Sometimes attachment parenting fucking sucks.
By the time my third pregnancy rolled around, I pretty much knew what I was getting into. Sure, I understood that each pregnancy is different, and all's fair in love and gestation. But still, I had a clear idea of what to expect from my body. Nausea for three or for weeks, pesky pregnancy acne until mid-second trimester. Somewhere between 30 and 40 extra pounds. Basically, I'd survived my first two pregnancies relatively unscathed. And, for the majority of pregnancy #3, things progressed just as predicted. That is, until the last month...
Maybe it was because I was in my thirties this time around. Maybe it was because I was working an office job, versus the jobs that had kept me on my feet during my previous pregnancies. Maybe it was just one of those things. In the end, the reason didn't matter. My feet took on a life of their own.
No amount of effort could stave off the puffiness. I tried propping my feet up on the space heater beneath my desk. I made sure to go up and down the steps in my office building once an hour. I took 20-minute walks during my lunch breaks. I wore loose flats. No dice. My feet remained massive blown-up versions of themselves akin to the inflatables that hover and drift above Manhattan during the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
And this, folks, is why you don't leave your kid unbuckled in the damn swing. Lesson Learned.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP):
Television and other entertainment media should be avoided for infants and children under age 2. A child's brain develops rapidly during these first years, and young children learn best by interacting with people, not screens.
Not even if it's interacting with Curious George? In Spanish?
Seriously, though. By the time you finish playing the "should I?" game in your head, make the decision that you should do yoga, quickly change into your dirty workout clothes (because you haven't done laundry in over a week), roll out your mat, and start doing your first sun salutation, you only have about 10 minutes left. So, you half-ass your sun salutations and hope you can get your heart rate up to make it worth it.
So, Curious George movie it is. And you know what? I feel damn good after 30 minutes of uninterrupted yoga time. So, I guess we just won't be winning any AAP medals any time soon.
We moved to Bogota when I was around 28 weeks along. I was kind of scared to give birth here in Colombia: not because I doubted the quality of care that I would be receiving (unlike the advice that I got from several non-Colombian family members who had never been to Colombia, at least not in the last few decades) but because I was worried about the high C-section rate prevalent among private hospitals. We decided that we would meet with the OBGYN, Dr. Alfredo Ruiz Rivadeneira, that my cousin had recommended to see if he seemed like the pushy doctor who valued his time more than my and my baby's health.I walked up to his office (most private doctors here are not part of a group. They have their own private offices and they choose which insurance providers they will work with) and waited patiently in the tiny waiting room. He opened the door and greeted both me and my cousin with a hug and a kiss on the cheek. Growing up in the States, I wasn't used to this informal greeting among strangers, especially strangers who were about to see my hoo-ha. The room was small, big enough for a bathroom, a little office, and a clinic bed (with the requisite stirrups). We sat down and I told him my pregnancy history and what kind of birth I wanted (absolutely no C-section unless necessary, no induction). He seemed amenable. At this point, I thought to myself, well, this guy seems nice, but I want to interview other people just to make sure. He didn't speak English that well, so I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to get my point across, especially under laborial duress.
And then, he says to me, "You have really great tone! Do you exercise? Your stomach skin looks really great for how far along you are! Do you see her belly button? (he looks over to my cousin) It hasn't even popped out yet!" I felt my chest swelling (from pride, not pregnancy). I was doing yoga 3-4 times a week and walking as much as I could. I wanted to maintain my activity levels to the dismay of my Colombian family, who thought that I should be taking it really easy. After so much flattery, I didn't want to interview other doctors.
I loved being pregnant and giving birth in Colombia, but there are some striking differences to being pregnant and giving birth in the United States.
Four months ago, my husband and I welcomed our third child. Since then, I have been surprised to learn that apparently, this is some kind of outrageous feat. I grew up with three siblings, and many of my friends came from large families as well. I never considered having more than two children unusual. And yet, I can’t leave my house with children in tow without hearing at least one of these statements. Please read carefully and commit to memory, so that you never utter one of these thoughts to a mother (or father) who is out and about with multiple kids. We’re busy enough with three kids. We don’t need to talk to you about how we have three kids.
1. Looks like you have your hands full!
What gave that away? The screaming baby? The toddler who repeatedly throws items out of the grocery cart? The seven year old who keeps wandering off, when she isn’t taunting her brother with her freedom to walk rather than ride? Is it the double stroller, diaper bag, purse, phone, coffee cup and keys I’m juggling? Is it the unshaven legs and t-shirt with oatmeal crusted to it? Here’s how this works: either help me carry something, or shut up. Preferably, shut up.
2. You’ve certainly been busy!
Busy baby making? Because that’s a really invasive and uncomfortable thing to say to a complete stranger. Why yes, Random Lady In The Mall Parking Lot, yes, we have been! We make hot, sweet love every chance we get! We are absolute animals in the bedroom, my husband of nine years and I. You wouldn’t believe the shenanigans we get up to!
3. You look great for having three kids.
Thanks? First, please don’t comment on a stranger’s body, ever. Second, don’t tack on qualifiers to your compliments. Third, the way I look is not a reflection of something I have overcome. My body’s ability to stretch and expand and make life and recover is my own intensely unique and private journey. It does not require your approval, appreciation or commentary. Finally, I am 33 and have three kids, and I weigh 108 lbs four months post partum, so suck it. I don’t look great for having three kids. I look great. Full stop.
4. Enjoy it now. They won’t be small forever.
I already think about this at least 37 times a day. Our ability to know a thing and separately, simultaneously, feel another thing is something distinctly human. I am allowed to get frustrated with my children and my life. It does not detract from my mothering, nor does it mean I take these days for granted.
5. I hope your husband helps out.
Seriously? 1965 called. It wants its mentality back. My husband is a stay-at-home-dad, while I work long hours at an integrated marketing agency an hour from where we live. He wears the baby in a Moby wrap, cuts the grass with a manual push mower while the kids play in a paddling pool, takes our oldest daughter to dance and acting classes each week, knows how to get piss and shit out of the carpet way better than I do. And, he makes a mean lasagna. He hopes I help out, thank you very much.
6. You look tired.
Do I? Do I??
Mother Nature knows just how shitty it is to be pregnant for 9 months. She knows what it feels like to have lower back pain so intense that sitting down is painful. She knows what it feels like to have insane joint pain because your ligaments are constantly stretching. She knows what it feels like to have uncontrollable stomach itching because you're stomach skin is growing...growing...growing. She knows our pain, our struggles. This is why, in all of her omniscience, she gave us one beautiful thing: thick, healthy, shiny hair.
And then we give birth and there's this crazy, beautiful, wonderful little person who is all yours and you feel so lucky to be a mom and you radiate love and peace and goodwill to all your fellow men ...
Then, 2 weeks later, in the throes of mild post-partum depression, when you're still sore down there, leaking breastmilk everywhere, and suffering from chronic exhaustion, your hair starts falling out. Like, horror movie, girl-turning-into-a-bald-blood-sucking-creature falling out. Maybe 50 hairs falling out at a time. You shed hair, like a blood trail, across the floor wherever you walk. Hair on the toilet seat, hair in your food, hair in your mouth, hair on the baby. It's a freaking nightmare.
So, now I have to come up with different ways to part my hair to hide my TWO hideous bald spots/receding hairline. As if I didn't have enough going on post pregnancy. Plan to see a lot of cute, "boho" style head wraps in the near future.
Or maybe I'll just say, "fuck it," and proudly wear my bald badge of honor.
My husband left for the week to Brazil for business, which means that I am now the sole recipient of all of the terrible acts of my 4-year-old and 4-month-old sons. Today, within 4 hours, my youngest shat himself 3 times and 3 times I had to change his clothes. That means that 3 times I had to go outside and rinse off, by hand, the yellow baby poo stuck to his pants and onesies. By the time my eldest shot up in the middle of playing, ran towards the bathroom, and then, one second later, started wailing, I gave up. I walked into the bathroom, saw him standing wide-legged, a trail of brown, grown-up poop down his leg and on his underwear on the floor. He has NEVER pooped his pants (unless he was sick, of course). I stood there, the manic laughter bubbling up inside of me, and just stared. "Moooooom! What should I do?" I shooed him into the shower, turned it on, and, without thinking twice, dumped as much of the poop as I could into the toilet and threw the dirty batman underwear on the floor of the shower. I closed the shower door before he could realize what I had done. I stepped back and let the shower rinse the both of them off.
We love our kids. They drive us crazy. We write about it instead of going insane.