Bless This Mess

There’s something wrong with me. Lungs on fire, acid stomach, twelves hours of sharp, jutting pains through my midsection that came and went. I went to the doctor after a quarter of a yogurt made my esophagus light up like a Duraflame. He called for a nurse to be present while he dug his fingers into my midsection: Where does it hurt you, baby?

Maybe an ulcer. I bought $80 worth of prescription drugs at Walgreens on 23rd street and went back to work.

My colleagues asked me how it went. Their eyes clapped shut and opened wide in disbelief when I told them what it might be. How old are you? None of them have children.

The days are so long now. I used to have time to breathe. I remember when weekends were for recovery, when rest was possible, when sleep was more than the gulp of air needed to dive back underwater for another 15 hours. When I find little pockets of space now, a few minutes on the train where I’m not answering emails, half an hour after my daughter finally falls asleep before my face hits the side of the pillow with a splat, I am numb. I play Candy Crush. I have nothing left.

Feeling Things is not my forte. Feelings are messy, uncooked. I’m a planner, an organizer, a doer. I will acknowledge them only when they press me, or are not my fault. They get hurt and I will ask for your repentance. There now, it’s been handled. Keep swallowing.

Feelings have a way of rising up. They do not appreciate being ignored. I drank them down. When that stopped working, I spent hundreds of hours stroking and fondling them in recovery. I opened the door and let them in. I decided we could all live in this body. They settled in, despite hating the furniture.

Now, I’m a mother. There isn’t time.

I leave for work at the crack of dawn, before the sun or my daughter is awake. I walk the dog in the pitch dark freezing night. I pick his steaming shit up with a black plastic bag and feel it warm my hand. I sit on the commuter train with business men in suits with mouths like parentheses who skim quickly through the Wall Street Journal so they can watch Family Guy on their iPads. They wear wedding rings and don’t smell like anything.

At work, I think about cancer. One guy has six kinds of cancer and half an arm. He is not old. My heart breaks open. My brain says, “You are going to die, too.”

There is nothing I want to do more than this work. To keep the anxiety at bay, I walk to the water machine and push the button. Cucumber seltzer. It’s a good prize.

I leave a meeting early and hustle to daycare to pick up Lucy. She doesn’t want to leave. I bribe her into the car with a two-pack of Saltines. At home, she throws a tantrum when I put her down, pick her up, give her milk in the wrong plastic cup. I offer TV and she is happy. She doesn’t want dinner. I microwave something. I eat it out of the plastic tub on the couch while Lucy sits engrossed in cartoon mermen. I love her so much in this moment, where she is happy and my attention is not required.

I try to read her books but she’s impatient. We look for everything in her room that’s yellow. She wants banana, a yogurt, sweet things. She refuses pajamas. She smells like pee. I bribe her to change her diaper. Once the lights are out, she clings to me with force, won’t let me put her down. I sing Baby Beluga over and over again in the dark. When she’s almost asleep, she shoots up, realizing how I’ve tricked her eyelids into heaviness. She shouts for Dada, who is more fun. I leave, and they throw all the monsters out of the bed.

My bedtime routine is 5 things, and I hate them. I do them anyway, and crawl into bed. I play more Candy Crush. I look at Instagram. Women are wearing bikinis and cooking beef short ribs from scratch. I compare myself to them. I click the lamp to black and let a podcast lull me to sleep, filling my brain with someone else’s story.

I take it back. I feel constantly. I feel guilt and shame about not spending time with my kid, and then guilt and shame about being so tired that when I do see her, I want to check out. I am sleepwalking through a room full of people shouting, “Wake up! You asked for this!”

I did. I want all of these things. I love Lucy, how she puts all of the monkey things together in one pile, how she grits her teeth for the camera, thinking that’s what a smile is. I love my job more than any work I’ve ever done before. I love the man with 6 types of cancer and half an arm and I want his suffering to mean something in the larger context of research and fighting and fixing and curing.

Here it is, everything you asked for. Job, daughter, husband, house. Meaning.

I love it. Please don’t take it away. Just tell me: how do I not self-destruct?

I took the day off today, my first day off. I didn’t need to. I feel okay. I am not shitting blood.

I’m reading. I’m lying in bed in a sweatsuit listening to Arvo Part with my dumb cats, feeling stuff. I’m moisturizing. I’m waiting for this aromatherapy diffuser I ordered to be delivered from Amazon. I haven’t decided yet which smell to experience first.

I think they call this a mental health day.

Tomorrow I’ll commute into the city for an endoscopy. An invasive medical cherry on the proverbial cupcake. As a former drunk, I am not not looking forward to the procedure’s required black-out. Sounds like rest, to me.

Bless this mess. Good things are rarely easy.

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via @taprootdoula

Nursery Decor: It’s All Lies

Back when I was still figuring out what kind of nursery I wanted to create for my first baby (you know, a perfect one that represents every aspiration I’ve ever held for my child in furniture form), I did a lot of Pinteresting. Pinterest is great, but also I hope you are a billionaire who is obsessed with baby grey, yellow, and chevron because that is what you will find there.

There is also a lot of word art. Kyle and I decided to go ahead and make our own art for her walls, because we (I) wanted her to stare at Carl Sagan quotes all night long and then grow up to be a badass woman scientist and win a Nobel prize.

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But mostly what you see on Pinterest are the same 5 quotes, which really are very cute, but also pretty saccharin and hopeful and so now I’m going to make fun of them. Because what if instead of putting our hopes and dreams onto their nursery walls, we actually told the truth?

little but fierce

Yes, my daughter is both little, and fierce. But little is relative. And fierce mostly when screaming for things all day long.

shit in pants

move bowels

Just once I would like to see the word “bowels” gold-leafed.

dream big

My next kid is getting these. (Unless it works, and Lu becomes a tiny science scholar, in which case my next kid is getting a math room with chalkboard-theorem walls like that high-five montage scene in Good Will Hunting).

Pregnancy Myths, REVEALED! (An Illustrated Guide)

People say a lot of weird things about being pregnant, and it mostly comes from those who are a) not pregnant at that moment, b) are a man, and c) should shut up. People need to stop giving you advice because it’s starting to cut into the 15 hours per day you have allotted to not sleeping and fanatically googling.

Here are some things you might hear around town that are wrong.

  1. You’re glowing!

pregnant

Unless “glowing” now means “fucking exhausted” and “bigger than Donald Trump’s ego” and “more terrified of what’s about to happen than a cat of a cucumber” then no, you are not glowing. Maybe you were glowing, like right after you had sex 9 months ago, or in your second trimester when you finally stopped puking and ate something other than fries for the first time in 2 months. But now? The only thing glowing is your attitude if you run out of Haagen Dazs. (Do NOT run out of Haagen Dazs).

  1. Eating for two is a myth; you’re actually eating for one plus a few extra calories, like in a light yogurt!

eating 2

Okay, this one might technically be true, but shhhh. The only way to describe the unquantifiably enormous amount that you will love your babies to a pregnant lady is in saying, “Imagine a platter of cheeseburgers that goes on for infinite, and then add coffee, various cakes, and sleeping.” You will love your baby a lot. Also, light yogurt is not that delicious. Also, lettuce is a vegetable.

  1. Don’t pet cats!

cat lady pregnant

That is, if you even WANT to pet cats. (If you don’t, feel free to use pregnancy as an excuse to avoid them like the plague). But you can actually pet cats, you just can’t change their litter boxes, which you shouldn’t be doing anyway, because that is why you got married.

BONUS: It is also a myth that any pregnant woman alive who is not insane would wear a button-up shirt and just casually only button two buttons and then let her giant stomach hang over a blanket while she pet a cat. But I’m trying to illustrate a point here, which is that you can touch cats, if you want to and are pregnant.

  1. You have to take at least one picture of your giant stomach with your partner’s hands in a heart framing your cavernous belly button!

hands heart

Myth! Feel free to take this picture, or feel free to ask people to NOT take pictures of you while very pregnant, like when you’re stopping at Dunkin Donuts for the second time in one day and people are giving you sad, sympathetic looks, even when you chuckle nervously at the lady ringing you up and casually mention how much everybody at your office loves donuts. Instead of staging photos, you can also just lie around in bed in a sweatsuit and demand that nobody touch you. Ever again.

  1. Your lopsided bump is indicative of your baby’s gender!

girl or boy

Is your baby sitting a little to the left? Is your belly awkwardly misshapen? Did you do a special little dance during getting-pregnant sex? Did you google that weird “what sex is my baby” birthday chart that a million people swear works and IS REAL? Nope. Sorry! Your physical symptoms point to the condition of “being pregnant.” You’re going to have to wait to find out just like everybody else.

BONUS TIP: This one’s important: if anyone ever says to you, “wow, I can’t believe you’re still pregnant!” or “wow, you are HUGE” give them a black eye.

Now, go eat a pizza in a pair of sweats. Dribble a little tomato sauce down the front for me. If anyone dares enter your nest(flix), start screaming at them in Elvish and crying, alternately, until they fear for their lives.

19 Things I Said I’d Never Do Which I Did Within 3 Months of Becoming a Mom

  1. Think that 5 am is a reasonable time of day to get up

  2. Consider a sweatsuit to be a practical, flattering outfit

  3. Own 3 strollers, because they all serve very different purposes, ok?

  4. Have someone else’s poop touch my body and not run screaming into a bathtub full of Lysol

  5. Consider four hours of sleep in a row to be “a real improvement”

  6. Sing Daniel Tiger songs in the shower, and occasionally hum them in public

  7. Have an Instagram feed of entirely pictures of a bald wrinkly blob with eyes

  8. Let a human being drag their hands around on the floor gathering dog hair tumbleweeds and then stick them in my mouth

  9. Memorize a mental checklist of 47 things I need every single time I leave the house

  10. Bite a black bean in half and feed it to someone

  11. Have porn star boobs

  12. Join a bunch of Facebook groups and participate in thoughtful discussions about what kind of rash that is

  13. Get peed on

  14. Post photos to the internet of someone covered in disgusting foods and sauces

  15. Eat dinner in restaurants at 4:30pm

  16. Invent a song about a washcloth

  17. Go to Starbucks with barf in my hair

  18. Tweet a cute garbage can company

  19. Think that one hour alone with a book and a breadbasket is afterlife-level paradise

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A Guide to Postpartum Fashion for the Brand New Mom

Much like a survivor of tragedy, I’ve largely blocked out the very early days of Lucy’s life. I’m trying to recall now, 7 months later, what it felt like to never sleep more than 2 hours in a row, not eat a meal that wasn’t initially frozen, and simultaneously wear an F cup and a disposable diaper for adult women. Sure, I was in awe of my little newborn because she was beautiful and I loved her, but also because I had no idea how someone that small could shit that much. I mostly remember trying desperately to keep her calm so I could play Donkey Kong or watch Netflix and try to process how my life and my body had completely changed, really it felt like falling apart, overnight.

Based on my experience of having done this one time, I’d like to offer you my guide to postpartum dressing as a simple, four part plan. Dress for success, ladies!

1. Kiss your hospital frump goodbye with this matching, two piece set in luxurious cotton with an embroidered overlay Champion logo.

it's okay to match your cat

it’s okay to match your cat

The elastic accents of the suit will highlight your slimmest features: your wrists and neck. The roomy and fashionable harem-style pant will accommodate the most audacious of adult diapers.

Selecting the suit in orange will hide the electric-colored residue of organic, low calorie snacks, like possibly carrots, but definitely Nacho Cheese Doritos.

Bonus: selecting the suit in blue will likewise hide the evidence of the Cooler Ranch option.

rest when you can

2. Wear something sexy to bed so your husband finds you desirable.

date night

date night

No man wants to come home at the end of a long day to a frumpy wife with streaks of barf collating her unwashed hair into temporary dreadlocks.

While I don’t recommend a lace thong for the days immediately postpartum, a fitted pajama set in heather grey will help to accentuate the bags under your eyes. A delicate, silken robe screams “come hither, and bring the Haagen Dazs or I’ll murder you.”

3. Instead of eating fattening processed meats and cheeses, become the meats and cheeses.

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totally normal

This type of look proudly proclaims, “I swear I’m ready to leave the house!” No one will question you in this outfit. In fact, the moment you put it on, several family members will insist on taking the baby for a few hours so you can get some sleep. Essentially, you are wearing a meat tube with magical powers. (Because sleep is nothing if not pure magic).

4. When in doubt, accessorize your look with a colorful scarf!

scarf barf

ready for anything, for example, a nap

Is that breastmilk leaking through your top? Just pull the scarf a little to one side for a more French interpretation of the look.

You’ll look effortlessly polished and ready to seize the day just by adding a simple scarf. No one at Stop and Shop will be able to tell you just gave birth to a bowling ball while you mindlessly dump 8 kinds of cheese into your cart and try to remember the last time you showered.

If you’re still too overwhelmed by the whole motherhood thing to follow these four simple rules, then just remember this one thing: you are the best.

Now send your partner out to 7-11 and do not let him return without $40 worth of processed snacks. Try not to wipe Cheeto stains on the baby but if you do, it’s okay.  You’re still the best.