Misadventures of a 20-Something Mom: November 2012   

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Why "MOM" Sex Blows: Figuratively speaking, of course.

First of all, Mom, Dad, In-laws, just go ahead and stop reading here. We don't need Christmas dinner to be any more awkward with the following revelations. So let's go ahead and part ways...ta-ta now.

For the rest of you, non-relatives lets talk relations.

Sex changes when you become a mom. Anyone who says otherwise is a damn liar. It doesn't necessarily have to be for the worst, I would even dare to say my husband and I are more intimate now than we were pre-baby. But it's different. I'm not just talking quantity, the quality or type of sexual escapades changes as well. Gone are the days of being able to moan so loud that the police come by to do a wellness check. Gone are the days of spontaneous rendezvous and impromptu "looner nooners." When you become parents, you have to work a lot harder to keep the proverbial spark alive. For those of you childless, non-believers, I have compiled the following list of reasons that "Mom" Sex blows:

1) You remember that shameless and salacious moaning I referred to earlier? After you become a mom, you are perpetually terrified of waking up the kids, or being otherwise interrupted in the throes of passion by fervent cries of "MOOOOOOOOM!!?"

2) The pre-baby, sex-kitten lingerie you own, now gets lost in your stretch-marked fat folds and/or the mess of chewbacca-like pubes that you haven't had time to trim this week, month, year.

3) You have to steal AA batteries from Tickle me Elmo for mommy's "special" time..which I'm pretty sure earns you a ticket straight to hell.

4) You are so exhausted all the time that you actually manage to fall asleep..while having sex....with yourself.

5) Motherhood means you trade foreplay for four square. Your "oven" better already be warmed. The traditional "quickie" is actually substantially LONGER than the carefully planned and calculated, swat team-esque maneuvers that now compose your sex life.

6) You now have a thorough understanding of the potential consequences of sex. (I.E. That toddler painting a masterpiece on the wall with your finest lipstick.) Therefore, previously carefree sexual escapades may now feel like you are playing Russian roulette.

7) If you've recently had a baby, you have to take extra precautions to avoid blinding your partner with a stream of breast milk while you're "doing the deed."

8) While tenderly pushing a tendril of your hair back from your face, your lover may just find a spitty cheerio.

9) While your hormones are trying to adjust to pre-baby levels, you may find that your vagina is as dry as the Sahara Desert. The obvious solution is lube. However, when your husband reaches in the nightstand to extract said lube, you may also find that your curious toddler has absconded with it's contents.

10) It's hard to be "in the moment" when you find yourself frantically wondering where the baby took the lube...and if it will somehow be discovered by Great Aunt Agnes during the family dinner you're hosting the next day.

Tell me why YOU think "Mom" Sex blows in the comment section below.

Friday, November 16, 2012

A Mother's Beauty

Photo Courtesy of http://starvingartistink.com/the-shape-of-a-mother/
Ever since having the baby, I've had a lot of pent up frustration regarding body image. Well, maybe not so "pent up." (Read more about it here)

Simply put, my body doesn't look anything like it used to and that is a tough pill to swallow. Even though a lot of the "baby" weight is gone, I've been reluctant to follow a stringent diet and exercise plan. I'm gravely concerned that after those avenues are exhausted, what I see is what I'll get, and I don't think I'll like what I see.

The reality is that no amount of salad eating or treadmill beating will erase the stretch marks that now tattoo my body, lighten the dark circles that have taken residence under my eyes, fluff and lift my once perky breasts, or minimize the fine lines that I see creeping up near my eyes and mouth. These aspects of myself are likely here to stay. Of course, motherhood negates all of those superficialities. One tiny smile or hearty belly laugh from my beautiful boy reminds me that it was and is all worthwhile.

However, I was a wife, a partner, and a lover first. As much as I'd like to dismiss my body image issues, I find that they perpetually creep back. Ten years his junior, my husband used to joke that I was his "trophy" wife. I find myself wondering how that thought could ever cross his mind now. With a busy toddler, I'm lucky to find time to shower; let alone to "doll" myself up. I find that, even when I look my best, I still have difficulty feeling pretty. I simply zero in on what I perceive as glaring faults: too wrinkly here, too flabby there, too pale, and why does the left boob look so much bigger than the right one?

They say misery loves company and I know that I am not the only sufferer of the post-baby body blues.  Many of the ladies in my "momtourage" feel similarly and complaints of saggy boobs and flabby tummies are commonplace. But instead of feeling solace in the universality of our laments, I am saddened by the extent that my friends are willing to go to in order to achieve that pre-baby body again.

"Oh well you simply must try this stretch mark cream from the South of France. My cousin swears by it, and it only burns for a few minutes."
"I'm just going to wait until after we have the next baby, and then go get nipped and tucked."
"No cookie for me. I'm on a cleanse again. Only water and cayenne pepper for the next 3 days."
I can only speak for my relationship, but I know that my husband has never made me feel anything less than beautiful. God Bless Him. He either doesn't see the many faults I see, or he is just able to see passed them enough to make me feel gorgeous. Either way, I have realized that I only have myself to blame for these insecurities. Well, myself and the endless array of beauty advertisements and television shows depicting "real" housewives. I've gathered that I am about 5 gallons short of silicone to be considered "real" or "beautiful." But I digress.
As mental health counselors, we talk a lot about "re framing" one's perspective. The theory is that since you have no control over others or their behavior, your only real choice is to change your own thoughts and actions. I will never be able to change what the world sees as beautiful. I no longer possess flat abs, perky boobs, or luminescent skin, but perhaps I can still be beautiful.
Perhaps, a few of those many imperfections are beautiful in their own right.
The soft, droopy belly that once stretched to magnificent proportions in the effort to give my son life, now acts as a safe haven for sleepy baby heads. The stretch marks left behind, a tangible reminder of the days when two hearts resided in one body. These once perky breasts, are now being used to nourish my son, and there is something wonderfully primal about that. The dark circles under my eyes: the inevitable outcome of long days of play followed by even longer nights of pacifying.
I am a mother. Like so many who came before me, I have sacrificed all that was once considered sacred: my time, my carefree lifestyle, my dignity, and my body.
And for this little boy, I would do it again in a heartbeat.
I think there is something kind of beautiful in that.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Traveling With A Tot: Caribbean Cruise Edition

My husband and I have been on two cruises this year...AND we brought our baby on both.

Before you start silently cursing me and/or stitching a voodoo doll, you should know that this is not the "norm" in our house. A family member paid for our first cruise, and we won a second cruise while on board. Anyways, in the planning/preparation stages I was surprised by the number of people who assumed I would be leaving the baby at home. Sure, the idea of 5-7 days with just my husband, completely baby-free, sounds amazing at first. (Especially to him!) But the reality is, I am a first time mom. I still harbor too much anxiety about his care taking to just jet off for a week and leave him behind. Plus, we are a super tight knit family. When I am away from my son too long my heart hurts and my arms physically ache to hold him. My boobs balloon up to Pam Anderson size too, but that is a whole other issue in itself. At this point, 5-7 days away from him was out of the question.

However, my husband and I still needed a vacation. While you experienced parents know that vacationing with children is certainly not the same as vacationing as a couple, it can still be a very enjoyable experience. I promise!

For a solid week, we didn't have to worry about cleaning up the baby's messes, meal-planning, cooking, laundry, entertainment, cellphones ringing, or laptops dinging with each new email. Mommy got to visit the spa and Daddy got to tour the ship with the captain! We were even able to embark on crazy adventures like Parasailing, Horseback Riding through the ocean, and eating dinner without the baby! As a parent, that's as close to bliss as it gets.

Our zany adventures were made possible by the amazing nursery staff on board our Royal Caribbean ship. One of the main reasons that we picked the itineraries/ships that we did, was because of the on board nursery. Unless you plan on cruising with the Disney line (much more pricey!) it is important to research the quality and availability of childcare. Our little guy spent around 15 hours total in the nursery, and he had a blast! Royal Caribbean recently partnered with Fisher Price toys and Crayola, so they are stocked up with pretty much every toy/craft known to man. My son was in hog heaven! Every time we picked him up, the staff gave us a detailed report of everything he did and usually a few pictures he had colored as well. I also loved the fact that we were given a shipboard "cellphone" so we could call and check on him at any given moment.
When the baby wasn't in the nursery, he had fun exploring the various play areas, riding the carousel, "swimming" in the baby splash pad, meeting and greeting all the Dreamworks characters, dancing to the steel drum music, and watching the many shows and parades. Never a dull moment! 

While on board, make sure to take advantage of the ship's photographers. There is no sitting fee, and there are dozens of opportunities to snag that perfect family or couple portrait. You can avoid the lines and grumpy baby meltdowns if you arrive around 5ish when the photographers are usually just finished setting up for the evening. The photographers are also very...understanding. I would be remiss if I didn't mention that on one particular photo shoot, with an ALL WHITE backdrop, the baby took a giant dump that somehow fell out of his diaper, out of his pants, and ONTO THE BACKDROP. Embarassing does not begin to cover it. Oy Vey!
The baby also had a blast at the different ports of call. Word to the wise, if you are visiting Nassau, a trip to Atlantis is a must. While I wasn't oober impressed with the customer service skills of the staff on property, the beautifully maintained property makes it easy to look past. Atlantis is home to an enormous aquarium full of all sorts of sea life. The baby and I were particularly fond of the ginormous manta rays! The property also offers dolphin and sea lion swims, a giant casino, and a fantastic kid's pool/splash zone.

Needless to say, by the end of our cruising adventures, mommy and baby were exhausted. But candidly, I think one of the best parts of vacationing is sneaking in a few good naps!

Helpful Tips For Traveling on a Cruise With A Tot:
  1. If money is no object, spring for a suite so that the baby can have his/her own room. If that is out of the question, ask about rooms with divider curtains or ocean view cabins in the very front of the ship. These front cabins are quieter and have a little bit more square footage because of the angled wall. The extra square footage might not seem like much, but it acts as an amazing play area and a great space for the pack and play/crib.
  2. Bring a small white noise maker. We found a little battery powered, egg shaped one for around $5. These make a world of difference in tight quarters. Especially if you and your spouse don't want to be stuck going to bed at 7:30 too!
  3. Research your ship and familiarize yourself with the various child-centered amenities. Our particular boat had a toy lending program, daily mommy and me music classes, large play areas, and a program that allowed passengers to pre-order diapers and baby food (rather than lugging it all on board).
  4. In stateroom categories lower than a suite, most bathrooms are only equipped with a small shower. Bring a small, blowup baby pool. You can usually find these for under $5, so you can just leave it on the ship when you disembark.
  5. Bring Baby Friendly Hand Sanitizer and Wipes. The reality is, everyone loves babies. Chances are, more than a few fellow passengers and/or crew will disregard the concept of personal space and lavish your baby with high fives, pats on the head, etc. They mean well, but who knows where those hands have been? If you have a secret sanitizing arsenal, you can relax a bit during little Junior's star moment, and just wipe the kid down on the sly later.
  6. Pack lightly! I realize that is a seemingly insurmountable task with a baby, but the lighter you pack, the more manageable the luggage. I wish I had video of my husband and I disembarking. He was dragging 3 heavy suitcases while I struggled to push the stroller and wrangle suitcases of my own. All that work, and we didn't wear half the outfits that we packed!
  7. Make your childcare reservations early and coordinate them with dinner/show reservations. This is especially pertinent on the bigger boats with thousands of fellow passengers. Try and make your childcare reservations as soon as you get on board, to avoid any disappointment.
  8. If your ship doesn't offer the shipboard cellphones, walkie talkies are a cheap and fun alternative for staying in touch. Sometimes if you end up on the same channel, you'll even overhear some funny communications between other families.
  9. RELAX. It's OK if the baby isn't exactly on schedule. A few less naps and a little later of a bedtime are probably going to be the reality on vacation. So don't fight it. Just enjoy your time. I promise that once you are home, your baby will quickly readjust.
  10. Finally, if you find a cruise line that you love, stick with them. There are often various perks of being a "return" customer. My husband and I always receive a booklet of valuable coupons for free drinks, discounts at the spa and casino, etc. Plus, we get priority boarding and disembarking. No standing in line for hours with a fussy baby!