Thursday, May 24, 2012


Ellen:  Hey TJ, would you mind watching Teddy Bear for a few minutes while I empty the dishwasher and get the kitchen cleaned up?

TJ: Sure, no problem. 

10 minutes pass.  I walk into the nursery to find them staring at his iPad laughing hysterically.  This is TJ's idea of "watching" Teddy.  Sabotage.

Enjoy.  Words can't express how much I love my husband and child.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

True Heartache

I’m a pretty selfish person.  It’s okay.  I know it.  Most of my frustrations can be stemmed from one simple truth: I’m not getting what I want, when I want it.  If something happened in life, it only happened to me.  Without getting into a huge theological discussion, it’s pretty much the nature of sin. 

From the second this kiddo was born my world shifted.  It was no longer about me, but about my little one.  (Don’t get me wrong…I’m still pretty darn selfish).  However, I have a new appreciation for anytime my parents ever said, “If I could take this pain away from you, I would.”  I thought I understood what that meant, but I didn’t. 

Little Teddy has been sick for about a month now.  His acid reflux has him up through the night screaming in pain every two hours.  During the day he can be lethargic and generally sad.  He has good days and bad days but it’s been a very hard time.  As soon as we think we get one thing figured out something else happens.  The latest is teething and/or a virus that he’s caught.  He now has a rash from head to toe, a fever, and his mouth/throat hurts him.  He holds his hands and then hits his face. The doc says there’s nothing we can do, it will pass soon enough.  Well, that’s just not soon enough. 

Throughout this time, TJ and I have taken turns in the middle of the night.  We rock him in the nursery with all the lights off and pray to God to take it away.  Give him peace.  Let him sleep.  Give it to us instead.  Teddy just whimpers and holds us tightly.  It breaks our heart.  When your parents said, “This hurts me more than it hurts you” what they really mean is they would gladly have their heart ripped out.  I’m talking Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, heart ripped out.  I would happily hop in that iron cage, yell for Short Round to hit the lever to drop me into lava, after watching my beating heart get ripped out of my chest if my son wouldn’t have to experience a moment of pain and heartache. 

He’s hurting and there’s nothing I can do other than hold him.  I grew up going to visit hospitals with my oldest sister.  Having her die after so many years of health problems was one of the more painful experiences of my life.  Even now, I still feel like poor pitiful me, I’ve lost my sister.  Here’s something that intellectually I knew, but emotionally didn’t understand:  parents feel every single emotion that their children do.  Every single cry.  Every single smile.  They feel it.  I totally get it now.  Not only did they feel the pain of losing a child, but they felt mine and Andrea's pain of losing a sister.  I’ll never understand the strength it took to watch surgery after surgery, but at least I can truly appreciate it now.  In the grand scheme of things it’s just acid reflux and while it’s miserable in this moment in time, I’ve learned to really step out of my selfishness and appreciate every parent out there.  You have no idea how much they love you.   
This is how we feel most nights:

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

If this is a test...I'm failing

Let me reiterate that I’m just slightly competitive and maybe a little bit of an overachiever (pause while every person that knows me makes a smart comment).  I will admit that I am one of those lucky ones that loves reading and learning.  It’s really no surprise that I became an accountant.  In graduate school, we kind of made it a habit to go to the bar after a test.  TJ REFUSED to meet me at the bar unless we’d already been there for a while.  Why?  Because apparently we would just discuss the test and answers to figure out what our grade was and where we would stand in the class.  Ugggh.  Geeks.

So how does this natural affinity for numbers and competitiveness translate to yet another issue to keep me up at night?  Percentiles.  Why in the name of all that is good and holy in this world would doctors rate children on percentiles?  It’s not like we don’t already have enough on our minds.  When will he sleep through the night?  Is he getting enough to eat?  Should I keep breastfeeding or is switching to formula ok?  Is his head a funny shape?  When will he giggle?  Does he not think I’m funny?  The list goes on and on.

My darling sister isn’t helping me with this issue either.  She and my brother-in-law have produced giants of children.  This is pure karma for every time I’ve said in a superior tone, “they are in the 100th percentile.” I didn’t realize how seriously everyone (ok…maybe just me) takes those ratings.  Also, in my experience 100 is the best you can get.  That’s what you are going for.  That’s an ‘A.’ Keep in mind that I believe that a ‘C’ is a failing grade.  TJ tried to tell me that a ‘C’ is average and you should be happy to be middle of the pack.  I just stared at him and in disbelief.  Did I really marry a man that believes this?  Does he think that all kids should get a participation ribbon at field day too?  [Phew.  He doesn’t believe in participation ribbons.  Thank goodness my 1st Place Ribbon in the 3-legged race is still valid.]

 You can imagine my horror when I was given Tilmon Edward’s stats for his two week old appointment. 

·         Height: 20.5 inches                          (42%)

·         Weight: 7 lbs 13 ounces                 (32%)

·         Head: 37.1 cm                                  (83%)

No!  He’s failing!  The pediatrician and my husband spent the next 30 minutes calming me down.  He assured me that our baby was healthy and there was no need to feed him every hour on the hour just to “plump” him up.  Then why put the percentiles if there’s nothing I can do?  Is it just to taunt me that there are 58 other kids that are taller than my son?  Fine.  Whatever.  So he’s not going to the tallest or the biggest kid, but he does have the world’s scariest mother so don’t even think about bullying him.  I’m not afraid to make a kid cry. 

Nolan 10 years old (back left): 100th Percentile in height

Mason 5 years old (middle): 100th Percentile in height

Tilmon Edward 2 weeks old: 100th percentile in cuteness

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Grass is Always Greener

Like I’ve said before, Teddy and I usually have a picnic in the late afternoon.  While the weather was great it’s been super fun to sit on a blanket with my son and watch the cars go by.  I’ve noticed that the reactions to the drivers are almost always one of two emotions:  enjoyment or envy.  They’ll smile and wave or purse their lips and begrudgingly acknowledge me.

I totally get it.  On days when I would run by the house on a lunch break and see a group of women sitting outside I would grip the steering wheel hard, purse my lips, and half heartedly give them a smile.  Really?  What do their husbands do?  Look at them in their yoga pants, having a cup of coffee, pushing their kids on a swing.  Stupid perfect families.

So, if you see me sitting outside one afternoon before you give me a hateful look, here’s something you don’t know:

·         I’m in yoga pants because they are stretchy and black and all of my other clothes hurt my feelings

·         I’m home because I lost 4 weeks of my maternity leave because I had the worst pregnancy ever and couldn’t find a day care and we’re just taking advantage of a stressful situation

·         I’m sitting outside because I haven’t left the house in days and I’m about to go crazy

·         I’m counting down the minutes until my husband is home so I can have some adult contact

·         I’m in the front yard because the back yard hasn’t been mowed in a month

·         The kid has been screaming for an hour solid and the only thing that makes him happy is being outside

·         That’s not coffee in my cup…

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m actually pretty in love with my life right now, but that doesn’t make it easy.  The grass is always greener on the other side. Who am I kidding?  I’m complaining about getting to sit in my front yard with my son on a weekday.  I’m a jerk. Go ahead and give me that mean look.  I deserve it.   
Here are some random pics of my weekday fun (check out how much he has changed already):

6 weeks old

 10 weeks old

11 weeks

17 weeks

Teddy, Mc, and Walker are still working on tummy time.  Fisher is way too tired to lay down. River and Flora don't understand why the little kids aren't cooperating.

Fisher is over it.  Flora is checking out the little boys.  Walker remembers to lift up.

Nevermind.  Just forget it.

Monday, May 14, 2012

What's That Smell?

Both my husband and I have noses like hound dogs.  We are both obsessed with how our house smells.  Our favorite scents are fresh laundry, ocean breeze, linen, or lemon.  You wouldn’t believe the amount of chemicals we use around the house to make sure it smells “fresh.” 

Now that little Tilmon Edward has made his debut we’re limited in what chemicals we can use and trust me, a lemon Yankee Candle is no match for a chocolate lab and a trash can full of dirty diapers.  I’m like a tasmanian devil when I enter the nursery and catch the whiff of a bad smell: clothes to the laundry room, empty the diaper pail, wipe off the changing table, vacuum the floor, and dust.  This is my slightly OCD routine every morning (well for the last month anyway). 

Last Friday I lost my mind.  The maid hasn’t been here in a month (yes we have a maid – go on and judge us, but it’s not as expensive as you think and I’m just over scrubbing toilets) and I couldn’t track down the smell.  It’s amazing what you can do during your baby’s two hour nap.  I went room to room sanitizing everything in my sight.  All of the usual suspects had been dealt with:

·         Nursery – all clothes/linens/burp cloths were in the laundry room, trash can empty of all diapers and disinfected, all toys wiped down.  Note to self: NEVER smell a burp cloth to see if it is clean.  Always assume it’s dirty, it’s just not worth risking sticking your sensitive nose anywhere near in the event it’s been used.

·         Living Room – dog bed washed, floors swept, all surfaces dusted, clear of burp cloths and pacifiers, chairs vacuumed, blankets washed

·         Our room – sheets changed, all laundry put up and washed, bathroom cleaned (wiped down at least – again, I’m on scrubbing strike), everything dusted, rug vacuumed

·         Guest Bedroom – Hasn’t been used since February but I still vacuumed and dusted just in case the smell could be found there

·         Spare Bathroom – baby bathtub/bucket wiped down, all washcloths in the laundry room, all surfaces wiped down

·         Kitchen – took the trash out, wiped down counters (ewe – our countertops can hide lots of spills), bleached the sink, ran the disposal just in case, cleaned out the refrigerator.  All dishes washed and put away.  Swept the floor.

I go outside for some fresh air to reset and pat myself on my back.  I walk back in and do a sniff test.  It is most assuredly better but there is still the faint smell of stale pee and sour milk.  I give up and since Teddy is still sleeping I decide to hop in the shower.  I go to pull the shirt over my head and damn near throw up.  The bad smell is my shirt.  I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.  I’m exhausted and generally disappointed in myself.  I could really use a nap or 30 minutes to just zone out and watch a Bones episode, but of course the second my hiney hits the couch…..waaa  waaa waaa.  Time to feed the baby.

On the brightside, with all of the housework done our cinco de mayo was free and clear for some good old fashioned mexican fun.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

What Fresh Hell Is This?

Weeks one through four are a blur as described in the previous post 3Hour Myth. I could have cared less if I wore pajama pants every day and who knows if I brushed my teeth.

Weeks four through eight the hormones making me a crazy person are slowly leveling off and I have hope that eventually I’ll return to the old Ellen.  However, I’m still healing from the c-section and haven’t been allowed to drive, bend at the waist, pick up anything over 10 pounds, or exercise (hahaha).  Now I find myself asking if I’ve brushed my teeth and I begin trading my comfortable pajama pants for restrictive jeans. Although I’m not even considering drying my hair or applying make-up TJ is obviously happy with this new change.

Teddy has discovered his feet so we spend a lot of time taking his piggies to the market.
Weeks eight through twelve are heaven.  I’ve officially been deemed healthy, I’ve gotten into a great routine with Teddy.   I’m venturing out of the house, drying my hair regularly and even applying makeup every now and again.  I’m pretty much on top of the world, but then the shit hits the fan. 

We flew to Georgia when Teddy was about 12 weeks old and when we got there he started spitting up and didn’t act like his normal happy self.  He would have good days and fussy days but I chalked it up to being in a different time zone and a new environment.  When we got back it took him a few days to adjust but he was still pretty fussy.  

It went downhill fast.  He was spitting up all the time and he went from sleeping 7 hours through the night consistently to waking up every 3 hours screaming for food.  I reverted back to the crazy, un-showered, pajama wearing, no house cleaning Ellen.  I was getting thrown up on at least 4 times a day and the laundry pile was daunting.  (Imagine Nancy Kerrigan screaming, “Why me?)

For the past two weeks I just couldn’t figure it out.  Teddy was insanely predictable and then all of a sudden I had no idea what he needed.     I was on Google constantly.  We tried gripe water, gas drops, adding an extra feeding, no swaddle, offering him a horse for his 6th birthday.  Nothing worked.  TJ put his foot down and we called the pediatrician on Monday.  He recommended a half teaspoon of Maalox for every other feeding.  We were desperate so we tried it.  That little shit slept from 7:30pm to 5:00 am without so much as a sound.  There was hope!  Sweet Jesus had thrown us a life ring and we were going to get our precious child back.  The next day we learned he has a mild case of acid reflux and he needs medicine twice a day and blah blah blah, we didn’t care.  We just knew there was hope.

This was before we called the doctor.  All I had eaten that day was the bag of popcorn behind me.  Teddy needed sleep so bad that I broke my own rules and just let him sleep on me.  I sent this picture to TJ at work with the subject of, "I'll take Stressed Out Mama for $500 Alex."
By Thursday I was a new woman.  I still wasn’t getting dressed because I was getting  thrown up on pretty regularly but he was already showing improvement and was back to his happy self.  Then it happened.  I went to change his diaper and was disgusted.  He’s had his first blow out.  I was appalled.  There he was, laying there covered in poo and just smiling at me.  I will not go into detail but I spent the next 15 minutes sanitizing, bathing, throwing outfits away, and trying not to throw up.  Why did he have to be in footy pajamas?!   Who would have thought that much poo would be in between cute little baby toes.  Those piggies were for sure not going to the market. 
I was done. I gave myself a mental high five for surviving and I handled it much better than I thought I would.   Both of us were fresh and clean and I kiss him on the cheek.  He coos sweetly at me and then throws up ALL over his new outfit and me.  I calmly set him down on his activity mat, sit down, put my hands over my face and weep like a small child for the next 5 minutes.
I shake Thursday off with a new resolve that at least he’s getting better and I have hope.  Then it happens again.  For the second day in a row, another blowout.  What fresh hell is this?  I’ve traded constant throw up and no sleep for the poo baby?  So there you have it.  The ugly truth about Motherhood and life.  Just as soon as you think you have everything figured out, life throws you a curve ball.  Motherhood is teaching me to just roll with the punches, but every now and again you get a Mike Tyson upper cut and the only thing you can do is hand your husband the baby the second he walks in the door and go pour yourself a nice large glass of cabernet.  

Thursday, May 3, 2012

It Takes Two

This post was meant to be read while listening to the vocal stylings of Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock. Enjoy.

In general, I’m extremely opposed to medicine/doctors in general.  Point in fact, one morning my goofball husband punctured his ear drum with a Q-Tip before work a couple of years ago.  He looks at me after he was done screaming, with blood dripping down from his ear, as I’m walking out the door for work, “Aren’t you going to drive me to the hospital?”  In genuine confusion with a straight face, “Prompt care is just two blocks away.  I think you can make it.  Email me after they send you home and tell you there’s nothing they can do for you.” 

I can’t help it.  I blame my mom.  Trust me when I tell you that Carol, Andrea, and I learned quickly that if you had a skinned knee you didn’t mention it until dad got home.  He would gently pour the hydrogen peroxide over it, blow on it, and carefully pick the rocks out.  Mom?  Lord help you.  That woman does not have a nurses touch (love you mama, but you know it’s true). Unfortunately for me, most of my injuries occurred while dad was at work, but at least it taught me to just grin and bear it.  Why the rubbing alcohol mom?!?!  Damn.

Anyhoo - childhood trauma aside, I’ve learned that opposites attract.  TJ and I are perfect examples of this.  Every time I’m even remotely uncomfortable he’s there trying to force Tylenol, Benedryl or vitamins down my throat. He thinks every sniffle warrants a trip to the doctor.  Well, now we have a son and nothing has changed.  Calling the doctor is my last resort and it’s his first resort.  See below:

Week 4 – I think Teddy just has a lot of eye boogers.  TJ is convinced he has pink eye.  I’m able to hold him off for 3 days before we call the doc.  Turns out it was just a clogged tear duct.  Ellen 0, TJ 1.  I was genuinely surprised he needed medicine, even though I mentally gave myself a high five for treating it the way the doctor suggested.     

Week 8 – Teddy wakes from sleep screaming and doesn’t quiet down until TJ turns the light on.  TJ is convinced he had a nightmare and wants leave all the lights on in his room.  I wake up only enough to tell TJ he is a compassionate.... but to get back into bed. Ellen 1, TJ 1.  I turned off the lights, Teddy went right back to sleep and our 2 month old is not afraid of the dark.

Week 12 -14 – Teddy stops sleeping well and begins to get fussy several times a night.  TJ is convinced it’s colic.  I say it’s a growth spurt.  We try every google/mommy blog trick in the book.  I give up and call the doc.  It’s acid reflux.  Damn.  Ellen 1, TJ 2.

Either way, it takes two to make a thing go right.  Or at least it takes TJ to drag me and our son kicking and screaming to the doctor. Thank you Lord for my patient, understanding, doctor loving husband.