Child-spacing for REAL adults! Follow each step precisely to achieve optimal personhood and parenthood.
1. Get married at 26 or some other later responsible age that’s allowed you to sleep around, travel, and work enough to feel like you’ve contributed something to society. Any marriage before this age will end in divorce.
Wait AT LEAST 2 years before even thinking about conceiving your first child. You and your spouse need to take advantage of unbridled, regular sex for at least this amount of time or divorce is imminent!!!! Responsibly take birth control every day to prove that you can handle routine.
Consider the idea of maybe having a baby soon.
Consult with your accountant to ensure that you are financially stable and can afford the burden of a child for the next 18 years.
Set up account for your future child’s college fund. Make deposits regularly.
Examine 401k to ensure a hefty retirement lies in store.
Pass the “Parenting Clearance Exam” administered by your therapist to be notarized at the courthouse in the presence of your in-laws.
If you and your spouse have argued or had any sort of dispute within the last 3 months, your marriage is clearly unstable and unsuitable for raising a child. Visit marriage counseling until receiving the “Certificate of Marital Excellence” before proceeding to the next step.
Calculate carbon footprint for new baby. If the impact on the environment will be too much, consider tubal ligation for the sake of the planet. Any further desire to bear children indicates immaturity and a severe deficiency in character.
Collect all accumulated paperwork indicating preparation for parenthood. Proceed to unprotected sex.
Conceive child after charting ovulation meticulously for months. Each time a cycle is proven to be unsuccessful, shrug with a casual laugh and go do your yoga.
Birth child exactly 40 weeks from the date of your last period. If the child is not here, induce.
Wait at least three years before thinking of conceiving again.
Visit pediatrician to evaluate your current child’s mental, physical, and emotional well-being.
Ask therapist to administer “Parenting Clearance Exam II”. Notarize test at the courthouse in the presence of your in-laws and at least one Facebook acquaintance who has meticulously evaluated your child through Facebook posts and pictures.
Marriage counselor must present “Certificate of Marital Excellence” once again before proceeding.
Any gaps in sex between 6 weeks after your child was born and the present are indicators that you clearly cannot handle any more changes in your marriage. Consider having a tubal ligation or your partner having a vasectomy to avoid imminent divorce.
Consult with accountant to ensure that your retirement is still secure.
Open account for Child #2’s college fund. Make deposits regularly.
CONTINUE EXERCISE REGIMEN. If having your current child has kept you from your exercise regimen, then you are clearly not capable of handling another child. Consider tubal ligation or vasectomy.
Calculate carbon footprint for entire family. If the impact on the environment will be too much, consider tubal ligation for the sake of the planet. Any further desire to bear further children indicates immaturity and a SEVERE deficiency in character
Collect all accumulated paperwork and proceed to unprotected sex.
Conceive child after charting ovulation meticulously for months. Each time a cycle is proven to be unsuccessful, shrug with a casual laugh and go do your yoga.
Birth child exactly 40 weeks from the date of your last period. If the child is not here, induce.
Wait at least three years before thinking of conceiving again.
If you have two children of different genders, promptly schedule tubal ligation or vasectomy. If you have two children of the same gender, recalculate carbon footprint and consult with at least ten, single, childless men under the age of 35 to determine whether a third child should be considered.
Promptly schedule tubal ligation and bask in your selfless character that has single-handedly solved pollution, overpopulation, poverty, and crime. Enjoy perfectly-balanced family and healthy retirement.
While talking to a friend of mine yesterday, she asked if I still had my flip phone and brought up that she thinks that I ought to get my smartphone back so that I can take pictures of my kids whenever I want to.
This friend is quite dear to me, so the response that I gave was “I still have it. Being present and not on my smartphone helps me to remember it better. Damon still has his should we want to take pictures.”
I know that she meant well. But it got me thinking. It’s been a year since I got rid of my smartphone. I still used it as an iPod while at work, but it went through the wash in March, so that option was off the table as well.
Seriously, I don’t miss my smartphone. Here’s why:
People drive hours to see people so that they can all sit on their smartphones together-I hate this so much. It wasn’t until I got rid of my phone that I realized how often people are on theirs. People will drive hours to see family, only to sit on their phones the entire time. Like…why bother getting together if you’re all just going to be on Facebook? Groups of friends just Snapchat other people. Then they scoff at the grandparents who organized the event and spent hours making food for everyone. Any time there is a lull in the conversation, people pull out their phones. It screws up the natural flow of conversation. In-person people are simply too boring to compete with the entirety of human knowledge, stupid opinions, and HILARIOUS Youtube videos…apparently. I hate when I’m with my in-laws and we’re having a great conversation when suddenly, one of Damon’s siblings will utter “OH! I HAVE TO SHOW YOU THIS VIDEO!” The whole family bunches up around a tiny screen, and the whole world has to stop for the 6:19 long video….until somebody goes “OH HAHAHA! GO TO THE NEXT ONE!” Everyone sits (or stands if in the kitchen) in mesmerized silence over the newest Facebook video. I usually just sit there like, “Can we not f*cking do this? I drove over an hour and a half to sit here and watch you watch Youtube videos? Give me a break…”
“Hold on, kids. Mommy isn’t done fighting with Brooke from Detroit over why cloth diapering is stupid!” I hate social media. It used to be that you’d get into dumb arguments over politics or differing lifestyle choices at family gatherings once a year. Now, it’s a nonstop 24/7 war. You can fight with Cindy from Nebraska over why she’s being stupid for not vaccinating her womb squirrels while taking a dump. OHHH WHAT A DAY TO BE ALIVE!!!! You can check out people who you really don’t care that much about’s wedding photos while eating your cereal. How personal. How caring. Judge people’s life choices 24/7!!! Wow!! No, I don’t miss social media. I don’t miss Facebook. I don’t miss seeing the “momtrepreneurs” and their lame attempts to get me to join their new seaweed wrap “business”. Nope nope nope.
Humans evolved to shut off and go the eff to sleep. The end of the day was meant for winding down, finding a safe place to sleep, reconnecting with family, and sleeping. It was not made for browsing Buzzfeed at 3 AM, jerking off to someone’s daughter being violated on-screen, arguing with strangers, etc. etc. Just go to sleep. Refresh! Recuperate! Quit blinding yourself with light 24/7! I sleep much better now that I’m not harassed by notifications, news, blah blah blah blah blah blah, alllllll the time!!
You don’t constantly need to be entertained. Adults complain about kids being on their phones too much, then FREAK OUT when their kids didn’t take their phone with them to the park. Adults talk about the days when they all played outside, then submerge themselves in their phones. You will be okay without Wifi. You will not die if you don’t watch funny videos. You will not die if you’re not constantly being pacified and entertained like a baby. Not having a smartphone taught me patience and the joy of standing in line at the grocery store. Not craving this barrage of funny, funny, funny, oooh! update! funny, funny, ANGRY STATUS, POLITICAL RANT, funny, funny alllllll the time is pretty great. It is okay to just wait and line and talk to people. It is okay to just think while you wait. It’s okay to not have to be constantly distracted from this boring thing called “life”.
Sure…you can read on your phone…after you respond to this text real quick! At risk of sounding pretentious; I like books. I like reading a paperback or hardback copies of a good book. I don’t like reading on my phone. It gives me a headache, and people irritate me with messages or emails or the 823472893057234 other distractions available. The only exception is listening to audiobooks. That’s the ONLY thing that I miss about my smartphone.
Do you actually know how to get anywhere without your phone? I noticed that after I got rid of my phone, I actually had to start learning how to navigate. When people would tell me an address, I used to brush it aside thinking “I’ll just look it up on my phone later…” Now, I actually know where that place is just based on the address. I can navigate places better than before…usually. If not, then I call Damon and have him tell me how to get somewhere. It doesn’t happen very often.
Being able to Google anything at any moment is pretty cool, but…it turns you into a lazy thinker. Being able to look up facts or alternative facts all of the time is a luxury. A lot of people have become so reliant upon Google to just tell them that they can’t think things through for themselves. It’s not like Google knows everything. It’s a search engine. You can pull up whatever you want to hear. If you want to hear one side of an argument, Google will provide you with over ten million arguments for it. Same with the counter argument. Google will not do the thinking for you. And most people don’t know what Google Scholar is. Hint: It’s pretty neat. I use it for all of my research paper. But again, it does not draw conclusions for you.
But what about pictures? Don’t you want to be able to take pictures? Somehow, humans seemed perfectly content with keeping their loved ones locked away in their memories until the last 20 years of mankind’s existence. They were there for it. They remembered it. They wrote stuff down. How often do photos tell the whole story? How often do photos give context? Taking a picture is a lazy memory. We hiked a trail this past weekend. I snapped a few pictures of the kids playing in the water for funsies then put the phone back in the backpack. Being here helps me remember. Being present and remembering all of this feels much better than having some staged photo and interrupting the moment. I don’t want to interrupt the memory because I was too busy trying to get a good angle. I’ll pass….And since everyone else has their phones 24/7, it’s not like I’m really missing any pictures.
I intentionally made it difficult and inconvenient to waste time. If I want to send a text, I have to decide whether I want to individually punch out 160 characters. I can’t just casually hit up a bunch of semi-friends all at the same time. I have to prioritize because I don’t always feel like typing out a text. My phone quits buzzing at around the time that people go to sleep. It’s 100x easier to mess around on your phone than it is a big computer. My actions have to be more deliberate. I can’t just tap on a few things with my thumb and suddenly be reading a random list on how to comb my eyebrows properly. I stick my laptop in a drawer for most of the week. I pull it out when I want to write. I use Damon’s computer when I need to do homework. I shut it off and go back to living my life when I’m done. I don’t live on my phone.
“WHERE’SMYPHONE?! OH SH*T! WHERE’S MY PHONE?!!” Most people nearly burst their capillaries when their phone is missing. Their $900 piece of property is MIA. Their banking information, photos, friends, entire LIVES are on these phones!!! It’s like misplacing your electronic child. I misplace my phone all of the time because I’m not on it all of the time. It’s tiny, black, and cost me $10 at Walmart. If I lose it, I really don’t care. I just have replaceable texts and maybe 25 contacts on there. Literally, nothing else can even fit on that phone. It holds 300 texts. Nobody is going to steal my phone. They’d more likely be all “Who the ef still has these things?” I can watch it clatter to the floor, break into 3 pieces, and not even flinch. It takes ten seconds to reassemble. Try doing that with your iPhone 7. 6? 8? I don’t even know what number Apple has reached anymore.
The whole world doesn’t know my business anymore. Occasionally, I’ll run into someone who I haven’t seen in awhile. The first thing that comes out of their mouth is “Hey! I haven’t seen you on Facebook in forever. Did you get rid of it?” Yes…Thank you for taking the time and effort to see how I’m doing. I’m not bitter about it. You recognize who cares about you when you get rid of your online cheat sheet. I post to my blog because I enjoy writing. People who know and care about me either follow my blog, have my phone number, or see me every day/weekend. They’re not shocked to find out that we moved, I’m pregnant with #3, and my kids magically grew older without the whole of my Facebook friends “liking” every photo. I like keeping my privacy more than I ever liked the likes.
I’m living my life. Not being stressed out over what stupid people are saying, not busily Pinning sh*t that I’ll never make, not reading depressing news stories, and not updating statuses made me a calm, happy person. I have time to read and not be distracted. I finish books now, something that never happened when I had a smartphone. I play with my kids now. I read to them without them competing with the world online. I cook. I garden. I spend time with my husband. I don’t waste my time thinking about some fabulous argument to anti-vaxxers. Okay, I still totally think up arguments against those idiots. I don’t live on my phone. I don’t live online. I don’t watch Youtube all day. I remember. I go places. I live. I don’t need my smartphone to live. You don’t need a smartphone to live.
Yes yes yes, of course. You have excellent self-control. Your smartphone does nothing but enrich your existence. You’re definitely not on it all day. You’re better than me. Congratulations! You’re the exception. Go post about it. Quick! The internet is waiting!
I get it. Especially in Utah, there’s this list of “goals” that people are aiming for; marriage, children, house, blah, blah, etc. Not that this is a bad thing, but especially in Utah culture, we sometimes forget that there’s more to life than getting hitched and having babies.
Anytime I go to an event involving people from high school, they look at me differently. I’m no longer just a peer. It’s like having your boss walk into the room, or your church leader, or someone of “higher ranking”. People ask me about how I’m doing; meaning…how am I handling two kids, school, and life? The answer to this is always the same; mildly drowning, but I’m fine. I feel like I’m hijacking the conversation if I go further. It sounds like someone trying to one-up everyone else. And I hate “mom-jacking”..aka “Oh, you don’t know tired till you’ve had kids!!!!!” or “Boy, you think your life is meaningful now…wait till you have kids!!!!”
Do I say stuff like this to my husband when we’re b*tching about entitled people? Sure. Do I say them to my friends or other people whom I care about? No. I’m not that much of a dick.
Look, tell me about you. I’m serious. I ask you how things are doing, and you say “Just school,” or “Just living the single life”. I know that it might seem like much to you, but I think that it’s awesome. You’re building yourself. You’re educating yourself. You’re figuring out the world. Don’t minimize your accomplishments just because my two womb-squirrels are hanging off of me.
Let me be clear: I do not think you inferior to myselfin any way just because you don’t have womb-squirrels.
Chances are that you’re farther ahead in school than me. You’re on a pathway to a career. And even if you’re not doing either of those, it doesn’t matter! You have choices right now. You can take chances. You can do whatever you can handle!
Can I just tell you what a relief it is to talk to people who don’t have kids?? When I first had Haven, I pretty much only talked to other parents. It was like the equivalent of working at a bank and only ever reading anything about loans, banking, or mortgages. It gets really boring hearing people talk about their babies who are just like other babies. My babies are just like other babies. Sure, they have their own stories or whatever…but babies are pretty much all the same. Besides, we can talk about babies one day when you have babies should you choose to do so. I love hearing about your childless life!!! Really. I do. Even if it’s stuff that is seemingly boring to you. Tell me about your church service mission. I wanna hear about your trips and travels. Tell me about your major and why you picked it. Tell me about your job, boyfriend, girlfriend…both?! Tell me about your friggin life!!
And the sympathy. Ohhhhh the sympathy….
“Well, school is kinda tough because of the dumb kids,” says me.
“Oh wow. I’m struggling with school, but I can’t imagine doing it with two kids!”
Yes. But I’m also just doing school with two kids. I get enough in student grants and loans to not have to work a “real job”. Yes, that also means that I’ll be drowning in debt upon graduation. You have to work. You have to go to a job and deal with a boss. You have to fit that around homework, dating, family life, activities, work, and balancing a boyfriend/girlfriend…..both? Yes, you can take bathroom breaks uninterrupted by children, but I can do my job in my underwear. I’ve worked full-time and gone to school full-time, taking my GPA as a result. You’re doing both. Or maybe just one because you got a scholarship as a result of taking school seriously. You’re living with your parents because you want to save money. You’re crashing on a friend’s couch because living is expensive. You’re taking unpaid internships for experience in that job you’ll love later.
You’re taking chances.
You’re doing great.
I want to hear about it.
Don’t minimize your accomplishments in front of me. It’s not a contest, and I’m not winning. I got married and had babies right out of high school. One day, you’ll have that too, should you decide to do so. The difference is that you’ll be older, more experienced with life, probably have more money, have your education behind you, and not be drowning in student loans.
Tell me about your adventure. I’m tired of hearing myself share mine.
We’re moving on Monday. I’m supposed to be doing homework while Damon drops the kids off at my parent’s.
But I can’t stop crying.
Damon and I have spent the last three days nearly working nonstop, going to bed later than usual. We arrived home from working on our new house to Ty screaming…after Damon accidentally made a loud noise, startling him in my sister’s arms.
I took Ty upstairs and found that he had an awful diaper rash, hence the screaming. After smearing Desitin all over his red rear, I snuggled with him in bed. I thought that he was falling asleep, but soon found him smashing his chubby open mouth over my nose and mouth, giggling as I tried pushing him off. I had Damon come and get him so that I could do homework.
My living room floor is a disaster; covered in smashed crackers, popcorn, and Barbies. My bathroom is a mess with Barbies and baby clothes scattered on the floor. Every room in my house is baby-fied.
But I’m sobbing now. Because my baby is almost 14 months old. My first baby will be three in August. What the hell? Where did the time go?
Most days, I’m grateful for what I have. But today, I’m sobbing because I never want this circus to end. I never want to wake up without my feathery-haired blonde baby next to me. I never want his fat giggle to fade. I never want him to get skinny and grow tall. I want him to stay this way forever. I want my baby forever.
Even though his diapers are terrible smelling. Even though he doesn’t ever listen and throws fits every day. Even though he stands up in his high chair, covered in half-eaten oranges and oatmeal. Even when he’s screaming and doesn’t want to go to sleep. Even though he feels like a sack of potatoes when I carry him around. Even though he plays in the nasty toilet.
I never want this to end, because I just want my baby. I want those slobbery kisses every morning and night. I want someone to cuddle me and smell milky. I want him to stay this way forever, marching around the house with his gut puffed out. I want those chubby feet and thighs. I want it all forever and ever.
They spend the first few years of their life making you fall in love with them hardcore, then they get big and leave. Mother Nature, you cruel beeotch you! This phase is so hard, especially when there’s two of them, and they need stuff 24/7. But I never want it to end. Because once it’s gone, it’s gone forever.
I know that I’ll meet a new little baby in December, but that doesn’t put a damper on this heartache that is watching your baby grow. Ty will never be this little again. I’ll blink, and he’ll be talking. I’ll blink, and he’ll be playing sports. I’ll blink, and he’ll have kids of his own.
Can I just hold my eyes open forever and never blink? Can I never sleep? Can I watch you sleep forever, Ty? I wake up at 3 AM and stare at you. I stare at you for longer than you’ll understand. I open the bathroom door in the morning to see you standing there, hair tousled and fuzzy. I pick you up; you’re heavy and warm. One day, I’ll set you down and never get to pick you up again.
There are two things that I want people to know about my life:
I wouldn’t wish it on anyone else.
I. Love. It.
My third kid is due in December. Haven turns 3 in August. Ty just turned 1. And all three were planned.
“Why would you do that to yourself?!?!!” you wring your hands up in disbelief.
When I told my grandma, who had three kids in three years, her response was “What are you doing?”
Look, I graduated from high school four years ago. Damon and I got married July 26, 2013. It seems that waiting for “the right time” was never a strength for me. We were all “We’re gonna be responsible and wait!”
Then Haven came along.
“Well…haha. We’ll at least wait two years!”
Then Ty arrived when she was 19 months old.
“Oh my hell. Are we ever going to have kids again?”
And #3 is due in December. Why? Because I married a man who makes me want to defy that snarky sophomore girl who had dreams of becoming a CEO at 24. When I see Damon looking all sharp in his church clothes, I seriously just want to stay home, bake turnovers, and have 20 kids. Feminists everywhere are ripping their bras off in anger at my giving in to “the patriarchy”. I do want to work after I get my degree. I love working…
I still have two years till I get my bachelor’s degree. Two more years of living on student loans. Two more years of juggling school with babies.
There’s a huge difference between telling people that you’re expecting your first kid versus expecting your third kid. Everyone is ELATED when you announce the first. Sympathy and offers everywhere. Excitement. And allllllllllllll the advice. ALLLLLL. THE. ADVICE. After all, what do you know?
When you announce your third, which is more of a passing comment like “Oh, we’ve decided to try running this summer,” you’re met with silence. People simply don’t know what to say to you. Or they say the most encouraging thing that they can think of;
“Wow. You guys are getting it out of the way quick, huh?”
“That’s actually a smart idea. You’ll still be young when your kids move out.” (Thank you!)
Damon and I both come from big families. So our families kinda get it. Although, they’d probably, and did, recommend waiting on having more…OH WELL!
Kids are hard. I’m not doing this a third time because I think that it’s easy or fun. I’m typing with Ty nursing away, sprawled over my stomach. He was screaming for a good half hour straight before I finally threw him on the boob. Damon and I haven’t been able to function today because it’s finals week and our kids have been waking up at freakin’ weird times because of it. Seriously. Finals week is hell week. Last semester, Haven had vomiting and diarrhea for the entire week. Last night, Damon didn’t go to bed till 6. Ty woke up at 3 in the morning when I squirmed out of bed to go to the bathroom.
Oh yeah. I have no idea where baby #3 is going to go. I haven’t kicked either of my kids out of our bed yet. We’ll figure it out when we get there.
Most people who I know who have a kid in college have just one. Maybe a handful have two, but they’re either graduating in a semester or already graduated. I’m the only person who I know who is doing this.
Maybe call this a stupid philosophy for living, but the more good things that I can cram into my life, the less time I have for stupid crap. There’s no point in waiting to do more good things when you can do them right now.
And babies really only need 2 things:
A boob to suck on.
Newborns are the easy stage. They sleep, make noises like baby goats, and eat. Aaaaand poop like 8 times a day. But still! It smells like popcorn, not the dumpster behind Cafe Rio. I’ve hardly bought any clothes for either of my kids because we get hand-me-downs and our moms can’t help themselves when they see a cute outfit at Target. ❤
Like I said, I know that this isn’t going to be easy. It’s already reeeeeally friggin hard. But having had two babies without pain medication and sitting by Ty’s side in the NICU for a week, plus everything else that I’ve been through in the last four years…hard things just don’t scare me anymore.
I’m excited to meet my new little person. You have two kids and think that you got the two opposites. But none of my six siblings are anything alike. Out of the 12 from Damon’s side and mine combined, we’re ALL incredibly different. I’m excited to see that new little face. I’m excited to see what makes them different.
Damon and I are tired all of the time. We’re not just jumping for joy throughout all of our challenges. We’re struggling to deal with two people who need us. We’re struggling to make them not need us all of the time. We’re both very human.
But I still wake up every morning thinking “Oh, thank God! It’s all still here!”
The principles of nature still apply. There will come a calm. For a few minutes, I can sit through the eye of the storm. Ty has fallen asleep on the boob. Haven is downstairs chatting with Damon while he cooks chicken for dinner. Things are okay right now.
Gratitude is the easiest things to give God. It also happens to be the ointment for every hardship that I’ve encountered. And even in you don’t believe in God, it seriously does wonders for your day when you can wake up and say,
Maybe I didn’t have the balls to do it. Maybe it just wasn’t the right time. Maybe I felt that it was “too religious” or whatever. But I have to tell it.
Ty turned one on April 12, 2016. I wrote two blog posts about his birth and his first week home. But I didn’t include his time in the NICU. Perhaps I was too tired to write about it, having just spent a week waiting to leave.
A little over a year ago, I was mad at God. Pregnancy made me miserable. I said pissed-off prayers that contained more profanity than I’ll admit. And I just had one question for Him.
“When. Is. This. Baby. Coming?’
If I had a date, I could bear it. If I knew when he’d show up, I could handle it. But not a clue. Just contractions every day. Just misery every day.
The only answer that I received was, “Pack a bag.”
And all was quiet from above.
Pack a bag? Pack a bag?! That was IT!? What kind of bag? Was I going to have a preemie? Packing a hospital bag is waaaay different than packing a birthing center bag. Birthing center bags are only for a few hours. And hospital bags? Well, crap, I didn’t even know what I’d need. I’d never had a baby in the hospital.
Damon and I went to the grocery store. We bought things just in case he was a preemie. We found the remarkably small selection of boy clothes. We bought diapers. Suits. Toiletries. The works. Everything that I thought we might need in the event that Ty was born early.
But he wasn’t.
And I grew more and more angry. What the heck was the point of that “Pack a bag” answer?! To scare me?
Damon and I brought both bags with us the day that he was born. Ty was born when he was supposed to be born. He was term. He turned the right way. I only pushed for 9 minutes. He did everything that was supposed to do.
Except the little guy had fluid in his lungs. His oxygenation wasn’t high enough. I found myself walking out of the birthing center (remarkably easily) and driving to the hospital with the midwife, oxygen tank in the backseat, hooked up to Ty.
I remember what douches the ER staff decided to be to my dear midwife. One particular doctor insulted her credentials to her face. My midwife is an advanced practice nurse; the kind that can write prescriptions like a doctor. I remember being wheeled down the hallway to the NICU.
I remember my baby being hooked up to a plethora of machines, trying to pull off his CPAP mask (blows air up your nose, the little guy was strong). I remember the staff showing us the family support room, aka…room with a shower and a bed. I remember walking into the room, holding both bags.
Then it hit me.
Ty was born in the birthing center, but had to be transferred to the hospital. All of our stuff was packed that we needed for that week. But God had no way of letting me know that earlier. He had no way of saying to me, “Hey. So, he’s going to be born where you’re planning, but due to unforeseen circumstances, he’s going to spend a week at the hospital.” We often think that we’re these all-knowing, super rational people. We’re not. He had no way of telling me.
So, all that He said was, “Pack a bag.”
That week that I spent in the NICU was the most humbling week of my existence. It was almost as if God had me sit in that chair to think about how much I had been questioning Him. It was my time to be grateful.
There were babies there who might have never left; babies born at 24 weeks. Good news for them came in the form of “Your baby doesn’t have any brain bleeds that will kill them today”. There was a mom with a cath bag hobbling down the hallway on her husband’s arm. There were moms with swollen C-section marks, due to work in a few days. Dads wearing their business suits pacing the hallways, having returned to work weeks ago. Moms who didn’t get to hold their babies. For months.
I didn’t get to hold Ty for almost a whole day after he was born. This wasn’t how it was supposed to be. My midwife came and checked my uterus and brought me a heating pad, because post-birth contractions are no joke. She was wonderful.
Haven wasn’t allowed in the NICU. She wasn’t even allowed in the family support room (which I threw a fit about to one of the nurses). Although, one of the nurses was awesome and told me “Go be a mom”. So, I brought Haven into the room with me and gave her some chocolate. We watched the Octonauts and took a nap.
I saw my little girl for maybe two hours a day.
I barely slept for four days. I cried every day. I rushed into the NICU, bawling, telling Damon “I have to go home. I have to go home!” It was the first time that I had stepped outside in four days, aside from fifteen minutes after he was admitted. I sobbed the entire way to the car, praying as I drove the twenty-five minutes home.
“Father. Thank you. Thank you. Even though things are really reeeeeeeally shitty right now.”
I went home and cuddled my sleeping Haven, leaving before she woke to go back to my sick baby. I hauled the huge breast-pump generator with me to and from the hospital for three days. I ate chicken-pot pies and berries that my dear mother brought for me. I ate lunches that my family brought when they visited. I kept to a strict schedule, pumping every two hours. My boobs swelled up. My milk was starting to flood in.
I was the lucky one. My son would be done after a week. My tear from birthing didn’t hurt…like at all. My milk came in just like it was supposed to. I ended up producing wayyyyyyy more than enough. Enough to give 20 lbs of milk to a friend who couldn’t nurse a few months later. That probably wouldn’t have happened had we not been in the NICU. The pump that the insurance gave me was weak. It barely pulled any milk out. I established the crap outta my supply. And I filled my bottles in 5 minutes, from start to finish. Our families took care of Haven, despite having busy schedules themselves.
And Ty got stronger every day. I had to hog-tie him into his receiving blanket to keep him from ripping off the wires and IV.
I got pissed off at the regulations that the NICU had. Ty would latch amazingly, but only suck for five to ten minutes. Apparently, they’re supposed to nurse every 2 hours for 15 minutes. Or something. I told them that he was sleepy, comfy with his mom, and happy. He didn’t need to be on a clock. Haven had been sleepy too. I had to put ice packs on her back to get her to nurse. My nurse was an awesome down-to-business mother of 6. She told the head nurse that I pumped faster than any mom she had ever seen. So, they would wake Ty up every four hours if he didn’t nurse. And he took a bottle easily.
Damon and I took Haven to the hospital cafeteria to have our first meal together since before Ty was born. We ate a pasta prepared by my family, that they’re always asking me how to make even though it’s just rotini, black olives, green onions, one lemon, sea salt, cherry tomatoes, and feta cheese.
I went home from the NICU with my baby boy drinking wonderfully from his bottle, being cared for by this Lithuanian nurse who was much too peppy for working night-shift. I loved her false-eyelashes and excited disposition. The NICU nurses there were seriously top-notch. He was on room-air when I left that night, meaning “breathing fine on his own”. He had barely cried the entire time he was in the NICU.
I called the NICU every three hours to make sure that he was still breathing on his own. Damon told me to chill out, that he would be fine. I had spent the last 7 days watching those stupid machines. I called.
I returned to the hospital for rounds that morning. The nurse practitioner (head honcho nurse) said that they would maybe talk about him going home in a few days. The mother-of-6 nurse had told me that the overseeing doctor was one of the most lenient when it came to NICU rules. So, I naturally spoke up.
“He’s on room-air. He chugged down a bottle in less than three minutes. He doesn’t need to be here.”
The doctor turned to his team and said to start getting him ready for discharge. Not believing it, I asked what time. The doctor checked his imaginary watch. He said as soon as things were filled out.
“THANK GOD!” I yelled. Everyone laughed.
Ty had two more tests. He had to pass his hearing test and his car-seat test. He passed his hearing test. They put him in his car-seat for forty-five minutes, with the oxygenation measure on his finger. He passed. Easily.
The day-shift nurse and I fought with his dumb car-seat for like an hour before I finally Googled how to move the shoulder-straps down. She helped me carry the car-seat out of the NICU, where Damon and Haven waited for us. We walked out of the hospital as a family and put Ty’s seat into the car.
That was the week when I learned to trust God. He freakin’ knew what He was doing when he told me to “Pack a bag”. I always remember that when I’m questioning why the ef things are not going my way. He gave me a perfect little boy and boobs busting with milk to feed him with. It was my Hell Week, but He was with me every step of the way.
That little boy turned one a few days ago. Happy Birthday, Ty. You’re more than I could have asked for.
It’s been a little less than two weeks since I got home from Miami.
After my last blog post, my mom told me to get on an airplane the next day. I had never been away from my squeaklings for more than twelve hours. This would be huge. But, if I waited, I would talk myself out of it. My mom messaged me at around 5:30 PM. At 1:30 AM, I was gripping the armrest in my airplane seat.
I bawled the entire way to the airport. Haven asked if I was sad. Where she gets her feelings from, I don’t know…But I had to give myself a pep talk..pep yell…during the drive. Damon insisted that I go on the trip. He would be going to his parent’s house for a few days while I was gone. The trip would likely last around four days. I wasn’t going to see my kids for a few days. How would I do this?
I kissed them goodbye. The airport wasn’t busy, as most travelers weren’t boarding flights at 1:30 in the friggin morning.
Oh. My. Goodness. I slept till noon every day. I basked in eighty-degree sunshine. I am now a FIRM believer that sunshine and warm weather are the cures for all mental issues on Earth. Not once did I feel like crying. Not once did I feel depressed. Or anxious. At all. Maybe it was a change in scenery. Maybe it was the weather. Whatever it was; it helped.
Prior to this trip, I went against my own advice and dug into the internet, searching for justification. What kind of mom ditches her babies for four days to go lounge on a beach 2,000 miles away?
This one did.
Being a parent is comparable to a mental health disorder. I had been on call every single day, nearly ever hour, for the last 2 1/2 years. My body had been fully invested in the creation of arms, lungs, brains, hearts, squishy baby booties, and eyeballs for 18 months of the last 3 years. I HAD GIVEN THIS MY FRICKIN’ ALL!!! You don’t get to take days off when small people demand things 24/7. In any other profession, this kind of work ethic is called being a “workaholic”. But when raising children, it’s called “Well derrrrr. That’s what you signed up for!” Bullshit. You haven’t taken a day off in 2 1/2 years at all??? Your boss would have security drag you outta the damn office. Being a mother is not a special calling. It’s a job. But unlike every other job, you’re treated like you ought to be hella grateful for the suffering. “NOT EVERYBODY HAS LEGS!! YOU SHOULD BE GRATEFUL THAT YOU CAN CLIMB INTO SEWERS!”- no one EVER. Did I just compare parenting to sewage work? We both handle crap…Imma call it good at that.
Martyrdom only looks good on saints. Your tiny tots are not going to remember nursing. They will not remember the time that you dropped them while putting their pants on over your shoulder like the idiot that you are (I was kneeling on carpet…..Poor Haven). Your kids will be fine. Your kids will be fine. YOUR KIDS WILL BE FINE!! My kids were with their father. Yours could spend time with family. Your kids will be fine. I’m serious. Stop saying how guilty you feel. Stop saying that you “could never leave your kids”. Reread bullet number 1. You are not sacrificing your mental health for your children. You’re doing it because it’s been hammered into your brain by a bunch of losers that unless you are fully submerged in motherhood at all times that you are a bad person. Or that’s how you interpret it. Your mental health is more important than clinging to the notion that only mothers can be there for their children. Take this notion, find a toilet, and flush that down. Am I saying to abandon them forever? No. You’re going on vacation. Like normal human beings ought to.
Babies grow up to be assholes. I don’t care how much Baby Einstein she/he watches. Your precious toddler will cut someone off in traffic. Your adorable little lump of three months will get married in Vegas on Mother’s Day. Your baby is going to do a keg stand one day surrounded by a cheering crowd of horny college students all carrying garden variety STDs. Hell, your baby might be manning the cash register at McDonald’s. Kids grow up to do their own friggin thing. DO NOT THROW ALL OF YOUR EGGS INTO ONE BASKET! Do not make your children the ONE THING that you ever accomplish and stake all esteem to! Why? Because kids don’t give a shit about your sacrifices. Kids don’t care how things affect their moms. Kids who do are the exception…or parents themselves usually. Don’t be that resentful woman who takes all of her children’s failures personally because they’re all that she’s ever put energy into. Don’t. Seriously. Don’t do that to yourself.
Fine…Babies need functioning mothers. I was snapping every time that Haven asked me for anything. Hearing Ty cry did’t pull on my maternal heart-strings; it made me want to slash my wrists and go to the psych ward for a week. No joke. I literally considered this. Every. Day. prior to my trip. I was not the kind of mom that my small ones deserved. They deserved a mom who could get out of bed in the morning. They deserved a mom who could drive herself around. They deserved a mom who would read to them. Etc. ETC. I ditched them for four days because I love them. Now, I’m not losing my mind quite as often. I’m not freaking out constantly. Things are better.
You need to remember what you feel like. Waking up and going to bed because I felt like it? Yeah….that hadn’t happened in years. Eating in peace? Going for a walk? Not having to plan my entire day around two people who don’t care at all about how their nonsensical logistics work?? I’d completely forgotten how that felt. Honestly, for the first day in Miami I had no clue what to do with myself. I took a nap without a fat baby busting the door open to nurse. I ate chocolate without a tantrumy toddler begging for pieces. Nobody was asking me to put on their Elsa dress. I got dressed in quiet. I slept till noon. My mom and I jogged to the grocery store in the Florida sunshine. We lounged on the beach among the bronze French Canadian retirees. I swam in the Atlantic Ocean. My grandpa took us out to restaurants and a movie. We shopped without people clinging to our legs. I did whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. Crazy. And therapeutic. One day, the babies won’t be around. One day, every day will be like that again. One day, it’ll be just me and Damon.
My marriage is better. I didn’t miss my babies while I was gone. Maybe a bit here and there on the plane. But not really. I missed Damon a lot though. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. While I’m not fully healed yet, I’m much better than before my trip. Not being around a messy house did wonders for my attraction to him. Awwwww yeahhhh. He still has to support the crap out of me emotionally, but at least I can drive now.
You’ll be more bold to take care of yourself. I didn’t wait months before getting help for my anxiety. I made a doctor’s appointment the day that I realized what was happening. I should have done that after Ty was born with my postpartum depression, but I didn’t. Now that I’m home from my trip, thinking about myself isn’t as hard. I’m no longer mentally caged by this notion that “Well, but they need me…” Damon takes care of me, as he always does. Having a supportive spouse makes a huge difference in pretty much everything. I’m more likely to ask him for what I need. I act more quickly now. I feel waayyyy less guilt than I did before. Things are getting better.
I’ve already booked my next trip. Going to Vegas in a month. 😀