reality

The Book Blogger Confession Tag

Blu Chicken Ninja published a blog post answering this tag and I thought that doing one of these every once in a while looked like fun. I wouldn’t call myself a book blogger per se, but I do write about books once a week so even though nobody would ever tag me I decided to tag myself.

1. Which book, most recently, did you not finish?

The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff. I didn’t get very far into the book but I found myself putt off by the writing. The writing wasn’t bad but the voice behind it rubbed me wrong. I can’t explain it. When the narrator described a girl as too plump to be wearing a dress I put it down and didn’t pick it up again.

2. Which book is your guilty pleasure?

I have mixed feelings about this question because when we talk about guilty pleasures we often refer to things that we consider to be intellectually lacking and they are usually in the YA or Romance genre. We shouldn’t feel guilty about what we read and nobody should be judging people’s preferences. On the other hand I totally understand the tongue in cheek jabs we take on ourselves about arguably shitty books that we love. I would reread Twilight so I guess that would be my guilty pleasure, although I would read it publicly just to dare somebody to question me.

3. Which book do you love to hate?

If I Stay was really meh for me and even annoying. I don’t really bash the book but I didn’t connect with that story and as a result I never understood the hype. I also genuinely hate the book I mention below.

4. Which book would you throw into the sea?

La Ultima Noche Que Pase Contigo by Mayra Montero. It was disgustingly racist and the book was more rape-y than erotica. Absolute waste of paper.

5. Which book have you read the most?

I don’t reread books very often, in fact not since The Enchanted Wood by Enid Blyton have I read a book over and over again. I remember starting that book over as soon as I had finished it because I loved it so much.

6. Which book would you hate to receive as a present?

Anything by a celebrity. I am not interested in reading ghostwritten drivel.

7. Which book could you not live without?

I would rather not choose one book. I love books, even the books I don’t care for/wouldn’t read are important to me. Freedom from Fear by Dr. Howard Liebgold has changed my life. I struggle with anxiety and panic attacks and I refer to this book often when I need a refresher. I would hate to ever be without it.

8. Which book made you the angriest?

See number 4.

9. Which book made you cry the most?

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent and Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel recently got to me.

10. Which book cover do you hate the most?

I don’t like book covers that are a still image from a movie adaptation. I don’t know why. I just don’t like them! Whenever I see a book released with a new cover because the movie is coming out I cringe.

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I was a better mother before having Diego

Before having Diego I had a lot of answers. I had plans, and scenarios that put me first in line for a reality check. I was determined to follow the American Academy of Pediatrics’ advice regarding no television for children under two, I was going to swaddle my way into a baby that slept through the night within the first six months, I was going to breastfeed for at least a year and I forget what other lofty goals I had for myself and my unborn child. I read books, blogs, journal articles, and watched countless YouTube videos about everything from which stroller is best to what foods to avoid.

We are all better parents before our children arrive. We are so full of energy and motivation that we can’t fathom that we will fail, or deviate from our preconceived ideas about what parenthood will entail. My first lesson in this came at my thirty-five week appointment where my blood pressure was so high I had to be admitted right away. Right then, I knew that my natural childbirth had slipped through my fingers. I had wanted a vaginal birth, I wanted to feel the pain of labor no matter how briefly (I was always open to an epidural) and I wanted to give birth to my baby in the beautiful way I had seen time and time again. My doctor, accustomed to my neuroses assured me that everything would be ok. She also reminded me that things change. I knew this. I had discussed this with her at length, but in that moment, overcome by fear, I could only grieve for that experience I wouldn’t have.

Diego was born via Cesarian section the next day. I saw him briefly before he was taken to the NICU. Already, my plans were changed. I did not get to nurse him right away. It would be days before I would put him to my breast. Breastfeeding is hard and even more so when your baby has been drinking from a bottle while in the NICU. I was pumping regularly and fortunate to have an ample supply but I couldn’t be there to feed him every three hours so I had to be satisfied with sending baggies of pumped colostrum/milk to him.

When we finally brought him home I discovered that he could break through his swaddle and end up scratching his face. He did not like having his arms contained. We tried using mittens to avoid scratches but his jerky movements had him smacking himself in the face and waking himself up. Where was this swaddle magic I heard so much about?! By the time Diego was four months we couldn’t swaddle him anymore because he could turn over. Sleep would elude us for most of his first year. We had some good nights where he slept for five or six hours straight but those were rare. We tried everything to no avail. Books will tell you that by six months babies should be able to sleep through the night but babies don’t read the books!

Diego is now almost eighteen months and has been sleeping around twelve hours straight each night for a while. He obviously did not fit the mold when it comes to typical sleep in babies.

As for television, he watches some shows. There are days when the TV stays off all day and he doesn’t miss it. It’s not part of his routine, but he does watch it. How unrealistic is it to expect parents to not expose their kids to ANY television whatsoever? In my opinion it’s pretty unrealistc. At least for us. Somedays I need those thirty minutes to an hour to get something done. Other days it’s just nice to sit together as we sing along to some of his favorite songs on his favorite show.

I was a better mother before having Diego because I had answers. I thought the experiences of others would somehow help me navigate first time motherhood with grace. Nothing helps you when you’re up at four in the morning, crying because your baby hasn’t let you sleep in days and if you put him down you will only ensure a screamfest. The books don’t tell you that sometimes a shower is the last thing you will want at the end of a long day of pumping, feeding and cleaning up poop. There are days when we are at our worst, when we cut corners, feed our kids frozen chicken nuggets, and let them tear our mail into pieces just for a few minutes of peace and quiet.

I was  a better mother, but now I am something even better: I’m mama.