mom vents and reddit

I’ve been on Reddit since pregnancy, giggling at marvelously funny people and also hunting down useful parenting posts. It’s an entertaining resource of information. And many of the most popular posts are always rant/vent threats about horrible, horrible DHs. (DH stands for dear husband, Mom lingo, but there’s nothing ‘dear’ about anything they write or anything that they do.)

It’s really the worst. Typical scenarios: Mom wakes up at night to help baby, DH complains, cue Mom Rant. Mom needs a break, DH whines about needing his break, cue Mom Rant. Mom can’t do laundry, DH complains, cue Mom Rant. Terrible things are said! Screenshots of texts are posted! 100+ comments of commiseration and solidarity, sister! Kick that DH in the face (or other body parts)! Go!

And I have to admit, sometimes, I sometimes feel truly upset for these moms. After all, just like them, I’ve been handling all the night wakings. How dare these DHs not appreciate us more? I’m a WAHM and I get it – it feels like we never have a single moment to ourselves between feeding baby, working, house chores, cooking, playing with baby. At least DH gets to leave the house, right? And sit in traffic in peace and quiet, right? And have adult conversations and real social interactions! What the poo! Wow there is so much to complain about…if we put our mind to it!

But sometimes, the conversations tend to be a bit one-sided. Maybe it’s because we moms are more rant-y than our DHs. Maybe we know how to express ourselves a bit better, when we’re on an anonymous forum board and we know our voices will be heard and accepted by other sympathizing moms. But there was one Reddit post that was so level-headed about how this mom needs to calm down and get some perspective. Instead of being shot down, it actually got upvoted gazillion times. Turns out, there’s people like me who read, feel upset, but also feel like “Hmm ok, maybe let’s take a step back.”

The Redditor gently reminded that we moms tend to forget that it’s not just our lives that’s been turned upside down. Yes, perhaps moms are doing the majority of the work and baby care, but both of our lifestyles have changed. For the better, yes. And maybe, for now…the worse? Well, that depends on your perspective. Think about it: DH no longer has time to come home and unwind after a stressful day and a long commute. There’s a 17-lb baby in the living room! There’s no more sleeping in on the weekends. Maybe DH loved videogames, pre-baby. Nada, post-baby. We’re vaguely sleep deprived all the time, even if baby is sleeping through the night. If DH is the only one working, there’s the unyielding, ongoing pressure of supporting the family.

And the house is different. There’s baby toys everywhere. Laundry baskets might not always be empty. Dishes in sink. I try to keep up with the household cleaning and keeping things tidy, it’s definitely chaotic sometimes. Dinners tend to be cold. And I’m sometimes so exhausted that I have 0% energy to even have a decent conversation by the time we’re sitting at the dinner table. I’m working on that. I’m working really hard on time management. More on that later.

A baby can be a strain on a relationship, especially in the early years. It’s like parent + marriage bootcamp. And our family — we’re doing alright! We’re starting to semi-work it out, here at 7.5 months in. Whenever I need a break, I tell him. When DH has had a long day and can’t give baby a bath, I do it. We do our best to respect and listen to each other. We try to communicate. It’s cliche, but communication is really key. We don’t keep track of things like, “I changed her diaper this morning, it’s your turn!” We don’t do that. (We try not to, at least. The poo has recently become quite phenomenal, thanks to solid foods.)

Vent away, moms. But then, let’s move on. Let’s forgive, work on the situation if you have to, talk to each other. A tiny amount of gentleness and respect goes a long way, for both sides.

Writer mom schiznophrenia

As a freelance writer and a work-at-home mom, it sometimes feels like I have multiple personalities. This morning, I was a culinary critic, getting a head start on the day at 6 a.m. and wrapping up a restaurant review while LO and hubby were asleep. Then I switched gears to become an expert on an electrical contractor, pumping out three paragraphs on biomass fuels and alternative solar energy. Oh, and somewhere in the afternoon, I was a blogger telling parents about the importance of early intervention for keiki who have autism and ADHD.

And throughout it all, there’s the LO feeding, playing, diaper changing, putting to bed, the laundry (Oh the neverending LAUNDRY!), dinner prep, cleaning the house and etc. etc. etc.

It’s non-stop. It’s crazy. It’s productive. And it’s a lot of fun!

It’s important as a freelance writer to have a niche — mine is food. But I also believe it’s a valuable and necessary skill to be able to write about pretty much anything your client wants. And you have to be able to write about any topic in an authoritative, pseudo-expert voice, without sounding like you have no clue. That’s why a lot of writing is, to be honest, faking it.

But the biggest challenge is training myself to switch seamlessly from one topic to another. It’s hard to shake off that tone/style/mindset for, let’s say, reporting on a news story, and going into an opinion piece. I have to give myself a break between articles by playing with LO, watching an episode of a TV series, eating 3 pieces of Dove chocolates and giggling at the little pick-me-up messages. Or, much healthier: taking a break.

And to keep my brain sane, I write things down (surprise, surprise!). I have a calendar that I use to keep all the different stories in check. On busy weeks, I have 2 to 3 articles to write a day, and anywhere from 1 to 4 interviews. Scheduling everything and having a to-do list helps me stay on top of my workload.

Until, of course, LO is teething and wakes up mid-nap, just when your phone rings for an interview. Blurgh!

 

Precious Moments

People say that weeks 1 through 6 are the hardest. That’s why they call it the fourth trimester, when two people whose worlds were just “we, our, us” gets hit by this tiny, wriggling, crying, bawling asteroid that’s depending solely upon them for its survival. When you’re up 2 a.m., 4 a.m., 6 a.m., etc. to the sound of a hungry newborn for weeks, it feels like you’ve just bought yourself a never-ending jarring wake up call: “WAAH WELCOME TO PARENTHOOD NOOBS WAAAAH.”

Browsing on Reddit and ScaryMommy.com made it clear to me that post-partum depression is a very real thing. There was a reason why Kapiolani Center and my baby’s pediatrician kept doublechecking if I had a “support” system. And I did. I was thankful that I had such a core support group with church, friends and family. They came over every day for a month after birth. They cleaned the house. They brought meals — lunch and dinner. They let me sleep while baby was asleep. What a blessing!

Yet, even with all that help, I definitely felt it. Not PPD. A slightly neurotic cocktail of mild baby blues and a touch of PPA: post-partum anxiety. Mahalo to the hormones all going crazy with having a baby and breastfeeding. I started crying when it didn’t make ANY sense to cry. I started worrying, and thinking anxious thoughts like: “I’m such a bad mom, and I never deserved to have you. Who would trust such a precious baby like you to me? I wouldn’t. I can’t do anything to help you, to understand what’s wrong when you cry, whether you’re choking on something, whether you’re gassy, whether you’re hungry. Did I eat something wrong? Did I set you down in the crib too fast? Am I not talking enough to you?”

Philippians 4:6-7: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

2 Corinthians 12:9: “And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.”

That’s when I read and prayed. I remembered that God gave me this baby and He knew what He was doing,  and as long as I’m doing my best…power is perfected in weakness. (Believe me. My weakspot has always been kids/spitups/tantrums/diapers/baby/ew.)

Suddenly, I started noticing all the precious moments. Like when the corners of her lips curve up, after she’s full and happy. How she seems so at home when she falls asleep nursing. When she looks at me with those deep, dark and beautiful eyes, so big and wise even at 3 weeks in. They’re her daddy’s eyes. When she give me the middle finger more times than I can count. LOL. How cute she looks when we give her a sponge bath. The baby smell! Ah!

We’re four months in now, and this new lifestyle of “three of us” is starting to make sense, starting to shift into place. It’s good and feels right, and when the next curveball comes around (4 month sleep regression?? Teething?? FEVERS?), we’re going to be OK.

And I’m going to be reading this post telling myself that I already told myself that we’re going to be OK! There!

The Hunger Is Real…

You know how everyone talks about pregnancy cravings? Well, it ain’t got nothing on breastfeeding cravings.

Sure, I craved it all while Anna was growing in me belly. Mcdonalds chicken Mcnuggets. Watermelons. Strawberries. Pickles. Hot dogs. Steak. Berries. Melons. Mangos. ALL THE CHOCOLATE.

But I don’t think I knew what true hunger was until I had my C-section and started getting into full BF mode around day 4. When I got home, I swelled up like a balloon. My legs turned into tree trunks. I had cankles. My ankles were as big as my thighs. I waddled around with all the water weight for maybe a week, thinking: OMG I AM NEVER GOING TO LOSE WEIGHT.

Then, suddenly 20 lbs of my pregnancy weight just vanished. When I stepped on the scale, I could hardly believe the number. I hadn’t been this skinny in  years. While I was happy to have lost the weight, a new problem arose: Although I was constantly eating, I was constantly starving.

I was a monster, guys. While feeding Anna every two hours, I was downing the gallon-sized water jug that I got from Kapiolani Medical Center, shoving fistfuls of mixed nuts from Costco into my mouth, heading back to the kitchen for lunch and dinner refills, eating granola cereal at 2 a.m., and filling my bowl with triple scoops of chocolate icecream. I used to get hangry before, but while sitting at the pediatricians for 3 hours without a snack, I was HANGRY. I’d stare jealously at Anna happily BF, when my spine seemed to suction itself to my belly. I felt like my body was eating itself, struggling to produce enough food for this ravenous 7lb, 3 oz creature that seemed like the only other person in the world who was more hungry than I was.

I kept losing weight too. 5 more lbs, and then another 5. It was a little scary, and I kept trying to gain it back because I wanted to make sure I was healthy and could produce enough milk.

The hunger continued for 3 months. The gnawing sensation of my empty stomach would be satisfied after I inhaled an ENORMOUS meal, and then come right back half an hour later. But slowly, it got better. Particularly around 3.5 months, and significantly improved by 4 months.

Now, hunger still suddenly strikes, especially in the morning or when I’m dehydrated, but that oh-my-goodness-feed-me-NOW-OR DEATH feeling is gone. People say you have to eat healthy during this time. Load up on protein, drink plenty of water, don’t eat candy and eat fruits instead. I tried. I tried, really. But TBH, BF is supposed to burn like 6,000 calories (OK, no, it’s like 500-600 calories) right? So I ended up thinking: “If I’m on this miraculous diet right now, why NOT enjoy it and indulge?”

So I’m drinking lots of water, trying to eat healthy and fill my plate up with veggies, but I’m not going to beat myself up for eating one (or two) bowls of icecream after dinner..hopefully this doesn’t come back to bite me in the butt when I stop BF.

 

10 WAHM Confessions

1: When on the phone with a client, sometimes LO wakes up and needs to be fed after a 5 hr (amazing) nap. I close the door and have to let her cry because it’s an important client. #momguilt

2: I’ve taken my baby to a couple interviews. It’s the nice short ones, where you walk around a lot on an exhibit tour, and she falls asleep which is kinda great actually, but at the back of my mind I always wonder if this is incredibly unprofessional.

3: I’ve breastfed while still working on a particularly good sentence so I don’t lose momentum.

4. I’ve also pumped while writing an article. #handsfreebra #maharoz #ftw #ftm

5. Feeding/diaper changes/playtime have become a good/healthy break for me from working nonstop.

6. There are bad days where I am mega pooped because LO is mega pooping. Like, non-stop, poop marathons. And all I want is coffee on these days. I am very jealous of moms who can chug down gallons of coffee while BF – go you!

7. I’ve become more productive working from home now because I pack in all my writing, interviewing, researching while LO is asleep or playing by herself. Time management is key, people.

8. Once I was working while having Gilmore Girls on TV, and LO became incredibly quiet in the midst of her talking/cooing/chattering/gurgling. 15 minutes later, I realized that she was mesmerized with Rory and Lorelai too. AAAH, 3 month old watching TV? NOOO…(but it was actually a wonderful 15 minutes.)

9. Not WAHM-related, but I haven’t read a book in ages. My day is usually baby, work, baby, work, dinner with hubby, crashoutsleepzzzz. I need a time to schedule in a good read, and I need a good book recommendation too.

10. My favorite part of the day is when LO wakes up and she is playing by herself, and when hubby and I walk in, the happy smiles, the exciting feet kicking and the giggles make everything all worth it.

 

THE GREAT DEBATE: Queens vs Kapiolani

Pretty much from day one of my pregnancy, it seemed like everyone was asking me: “Are you giving birth at Queen’s or Kapiolani?” Felt like these two were the only choices for a mom to give birth on Oahu — not true, but kind of also true. Queen’s Hospital and Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children are both hospitals that are considered to be the best on the island, and have pretty good reputations for delivering safe, happy babies.

My Queen’s Pros & Cons List:

  1. Pro: Closer to our home.
  2. Con: No NICU Ward
  3. Pro: A private room was guaranteed.
  4. Con: Friends told me bad nurse stories
  5. Pro: Newly revamped food menu like steak, meatloaf, spaghetti. (I have to be honest: this was a major pro for me.)

My Kapiolani Pros & Cons List:

  1. Pro: Its own NICU ward. This means that if there are complications with your baby, it can receive care right there — Kapiolani is the only hospital on the island with NICU.
  2. Con: Private room not guaranteed. I would have had to share if crowded. (This was a big con for me.)
  3. Pro: Its own anesthesiologist, on-call 24/7.
  4. Con: We weren’t such a huge fan of the tour. Queen’s felt friendlier.
  5. Pro: EVERYONE RECOMMENDED KAPIOLANI.

Guess which one I went with? Kapiolani. Mainly because my hanai sister had her baby right before me, and she had complications that would have led to a possible emergency C-section. In the end she didn’t have to, but Kapiolani had all the resources right there. And I really didn’t want something to happen to the baby and then had to be separated from her when they took her from Queen’s to Kapiolani. It just made more sense.

But to be fair, both hospitals were pretty comparable. And Kapiolani was really great. I got the LAST private room that day. Which one did you go with, MOMS OF HAWAII?

 

Happy Anna Lily Day!

A sappy thing I wrote for Anna Lily a week after she was born:

“Hi Anna Lily,

Yes, that’s your name! You are healthy, happy and sleeping as I am typing this out at 9:41 am. 😀 You arrived a little earlier than expected last week —  God was in charge and He knew the best timing for you. ❤

You were scheduled for a C section for Tuesday, 7/5. But then the possibility of a 7/1 birthday came up because of low amniotic fluids in le womb. AND THEN it turns out you had other plans. Last week Wednesday and Thursday (6/29 and 6/30) I noticed that you weren’t moving as much as before in my tummy, and I called Dr. Wong. She told me to go immediately to the hospital for a non-stress test. (Your daddy called it a stress test and we were like NOOO.)

I was pretty sure you were OK, you were moving here and there and it just wasn’t reaching the “10 times an hour, twice a day” mark. I was a little nervous though, and just in case, your daddy brought the half-packed hospital bag lol. Thank God he did!

I was so thankful to hear your heartbeat, but they kept us there for a little while longer, monitoring both you and me. There were some crazy BH contractions going on. Doctor walks in, tells me SUPER SERIOUSLY that my blood pressure was high, my amniotic fluids were still low, and while you had a heartbeat, “it could be better.” He says there was just no point in waiting for something to happen, basically — the conditions just weren’t the best at that point. Maybe my blood pressure was high because I was nervous, or maybe it was leading up to something else.

The verdict: Get a C section right away, like in 30 MINUTES. Whaaaat?

Your daddy and I just sort of nodded our okays and CUE THE OVERWHELMING: everyone just poured into the triage room. One nurse is sticking an IV in my arm, while another is giving me a free shave down there, they are spouting all kinds of info about the anesthesia and what to expect, and OW THAT CATHETER and I’m signing consent forms and the next thing I know, I am getting wheeled out of triage and into the OR. Your aunty Naomi comes in just in time, and we both get a little teary eyed and she waves me bye.

I get the spinal. Feel a little pinch and then legs go numb and the blue sheet covers everything from tummy down. My legs and arms get strapped down and your daddy comes in his Easter bunny white onesie and shower cap. I can’t tell when the surgery started, but I guess it did. There is tugging and pulling and I really really try not to think about what might be going on behind the sheet cos I knew I would psyche myself out. Then we hear you cry and omgoodness YOU ARE FINALLY HERE and hubby is crying and I’m crying and we are all a mess lol.

They took you away for about 30 mins, which made me so sad, but then I got to hold you and breastfeed her immediately. You are such a trooper! Latching and drinking so well. We had to top you off with a little formula here and there, but you are breastfeeding like a pro. Anna, I know this is way too early, but let me just say, never let anybody make you feel bad if you have to supplement when your time comes. One nurse kind of did, and since my hormones were all bonkers, I was a wreck on the second day.

It’s been a little over a week and the days are just flying by. The first couple nights was an adjustment for all three of us, but last night you were amazing. Sleeping for three hours at a time, and not even crying at all. As for me, I can now walk around at home, get up from bed, pick you up, shower, and even shave my legs. I might have over did it a bit, here and there, so today I want to take it easy. At the hospital, I could hardly move but it is true what they say: the sooner you can start doing things, the better you feel.

I pray that you’ll keep growing healthily and doing well. Your first dr’s appointment was Wednesday and again, what a trooper you were! Keep it up, baby.”