Month: May 2013

Scamp

Before Diego was born we were already a family of three. Scamp was our miniature Schnauzer that somehow ended up with us after we took him temporarily from my husband’s aunt. I am glad we kept him. He was an important part of our family. 

Scamp loved my husband like only a dog can. Completely, without question and innocently. They were two peas in a pod. Several years ago Scamp was diagnosed with diabetes. He required an insulin shot before each meal. Managing his diabetes was not too difficult but it did require us to be mindful of his meals. We often had to plan our outings based on his mealtime. We hardly noticed this after a while. When Scamp lost his sight due to cataracts I feared we’d lose him forever. I was worried he’d become a different dog, depressed and scared. I was clearly projecting my own feelings about becoming blind because after one day of stillness Scamp went right back to who he was. He didn’t need his sight to tip over trashcans or even climb and descend stairs. 

Scamp taught me lessons and changed me in ways I cannot begin to understand. 

During my pregnancy Scamp was a little more conscious of me. He followed me around more and stayed close by although he was by no means a lapdog. He was perfectly content laying on the floor near my feet. No need to overstate his affection I suppose. 

Once Diego was born Scamp was indifferent. A little curious at times perhaps but for the most part he seemed unconcerned with the new creature now inhabiting his space and making unfamiliar sounds in the middle of the night. I think Scamp adapted very well. He never barked or became startled at Diego’s cries. He never tried to sniff, lick or steal any of his belongings. It was as if they were just orbiting around each other with no real contact. 

I figured that as Diego grew older and more interactive this would change and I would get to see how they reacted to one another. Sadly this would not be possible. Scamp died on January 4 of this year. 

To say that we mourned him would be an understatement. The loss of our faithful companion was very difficult. It was hardest on my husband, who lovingly referred to Scamp as his best friend. He truly was. 

I miss hearing his little grunts after a meal, his snores as he slept and the gentle thud of our bedroom door when he pushed it open with his snout. Most of all, I miss him begging at every meal and his happy welcome each time we returned home. 

I wish I could thank him for the many ways he enriched our lives. I guess this post in his honor will have to do. 

A purse for Diego?

I was browsing the Sunday ads the other day and I came across a deal on a toy that consisted of a purse, a set of keys and a cellphone. I told my husband I wanted to get this for Diego. I got the required side-eye and incredulous, “No way!” hurled my way. I was only half joking. 

Keys and cellphones are only a couple of the things that Diego wants that he can’t have. Keys and cellphones are bacteria havens and at his age everything goes into his mouth, as do his hands so it’s really not safe to let him play with those. I also suspect that copious amounts of drool aren’t good for my phone either. Needless to say when I saw this purse set I was almost relieved to have a solution to this problem. Surely if he has his own phone he will leave mine alone, right? I suspect I’m likely wrong. Once he sees the object of his affection (my phone) he will likely toss whatever he’s holding. It would be nice to test out this theory. 

Anyway the more important point here is that for some reason it is a widely held belief that giving a male baby a purse with a cellphone and keys is somehow damaging to his sexuality. Pink is for girls. Purses are for girls. I’ve always found this gendering of baby stuff restricting and damaging. He doesn’t know what any of these things are or what twisted meaning us adults have assigned to them. All he cares about is being able to play with these objects. 

I am sure that some are likely to disagree with me but thankfully those people are not raising my son. I have always found it curious that what’s between our legs is somehow indicative of our expected behavior. We expect boys to be loud, rowdy, dirty and into cars. What happens when he isn’t? I’ve seen it firsthand. Whispers of suspected homosexuality along with suggestions as to how to fix this are passed around like a joint. I refuse to take a puff. 

I was lucky to grow up having access to a treasure trove of toys that included cars, dolls, and everything in between. My brother played with my barbies. Sometimes he pulled off the heads, other times he joined in brushing their hair. I loved Hot Wheels and remember being quite interested in acquiring as many of them as I could. Neither of these things gave my parents pause. I don’t ever recall being told that I couldn’t do something because I am a girl. I consider myself fortunate.

There are a lot of assumptions made about Diego on a daily basis. People remark how he will break a girl’s heart someday. My mind immediately supplies, “Or a guy’s.” Call me crazy but I am open to the possibility of Diego being whoever he wants to be. I don’t want my expectations to be restrictive. I want to be nurturing. I want him to know he is loved no matter what life choices he makes. As long as they’re healthy choices (a crack addiction I will never support), legal (see previous), and arrived at out of his own free will I will always support him. At times I may not agree, but that’s life. I have many dear friends with whom I have a great relationship but don’t necessarily agree with on everything, especially world views. 

I’m not sure if I will end up purchasing the purse, phone and keys combo but it’s very tempting. If only to ruffle some feathers. We need to be ruffled. It’s healthy. 

Raising a freethinker

When I was thinking about topics to write about this was a topic I kept putting off because it feels a little bit risky to express my point of view with regard to religion and what role it will play in our upbringing of Diego. Since I am all for intellectual honesty and collaboration I decided to write this post. I may never know if it is read and how it is received but writing it will help me organize my thoughts on the matter. 

I grew up in a fairly secular household. We did not practice any faith, we did not go to church regularly and I was not made to say my prayers before bed each night. Most of my family is Catholic. My cousins were all baptized, went to Sunday School and had their Communion. My brother and I were not baptized. 

When I was younger I remember asking my mom why we weren’t and she explained that she felt that committing yourself to a faith was a big decision she did not feel a child could make and fully understand. She felt, as I do, that such things should be carefully considered and entered into out of free will. I was happy with her explanation and no longer felt left out when during mass I could not receive communion. What those wafers taste like I will never know. 

As a child I went to my fair share of religious services. I witnessed my cousins be baptized, attended wedding ceremonies, funerals, mass and I’ve also attended services in a non-denominational Christian Church. As I grew older I desperately wanted to explore and secure my faith. While at University I attended mass sporadically and when I moved to Florida I attended church regularly with my husband’s family. I made a good effort but I just didn’t feel it. I did not buy into it. I did not feel genuine in my belief. It felt forced and after a while I quit going to church. 

While I personally do not have faith and am not a believer I had the great fortune to learn about many different religions. This is what I would like for Diego. I want him to know what’s out there, know all points of view so that when he is older he can make his own decisions about what he believes. If as he’s growing up he is curious and wants to attend church I will happily accompany him. I want him to see and experience it all on his terms. 

I worry about well-meaning family and friends and the not-so-well-meaning as well because I know that raising a child in a secular home is frowned upon by many. Sometimes people try to overrule you and attempt to influence the children of others out of the erroneous belief that they are doing the right thing. I just hope that they extend to me the same courtesy I do to them and respect my beliefs and lack thereof. I don’t take issue with people who express their religious identity and perhaps it’s ignorant of me to assume that I will receive backlash for my worldview but I really feel as though being godless is seen as evil by a lot of people. 

I would like to share a few definitions for those who may wonder what the terms I’ve used in this post mean. 

Secular– not overtly or specifically religious. As Ed Buckner explains in his essay Secular Schooling, secular does not mean hostile towards religion.

Freethought- a philosophical viewpoint that holds opinions should be formed on the basis of logic, reason, and empiricism and not authority, tradition or other dogmas. The cognitive application of freethought is known as “freethinking” and practitioners of freethought are known as “freethinkers”.

While it’s still early on I have already had questions pertaining to Diego and religion. I do not wish to offend or engage anybody in an argument. We each raise our children with the intention of raising them to be decent human beings, productive members of society. I don’t know if Diego will grow up to be a minister or even a priest. Anything is possible and I will support him in whatever spiritual path he embarks on. My hope is that he arrives at his path on his own.

I’ve started doing some reading about this topic and have found a book that I am so far really enjoying. It presents different points of view on various topics and does so with tact. The book is called Parenting Beyond Belief: On Raising Ethical, Caring Kids Without Religion. I will post a review on the book in a later post. 

Until next time!

What’s my title?

Before ever becoming pregnant I knew that I wanted to take a break from working in order to stay home to raise my child. My intention was to work until my seventh or eighth month of pregnancy before leaving for good. I ended up quitting my job barely two months into my pregnancy due to several factors. 

Quitting my job was difficult mentally and emotionally. I’ve always worked. I’ve always earned my own money so it was a little strange to no longer be contributing financially to our bottom line. I was initially too sick to dwell on this too much but as I started feeling better a little bit of panic set in. My routine had changed, I no longer lived my days based on having to be at work for a certain amount of hours. It was equally liberating and terrifying. 

Diego is almost eight months old and I haven’t worked outside the home in over a year. I would like to wait until he is in preschool before looking for a job but I might need to do so sooner. While we are managing financially the pressure has my husband stressed and I know even the income of a part-time job would help ease his worries a little. Nothing is set in stone right now but it is something I’ve been doing some thinking on. 

When I tell people that I am a stay-at-home mom I sense a few different responses that are not always verbalized but implied. Some people applaud this because they believe this is where I should be. I am a woman with a child so I best be raising that baby. Others look down upon it and wonder how I can give up my career only to stay home and be bored. Maybe I am assuming but I know small minded cretins exist out there. 

The beauty of being a woman in this day and age is that I have choice! I choose to be home with Diego. I want this. I enjoy this. Do I get bored and feel lonely? Absolutely, but I also had moments when I felt this way when I was working full time. I cannot imagine handing him over to anybody for eight hours a day. I just can’t do it and thankfully I don’t have to. 

If I had to go back to work for financial reasons I would do so with a heavy heart. That is how I feel about it. If I wanted to go back to work right now I would do just that. I don’t feel pressured into staying home out of some obligation dictated by my sex. I respect and salute women who for whatever reason go back to work within months of having a baby. Some choose to because they love their job and cannot imagine staying home, others need to because they would otherwise be unable to make ends meet. Whatever the reason, women have the right to make that choice. The choice that is right for them and their family. 

Whenever people try to give me a backhanded compliment or belittle me for my choice I get angry for a second then I shrug it off because what they think of me is none of my business. The people who truly care about me won’t judge me for my choice. 

I often think of the saying’The lion doesn’t lose sleep over the opinions of sheep.’ When it comes to my life and how I live it I won’t listen to any negativity no matter where and who it comes from. Sometimes I feel as though I spend too much time caring about how others see my life. I am no less intellectual or productive now than I was before. I am constantly reading, researching and discussing things that interest me. I have more time and less time simultaneously. 

I sleep less now than when I was holding down two jobs and going to graduate school. It’s a different kind of busy, one that challenges, teaches, and humbles me everyday. 

How often is too often?

I have been updating the blog daily but I am not sure that I will be able to continue to do so. I might switch it up to once or even twice a week. I am not sure but I thought I would mention it for those who read it regularly. 

Speaking of too often, Diego woke up a lot last night. We put him to bed at 10:04pm he then woke up at 12:49am, 2:20am, 3:31am, 5:29am, 5:49am, 7am, 7:56am and finally woke up for good at 9:04am. I am beyond exhausted. Interrupted sleep is the worst thing in the world to me. I hate it so much and last night was over the top. I feel as though I hardly slept and when he woke up at 5:29am I was unable to go back to sleep. He was so restless and fidgety that I anticipated his rousing any second. It was driving me crazy. 

When I am awake like this, tired but unable to sleep, I get a little peeved to see my husband slumbering away unaware of how miserable I am. Even worse, I know he will complain of how tired he is even though he went to bed soon after Diego and didn’t wake up once during the night. It’s so petty of me and I feel bad about it since he has to go to work but the reality is that once he’s gone I am on my own. I have to get things done with Diego in tow. I can’t call out to anybody when I need to run to the bathroom but Diego is screaming in his crib. Diego just has to stay put. I don’t wear diapers so the toilet is a necessity for me. I also can’t ask somebody to fix me a bottle because Diego is hungry but doesn’t want to be put down. I have to make things work. I have no choice. 

Somedays I get annoyed that my husband, as wonderful as he is, relies on me to help him when he’s taking care of Diego. Don’t worry he doesn’t read this blog so he will never know I am venting here haha. 

I am sharing this because this is real life. There are days when you’re tired and cranky and want to complain about every little thing. That’s ok, it’s healthy. If my relationship with my husband was all rainbows and butterflies I think I’d run the other way. A permanent smile is psychosis. You cannot expect to be happy all of the time and there are things within a marriage that need to be addressed. I know that my husband doesn’t mean to upset me, at least I hope he doesn’t, and that sometimes we do things without  realizing how they are interpreted by the other person. 

This is why talking about things are important. I am not suggesting we all air our dirty laundry. Serious issues should be addressed behind closed doors. What I am saying is that often we make a big deal out of something small and blow up when it’s unwarranted. Now that I’ve written this post I will most likely casually mention to my husband that I slept really poorly last night and that I’d like to take a nap. Once I’m refreshed I can tackle some chores. 

That’s my plan. 

Self portraits

I often take pictures of Diego and me using the front facing camera on my iPhone. My husband makes fun of me for this. What he doesn’t understand is that I don’t have many pictures of myself interacting with Diego. Most of the pictures I take are of the two of them together. I want to record everything about Diego’s life, particularly the first year. I’m always snapping pictures and uploading them to my computer. My husband does not have the same inclination. He doesn’t see us together and think, that’s a beautiful thing, let me capture it. However it’s something I think all the time. I see them together and I want to have that forever. So I take pictures. 

Every now and then I take a few often funny pictures of Diego and me. I’m sharing a few of them here. 

More babies?

Perhaps this post is a little premature but these are my thoughts when the question of having any more babies comes up. My feelings about pregnancy is that it’s not for me and that I cannot possibly endure another one. I realize that a second pregnancy could be very different and even pleasant but I also know it could be the same or worse than my last. The latter gives me pause. Just thinking of becoming pregnant gives me terrible anxiety. I already know what a wreck I will be and I am already worried about my blood pressure spiraling out of control. 

So for me, it’s not that I don’t want a second child but that I don’t want to go through what it takes to have one, biologically at least. I am fully open to the possibility of adopting further down the line but my husband doesn’t share my enthusiasm. Obviously this is something that one does not rush into and is something that like becoming pregnant has to be desired by both parties. Adopting a baby is a huge deal. I think it’s a wonderful endeavor and one that challenges and fulfills us in new and exciting ways. However, it’s not for everybody and while I personally feel like it’s something I would love to do I don’t know that it’s right for our family. 

I don’t mind being asked about my stance on having additional children. What I do take issue with is people suggesting it is somehow wrong to have an only child. My life choices are my own and I do not prescribe my decisions to others. What works for each of us is different and we make decisions based on information that others may not be privy to or take into consideration. I’ve always said that reproductive decisions are deeply personal. We should not judge or be judged by how de decide to live our lives. Just because I have a uterus does not obligate me to put it to use. It is not an indication of femininity to have a child. It makes me so angry when people assume that if you’re married you have to have children. Worse, if you’re a woman it is expected that at some point you will be pregnant. No!

There are people who want to have children but can’t and there are others who choose to be child free. Not childless; child free. There is a distinction in this terminology because childless implies that something is missing. Nothing was missing from my life before Diego. I did not have him so that I could fill a void. Now that he’s here I cannot imagine my life without him but that is something that I wouldn’t have felt had I not had him. 

Perhaps my reticence is my anxiety talking. Maybe one day Diego will ask why he doesn’t have a little brother or sister and maybe that will spur my thoughts in a different direction. Maybe I will wake up one day and decide that I can do it, that I can face my fears and take the plunge once more. I don’t know what will happen but for now I am not interested and my answer is no. 

Family time

We went to the Marlins game last night. They played against the Phillies but sadly they played horribly and lost. This doesn’t really matter to me as I enjoy the game for the ambiance and the company. We don’t really live very close to any family, at least not close enough where we are at leisure to see them daily, so whenever we have a chance to get together we usually jump at it. 

Diego went to his first Marlins game a few weeks ago but now that he’s more mobile I worried that he would grow restless. I needn’t have worried. Diego is showing himself to be of the type to quickly adapt to new people and new situations. There are some people to whom he is inexplicably drawn to immediately with little warm-up. Others have to work a little more for his affection but he’s quick to give in. 

It’s sometimes strange to not have Diego grabbing on to me and when we see family there is no shortage of people wanting to hold him. I will be honest, the first few times were difficult for me. I wanted him in my sight at all times. Now I sit back, relax and enjoy having a few moments to myself where I don’t have to untangle my hair from his little fingers or carefully dislodge my necklace from his grasp. 

It’s also good practice for the both of us because we are equally accustomed to being near each other at all times. Diego felt so secure and well cared for with my husband’s family that he didn’t even miss us. I love that! I also love how at ease I felt as my husband and I walked hand-in-hand through the stadium in search of something to eat. All while Diego sat with his family. He wasn’t far away but I remember thinking this an improbable feat in the weeks following his birth. 

I suppose all new parents feel this way. We all have separation anxiety to some degree. Some people are protective to the point where they rob fellow family members the opportunity to interact and get to know the child while simultaneously teaching the child maladaptive behaviors. I want Diego to see us as his home base from which he is free to go out explore and then return to its safety. I surmise it’s harder for me to let go than it is for him. 

Falling in love with Luis: state of our union volume 1

“A baby changes everything.” I’ve heard this repeated various times by different people. It’s one of those things that while true it’s only partially so.  A baby changes a lot of things but it doesn’t change everything. Perhaps my definition of everything varies from other people’s but in my experience there are a lot of things that have remained the same. 

I have never identified myself primarily by what I am to others. I am me first and foremost. Being so and so’s daughter, wife and mother are incidentals. My identity is not wrapped up in the roles I play. They shape my identity and tell you a bit about who I am but they do not define me. 

I consider my relationship with Luis to be just as important (if not more important) than my relationship with Diego. Yes, I said that. I love Diego and am not exaggerating when I say I would give my life for him. I am his. There is no question about that. I spend my days with him, often staring in fascination as how something so full of life was once dormant inside me. I look at him and want to be a better person. I look at Luis and feel the same way. 

I often wondered how our marriage would change once Diego was born. A small part of me feared that we would lose the feeling of togetherness once we had a baby to care for. I worried for nothing. We make a good team. We aren’t perfect and at times we disagree, argue and feel like strangling the other (or maybe that’s just me) but overall we are considerate of one another. It’s definitely something we work at. I am not the most patient person in the world and I am not all hearts and flowers but Luis tempers my brand of crazy. 

I feel it’s very important to retain the spark that brought us together in the first place. We talk about many things and they’re not all baby related. I think we have a pretty good balance going on. We still have fun, joke around, tease each other, watch movies and fight over the sheets. Luis is a cover hog at times. 

What has changed? Well for one thing going to see a movie in theater has disappeared from our realm of possibility. We have no choice but to wait and rent the DVD. We also have a lot of responsibilities that often require two people instead of one depending on Diego’s mood. Sometimes he will sit in his bouncy chair and other times he demands attention. I am more dependent on Luis now than I have ever been. 

I now understand how a baby can put a strain on any relationship. You’re running on little to no sleep and you’re juggling the responsibilities of before with additional ones. Additionally if you’re like us, you are one income short. This can be stressful and if your relationship was already troubled this could push it over the edge. Some days I feel my fuse is very short and I have to remember to breathe and to not take my sleep deprivation out on anybody. Somedays it’s a struggle but I can’t complain. I have a healthy baby, a loving husband who is also my friend and who has given me the best gift he could ever give me, that of being a stay-at-home mom. I cannot imagine leaving Diego with a stranger so being able to stay home and not work is an amazing privilege. 

State of our union: going strong, working through and holding on. 

In the light of morning

Everything looks better in the right light. Even nights of poor, interrupted sleep look better in the morning. Morning always seems so full of promise and potential to me. No matter how rough of a night we had I always have hope that tonight will be different. That tonight Diego will sleep for longer and that I will be able to sleep better. 

I’ve made it no secret that I am sleep deprived. It’s a combination of many things. I think the anticipation of knowing that Diego will wake up during the night but not knowing when prevents me from falling asleep. 

Diego’s sleep schedule has progressively worsened. There was a period where he was sleeping five to six hours straight before he would wake up for a feeding. He would then sleep for another three to four followed perhaps by an additional two. Now he sleeps for about four hours before waking up. He then becomes restless and can’t be put back in his crib without a serious fight and multiple bouts of crying. We have taken to bringing him into our bed after his first waking. He doesn’t sleep any better with us but it’s easier to comfort him while I am laying down. 

It was never my intention to have him sleep with us. This is something that happened because it turns out that it’s what works for us. There are many theories regarding sleep and sleep training for babies. A lot of them advise against co-sleeping and promote some type of cry-it-out. Ferberizing your baby is nothing short of cruel to me. At four and six months old a baby is not ready to soothe himself to sleep. There are some that can but I know that Diego was and is not ready for that. 

Given the fact that I do not work I don’t find it necessary to force Diego into a schedule that makes both of us miserable. The few times I have let him cry for a few minutes in the desperate and vain hope that he will fall asleep I end up as distraught as him. So for now we do what works best and allows the three of us to rest as peacefully as possible while Diego outgrows whatever this is that is causing his poor sleep. 

Is this attachment parenting? I have no idea what I would call it. I don’t subscribe to anything that’s formulaic in nature. Babies are individuals and no one book or theory is going to fit his needs. Families are all different and require different things. While it’s wonderful that so many resources exist I will continue to use common sense and trial and error as my guides. I’m knitting together my own formula. 

Here are a few pictures from yesterday morning. Having him wake up happy makes me feel less tired.