>On Getting Busted

>Remember the post a few weeks back where I spoke of my bad luck with cameras and difficulties of keeping everyone else off of them? Well, today Evan got caught. Random cute pictures of Zach kept showing up, and I just figured John was taking them. But nope. It’s Evan. Because he forgets to delete the evidence. Today, this is what I found:

>Scaring Random People

>So I went to the hospital yesterday to settle the last lingering bit of the Pregnancy from Hell. I had to go to the cashier’s window, and they pull your info up on a screen, and their little computer screen populates with the different accounts you have. Each visit is a seperate account, and I was hospitalized a total of 34 times between late-January and mid-May. The poor guy working the window! His eyes got as big as saucers and he got all pale on me. He croaked, “Can I ask what was wrong?” So I told him, and that made it worse. Turns out his wife is 19 weeks pregnant. Then he asked about my level of insurance, since our hospital offers three levels of coverage. He apparently has the cheapest while I had the best, most expensive (thank God!). I only ended up owing about $15K total, for everything. This would seem like a lot until I explain that my home health bill alone was $48K before insurance. So the bottom line is that despite my best efforts to reassure this guy, everything I said only made it worse. But I had to explain, because the poor guy was thinking that those charges were all routine for pregnancy, when in fact they are not and I am a freak of nature.
Maybe I just need to keep my mouth shut from now on.

>Mornings in the ‘Hood.

>Okay, so I wake this morning before the baby. Before John. And way before Evan. I brew my coffee. (Yep, remember the Death of the Coffeemaker? My old friend was replaced!) And I go outside to sit on the front porch before it turns into Shades of Hades out there like it always does. Lately it has been sweltering, and you can feel your fat cells melting as soon as you step outside, but not this morning. I actually was wearing a hoodie!

So there I am, mug in hand, people-watching. Before I say this, let me tell you I love my neighborhood. I really do. But seriously? Some of these people are freaks!

When I was pregnant with Zach, I tended to notice other peoples’ baby gear, simply because I was in the market myself. Well we have this one chick who walks every morning with a Bugaboo Frog. WTF, you ask? Well, that’s a stroller. An $800 stroller to be exact. I covet it, really. But this woman has it to….wait for it…walk her damned dog. Which happens to be the ugliest animal I have ever seen. I am all for the pets-as-family-members deal. And just because I am allergic to everything with fur does not make me an animal hater. But this? Seriously? Isn’t the pont of walking a dog just that? Actually walking the dog? I guess I could be wrong…

Next we have Mr. Crotchety. Mr. Crotchety has to be 80 years old. He hates kids. Fine. He has that right. I try to be polite to him, but because I procreated, I am on his short list. He is directly next door to me. For the first 6 months we lived here, I was off of work for the Pregnancy From Hell. But once I started working again, and could be seen coming and going in scrubs, his memory was jogged and I became familiar to him. Turns out I took care of his wife at one point. But before that, he would simply growl when I would smile and wave. Well, in the mornings, before it gets hot, Mr. Crotchety tends his lawn. He can be seen doing a vast array of chores in odd old-people ways. This morning, he was seen trimming the grass along his sidewalk…with scissors! Down on his 80-year-old knees.

Then there’s The Playa. Ha! This is the guy who gets up, ushers his kids into his minivan, then rolls. It’s all “Come on, kids, buckle up!”, then you hear it: booming bass. In the minivan. And all of the windows are down as gagsta rap thuds from the vehicle as he makes his way down the street.

And do you remember those ultra-short running shorts that were made of shiny nylon? We–wait, not we–some people—wore them in the 80’s. Well, I have a neighbor who thought they were too good to let slip with the passing of the decades. And he runs in them every morning. But the best part? He completes the look with the tight tank top, the tube socks pulled up to his knees, the sweatbands on his head and wrists. And he has to be about 60. It is all I can do to keep from laughing when he runs by the house in the morning.

Before you think I live in the Land of Misfits, I shoud clarify that these oddballs are mixed amongst the general population of late 20’s/ early 30’s young professionals that make up the rest of the community. We are the more normal ones. They can be seen walking behind strollers with actual children in them, while their dogs trail along on leashes. Wearing clothes from this decade. Mowing the lawn with actual lawn equipment. Acting their age.

But the oddballs make my morning coffee so much more interesting!

>Here?

>http://www.kypost.com/video/videoplayer.swf?dppversion=2979This happened here, in Northern Kentucky. I came out of work Sunday morning, where John was there to pick me up after my shift, and he immediately told me to be quiet as he was listening to the radio host talk about an incident that had occurred in my own area. Of course the interview on the radio was rather one-sided and I got the impression that the woman in the restaurant was actually topless. With that in mind, and even as a breastfeeding mother, I sided with the restaurant. I believe we should have the right to feed our babies in public, and the law is on our side, but there is no need to flaunt it, and I think discretion is called for. I personally am too self-conscious to nurse Zach in public without being hidden. Instead of fighting the sensibilities of others, I would just as soon go to my car. Of course my self-consciousness has led me on many occasions to give in and give Zach bottles of pumped milk while out on trips. Of course, this is bad. My pumped milk, in light of my supply issues, really is precious to us and should be saved for my long hours at work.
So all of this has me thinking about the whole ordeal. I think the views of the public keep me from just whipping out my boob whenever Zach is hungry, but my own misgivings would keep me covered even if my breastfeeding in public would solicit applause from a crowd.
So back to this woman…She was vilified, and now I am appalled at the restaurant. Of course they made it sound like she was topless, which is now obviously not the case. But what of the people who complained?
The restaurant owner was on the radio speaking of how there were 8 year old boys in the restaurant at the time. And I happened to think of my own 8-year-old boy and my breastfeeding. And sadly, I could relate. Evan understands that the way I have chosen to feed Zach really is what is best for Zach and I both. With that in mind, it is not something that should be hidden from Evan. But then there is the conservative part of me who cannot get past the idea of exposing myself to my son at a time when he is most impressionable and curious about the differences between male and female. So for my own comfort, we have elected for me to pump and nurse out of Evan’s sight. He knows what I am doing. We tell him. He laughs when he holds Zach and Zach roots, looking to nurse against Evan’s chest. He’ll tell his baby brother that he doesn’t make milk as he giggles. He understands the process. It is all about personal comfort for us. But I am not going to force that on anyone else, and if this woman was feeding her baby in front of Evan, I wouldn’t care.
And the bathroom….Really? Does the manager eat in the bathroom? Especially a public restroom! What do you think of when you think of public restrooms? Germ-laden. Gross. Dirty. Not exactly appetizing, is it?
So overall, I am appalled that this happened here. I am aghast at the way they presented this woman to the media, in such a way that another breastfeeding mother was even siding with the restaurant and labeling her as a fight-picker. I really thought this area was more progressive than that.

>Finally

>
So it only took 10 years. I followed him in the car as he drove it home, and realized that I am as fiercely protective of John as I am of my children. It’s strange to realize this a decade into a marriage, but it’s true. With every car he passed, with every twitch of his foot as he shifted gears, I worried for his safety as much as I do my young, vulnerable kids. Even though he is older than me. Evan though he can take care of himself. Even though the same hands he has used to diaper our children are also the ones that were tough enough to defend our country. This man is my world.

An admirer at the gas station struck up a conversation at the pump, and he beamed when he told the man, “My wife bought this for me.”

And right now, I am just happy that he is happy.

>Bitch?

>I’ll start this with a direct quote from a coworker.

“Andrea, you are so much more pleasant to work with now. You were such a bitch before.”

Ummm, wow! Really? And I assure you she wasn’t joking. And the fact that she thought it was okay to say something so hurtful may sort of be my fault. I have that abrasive, in-your-face attitude. I always have, and any effort I have put forth to change it fails miserably. It’s just me. Or is it?
I talk a good game. People around me would tell you I am hardcore, no-nonsense. But truthfully? My skin isn’t quite as thick as I put on. My feelings are easily hurt and I am seriously pretty insecure. But you would never know that unless I tell you. Or unless you know me really, really well. I think John is the only one who knows the true me.

So this? Well, I laughed, but inside I was hurt. It was weird to find out she thought this about me. She honestly believed that having Zach mellowed me out. It did. But some of it is just simple logic. Before I got pregnant, I would manage at least 70 hours’ worth of work (at least!) with a full-time school schedule, fitting in sleep every third day between exams and OT shifts. I was the classic workaholic. When I got pregnant, I cut down on the OT, dreading the complications I knew would be coming. I cut down on school, but didn’t cut it out. So I was still tired, and shocked by a pregnancy. Then came the part where I wasn’t doing anything but my base work schedule. And that is when the contractions started, so I was constantly miserable from pain and discomfort. (Yes, the contractions started earlier than documented. I knew what was going on and didn’t tell anyone at all until they got too much to tolerate. I faked well.) So yeah, maybe I was bitchy. But a bitch?

So this has all got me thinking about the label we put on women. I think of a bitch as someone who is generally mean-spirited and female. I don’t think I fit into this category, with that being said. But that isn’t what the word has come to mean in our society. The label is instead carelessly tossed around to any woman who is outspoken, ambitious, serious, and honest about her thoughts. With that being said, it can actually be a compliment. Should I say thank you?

>Zachary’s Gift

>Hmmmm, where to start?

I have always said that children are not supposed to bring gifts into our lives. It is their job just to be, and our job to love them and make them feel secure in this world. But having Zachary has brought such an enormous gift to my life that it is difficult to put into words.

It all starts with breastfeeding. I used to be a junk-food junkie. I paid no more attention to the junk going into my body than I did to speed limit signs along the road. I lived on fast food. I never took vitamins. The list of abuse to my body is endless. But with his birth and subsequent nursing, I started to pay more attention. Herbal supplements. Whole grains. Fresh, organic fruits and veggies. Lean meats. Lots of water. Actual exercise that doesn’t involve running around a hospital while the rest of the world sleeps. And the real kicker? I started doing all of this effortlessly. Oh, I’ve dieted before, and it always took such effort that I gave up soon thereafter. But lately I find that making more healthful choices just comes with the territory of being a nursing mom. I don’t want junk food. It has completely lost its appeal to me.

And the changes don’t stop there. I take vitamins and herbal supplements now. I go on walks. I actually sleep. I am calmer, more serene. Overall, I just take better care of myself. Zach did this to me, and it got me to thinking. Is it all about breastfeeding or is a new-found appreciation of my body after surviving the pregnancy behind the changes? I think it is a combination of both.

Of course these changes are having a huge impact on my life. People around me are noticing (another post about this coming up). And the more healthful habits have manifested themselves into weight loss. Although I know my caloric needs greatly increased with breastfeeding, my appetite never did. So I am burning more and actually eating less, and at 9 weeks postpartum, I have lost a total of 45 pounds. I knew I had lost a significant amount of weight by 5 weeks when I went to my OB to be cleared for work, but the rest I didn’t measure until recently. I just noticed clothes changing in the way they fit: first it was “Hey, I can fit into these shorts again!”, followed by “Hey, these shorts are looser than before.”, then finally “Hey, these shorts are too freakin’ big to wear!” Shirts I wore right before getting pregnant are now nightgowns. And the little c-section pooch I had from having Evan, which I expected to get worse with the second c-section, is actually getting flatter.

Before you discredit this and tally it up to normal postpartum changes, let me tell you something. I looked horrible during the pregnancy. I was bloated, tired-looking. You could see the misery on my face. It oozed from my pores. But I only had a net gain of 11 pounds throughout the whole damned thing.(I emphasize “net gain” because I would gain a pound, lose 2, gain 2, lose 4, throughout.) And 7.5 of those pounds were all baby. So I actually left the hospital weighing less than I did when the little pee stick revealed its fateful two pink lines.

So now here I am. In better shape and weighing less than I have ever weighed. And this is following 5 months of bedrest and otherwise sedentary ways. Thanks, Zachary!