Ode to the Mom Bod.

Congratulations. You went through nine (really it’s 10, so I’m not sure who keeps deciding it’s 9) terrible months of pregnancy. You went through an excruciatingly long and painful labor. You just delivered your sweet baby safely into this world, and you’re holding him in your arms. An overwhelming rush of hormones is circulating through your entire body, and you start to feel complete euphoria. You hold your baby on your chest in total awe and wonder of how perfect and precious and completely orchestrated by the angels this heavenly moment must be. You do skin to skin immediately, and you know for a fact that there has never been a more tranquil moment in your life thus far. You look down in complete gratitude with a smile of thanksgiving to your doctor, when you accidentally see her bloody gloves, scissors in hand, and string being pulled to and from places that should never ever EVER have to be stitched. And so this begins the unspoken, unacknowledged, suuuuuuuper underestimated trimester. The 4th trimester. It’s real nice to meet you, sloppy-broken-mom-bod.

Let me start by saying this: there will always be somebody who is better off than you, and somebody who is worse off than you. Let’s all stop for a second and acknowledge that although everybody has different body types, the feeling of being personally unsatisfied and self conscious about your body feels the same for everybody. It sucks. Being unhappy with your body feels as crappy for a size 4 woman, as it does for a size 14 woman, because feeling crappy… feels crappy. So if you’re reading this and thinking “Boo hoo, lady. I’ve never been a size 4 so how can you even complain?” do as I instructed all of my anti-induction friends in my previous post and poke yourself right in the eyeballs. (Side note: I haven’t been a size four since age four so I was obviously just using that size as an example).

The fourth trimester. It’s so overlooked that it doesn’t even have a real name. Obviously, a trimester insinuates one of three approximately equal time frames or terms. We assume that our body is done after the third and final trimester. We think that once the baby is born, the intense changes that our body underwent the past year will magically reverse. It’s over! Except of course, it’s not. It’s definitely not. I will spare everybody the disgusting details of what goes on downstairs in the weeks following child birth… but just know that it’s SUPER not awesome. Breastfeeding morphs your new momboobs back and forth from porn star to pork chops at an incredibly disturbing rate. The first week after you give birth, you’re basically carrying a deflated inner-tube around your waste, and your belly button is a sad melting marshmellow. WHY DIDN’T ANYBODY TELL ME ABOUT THIS? Why didn’t I know that for two months I would be living in skateboard sized diaper pads and disposable ice packs? Why didn’t I know that I would have to casually snack on Colace if I wanted to have a bowel movement that didn’t make me suicidal? Why didn’t I prepare myself for how disappointing it would be to not be able to fit back into my pre-pregnancy pants right away. Why didn’t I understand that the lifestyle changes that happen when you have an infant are not conducive for weight loss AT ALL? Oh, mom bod. You are the worst.

I have never been somebody that has struggled with weight, so that confused me into thinking I was never somebody that struggled with body image issues. I have never had to work through any of these emotions before, and I assumed that since it wasn’t hard for me to stay “skinny” with minimal exercise, it wouldn’t be hard at all to go back to my previous size after having Owen. I was so wrong. I sometimes think breastfeeding was the darkest and loneliest time of being a brand new mom… until I realize how hard struggling to love and accept my new postpartum body was and still is.

I’ve read a lot of sweet articles that say things like “your stretch marks are battle scars!” and “wear your saggy stomach like a badge of honor!” I realize that my body did an incredible thing by growing, birthing, and feeding a tiny human, but I also realize that after the newness of having your baby wears off, being stuck with a dimply squishy body just totally sucks. And also when your peers still have their crop top wearing college bods with none of these “battle scars” or “badges of honor” you’re left feeling like a washed up version of your old self- a washed up version that now pees a little at random times in the day without warning.

I remember feeling SO FAB when I introduced Owen to people when he was only a week or two old. It felt so good to hear people say things like “Wow! You don’t look like you just had a baby at all!” But as the weeks started dragging on, suddenly introducing my 3 month old baby was not getting the same reaction. It’s a vicious cycle that we’re in as women and mothers. There is so much pressure to return to your pre-baby body, that other women also understand how important it is for you to hear those words. Because we obsess over this ourselves, we accidentally word vomit it to other women as a way to reassure them that they are still beautiful. Instead of feeling good, however, I think it slowly reinforces the idea that returning to your pre-baby body is extremely important and obviously very noticeable.

The first couple weeks after having Owen I dropped about 35 pounds, almost instantly, with no effort at all. I gained 55 pounds during my pregnancy, so I just assumed the last 20 would continue to fall right off. -WRONG.

**Let me just interrupt this blog post to share with you the time I got mean girled.**
While I was breastfeeding every 2-3 hours, I was basically totally starving at all times. Turns out, when you’re always awake, you’re also always hungry. Having a new born baby is all consuming; all consuming in the way that you literally never have a moment to yourself outside of showering, which is a freaking luxury. After having Owen, a tepid bath without soap (because your new momvag, obviously.) turned into a Four Seasons Spa package.
Anyway… I say all that to say, you don’t have the time (and if you have the time you certainly don’t have the energy) to prepare healthy, filling, and accessible snack options for when you’re ready to eat a whole city while nursing your baby. I had the brilliant idea to go to Target, skim through their healthy snack aisle, and pick out some “snack bars” for me to eat whenever I had a craving for something sweet or was hungry between meals. “Skim through” as in sprint through the aisle because my newborn was screaming bloody murder and my boobs were leaking. Guys…in my new-mom-zombie-sleep-deprived haze, I picked up several packages of CLIF BARS. You know, the ones with the stick man scaling a mountainside? “Oh, he looks healthy,” I thought.

So let’s fast forward to three weeks later. I had been eating Clif bars like it was my after school car duty y’all. I ate AT LEAST two a day, in between my other meals. I was noticing that I was putting on weight, and fast! I was crying to Barry one day about the new 10 pounds that I had gained.
“I just don’t understand why!!!!!” I said as I cried.
I watched as he nervously glanced at my snack bowl of clif bars on the kitchen table.
“Why do you keep looking at my clif bars!!!??” -Me
“Well…. ummmm…. well…….” -Barry
“WHAT IS IT?!” -Me
“Well… umm….. how many of those are you eating a day?” -Barry
“I DON’T KNOW BARRY! MAYBE 2 OR 3???” -Me (getting more emotional and defensive)
“But have you read the label on the back? Each one has like 50 grams of carbs.” -Barry
“No it’s a MEAL for healthy people. Healthy people like.. marathon runner healthy people. Like, spend the entire day climbing a mountain and eating one of those for dinner type of healthy people.” -Barry



“Afton. Are you serious? I would never mention something like that to you. I didn’t want to hurt your feelings. You’re so sensitive about your body. I didn’t want you to think that I didn’t think you were beautiful.”

Guys…. how sad is this scenario?
1.) Because I’m an idiot and basically accidentally ate 2 whole loaves of bread a day for almost a month.
2.) Because I was so obsessed and sensitive about my postpartum body that my husband was too afraid to confront me.

What a wake up call for me.

The next few months I made a lifestyle change. I mean, obviously I stopped binge eating meal replacement bars, but instead of making a “goal weight” or a “goal size” I made a lifestyle goal. I tried my hardest to eat healthy foods because they gave me more energy to sit and engage with Owen during the day. I tried going out on walks with him in the morning, and walks as a family when Barry got home from work- this killed time, got Owen outside in his stroller, and just made me feel a whole lot better. I sleep trained Owen (that’s a whole other blog post for another day) which meant I was slowly defeating the sleep deprivation beast. Owen started becoming mobile, so instead of sitting on the couch or floor with him literally all day long, it finally made sense for me to be active and to start moving. And lastly, I gave myself some time and grace. Taking care of yourself doesn’t mean hitting the gym super hard while you have a newborn baby at home. Be patient with yourself and give yourself time.

If you are reading this and you are a mother who is struggling with loving, accepting, and appreciating your postpartum body, please know that you are not alone. So many women are experiencing this with you, but also remember that while you are obsessing over getting your body back right away, you are also missing out on some of the sweetest, most worth-while memories. Although they feel like they drag on, the newborn days and the infantile moments go by so, so fast. Already, my 1 year old son is showing signs of independence that make me proud but break my heart all at the same time. Looking back, although I hated my squishy postpartum body at the time, I love what it represents. 4th trimester me symbolizes a new mom who knew absolutely NOTHING about raising a baby. 20 pounds heavier reminds me of the sleepless nights, the crazy schedule, the permanent spot on the couch, the struggles with breastfeeding, and the only time in Owen’s life when he needed 100% of me 100% of the time.

So be easier on yourself, postpartum mama!

(And besides, even if you DO get your pre-baby body back you can’t reverse the pants peeing, so really nobody is winning here.) just kidding… sort of.







Top 10 Must-Have Baby Toys of 2016

Toys will do much more than just entertain your sweet baby. A baby’s brain develops rapidly, and the right toys can stimulate that brain growth in positive ways. Younger babies need toys that assist in developing color and shape recognition, hand-eye coordination and an understanding of cause and effect relationships; while babies that are a few months older need toys that can teach them balance and mobility, manipulative skills, and imagination development. World renowned Dr. Sears says, “When choosing toys for a child, think carefully about the toy and the child. Choose toys that are developmentally appropriate, that build on skills the child already has, and provide a few challenges.”

Are you an expectant mother feeling super overwhelmed by creating a baby registry? Are you a mother who just saw a super mom post a picture of her 3 week old baby with intentionally placed educational toys in the background and stacks of site word flash cards all over the living room? Do you feel like you are a bad mother because your baby doesn’t have enough sensory stimulating and developmentally appropriate expensive toys to play with? Well, chances are you ARE a bad mother. I have done a lot of research on age appropriate, chemical/BPA free, energy efficient, stimulating toys made from recycled milk jugs… and from that research I have compiled a list of the safest, most beneficial toys that your baby is sure to love. Below, is a list of my top 15 must-have baby toys of 2016.

1.) Books
Expensive, hardback, paper books (much easier for baby to tear) that are on your baby’s Accelerated Reading level. It is so important to stimulate them within their ZPD (zone of proximal development) and to scaffold accordingly. It is imperative for your baby to follow the 5 finger rule: open the book with your baby, and have your 6 month old put a finger up for each word he/she doesn’t know. If your infant is holding up all five fingers, have them choose a different chapter book. After each book, it is always a good practice to review the 5 comprehensive stem questions of who, what, where, when, and why. When planning your nursery, make sure you don’t waste any extra space that you might have on anything useful like a dresser for extra diaper storage. Instead, buy a super expensive industrial-modern book shelf from Restoration Hardware, and fill it with 150 books that your baby will be sure to take extra gentle care of. *Note: bookshelf also works as a sharp cornered bumper while baby is learning to pull up and stand on his own. image3

2.) Plastic Treat Bags and/or Glue Sticks
When your baby is unable to walk on their own, and they are using a walker of some sort, it is always a good idea to leave fun and exciting items for them to explore at eye level. You can do this by measuring cabinets/benches/tables in your home, and figuring out which areas are the most accessible for baby. Next, take anything that you are spending time working on, for example, party favor bags and craft supplies for their upcoming birthday party, and place these in said area. Watch as your baby discovers exciting new textures and materials like plastic bags and hot glue gun glue sticks. Make sure that the plastic bags are not big enough for them to put over their head, but just small enough to stick completely in their mouths. Also, remember that it is character building for your baby when he/she cheats death by chewing on toxic glue sticks and surviving.

3.) Whisk w/ Ice Cube
This one is a total hit with babies of any age. If your baby is being whiny while you are spending several hours making pureed homemade baby food for them, all you have to do is throw various utensils down at them and let them play with the left over ice
that fell from the dispenser while you were making your mid-morning Moscow Mule (jk….mostly). Watch as your baby learns face-whisk coordination and develops spacial awareness by continuously trapping his tongue and fingers between the tiny metal whisk crevices. Your baby can also work on his pincer grasp by struggling to pick up slippery ice cubes for twenty whole minutes. *Make sure your dog is not in the area as your baby will most likely slap him right in the face with the whisk- as well as you, your husband, himself, and anything else that is in his line of vision.
[Similar items include spatulas, spoons, plastic tongs, etc…]

4.) Baby Wipes and/or Kitchen Spices
You might be asking yourself, “When will my baby ever find the time to play with both of these toys?” Friends, the answer to that is, your baby will stuff his mouth with baby wipes AND open a (taped shut) spice container full of cinnamon/shake it all over the kitchen and his pajamas in literally 3 minutes time.  These toys are SO accessible and so very quiet, you won’t even realize it’s happening right at your feet while you’re cooking your baby’s scrambled eggs. It’s probably a good idea to keep the cumin, cayenne pepper, and chili powder EXTRA taped because your baby will have so much fun, he will surely come back for more at a later time (when you’re answering the door, loading the laundry, going to the bathroom, etc.)

5.) Sack of Limes
Despite the plethora of expensive, highly engineered, brand name toys scattered about the room, 9 times out of 10 your baby will discover their true nirvana in this sack of limes. You might try to take this toy away from your baby, well.. because it’s a sack of limes, but do NOT do that. This sack of limes has done what Fisher Price, Hasbro, Mattel, AND Lego could only dream of. Sometimes your baby will love this sack of limes so much that after dragging it through each room in the house for 45 minutes straight, he will actually scream bloody murder and cry inconsolably if you try and give him another toy to play with. Plus, this toy is versatile because there is always an organic option available.

6.) Important Documents and Bills
If you are a parent that keeps their important, confidential, financial documents and unpaid bills in a high enough area where your children can’t get to them and trail them through the house, then you really need to reevaluate your parenting approach. It’s important to introduce finances and responsibility to your children as early as possible, so consider letting them chew on your personal mail for a while. Besides, finding an unpaid bill three months past the due date underneath your couch with the corner chewed off is actually a good thing, because it explains why your water was shut off unexpectedly. (Just kidding that “never happened”)

7.) Toilet Paper
Toilet Paper is always a good option for many reasons. First, it is so easy to unravel and takes very minimal effort to drag several feet of it through the house. Second, it is easily digestible for when your child decides to eat 5 or 6 squares. Third, toilet paper play makes your baby more comfortable with bathroom essentials, which is beneficial for early potty training. Lastly, it also makes your baby more comfortable with TPing other houses and various forms of vandalism to public or personal property in general.

8.) Wax Paper
Like toilet paper, this is another toy that can be totally unraveled in a matter of minutes. In fact, an entire roll of wax paper can be completely unraveled in the time it takes for the baby’s mother to go to the bathroom to pee. This toy is a little bit more developmentally advanced, because the baby must learn how to keep his/her balance while manuevering through the kitchen on the wax paper. If your baby is a ninja, this toy can even be accessible from a cabinet in the kitchen WITH a safety lock on it.


9.) Shampoo/Soap/Lotion Cabinet
You might think your baby is missing, but have no fear- he/she is simply enjoying the number 9 most valuable toy on our list: the hygiene product cabinet.  You might call for your baby, frantically searching in closets and behind doors- you might even check under the bed. The great thing about this toy is that there is no assembly required. Your baby can experience hands on learning and a quick lesson in the 5 senses if he or she is smart enough to figure out how to open your lice repellent shampoo/conditioner and rub it into the inside of the cabinet. It’s also nice to have a Jergen’s self tanning lotion in the cabinet for your baby to open in case you get a real pasty one. IMG_2928

10.) Doggy Door
Some people buy baby toys that require putting plastic blocks through corresponding holes. This is much like that, except better, because the block is your human child. Speaking of frantically searching for your baby, if you are wanting to totally lose your child for several minutes, our number 10 must-have toy should be your next purchase. The doggy door is revolutionary in many ways. It allows your baby to slip away and spend several minutes on the back porch all alone- teaching them many different lessons in survival, independence, and just loneliness in general. The doggy door is extra useful when your baby wants to sneak outside and play with the dog poop that has accumulated on the porch after the most recent thunderstorm (but only if you’re lucky enough to have a dog that won’t step foot in wet grass.) The doggy door teaches the baby the basic laws of physics, while also giving the mother a small heart attack. IMG_2933

Voted safest and most sanitary for your baby to enjoy!

 *Used toothbrush*IMG_2931
*Barnes and Noble Clearance Item Storage Bins*

*Tylenol Syringe*IMG_2934

*J Crew Decorative Grass Display*



The Labor of Love

Well… turns out, when you blog every day for a week during nap time, you finally close your laptop and look around the house and realize you have 7 loads of laundry, (how is that possible with just 3 people???) a full sink of dishes, sketchy old bottles laying around, and the diaper pail situation takes you back to the porta potty strip at SAE’s Jungle date party. So hi, Xanga. It’s been a long week and I have missed you, but I needed to wash my house and my hair. A man’s capacity to live in filth amazes me. Barry doesn’t even notice when our house is horrendous, which is good and bad. I love that he doesn’t notice the mess, but I hate that I can spend four hours rearranging the cabinets and cleaning out the closet and he doesn’t notice AT ALL. For my sanity and for my own validation, we’ve worked out a weird routine where I walk him through the house and physically point out what I’ve done and he practices his surprise face *gasp* “Oh my gosh that’s SO incredible!!!” bit. Totally awkward and insincere, but I need it so he does it. What a gem.

Okay so today’s blog post is going to be more for ME. I say that because there’s no lesson, no real encouragement or words of wisdom for my readers- just plain old story telling that I want to have in the universe to be able to look back on and read later. So here it is, the graphic post that I knoooow you’ve all been waiting for: Owen’s birth story!

Let’s rewind to the week prior to Owen’s birth. I was SO desperate y’all. I tried EVERYTHING to go into labor on my own. And when I say everything I mean I even sat on a bowl of boiling water and coffee grounds because I read ONE, single, solitary, non-research based suggestion from a total stranger on my baby app chat forum that vaginal coffee steams SOMETIMES maaaaaybe induced labor. So that was smart. I basically put myself on bed rest the weeks leading to Owen’s birth because I’ve been watching Grey’s anatomy since tenth grade so I know how to make important medical decisions concerning the well being of myself and an unborn baby.

Barry would come home from work and find me breathing heavy in weird positions all over the house wearing what we refer to as my “pregnancy uniform” (underwear and a bandeau) more often than I should be comfortable admitting. We had a nightly routine of me getting on all fours on the bed and Barry rubbing a tennis ball on my tailbone, because Owen was fully engaged in my pelvis (aka at a fetal station 1) at only 36-37 weeks. The pressure on my tailbone was sooooo very awful- I almost burst into happy tears when my OBGYN told me that she would induce me if he hadn’t come by 39 weeks gestation.

Side note: if you’re reading this and you are thinking “Ew she is so dramatic and selfish for wanting to be induced early. The baby is not ready. Her body knows what to do. Her baby should be able to pick his own birthday.” Blah blah blee blee SHUT UP. Stop right here and poke yourself in the eyeballs.

Owen was medically considered full term. He was measuring a week ahead based on size, and he was healthy. He was okay. You know what’s NOT okay? A psychotic, aggressively pregnant woman who was getting acupuncture, going to sketchy hole-in-the-wall chinese foot massage parlors (spending $100 a day), and turning her vagina into a starbucks for the sake of “spontaneous labor.” So you get it now.

Let’s fast forward to the night before my induction. My sweet sister wanted to celebrate the night before Owen’s birth and also father’s day by hosting a family dinner at her house. Everybody was so excited! So much chatter about what tomorrow will bring. SO happy and excited to meet Owen. Everybody was SO giddy… except for me. I basically ate in silence and was sick to my stomach all evening. I was SO AFRAID. I had no clue what the hell I was doing, and the reality of “nah let’s not take any birthing classes” began to slowly sink in. We took celebratory family pictures in April’s backyard, and everybody kept referring to the evening as “the feeling you get on Christmas Eve!” Yeah, yeah. But what if Santa was coming down your birth canal and not your chimney? Pretty sure I don’t cry tears of fear and panic on Christmas Eve, and there’s definitely not as much nervous diarrhea.

So anyway, that night I stared at my ceiling for 8 hours. Just kidding, if I laid on my back I would surely suffocate myself and die, so I stared at my night stand until my alarm went off at 5:30 am. Barry and I did what any couple would do on the morning of their first child’s birth- we packed the car and got some Sonic grilled cheeses. I had already planned to have my placenta encapsulated (by now you understand that I am a hormonal fire monster) because I wanted to be as proactive as I possibly could be about avoiding any chance of postpartum depression. As we were packing the car with our hospital bag, car seat, etc… Barry was frantically searching through the garage as I was waiting impatiently in the front seat. I heard him say, “YES! I FOUND IT!” and I watched him open the trunk and throw in the crustiest, muddiest, sketchiest yeti cooler that he hauled to and from well sites when he was an oilfield engineer in south Texas. I said “What the hell is that for?” Barry said “It’s for your placenta, obviously!” …… Lord help us.

We got to the hospital and everything in the beginning is such a blur. Both of our families were there, and April was our birthday photographer. (To any expectant mothers- you will NEVER regret having somebody with a camera there to snap pictures throughout the day. They are literally my most prized posessions.) They began induction at about 8:00 am. We had the most incredible and attentive nursing staff at Lakeside. They were so thorough, careful, thoughtful, gentle, and kind to me. (I love you Amanda and Amber) Right after my OBGYN broke my water, and my pitocin drip was starting, my sweet nurse started filling out my file in the computer. She was asking me all kinds of important questions about myself, my pregnancy, and my fetal care. She asked me if I had used any drugs or consumed any alcohol during my pregnancy, to which I said “Absolutely not! I would never.” Literally MOMENTS after answering this question, Barry came into the room to deliver a bouquet of flowers sent to the hospital by Jackie and Neelie, my best friends of 20+ years.
“Oh my gosh that’s soooo sweet!” I said. “Who is it from? Read the card!”
“Congratulations on being sober for 9 whole months.”
AWESOME. I looked back up at my nurse, totally mortified. Luckily she seemed to understand that my best friends are hilarious idiots. Jackie had been pulling this crap throughout my whole pregnancy. A few weeks earlier I got a delivery of cupcakes and the delivery girl refused to give me the card that went with it. She was SO awkward when she was giving them to me. Turns out the card said “Eat up, you fat ass.”

So moving on… I lasted 4 hours of pitocin contractions before I got my epidural. (Shamelessly tooting my own horn.) The epidural was heaven sent. It completely took my pain away for a couple of hours, but my contractions were so low that we couldn’t seem to figure out how to completely numb them. April sat with me and talked through my contractions for a good hour. She was the only one I wanted to talk to. She’s so calming, and she made me feel so much better- she’s a saint. After an hour or so of still feeling my contractions I told my nurse that I felt like the epidural wasn’t working. I told her how low my contractions were, and how painful they were, so they propped me up into a different position to “move the epidural down lower.” I had some relief, so I took this time to eat an entire route 44 of crushed ice, two popsicles, and another 2 cups of ice from the hospital in about 20 minutes. April came back in and we were chatting it up when I started feeling the contractions again. She said “maybe we should move you to your side?” She started to pull up the sheet that was covering me to untangle it and she scream/gasp/laughed. She was absolutely cracking up. My epidural had moved straight to my feet and my ankles were literally 5 times their normal size, which is extra shocking to see since I came out of the womb with beefy cankles to begin with. From my knees down I was totally numb, but I still had feeling from the knees up. COOOOOOOOOOOOOOL. This went on for the remainder of the day- phasing in and out of feeling contractions.

At about 6 pm I started getting really nauseous. (Also, I just tried to spell nauseous five different times and couldn’t figure it out. Also, I just did it again while typing that sentence.) I threw up a couple of times, and didn’t think anything of it. Barry came in the room and I told him I had been throwing up.
He said, “so… what did you throw up?”
I said, “Nothing really.. just my Popsicles.”
“So no grilled cheese?” -Barry
“Uh.. no?” -Me
“You know what that means……it’s not in your stomach anymore.” -Barry
“What?” -Me
You guys…. this was honestly my biggest fear going into child birth. I know that sounds so stupid, but I truly was SO freaked out about pooping in front of my husband. We are a couple that doesn’t do ANYTHING like that around each other- So obviously Barry thought it was SO hilarious.

Speaking of pooping, let’s move on. I was at a 10 and ready to push at about 9:00. I was in so much pain, and so overcome with fear when they checked me and told me it was time. My OBGYN, (whom I love with all of my heart), was doing an emergency C-section, so when it was time for me to start pushing, they told me to wait for a few minutes. I totally understood. To you, this day is the most important day of your life- it’s ALL about YOU. But there was another woman who felt the exact same way, that was having a much worse day than I was, and was probably a million times more afraid. I fully understood that, and I was okay with waiting. I will say; however, that 10 or 15 minutes of waiting felt like a zillion years. I turned into a full blown, raging psycho in that 10-15 minutes. I literally SCREAMED at Barry to go get me gum. “BUT MAKE SURE IT’S THE GUM THAT YOUR MOM HAS!!!!!!! ROOOOAAARRRR!!!!!” ??? I don’t know- it was VERY necessary. It took him probably 2 minutes to go to the waiting room and get the gourmet gum for me, but I promise you that in the 2 minutes that he was gone, I had mentally divorced him, and was planning his funeral. “WHERE IS BARRY!!!????! DOES HE EVEN CARE ABOUT ME?????” My sister and my mom were just staring at me…very confused. Also in these 10-15 minutes I demanded my hairbrush from my packed bag ASAP. For some reason I felt like I couldn’t push out a baby without a braid. In my head, my hair might get in the way and everything would go wrong and surely we would both die.

Here I am brushing my hair/sobbing??????

My tailbone hurt SO bad during that 10-15 minutes before pushing, so I desperately begged Barry to massage my tailbone with the tennis ball. (Obviously we packed the tennis balls because that’s normal?!) He was rubbing it on my lower back and my tailbone and I kept yelling “LOWER, BARRY! IT HURTS!!!!” He said, “I can’t really go any lower…” to which I cried, “Looooowweeerrrrrrrr!” He looked at my mom in a panic and said something like “I think she’s telling me to put this tennis ball in her butt.” Thank the Lord above, right then the nurse and my OBGYN came in to prep me for pushing.

I was on my side facing the wall as the nurse was prepping behind me. She started to open her gloves, and the wrapper crinkled. For some reason, I was convinced that Barry was casually opening a bag of doritos to snack on during the MOST IMPORTANT MOMENT of our lives! I don’t know, y’all. I don’t know. I screamed “BARRY ARE YOU SERIOUSLY EATING SNACKS BACK THERE RIGHT NOW!!!!!!!!!?? WE ARE ABOUT TO HAVE A BABY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” April and my mom didn’t know if they were allowed to laugh at me, but I know they were dying inside.

Anyway I pushed for 45 minutes, pooped literally the entire time… so that was awesome. In fact, so much that when I asked my nurse she said “let’s just say you cleaned house…”. I’m not sure what that means, but I know it’s probably gross. We Thought the intense pain standing and walking right after having him was probably normal, but we later found out that I had broken my tailbone while delivering him. Also awesome. But you know what? I weirdly loved everything about this day. I would happily relive this day every single day for the rest of my life. Motherhood is so whack- If I had to birth Owen every single morning just to spend the rest of the day with him, I would. (But also by 5 pm I would be begging Barry to come home from work to give me alone time). So Owen, if you are old enough to read this and you aren’t totally cringing at the thought of how you got here, I want you to know that delivering you was, and will be the most incredible moment of my entire life. You are worth every single second, Boogy.












Expectation Vs. Reality

Hi guys! Let me start by saying THANK YOU! I have been so overwhelmed with all of the love and support for my adult xanga. The positive feedback has truly made us feel so much more comfortable with sharing the not so perfect pieces of our lives with you, so I want to thank everybody for the views, the shares, the comments, the messages, and the texts. I have been especially humbled and excited about all of the business inquiries, free vacations, club appearances, and modeling opportunities. I am now an official spokesperson for Flat Tummy Tea, Sugar Bear Hair Growth gummies, and Waist Trainers. (just kidding, but the emails and messages from you guys really are so sweet and I do appreciate your kindness and support so much!)

The website I use for this blog allows me to see the views/comments and gives me statistics for each post, which is kind of cool. It says that my most popular hour for views is 2:00 AM. 40% of my views happen at 2:00 AM, guys. Isn’t that so appropriate, seeing as how the majority of my followers are fellow moms? It’s so telling of one of the most continuous struggles of motherhood…
Do I go to sleep at a reasonable hour and get enough sleep to wake up when the baby wakes up bright and early, or do I take a brain vacation and stare at my phone for 4 hours until I end up watching Youtube videos of the world’s biggest pimple or how to contour my face to fake a nose job? It’s so real. And when you choose the latter, the moment you hear your baby on the monitor at 7 a.m. (4 hours after you finally put your phone down) you truly want to die. DIE. And maybe sometimes you go into the nursery, change your baby’s diaper in the dark, put your baby on the floor with some toys, face the wall, and “rest your eyes” on the Boppy for a minute or 45. I’ve never had any experience with this type of scenario personally… I’ve just heard about it from some friends or something. Probably bad mom friends.

So today’s post is going to be all about unrealistic expectations. (For example, a young Barry Bennett fully expecting to grow up and become a dragon).
I know, the topic has nothing to do with the intro… I write like I talk, so who even knows? At this rate it might conclude with my theory about Forever21 being the clothing version of the Cheesecake Factory menu- but that’s neither here nor there.image1

Life is full of all sorts of different expectations. Expectations that are fully met, expectations that are close to being met, and expectations that are so comically far from your reality, that after all is said and done you don’t know whether to laugh or cry about the end result.

Most of the time we create our own expectations from hearing about other people’s experiences. With pregnancy and childbirth, I was going by what I had seen on Teen Mom *shoutout to Jenelle for making me still feel like the best mom on my worst days*, the horrific birthing stories that my stupid coworkers (I’m pointing at YOU Mandy & Beth) used to tell me in the teacher’s lounge to make me squirm, the experiences that the women in my family had gone through, and possibly the most influential- what I had gathered from social media about “momming.”

Because motherhood is something that I had obviously never experienced, when people would ask me “Is this easier or harder than you expected?” The obvious answer would be, “I didn’t really know what to expect, so I didn’t really have any expectations.” But that’s just not true. I think we subconsciously expect what we hope will happen. We want the best possible outcome SO badly, that we actually start to believe that even though it’s not realistic for us personally, we WILL meet said unrealistic expectation. The danger with this is that we, as mothers, are unfairly setting ourselves up for failure right off the bat. (I use the term “failure” lightly, because failing at these expectations is not actual failure… it’s simply experiencing a different outcome- a totally OKAY outcome.)

-Here are just a couple examples of some expectations that were not met for me-
Expectation 1: I will have a #fitpregnancy. I will look like a pregnant Kourtney Kardashian, because we have similar body types???
Reality: I have to put deodorant between my thighs to workout. I pee on the treadmill. I’m actually not a 5’1 Armenian woman.
Expectation 2: Childbirth will be okay. I’m pretty tough. I’m not a giant fatty, so surely my baby won’t be a super lardo that’s going to temporarily destroy my vagina and break my tailbone.
Reality: LOL

Expectations. Ugh. I didn’t realize that I even had any expectations until I was sad about my outcomes. And why was I even sad? (I mean, the wrecked vagina and broken tailbone is okay to be sad about.) I was sad because comparing myself to other people subconsciously brainwashed me into thinking that I was doing everything wrong.

Owen was born with torticollis, so my body must have carried him in my womb wrong.
I didn’t bond the first moment I saw him, so something must be wrong with me.
I wanted him to spend his first night in the nursery so I could take care of myself, I must be selfishly doing this wrong.
We brought him home and he still felt like a stranger to me, this feels so wrong.
I couldn’t breastfeed like other mother’s could, and feeding him formula was so wrong.

You guys… this has to all be so real for so many women. I know in my heart that I am not the only mom to feel like a complete failure when my expectations and reality are so different from the other. I can’t honestly say to expectant mothers and new moms, “Just don’t have any expectations so you won’t experience disappointment.” So I’m not going to. What I WILL say to them are these things that I wish I could go back in time and tell myself- things that I think will be helpful for me if we have another baby someday…
1. You are allowed to be hopeful. Hoping and expecting are two very different things.
2. Your reality differing from your expectations doesn’t make ANYTHING about your experience wrong. Everything about your pregnancy/birth/early motherhood is individually designed for YOU to rejoice in, to suffer through, and to overcome. God knew your short comings, your strengths, and your abilities when he created YOUR baby for YOU.
3. You are not wrong. You birthed your baby the right way even if it didn’t go as you expected, because you brought your baby into the world. You are bonding with your baby the right way, even if you are spending extra time perfecting how exactly to love and care for it. You’re taking time for yourself the right way, because you know that it’s necessary if you want to be the best that you can be for your baby. You are feeding your baby the right way, because your baby is being fed. You are making mistakes the right way, because you are using your mistakes to better understand yourself and to remember why you desperately need Jesus.

There’s a song that ALWAYS reminds me of the beginning phases of motherhood every time I hear it- every time my unmet expectations feel like failures.
“Lord I find You in the seeking
Lord I find You in the doubt
And to know You is to love You
And to know so little else
I need You, Oh how I need You”

BECAUSE AIN’T THAT THE TRUTH?! SO so little else. So let’s reprogram ourselves.
Let’s let this be our only expectation: To grow into better mothers every day, by being  realistic in our expectations and confident in our abilities.

B*tch better have my bagel

Afton has asked me to reflect on her pregnancy from my perspective.  Let me apologize in advance for the third blog entry not being as funny or well written.  I tried to tell her to move me further back but she insisted.  No pressure, Barry.

As Afton and I reflect on our lives together during her pregnancy, an event we have dubbed “the bagel incident” resonates with both of us as the tipping point in our relationship at that time.

On this particular morning, I made the grave mistake of eating the last bagel in our house.  I was unaware that this was one of the only foods she could keep down and she had indeed been surviving on nothing but bagels for the last few days.  When she opened the pantry and saw the travesty I had committed, she confronted me.  Not like an “Oh dang, I was going to have one of those,” type of confrontation.  I would liken it more to a “you’ve sold my sister into slavery, and now I’m going to kill you and your whole family” type of confrontation. The fury and despair in her tone was as confusing as it was hurtful.  I could feel my own anger spilling over.  I lashed back at her, something sarcastic and cutting.

“I’m going to walk Sadie,” I said as I angrily put on my shoes and grabbed her bedazzled collar and hot pink leash.  I had gotten into the habit of walking our toy poodle in this fashion – alone – every day for the last week or so.  Obviously my desire to maintain a masculine persona with the neighbors was greatly outweighed by an intense need to escape my terrifying pregnant wife. Today was different because it was my second walk.  I could feel myself getting hot with anger.
“You’re walking again?  You walked like an hour ago.”
“Yes, I’m going again.”
“Can I come with you?” Her tone softening suddenly.
“No, I think I would like to go by myself.”

…Wrong Answer.

A few minutes later as I rounded the first corner (three houses down) Afton pulled up next to me in our car.  With tears in her eyes she said, “Well at least go to Braums with me. I need a cheeseburger!”  (It was 10 a.m.)

After a painfully silent car ride and with cheeseburgers in hand we both broke down and talked about everything that was going on.  Up to this point the story must seem so silly, and it is, but at the time it seemed like such a big deal. Afton remembers truly feeling like her world was falling apart at the sight of not having any bagels that day.  I remember my own totally irrational thoughts- blistering, hateful thoughts and feelings that had been building up over the previous weeks and spilling over finally.  We had so completely de-railed.  Over, what?  A bagel???  These negative feelings and interactions were unfamiliar territory for our marriage. Watching Afton cry into her (breakfast) cheeseburger in the Braums parking lot for 30 minutes was a huge wake up call for me. It was in that moment that several important revelations dawned on me.

The first was that being married to my pregnant wife sometimes felt like being married to a drunk, bipolar cousin- wildly unpredictable mood swings and a complete lack of sexual contact.  And also vomiting. Lots of vomiting.  (Don’t worry the next two are serious.  And I don’t actually have a drunk bipolar cousin)

The second was the realization of all that Afton was going through.  It dawned on me that I had not shifted my own concept of our marriage to accommodate this new phase.  Why was it reasonable for me to expect her to fulfill the same roles and needs in our lives as she had before taking on this huge additional burden?  I had grown too comfortable with the dynamic of our previous existence and had subconsciously refused to adjust.

In my mind, I played the role of the All-American husband: always selflessly putting my wife first, being a good provider for our family, having an unshakable positive attitude and good mood; the very image of masculine strength, no vulnerabilities or weaknesses of my own.  No need to thank or repay me- all this is unconditional, free of charge.  But, of course, it wasn’t.  It has always come with a pricetag- a laundry list of my own needs that rest squarely on Afton’s shoulders.  I need intimacy, affection, constant reassurance that I’m handsome, funny, being a good husband etc.  I even have a need for her to be happy and content.  No joke- I get frustrated at her if she’s upset or unhappy for too long.  Talk about unnecessary pressure during a first trimester.  As Afton stopped meeting those needs in the way I had grown used to, I started to resent her.  I became bitter.  I withdrew.

The final revelation was a recognition of my own fragility. When your wife is pregnant the world reminds you nearly constantly that you matter the least. She’s the one doing all the work so suck it up, be a good husband, do everything she says, etc. And let me say I agree with all of the above.  But it’s impossible to just grit your teeth, smile, and turn off your humanity.  At least for me.  Eventually the changes, the unmet needs, the inevitable tension that results from her discomfort, wear you down.  I grew up listening to stories about my mom’s pregnancies- about dad spoon feeding my mom baked potatoes while she closed her eyes and nose because she was so nauseous, her physical and emotional symptoms, the classes they went to, the doctors visits.  I never once discussed with dad how he felt; if he had moments of despair or selfish resentment that his life was so different or what he did when he was upset or felt lonely.

I think more than anything what I lacked during that initial phase and what a lot of husbands probably lack is a strategy for dealing with their own psyche. For me, the thing that really helped improve our relationship during the rest of Afton’s pregnancy (aside from Sonic ice- I think Afton went through 30 bags and just as many tubs of Nutella) was our conversation in that Braum’s parking lot where I talked openly about how I was feeling and tried to work through why. We agreed on a strategy for me to intentionally spend a small amount of time to myself each day to decompress and channel my anxiety.  This was mostly in the form of working out and meditating. (I was a meditation skeptic too, but trust me on this one.)

I write all of this to say, if you are a husband reading this and your wife is pregnant…
1.) be prepared for changes in the dynamic of your relationship.  Things aren’t going to be the same.
2.) Come up with a strategy for working through your own emotional struggles.  Meditate, workout, take up a new hobby.
3.)  Vent to someone… but not your pregnant wife.  Someone else, like another husband whose gone through this.
4.) And for the love of God, DON’T eat the last bagel.

I suck at being pregnant.

After my first post last night I laid in bed for hours thinking of all kinds of ideas to write my next post about. There are so many things to write about and I have so much to say. I couldn’t turn my mind off. Actually, I thought about the blog for five minutes and spent the next two hours watching braid tutorials on instagram under the covers with my phone on silent while Barry slept. Y’all… Braiding videos are my kryptonite, which is so stupid because I don’t even understand how to french braid. But somehow EVERY night I convince myself that my brain can tell my fingers how to make the perfect messy 5 strand dutchwaterfallmilkmaidfishtail braid during Owen’s morning nap the next day.

WELL ANYWAY…. Here we are for my second post ever. This post is going to make my former coworkers SO happy, because we get to reminisce about my pregnancy. Before I begin, you should know that for 9 months I was the butt of every joke in the teacher’s lounge because my pregnancy was so hilariously obnoxious and I was such a pregnant moron. There were four of us that were pregnant at the same time and all of the other ladies handled their pregnancies with such grace. One coworker came to work and taught for a few days while dilated to at least a 3 and having steady contractions. Another coworker taught until the day her water broke during a morning staff meeting. All of them were super delightful during their pregnancies. Not me… I was eating at least 4 donuts a day, puking between each class period, casually peeing my pants during my lessons, sending mass emails talking about how suicidal my fifth graders’ recess B.O. was making me, trying to figure out a way to get legal maternity leave months before the baby was born, and taking off my clothes in the parking lot (we’ll get to that part later.) Side note: I really AM a good teacher and employee, okay?

So here’s the deal… everybody handles their pregnancies differently. Some women absolutely love being pregnant and they enjoy every single moment of it. Some women don’t have morning sickness, debilitating fatigue, steady nausea, round ligament pain, and restless leg syndrome. (lucky bitches) Some women DO experience terrible pregnancy symptoms, but continue to love and cherish every single ache and pain up until their sweet baby is in their arms. If you are this woman, stop right now and pat yourself on the back. Go tell your husband how lucky he is to be living with such a pregnant saint. Tell your friends and family members that they are so fortunate to not have to listen to your dramatic complaints about the newest disgusting pregnancy development happening to your body. If you aren’t starting to understand where I am going with this post, I will go ahead and come out and say it: I 100% LOATHED BEING PREGNANT. And you know what? That’s okay.

Let’s take a trip down memory lane, shall we? Before we begin this trip you must know that Owen was unplanned. I was diagnosed with endometriosis in college, and had surgery to remove a uterine cyst a few years ago, so I assumed that getting pregnant would be extremely hard for me. Psyche. The day that I found out I was pregnant I immediately called my friend Taryn (as in… i was still on the toilet) and cried about how scared I was. I then called my sister and woke her up from a nap frantically telling her I was pregnant, and then I texted my coworker, Julie, because I had been sending her fake pictures of pregnancy tests all week (we had been joking about how my stupidity at work must be because I had “pregnancy brain” ….. lol… ) I was so freaked out about my positive test, that after telling 3 people in five minutes, I realized I hadn’t even THOUGHT about my sweet husband. Poor Barry… when he walked in from work I was nervous laugh-crying and I handed him the pregnancy test, which clearly said 1-2  PREGNANT. (meaning I am one or two weeks along) Barry looked at it, got VERY confused, and said “WHAT DOES THIS MEAN????” I said, “Barry…. it says I am pregnant.” He nervously said, “WHAT DOES ONE OR TWO PREGNANCIES MEAN??????” Sweet Barry. We hugged and cried with both joy and terror for like the next bazillion hours. We picked April up and met my parents for dinner to break the news. April still laughs when she thinks about that car ride. She said Barry was gripping the wheel so hard his knuckles were white. I’m sure his expression was a sweet smile mixed with an “I’m about to poop my pants” face. I love him.

FIRST TRIMESTER: Guys… if trimesters were people, I would run over the first trimester person with my car. The overwhelming fear of miscarriage, mixed with the SEVERE nausea. I’m telling you… I was a monster. Imagine having to go to work with the stomach flu every day for 2 months. And now imagine being a TEACHER with the stomach flu for 2 months- loving on your kids, engaging your learners, delivering knock out lessons. It was the most difficult time for me. I threw up getting ready, during my 40 minute morning commute, between each class period, and on the way home EVERY. FREAKING. DAY. I wanted nothing to do with my precious husband. I had a super heightened sense of smell during the first trimester, and I swear I could smell 5 different smells on Barry at one time. Not bad smells, just smells. Smelling smells when you’re 90% committed to throwing up 100% of the day is SO DIFFICULT. He would try to hug me and I could smell his clothes, his hair, his skin, his breath, his beard??? Needless to say, I was repulsed by any form of affection for almost 3 months. And you know what? Barry’s love language is physical touch (shocking) so he basically thought I completely hated him.

At 12 weeks we announced to the Facebook world that we were expecting. Have you ever seen a more awkward kiss? Do I look like I’ve been kidnapped and forced to kiss this redheaded stranger in my bed? When you look at this kiss do you think “Oh… she’s definitely into that.” or is it more like, “Oh she definitely just swallowed throw up back down on ‘…2’ right before her sister snapped the photo.”
*This was the first time I realized that lying about your true state through pictures on social media is exhausting and stupid.*10417618_10203705907995292_4843753127643251429_n

How is this post so far?….. Are you feeling uplifted and encouraged yet???

My nausea was more manageable in the second trimester. Thank God. Barry was starting to feel less like he was being punished by God for choosing me as a wife. This trimester was especially eventful because in the second trimester your body slowly begins to TOTALLY BETRAY YOU. The amount of pain involved in putting on mass amounts of weight solely in your core in a matter of 12 weeks is insane… especially when you’re standing and moving around all day. Another fun fact about pregnancy is that your body starts growing weird things. I discovered skin cancer growing on my forehead in the second trimester, and my dermatologist had to remove it right away because pregnancy also causes cancer cells to multiply rapidly. ARE YOU JOKING, PREGNANCY???? (Don’t worry April, I’m not going to embarrass myself and tell everybody about that other weird growth on my nipple). Also Owen was slowly growing into a beast and hung out right on my bladder at all times so this is when the casual pants peeing started.

Speaking of Owen slowly growing into a beast, in the third trimester he kicked three of my ribs out… So do what you want with that information. The third trimester was miserably uncomfortable, but so uncomfortable that it ended up just being hilarious. I could no longer bend over, I couldn’t sit still without readjusting, Owen thrashed around underneath my rib cage from 8 pm until midnight every night, and getting into our memory foam mattress bed every night was like a suicide back buster into a pit of quick sand. I. was. DONE. Despite exercising more than I ever have in my life, I got sooooo muuuccchhhh ceeeelllluuullllliiiiiite. It was as if somebody washed me, tossed me into a dryer on tumble dry low, and threw me onto the designated laundry chair where clothes sit in a wad for a week before they get put up. SO MANY WRINKLES. Here is hilarious evidence of my brand new cottage cheese thighs.
#yogimom #fitpregnancy

During the third trimester I developed extremely intense restless leg syndrome. My legs itched so badly that I had to wrap them in cold towels and put oven mitts on at night time. Giggles. The itching and creepy crawly feeling was so excruciating that I sometimes took off my pants in the parking lot before getting into my car for my commute home from work. This is real life. I could have been arrested and charged as a sex offender, people. That’s how many F’s I did not give. I even quit my job 9 days before the last day of school because I was getting maybe 3 hours of sleep a night, and was getting blood work done every week for three weeks to see if I was developing a serious liver condition called Cholestasis (but maybe because I was just sick of putting deodorant between my thighs and chasing around 96 eleven year olds every day…you decide.)

So here is MY truth: Pregnancy was awful for me, and THAT IS ALLOWED. I have friends who talk to me about “secretly” hating their lives while they are pregnant. Friends who feel completely alone, depressed, and already feel like unfit mothers because of how much they hate their pregnancies. How sad is it that we choose to emotionally isolate ourselves at a time when we need support the most, rather than be honest with other women about what we are going through?

Here is a UNIVERSAL truth: The way you feel about your pregnancy has NOTHING to do with the way you feel about your baby.

Hating pregnancy does not mean you will hate motherhood. Hating pregnancy does not mean that you are ungrateful for the gift of life. Hating pregnancy does not mean that you have forgotten or have stopped praying for all of the women who would give anything in the world to be in your position. And lastly, hating pregnancy doesn’t mean that you wouldn’t do it all over again in a heart beat.






There’s a first for everything…

What are you even supposed to say when you introduce your blog for the very first time ever? So much pressure to say something catchy and attention grabbing… I’ve got nothing. But I WILL say, I’ve never felt more like Sarah Jessica Parker in my life. Typing and deleting, typing and deleting. Smoking a cigarette and remembering my last casual sexual encounter with the stranger who bought me a cosmopolitan at the bar last night.

Just kidding. But what a smooth transition to explaining why I am starting a blog in the first place? My life is hilariously average. I am a super suburban, God fearing, averagestay at home mom. I work my butt off to just be super duper mediocre at raising a very high strung ginger baby, all while trying to be the best wife that I can possibly be to my seet ginger husband. But here’s the deal… although my life is very basic, I want to remember these days forever. I want to always be able to look back at the hilarious stories, the struggles, the accomplishments, the sometimes devastatingly temporary stages of my sweet boy’s childhood, and just remember. I also wanted to make this blog because when I tell people ridiculous stories about my life they usually say, “You need to write a book or something!”

And so I present to you: THE SO SO HOUSEWIFE! Also known as, MY ADULT XANGA!!! I remember in junior high I would mentally log things that happened during the day just so I could go home and write about it on my Xanga. Hopefully this blog is like that…except with less converse icons, lyrics about my bleeding heart, and countdowns to my next orthodontist appointment to change the color of my bands.

The blog name is pretty self-explanatory. I chose it because I’m all about the honesty on social media. There is nothing more irritating to me than when moms portray their motherhood and their families and their every day lives as picture perfect, effortless… and not covered in poop. Because here’s the deal- I KNOW YOUR TRUTH, LADIES! I know your sleepless nights, your irritability, your struggles with meeting your husband’s needs while trying to keep your baby alive, your breastfeeding nightmares, your postpartum body image issues, your loss of friendships, and the fact that by Thursday your hair is 90% dry shampoo. I know your truth now, but I didn’t know it when I was thrown into motherhood before any of my peers were. I trusted my gut and made a ton of mistakes, but the biggest mistake that I made was comparing myself to what I perceived to be the “good moms” that I followed on social media- the moms who posted pictures and statuses that made me believe that I was not good enough at breastfeeding my baby, that I was not taking care of my body like I needed to, that I was not talking to my baby enough, and that I was not playing with my baby enough, (& btw how the HELL do you “play” with a 3 week old baby??? Somebody tell me already!!!)

So let’s end this post with my promise to anybody and everybody that stumbles across this blog. I promise to be shameless and honest with every post that I write. I promise to seek the humor in every ridiculous thing that happens throughout my frustratingly slow, but ever fleeting days at home with my baby boy. And lastly, I promise to always encourage you to keep on keeping on and to give yourself some grace during your so so life.