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A Little Slack, Please

March 12, 2013 by  
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by Mommy MD Guides blogger Julie Davidson

Women in China have been so desperate for seats on crowded subways that they have resorted to using fake baby bumps. People probably shouldn’t become pregnant for perks. That’s what credit cards and frequent-flyer memberships are for. But still, if ever there was a time to give someone some slack, pregnancy should be it.

Sadly, mall parking lots are not filled with nice people. Or rather, they’re overshadowed by the not-so-nice people: the ones cutting people off, parking in restricted spots, and yelling obscenities loud enough to alert mall security.

Charles and I were at a shopping mall when I was six months pregnant. We’d circled the lot for 15 minutes trying to find a spot that wasn’t too far away from the entrance. Finally, we found one. And so did someone else. There was a bit of a game of chicken, along with some hand gestures. But we ended up getting the space. But not before the driver of the other car shot some crude words at my husband. It was a true Jerry Springer moment as I kept thinking, This is not happening.

As I moved from behind the car, it was obvious I was upset. And pregnant. At that point, the other driver stepped back and shrugged it all off.

So you’ve heard that memory is an issue during pregnancy. Believe it. And remember how your home alarm system works. One trip of the alarm, and we had a visit from half a dozen firefighters on a shiny fire engine. As they walked up the steps, I was trying to think of something—anything— to say as to why I summoned them. As I met them on the front porch, a wave of smiles moved across their faces as I apologized, “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”

They had a good chuckle, and one of them explained, “Well, you’re pregnant, and you have enough going on. We understand.” And that was it. No chastising or criticism. Not even a bill!

You might feel strong while you’re pregnant, but why risk it? We were trying to move a couch into a new place and as soon as the neighbors saw that, they practically pushed me out of the way. There’s really never a need to argue with anyone who’s willing to do manual labor for you.

Thank goodness for the kindness of others. From opening doors to going to the head of the line in a public restroom, having a visible baby bump has some benefits. As for using a fake one? After nine months, you’ll have some explaining to do.

Guestlist

March 1, 2013 by  
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by Mommy MD Guides blogger Julie Davidson

Maybe you aren’t a big planner, but somehow, the closer you get to having kids, you start trying to get organized. Or as close to it as you can. You get the house ready. You have your showers. The car seat is finally installed correctly, and your bag is packed.

And after the baby arrives, so do the guests. I used to think it would be best to just have it be my husband and me at the hospital, but then I realized that people really want to share in your joy and excitement. And as I found out, they bring gifts! But who and when do you call or Facebook? You don’t want to forget anyone, but you also don’t want to assume that everyone will want to be there. As it turns out, word spreads like wildfire. You tell one person, and they’ll tell 50!

Our first son was born via C-section. So we had a little over an hour to get the word out. By the time I dressed for surgery, three friends were already at the hospital. My very own pregnancy posse, ready to cheer me on. And I was grateful because it kept my mind off the fact that my life, my sanity, and my abdomen were about to change forever.

After the surgery, guests drifted into the recovery room. And I drifted into a haze of confusion. They were so cheerful, while foggy best describes my mental state. Plus, I was numb from the anesthesia. Foggy and numb. It was like the morning after a bachelorette party. So not the way I wanted to start my new role as a mom. I kept obsessing about two things: why I couldn’t feel my legs and where my baby was. Meanwhile, our visitors were gushing about how beautiful the baby was. At one point, a nurse told me my brother got to hold the baby. I was confused. I hadn’t seen my brother or the baby, but they had already met!

During my stay at the hospital, guests continued to stop by. It was nice to have support. But I was exhausted, trying to heal from surgery and battling how to get the baby to nurse. Nothing breaks up a good gathering like showing off your bloody dressing or whipping out your boob and trying not to cry as your newborn latches on tighter than a suction cup.

You love your friends. But they get that you may need a little space. As you tactfully usher them to the hallway, make sure to invite them to your house. You’ll need some company after you finally find your legs, some of your sanity, and that kid you apparently had.

He Likes Me. He Likes Me Not.

February 22, 2013 by  
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by Mommy MD Guides blogger Julie Davidson

Birth, marriage, divorce, death. These are life’s events that we can’t truly and completely prepare for. That would be too convenient. So instead, we obsess about them beforehand, and wing it when they finally arrive. And so it is with motherhood.

From the moment you find out you’re pregnant, your mind is filled with “how’s.” Things like how to change a diaper, how to find an in-home sitter, and how to change those darn bags in the Diaper Genie. That’s why we have instruction manuals and wise friends. But then in come the “What if’s?” These are a bit trickier because they let your mind wander. Far from reality. Like when you were planning your wedding, and after you’d spent countless hours agonizing over every little detail on the invitations, centerpieces, and the program, you gasped at the thought that it was possible that the last stall in the ladies’ room would run out of toilet paper. Yeah, what if that happened?

So there you are with a bun in the oven and have carefully covered your long list of how’s. You figured out how you were going to make more space in your already seemingly small home. And how you were going to cover daycare. And how you would pump milk at work. Ah, time to sit back and relax, right? Just coast until it was delivery day. As if.

Between your hormones, that nesting thing, and you just being an over-prepared gal, you now get to wrestle with the “What if’s?” Time to conjure up more scenarios. Not just normal things like what if your husband isn’t around when your water breaks or what if you lose your job. Uh uh. Big, silly, ridiculous stuff that takes up more time and energy than it has any right to. Things like, What if the sonogram was messed up, and I have quadruplets? Or, What if there’s a really bad storm, and I can’t get to the hospital and have to deliver those quadruplets at home?

I couldn’t stop wondering, What if the baby doesn’t like me? Yep. I let my mind go there. Despite the fact that I was 100 percent present during this little being’s creation, I doubted he would like me. Who cares that I carried him for nine months. What if after he came out, he’d spend the next 18 years trying to get away? Just because I was his mom, didn’t mean he’d give two hoots about me.

Second guessing and lack of confidence is an unfortunate and constant part of life. We could do it full-time forever. Honestly, I’m not sure my son has ever said he likes me. But I get a lot of “I love you’s.” Hmm, what if Oprah was his mom? Would he like her? See what I mean?

How Much Stuff Do We Really Need?

February 20, 2013 by  
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by Mommy MD Guides blogger Julie Davidson

You know how when you go on a trip, you pack what you need, what you think you need, and then anything else that fits in your luggage?

Packing for your stay at the hospital is a little different than packing for a tropical island getaway. You’ll kinda’ sorta’ be on an island. One where only new parents and tiny babies are allowed. No drinks with fancy umbrellas in them, but there’ll be plenty of cups filled to the rim with ice chips.

I packed for three days, never realizing I’d stay for four. There’s something so unappealing about the drab hospital gowns, so it makes sense if you want to take your own comfy pj’s. But you may not actually get a chance to wear them. Think about all the photos you see with moms holding their newborns. Notice any stylish stuff from Victoria’s Secret? Nope. It’s usually that faded blueish-gray cotton getup the hospital provides.

Makeup? With waves of happy tears coming every few hours, it’ll just run. What’s worse? Going without makeup or looking like you got socked in both eyes? And your baby is so not concerned with whether or not you’re wearing lipstick. Or Chanel Number 5. Or blingy earrings.

Take the curling iron if you feel like it, but with your hormones slightly out of whack, you’ll be sporting occasional beads of sweat. That equals a few days of not-so-great hair. Barrettes, scrunchies, and gobs of hair gel may do the trick. Or do nothing, and use post-delivery as an excuse to go au natural. Who’d dare tell a new mom she looks bad?

And really, who doesn’t love picking out baby outfits? We are total suckers for anything that’s made for anyone who weighs less than 10 pounds. Picking out the outfits for the baby was like dressing a rock star. Is blue too predictable? Should I put that matching hat on his head? Is a plain outfit okay, or will he like a print?

I had brought a few different outfits, but every one of them swallowed him. It took easily half an hour to choose three different baby blankets to take to the hospital. In the end, I begged the staff to let me take him home in the one he was swaddled in at the hospital. The one with thinning fabric and faded colors that had undoubtedly been worn by hundreds of babies before him.

It seems like you never really know the exact amount to take. It’s a lot like how we live our lives: what we need, what we think we need, and anything else that fits.

Wardrobe Change

February 14, 2013 by  
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by Mommy MD Guides blogger Julie Davidson

Maybe you’ve seen the show Pregnant in Heels that shows the high-end life and fashion of some expecting mothers. Sadly, not everyone will look as cute as Rosie Pope in trendy shoes. I’m convinced she’s gotta’ be wearing the cute shoes just for the camera and then throws on tacky flip-flops for the rest of the day.

My feet were so bloated during the last three months of pregnancy, you would have thought I was licking an entire salt block a day. Oh, but there’s more. Not only did my feet get wider—they got longer! So the size 10 I was already not so keen on became a 10½. On one foot. The other is an 11—nine years later! Winter boots and slippers have become reliable parts of my wardrobe.

The bloating may spread to your hands as well. Wedding bands, your great-grandmother’s ring, and all the stuff you bought from your friend who sells Silpata may be sitting on the shelf for a while.

Think you can wear regular jeans with a growing belly? Skinny jeans are completely out. The others will be pushed down past your waist and bunch up, kind of giving you a look like you pooped in your pants. Give in to the elastic.

The same thing goes for shirts. Wearing that oversized shirt or team jersey you wear on casual Fridays at the office won’t work so well. Belly gets big; shirt goes up. Shirt goes up; bare belly shows. And that just gives people more of a reason to stare and reach out to touch you.

Your boobs will grow. You will notice. Your husband will notice. Your neighbors, coworkers, and people at church will notice. And no cami, tight shirt, or sports bra will make them smaller. Pretty, lacy bras will only emphasize that growth more. You probably should look at something with big straps and sturdy material. That description sounds very similar to that of a good hiking backpack. And that’s about right because they are both used to transport your precious goods.

The girlie girl underwear may have to wait for a while too. Your back end may grow a bit, so your regular-size underwear may creep up a bit, but not quite in a thong kind of way. More like your underwear is too small and giving you a wedgie kind of way. And while you’re at it, maybe get some underwear of thicker material—absorbent. Let’s just say that when that baby is putting pressure on your bladder, you’ll be happy you aren’t wearing thin, cotton panties.

 

By Design

February 12, 2013 by  
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by Mommy MD Guides blogger Julie Davidson

My parents had six kids. Three bedrooms. Two bathrooms. One income. It was truly a time (or many times) of making do with what you had. I saw photos of my brothers being bathed in the kitchen sink. The same sink that was used to prepare the Thanksgiving turkey. And to house a stack full of dishes plastered with remnants of a day’s worth of Cheerios, pork ’n beans, and casseroles.

And all of us shared a bedroom at one time or another. Cribs? Nah. There were tales of the older kids sleeping in dresser drawers. And I think the decorating theme was, well—nothing.

But each generation has their own way of doing things. And I so didn’t want to be the mom who went over the edge with decorating the baby’s room. But with all the brands, themes, and colors, it can be hard not to. For her twins’ nursery, Mariah Carey had big comfy chairs, ivory-colored furniture, and a pink and green color scheme. Then, there are the rest of us who aren’t multi–record selling celebrities.

We went with all wood furniture. And none of it from the same store. The crib came first, mainly because I pushed my big-bellied self to the front of the line at a USA Baby Furniture store sidewalk sale. Turns out that there were a lot of waddling women out to do the same that day, but no worries as I claimed the crib I had been visually stalking from the parking lot before the doors opened. My plan was to keep the little guy in the crib until he was three. You bet. I intended to get every penny out of it. At 14 months, he figured out how to crawl out of it.

On to the dresser. My advice is to get it delivered. I’m surprised and eternally grateful that my brother still speaks to us. It’s not easy to say no to your younger, pregnant sister. And who knew it would turn into a three-hour journey that involved an SUV, bungee cords, spatial strategizing, shoving, praying, cursing, heaving, pushing, and rearranging.

What ever happened to basic dressers? You know, the kind with the same-size drawers. The one we found was huge. Drawers down the middle. Drawers on the side. A top shelf area to put little knickknacks on. And that nifty little area commonly called the diaper tower. The entire piece was bigger than an entertainment center. But we found out that if you take off that top shelf, take off the diaper pad, and take out the diapers, it serves as adult furniture quite nicely.

No room would be complete without a rocking chair. I figured that would be one thing we would get a lifetime of use from. We paid more than $400 for it. Plus another $65 to fix the arm that broke off after one year. After the second time it broke, we tossed it out. Ironically, the one we bought for under a hundred bucks is in great shape.

We chose to go with a subtle theme—Winnie the Pooh. Should have been easy, but it turns out there are two types of Winnie. There is the one you often see now with a red shirt. And an older one—shirtless and more scruffy. I tried to combine them, but it looked odd. Because the one with no clothes on it made the one in the shirt seem like he was half naked. And the one with the shirt on made the other appear completely naked.

As it turns out, the decorating is much more for us as parents. Because by the time the kids are able to realize the thought, time, and money that was put into decorating their room, they’ll want something like Sponge Bob or [insert girl theme]. Okay, now that whole dresser drawer for a crib thing makes sense.

Over the Moon, Baby

February 7, 2013 by  
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by Mommy MD Guides blogger Julie Davidson

Add this to the list of “Why didn’t anyone tell me?” Okay, so most of us have heard of whooping it up for out-of-town bachelorette parties, destination weddings, and honeymoons. And if you were lucky, you convinced your parents to let you pack the family van full of underage high-school girlfriends and head to Florida for spring break. And now there are babymoons! No, not moons in the shape of an infant. Nope. Babymoons are getaways that expecting couples take for some R&R and pampering. Sort of like one last trip without kids underfoot.

I’ll bet you can think of a million reasons not to take a babymoon. For starters, the cost. Hate to break it to you, but as soon as you decide to have kids, you take an oath of poverty. Maybe you won’t be broke, but kids (with the exception of Justin Beiber, Honey Boo Boo, and any of the Kardashian clan) won’t make you richer.

Or maybe you don’t think you can afford the time away. Once you add kids to the mix, you always have a time deficit. Parents are constantly blowing things off to squeeze something else in. Just think of a babymoon as your first attempt to test your time-squeezing skills.

So it could come down to the fact that you don’t want to be far from your doctor. Totally understandable. But lots of cities have lots of doctors. Granted, hearing the simultaneous high-pitched ring of slot machines in Vegas or a live Mariachi band tableside in Guadalajara during your first trimester doesn’t sound all that appealing. But what’s to say you have to go far away? The idea is to go somewhere and just enjoy each other. Like on your honeymoon. Unless you had a major spat in the hotel lobby—then not like the honeymoon.

And there’s the guilt-ridden who won’t take a trip because it seems too self-indulgent. Run the numbers. One kid alone could easily have you changing more than 3,000 diapers (don’t dispute it, I’m trying to help you here), missing more than 100 hours of sleep, and driving more than 10,000 miles before they turn 18. Still feel guilty?

No worries. You will still take trips once your baby arrives. To Wal-Mart, the grocery store, the pediatrician, the park, playgroup, any drive-thru you can find, the zoo, the bouncy house, and day care. Sure, you’ll be able to take a trip without kids again. Just as soon as they turn 18. And you’re done paying for their braces. And the house. And out of state college tuition. And the van that broke down on their trip to Florida for spring break. Your bags are packed, right?

Now Arriving

February 5, 2013 by  
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by Mommy MD Guides blogger Julie Davidson

Do you remember watching shows about life way back when? I’m talking way back. It astonished me that people had these amazing, full lives without the conveniences we have today. You know, like cars, lights, air conditioning—OBs. And you’d be glued to your seat when a woman went into labor. No phone, no doctor, and no drugs. That alone should have been enough birth control for some of us to never have sex, let alone want to go through childbirth.

But miraculously, there was always some older, wiser woman in the house. Or down the lane. Or across the field. She was the go-to person for big, scary stuff. Like chasing bears off, saving someone from the well, and birthing babies.

I’m pretty sure these days the closest thing to that miracle woman is a midwife. Sort of like a pregnancy pal. She provides advice and guides a woman from pregnancy through birth. Talk about a bond. My thought was that if I had a midwife, I wasn’t letting her go after a nine-month relationship. She’d have to come home and live with us. Forever! Sadly, I found no widwives in our area who were willing to do that.

And what’s more relaxing than a warm bath? So maybe a water birth is more your style. There’s research on both sides, for and against. But taking a bath is like a Calgon moment for me. I just couldn’t get past the idea that soaking in a bath would always lead to a birth. Never mind all that stuff they taught us in health class about what had to happen nine months before that.

Some very brave moms may choose to give birth at home. And we now return to Little House on the Prairie. On one hand, it makes so much sense. It’s your home. The very place you will be raising your child. But on the other hand, there’s something to be said for all the stuff hospitals have that your house doesn’t—like ’round-the-clock trained staff, beds that adjust with the touch of a button, and food delivered to your room. Then again, I was the mom who also thought a plunger would have been handy during delivery.

It’s probably best to consider all your options. Just be prepared that as things evolve, you may need to change it up with a tub of water, your queen-size bed, or that lady who scares the bears away. And keep an eye out for the plunger.

What Happened?

January 31, 2013 by  
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by Mommy MD Guides blogger Julie Davidson

Your body changes when you’re pregnant, but it ain’t all bad. The other day, I was wondering what happened to my boobs. Actually, I knew where they were—somewhere near my navel. Like birthday balloons the day after all the helium has seeped out. But somewhere about month six, those God-given milk-makers take on a shape like never before. Socks, tissues, and oranges stuffed into your bra can’t hold a candle to the real deal. I never measured the actual circumference of them before or during pregnancy, but I can tell you those suckers can stretch. Two bra sizes easily.

“You have such a glow about you!” I never heard that until I was pregnant. Except the time I had neon clothes under a strobe light at a nightclub. But it was true. My skin was different. It actually looked good. I foolishly assumed the glow of being with child was just from being happy. Sadly, I didn’t gain a lot of happy just being pregnant. Weight, yes. Mounds of happy? Not really. My skin looked shiny. Upon closer examination, I was pretty sure it was just oily skin.

It’s been nine years since I had our second child. Suspiciously, it’s also been nine years since my hair had the thickness, curl, and body I like. My hair grew quickly. Now it has an attitude. It grows when it wants to. If it wants to. When I was pregnant, my hair grew the same way all over my head. Now it comes in zones—okay, so-so, and angry. One side never gets as long as the other, and the curl isn’t even curly. It’s a combo of Bozo the Clown, a wet poodle, and dry angel hair pasta.

I’ve got stretch marks in places where I didn’t know you could get stretch marks, one foot is larger than the other, and I’m sporting a mid-section that is the reason high-waisted Mom jeans sell so well. But really, what else would you expect to happen after housing a bowling ball for almost a year?

How the Heck Does This Work?

January 25, 2013 by  
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by Mommy MD Guides blogger Julie Davidson

Maybe you went to college. You have a decent job. Your credit score is near perfect. You think your kinda’, sorta’ smart. Think again. When you begin getting things set up for your baby, none of that matters.

The car seat looks easy enough, right? It’s not. Let’s just say it’s built for safety, not ease. No more old-school strap and go. These near-designer car seats are fully loaded with a million parts—a base, straps, strap adjuster, removable inserts, and that umbrella-looking thing.

We tried to install it ourselves. For over an hour. And after all that, it was still loose. This is why there are trained technicians who know how to properly install car seats. Without cussing.

Maybe I get excited about small stuff, but when I found out that the car seat fits in the stroller I was over the moon! It’s like buying a purse that has a matching wallet inside. You can’t put a price tag on that kind of convenience. However, it’s only convenient if you can figure out how to work it. To keep your blood pressure in check, practice before you have the baby. You’ll marvel at your progress. By the time you use it half a dozen times, you’ll cut your set-up and take-down time in half.

How hard could it be to use a crib? Assembly was no problem, but I must have tried a dozen times over the course of four days before I finally figured out that the side of the crib slid down to make way for the baby.

One of the most interesting things was the Diaper Genie. No problem setting it up. But emptying it out was like watching a magician pull a handkerchief from a hat. Two hundred seventy diapers linked together, like sausages off the assembly line.

So be proud of your degree, your career, and your credit score. But also be ready to be humbled by a world of things you aren’t familiar with. And keep the manuals.

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The information on MommyMDGuides.com is not intended to replace the diagnosis, treatment, and services of a physician. Always consult your physician or child care expert if you have any questions concerning your family's health. For severe or life-threatening conditions, seek immediate medical attention.