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Mentoring Monday: Shit Monster

Shit Monster      Ah, parenthood. I think I can say I've officially arrived. Tonight, Maddie shit her pants…and all over me.
      She let one go, and I congratulated her on her efforts as I usually do. “Nice one!” I laughed. I laugh because they're so loud and rumbling that they startle you. They might startle her too, because she always makes the Cupie doll face afterwards.
      I have heard stories of other parents getting pooped, peed, and projectile vomited on, so I always wait a few minutes after a poop to ensure she's finished her business before I go in to clean up. Ithought I was pretty smart. Well, she apparently found a way around my efforts to make sure I was initiated properly into the inner parent circle.
      Maddie was sitting up, snuggled into a corner I'd made with my chest, arm, and leg. We had been reading a book, so I finished the page and pulled her away from her cozy nook. To my horror, the seedy liquid breast milk stool had exploded up the back of her diaper, defying gravity and soaking the back of her onesie and my pants. Uggh. So, I cleaned her up, then set her in her crib to allow myself a little freedom to clean up myself. After changing pants, I treated all affected textiles with stain remover and washed my hands. My mind replaying the shit monster attack, and feeling like a terrible mother for letting her sit in it for the (literally) 90 seconds it took to finish the story page, I turned the corner into the bedroom.
      To my surprise, there was Maddie in her crib unaffected by the experience. I could tell she was not as traumatized by the shit monster as I was because she was hungry. I could tell she was hungry because she was mouthing her Sing and Sooth Seahorse. Not mouthing it just anywhere, but directly on the nose. It looked like she was planting a passionate kiss on the plush toy. And as quickly as the shit monster had struck to rattle my parenting confidence, it vanished in the joy of being the mom of such a silly, sweet child.
      Thank you Madeline--for reminding me that there will be hiccups and that they are okay. Whatever happens is a trip we will experience together, and being caught off-guard doesn't mean I'm a bad parent. Love, Mom.

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Mentoring Monday: Welcome to the Family

Welcome to the Family              Five days after your due date, I had one last checkup appointment with my Obstetrician. We were preparing to induce labor that following Sunday or Monday. At the time of the visit, I hadn’t dilated or effaced any since two weeks before. I left the doctors office with a sense of the end in sight, but still disappointed. This wasn’t how I wanted labor to be. I wanted you to come on your own; I wanted contractions to start naturally; to share the “Is this it?” moment of excitement and panic with your father, timing contractions, calling the doctor and hospital, etc. I wanted the drama that you see in the movies. However, it was beginning to look as though we were to have a lab labor instead: start it all through dripping chemicals into my arm via plastic tubing. I was torn. I was disappointed at the induction prospect, but had an overriding sense of satisfaction knowing one way or another I was going to meet you soon. In one last effort to kick start labor the old fashioned way, your father and I walked laps around the mall. I had spicy Chipotle for lunch, and we had fantastically greasy Five Guys burgers for dinner (not the ideal last meal before labor, but I was calling labor’s bluff). After dinner and Mommy-Daddy time, I went to sleep for the night. Around 11:45 pm, I awoke in pain. My middle felt like it was in a vice. It wasn’t unbearable, but rather just uncomfortable enough to wake me from a deep sleep. I got up, and came out into the living room where Dad was, still up on the computer. “You okay?” he asked.              “I’m in pain,” I said holding my lower abdomen.              “Like…labor pain?” We’d had a few false alarms, and he didn’t want to (again) get worked up over nothing.              “I don’t know.” I couldn’t help but giddily smile through the discomfort. “We should see if we can time them.” And so we did. I was having contractions four and five minutes apart. Eee! The magic number! The hospital had us wait another hour before getting on the road to make sure it wasn’t false labor (it wasn’t). So at 1 am, Dad drove to the hospital, me in the backseat moaning through the contractions and giggling in between. The whole way there, the midnight sky lit up with a beautiful electrical storm stretching from one end of the horizon to the next. It then dawned on us: if this was it, you’d be a Friday the 13th baby (you were).              We arrived at the hospital. Upon entering the Emergency entrance, I commandeered a wheelchair, and was escorted up to the maternity floor. They checked my vitals: still not dilated or effaced. They escorted me to our room where I began to spend most of my time in the huge maternity tub, soaking in the warm water to ease the pain of contractions. At first, the nurse turned on a soothing CD of Native American flute songs. That quickly morphed into my custom playlist appropriately titled, “Labor? What Labor?” that included such hip-moving, feel-good music as The Temptations, The Jackson 5, and Marvin Gaye.              The contractions got stronger as the hours wore on. I was dilating about a centimeter an hour, and completely effaced after about three. After six and a half hours, I asked for the epidural. The pain was excruciating, yes. But what made up my mind about getting the epidural, was knowing I didn’t have the energy to muster through the increasing contractions for another few hours and push the baby through when it came time.              The Anesthesiologist came in and prepped for the epidural. I don’t remember much from that time because I was in so much pain during contractions, and exhausted in between them. I even dozed off a couple times in those few minute sanctuaries. He rapidly explained what he had to do, had me sign the necessary paperwork, and off we went. After the epidural, labor slowed significantly. But thankfully it allowed me to get some rest. After much needed sleep, they started Pitocin and a few hours later I was pushing. When you came out, your father exclaimed, “Babe, there she is!” Then the doctor laid you on my stomach, and I held you while Daddy cut your umbilical cord. You came out blinking your eyes and wobbling your head around; so strong and healthy. You scored high on your Apgar test (8 and 9), and latched on like a breastfeeding proThat’s my girl.               Everyone was so impressed with you from the moment you were born. Every nurse wooed over you every chance they got; you were so beautiful from the startI swear they were looking for reasons to come into our room to see you. Dad even got stopped in the hall at the hospital about how precious you were (you still are). You look just like your Dad, which still throws him for a loop. “She’s got my nose!” he said while holding you for the first time. You have just about everything from your old man: nose, mouth, chin, hands. You have my ears and dimples (one side more prominent than the other), and both of our long lashes. Your eyes are blue right now, so I’m interested to see if they stay blue or change. Your hair was dark brown when you were born, but every day it gets a bit lighter, and more and more red. Personality-wise, you’re an easy baby like your Dad was, but a total cuddle-bug like your Mom.              So that’s how you came to be. We love you so much, and are happy you’re finally here darling. Welcome to the family.

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Mentorying Monday: MADDIE!!!!!!!

SO - this is me writing in for Aymee & Adam this week!!! Maddie was born on Friday the 13th - (of August of course) She is beautiful as I knew that she would be... amazing long lashes and kiss worthy lips! Just a total doll... and I am just 1 week away from getting to kiss and squeeze and love on her...

(I got this shirt for Maddie from Small Threads and she wore it home from the hospital! I feel so special, lol)  Leave a comment with a big 'ol congrats to Aymee & Adam :)
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Mentoring Monday: Are We There Yet?

One of the last posts from Aymee before she starts writing to Maddie on the OUTSIDE!! So excited to see her sooooooon!!!!Are we there yet?              As I’m writing this, it is Madeline’s due date. Today should mark the end of pregnancy and the beginning of a new life with our daughter. However, it doesn’t feel as special as it did in my imagination. It’s just another day without broken water, without contractions, without adrenaline rushes, without excited yet anxious phone calls. Since the 35th week of pregnancy, I’ve been pining for this day (besides the obvious reasons). The first day of my 35th week, I woke up and the euphoria I had been feeling about pregnancy had vanished. The last month realities hit me like a ton of bricks. My back hurt, my legs ached, simply walking from one place to another exhausted me, I began having trouble sleeping, the heartburn kicked into high gear, sciatic nerve pain began shooting down my back and legs, and in the last few weeks my belly exploded in size, mauling my skin with stretch marks. My belly looks like the surface of Venus. I long for regular jeans, lace-up shoeshot non-pregnant sex with my husband, and after all that—a stiff drink. I want my body back, damnit.              Today has felt like I’ve run a marathon, but the finish line is missing the ribbon garnish, confetti, photographers’ flashing cameras, and a cheering crowd. Instead, it’s just a bare road with the end hiding somewhere in front of meWhat else is there to do but keep running forward?              I want her here—not in here. I want to hold her, kiss her, sing to her, read to her, look into her eyes and watch her respond to my voice. I want to watch Adam do those things too. I want to watch him be a father. I want to sneak into the room and listen to him talk to her in the most honest way; to watch her turn him into mush in her tiny hand without him knowing I’m there.              I just keep telling myself, “Patience is a virtue,” “Good things come to those who wait, and “The longer you wait for something, the sweeter it is when you get it. I know it’s true. I’ve had a wonderful pregnancy. I mean really, what a ride! I will forever cherish this time and these experiences. Every time I look at my daughter, I will remember the one-of-a-kind feeling of her rolling around inside; that special connection. But Maddie sweetheart, if I can give you some advice: the trick is to leave them wanting more…
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Mentoring Monday: Sour Grapes of Risk

For those of you following, you know this is Aymee's special once a week spotlight... for those of you that are now... this is Aymee's special once a week spotlight... lol Its amazing... and always amazing and a great read :) Leave her some comment love...
Sour Grapes of RiskRecently, we’ve heard nonstop about Abby Sunderland and her solo sailing attempt across the world, and everyone’s opinion on it: either the condemning of her parents, or the praise of Abby[1]. The whole situation touched on what Adam and I have been discussing between the two of us for a little while now: what is the right level of shelter for our child? Where do we draw the line between adequate parental protection and outright smothering? Too little protection will lead to a lack of growth at best, and injury or death at worst. However, smothering from us will also breed lack of growth, rebellion, and the potential for mental and emotional disorders such as excessive anxiety. Adam and I also feel many recent generations, including our own, have been coddled too muchYears ago, I read an article whose title summed it up beautifully: “The Pussification of the American…” It makes me think of the Grandpa cliché, “When I was your age, I had to walk 10 miles to school…in the snow…barefoot…uphill...” etc. Most of us rolled our eyes and thought, “Whatever, Grandpa.” While the story might be embellished, the moral is true. They had it rougher than we did, and I get it. Technological and social advances have made our lives easier in every way, and when we grow up knowing nothing else we take these things for granted. Grandpa was only trying to teach us to appreciate what we have. My grandparents were heartier than I am at my age, and I think admitting that is the first step towards gaining their wisdom and strength.Adam is strongly opinionated on the subject of how much to shelter a child (quite opposed), while I am often more conflicted. I always like to error on the side of caution, and evaluate risks to the nth degree. Sometimes I can be too careful. But I also strongly believe in the old adage, “Everything in moderation.” This is the dynamic of our marriage: our opposites attract and we balance each other quite well. Once such discussion came about when Adam learned the suggested age/weight/height for the different stages of the car seat we chose (it’s a convertible seat—newborn through booster). Adam’s first response was, “What the hell is a booster seat?” After I explained, and he learned that Minnesota law requires a child to be in a booster seat up to 7 years old (that’s a second grader, mind you), 80 lbs, or 4’9” tall, he exploded in a rant about how outrageous the law is, and proceeded to passionately remind me how he didn’t start wearing a seatbelt until he was eight years old because Missouri law changed to require it. Sound familiar? “Whatever Grandpa…”Many regulations and guidelines have come about in response to an ever-evolving society with new dangers and concerns, as well as in response to more accurate, advanced science (i.e. changes/additions to seatbelt laws). These are legitimate needs for change if we are to improve and survive. But then there is also the gradual dumbing down of social and parental guidelines over the years as the result of ignorance and laziness on the part of the lowest common denominator, and our culture’s inherent need to place blame. Yes, we as a society have a certain responsibility to look out for our fellow man and the right to protect ourselves from him, but where do we draw the line? In a culture of excess like ours, we simply don’t know when to say “that’s enough.” At what point do we say, “This is no longer government sanction territory. This is now individual parental responsibility?”The other night, I heard a tragic news report about a local four year old who choked on a whole grape at her daycare[2]. The broadcaster ended the report by saying investigators were looking into “where the child got the grape.” …???...?!?!...Where the child got the grape?” I thought, “What average four year old can’t handle chewing a whole grape (barring accidents like these)?! Shouldn’t the investigation be asking, ‘Was the child unsupervised? Was the staff of the daycare first aid certified in CPR and the Heimlich maneuver? If no, why not?” In the article, it mentions ‘The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) lists whole grapes as a choking hazard for young children. ‘Although children under age 4 are most at risk for choking on food and small objects, youngsters in their middle years can choke too,’ the AAP says on its website.” So can anyone else! I can choke on a small object, but that doesn’t mean I’m not mature enough to chew it. Accidents happen, and we should be responsible enough to educate ourselves on how to respond appropriately—like first aid techniques, especially if you’re looking after another person’s well-being. Furthermore, kids make mistakes, and sometimes do stupid things like cram their mouth full of food despite their parents/guardians teaching them otherwise. The article goes on to say, “The AAP urges parents and other caregivers to cut food for infants and small children into pieces no larger than a half-inch and then instruct the child to chew food thoroughly.” For the record, a half-inch is about the size of an average grape. Also, what parent doesn’t say, “Chew your food?” In discussing this with one of my co-workers, his response was, “Does that mean it was Perkins [Restaurant’s] fault when I choked on a piece of bacon when I was a kid? No. I was fat and scarfed my food too fast.Anyone who knows me knows I don’t see eye to eye with my dad on many things. But I am reminded of something he used to do when I was little, and I think it’s really smart. My dad hated shopping. Like most men, if he went to a store he had a purpose for being there. He was in, and out. Through virtue of this, he walked very fast—with purpose. Sometimes my little youngster legs had trouble keeping up, and sometimes my youngster attention span would steer me off course, resulting in me getting lost often. But I wasn’t lost to my dad. He would purposely let me get “lost” all the while standing off in a corner somewhere out of sight, watching me. Every time this happened I would get scared, then compose myself, find the front desk, tell them I was lost and ask them to page my dad. They would, and he’d then step out from the corner, revealing to me he’d been there the whole time. I learned at a very early age to take care of myself by being proactive, while he was still there in case something terrible happened. Kudos Dad.How is it good parenting to try to protect our kids from every bad experience they might ever face in fear of the worst scenario? Isn’t it better to teach them morals, give them guidelines and boundaries, and be there to kiss the booboos? Furthermore: to let the booboos happen. To give them the space to ride by themselves, comfort them when they fall and skin their knee, but still be right there in case they fall off the deep end and need some real rescuing? Isn’t it our responsibility as caregivers to know the life-saving techniques of CPR and the Heimlich maneuver and to act immediately in an emergency rather than say four year olds aren’t developed enough to chew their food out of fear of an accident? Sometimes, we all have to learn the hard way. Some of us had to burn our hand on the stove because we were too stubborn to listen to our mother say, “Don’t touch that. It’s hot and will burn you.” If we protect our kids too much, they will never learn from their mistakes: be they embarrassing, painful, or scary. I believe it’s our responsibility, and pleasure, as parents to be the lighthouse, the band-aid, the emergency responder, the cleanup crew, and the safe house. How else are they supposed to learn to survive on their own, and become responsible adults?Another less life-threatening example, although no less life-changing, is the argument of sex education in school. Regardless of one’s personal opinions and beliefs, the school should not be the only place our children learn about sex. Much in the same way school should not be the only place our children learn to read and speak. I am a big proponent of parents being involved in their child’s life. So, I am supportive of the parent who goes to PTA meetings, and voices their opinions about what the school should teach regarding sex and other subjects. If we do not voice our opinions, they will never have the chance to come to fruition. Schools have parent groups like PTA because they want us to contribute to the curriculum. But what if your values are in the minority of a majority vote? It is not a public school’s responsibility, much like it not being a government’s responsibility, to instill your family’s values in your child. That’s your family’s responsibility—AKA the parent’s responsibility. The parent who forfeits the opportunity to teach their child something—be it the alphabet or sex ed, regardless of whether or not the child learned about it in school, does so out of laziness and fear. How irresponsible of us!All in all, I think the right answer is there is no right answer, for we are a melting pot of values and cultures. None of us fit into the cookie-cutter world of government regulations perfectly. These laws and guidelines are there to help us decide what’s best for our individual child. We should follow the laws and use the guidelines to educate ourselves toward a more informed decision that best fits our family, as well as keep a level head when it comes to whether or not to sanction every bad possible circumstance brought to the table because we’re afraid. Restricting our kids from doing things that involve risk instead of educating ourselves and our families on how to handle such risks will inevitably hold our children back. Coming back to Abby and her sailing adventure, Adam brought home a great article touching on this very thing. I think it’s a wonderful read for all parentshttp://www.startribune.com/local/96344934.html?elr=KArksLckD8EQDUoaEyqyP4O:DW3ckUiD3aPc:_Yyc:aUnciaec8O7EyUsl
p.s. Amber's edit: Aymee... love this post... you know I am and i have crazy irrational fears... ie. If my kid sleeps past 8:15, hes probably dead... if he walks into the parking lot, he will most definitely get hit by a car... and if your standing at the top of a flight of stairs... someone is bound to fall down... im a panic'd anxious mess at any given time of any given day... thanks childhood/teen years PTSD is great. Anyways - most people having these fears go into freak out mode when confronted with "scary" situations... but not me... im so damn worried about being OVER protective because i'm crazy that Im the opposite... i may be panic'd on the inside... but on the outside im cool & collected (most the time) for example... yesterday we went swimming... me - and two toddler boys (that can't swim... imagine me, panic'd mess alone with two boys...)  and its a tough task, but its worth it getting them out daily for some fun in the sun...USUALLY both have arm floaties...  but zave's had a hole in it... shit  so I couldn't let him "swim" I carried him around and let him sit on my raft... I can't count how many times he tried to jump off the raft and into the water. I was getting so frustrated... finally I said one last calm & collected time... Zavery, if you jump off that raft your going to go under water (he hates that) Sure enough, he leaped off the raft. I let him go... he sunk like a rock and i swooped him back up... helped him catch his breath... said, ok... are you alright? (Yah, snort, whining, boo hoo) Are you gunna listen to me? (Yah, snort, whining, boo hoo) Are you gunna jump in the water again without your floaties? (No....) and he didn't. problem solved. I could have spent that whole damn pool trip fighting to keep him from jumping... sometimes they just gotta figure it out themselves. 
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