Last night in bed, I started scratching my left hand and right arm. Vigorously. I turned on my handy little flashlight app and saw that I indeed had two new bug bites. Mosquitoes? Spiders? I tend to have pretty significant reactions to both.
In any case, I was pretty sure they were mosquito bites - and after a rather lengthy session of scratching, (yes, I know you're not supposed to), I finally fell back asleep.
Cut to a few hours later, when I awoke from a strange dream - and something occurred to me:
Wait a minute... Can the Zika virus be passed through breast milk?
Shit. It probably can. What if I was bitten by an infected mosquito? Crap.
So, I googled, as is my way. I found this article on Kelly Mom, which states the following:
"To date, there are no reports of infants getting Zika virus through breastfeeding.“
Hmm. No reports eh? Well, Zika is relatively new here in the United States and they just discovered/reported that it can be transmitted through blood and semen. It was also just reported today that 279 pregnant women in the U.S. and its territories have the illness. (157 women in the 50 states and 122 in the U.S. territories).
I conferred with John, who basically thinks I'm being insane - and he's probably right. I have a tendency - but the thing is, better safe than sorry!
I'm down to one feeding a day with her - and I think now might be a really fantastic time to just cut it out. She doesn't even seem that interested anyway and derives a great deal of joy from holding a bottle on her own. She gets crazy distracted while breastfeeding - and frankly, I'm kind-of over it.
Our pediatrician said anything past 6 months is bonus territory - and that the 6 months is really for immunity-building purposes and so she's covered, seeing as how she's 7.5 months now.
Part of me can't help but be concerned about her last feeding now.
And part of me can't help but think this is a sign. It's time to cut her off. Nobody seems to know what the deal is with this virus - and I just don't want to take any chances.
I'm sure that some will interpret this as some kind of lame excuse to cut the baby off from the milk bar prematurely - but I can assure you, it's not. I'm paranoid. If something happened to my baby that could've been prevented, I think I'd pretty much want to die.
So, I think this is it. I think she's done.
We will see how it goes.
I realize this makes me sound like a bit of an asshole - the implication being that I don't love my own mother enough to appreciate Mother's Day more. The reality though, is that until I had my own child, I really couldn't even begin to comprehend the intensity of a mother's love. Now, I am overwhelmed by it - literally consumed. I think about Gypsy all the time. Every decision I make now involves her and I love that. I adore being a mommy - more than I ever thought possible. So, when I called my own mom on Mother's Day, it was different this time, because I finally understood how she felt - and I appreciated her even more than ever. See? Not a complete asshole after all.
Mother's Day, or as we're calling it in our house, Mommy Day, (because really - other than Norman Bates, who calls their mom, mother)? - couldn't have been better as a true 'first' for me.
Gypsy woke me up around 5:00 a.m. She slept through the night, which she's starting to do more. (YAY). I was still tired though, because when she doesn't wake me up in the middle of the night, I get nervous and check on her - and then it takes me a while to go back to sleep. Anyway, I fed her and didn't want to let go of her, so I just kept her in my lap. She started chatting for a bit - and then dozed off... on my chest. I was over the moon. She hasn't done that since she was a newborn. She passed out, as did I not long thereafter, and the two of us cuddled and slept for three full hours. It was blissful.
Then, my husband posts his card for me on my Facebook page. He literally drew me up on a pedestal, made me look hotter than I actually am, (but I'll take it), and while I was slightly embarrassed by the thought of being put up on a pedestal like that, I love knowing that's how he sees me.
Again, I'll take it - especially since I'm one of the last people that belong on a pedestal. I can be a challenge - a real handful even, but I won't go into too much more detail for now.
John brought me stunning parrot tulips and a bottle of my favorite chardonnay and that was it. A somewhat lazy, but entirely blissful Sunday with my fambly. It was a perfect first Mommy Day. John and I have been through a lot together. There have been some serious trials - and friends have asked us how we managed to pull through. I'm not really sure, but I am all the more thankful for every single one of our experiences to date... the good, the bad and the ugly, because they brought us here... to where we are now, with Gypsy. I can't imagine a life without her. I never thought I'd sit here reminiscing about the fairly banal aspects of a typical Mother's Day... food, flowers, cards, sleeping infants... but here I am, happier than ever. The simplicity and beauty of it all is just stunning.
Leigh Hope Fountain 0 Comments
These are my true friends. I think they know who they are.
Some I speak with or see regularly. Others, I can go a year or so without hearing from and when we reconnect, it's like nothing has really changed.
Now that I'm a mom in New York City however, I've begun to see the benefit in having other mommy friends. I had a few, but unfortunately, they moved to greener pastures, (literally... Michigan and Colorado).
I recently reconnected with a friend who I hadn't seen in a handful of years, and guess what?!? She had a baby in that time. In fact, she beat me to the punch by about a year. Her little one is 18 months old and she happens to live in one of the neighborhoods we're contemplating moving to this summer.
My friends back in California have lots of other mommy friends. And they have cars, so it's fairly easy to do the whole play date thing. In NYC, it's not so easy, especially if those friends live in other boroughs and you have to pack up the baby and all of the crap you need to have on-hand for baby and either use a carrier or a giant stroller to get a baby up and down subway stairs, etc. etc.
I've done it. It's one of many reasons I'm an even bigger proponent of lightweight, highly compact, old-school strollers, (which I'll be purchasing this week). I've got an 18-lb baby girl and carrying her around on my chest is lovely - until I've done it for almost an hour and my lower back starts telling you that it's time pack it in and go home.
Late one night not that long ago, I figured I'd google apps for meeting other mommies in the area. They must exist, right? I can't be the only one with a new baby who doesn't know any other mothers. I found a few - but none of the mommies were in my 'hood. I think those apps might all still be in their infancy and I quickly abandoned them. I realize I'm not helping their cause. Then I ran across a few stories about new apps for women meeting other women to hang with.
It wasn't specifically for mommies, but I figured there are bound to be a few on there... so I signed up. In swiping through profiles, I quickly discovered that the vast majority of participants are 20-something college students or recent grads. Not for me. But, I'd stumble across a profile or two here-and-there of someone in their 30s. I said 'hi' to a few of them. They said hi back. I also found exactly one other mother in Brooklyn.
We have plans on Friday.
It's a little weird. I'm aware. It's like dating for friends. And so it's weird. But it's hard making new friends as you get older - even in a city as densely populated as this one.
I met my husband online back in 2004 when everyone thought I was insane for having to 'resort' to internet dating to find the one. In fact, I'd tried match.com as far back as 2000 when I was more or less 'assigned' to look into it for work. I immediately loved it. You're opening your world up to an entirely different set of people you'd probably otherwise never, ever meet.
And guess what? It fucking worked. I have a kick-ass husband and now we have a kick-ass baby - and we need some kick-ass fellow parent friends to hang with here in Brooklyn.
So I'm willing to experiment with tech again, to track down some good peeps. Wish me luck.
Leigh Hope Fountain 1 Comments
common sense delayed gratification huffington post independence mental toughness parenting problem-solving skills
I am REALLY overdue on posting. That said, I was thrilled to have saved this amazing Huffington Post article, because it says a LOT of things I think about a LOT.
If you haven't seen it, enjoy!
Are Today’s Parents Getting a Raw Deal?
Summer 1974. I’m 9 years old. By 7:30 a.m., I’m up and out of the house, or if it’s Saturday I’m up and doing exactly what my father, Big Jerry, has told me to do. Might be raking, mowing, digging holes or washing cars.
Summer 2016. I’m tiptoeing out of the house, on my way to work, in an effort not to wake my children who will undoubtedly sleep until 11 a.m. They may complete a couple of the chores I’ve left in a list on the kitchen counter for them, or they may eat stale Cheez-Its that were left in their rooms three days ago, in order to avoid the kitchen at all costs and “not see” the list.
If you haven’t noticed, we’re getting a raw deal where this parenting gig is concerned. When did adults start caring whether or not their kids were safe, happy or popular? I can assure you that Ginny and Big Jerry were not wiling away the hours wondering if my brother and I were fulfilled.
Big Jerry was stoking the fires of his retirement savings and working, and working some more. Ginny was double bolting the door in order to keep us out of the house, and talking on the phone while she smoked a Kent. Meanwhile, we were three neighborhoods away, playing with some kids we’d never met, and we had crossed two major highways on bicycles with semi-flat tires to get there. Odds are, one of us had crashed at some point and was bleeding pretty impressively. No one cared. We were kids and if we weren’t acting as free labor, we were supposed to be out of the house and out of the way.
My personal belief is that the same “woman with too little to do,” that decided it was necessary to give 4-year-old guests a gift for coming to a birthday party, is the same loon who decided we were here to serve our kids and not the other way around.
Think about it. As a kid, what was your costume for Halloween? If you were really lucky, your mom jabbed a pair of scissors in an old sheet, cut two eye holes, and you were a ghost. If her friend was coming over to frost her hair and showed up early, you got one eye hole cut and spent the next 45 minutes using a sharp stick to jab a second hole that was about two inches lower than its partner.
I watched my cousin run directly into a parked car due to this very costume one year. He was still yelling, “Trick or Treat” as he slid down the rear quarter panel of a Buick, mildly concussed. When my son was 3 years old, we had a clown costume made by a seamstress, complete with pointy clown hat, and grease makeup. His grandmother spent more having that costume made than she did on my prom dress.
At some point in the last 25 years, the tide shifted and the parents started getting the marginal cars and the cheap clothes while the kids live like rock stars. We spend enormous amounts of money on private instruction, the best sports gear money can buy, and adhere to crazy competition schedules.
I’m as guilty as anyone. I’ve bought the $300 baseball bats with money that should have been invested in a retirement account, traveled from many an AAU basketball game, or travel baseball game, to a dance competition in the course of one day, and failed to even consider why.
Remember Hank Aaron? He didn’t need a $300 bat to be great. Your kid isn’t going pro and neither is mine, but you are going to retire one day — and dumpster-diving isn’t for the elderly. My brother and I still laugh about how, when he played high school baseball, there was one good bat and the entire team used it.
Remember your clothes in the ‘70s? Despite my best efforts to block it out, I can still remember my desperate need to have a pair of authentic Converse shoes. Did I get them? Negative. Oh, was it a punch in the gut when my mother presented me with the Archdale knock-offs she found somewhere between my hometown and Greensboro. Trust me. They weren’t even close. Did I complain? Hell, no. I’m still alive, aren’t I?
We’ve got an entire generation of kids spitting up on outfits that cost more than my monthly electric bill. There were no designer baby clothes when we were kids. Why? Because our parents weren’t crazy enough to spend $60 on an outfit for us to have explosive diarrhea in or vomit on. Our parents were focused on saving for their retirement and paying their house off.
The real beauty of it is that none of these kids are going to score a job straight out of college that will allow them to pay for the necessities of life, brand new cars, and $150 jeans, so guess who’s going to be getting the phone call when they can’t make rent? Yep, we are.
Think back — way, way back. Who cleaned the house and did the yard work when you were a kid? You did. In fact, that’s why some people had children. We were free labor. My mother served as supervisor for the indoor chores, and the house damn well better be spotless when my father came through the door at 5:35. The battle cry went something like this, “Oh, no! Your father will be home in 15 minutes! Get those toys put away nooooow!” The rest of our evening was spent getting up to turn the television on demand, and only to what Dad wanted to watch.
On weekends, Dad was in charge of outdoor work and if you were thirsty you drank out of the hose, because 2 minutes of air conditioning and a glass of water from the faucet might make you soft.
Who does the housework and yardwork now? The cleaning lady that comes on Thursday, and the landscaping crew that comes every other Tuesday. Most teenage boys have never touched a mower, and if you asked my daughter to clean a toilet, she would come back with a four-page paper on the various kinds of deadly bacteria present on toilet seats.
Everyone is too busy doing stuff to take care of the stuff they already have. But don’t get confused, they aren’t working or anything crazy like that. Juggling school assignments, extracurricular activities, and spending our money could become stressful if they had to work.
I don’t recall anyone being worried about my workload being stressful — or my mental health, in general. I don’t think my father was even certain about my birthday until about 10 years ago. Jerry and Ginny had grownup stuff to worry about. As teenagers, we managed our own social lives and school affairs. If Karen, while executing a hair flip, told me my new Rave perm made me look like shit and there was no way Kevin would ever go out with my scrawny ass, my mother wasn’t even going to know about it; much less call Karen’s mother and arrange a meeting where we could iron out our misunderstanding and take a selfie together.
Additionally, no phone calls were ever made to any of my teachers or coaches. Ever. If we sat the bench, we sat the bench. Our dads were at work anyway. They only knew what we told them. I can’t even conceive of my dad leaving work to come watch a ballgame. If I made a 92.999 and got a B, I got a B. No thinly veiled threats were made and no money changed hands to get me that A. (Okay, full disclosure, in my case we would be looking at an 84.9999. I was the poster child for underachievement.)
Back in our day, high school was a testing ground for life. We were learning to be adults under the semi-vigilant supervision of our parents. We had jobs because we wanted cars, and we wanted to be able to put gas in our cars, and wear Jordache jeans and Candies. Without jobs, we had Archdale sneakers and Wranglers, and borrowed our mother’s Chevrolet Caprice, affectionately known as the “land yacht,” on Friday night.
No one, I mean, no one, got a new car. I was considered fairly lucky because my parents bought me a car at all. I use the term “car” loosely. If I tell you it was a red convertible and stop right here, you might think me special. I wasn’t. My car was a red MG Midget, possibly a ‘74 and certainly a death trap.
Had I driven that car in high winds, it’s likely I would have ended up airborne, and there were probably some serious safety infractions committed the night I took 6 people in togas to a convenience store, but I wouldn’t go back and trade it out for a new 280Z, even if I had the chance. I was a challenging teenager, and in retrospect the fact that it was pretty impressive every time I made it home alive, may not have been an accident on the part of my parents.
Go to the high school now. These kids are driving cars that grown men working 55 hours a week can’t afford, and they aren’t paying for them with their jobs.
To top it all off, most of them head off to college without a clue what it’s like to look for a job, apply for it, interview and show up on time, as scheduled. If they have a job, it’s because someone owed their dad a favor... and then they work when it “fits their schedule.”
We all love our kids, and we want to see them happy and fulfilled. But I fear we’re robbing them of the experiences that make life memorable and make them capable, responsible, confident adults. For the majority of us, the very nice things we had as teenagers, we purchased with money we earned after saving for some ungodly amount of time. Our children are given most everything, and sometimes I wonder whether it’s for them or to make us feel like good parents. The bottom line is that you never value something you were given, as much as something you worked for.
There were lessons in our experiences, even though we didn’t know it at the time.
All those high school cat fights, and battles with teachers we clashed with, were an opportunity for us to learn how to negotiate and how to compromise. It also taught us that the world isn’t fair. Sometimes people just don’t like you, and sometimes you’ll work your ass off and still get screwed. We left high school, problem solvers. I’m afraid our kids are leaving high school with mommy and daddy on speed dial.
We just don’t have the cojones our parents had. We aren’t prepared to tell our kids that they won’t have it if they don’t work for it, because we can’t bear to see them go without and we can’t bear to see them fail. We’ve given them a whole lot of stuff; stuff that will break down, wear out, get lost, go out of style, and lose value.
As parents, I suppose some of us feel pretty proud about how we’ve contributed in a material way to our kid’s popularity and paved an easy street for them. I don’t, and I know there are many of you that are just as frustrated by it as I am. I worry about what we’ve robbed them of, which I’ve listed below, in the process of giving them everything.
1. Delayed gratification is a really good thing. It teaches you perseverance and how to determine the true value of something. Our kids don’t know a damn thing about delayed gratification. To them, delayed gratification is waiting for their phone to charge.
2. Problem-solving skills and the ability to manage emotion are crucial life skills. Kids now have every problem solved for them. Good luck calling their college professor to argue about how they should have another shot at that final because they had two other finals to study for and were stressed. Don’t laugh, parents have tried it.
3. Independence allows you to discover who you really are, instead of being what someone else expects you to be. It was something I craved. These kids have traded independence for new cars and Citizen jeans. They will live under someone’s thumb forever, if it means cool stuff. I would have lived in borderline condemned housing, and survived off of crackers and popsicles to maintain my independence. Oh wait, I actually did that. It pisses me off. You’re supposed to WANT to grow up and forge your way in the world; not live on someone else’s dime, under someone else’s rule, and too often these days, under someone else’s roof.
4. Common sense is that little something extra that allows you to figure out which direction is north, how to put air in your tires, or the best route to take at a certain time of day to avoid traffic. You develop common sense by making mistakes and learning from them. It’s a skill best acquired in a setting where it’s safe to fail, and is only mastered by actually doing things for yourself. By micromanaging our kids all the time, we’re setting them up for a lifetime of cluelessness and ineptitude. At a certain age, that cluelessness becomes dangerous. I’ve seen women marry to avoid thinking for themselves, and for some it was the wisest course of action.
5. Mental toughness is what allows a person to keep going despite everything going wrong. People with mental toughness are the ones who come out on top. They battle through job losses, difficult relationships, illness and failure. It is a quality born from adversity. Adversity is a GOOD thing. It teaches you what you’re made of. It puts into practice the old saying “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” It’s life’s teacher.
I know you’re calling me names right now, and mentally listing all the reasons this doesn’t apply to you and your kid, but remember I’m including myself in this. My kids aren’t as bad as some, because I’m too poor and too lazy to indulge them beyond a certain point. And I’m certainly not saying that our parents did everything right. God knows all that secondhand smoke I was exposed to, and those Sunday afternoon drives where Dad was drinking a Schlitz and I was standing on the front seat like a human projectile, were less than ideal.
But I do think parents in the ‘70s defined their roles in a way we never have. I worry that our kids are leaving home with more intellectual ability than we did, but without the life skills that will give them the success and independence that we’ve enjoyed.
Then again, maybe it’s not us parents that are getting the raw end of this deal after all.
Leigh Hope Fountain 0 Comments
Which by the way, is why I haven't blogged lately. The organization I work with hosts an annual meeting that consumes our lives for about one week each year. (Actually, when you count the month leading up to the meeting, it's longer - but really it's the one week that is pretty much all-consuming and in Vegas, it felt even crazier thanks to the lack of clocks and daylight which, combined with a subtle bit of jet-lag can really throw off your circadian rhythm and entire sleep schedule). I also developed what I have since learned is called, "Vegas Throat." Anyway, regardless of locale, it's an amazing experience and this year, I really relished the opportunity to get to know many more of our member physicians who I generally don't have face time with and spend more time with my Cali-based colleagues, but I'm not going to lie - it was a tough week because it was the first time I ever had to leave Gypsy for longer than a typical workday. And - I swear, I could literally see her changing in the pics day-to-day. She stopped looking like an infant and started to take on more 'adult' expressions.
That said, it was also a great experience for John. He got to spend nearly 8 straight days with our baby girl solo. It was a wonderful bonding experience for the two of them - and they kept me sane by sending me pics and videos fairly constantly. We'd also Facetime in the morning, (though Gypsy seemed nonplussed by that). I spent about a minute crying each morning because I missed her so damn much - but I also knew I had a job to do and that I want to set an example for her, which means always doing my best, which means not losing my shit when there's work to be done.
Anyway though, I survived and the meeting was a success - as were Gypsy and John's 8 days alone - and this is good, because it's looking like I'll be taking a second trip in August that might be equally as long as this one.
On another note - the cheerleading convention/competition was a total trip. I have never seen so many children milling about in a casino at ALL HOURS OF THE NIGHT. It was bizarre to say the least - and add to that the near-beauty-pageantry of it all (CREEPY) and that just made my head spin.
The one group I photographed, (pictured here and YES, of course I got permission), was the ONLY one I saw over the course of many days that looked like everyday little girls. No tarty makeup, no inappropriate outfits... just natural young girls doing their 'thing." It was refreshing to say the least.
Where were they from you ask?
Oh - well... Mexico. I'll let you do the math.
Leigh Hope Fountain 0 Comments
I realize this is the BEST POSSIBLE THING for Little G, and it's why I'm doing it.
Yes, it is a lovely little bonding thing, and yes, the health benefits for her are tremendous - no denying. It also helped me drop the 18 or 19 lbs. I gained during pregnancy practically overnight.
That said, we are just about 6 months in now... and I'm not gonna lie - I am getting very tired of walking around with comically large breasts. I was huge to begin with, (around a 36 DD or E or some nonsense), and now I'm walking around with a 36 G. A G!!!
I recently took a day trip to D.C. for work. Literally - a day trip where 10+ hours were spent traveling and about 3 hours were spent at an awards luncheon. I bought a hand pump for the occasion to bring with me so that I wouldn't wind up painfully engorged. Guess what didn't work? It was a nightmare. So there's the discomfort factor too - and carrying around an electric pump the size of a lunchbox that weighs about 5 lbs and has too many components to make it truly transportable sucks - as does feeling comfortable pumping in a public women's restroom with other women waiting on line to pee. Needless to say - this was bad planning on my part, and I won't be doing that again.
Back to the preposterous size of my boobs:
I am 5'2" tall - and while I'm curvy and not exactly small-boned, these breasts are officially disproportionately large on my person.
It is NOT okay.
I'm getting to the point where I am getting ridiculously self-conscious about it - especially as the weather warms up and I'm having to shed more layers. I also hate nursing bras. Yes they are convenient - but they're slightly padded adding even more insult to injury.
Of course, I'm going to hang on for 12 months of this, (so about another 6.5 to go), but the second I hit 12 months, I am done. D-O-N-E. done.
Then, I'm going to examine my breasts every single day like a neurotic does, to see if they're shrinking back down to their pre-pregnancy size, (which was already a bit too big). I'm not exactly sure how long I'm supposed to allocate to this. A month? Two months? In any case, if they don't at least go back down a few cup sizes, (preferably 3 although I'll take two), I'm seriously contemplating a reduction. Once again, good thing I work for the best plastic surgeons in the entire world at the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS).
Speaking of ASAPS - I'm heading to Vegas shortly for our Annual Meeting, and I'm supposed to attend a cocktail event where I'll need to dress appropriately. Tonight, I'll be rifling through my closet to see if I even own anything that will fit over my massive mammaries. If not, I'll be doing some shopping this weekend and daydreaming about October, which seems very far away at the moment.
Thank God I have this adorable drooly little distraction!
Leigh Hope Fountain 2 Comments
Anyway - life is chaotic at the moment. It's my busiest time of year work-wise, John is working like 3 or 4 jobs depending on how you look at it, (between watching Gypsy most of the time during the week along with teaching and freelancing), we're both trying to get healthier, (which translates to us both doing a LOT of cooking, measuring and prepping food in advance and squeezing in trips to the gym), there's family stuff, (which I won't elaborate on), and we're eyeballing new apartments. I'm not bitching though. In essence, I've never been happier.
I don't think I need to explain why. (See pics).
That said, I'm not going to deny that the thought of leaving her behind for 9 days as of March 31st is driving me batshit insane. I'm heading to Vegas for work - and it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever for her to tag along. She will be WAY better off at home, with her daddy, on her normal schedule in her normal environment. The time difference on the west coast coupled with long hours would be no bueno for little G. Not to mention the weird setting.
I am totally aware that this is the best thing for all involved, including me.
Doesn't make it any easier.
But there's Facetime and Skype... THANK GOD and I know I'll make it through this.
I just hope Delta gets me back in one piece. You hear that Delta? I'm on a red eye, alone - which makes me ALL THE MORE ANXIOUS. Don't fuck this up Delta. I need to see my little one grow up, okay? Seriously. There's never been more on the line than there is now.
Thank God for Ativan too. You don't want to see me on a plane without it.
Leigh Hope Fountain 2 Comments