission!

We knew we were going to start a family after a year of being married.  We decided to travel to St. Lucia for our one year anniversary and for our two year anniversary we would have our first child.  Next thing we knew, two more years passed, many more destinations were traveled and still we hadn’t gotten pregnant.

We had been trying to get pregnant on our own for about a year when a friend of mine suggested my husband and I should see a fertility specialist and stop wasting time.  I hesitated on seeing a specialist because it’s admitting that there is something wrong and we will end up being that percentage of people that can’t plan when they want to conceive, or better yet, get pregnant when they aren’t even trying and don’t even want the baby (but we’ll get into that later).

At first it was exciting to being getting all the tests and appointments.  Every time they would tell me what test I had to get done, I would think that this was the one that would finally work.  The first was the test where they blow your tubes out with air to make sure they are opened.  I was told it would be uncomfortable with mild cramping, so I was prepared with my two Advil.  That was a crock of shit because I almost passed out when they were done and everything was already cleared! We tried on our own after that hoping it had worked, but after all the temperature-taking and pissing on sticks, still– nothing.  After two months of Clomid along with IUI with no results, we finally opted for the laparoscopic surgery to see if there is anything inside that is not seen.  There was only a little bit of endometriosis that was found and scraped out.  Even though the doctor told me there wasn’t enough to make a difference with fertility, I was still hopeful that it was enough.  But unfortunately, my hopes were shot down once again.

Besides not knowing if you will ever be able to have kids, the worst part is the emotional roller coaster each month.  I began to wonder what I did wrong and why this is happening to me.  You hear of this stuff happening to others and you always feel bad for them and talk about how hard of a situation it must be for them to deal with, but never do you think it’ll be you.  We didn’t want to tell our family what we were going through as they would want to keep asking for updates.  Others that haven’t gone through this don’t realize how insensitive and hurtful it can be to constantly ask.

Our next step was to continue IUI for 4 months but this time we had to begin hormone injections instead of Clomid.  Of course, insurance covers none of these treatments, so we started having to pull out the plastic and start watching our spending. This brings up a good topic: why insurance won’t cover something that will help someone who would be a good parent and can afford to raise children when it’s outside of my ability.  It’s not my fault that I can’t get pregnant, but others that receive welfare for their children do have the ability to not have kids could keep their fucking legs closed! I hate to get political, but why should I give money from my paycheck to help those that aren’t good parents and keep having kids “by accident” to receive more federal money when there is no one there helping me pay for my fertility treatments?  Why am I penalized for making too much money and having a uterus that is the black widow?  It doesn’t seem fair, but that’s life I guess….

After giving myself shots in the stomach each night for about 13 days, my husband would come to the office at 7 am to watch his porn and do his business in a cup. I would then come in a few hours later to have his washed sperm shot into my uterus hoping it would find those few mature eggs.  But of course, after 4 months of this, no baby!!  Our doctor then advised us to start looking into IVF with this being an unexplained infertility.  We set our consult appointment for a clinic in Maryland and compiled our list of questions with cost being at the top of the list.  We decided to pay more money for their Shared Risk plan which gives you 100% of the money you paid back if you don’t have a baby after six tries.

So I began doing 2-3 shots in my stomach each night for about two weeks in hopes our first shot at IVF would work.  The shots are painful but I kept telling myself it was temporary.  After constant ultrasounds, the last thing I want to do is have sex!  What’s the point?  You have doctors doing this for you.  It wouldn’t have been so bad if we didn’t have to drive to Maryland 5 times during this cycle, but again, just kept hoping it would work and we wouldn’t have to do this anymore.  They ended up taking 15 mature eggs and out of that only two were of the quality we needed.  We implanted one embryo and were able to freeze the other for a later time.

Luckily, I found out that our one embryo took and I’m pregnant!!  I formed OHSS due to all the medications I was taking which has been miserable.  My ovaries are enormous and my stomach got so big after only 4 weeks of being pregnant that I looked like I was 5 months pregnant!  It’s been painful, but now that I’m eight weeks pregnant the pain has subsided a little.  I still have to take Estrace and Endometrin which isn’t fun, but I have only two more weeks and then I can start enjoying the journey of pregnancy.

From all of this, I have realized that you have to have faith that there is a master plan and everything will work itself out.  You may not realize it now but someday you will look back and realize whatever is meant to be, will be (with a little help and a lot of money!)  At times you feel alone and like it’ll never end but it eventually does.  At the end of the day, it’s not the worst thing that could happen to you.  Give it time (and again, lots of money) and your dreams will eventually come true!

Last call, y’all

Tomorrow is the deadline to submit a post for our December fertility series.

Please remember that you may remain anonymous if you wish, but these stories-your stories- are important to tell. So many of us have been through struggles with infertility, miscarriage, pregnancy illnesses, birth issues, testing, sterility and a host if other issues related to the process of conception.

I am still hoping to add a few more stories to this series. It would be particularly important to hear from those of you still in this fight, and/or from the men impacted by these issues since these stories are less common to read about. Many of us don’t speak up until after we’ve found peace. Many men don’t talk about their roles in these fights at all, but for men these battles are no less painful to endure.

Please share your thoughts.

Send us a message through our Facebook page or via the Guest Posting page here.

Happy holidays. Thanks for considering working with us!

“All the World’s a Stage” (and my kids will probably try to set it on fire)

I refer sometimes to my older son as The Destroyer of Worlds.  Before having children, I had no idea how quickly a home could start to resemble something out of a documentary about Sarajevo.

The baby is now joining in.  His big brother is teaching him about how fun it is to throw all of the couch cushions on the floor and climb Mount Ultrasuede.  There are a few things I’d hoped my elder son would teach his sibling.  How to turn the living room into the set of Saving Private Ryan was not on that list.

Is this the living room? Has anyone seen the remote? Or my shoes? Or the dog?
(Special thanks to http://www.cinemotions.com for the image from “Saving Private Ryan.”)

Years ago, I listened to my husband recap stories about how, when he was a boy, his friend and he would put bottle rockets into PVC pipe, hoist the pipe onto their shoulders and launch explosives out one end.  At each other.

I used to think it was all very funny.

I am not laughing anymore.

And, recently, my mother asked me what my plans were for the kids for the summer.  Would we be sending the preschooler to theater camp?  Would the boys try gymnastics classes?  Might the baby like “Mommy and Me Yoga”?  Anyone up for summer classes at the local community center?

No.  No, indeed, I’d not be releasing my two tornadoes upon unsuspecting Art Camp counselors or Nature Walk leaders.

We have the most amazing nanny.  Truly, we adore her.  She’s been a fabulous addition to our family.  But, even she looked like my children (who she loves) were going to send her to the nearest clock tower where she’d happily put herself out of the misery caused by my little monsters by hurling herself to her own welcome demise on the pavement below the other day.  I have no illusions about my kids being easily handled by untrained 18-year olds working at YMCA swim camp for summer break.

My boys are beautiful, loving, sweet, fiercely independent, smart, creative and athletic.  I didn’t know it was possible to love anyone or anything this much.

All of those amazing qualities have their dark sides, though.

Beautiful children sometimes know that their cuteness gets them stuff.  Loving children can learn that withholding their love can be a great manipulation tool.  Sweet children don’t always understand why Mommy isn’t sweet to them all the time; they don’t always understand why Mommy has rules such as “Don’t run in the street even though it might seem so fun” that make her seem so mean.  Fiercely independent children may be born leaders who will not be victims of peer pressure, but they also don’t really listen to their parents, either.  Smart kids can learn more than how to read at age 3:  they can learn how to push your buttons, too.    Creative kids can believe that your walls are the perfect canvas for their work.  Athletic kids will be fit, active and happy…and hard to catch.

So, indeed, raising my little men is an enormous job.  I have tons of help and I have no idea how so many women do it (and do it so well) alone.  But, for now, I will keep the Gymboree teachers, private piano lesson instructors and t-ball camp counselors out of my karass.  They ain’t ready for what my boys bring to the table.

Maybe next year…

 

Three Unexpected Lessons Learned from my Children

Obviously, I knew on some level that my life would be vastly different after having a child.  You know, everyone feels as though it is necessary to tell you that, too, when they find out you’re pregnant.  Yes, my life is going to change.  Got it.  Go away now.  No, you cannot touch my belly.

I realized that my definition of “love” would change and that my concepts of duty and responsibility would shift.

I did not realize that there would be a series of valuable lessons I’d learn from each of my children that would make me a better parent, but that would more surprisingly make me a better version of myself.

1.  SLOW DOWN —

Kids are like therapy, man.  (And they cause a need for therapy, too, but perhaps that is for another blog post…)  Before children, I was always a little anxious.  I even suffered from a rather debilitating panic attack once while at work.  That sucked.  I’d worry about things I couldn’t control.  Well, I still do that, I suppose, but now that I have children, I have learned to take things a bit more slowly.

This weekend, I decided to steal time away from the kids and do some gardening.  I was very pregnant with baby #2 last spring, so my garden was neglected for a year.  There were weeds, branches, dead leaves and even a little trash all over the place.  The old “me” would have done a half-assed job of picking through the entire garden (which is enormous, by the way).  I would have rushed and felt overwhelmed by the fact that the garden is so big and there is such a mess and Oh-My-God-I-Am-Never-Going-To-Be-Done.  I would have been tired after an hour.  This time, though, I took my time and did a really good job on one section of the garden.  I tilled the soil, uprooted old, overgrown plants, potted some unwanted things to share with neighbors, got rid of weeds, threw away trash that the wind had swept into my flowers, cut a clean edge between the lawn and the flower beds.  I only did one section, but I did it right.  And, it looks good.  And, I can go back out the next magical time I have free time and do the same thing on another section.

Because there is no rushing kids, I have learned that slow, deliberate, careful work is the ONLY way to get a job done well.  There is no way to rush a toddler through the bedtime routine just because I know that it is past his bedtime.  If I try to hurry him through brushing his teeth, getting his pajamas on, washing his face, using the potty and reading his book, he’ll have a tantrum or drag his feet or get distracted by the first shiny thing he sees.  Or, he’ll do all of those.  Small children cannot be rushed.  It takes LONGER when you rush a 3-year old.  So, I have learned to slow it down.  It is the only way that anything works.

Yup. That's totally what I'd look like, too, if I went hunting. And, that's the exact outfit I'd wear,

2.  MARKSMANSHIP —

Personally, I am pretty against the use of weapons.  Whatever you do is whatever you do, but I am uncomfortable with the idea of even holding a gun or bow (or Samurai sword?).  But, I am pretty sure that I’d be AWESOME at it if I ever tried.

Have you ever tried to dress a cranky 1-year old?  I have.  Ever tried to feed a tired 8-month old?  I have.  Ever tried to catch a naked and wet 2-year old who is all riled up after his bath?  I have.  Ever tried to put shoes on a 3-year old who Does. Not. Want. To. Go. To. School?  Yup.  I have.

My life is all moving targets now.  The deer of America better hope I never get a sudden urge to learn to love venison.  I’m pretty sure I could successfully spear hunt.  If I can get strained peas into a moving, crying pie-hole the size of a half-dollar with out spillage, I think I can hit something the size of a Toyota Camry with a giant stick.

3.  TEACHING —

I spent four years of my life in college learning how to become a successful teacher.  Actually, that’s a lie.  I spent most of that time drinking beer.  But, most (okay some) of the time I was not drinking beer, I was learning how to become a teacher.  I then spent another three years part-time in graduate school to further my education on education.  And, yet, nothing could prepare me like motherhood did.

I was a teacher for over a decade before I had a child of my own.  I was always pretty sure that I was awesome at teaching.  And, truthfully, I really was.  For reals.

But, when I became a mom, I understood the gravity and importance of working with other people’s babies.  Even though by the time they got to me, those babies were old enough to operate motor vehicles legally, they were all still the babies of other moms.  That means something very different to me now.

I try to listen a little harder, empathize a little more and dial back the sarcasm a bit with the young ‘uns.  My kids have taught me that every story they tell is important to them even if I can’t stand to hear about Thomas the Tank Engine one more time.  He wants to tell about it and it is the most important thing to him at that moment.  If I really hear him and show an interest in Thomas, maybe when he gets to be old enough to be my student, he will still tell me about the things that are important to him in those moments.  I have a feeling that I’ll want to know about those.

And, if I try to remember that every child is someone’s baby, I am able to hear them all a bit better.  And, I can feel for their situations a bit better.  And I can be a bit more aware of how my actions and words impact someone’s day (or life).

What a journey this has been so far.  I’ve learned much in a few short years.  I know that more is yet to come.  I look forward to growing with my children.  And, I feel blessed that the universe has chosen me to share this journey with the two most amazing boys in the world.

Whatchu want? Baby, I got it.

When you are preparing to have a baby, the universe inundates you with an enormous list of items you supposedly need. It is a scam, really. You don’t need even a third of that crap. And there are many tricks, substitutes and sneaky ideas you can employ to save time, money, sanity or all three.

First of all, if your baby will spend his first three months in hot weather, all you need are short-sleeved bodysuits and short-sleeved t-shirts.  They can be plain white, too, because your baby can’t read and he thinks that his clothes are neither cute nor cool.  He will just poop and puke on them, anyway.  You can save a boatload of money by going to your local bulk club warehouse store or discount retailer and buying only these ordinary items for his first several weeks.  The bodysuits are good for daytime as they won’t ride up in the stroller, carseat or crib.  At night, you will save a few precious moments if you use t-shirts as diaper changing will be so easy with nothing to snap, clasp or move in the dark.  If your baby, however, will spend his first three months in cold weather, all you need are footed pajamas.  Save yourself some trouble and get only ones that zip.  Snaps are too obnoxiously annoying at 4 am.  He can sleep, play, eat and scoot around in pajamas all of the time.  And, outfits are cumbersome as they have too many parts you’ll need to keep your baby warm.  You will need a bodysuit, pants, sweatshirt and socks.  Too much.  Just put him in PJs.  They’re sweats and socks, but all together in one piece.  You’re welcome.

Next — you do NOT need a diaper wipe warmer.  Your baby really will not care about the temperature of the wipes.  I promise.  Don’t waste your money.

Okay — here’s a tip:  you don’t need anything before brining home your baby except a car seat and a safe place for the baby to sleep.  The hospital will give you a long-sleeved t-shirt for your baby to wear.  They will even swaddle her in a flannel blanket and give her a hat.  I was even given a small container of baby bath gel, diapers, diaper rash ointment, wipes, formula samples, changing table covers (paper ones), and a comb.  You can’t leave the hospital without a carseat, though, so you do have to get that key item.  Unless, I suppose, you live next door to the hospital, in which case you could probably walk home.  And, you may not need a crib at first, even, as many babies don’t want to sleep in something that vast when they’re very new and small.  You can possibly get away with a bassinet, swing or play yard, as long as it is safe.  Please refer to pediatric guidelines to find out if your device will provide a safe place for your baby to rest.  

 http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/babies-kids/index.htm

http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/category/child.html

Once you get home, you may feel a panic about needing to go out and buy some items you forgot, didn’t know you’d need, or didn’t have time to purchase before your quick delivery.  http://www.diapers.com/ is a nice site and it offers free 2-day (or faster) delivery if you spend enough–  at least $49.  It is not at all hard to spend $49 or more on baby items, either.  A case of diapers will get you close.  And, while we’re on the topic, skip newborn-sized diapers and go straight to size 1.  It’s what the hospital will put on your kid, anyway.  And, if your baby is born big, newborn diapers may not even be appropriate.  Or, if your baby gains weight quickly, newborn diapers may not get you very far.  Whatever sizes or items you choose, Diapers.com can deliver them to you often within 24 hours.  They’ve got everything, too — diapers, wipes, soap, baby bathtubs, clothes, humidifiers, formula, sheets, decorations…  Spending ONLY $49 is more of your problem here.

Now, everyone loves to buy them, but you do not need hooded towels and the cute, matching baby washcloths.  Whatever towels you’re using in your bathroom right now are just fine.  The hoods are unnecessary and the towels are pretty small, so if your baby grows quickly like mine both did, they’ll be too small to wrap around them by about 9 months, anyway.  Baby washcloths are no different than regular washcloths, except for the fact that they’ll be rendered useless after about a year’s worth of use.

And, speaking of unneeded fabric items, baby bedding is an enormous industry scam.  The adorable, expensive 5-piece (plus) sets you can buy can often set you back a few hundred dollars.  Here’s what you need:  a sheet.  Yep.  That’s it.  A sheet.  If you’re trying to make things easier for yourself, though, you’ll get a few sheets and a few sheet protectors.  Layer one sheet, then a protector, then a sheet, then a protector and so on.  As your baby soils or wets a sheet in the middle of the night, just peel off the dirty stuff and there’s a clean sheet underneath.  No wrestling with changing a bed a 3 am.  Blankets, pillows and quilts are cute, but aren’t even allowed to be in your baby’s bed at all due to fears of SIDS.  And, diaper stackers are a frivolous, unnecessary accessory.  Put your diapers in a basket or box.  For no money at all, you can upcycle the box your diapers came in with some Mod Podge, pretty cut or torn paper or cards and ribbon left over from your shower gifts.  You can keep your diapers, wipes, lotions, etc. in that.  And, it is a cute reminder of your celebration with your family and friends.  Or, for less work (I mean, really, did I just recommend decoupaging with a newborn at home?  WTF?), just put your diapers on a shelf or in a drawer already in the room.  Frankly, you may end up finding that changing your baby on the floor is plenty easy, anyway, so you can just set a few diapers in the corner, for crying out loud.  But, please don’t buy a frigging diaper stacker.  YOU DON’T NEED IT.

The list of things you do not need is very long:  medicine droppers (your pharmacy and doctor’s office has these for free), baby brushes (even if he’s got tons of hair, the free comb you can get in the hospital will do you just fine), a mobile (only permitted in a crib for three months due to choking, strangulation and other health concerns once your baby can grab it), stuffed toys (not permitted in cribs due to fears of SIDS and your child won’t be able to hold or play with one for about a year, anyway), nightlights (toddlers and older children will be thankful for them, but your baby doesn’t know to be afraid of the dark and will sleep better if you help her figure out what “night” really is supposed to look like), burp cloths (just get more swaddling blankets and use them interchangeably as burp cloths, too since some of that spit-up will be too plentiful for the tiny burp cloths you will get), baby-specific laundry soap and cleaning solutions (just get dye- and fragrance-free versions of your own detergent.  It’s cheaper.  And use plain vinegar for cleaning your house.  It only smells bad for a minute and it kills germs and keeps your floors shockingly clean).  Wow.  I could name several more, but instead invite other experienced moms to comment here with their suggestions, too.

Soon, I will let you know about some other items that aren’t vital, but will make your life a little easier, to comment on some of the “dos” instead of just all of the “don’ts.”

I welcome your ideas and feedback!

…Or Get Off the Pot

How hard can it be to potty train a three-year old?

If you have to ask, you probably don’t really want to know.  

Yeah... This "potty" stuff doesn't always go as planned, I guess.

DAY 1 — After reading some parenting magazine article about how to potty train a kid in one weekend, I decide to employ the potty training technique where you introduce the potty and then usher the kid to it every 15 minutes without fail.  This is even more gruelling than I thought it would be and I get far less accomplished than I imagined in my wildest dreams.  The 15-minute interval regimen doesn’t even last until lunchtime before it slowly goes to every 20 minutes, then 30.  But, all in all we’re fairly successful and pottying and pleasing Mommy seem to be good motivators.

DAY 5 — Making Mommy happy?  Who gives a shit?  Not my preschooler.  So, we hang a reward poster in the hall and my little guy gets to put a sticker on it every time he successfully gets something – anything – in that potty instead of his pull-up.  Thomas stickers work better than Elmo.  And, Toy Story stickers seem to work best of all.  Whatever.

DAY 10 — If Mommy remembers every hour or two to tell her son to use the potty, he generally will.  But, he will NOT alert her to his need to use said potty.  Fine.  I can hang in there.  How long could this process take?

DAY 14 — After reading another theory about potty training, we decide to repeat a hundred million times each day “Pee goes in the potty,” or “poop goes in the potty.”  We hear that these statements are the only ones you need and the only ones that matter.  Bullshit.

DAY 23 — I read another philosophy of potty training for boys that informs me that they will use a potty “when they are each individually ready.”  I am not to pressure a youngster who is not developmentally prepared for this adult endeavor.  So, I feel like an ass for all the yelling I have been doing when pee and poop have ended up in anywhere but in the toilet.  Clearly, I am the worst mom in America for pushing my three-year old to aim for Froot Loops in the family commode.

DAY 32 — Seriously?  32 days now?  He’ll be wearing diapers at his wedding.  Do I even bother to buy more pull-ups or should I just give up and put diapers on him again?  Ugh.

DAY 36 — We haul out the Toy Story and Thomas-themed big-boy undies.  The hope is that he wouldn’t dare crap all over Buzz Lightyear.  That hope is soon lost.  So is the hope of rearranging my living room couch again.  It…um…should really stay right where it is on top of that carpet.

DAY 65 — We set out for family vacation to the beach.  The new plan coincides with yet another theory published by another genius pediatrician.  Let him be naked.  He won’t just pee all over himself.  Oh yeah? 

DAY 66 — Okay.  So, we decide not to put a pull-up or swim diaper under the swim trunks on vacation.  Pull-ups only at night.  For the most part, this works nicely, but we still have to be vigilant about telling him to use the bathroom.  At least he will hold it until we tell him to go.  But, in all this time he has not once told us that he had to go.

DAY 74 — While running around in his swim trunks, little guy says, “Mommy, I have to poop!”  Victory!  We rush to a toilet and he uses it properly, quickly and efficiently.  We’ve done it!!

DAY 99 — Yeah… It’s day 99.  We most certainly have NOT “done it.”  We’re on our 477,000th package of pull-ups, I am sure. 

Fuck you, mom-whose-kid-that-is-who-pooped-where-you-wanted-him-to.

DAY 100 — On the 12-hour ride home from the beach, the little man refuses to use the potty all day.  We find him at the end of the evening, sitting happily on a completely soaked car booster, watching a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse DVD in the car.  He is drenched from the waist down.  He literally drips when we take him our of the car.  Thank God for leather seats.

DAY 102 — Little guy starts preschool.  Surely the positive peer pressure from other trained kids will make him want to use the potty more regularly himself.  Right?

DAY 109 — Little guy stinks to high heaven when I pick him up from preschool.  The kids still PLAYED with you while you stunk like that?

DAY 114 — I start giving prizes (bribes) for successful pottying and dry/clean pull-ups and I start taking away privileges when the little guy sneaks off to another room to crouch down and poop in his pants.  One conversation goes like this:  “Do you want to play with your fire truck?”  “Yes!!!”  “Okay, then no pooping in your pants.  Do you understand?”  “Understand.”  “Okay.  Good.”  “Mommy?  I pooped.”  “Okay, so you don’t want to play with your fire truck, then?”  “Noooooooo!!! I dooo!!!  I dooo want to play with my fire truuuuuck!!!  I doooooooooooooo!  Aghhhhhh!!!”  “Well, I said that you could play with your fire truck only if you don’t poop in your pants.”  “Aghhhhh!!! Noooo!!!  I dooooooooo!!!  Gimme that!!!  Give it to me right noooooww!!!”  “Well, we can try again tomorrow.  If you stay clean and dry, you can play with it tomorrow.”  You can imagine that this went on for some time.  And, on Day 115, he did not manage to stay clean or dry.  At one point, he peed so much, he soaked through his pull-up and pants, it dripped into his shoes and created a puddle on my hardwood floor.

DAY 129 — This all has spun widly out of control and has become a real power struggle.  As he seeks autonomy, his control of his body is really the only thing in his little world he can much control anymore at all.  So, he flatly refuses now to use the potty.  In fact, “Please go potty and wash your hands” is now typicaly the catalyst for little guy throwing himself on the floor violently, thrashing, screaming and crying.  Advice from other parents has led me to believe that ignoring a tantrum is the best methodology.  But, those parents never met my kid. I think he’s better at it than their kids.

DAY 159 — Consult with little guy’s preschool teacher: a 26-year education veteran who owns her own Montessori preschool that has churned out some of the brightest scholars in our town.  She assures us that his behavior is NOT abnormal, that he’s just testing his boundaries and that no kid goes to high school in diapers unless he has a developmental or medical problem.  So we are to chill the fuck out.

DAY 177 — It is hard to stay chill when I have now cleaned crap out of someone else’s crack for three and a half years now.  And, I have another infant in the house now, so I have two in diapers, essentially, though I specifically waited three years between their births to avoid this very thing.  Awesome.

DAY 185 — I give little guy a new toy for staying dry all night.  He is so excited.  Ten minutes later, he throws it on the floor and screams that he doesn’t want it.  He wants Skarloey, a new train.  Tough break, kid.

DAY 198 — 8:00 AM:  little guy tells dad he has to poop, then uses the potty all on his own to take aforementioned poop.  9:15AM:  little guy pees in his pull-up.  7:30PM:  little guy hides under the dining room table and poops in his pants.  His play date, a sweet little girl (potty trained at age 2) lets me know he “is playing hide-n-seek.  I found him.  He’s under the table.  He pooped.”

DAY 204 — Another article in some other magazine suggests that I should help my little man to recognize when he needs to use the toilet.  Lady, he RECOGNIZES it just fine.  I swear he just wants to piss me off.  You got advice for that? 

DAY 205 — The smell of feces is now permanently lodged in my sinuses.  I will never be poo free.

DAY 210 — That’s today.  You thought this was going to have a happy ending, didn’t you?  You thought I was going to tell you what finally worked and I was going to get to tell you about how all of this was worth it and it has been a long journey, but that I am proud of my son and I am so happy to have been a part of helping him get closer to manhood and closer to the independence he so desperately seeks himself.  Well, you must be new to this blog.  My kid just told me, “I pooped ’cause I was being a bad boy.  Now, come change me.”  Hmmm…  

Three-year olds. Yikes.

Now, if you aren’t a mom, or if you don’t already know, my kid isn’t an indignant little jerkface.  THREE IS JUST THE WORST AGE IMAGINAGBLE.  I used to look at friends’ kids and think “God, why is he such a little shit?”  Now I know.  THEY ALL ARE.  Don’t believe the “terrible twos” hype.  If you’ve never raised a child through three-dom, you simply can’t understand  One day, perhaps the Off Duty Mom blog will change from being a rant-filled, angsty bitchfest and be a rosy dialogue about how beautiful children are.  When they’re 34.

A Mom and Her “Friend”

“I’m a mom of two,” she said today.

“My days and nights don’t end.”

“Now, now…there, there, it can’t be that bad,” offered a “friend.”

“There’s poop and puke, croup and tears

“Then there’s colic, too

“And, why the hell did no one tell me age three’s much worse than two?”

Her friend looked shocked.  “What do you mean?”

She didn’t help at all.

“I just always think being a mom is such a terrific ball!”

“Come on,” she said, “you know it’s hard always being ‘on.’

“There’s never a break – a chance – a breath

“And something’s always wrong.

“Strained peas in hair, temper tantrums, midnight feeds and more

“I’m sad to remember five years ago

“When my life was such a bore.”

“Me, too,” “friend” said. “My childless days were the worst I had!

“Carpools, playdates, chores and more

“Make ME so very glad!”

Reaching in the fridge just then made her smile a bit.

She poured a glass of wine just then

And took just one small sip.

She slid the dirty glass to “friend” and smiled like an elf

Then she kept the rest of the bottle

To finish for herself.

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