Friday, December 3, 2010

The Complete Idiot's Guide... surviving Christmas as a Scrooge.
I know Christmas is supposed to be the great holiday that caps off the end of the year. I know we are supposed to spend the month of December being jolly and buying presents and drinking cocoa. But for me, Thanksgiving is the climax of the year, and everything else beyond is downhill. Come on. It's a holiday where you get to eat great food, but you don't really have to decorate or give presents. A whole day during which you get to watch parades and dog shows and football and basically gorge yourself mid-afternoon, and then live off the leftovers for the rest of the day. And, if you're us, the next 4 days.
Yum, turkey!
Christmas somehow comes closer and closer to ruining Thanksgiving each year. In fact, a good deal of my friends went out to shop the Thanksgiving Day sales after dinner. I had no desire, and instead lazed around and watched football with my family, then went home, ate leftovers, and passed out early. It was beautiful. Then, of course, the Black Friday shoppers are out by midnight. Don't get me wrong, I know this holiday shopping is a tradition for some people and that's wonderful (my mother included). But you'll never catch me out there.
He's not a fan of Black Friday, either.

I hate the mall before Christmas. I hate the stores before Christmas. I live in Florida, and hearing White Christmas on the radio makes me roll my eyes. I always feel like Christmas is an intruder, getting in the way of my usually chilled out shopping routine. I am inundated by the bell ringers and every checkout girl asking if I'd like to make a donation to such and such, and getting dirty looks when I say no. "But it's just a dollar!" Uh, no. If I donated a dollar to every charity at every checkout before Christmas, I'd go broke. Ok. Maybe not broke. But don't assume I'm heartless. I just like my charitable contributions to be accounted for en masse so I can deduct them on my taxes. I swear I donate to good causes. Don't look at me that way!
I am Scrooge. I hate the Christmas season. It's over-commercialized and makes people drive like idiots and act like jerks. It causes stress and debt and, to those of us who have large families to buy for, a bit of animosity until everything is bought, paid for, wrapped, and shipped out.

My family gets bigger every year.

So, with my significant lack of holly jolly, how do I manage to put a good face forward during the holiday season?
I have 97% of the shopping, decorating, and planning done before Thanksgiving.
I start in December, the day after Christmas. This is the time to hit the Hallmark store and the craft stores for deeply discounted wrapping paper, Christmas cards, and even some very cute gifts. I save the gifts bags we've received. I store it all in a box marked "Christmas" and I put it away with the tree and the decorations. And I forget about it until at least July.
When July comes along, I slowly start the Christmas shopping. I pick up a gift card here and there to spread out the cost. I pick up gifts as they're on sale and as I see them. I'm not rushed. I have time to be thoughtful with the gifts I buy because I'm not panicked or broke.
By Thanksgiving, the presents are wrapped so that I can enjoy the day. The tree is up not because I want to have it up early, but because at some point during November I've cleaned out the garage and decided that I may as well do it while everything's out.

This is the week before Thanksgiving. Done and done!

Today's lesson: Not everyone is particularly amused by this holiday. Some of us would happily run away to somewhere tropical and skip it all if we could. We tried it once, but the evil power of the holiday season delayed our flights and killed our plans. So be warned!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Never discuss religion and politics

Isn't that the old saying? I think Facebook has changed all that. However, since I refuse to start religious or political debates on my Facebook, I'm going to make my short statements here.
1. Religion - God is love. Grace covers all manner of sins. But being a jerk does not reflect kindly on your religion. That is all.
2. Politics - As I age, I find politics gets more personal. People treat elections like football games and create intense rivalries. I'm not going to say how I voted (I'm an Independent, so I'm freaking Switzerland). I am going to say that for all the sore winners and losers out there, please shut up. Respect the electoral system. Respect the fact that more people voted for one side than the other, and that their votes are just as important as yours. This goes for both parties. For those who are happy with the way the election went, remember that other people voted for different candidates because they have different beliefs. Not because they're stupid. Get a grip, everyone.

That said, I am proud of my super-political friends for being gracious to one another. I have not had to referee any "status cat fights" despite opposing political views. I have found it's the people who are only political around election day who are having 12-year old style temper tantrums.

And now for a cute picture of my son, Narcissus:

Today's lesson: I'm just thankful that we live in a country where our vote still means something. We're unhappy? We have an honest to goodness way to show it, whether we're at the polls or sitting on our couch dialing frantically to vote for our favorite American Idol. Or, if you're me, voting in the latest election from the comfort of your couch early and absentee.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

I will do it MYSELF!

My son is having a sudden independent streak. He's crawling at full speed, holding his own bottle, saying "Hi" to random women when we go shopping...he's really starting to get a personality. And it's a big one.

But my favorite part of his independence is this:

Today's lesson: Learning is a messy business. Though I probably could have chosen food that wouldn't stain...guess I learned something, too!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The making of a perfect family photo

The women in my family have been obsessed with their mortality as of late. This led my mother to organize an impromptu four generation family photo session in my living room. My house is poorly lit. There were screams about bad hair, no makeup and someone's death bed. And judging from our last effort at a family photo, I knew it would be a challenge.

Our last generations photo resulted in the photographer breaking her camera and us running wild with my aunt's point and shoot and the studio's backdrops.
And props.

So this photo was important. Four generations. All the women and my son. So I set up the tripod, adjusted my camera, and gave it a test shot.

Oh dear. But the light is as good as it's going to get in my house, so I decided to go for it. I set the timer and made a run for it.

Well, that went well. How about another shot?

Oh, great. I'm going to need the flash to catch that wiggly little man.

Oh, that's even worse.

"Honey, come hold the button down and let's see what happens!"

"Son, hold still!" more try...

And we got it!
Today's lesson: The best memories do not always lie in your best photographs. Sometimes it's worth taking a look at the in between shots to really appreciate the moments captured.

Saturday, September 18, 2010


As a parent, there are few experiences more trying and difficult than your kid getting sick. We have been extremely lucky, because other than a few short lived tiny fevers that disappeared the second I showed up with the Tylenol, Sam has been healthy.

Last week, I took Sam to the pediatrician for his well-baby appointment. He weighed in at 20 pounds, and was 28 inches tall. He got his vaccines and was fine and happy for two days. Then it happened. To put it nicely, Sam had some, uh, "gastrointestinal issues." I've heard other parents talk about the doctor's office being a cesspool, but I never imagined it would be this true.

Two days into his illness, I called the pediatrician's evening number in a panic. Winston was screaming and refusing food. The doctor on call, who wasn't Sam's doctor, made me feel reassured that I was a good mom, that we were doing a great job keeping him hydrated and comfortable, and that, once again, I should throw my parenting books out the window. This made me laugh, because our regular pediatrician recommended the book.

Another two days went by, and I took Sam in to his doctor. She checked him over, confirmed that it wasn't a vaccine reaction, and sent us home to wait it out.

Oh the misery. It was another two days before his illness started to disappear. He was tired. We were tired. Nanny was tired after an hour with him. When she came, I answered the door and said, "Welcome to hell." There were days filled with screaming, baking soda baths, a formula switch, and pedialyte, which Sam does not like.

He's fine now, thanks to soy formula, carrots, and time. But I think this entire household is traumatized. Especially since I ended up sick after our second doctor's visit. Cesspool, I tell ya.

Today's lesson: It is possible to be annoyed by your sick child, and that's ok. It's also ok to rock your screaming baby and cry along with him. And to lie on the floor and nap with your kid. And to run Baby Einstein non-stop for five days because it's the only thing that makes your sick child happy.

Monday, August 30, 2010


My son is a very serious boy.

It usually takes some pretty determined tickling for me to get a smile or a laugh out of him.

Apparently, I'm just not his type.

My husband takes Sam with him to Costco whenever he goes, and this past circular had a good coupon for diapers. So off the men go to do the heavy duty diaper shopping. They come home, and Jere shows me that he has another diaper coupon. My son decided to flirt with the lady behind them in line, smiling at her with all the suaveness a 6 month old can muster, and she handed over her extra diaper coupon all aflutter.

Of course, when he comes home, he looks at me like this:

Normally, I would chalk this up to coincidence. A nice woman who obviously didn't need the diaper coupon just happened to notice that my husband obviously does. So the men went out again this past weekend to buy some more diapers using the nice woman's coupon. And when they arrived home, my husband had yet another diaper coupon in his possession.

My kid had flirted with another unsuspecting woman. I feel betrayed. I feel envious. But I can't blame these poor ladies. Who could resist this heavenly smile?

Of course, if his smile ever fails him, he can just show them his cute butt.

Today's lesson: Beware a man with a charming smile. They usually have an ulterior motive. In my son's case, you'd better lock up your coupons.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The face of guilt

We left our son. For a whole week. We knew we had reached the end of our sanity. Every marriage needs nurturing. And between the dirty diapers and the spit up and the passing one another in the kitchen with a mumble while we get breakfast ready for the kiddo. So we handed off Sam to my mother and hopped a plane to Seattle, where we boarded a ship on its way to Alaska.

We drank (well, I drank).
We sang at the piano bar.

We ate so much that I was squeezing into my formal dresses by the end of the week.
A good time was being had. The glaciers, the cold wind, the 19 hours of sunshine that we blocked out with the blackout curtains so we could sleep at any time of the day, it was fantastic. We were having a lovely time.

Except for the face of guilt that followed us around all day. Jere's watch broke, so we carried my cell phone to tell the time, and there was our son on the front screen every single time we opened it up. We were told by everyone that we would be miserable without him. That we would worry. That we would miss him. But you know what? It wasn't that bad. We had a great time reconnecting with one another without a screaming, puking little person between us. We (and he) did just fine. No worse for the wear...except for that pesky guilt thing.

That is, until we got home. I'm convinced that the second we walked out the door, Winston decided to somehow accelerate his growth. He didn't even look the same! He was doing things and making sounds we'd never experienced. My husband even said, "I don't think this is our son. This can't be our son." Because no way could our son have grown up that much in a week.

Uh, Mom? Did you bring the wrong baby home from the mall?
Today's lesson: If you ever doubt how fast time flies when you have a child, leave for a week. You'll get a whole new perspective of what can happen in seven short days.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Devil Mom

I've been frequenting a message board since I got pregnant with Sam. The members all got pregnant at the same time, gave birth around the same time, and now all of our kids are around 5 months old. There are good and bad things about sharing with so many women with so many varying opinions on the right way to raise a child. While it's great that we're all seeing the same milestones at the same time and having similar difficulties, sometimes you get mixed messages on what is the "right way" to raise a child. And if I judged myself solely by the opinions of other moms, I'd have no self-esteem at all. There are so many decisions to be made about what kind of diapers to use, what's best for feeding, what cleaning products are safest, and what the best way is to entertain baby. And sometimes, thanks to the perfectly valid opinions of other moms, my decisions leave me with doubts about my judgment.
(My mom, who hasn't questioned a single one of my parenting decisions, except when it comes to putting Sam in silly hats. Thanks, mom!)

I feel like that all the time. Except probably more, because I'm the anti-organic. I'm one of those devil moms who could have at least pumped breastmilk (Sam couldn't latch), but hated doing it so I quit. I feed him *gasp* soy formula! I sit my son in front of the TV so I can get laundry done. Cloth diapering was a blip on my radar, and I not only considered it, but actually bought some cloth diapers. Now I rejoice in the joy of being able to toss the Huggies in the Diaper Genie. I swear in front of my kid. Neither his food nor his clothes are organic. I started him on solid foods at four months to the day. I let him lick donut frosting off my fingers. I am addicted to lysol wipes. I don't do playgroups. I read to him from my textbooks and sit him with me while I'm watching my lectures online. I take him out shopping for hours at a time and hold up shoes and ask him, "What do you think of these?" In fact, the little diva boy has his own closet full of shoes as well. And when 5:00 comes, and my husband walks in the door, I hand him our son and walk away without a second thought. And I leave them be until I can unwind.

(Solid foods at four months. Try telling my kid he can't have sweet potatoes. He'd fall into a deep depression.)

So, moms, don't ever feel bad. Because here is the important thing: no matter what you do or do not do when it comes to raising your kids, loving them is what counts. I hear all the time how terrible I am for all of the above offenses, but that little boy is my world. We all go through so many changes when we become parents. We become different people. Our marriages/relationships change. In my case, even my car changed LOL. If we ask too much change of ourselves, who are we in the end? Our kids are supposed to add to our lives, not take away from them. It is entirely possible to compromise and find a middle ground.

(He does like formulas. Both soy and Pythagorean.)

If I spent every diaper change preoccupied by the guilt over what kind of diapers I use, I'd miss the fact that my kid giggles uncontrollably when I tell him what a mess he is. If I drove to the Whole Foods, I'd lose 45 minutes in each direction of playtime with him (not to mention I'd put him in danger, because our Whole Foods is in an area with heavy and violent traffic). If I selfishly took care of Sam after my husband got home from work, thinking I could do it better or more efficiently, I'd miss hearing the two of them giggling about goodness knows what in the other room. If I was still trying to pump for him, I would be distracted by the frustration I felt, so instead I give him a bottle of "rat poison" and enjoy the time we spend bonding (yes, it is still bonding even with a bottle).

(I don't care how his dad entertains him if it means I get to shower in peace.)

All moms prioritize differently. And that's not wrong. That's what's right for their life. They have thought through their choices, and made decisions based on the fact that they love their kids. Are organic foods important to me? No, but I love to hear about when my friends go to the farmer's market or Whole Foods and find wonderful things. Is it a priority in my home that we use only organic clothes, bedding, or cleaning products? No, but I am more than happy to encourage my friends when they're trying out some new recipe for a natural toilet bowl cleaner. My priorities are different. My family is different. I try not to keep friends who don't demonstrate that mutual respect.
(My best friend Rachel's son. Because it's important to have mom friends who are crazy, opinionated, wonderfully accepting and encouraging, and just as addicted to Starbucks as you are.)

I will never understand why, as moms, we are so judgmental of one another. And I will NEVER EVER understand the moms who actually SAY something. I might be thinking in my head, "Hey, that's a little crazy." But it's not my life, it's not my kid, and far be it from me to criticize as long as it doesn't involve dangling them from a rooftop by their big toe. I want my friends to be happy mothers, no matter what that means for them: stay at home, have a career, go to school, coach a sport, breastfeed, bottle feed, cloth diaper, whatever. And putting people down for their well-reasoned choices? That just makes them feel terrible. I know it makes me feel terrible when people say things to me. But it doesn't change me, either.

(Sarcastic moms, unite!)

Today's lesson: Just keep on doing what's right for your family. Love your kids. Make educated decisions, and then accept them without guilt or regret. And don't let anyone else tell you they could do it better. You're the mother of your kids. No one can be a better mom to them than you are.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Four months, three shots, two kicking feet, and one hand always in the mouth.

My sweet four month old son is sleeping. I get to call him sweet now, because he isn't driving me quite as insane. He sleeps through the majority of the night, and takes three naps a day. Most of the time, he goes down without a fight. He seems to realize that once he is in his crib, he gets to sleep. He likes sleep.

What is Mr. Churchill up to this month? Well, we started feeding him food from a spoon. He likes the rice cereal, but he has to have his bottle first, otherwise he gets too hungry and impatient. This morning I gave him some oatmeal cereal, and he grabbed the spoon in his impatience, threw it across the room, and started to chew on the bowl. I dread the day he realizes where the food is well enough to find it with his fingers.

Speaking of fingers, he's got those in his mouth all the time now. He's learned how to pick things up, like his favorite rattle. His fingers, no matter what is in them, take the same route, straight to his mouth, everytime.

Winston is full of smiles and laughs. He used to only laugh at his daddy, but I've been graced with a few giggles in the past couple of days. He has a precious smile, and it makes me melt when his little face lights up!

This month saw the purchase of the mommy-mobile (which I love), the mommy-haircut, and a mommy-sized video camera. Handy for catching those moments that need more than a photograph!
Today's lesson: It's sad to watch him grow. But hilarious to watch him eat. :-) It's even more hilarious to watch his daddy make a goof of himself to get a giggle out of Sam.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Excuse me, but he weighs HOW much?

My son. Just call him beefcake. 16 hefty pounds of gorgeous baby! It's heavy enough to demonstrate that he's going to be big and broad like Jerry (and Jerry's dad). And that I'm probably going to have to watch him with the donuts down the road.

We had Sam's two month pediatrician's appointment this past week, and his doctor was in shock at how hefty he is. As was I. She wasn't one bit worried, however, as his height and head size are above the average as well. He's happy, healthy, and strong. And will probably be starting solid foods right around the time of his next appointment, since his appetite is so monstrous.

I am grateful he's not one of those obscenely fat babies, though. You don't look at him and think, "Gee, that baby is in the 99th percentile for weight." He's surprisingly solid. His shoulders are so wide! He's still comfortably in some 0-3 months clothes, however.

With growing maturity and weight come longer sleeps. He's going to bed later, which bothered me at first. And then he slept for 5 hours one night. And then 6 hours. Last night? I'm actually embarassed to admit that he slept for a whopping 9 hours! He woke up once around 3:30, but I didn't even make it to his room before he had passed back out.

My mother came to help me out last weekend, thank goodness. After about 3-4 weeks, I hit the wall and need a weekend of homework and sleep. This usually coincides with a big paper coming due. This weekend was no different, and once I handed off my son to my mother, my brain seemed to click back on. Paper done in no time, and I felt human again.

We decided to hit the mall to get the adorable shark outfit I saw at Gymboree for Sam. At the same time, I decided to give up and buy some bigger clothes. Anyone who has followed my blog over the past couple of years has gotten to see my journey with weight loss. I went from a size 14 to a size 6 over the course of a year in order to get my fertility under control. I was in love with my new body. And the healthy lifestyle obviously served its purpose. I have a beautiful brute for a son! But my figure is shot, and I hated staring at my clothes, knowing that only about 5% of them fit. So I bought some bigger clothes. And stored the smaller ones where they aren't on display, mocking my baby weight.

Speaking of the mall, my husband and son are there. I'm not sure why Jere wanted to take Sam to the mall today, other than Jerry realized the gift card I got him for our anniversary was still sitting in the drawer. I should be taking the opportunity to exercise or do homework. Instead, I think I will take a nap.

Today's lesson: What you see is not always what you get. Whether it's a normal looking baby who weighs as much as two gallons of milk, or a size 12 with the closet of a size 6.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Morning person

Oh, this can't be my kid. They must have switched him at the hospital. There must have been another baby boy born that night who happens to be the spittin' image of my husband. Because there is no way I gave birth to this small person who is grinning and giggling at six in the morning.

Welcome to eight weeks and the beginning of our schedule. Sam went to sleep around six last night, which wasn't the plan at all. In fact, it was so not the plan that we hadn't fed or bathed him and had to do so when he woke up a little before 10. He passed back out and mommy and daddy took some alone time to engage in some sweat inducing physical activity...

Wait, wait, not that! We played Just Dance on the Wii. Hilarious, and it made for a date night that didn't involve us watching TV while on our respective computers in the same room. Well, for awhile anyhow. Had to watch the new South Park. One more feeding a little after midnight, and SuperSam slept nearly five hours.

Mornings are contentious around here. I object to waking up. No one is going to be happy in this house until I'm sitting down with my first cup of coffee. It means that Sam wakes me up with his screaming, and I make him wait. He gets to continue his fit in the crib while I put on the coffee, make his bottle, and grab some breakfast. Sometimes I even make him wait while I make myself some eggs! I subscribe to the airplane "loss of cabin pressure" theory of child-rearing. I put my oxygen mask on first, then take care of the small child.

Of course, I feel awful by the time I go get him. My punishment is usually soggy cereal, cold eggs, or tepid coffee that I take in with the one hand I have free during his bottle.

Sam will be two months old at the end of this week. Jerry and I are trying to integrate him into our normal life a little more, so we booked our yearly vacation to Myrtle Beach. We'll see how that goes. If he's good, I might take him to Michigan in June. Maybe.

Other updates? He spends a good amount of time chewing on his hands. I prefer this to outright sucking his thumb. He loves music and lights, and refuses to live without this Baby Einstein toy I picked up for him last week. I sing to him at night and found that "American Pie" is a good lullaby, except when I can't remember what order the verses go in. He's wearing some 3 months clothes, and should be headed to the pediatrician next week for a routine visit (depending on if we can get in or not).

Sam and I spent Easter at his Nana's. Jerry stayed home to catch up on his sleep and the laundry. That meant a two hour drive in each direction without my extra set of hands. It went surprisingly well. He managed not to cry on the toll road, which is all a mommy can ask. He fussed most of the time we were there, but managed to make friends with my aunt's puppy.

Sam's Grammy will be here tonight to take care of him while I dig myself out form this pile of schoolwork. Despite giving birth while in the middle of taking my last class, I managed an A. I'm trying desperately to continue the trend. That's me. Always in pursuit of perfection.

Wait. What's this? A mid-morning nap? Yeah, I guess he is my son...

Today's lesson: It's one thing to see the physcial genetic traits you've given your child: his daddy's ears, my nose, his aunt's lips, his Poppa's hair and eyes. It's so much more amazing when you see bits and pieces of your personality mirrored in the tiny image. Unless, of course, you realize that your son dances like your husband. It must be genetic, because it certainly can't be taught.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Dealing with guilt

When it came to my pregnancy, nothing went as planned. I feel guilty, but I have to admit that despite praying to get pregnant, I hated it. Hopefully the very act of admitting that will help someone else to realize that it is possible to be overwhelmed with joy and still be miserable. The day I rolled over into my second trimester, I was attacked by debilitating migraines. The first one lasted three straight weeks and involved three trips to the ER and one extremely fantastic neurologist. At 25 weeks, one side of my pelvis decided to sit higher than the other, and I added a weekly trip to the chiropractor to my to do list. At 26 weeks, I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes and had to give up everything I was craving. I made it to 35 weeks without a single stretch mark, and then my belly broke out in angry lines that caused my husband to gasp in, well, I'm not sure what. I was found to be group B strep positive. And then the due date came...and went.

My doctor induced me at 41 weeks. My doctor broke my water 9 hours into the process, which brought on nightmarish contractions. I went from no contractions to less than two minutes apart within 15 minutes. I screamed for an epidural. And then the anesthesiologist hit an awkward spot in my back and I ended up having a bad reaction, so she had to do it again (note: not her fault, actually, as my back is a mess anyhow, and I loved her). I still wasn't dilating. The baby still wasn't dropping. They started pitocin. The baby went into distress, I was put on oxygen. After watching the baby, my doctor checked me again and I was only at 3 centimeters. The baby's heart rate concerned him, so he decided on a c-section. I agreed, since we were 24 hours into the process and going nowhere. They sent Jere off to get ready, and I cried to the anesthesiologist through the whole surgical prep.

The c-section was fantastic. My son came out healthy. I was healthy. But mentally? I wasn't ok. It wasn't because of the surgery. The surgery was easy and quick and gave me a beautiful son. It was GUILT. They gave Jere the baby and then offered to lay him on my chest. I said no. My husband followed our son back to the recovery room while they finished closing me up, and the anesthesiologist patted my forehead while I said over and over, "Is he ok? Did I screw him up? Why didn't I want to touch him? Why doesn't it feel like he belongs to me?" And she answered, "He's fine. He's perfect. You'll want to hold him later and never let him go, I promise."

I made it back to the recovery room, and my family was there passing Sam around. And I still didn't want to hold him. Then the nurse asked if I wanted to breastfeed him, and I said yes, and she cleared everyone from the room according to my wishes. The two nurses helped me try to feed him, but he didn't seem ready. It turns out he never would be. More guilt. I sent him to the nursery the first two nights on the advice of the best nurse in the world. I let everyone else take care of him. I tuned out. I hurt. He wouldn't feed. The first lactation consultant told me I just had to "try harder." I was grateful when another LC came on duty and checked Sam's tongue. He was severly tongue tied and couldn't latch. By then, I had already started letting him supplement with formula and pumping as well.

Long story short. I ended up staying in the hospital FOREVER. It took three weeks to organize with our insurance to get Sam's tongue fixed. I was exhausted from pumping and feeding (remember, it takes twice as long when you have to feed the baby, get the baby to settle down, and THEN pump...only to have to repeat the process almost immediately after you see time for sleep in there?). And by the time they clipped his tongue, his latch was so unbelievably screwed up that feeding him actually caused me to scream and sob. Jerry and I decided Sam had gotten plenty of breastmilk over the last three weeks, and it was time to cut our losses. More guilt.

So the guilt, in list form:

1. I feel guilty about the medications I had to take during my pregnancy to control my migraines. Maybe I should have just dealt with the pain.

2. I feel guilty that I ended up with gestational diabetes. Maybe if I'd controlled my eating, it wouldn't have happened.

3. I feel guilty that I wasn't able to give birth to my son "naturally." Someone once told me I wasn't built to carry children. I will always feel like that is true.

4. I feel guilty that I gave in to an epidural. I thought, at the time, that the screwed up epidural was my punishment, and the resulting spinal headache was a continuation of that punishment. I hear all these stories about women giving birth without drugs, and I don't understand it. Mentally, I will always wonder what would have happened if I had just hung in there with the contractions. Maybe he'd have come out on his own.

5. I feel desperately guilty about not breastfeeding. I'm sick of hearing that I should have worked harder and stuck with it.

Today's women live in a world where they're inundated with stories of harrowing drug-free births and the "breast is best" mantra. The heroes are those women who can push their children out, go home the next day, and breastfeed them for a year. Instead, I couldn't put in any of the work. I was in the hospital for 5 days. And I was actually relieved to switch to formula. But the guilt still stares me down. It's there when I'm cuddling my son and he tries to root through my shirt and I have to distract him with a bottle or pacifier. It's there when I see him stick out his tongue. It's there when I find a stray nursing bra that hasn't made its way into the storage box. It's there everytime someone asks if I'm breastfeeding. And it's there in every book I own that has 90 pages on breastfeeding and 3 pages on formula feeding, every health article, every support group, every fan club. I have more than once cried to my husband that I feel like a terrible mother.

I hope that someday, the guilt goes away. My son is happy and healthy. Well, mostly happy. He's a very serious baby, just like his mom.

Today's lesson: My anesthesiologist was right about one thing. I did eventually want to hold my son. And sometimes my husband has to pry Sam from my arms so I can get some sleep.