Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Waving Goodbye to Wine

Oh, those interesting wind-down hours of the day, where the baby starts to get extra fussy and tired and you're TOTALLY over it, yet you feel a strange excitement for this witching hour, because that's when the oven clock changes from 4:59 to 5:00...
Not sober...happy
It's wine time, buddy.

Saturday night. Tuesday night. Every night. It don't matter. Because parenting is SO much easier with a slight buzz. (I read an article once about how wine is a more natural choice than Xanax, so there's that.) My edges soften, my patience stretches. I felt like a damn fool I hadn't started this ritual sooner!

A little excitement for mama. A patient mama for baby. Sounds like a win-win!

But when does a ritual turn into a habit? It's a feeling you have. A little seed of guilt starts to bud. Then your husband stops drinking entirely, and you do, too, to show support, then you realize how big of a part drinking played in your life.

After four weeks without alcohol, I do miss it. I thought fondly of it probably every other day! Thinking about not being able to visit wineries, or taste beer at baseball games, or toast champagne at brunch. But here's what I don't miss:

1. The expense! Although I have replaced this with an essential oils addiction. (Must try what I call my "liquid Xanax" roll-on will love it! Click here)

2. The muddy brain. Mom-brain is bad enough, without killing off more brain cells with a wine habit. Seriously, I've never felt so clear in my life. You don't realize how foggy you've been, until you're not.

3. The lack of motivation. Funny how when you drink, that's, like, the whole END GOAL of the day. Now, once baby's sleeping, I do yoga, write business proposals, catch up on reading, etc. My business is booming, my sights seem limitless and my mental and physical health has never been better! Speaking of health...

4. The wine-belly. Think about it, 2-3 glasses of 90+ calories each...and whatever buzzed snacks will follow...piles up around your waistline. No booze has definitely been a factor in my 10-pound weightloss, in addition to replenishing my body with bioavailable vitamins and a metabolism-boosting essential oil (you must try it - click here). I feel like alcohol throws your body out of balance, and once your liver doesn't have to work so hard on cleaning alcohol out of your blood, it can work on detoxifying your skin and other organs of day-to-day pollutants. People have said I'm glowing!  

5. Powerlessness. This might be a little too new-age for some of you, but in yoga, the "solar plexus" chakra - or energy center - represents your personal power. Its housed in your stomach area. I have always struggle with belly fat...but not lately. I intuitively believe it's because i have my personal power back - willpower, empowerment, power to influence my own life - now that I'm not drinking. When your power chakra is in balance, your stomach, well, looks awesome! I have never seen abs before, and they are starting to peek through. 

6. The crutch. Without alcohol, I have allowed my true personality to blossom, and emerge in social situations. I have learned a lot about myself; I'm a little quieter than I originally thought, I have an underlying nervous energy that's only still when I drink, meditate or do something productive. I've also found I get silly over weird things; I'm a good listener, and feel passionately about social issues (and have the brainpower to speak intelligently about them).

So how does one eschew the sauce in a nation where Budweiser owns two-thirds of it, people see marijuana as a drug but not alcohol, and every luxurious experience comes with a glass of bubbly?

1. I've never drank so much LaCroix in my life. Or coffee. Or any colorfully packaged, low-cal drink that can spark at least some of the excitement of a perfectly pink, organic, dry Rose.

2. Telling people I'm on a "cleanse." I know how annoyed I used to get when people would tell me they don't drink. "Why, 'cause you're better than me?" I'd think. So, I just leave it at a very non-preachy "cleanse."

3. Unless I confess that I'm not drinking, and have a really cool conversation about it. Some of my friends have really meant it when they said they wish they and their husbands would stop drinking, too. I have noticed a common pattern in women getting more sensitive when they drink, and me getting less sensitive, causing some troubled waters when wine gets involved. So I'm just gonna leave that cork unpopped.

4. Go on adventures. The weekends used to be bad for us because we'd get bored chasing a baby around all day. So we'd crack open a bottle a little earlier. But now, we go hiking, camping, to the museum...anything to keep us off our couch, craving a drink. And when we do get home, we toast a fizzy drink and maybe even indulge in a sweet treat.

5. Be realistic. Don't think you won't miss it. It's hard for some people to switch lifestyles. But know that the benefits outweigh the buzz, and you're going for long-term gains over short-term relief. And if you find you're REALLY missing it, take the opportunity to explore what's lying under the surface. You might be amazed at what one session with a shrink or Life Coach can do for your peace of mind.

As the witching hour approaches to start winding down with my son, I get a little spark of excitement over that incredible sigh I'll take, after 5 minutes straight of silence from his crib. And that, I'm learning, is a more than sufficient way to celebrate the end of the day.

Monday, April 6, 2015

5 Things I Wish I Knew before Having a Baby

You've got a seat squished between two strangers. Your stomach is churning a bit from the less than gourmet food you slammed down on your way to the gate. Your breath is starting to quicken, your heart racing, as you realize you that you're pretty much trapped. You can't really move. You're breathing everyone else's dirty air. You get the feeling you might have to pee. And just when you feel you can't take it any more...

"Attendants, prepare the cabin for landing."

Have you ever breathed such a sigh of relief? Well, that's how I feel today, having emerged from the deep; my son's first 7 months of life. He's finally laughing and cruising around and fun to take places, so I feel like I'm out of the clouds. Sure, the postpartum depression played a role in this prior "trapped" feeling, but in actuality, I legit had no idea what I was getting into when that little stick give me the thumbs up. I feel cheated that some Fairy Godmother of Mothering didn't leave this list in my mailbox before my husband and I started going for the gold. So, please, enjoy this hard-earned advice from someone who was in the dark for far too long.

Why can't babies be born THIS age?
1. Your life is not over. 
Yes, it feels like someone took a hammer to your entire life - from how you arrange your day, to where you shop, to what you expect from yourself and others - and shattered it like an eggshell, and demanded you to put it back together. Well, what they don't tell you, is that you don't have to put it back exactly how it was. As long as the yolk isn't spilling out all over, you're good. And please, spare yourself the whole "my life will never be the same!" tantrum, where you sink into a depression about never having time alone or a full night's sleep. Don't do that to yourself, because that's a hard spiral to stop. Look around, and see that you still have friends, family, a home, interests, places you want to go, dreams you want to accomplish...all with the addition of something that makes all of that even more special. You have a new life. And you wouldn't have it any other way, and you know it.

2. A baby changes you.
Yeah, there's the flab...the stretch marks. Whatever. That's no big deal to how much a baby actually changes you. He changes who you are. What you value. Your work ethic. How you treat others. After having William, I have taken jobs with fervor, no longer thinking about missed Bravo shows, but about making my baby proud and giving him security. I'm no longer scared of opportunities or conflicts, because, after pushing a nearly 9-pound baby out of you (in my case, with no meds!), why would you be? Nothing really intimidates you. You have so much more confidence, and go into every situation with a gentle ease knowing inside, you are a mom. You take better care of yourself (at least as much as you can in the moments you're not killing yourself over his wellbeing), make sounder decisions, get really clear about what you want your future to manifest (I've had some of the best opportunities of my career since becoming a mom). You find out you have more love to give, and it spills over into other relationships. There's absolutely no doubt, you come out of pregnancy as a better person. 

I need to feel like I'm a part of something bigger (with Geena Davis)
3. If you want to work, that's okay.
When I quit my job as a radio host just days before delivery, I was under the impression that hey, if being pregnant made me want to call in sick every day (oh, I was so miserable!), then having a kid would give me all sorts of reasons not to show up! Not true, because a) being pregnant makes you feel not only tired but hormonal, and b) as I said in #2, you have a different outlook on work once you have the baby. You either want to work your booty off being a stay-at-home mom, or hit the workforce the moment cabin fever sets in! What I didn't realize until my son was 8 months old (that's days ago), is that, it's okay to leave him under the care of others. It's okay to fulfill your own dreams! Now, I get to enjoy a "break" from baby for few hours, five days a week. What works for me, is those are either hours spent running my business, or freelance jobs; both of which are flexible, so I can still have as much time as I want with my son. So, if SAHM life is not right for you (I definitely couldn't hang!), find a way to work that works for you; that will fulfill you and sustain your family in the long-term. And that is NOTHING to feel guilty about.

4. Your husband won't be the perfect dad.
Even though he thinks you're the perfect mother. As new moms, our expectations for our partner are way too rose-colored-glasses when we're pregnant. I actually feel bad now that I've "awakened," to realize that ever since the baby was born, I've been keeping a secret scorecard on my husband. 
He didn't wake up with the baby this morning, even though I did the overnight feeding
Or I called the exterminator and also put the baby to bed, so he needs to mow the lawn and cancel that subscription, and also put the baby to bed tomorrow
Date nights are when you remember, you're on the same team
Or how about this doozy:  He told me to go have time for myself, yet when I got back, he hadn't even put the lunch stuff away or done the dishes, even though I always multitask while I'm with the baby
Me: 3, Dad: 0. But really, I'm the one who's losing. 
Instead of turning into my husband for support, using communication and setting mutual agreements, I turned to that toxic devil Resentment, which made me feel uber unappreciated, overworked, and alone. Once I dropped the expectations, and realized we are both doing the best we can with our own skill-set (like I'm just super-awesome at multitasking, whereas he spends so much quality time with baby that he doesn't get around to the dishes), I realized I had a partner, and a darn good one at that.

5. You can afford THAT.
The massage. The weekend away. Whatever "that" is for you, and your husband - you can afford it. Doing things that de-stress, and make you feel like you, and make you two feel like a couple, are as important as any other bill you have, so don't guilt yourself over spending it. My husband would often urge me to go get a massage, to which I used to stupidly reply, "I shouldn't spend money on that, when we have to pay the babysitter three times a week now that I'm working." THEN I'd get mad at him for not planning anything for me! Let go of those money issues. You can always save your money in other places (buy used kids stuff, for one! Whenever I see my friends buying baby clothes at Nordstrom's, I always think, "Haven't they heard of Kid to Kid?" or "Wouldn't they rather use that money on themselves?"). 

The first few months of motherhood would have been a lot easier if I didn't think the world was ending, or that I had to be chained to my home, with blinders on toward the baby. I am listening to my son let out a high-pitched squeal through a smile half the size of his face, and had my baby come out like this, all wacky and explorative, maybe I wouldn't have needed all this advice. But since we all start out with a non-encouraging newborn, new moms need all the help we can get.

Friday, February 13, 2015

How I knew I was done being a SAHM

It's the kind of cry where just the self-pitying sound of it, makes you cry more.

And it's not coming from the baby.

This baby has ruined my life.

I'm sitting on the edge of the bathtub, escaping his demanding outbursts just long enough to cry a few tears of my own and get back to it. And I think, It's quite literally true. A baby's birth equals the death of your former life. Almost nothing you did before is the same, and even the things you still do the same, you do with major adjustments. But I might be taking on more than I even need to.

My love is DARLING, and a handful!
See, my 6-month-old bundle of joy is becoming more squirmy and demanding, which is unfortunately paired with a sleep regression, which means night-waking and fewer naps. In fact, after my husband leaves for work, he takes exactly zero naps. So, when he finally goes down around 7 p.m. I muster just enough energy to twist open the spout of my boxed wine and collapse into our barely used easy chair.

I've started accumulating a feeling that kind of reminds me of when I was diagnosed with postpartumdepression. I definitely don't have that overwhelming sense of doom like I did in those hopeless couple of months, but I do have that feeling I'm missing out on something exciting happening outside the lonely confines of my home.

I can't relate to moms who say, “each day is better than the last!” Yes, it's absolute HEAVEN to see my baby smile, and watch him experiment with his voice, but there's just no getting past the extremely difficult job of being his sole caretaker after my husband leaves for work.

Why don't I get out more, you ask? I definitely go get my hair done or take the fam on walks, but it's not like after hours of wrangling a toddler-sized baby, I want to wrangle him into clothes, then into a carseat, then around whatever venue becomes our crash site.

And I even have a job. A few of them, actually. But they are only a few hours a week, and happen while my husband is home (so it's not like I get to work fewer hours of my “mothering” workweek).

My closest friends think I'm crazy.

“If I were a stay at home mom, I would be on pills.”

After a week covered in baby food, I can't wait for my Saturday morning TV gig!
Another one says, “Working is the only way I could have two kids.”

And now, as I look into my baby's excited face after finding a toy that will make him happy for maybe 3.5 minutes, I am declaring:

This stay-at-home-mom thing is not for me.

It WAS, at one point. I told you in the article I wrote when I quit my radio job, that I just had to do it, so that I could figure out - without pressure - how this new family dynamic works. I definitely feel like a different person with different desires now, so the former career would not have worked anyway. Plus, I've been blessed with a front-row, round-the-clock seat to the most formative years of my son's life. I'm grateful for that.

But, I'm sorry, son. I enjoy our time together so much, and love you more than anything in this world. But I need a break. I need to experience life outside of my home, which - unless I can figure out how to afford a nanny so I can go standup paddleboarding all day - means going back to work.

This is kind of good news for everybody. I have finally learned that my baby will be just fine without me for a few hours. You know that saying: “You've gotta take care of YOU before you can be your best for others?”

Well, this momma's gonna do HER.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Getting Happy at a High Altitude

Winters in Utah can be a total drag. Not just because they last through May, but also because the nasty inversion that seems to get worse every year. (Be part of the solution HERE.) But did you know feeling blue amid the winter white can actually be blamed on our high altitude?

In this well researched article from my favorite local magazine, Catalyst, researchers point out that Utahns are prone to a depression-causing condition called hypoxia, where, basically, your brain becomes deprived of essential fuel like oxygen, and creatine. Creatine? Like the stuff your boyfriend slams down before hitting the gym? The stuff that gives you a blast of energy, while its annoyingly meathead-y canisters promise an increase in lean muscle? 


The article says that our brains actually already make creatine - which reportedly is as essential to your feel-goods as serotonin and dopamine - but that hypoxia restricts your body's ability to access it. So, the study suggests supplementing your daily vitamins with creatine. (Ask your doctor what kind to get!)

I have been trying it out - I put half of the daily amount in my morning smoothie, then half in a cup of tea later in the day to ensure absorption - and I am ALL for it, to the point where I took some over to my mom and sisters and preached to them all about it! You see, I don't just have sustained energy - not the euphoria-now, crash-later sort of stuff - but I also feel a stabilizing of my mood! It seems ever since I had postpartum depression, I have been prone to more dips in my cheerfulness, and this is just what I needed to even me out. I feel like before, if something unexpected came up, I would get super stressed and bummed out. Now, I feel like  I can take a deep breath and see the positive side more often.  

Oh, and remember to ski. Who's ever been sad doing that winter sport?

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Small, DIY Fixes that Transformed Our Home

2014 was a big year for the Joneses (isn't every year? Oh, the joy of progression). We had a baby, I started a business, and we also moved. We picked up and left our little busy-road bungalow in a questionable (yet conveniently walkable) area, and nestled ourselves in a liberal ski community against the Wasatch mountains.

We love our ranch house! And have done quite a bit to it since we've been here.




Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Body Issues are More than Skin-Deep

This company says our vaginas need deodorant!
"Hail to the V!"

It's the seemingly empowering slogan of "feminine hygiene" company Summer's Eve. But the message behind their products, like vaginal deodorant and "freshening" wipes, is anything but squeaky-clean.

I remember in my later years of high school, one of my best friends just lost her virginity. Sitting in my '89 Chevy Suburban in the parking lot of Alta High, she recounted her first night with Chad.

"Everything was going really good, until he was like, 'I want to go DOWN THERE!'" she exclaimed, eyes wide in horror.

"Did you let him!?" I recoiled, equally terrified of facing her boyfriend's preposition.

"No way!" she wailed. "What if he thought it was GROSS?"

Even before companies like Summer's Eve were telling girls and women our vaginas are - I'll just go ahead and say it - smelly, society has been laying the bricks for that stigma. This Jezebel article attributes women's smell-shame to a history of women being shamed for simply having a vagina, period. (Ever noticed how, since ancient times, it was never a man who was deemed, "unclean?")

I also believe that pop culture (comedians, movies, etc.) has perpetuated the idea that vaginas are gross. My husband and I were watching some comedian, I can't remember which one, but I cringed when I heard him smugly slur into the mic: "If you can smell it on the way down....go back up!"

Even the medical world has started vaginas off on the wrong foot. WebMD says, "It's normal for your vagina to have a slight odor," giving a negative connotation to the organ's natural scent.

Products like Summer's Eve, along with pop culture, are not doing men any favors, either. If a male expects a woman to smell like roses, he will be disappointed. But the wiser man will use our natural musk - and the arousing pheromones contained within - for his pleasure.

I'll admit, I've often been uncomfortable with my own area. Not just growing up, but also when I first got with my husband. I remember on our first night "together," me pleading to the Gods for him to "like it" down there! It took me a while, actually, before I could just sit back and enjoy that part of our sex life....till I realized, he enjoyed it, too.

There are days, however, when something is truly "off." The vagina is such a complex, self-policing and healing organ, that it sends messages to us through various odors and secretions. But it's unfortunate that some people's experience with a "fishy" day (typically signaling an infection), can scar them for life.

Breasts are also up to bat in the shame-game. I remember in high school, a football player asked me to flash him. And I did, thinking that was my tax for hanging out with the "cool kids." I was a late bloomer, though, and I guess the kid told his friends that my boobs were "weird." Weird compared to what, I dishearteningly thought, when the rumor made its way back to me.

Society has created the "normal" breast type: Whether they're big or small, they must be round or teardrop shaped, and perky, with small areolas. Don't believe me? Listen to any plastic surgeon discuss the ideal image with a patient (or go to their websites and see the "embarrassing" before and afters). Or ask Hugh Hefner what type of breasts he allows to be showcased in his magazines.

Even mainstream magazines don't offer any consolation to those who fall outside "the norm." Cosmopolitan featured an article where the advice for dealing with boobs of "two different sizes" is: Pad one side of your bra, or get plastic surgery.

So, how can women cope with this "perfect" pair standard, WITHOUT surgery?

Love them just how they are, right now.

Easier said than done. But I changed my opinion about mine, so I know it's possible.

In her book, Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom, Dr. Christiane Northrup says the best way to love your breasts, or even the lack thereof, is a daily practice of basically cupping each one, and sending loving thoughts to them. Conversely, Dr. Northrup claims that loathing your lumps is linked to breast cancer. Extra: Watch this video on the power of words.

If you've already been under the knife (and according to this research, 74% of Utahns have), STILL practice loving them. Because the grass is ALWAYS greener if your eyes are only focused over the fence. Comparison will slowly kill any semblance of self-love and acceptance.

And then there's this: Despite the fact that the media's trying to brainwash all of mankind into desiring the perfect double D, when you're face-to-face with your partner, he will likely be charmed by your chest, no matter what they look like.

So, let's "hail" our own breasts and "V's;" but not with products or surgeries, just love. We women deserve to love the very things that make us women, and to have others respect them, as well.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Postpartum Depression Update

It's been almost 7 weeks since I was diagnosed with postpartum depression. You can read all about that here. And though the Zoloft was tempting, it appears that my natural remedies (and just straight up endurance) paid off, and now, I feel like the fog is lifting.

I think it has A LOT to do with this smile....