Thursday, June 29, 2006

Some Good, Basic Breastfeeding Tips

I never thought I'd write so much about breastfeeding, but here I go again. I found this article in the Herald Neighbors section, and thought it was pretty informative and useful.

I like the tips it offered, which I'm reposting here in case anyone actually reads this and that anyone happens to be pregnant, or the partner of a pregnant lady.

Get informed.
''The reality is that within the past 50 years, breast-feeding went out of fashion,'' said Dr. Shahnaz Duara, professor of pediatrics at the Miller School of Medicine at the University of Miami and medical director of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Holtz Children's Hospital. ``Now we've got to undo what was set in people's minds about breast-feeding and help them understand that breast milk is the natural food for babies.''

• Plan ahead.
If you're planning to return to work after the birth of your baby, talk with your employer in advance about options, such as finding a clean, private room to pump milk or arranging a more flexible work schedule. ''Trying to combine work with nursing can be a challenge,'' Duara acknowledged.

• Seek support. ''In other countries, there are home health visitors available to help women nurse successfully,'' Duara said. ''Here, we have to depend on our own social network. The best allies for a new mother are family and friends who have successfully breast-fed.'' Lactation consultants also can be helpful resources.
It is also important for the woman's partner to support her decision to breast-feed, Duara added. (I can't stress this enough)

• Stick with it.
''Many women get discouraged with the process, particularly during the transition from getting started to getting established,'' Duara said. "Some moms give up during this time because they don't understand that milk takes time to come in or that babies need to nurse frequently in the beginning. There's not enough community support during the first six weeks between when a woman gives birth and when she sees her obstetrician for a checkup. This is a time when many new moms can benefit from extra hand- holding.'' (so true)

And in case I've never mentioned it, I'm nowhere near an expert or authority on breastfeeding, but I'm always willing and available to direct people to good, reliable information, or just to lend support and encouragement to any breastfeeding mom who feels she needs it. I've been there. I'm there. It's not always easy or enjoyable. And I'm willing to commiserate, listen, and offer advice.

I'll also berrate you if you think it'll do you any good.

Posted by Tere @ 6/29/2006   | | | links to this post

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Countdown to No More Pumping and Other Important Dates

Namely, my birthday. Which is exactly one month away. I do the 30-day countdown every year, because apparently, I’m really only 8 years old. I don’t know what it is about my birthday – I mean, 95% of the people in my life forget every single year and it’s not like anyone ever makes a big deal about it (except Ben. He’s learned to throw me great celebrations and to pamper me and give me lots of gifts – except this year, since we’re in financial crunch time and there will be no spoiling of me), but I can’t help but get excited every year.

I don’t even know what I’m excited about (being one year closer to wrinkles, gray hair and a sagging ass?) – except maybe that it’s the one day I give myself to totally be about me. It’s the one day where I go out of my way to do the things I want to do, and only those things. I take the day off (I have never worked on my b-day and never plan to), treat myself to breakfast and eat whatever I want, hypoglycemia be damned, buy some shoes, get a pedicure, and head to the beach for a long weekend of relaxation. Or some variation of that.

What I’m curious about this year (and partially dreading) is how my special day will be impacted by a certain 10-and-a-half month-old who’s belly-deep in mommyitis. The first thing I decided to do was ship his butt to his Mimi, even though I will take the day off. That way, I can still have some time to myself before we head off to the beach (note to Ben: have I mentioned my strategic plan to get us, baby and 348 assorted goods to Hollywood Beach in one piece before rush hour, and oh by the way, we also have to stop at the grocery store too).

And speaking of that baby – I have to stop pumping. Soon. I hate this. I can’t take this. It’s killing me.

Here’s the deal: I spent the last six days breastfeeding, with no pumping whatsoever. Although Max eats (and loves) solids, I wanted to have him nurse a lot for two reasons: he’s been sick, and breast milk is the magic that cures all ills and nursing is very comforting and makes him feel better; and also, because I tend to pump just the exact amount he needs and nothing more – an amount that is seriously wrecked whenever I’m PMSing or feeling sick or had one too many fudge pops the night before. And so when I face days where I’m not at work and don’t have to pump, I nurse at every opportunity for fear that if I don’t, the minute I get back to work and on the pump, my already crappy amount will be even crappier. Call it paranoid breastfeeding.

So this pump – I hate it. I’m tired of struggling to get a total of four freakin’ ounces each time; I’m tired of having my nipples feel all raw and achy no matter how low the setting; I’m just tired of the whole thing. I’m still at peace with breastfeeding (meaning, I do it and feel the love but I’m still going to wean at 12 months come hell or high water - but I’ve at least bothered to read about it so I’m sure to do it in the gentlest way possible so my boy transitions well), but I’m counting the days (73, give or take a couple) until he can get on regular milk and I can be free of pumping – forever.

Pumping's been good to me - it's helped me keep doing something I committed to do; it hasn't seriously damaged or traumatized me - but I'm tired. TIRED. From the cleaning and sterilizing every damn night to lugging all the equipment around to popping my boobs out into the freezing a/c to stressing over the little bit of milk of coming out to wincing in total discomfort and slight pain - I'm just fucking done.

Posted by Tere @ 6/28/2006   | | | links to this post

Dear Newark Airport: I Hate You

I've never had an easy or pleasant experience at Newark International Airport. Ever. I've flown in and out of it about 10 times in my life, and the experiences just keep getting worse.

We bagan with a miserable clusterfuck at the self check-in at the American Airlines counter. That's more AA's fault, but whatever - they had about 60 people crowding the area, with tons of luggage strewn everywhere, and one guy working the desk. One. At peak travel time. And the whole point of the self chek-in is that it's supposed to be easier!

By the time we got to the security line, our flight had been delayed 20 minutes. Fifteen minutes later, when we reached our gate, it was delayed an hour and a half. And why was our flight delayed when the plane was sitting right there at the gate? Who the fuck knows! No one would freakin' communicate with us. The flight was severely overbooked, there were 24 people on standby, and everyone was crammed into the waiting area as more time passed and nothing happened and no one communicated with us.

They started boarding the plane at the time we were supposed to leave, and then we sat on the tarmac waiting for our turn for another 20 minutes (at least the pilot told us that much). There were like nine other planes lined up, so it seems the whole airport was operating at dysfunctional.

We didn't get in until 11:10 p.m., two hours later than we should have. By the time we got our luggage and got home, it was almost 1 a.m. Oh, and I have to work today.

I will, however, give credit to the people of Miami for one thing: there were two flights unloading luggage on the same baggage claim. They were taking forever to even get the thing started. So it was a good 20 or 25 minutes of just standing there - and everyone was very patient and polite about the whole thing. No cursing, no pushing people, no yelling at any indifferent employee. Go figure.

Posted by Tere @ 6/28/2006   | | | links to this post

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Homecoming

We head home this evening (assuming the plane doesn't go up in flames - which, by the way, I had a great post about flying and Xanax all written up and ready to go the morning after we got here, and stupid old computer kerblitzed and blogger hadn't autosaved it and funny post was lost forever).

I feel like we've been here too long, but I think that's the exhaustion of being with Max nonstop, something I'm not used to since heading back to work four months ago. He's a great boy, but he was sick the first two days, which made him a whiny, clingy, cranky little bug. On the plus side, one of the wretched top teeth finally cut through, but the other one is waiting till he's back to normal before starting the hell cycle again.

Either way, I'm drained. Part of me is grateful for having had so much time with my two boys, but another part of me is like, everyone leave me the hell alone forever, please. It's rained our entire vacation, limiting the things we can do, and in-between eating and shoping, we've explored relocation possibilities here. Right now, my first thought is no on moving up here for two big reasons: winter and the lack of familial support (which would be true anywhere, even here where we have family - because their lives are too busy and hectic to offer much support). So really, it's winter. I don't think I can go from a lifetime of Miami weather to the bitch-ass winter that would await us here.

So we have much to talk about and plan out. We're pretty clear on our timeline, so I guess it's just a matter of truly making the right decision.

But right now, I'm more concerned with making it back home in one piece. I miss my Zoe, I miss my routine, and most importantly, I miss Max's play yard and excersaucer, those two little pieces of confinement that allow me to do little things like cook and pee.

Posted by Tere @ 6/27/2006   | | | links to this post

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

And how could I forget...

about the growth spurt? The raging growth spurt that has him nursing every. single. hour. The one that has him up three or four times a night so he can practice all his new skills, like standing, yelling and smacking every item around him?

Add that to the reasons the 9 months suck.

Posted by Tere @ 6/20/2006   | | | links to this post

Monday, June 19, 2006

F the 9 Months

My son’s been nine months old for a week now, and damn, does it suck. What a hellacious week.

He’s teething some teeth that flat out refuse to come out. In the process, the excess mucus is draining into his ears, causing a mild infection that requires antibiotics. Said antibiotics wreck havoc on the tummy (as does the excess saliva).

So what do we have then? A very cranky and irritable nine-month-old who – between the aching gums and bouts of diarrhea – is so fucking miserable that life is quite close to hell right now.

Poor buggy – he gets frustrated with other people and fusses to be in my arms. Yet two seconds after I get him, he’s squirming and fighting and back to being miserable.

And you know what that means, right? Miserable baby = miserable household. UGH. I’m dying. I need my happy, charming boy back. I mean, he tries, he really tries, to smile and clap and be his usual cheery self, but those moments are far outlasted by the irritable ones. And I can't stand to see him this way, to know he's suffering and there's nothing I can do about it. This motherhood thing, it really sucks sometimes.

And we leave town on Wednesday - I just hope he's much better by then, or the flight, on top of terrifying me to the point of tears, is going to be a nightmare.

Posted by Tere @ 6/19/2006   | | | links to this post

Children of the 80's, Unite!

People, Screech needs us! Check this out - and see for your very self how dear old Dustin Diamond is about to lose his home and is selling shirts to come up with the money he needs.

I don't know what to make of this. Is the Screech money all gone? Where did it go? And what about that story that he and Mike D from the Beastie Boys are brothers - if that's true, can't he help him out?

Or is it all a joke?

Posted by Tere @ 6/19/2006   | | | links to this post

Friday, June 16, 2006

Farewell Ricardo

Ricardo has died. His battle with bone cancer is over now, and he is resting in peace, I hope. Although there was no reason for his death to surprise me, it did. Beyond that, it has saddened me more than I ever thought it would. It has made me feel like the world has lost one hell of a human being - a man who was caring, kind, and good beyond measure.

Who's Ricardo? you may be asking. Ricardo was my accountant, but he was so much more. His kindness knew no bounds. He was a gentle soul, devoted to his wife, devoted to Cuba, and never, in his long history of civic activity, was he ever driven by his ego or the desire for personal gain.

His life was touched by a deep and terrible tragedy, and yet, he maintained his faith and kept forging ahead. And all the while, he was selfless, dependable, committed. He never let his personal sadness embitter him.

He was just such a good person: a loving husband, a great father, a true patriot. Everyone who knew him says the same thing: it was easy to love him. And it was.

My accountant. My father's dear friend. Ricardo. I wish there was some way I could honor him.

Posted by Tere @ 6/16/2006   | | | links to this post

Thursday, June 15, 2006

A Picture I Love



Posted by Tere @ 6/15/2006   | | | links to this post

Criticize Me

Oh shit, I’m cringing as I write this. All right folks, here’s the deal: my greatest love (non-human or animal, of course) is poetry. I’ve been writing it since I was about 10, which may sound cute and all, but which sometimes ends up being a problem for me. Because the process is the same now as it was then: thoughts and images overtake me, and I simply have to get them down. And a poem is what comes out. But sometimes, I wonder if what comes out is as crappy as what my 10-year-old self cranked out. I mean, seriously, I used to write crap. Pure, unfiltered crap.

Have I ever improved? When I read my stuff, I feel like I have. And those few people who have actually seen my stuff have all seemed rather impressed and/or moved by it. But then again, these same people love me and have to put up with me on a regular basis, so maybe they’re just being nice, which is both sweet and annoying.

When I think of my poetry and what I hope to achieve through it, I always come back to the same place: I just want people to be able to relate to it somehow. I don't care if I'm writing about my dog and it reminds you of your first love - so long as you feel something, I've done what I wanted to do.

I dream of publishing my poetry (even if it’s a dead market that no one reads), but is it even worth the effort and expense? And can I even stand to know, not just suspect, that my work is indeed crap?

But well, I’m finally at a point where I feel it’s worth the risk and where I can handle the criticism. So, here’s your chance. I’m sharing three poems from the recent past (meaning, the last three years because I go through long periods of writer’s block and don’t produce these prolifically).

I’m asking for honest feedback, but please, don’t be mean. If it’s that bad, just say so – but don’t do any unnecessary crushing, o.k.?

And just some things to note - these don't have titles; I've put in parenthesis how I refer to them, a non-title title, if you will.

(the beginning of a crisis)

We all come apart.

At some point or the other,
the inevitable happens.

Images of your life fly before you,
the people, the places, the memories.
At some point you forget
whom you love
and why you love them.

And then you can't bear
even the simplest things -
deciding what to eat -
milk or toast, or both?
or what to wear -
pants, jeans, a skirt?

Turning the key
in the ignition of the car
takes all the effort in the world.

You let everything go.
And don't care
to ever have any of it again.

(inspired by e.e. cummings)

Next to me you
are the longing.

How long did I long
for you?
How long and I
did not evenknow it?

You were in my memories
the question.
You were
the regret.
Because I simply
did not know.

And now I know.
I am knowing.

And still you stand next to me.
And still I long.

(Something semi-coherent about destiny)

It is only his hand
running down the length of my arm,
and my stomach flutters, swoops,
and detaches from me.

It is only his eyes
staring into mine,
and I feel the infinteness of time,
love, desire.

How much meaning can pass
in a touch, a look?
In his arms and in his eyes it is
the meaning of my life,
my place in this world,
my destiny and my future.

What, then, is the weight
of my lifetime?
Only as heavy
as the fingers that lightly trail
down the length of my arm.

cringe cringe cringe

Posted by Tere @ 6/15/2006   | | | links to this post

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Max, His Mom, and the Beach

Max hit the beach for the first time on May 20. We headed over to Crandon Park, where my friend Kristy was celebrating her daughter Bella’s third birthday. I have to say, I’ve been dying to get him to the beach. The best memories of my life, especially my childhood, are from the beach, and it’s somehow important to me to pass my love of the beach and ocean on to my son.

So after much packing (something I really dislike about the whole thing), and then setting everything up (disliked only slightly less than the worst of it: packing everything back up at the end of the day), we were on the sand and ready to go.

And wow, did he love it! It was so great to see his face light up as his dad took him into the water, to see how he kicked and laughed and slapped the water around.

That Saturday was one of those days that I used to fantasize about, pre-baby. One of those things I’d think about and tell myself, "this is what it’s all about, this is why I want kids." I can’t help but be carefree and in a good mood when I’m at the beach. It’s like all my usual worries and control-freak tendencies just fall away (except for my totally irrational fear that a dozen sharks are lurking about, just waiting to pounce – a fear I put a lot of effort into suppressing). The beach frees me, it gives me a reprieve from myself, where I don’t have to be anxious or depressed or thinking five steps ahead. I can stop and savor my surroundings. I can take joy in the peace of the ocean, in the beauty of everything before me, and now, in the pureness of my son’s delight, I can feel a strange kind of completeness that I’ve never felt before.

Before Max was born, I worried over how I would feel about and handle all those things about kids that I really just don’t like. Like, how could I possibly be all excited and gung-ho about the freakin’ Teletubbies, or how would I ever find the energy and willingness to sit through some godawful Sesame Street-Disney-on-Ice-Wiggles show, or how would I be able to relate to some silly pre-teen drama – when inside I felt like I’d prefer to stab my eyes out rather than deal with any of it? I feared that involved, interested (read: good) parenting would involve a lot of fakeness and pretense on my part. And it made my heart sink. It made me feel like I’d ultimately be a real shit to my kids.

But in these last nine months, I’ve never felt that way. With every discovery he makes, I feel like I’m rediscovering the world with him. His wonder and curiosity and delight are so honest and evident that I can’t help but be caught up in all of it. I let him watch TV in the morning while I get ready (and there’s the first of my rules that I’ve blatantly broken), and sure enough, I find myself dancing to that damned big-ass bear simply because it makes him laugh. And I don’t feel like rolling my eyes when I do it, either. I make a big deal out of feeding him simply because all the funny noises I make makes him clap his hands as if to say, “Good show, old gal! Now keep at it!” When he’s silent and staring at something, studying it intently, I can’t help but marvel at how something as simple as a button holds a world of mystery in it. When we’re somewhere like Publix or a house full of crazy Cubans or kvetching Jews (stereotypes: let’s not let them go to waste), anywhere where there’s just too much going on, and his poor head is spinning, trying to figure out where best to focus, I remember that there is something of interest, and by extension, worth, in just about everything, not only the most obvious.

I keep going back to the thought that I always assumed motherhood would be a great experience, but I never thought far along enough to think that it could make me rediscover the world, or give me a new appreciation for everything I value, or make me see myself in a whole new light. I never imagined the courage I would find in my son, or that I would become more honest with myself, more willing to take risks (real risks, not crappy things I’ve done in the past that were half-hearted attempts at being risks), less quick to get angry, less vengeful. I feel like a whole new person, and I can only credit tiny Max for it. I don’t know where this came from, and I don’t know how my transformation will continue to develop. But it’s happening, and every day I have a moment where I realize that I’m not who I was even nine months ago.

Right now, though, I just want to make the most of my son’s first summer and get us to the beach as often as possible. Our upcoming vacation at the end of July will be, I hope, the first of many happy memories at the beach. And for his birthday in September, we will celebrate at the place where I have found much comfort and peace, and where I hope he will, too: right on the sand, with the water crashing at our feet.







Posted by Tere @ 6/13/2006   | | | links to this post

Monday, June 12, 2006

The Nurse-In at Starbucks on Ocean Drive

I read the news this morning about the nurse-in at the Ocean Drive Starbucks yesterday. Briefly, a 22-yr-old mom says she was kicked out of said Starbucks because she was breastfeeding. Management maintains that she was "asked to leave" because she was changing her kid on a table. Which, if true: eeww. Gross. Please don't do that.

So I'm posting about this for a number of reasons. 1) I'm a breastfeeding mom. 2) I breastfeed in public. 3) I breastfeed regardless of where I'm at, who's around me, or what anyone thinks. 4) I very much dislike breastfeeding when I'm surrounded by people. But if my kid is wailing for food, I won't deny him. 5) If I have to bf in public, I'm as discrete as I can possibly be. Because really, this is about my son and his needs, and it's not like I need a bunch of assholes staring at me.

All that said, I'm wondering what the truth really is with this case in particular. Was she really kicked out for nursing, or for changing her kid's diaper on the table? In the article, she acknowledges changing his diaper, but doesn't say where. I have to say, I've nursed at my local Starbucks a zillion times, or close to it. Both in and outside. And no one's ever said a word to me about it.

You know, I can't seem to get what the deal is with breastfeeding - in public or otherwise - why it's so controversial. Maybe I just haven't read up enough on it, or maybe it's that part of my character where I completely dismiss things I find ridiculous kicking in. I don't know. My decision to breastfeed was based on two big things: 1) I was convinced it was the best thing I could do for my son, and 2) Because my maternity leave was unpaid and we were living off the money we'd saved, we couldn't afford formula without seriously denting our reserves (I was on leave for 5 months). Once I went back to work, nursing became my chance for some special bonding time with him, and it took on a different meaning. And even though I had planned to breastfeed for a year, it was in being away from him that I decided to seriously commit to that, because now I needed it, too.

But you know, I'm not going to lie. For me, breastfeeding took a lot to get used to enjoy. Five or six days after Max was born, I developed both thrush and mastitis - and that was pure hell. I was dying. And he was so tiny and hungry that he was on me every hour and a half or so. I breastfed through that torture because I couldn't pump, my breats were engorged and I wasn't about to throw the towel in. The milk had to come out anyway, right? So into my son's mouth it went, gentian violet, antibiotics, nipple ointment and all. And beyond that, while I will never deny my son the boob if he's hungry and we're, well, anywhere, nursing in public is actually pretty damn inconvenient for me. My son gets distracted easily, so I either have to play the game where he delatches every 20 seconds and I have to scramble to cover myself, or toss a blanket over his head and struggle to keep it on us both. Inconvenient, indeed, but no big deal in the greater scheme of things.

So watching my son grow and thrive, witnessing the benefits of breastfeeding - it's something I would recommend to everyone, something I would help anyone learn to do successfully. But I'm light years from being a "boob-nazi" or "lactivist" mainly because any belief held in such extreme only serves to harm a cause and alienate people, and it's just not the way I see things. Don't get me wrong: women who only give a half-assed attempt to breastfeed (without even reading about it or taking a class) and then give up two days in because "the baby couldn't do it," or "it was too hard," or "he wasn't getting any milk" piss me off to no end. If you can't be bothered to learn to do it and teach your kid to do it, just admit it, but don't act like the one thing your boobs were created for, which a baby will instinctually know what to do with once he/she's properly latched on, is so incredibly difficult and impossible that you simply couldn't do it. I know some women ultimately can't breastfeed for different reasons, but those who use their laziness, or the fact that it was too inconvenient for them, as an excuse really do just make me angry. Because they take their ignorance and spread it, making other women think it's something they can't or shouldn't do.

But anyway, personal choice is personal choice, and I understand the controversy between those who choose to and those who don't. But for those of us who do - what's the big deal with doing it in public? In my eyes, it's just about a mother providing nutrition and comfort to her hungry or upset baby. Am I missing something? Is it just that the U.S. is impossibly backwards about this? Barbara Walters further cemented her image as a useless windbag when she stated she was put off by a nursing mom - so other people's discomfort, I've learned, seems to be the root of this issue. And maybe I'm just a selfish, inconsiderate bitch, but if my child needs the boob for food or comfort, I'm really not inclined to stop and think about who might start freaking out over the way I take care of him, especially when I don't even show any nipple or anything more than half a centimeter of flesh. At any rate, better a kid on a boob as opposed to one running around like a crazy banshee, in my opinion.

I've used my experience as a breastfeeding mom to inform those who care enough to ask. I enjoy talking about it and busting misconceptions. But I would never force my way on anyone or think less of someone who chooses not to. We all parent in different ways. But I can't say that I'll ever get what the big deal about nursing in public is, or that I'll ever care about what anyone around me thinks to the point that I'll not do it for their sake.

Posted by Tere @ 6/12/2006   | | | links to this post

Sunday, June 11, 2006

White-Knuckled & Gritted-Toothed

We're in tough times right now. A series of events in our lives, some expected, others not, have left me feeling - what the hell am I feeling? Defeated, for one. And tired. And worried. And sad.

I've spent the last few years watching the housing market here skyrocket to the most unrealistic, so unrealistic they are actually absurb, levels. And I've watched our incomes steadily rise, rise to the point that under different circumstances, we'd actually be upper middle class, or some such class where you can pay your bills and still have enough left over to save for retirement, save for emergencies and vacation, and still have something left over for fun: dinner, movies, the weekly trip to Target.

I've fought so hard to reach this place, we both have, only to face the reality that regardless of our hard work, our efforts to put something away, we can't afford jack shit around here. Not a condo, not a townhouse, and certainly not a house. And when you add to that the way gas and goods keep going up, and the fact that Miami is ever more materialistic, more shallow, more demanding that its inhabitants bow to some ridiculous notion of fabulousness and luxury, well, defeat is just one of the crappy feelings that overwhelms me.

I'm facing, more and more every day, the very real possibility that, contrary to all I've ever thought, Miami and are just are not compatible. I'm earning a good salary that means shit around here; I'm not the kind of person who gives a crap about nice cars, designer purses and sunglasses, the latest clubs, etc., and that seems to be all that matters around here; I don't flaunt my connections; and most important of all, it goes against everything I stand for and am for me to maintain a lifestyle, or the illusion of a lifestyle, that I can't afford.

And still, I know Miami is not only these things. I've lived here my whole life and know that beauty abounds, that people can be kind, that not every one is as I've described. I think that what makes me feel so hopeless is the fact that our elected officials are doing nothing to make living here more affordable, equitable and enjoyable. And why should they? The grand majority of them are wealthy up the ass and tight with, if not directly in the pockets of, all the developers who are driving our economy. The people who are responsible for our lives here have no notion of who they're serving, have no concept of the reality many people here face. Nor do they care, or solutions would already be in place. All they care for is the image of Miami as this luxurious, fabulous place - despite the fact that the majority of its residents live in poverty or close to it. They want us to believe we're on par with NYC, when in fact we fall short on so many levels. If we, professionals who make good money and have only nominal debt, are having a rough time, what must it be like for others who make hourly wages, have no health insurance, or are mired in debt?

And so, we're gearing up for the extremely real possibility that, like so many have been doing, we will be packing up our stuff and heading towards more affordable, safer waters. Some place where we can earn good wages that allow us to buy a house and have some left over to save and enjoy a nice life. Some place where my son will be able to enjoy his youth and remain a child as long as possible. But some such place will come at a cost for me, too. Namely, being far from my family, a thought that is so painful that right now I can't comit to moving for sure. I've wanted nothing more than to have my son grow up close to his granparents - and to not be able to give them both such a gift makes me feel like shit.

In the end, I know I'll do the right thing. As it is, my parents and sisters all have great homes, and it's not their quality of life that's all but ruined by current circumstances. They're not the ones losing sleep over how to make all this happen and not lose ourselves in debt in the process. They have their own financial issues, sure, but it's safe to say we're a good 100 steps behind everyone.

It just sucks. Sucks so bad. We leave in less than two weeks on an exploratory trip to the northern part of New Jersey. We already know we can't afford the homes in this county, but the one next door seems pretty promising. Besides the fact that we have family there, we're drawn to the idea that this is an affordable, relatively safe area that is not experiencing any extreme growth. And the thought of being an hour or so away from NYC has its allure, too. We're looking at other places, taking our time to do as much homework as possible before we make a decision.

Right now, though, I just need to make this trip - I need to get away from here, I need to look at this area in northern Jersey through the eyes of a possible relocator. I need a mini-vacation with Ben's aunt, who is so great about hosting us and lending a sympathetic ear and sharing words of wisdom.

I need answers I'm nowhere near finding. And I need to face certain realities that I've been resisting. Somewhere in all this has to be the answer to the question that's driving me insane: where can we find a good quality of life where we will all flourish?

Posted by Tere @ 6/11/2006   | | | links to this post

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Damn This Hair

This happens every single time I cut my hair: within a couple of months, I HATE it and feel about as attractive as an 11-year-old girl.

I’m in the throes of this hatred right now. I cut my hair in February, mainly because the postpartum shedding, coupled with my regular shedding, was completely out of control, but also to please Ben, who still seems to think I’m 20 and can carry off cute short hair.

The problem with the cute short hair is that IT’S NOT ME. I’m a longhaired gal – it’s what makes me both look and feel pretty, and, more importantly, feminine. This bob I’ve got going (which is thankfully growing at a decent pace) is just so blah. It does nothing to enhance my face (which, post baby, could use all the help it can get).

The irony for me is that I rely on my hair so much to make me feel good, yet I don’t do anything more than wash it, put some anti-fizz stuff in it, and use either barrettes or hair bands to hold it back. I have no skills whatsoever to get it to do interesting things, it never stays in place, and my styles are rather uninspired – yet the weight of my femininity rests pretty much just on it.

Right now, when I personally care to be as pretty as I can possibly be (because there’s something about having a baby that really sucks the pretty out of you, and babies are incapable of telling you how beautiful you are, and puke and poop don’t do much to reaffirm the notion, and I usually don’t have the time or energy to get all glamorous), my hair is totally selling me out and it hurts. Hurts, I tell you. I need hair I can revel in, that will fan out across my pillow and make lovely, bouncy ponytails. This dead gopher I’ve got on my head is killing me. And until it’s all back, I just can’t feel like I’m me.

Posted by Tere @ 6/08/2006   | | | links to this post

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

A Dress To Nurse In

It's moments like these when I wish Max was off the boob. I need a dress for my cousin's wedding next month, and my requirements are so specific, that finding a dress is proving to basically be impossible.

First is the issue of length. It has to fall at least to my calf, or all the way down. Why, you ask? Isn't it obvious? I say. Because I will have hairy-ish legs that day, and I must hide them as well as I can. Wax, idiot, wax! you're yelling at your screen. But I can't. I leave on my beach vacation two weeks after the wedding, and I will wax in the days before I leave. If I wax (no shaving, not an option) for the wedding, I'll be too hairy for the beach but not enough to wax - and the beach trumps a wedding for waxing. And if the dress is full length, then it can't be too formal or promish or anything like that. Nothing satiny, full-skirted or too structured. Nothing that might have me be mistaken for a bridesmaid.

Next (and most importantly), I need to be able to nurse in it. I'm no longer picky about silly things like discretion. As long as I can easily push the straps aside to pop the boob out, I'm good. But this rules out anything too form-fitting or with a zipper up that back that will restrict access, and anything strapless, since I don't exactly want to slide my top down (that's just way too much, ya know?). Halters might work if I don't have to undo them and can just slide out of it.

Obviously, it has to be fairly priced, which in this case means nothing over $100.

Oh, and as far as color goes: nothing white or beige (for obvious reasons), no black (boring and all wrong for summer), and no red (not in the mood for it). So, yellow, green, blue, something like that.

So far, after three days of looking? Nada. Well, a potential one on Ebay, but if it gets too pricey, I'm out. I just wish, for one tiny second, that I didn't have so many factors to consider when picking out one damn dress.

Posted by Tere @ 6/07/2006   | | | links to this post

Monday, June 05, 2006

If I state My Intention, Does That Make It So?

I was 18 when I decided I would one day adopt a child. In the months following my diagnosis that I would "most likely" be infertile by my mid-20's, or definitely by the time I was 30, I was a mess - way too young to even think about this topic, but way too obsessive to not think about it and feel depressed and in need of a plan. I couldn't fathom the concept of dealing with infertility while I was still in high school, and I remember that what killed me most was the not knowing. I had an illness that left most women infertile, but birth control pills could very well regulate my hormones and all my sadness and depression could be for nothing. That's the best I ever got from any doctor: you won't know until you try, and we can't do anything until then.

I remember that in the very beginning, my feeling was that if I couldn't have my own kids the regular way, then I wanted nothing to do with motherhood. And strangely enough, it was my boyfriend at the time who made me see things differently. There were many impassioned pleas on his end to make me consider alternative methods, especially adoption. And at some point, it sunk in: there was a world of children out there who need mothers, and I could give them that gift. I got it. I liked it. And I ultimately came to embrace the idea of adoption.

And many years later, Ben and I were at that point in our relationship where we knew we wanted to spend our lives together. Except that we had very different views on children - as in, I wanted them and he didn't. (our struggle with this topic is very long and involved and best left for another day, so I'll just write around those sticky episodes of our relationship). Early in our marriage, Ben heard something on NPR about the situation in China with the baby girls who were being abandoned and the growing adoption industry there. After he did some research, he decided he wanted us to adopt a girl from China. When he told me about this, I immediately agreed. I was still committed to adoption, despite my growing need to know if I was capable of having a child. An international adoption had always appealed to me, and when Ben mentioned China, it just seemed right.

We have spent many years imagining and planning for our "chinita." We're well-versed on the entire process and the cost, and have pretty much chosen the agency we'd like to work with. The law in China is that both parents muct be at least 30 years old in order to adopt, so we still have time - which we need, because at approximately $18K, our chinita is one expensive bundle of love.

And this is in part what makes me fear we'll never have her. We've spent the last five years imagining her, planning for her, and yet, what if we ultimately can't afford this? Or worse, what if China refuses us? It's like, we want this so bad, it's almost too much for me to believe we can actually have it.

We are no longer adopting only out of need. We are doing it because we have fallen in love with an as-yet-unborn little girl whose life we want to fill with joy and love. She is ours as much as we are hers. And we'd do anything to one day be able to bring her home.

,

Posted by Tere @ 6/05/2006   | | | links to this post

Thursday, June 01, 2006

2006, I Hardly Knew Ye

Daiva, my beloved co-worker, comes into our shared office this morning and says, “Wow, it’s June 1st.” And yes indeed, WOW. At this time last year, I was 26 weeks pregnant, all cute and adorable in the weeks before my feet swelled, the baby dropped, and I looked like a bloated beluga whale. This time last year, we began to clear out the second bedroom, buy furniture and start painting the mural on the walls. This time last year, I was working like a dog on freelance work to bulk up my maternity leave money, a task that left me exhausted and cranky and frustrated. Max was already named Max, and I would spend hours on end chatting with him about my cravings, the plans for his room, the way we were going to play jokes on him, my hopes for his safe passage into this world, my fears about the kind of world he’d inherit, and just about every other single thought that entered my head. I had terrible acid reflux by this time, a side effect caused, so every older Cuban woman told me, by the fact that he surely had a full head of hair (and get this: he did, a head full of brilliant dark brown hair). The reflux was so bad I couldn’t sleep well at night anymore, despite my ritual of downing five Tums just before bed. Last June, I was craving (in this order) Fruit Loops, buffalo chicken strips with bleu cheese sauce (we were having dinner at Hooters at least twice a week), cream cheese and guava paste, honey mustard, Twizzlers and soy milk. That’s all my diet consisted of. Plus Cuban toast, bacon and café con leche for breakfast, and about 12 cups of water per day. I had already started pre-natal yoga and was surprised that I could do the whole class without it killing me. On June 10th, we did the best ultra sound ever, Cuban style: my mom, dad, Ben, me, Pablo (b-i-l who conveniently is an ob/gyn and hooked us up), my sister and other b-i-l – all of us crammed into a room that could really only accommodate the table, tech, patient and one other person – where Max put on a great show by sucking his thumb, punching my bladder, kicking my ribs and bobbing all over the place. It was also at this time that we caved in and bought the Tempur-Pedic mattress that we hoped would solve all our sleep problems, and it pretty much has.

And today, I’m still paying that bitch off. I’m still freelancing, which has become a lot harder to do considering my fulltime job both in and outside the home. And every assignment still leaves me exhausted and cranky and frustrated. I just got back into yoga and am trying to see how I can fit in at least one class per week. Random cravings still hit me, but that just seems to be part of my nature. And not only did I have Max safely, but he’s now a wide-eyed boy who’s soaking in every single around him, learning to test his boundaries, and discovering the world beyond himself. He’s charming and good-natured and makes facial expressions that are almost identical to mine. He’s fascinated by tiny details, preferring to play with buttons, labels and tiny crumbs of food and who knows what other junk on the floor. He still wakes up a lot at night, mostly just to play, and so far, he is just so cute and so thrilled to see me when I open my eyes to check on him, that I don’t have the heart or desire to get annoyed and mom-like, and instead of firmly getting his butt right back to sleep, I instead scoop him into my arms (or he flings himself into them) and cover him with kisses. He is now almost nine months old, and at almost 20 lbs., a long way from the tiny four-lb. peanut we brought home on 9/11. Despite the exhaustion and the constant worry over his safety and my ability to both teach him as much as possible and let him discover things on his own, this experience has been such a positive one that I’m no longer the Tere of a mere year ago.

And now, 2006 is halfway over. All that crap about time flying, I can't believe it, it was just yesterday - it's all true. My memory is full of very large holes and gaps, and yet my pregnancy and life since then are clearer and sharper in my mind than anything has ever been. Time won't ever slow down for us, and I must fight as hard as I can to hold on to these precious times and create memories that will carry me as the years fly by.

Then:


Now:


Posted by Tere @ 6/01/2006   | | | links to this post