Mama Trauma

Posted on May 10, 2012 in Uncategorized

Baby Elisabeth leads a pretty sweet life.  She gets to wear pajamas in public.  She gets toted around all day in a warm, comfy carrier.  It is totally socially acceptable for her to cry when she’s hungry.  I often feel like crying when I get hungry, but I’m pretty sure that would come off as bad behavior.

Despite this cushy existence, I can’t forget about or ignore the traumatic moments that Baby suffers.  Mainly because every traumatic moment she suffers is far, far worse for me.  I don’t mean that to sound selfish, and I imagine most moms would agree with me.  Let’s take shots, for example.  Shots must truly be a horrific experience for an infant, but I’d wager watching her child in pain is much worse for the mom.  Babies forget those distressing moments.  Moms remember.

Elisabeth’s two-month check up was pretty much the worse day known to man.  Or at least to me.  I dreaded that day.  I agonized over that day.  I lost sleep over that day.  Eventually it came time to face the inevitable, and so I took Elisabeth – my sweet, happy Elisabeth – into the torture chamber.  I stripped her down.  I held her body down while she looked up at me, cooing and smiling, completely unaware of what was to come.  The corpsman administered the first shot.  And then it happened: the shocked expression, the lip quiver, followed at last by the all-out wail.  Then behind the tears, the look of despair, abandonment –Why are you letting this happen to me?

I choked back my own tears.  Two more shots to go.  Time seemed to stand still as I watched Elisabeth scream, unable to comfort her.  Why are you taking so long! I wanted to shout to the corpsman, but decided that that would be unproductive.  At last he finished and I hurriedly picked up my baby to comfort her, turning away from the evil, needle-wielding man to hide my own tears.

And like that, Elisabeth was fine.

I was not.  I cried more than the baby did.

And then we got to repeat it all again at four months.  Literally within seconds of her shots, Elisabeth was laughing and blowing razzies while I was left a quivering mess.  Does she not realize she’s supposed to be in pain right now?

Last week I got to experience a whole other kind of mama trauma – leaving the baby for the first time.  Well, leaving the baby for the first time with someone other than a blood relative.  Upon arriving in Japan and on-base, Damon and I had to take a base orientation class as well as an intercultural relations class that lasted a week.  Babies were not allowed.  I vehemently protested this policy but to no avail, and thus reluctantly took Elisabeth to daycare.

There were tears, of course.  Mine.  She’s going to hate me!  She’s going to think I abandoned her!  Yet Elisabeth seemed oblivious to the fact that her mom was going to vanish for the next several hours and leave her with STRANGERS.  I handed her off, waiting for some sign of distress.  Separation anxiety?  Anything?

Nope, nothing.  So I left, a pit in my stomach.  It won’t take long.  She’s going to meltdown as soon as she realizes I’m not coming back.  And maybe she did, maybe she didn’t.  I popped in every afternoon at lunch to check on her and feed her, and sure, there had been tears, but because she missed me or because she was tired or because she was hungry, I’ll never know.  But still there were tears!  And I couldn’t be there to comfort her!  The thought was heartbreaking.

The last day of daycare, at my noon-time visit, Elisabeth seemed disinterested in me.  Oh, I’ve done it!  She’s totally pissed at me!  I’d be pissed, too, if I kept getting unexpectedly dropped off in an alien playroom. So I sadly put her down and began to leave to return to my class, crushed that at 5-months, I had so traumatized Elisabeth by my desertion of her that she had turned against me.

But then she cried.

Yesss! She still loves me!  I tried to stifle my smile (because smiling at a crying child is cruel) as I rushed to hold my baby, knowing that through her trauma or mine, a good hug is a pretty good cure-all.


What are your mama-trauma moments?

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Moving On Out

Posted on Apr 18, 2012 in Uncategorized

Holy Cannoli!  In a week we’ll have moved to Japan.  Well, we’ll have arrived in Japan.  The “move” part won’t quite be completed, given that most of our household goods are maybe/maybe not on a boat in the middle of the ocean with no expected arrival date (that we know of) and we will likely be living in a hotel till mid-May.  This is when it would be really great to be a “go with the flow” kinda gal.  But let’s face it, that’s just not me. I hate moving. Like, really, really hate it.  Like, loathe it with every fiber of my being.  In the past five years – be it across town, across state, across country, and now, across the world – I’ve moved seven-and-a-half times.  Seven.  Make it stop!  (I’ll explain the half another time.)  Let me be clear, I never hate that we are moving or where we are moving to.  In fact, moving so frequently – though tiresome – has offered amazing opportunities to meet new people and experience new things.  I am beyond excited about the adventure that awaits us in Japan.  It’s just the physical act itself that is so profoundly awful. And guess what, moving with a baby sucks even more than normal moving.  And moving internationally with a baby sucks the most.  One of our moves, from California to Washington, D.C., my husband (then-fiance) thought it would be a good idea to move ourselves.  Fun, even.  An adventure!  So we loaded up a U-Haul and spent the longest week of my life driving across country.  Somehow we remained engaged.  Luckily, you can’t drive to Japan, or else Damon would probably have suggested we do so.  In fact, my saving grace during this last month has been that the Navy has done all the heavy lifting, allowing me to avoid a complete nervous breakdown.  (Versus the semi nervous breakdown that I did have.) An international move with the Navy breaks down like this:  You have an express shipment for all the really important stuff you want to get to your destination...

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Bambina Bellissima!

Posted on Apr 6, 2012 in Uncategorized

I can’t believe it’s been over two weeks since Baby and I returned from Italy and I haven’t written about the trip yet!  Actually, I can.  That’s what happen when you return from a trip to Europe to an impending move to Japan.  More details to come on that adventure later.  I must hurry and record something of  Elisabeth’s first trip abroad before I forget it all in my unremitting sleep-deprived, stressed-out haze. So you don’t think I’m totally crazy, I did not just one day wake up and think to myself, “You know what’s a good idea?  Taking a four-month old to Italy!”  Some background: My youngest brother Jamie is studying abroad in Florence, and my mom was planning on visiting Jamie by herself.  I decided to tag along to keep my mother from getting lonely on her brief sojourn to Italy.  It was a selfless act on my part, really.  It had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that Florence is one of my favorite cities in the world, that my husband was going to be out to sea for the better part of March, and that my house was half-empty with all our most important goods already packed and (hopefully) shipped to Japan. Okay, maybe it had something to do with those things.  Who wants to be husbandless with a baby in a half-empty house when you can go to Italy with the doting grandmother who will take care of the baby in the middle of the night? Still think I’m crazy for willingly packing up and traveling with Baby to Europe?  Fine, maybe I am a little crazy.  But it was totally worth it. Did you know that Italians love babies?  No, really.  They love babies.  I didn’t really understand what that meant, but I found out quickly.  Apparently it means that extreme displays of affection that would get someone arrested in the United States are totally acceptable – expected even – when it comes to the Italians. It was but minutes after arriving in Florence that I had my first “Italians love babies”...

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There Will Be Cheerleaders In Hell

Posted on Mar 24, 2012 in Uncategorized

Let me start by saying I am not one of those girls that harbor secret resentment toward cheerleaders.  Actually, I was friends with some cheerleaders in high school.  (To be fair, it helped that I went to a school where the cheerleaders could form complete sentences).  I’m into school spirit.  Heck, I’ll watch Bring it On with you anytime. But seriously.  I do NOT want to be stuck with an entire team of them on an airplane. I know, I know.  I just got back from Italy and should be regaling you with tales of my time abroad.  Another day, folks.  Today Baby is having a bad day, so I’m having a bad day.  And when I have a bad day, I turn to my blog to vent.  Enter: Cheerleaders. Before I vent, let me add a positive note: I have the best baby ever (even on her bad days).  She really is a stellar traveler.  In case you don’t believe me, you should at least believe the man in Business Class who sat right across the partition from us (we were in the bulkhead).  You know he boarded the plane, saw Elisabeth behind the flimsy curtain and thought, “Awww Hell no!  I did NOT pay all this money to listen to a screaming baby for the next nine hours!” At least that’s what I would have thought.  As we were deplaning, that man – with more enthusiasm than anyone should have after a nine-hour flight – said, “You have the best baby!  Seriously.  The best baby!  I have two and they weren’t like that.  Best baby ever!”  In case I didn’t get the point, walking to baggage claim he exclaimed again, “Man, the best baby!”  It was like he had won a prize by sitting near her.  So there you go.  Rock on, Elisabeth. But back to the cheerleaders. You know when you’ve been traveling for around 20 hours and you’ve had 2 flights and a 4 hour layover and you only have one 2-hour flight left and really what’s 2 hours after a 9 hour flight and...

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Brief Hiatus

Posted on Mar 13, 2012 in Uncategorized

Hi Readers, You may have noticed I’m not posting quite as frequently as I used to.  Crazy how a baby seems to suck all the time out of a day, isn’t it?  Not to mention that simultaneously packing for a 10-day trip to Italy, a 3-week to trip to California, and a move to Japan has left me a little crazed.  In fact, I’m writing this at 6:25 AM because it seems the only moment I might have to myself before Elisabeth wakes off and we begin a very, very long day of traveling to Europe. Which brings me to my point:  I’m going to Italy!  Woohoo!  By this time tomorrow I’ll be – well, I’ll be on a plane, but I’ll be thisclose to the land of gelato and vino.  Good news for me, bad news for my loyal readers who are all just dying for me to post again (as I’m sure you all are, right?)  I’ll be gone less than 10 days, but I don’t anticipate posting till I get back.  Just wanted to keep you updated:  I have not forgone blogging, life has just gotten in the way a bit.  I’ll be back to it soon. Now, please wish me luck.  I have 3 plane rides and 18+ hours of traveling with the little one, and though she was an angel on her first rounds of flights, this is a whole other level. Until next time, arriverderci! Share...

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Striding Along

Posted on Feb 28, 2012 in Uncategorized

My quads hurt.  They’ve hurt for days.  Don’t worry; it’s the good kind of hurt.  And it’s not just my quads; it’s my glutes, too.  And there’s a twinge in my triceps as well.   Why all the pain, you ask?  I’ll tell you: Stroller Strides. Let me back up. After E. was born, Doc said no exercise for six weeks, minimum.  I cheated a bit and snuck in a couple of easy elliptical workouts at around five weeks.  I had to.  I was crawling out of my flabby post-baby skin and needed to move. At six weeks, I upgraded to the treadmill.  I left for the gym one day telling to whomever was watching Elisabeth (I honestly can’t remember), “I’m just going to do an easy 30-minute jog.  Be back soon!”  I was positively giddy at the prospect of running again, but as it had been six weeks since I had last run, I knew I had to take it slow.  A 30-minute jog would be just the thing. Right. I stepped on the treadmill and began walking to warm up.  I gradually increased my speed.  Within minutes of “running”, I was clutching the side of the treadmill to keep from falling off, gasping and panting and seeing stars, frantically punching the decrease speed button.  Decrease, decrease, DECREASE FASTER DAMN IT!   The treadmill speed slowed and I steadied my shaking legs, utterly confused.  WTF is going on with my body?  Then I remembered:  It hadn’t been only six weeks since my last run, it had been more like 4-5 months.  I had forgotten my whole run-less third trimester.  Whoops. My easy 30-minute jog was out.  As it turns out, any consistent running was out.  The Californian in me doesn’t run outdoors when the temperature dips below 60 degrees, and the paranoid New Mom in me doesn’t leave her precious little baby girl in the sketchy gym daycare.  I needed to get in shape. What to do, what to do? Thankfully, Stroller Strides entered my life.  On the recommendation of another mom, I checked out a class in early January. ...

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