Monthly Archives: December 2011

My Obsession with the Mirror: BDD

When I initially started this blog, I knew that I would write this particular post. I knew it was going to be difficult, and I wanted to avoid this for a long, long time. With all the hormonal changes, emotional ups and downs, drastic physical changes and what motherhood does to a woman’s psyche, I can’t skirt this one any longer. This one is a hard one for me- it’s going to be raw and honest. This is embarrassing, but I feel the need to be emotionally naked on this, especially since I promised this blog would be both honest and a documentation for this journey through parenting.

When I was six or seven (honestly I don’t remember the exact age), my family got the E channel. In the early 90s the E channel was more about fashion and beauty and “reality TV” didn’t exist. I distinctly remember that after all the Saturday morning cartoons were over on all the other stations, E had a modeling/ fashion hour. It was nothing but runway shows with model and designer interviews. At the time clothes were really just utilitarian for me, mostly to keep me from running around like a naked savage child, so that wasn’t what struck me. The models were tall, rail thin, esoteric, even stoic. Cameras and rich people loved them, or so I thought. Like I said, I didn’t know that clothes existed for anything more than practical purposes, so it took me some time to realize the models were clothes hangers for the designers’ fashions. I digress. I saw the attention lavished upon these young women and I wanted to be them. It occurred to me that their intelligence, life skills, or anything else other than their appearance mattered not at all. They were loved for their looks. They were paid well for their looks. At some point, early on, I secretly wanted to be a model. I was ashamed to admit it, even at seven or eight, that I wanted to be appreciated for how I looked. Fast forward to age ten, when my sister won her first of many beauty pageants, and it solidified my impression- “girls with bad skin or bad hair, ugly girls, fat girls” – never won these competitions. Around this time I started growing awkwardly, with ridiculously long legs, a unibrow, chopped off hair, and the start of a lifetime battle with cystic acne, and I realized that I was not beauty pageant worthy. I was not going to be loved for how pretty I was.

Rewind to age four or five. As the youngest of six children with three older sisters, I was demanding and dramatic early on in life. I remember drinking Slim Fast shakes because I didn’t want to be fat at three or four, watching my sisters put on makeup and perfume at five, and wanting my hair to also be perfect. Granted, a ponytail versus mall bangs and a perm took little effort, but I refused to go out of the house if there was a bump anywhere in my hair, even underneath the ponytail. I’m sure I was insufferable to my mom and sisters. Around age eight my mom took me to my pediatrician and asked that they verify I was “not fat”. The doctor pulled out a BMI chart, showed me where my height and weight met, and told me that, if anything, I was underweight. I remember sheepishly grinning at the thought that I wasn’t fat, but still worried about it. My obsession with appearance, it seems, started at a very young age.

In middle school I struggled with watching the other girls around me grow gracefully. It was not my lot in life to do so. I sprouted breasts and hips overnight, and by eighth grade, still had baby fat, but with accompanying womanly curves. It was a nightmare for me. High school was more of the same, and I struggled with my weight, my hair, my skin. I picked at my face, verbally ripped apart my body, and constantly changed my hair in hopes of finding something , any look, where I would feel pretty.

You’re probably reading this and rolling your eyes. For the few people I’ve ever shared any of this with, that’s their reaction, too. As I said earlier, this is embarrassing. It’s shameful that I’m sitting here writing this out. I hate admitting I have problems, rather, obsessive fixations, on how I look. It sounds vain. It seems weird. But I haven’t been able to stop it for a long time.

I have body dysmorphic disorder.

You’ve probably never heard of this. For most people, this very strange, uncommon mental deficiency is written off as a vain obsession, a way to strive for perfectionism, or narcissism. Please take some time to read about what this disorder REALLY is. Here’s the Wikipedia entry:

Talking about this is very weird for me. It’s something I’m ashamed to admit. But I’m telling myself it’s healthy to talk about. For the record, I don’t blame my sisters, or the media, or social expectations for this. There may have been visual contributing factors, but this isn’t something created by outside forces. The neurotic behavior I have tried to conceal for most of my life isn’t the fault of E or Victoria’s Secret. I can look back on several instances where signs of BDD reared its head without associating it with anything external.

Throughout pregnancy I watched as my body transform against my wishes. I worked hard for the body I had pre- pregnancy and worked harder to act casually about it. I didn’t want people to know I looked in every reflective surface I passed to see if my skin had magically cleared or if my hair stayed in place or if my tummy still looked taut and invisible beneath my clothes. Aside from the drastic life change, my primary fear about having a baby was losing the marginally acceptable body I worked so hard to maintain. Over the course of the thirty seven weeks I watched my thighs and arms balloon, witnessed the accumulation of fat on my hips, and saw my face (and ass) widen. Eventually I stopped looking in the mirror, unless it was for public appearance purposes. Every time I stepped on the scale at the doctor’s office I sarcastically remarked something witty to the nurse to keep her from seeing the pain in my eyes. The only reason I didn’t want pregnancy to end is because I felt I had a slight excuse to be fat.

The day after my gorgeous little guy was born I did yoga in the recovery room. I didn’t want to be thought of as lazy, or that I was going to accept my horrific new body. I have spent years avoiding the camera, and after the birth of mini- Gwinn was no different. I wore extra makeup. Layered on clothing to hide my deflated midsection. Fixed my hair, even if I wasn’t going to see anyone. I was physically exhausted from bringing home a new baby, mentally exhausted from the lack of sleep, and emotionally drained by the entire experience. I started limiting my caloric intake. My milk supply plummeted. To be honest, it’s still incredibly low. The day he turned four weeks old, I started running. My skin reverted back to high school level acne. There were many days I spent time huddled in the shower crying. Hell, that happened yesterday. I went to the gym for the second time since my first trimester. Women half my size and twice my age were wearing perfectly matched workout sets, running longer than me, and lifting more weights. Their perfect bodies taunted me. I felt eyes on me, judging my weakness and my jiggle, as I walked around the gym looking for a bicep machine. I stayed for maybe forty minutes. When I got home I immediately retreated to my shower. I felt shamed at my ineptitude. I was embarrassed to be in public, at the gym no less, trying to hide my postpartum body while trying to make it better. I know there wasn’t anyone actually watching me, and I know that even if they were, they don’t actually care about how I look. How narcissistic of me to assume that anyone would notice me in the first place. But as much as I try to rationalize my irrational thoughts, I can’t quell them. It is an hourly struggle to walk past a mirror, to look in it and see disappointment splashed across my entire figure, and accept that time may or may not change me for the better.

I realize that many women, to some extent, feel this way. I also realize that instead of feeling empowered, that my body created life and pushed out a human without scrape or cut, I feel weak and shameful, and shouldn’t. At times we all feel inadequate. At times we all feel less than beautiful. This isn’t just a part time feeling for me, though. I hate myself for how I feel, and I hate myself for how I look, and try as I might to change both, the process is slow, if moving at all. This post isn’t for pity- please don’t comment with anything of the sort. This post isn’t for justification, excuses, compliments or complaints. I wanted to share this difficult piece of me, this struggle, and this part of the motherhood road.


Why Pregnancy is Temporary Purgatory : Part One

Why Pregnancy is Temporary Purgatory : Part One

On March 21st of 2011, sometime around 7 AM, I sent a text message to Captain Laser Pants that read, “We should probably talk.” Attached to this message was a picture of a pregnancy test that had two very strong pink lines. So much for a September wedding and a curve hugging wedding gown.

You’re probably thinking something along the lines of, “What a terrible way to tell him!” I told him via text with good reason. He was sitting in class and I was getting ready for work. The night before he had asked me to tell him the results as soon as I knew, whether or not he was in class. We both moved through that Monday in a complete fog.

Captain Laser Pants proposed on February 17th. I think it was because I bought him car parts for Valentine’s Day, but he says it was because he actually loves me and knew for a long time he was going to ask. From February 20th on, I was planning a beautiful, budget friendly wedding for September. By March 11th, the entire wedding was already planned- caterer was booked, menu was planned, dress was commissioned, venue was selected and contracted, my bridesmatrons were on board, guest list was done, invitations were about to be pressed, flowers were chosen… You get the point. While I was never a “marriage and babies and happily ever after” kind of gal, I was (and still am) head over heels for CLP and couldn’t wait to tell the world I was his wife. So, on March 21st, after a sneaking suspicion had crept into the previous weeks, my plans (which I hate to have interrupted) came to a screeching halt.

Brief back story: I was told in Minnesota in 2008 that I would have a difficult time conceiving without fertility assistance due to endometriosis and elevated fertility hormone stimulator. I was torn when I got the news- part of me never wanted children, and part of me wanted the option if I ever changed my mind. I took the news and kept it quiet for several months, telling only my sisters and close friends long after the doctor gave the word. Needless to say, Captain Laser Pants and I were operating under a false impression.

Fast forward to 2011: I had a job that I enjoyed and paid me well for it, I had an apartment in a fun part of Atlanta, I loved my friends, my fiancé, my dogs and my lifestyle. Saturday mornings I took them to Piedmont Park for a walk, grabbed a Starbucks, and made plans for the nights. I thoroughly enjoyed flashing my engagement ring and watching people’s reactions when we went out. I loved showing off pictures of me in my wedding dress (cause, I can say this now, I looked really hot in it). Life was fun, and in no way did the abstract concept of a child fit into it. I was devestated. CLP stayed positive, “At least we know you can have a baby now,” which didn’t help my dismal outlook. Telling my parents was difficult. Canceling the wedding was worse. And this was all before the horror that is the first trimester set into place.

I started getting tired, nay, exhausted, after a full nine hours of sleep (dear God, what I wouldn’t give for nine hours of sleep now). I could barely keep my eyes open, let alone respond intelligently to my demanding boss. My work started slipping. Then crippling nausea set in. I couldn’t stomach the idea of Sprite and crackers, keep my eyes open, or keep my breakfast down. In early April I told my boss the “good” news and started taking half sick-days. On top of this, I had horrible allergies, and couldn’t take anything for fear of destroying my tiny baby’s brains. There were days that only one thing (usually Jimmy John’s Beach Club sandwich) sounded appealing, and if I didn’t eat that one thing, I would die. One horrible day that thing was KFC fried chicken, for which I paid dearly that evening. CLP stood on the sidelines in horror- he was going through a difficult semester and had a full workload, so there were weeks where I had all three dogs in my apartment by myself. Reason number 5,478 to be married before having kids- being pregnant and living alone is a nightmare. We had to get married earlier than planned. When we heard his heartbeat for the first time, reality struck a chord- we were a family.

I found out I had partial placenta previa at the end of my first trimester, and for the the first time, forgot about myself for a while and feared for Fletcher’s life. For the record, we have been calling him Fletcher Fox since I was six weeks pregnant. The name came about organically and stuck. The placenta previa resolved at the very end of my first trimester.

We moved in together shortly after we were married, watched as the first trimester fatigue faded slowly, and eventually the “morning” sickness went away. We took our honeymoon after the second trimester started, and most of the first trimester woes, except for the one relating to being pregnant, drifted into the ocean.

In the Summer of 2008, I told my sisters I was told I couldn’t have children. They wisely told me that when I was with the one, God would give us the gift of a baby. The timing wasn’t what I had planned, but then again, my planning usually sucks in comparison to God’s. Captain Laser Pants’ acceptance of our life change was significantly more graceful than mine, and my acceptance would take a much longer time to come to fruition. We are given nine months to adjust to the idea of raising a person, something monumentally unselfish, so we can be prepared to take on this huge responsibility. I had a difficult time wrapping my head around what was happening inside my body and what was happening to the life I loved living; thinking about the life for which I was now responsible was wholly overwhelming. Would I be a good mother? Would I be a good wife? Would CLP still think I was hot? What happens when Fletch asks about drugs, or sex, or wants to go to prom, or punches some kid for bullying another? Will I be a fun mom, a scary mom, a smart mom, or a crappy mom? I was so busy internalizing my fears that I was at risk of shutting myself off from the very man I most adore. I told him that if he couldn’t handle this, I was capable of doing this parenting thing by myself. When I showed him the door and offered him an out, he laughed at me sweetly and reminded me that he had proposed before we conceived, and that he wanted a family with me all along, regardless of the timing. I realized I was crazy, that I loved him, and that I had to protect our relationship at all cost.

Once I hit my stride in my second trimester, I started seeing a counselor who specialized in guiding women through the journey of motherhood. She was phenomenal in helping me reroute my thoughts and emotions, but she couldn’t touch my obsession with my appearance or the nagging selfish desire to run away from everything.

Coming Soon: Why Pregnancy is Temporary Purgatory: Part Two

Crap You Don’t Need for Your Kid

Am I the only one who has panic attacks when going to Babies R Us (by the same virtue, David’s Bridal did the same thing to me. Geez Louise, that store is horrific.)? I refused to even have a baby registry there because I didn’t want to terrify my friends. Baby stuff is overwhelming. There is way too much of what you will never use, it’s all priced way too high for the lack of longevity for each product, and, quite frankly, most of it doesn’t fit in with my home décor. My baby doesn’t care about what he wears, or what his stroller looks like, so the appeal is for the parents, right? If you’re anything like me, chances are the idea of having neon cartoons and characters splashed all over your house is nauseating. Wading through the sea of scary baby stuff took me several months and several phone calls to my sisters. By request, this post will be all about crap expectant parents don’t need, or more specifically, what you will need, so you don’t have to do all the heavy lifting solo.

So, let’s start with the big stuff – cribs, changing tables, rockers, recliners, etc.

As far as a place for the new one to sleep goes, bassinets (in my opinion) are a waste of money, as are Moses baskets and co-sleepers. Some people swear by them, blah blah blah, but face it- if you’re financially conscious at all, realize that these tiny little beds will be used for a few months at most, and realistically, you’re going to have to sleep train your baby to sleep in his crib after he has outgrown the tiny baby bed you spent $150 on. So that’s two different exertions of effort to teach your baby to sleep somewhere, and you’re out lots of dough. My advice is to invest in a crib (or buy a used one and replace the mattress with a firm crib mattress) that converts into a toddler bed, and later, a twin bed. This is a big purchase, and you should make it last as long as possible.

The mom of the baby will probably want the changing table to match the crib. Craigslist is great for finding gently used tables (again, replace the changing pad, buy some washable covers, and you’re set) that will very likely match the crib. Another option is a handy dandy changing table attachment that goes on top of a dresser or bookshelf, and when the little one is out of diapers, you can sell it or take it to the local thrift store. Truth be told, Captain Laser Pants and I don’t use the washable covers because our little guy tends to explode on a regular basis, which makes for a lot of laundry. We use old towels to cover the changing table.

Gliders, rockers, recliners, rocker recliners – this is a personal preference for the mama jama. I am a big fat fan of my rocker recliner (it is dark brown leather, from Big Lots, and it is quite pretty). It is comfortable enough for me to fall asleep in, and when I no longer need to take snoozes in the nursery, it will look great in our living room with the rest of our furniture. I have heard a lot of moms tell me that they wished they had had rocker recliners in their nurseries instead of traditional gliders. I don’t think traditional gliders are all that aesthetically appealing in the first place, so something more versatile was what I wanted. If you price shop, you’ll find that gliders and rocker recliners can be the same cost. Don’t buy a rocker recliner that is from a baby boutique store- your bank account will be $400-$800 thinner because of where you bought it. Discount stores that sell new furniture will have them for much cheaper, and I promise, they do the exact same thing as the ones from the boutiques – rock and recline.

When it comes to strollers (and diaper bags, baby carriers, and pretty much everything else parents use in public) I feel like it’s only fair to take both parents into consideration for the purchase. Will mom be the primary stroller pusher? Is it more for shopping trips, trips to Disney World, or running marathons? Will dad feel silly pushing a hot pink and lime green flower pattern stroller at the park? For Team Gwinn, we both wanted a stroller that we felt comfortable pushing around in public. We are both active, and we wanted something that would stand up to trips to the dog park and runs through the neighborhood. It was financially sensible to find something we could use for pretty much every activity that would also have a long usage. My sister definitely helped with the research on our travel system – we ended up with the Baby Trend Millennium travel system. It is freakin’ awesome- most jogging strollers can’t be used until the baby is around 6 months old. The Baby Trend travel system allows you to use it immediately, so you don’t need multiple strollers. It is really lightweight (not umbrella stroller lightweight, but for a full size stroller, it’s very light), looks gender neutral, and is durable. Other stroller brands include Jeep, Britax (from what I understand this is the Rolls Royce brand of strollers, so it’s stupid expensive), Gracco (the “Honda” of strollers, price efficient with plenty of options), Chicco and Cosco. I will tell you that Baby Trend is affordable and has entire travel systems, as do the other brands, but I wouldn’t have picked the Millennium if I didn’t feel it was the best.

Diaper bags and baby carriers: if mom is the only one ever carrying these two items, then style and functionality may be the only concerns here. Diaper bags come in a crazy wide variety, from super patterned to very obviously diaper baggish, expensive to cheap, and minimalistic and not at all a diaper bag. The price range is broad, and again, since we both figured we’d have to carry it (and I’m not super girly), we went with the Diaper Dude messenger bag. It looks like a laptop bag, and it holds everything we need to take with us. Some moms like the Vera Bradley bags, Skip Hop, or JJ Cole. These brands are all relatively pricey, so if you’re looking to save, just use a big bag you like from Target with lots of pockets.

In the baby carrier category, I feel like versatility and functionality trump appearance. One of my girlfriends loves her Moby wrap. She also has a baby girl, is significantly more fashionable than I am, and I don’t think her husband would ever use it. I tried the Munchkin bean sling, and my little guy didn’t sit well in it at all. Our Baby Bjorn is used all the time (read- I wear it every day and am using it currently to write this out!), Captain Laser Pants can use it without losing much masculinity, and it is super durable. Baby Bjorns, when worn properly, encourage good posture. They also grow with the baby that sits in it, come in a wide range of colors, and are priced reasonably compared to other carriers with similar structure. It also reminds me of baby Bjork, and every time I wear it, I happily have a Bjork song in my head.

Anything feeding related with depend largely upon the baby and his preferences. My little guy doesn’t seem to care about the vessel, as long as he’s being fed. I will say that the Medela breast milk bottles are great for storage, but not great for bottle feeding. The flow is too fast for newborns and the nipple top isn’t entirely durable. My pick for bottles has been Avent. The lactation consultants I saw recommended Avent or Born Free, but Born Free bottles are redonk expensive (like $18 for 2 bottles). Cheaper bottles can have the nipple sucked off all together, resulting in precious milk (or scotch, whatever you feed your baby) spills. To avoid milk or scotch spills, look for bottles that have sturdy, slow flow nipples. I’ve also read that the brown rubber will hold a “flavor” after a few uses, and the clear rubber doesn’t. That grossed me out, so we went with all clear. Pacifiers (if you choose to use them) fit into this category too. Orthodontic pacifiers aren’t really supposed to be used until your little poo pants is over 3 months old, so stick to the Phillips Soothies the hospital will give you. And buy more. The Wubbanub has the Soothie pacifier with a toy attachment, and the weight of the toy keeps the pacifier in the baby’s mouth (so he’s not screaming every time it falls out or he spits it out). This will also help the little one’s grasping technique as he reaches for his toy/ pacifier and is rewarded.Plus, it’s really cute to see a penguin attached to your kid’s face.

Breast pumps, if you choose to use them, are spendy (and totally worth it), so research them for your own needs carefully. I have two- the Medela Swing single electric pump and the Medela Pump In Style Advanced double pump. Captain Laser Pants did a lot more research on this than I did, and the Medela brand is the clear winner among moms. The second choice was the Avent double electric pump. I fully endorse the double electric- it makes pumping significantly faster. When I was using my single electric primarily, it would take almost an hour each time I pumped. The single is great for trips, on the go, and to carry in the diaper bag for emergency situations. Don’t get a hand pump unless you want the world’s strongest hands and you have eighteen spare hours a day. Do your research for your own needs, but moms are busy, so invest in a double pump.

The Boppy pillow versus the My Brest Friend – they serve two different purposes. The Boppy pillow is rounded and soft, which can assist in your baby rolling to the floor while nursing, or fall asleep. It also doesn’t connect around the mommy, so it is hard to keep in place. The upside of the Boppy is that it’s great for tummy time, helping prop up the baby while he’s learning to sit up alone, and it’s nice to put the baby on the couch with it. The My Brest Friend pillow (the name is horrible, I know) is specifically for nursing. It is firm, flat, and attaches around the mom- it’s not soft enough to encourage the baby to fall asleep mid-meal, he won’t roll off to the floor, and the attachment belt makes nursing so much easier for moms when they don’t have to worry about the pillow sliding around. It is the most recommended by lactation consultants, and since I have both, I feel comfortable recommending it for nursing as well.

In my opinion, there is only one baby bath tub to buy- the puj bathtub. It is SO much more practical than any other baby bath tub you will ever see. It is a soft foam, so your baby is cradled against something that isn’t hard plastic, it unfolds to hang flat, and it is honestly just the best baby bath tub you can possibly buy. I won’t even mention anything else here.

Diapers are another baby-led purchase. If your baby has thin legs and a normal to thin torso, Pampers are the way to go. The leg openings are smaller, which leads to less risk of projectile poo/ pee, which leads to less laundry. If you have a chubby baby, go with Huggies. The leg openings are more generous and won’t leave diaper marks all over your happy little baby. If you choose to buy off brand diapers, buy a small pack first to make sure your kid sits in them well. The Pampers Sensitive diapers work well for our little guy, since he has sensitive skin. We use Pampers Sensitive Skin wipes, too, or the Target brand of the same, since it’s a way cheaper box with more wipes. Huggies wipes are paper based, so they tear when you go to yank them out of the wipe warmer at 4 AM (if you have a boy, you need a wipe warmer). Pampers and the Target brand, Up and Up, are both cotton based, so no tearing.

There is a lot of crap out there you don’t need for your kid, and most of it is overpriced, silly looking and has no real purpose. Think back to what our parents did to raise us- they had way fewer options for baby gear, and most of us are fully functioning adults. Heck, half of us weren’t even in car seats until the 80’s. I know this is a very basic list of opinionated reviews. If you want to know about something else, comment and ask away! If I don’t know anything about it, I’ll either research it for you or lie a lot to sound smart.

Magnets, Or, Attempting to Escape the Inevitable and Failing Miserably

A lot of inquiring minds have asked me how Captain Laser Pants (my husband has asked that this be his alias on my blog) and I met, especially since our relationship/ marriage/ conception/ becoming a family all moved at a rapid pace (exception- pregnancy. That was a five year miserable test of endurance.). When I tell said inquiring minds that we “met at the dog park”, the most common response is something along the lines of, “Wow, that is so you/him/ you two! Cute!” Yes, that is true. It is totally cute, romantic comedy- esque, and very,very us. When the brave and few ask for the full story, it tells even more like a movie, starring a bizarrely quirky, sarcastic Zooey Deschanel and dashingly passionate, super hot weirdo Leonardo DiCaprio to play as us (those personality traits are mine and Captain Laser Pants, not the actress and actor, I assume. Also, I know I look nothing like her. ). I have often equated our relationship to magnets – try as we might to fight the attraction, which I assure you we did, we ended up stuck together and failed miserably at staying away from one another. This is our story.

Around Thanksgiving 2009 I was faced with a dilemma. I lived in Minneapolis (as most of you know, and LOVED it), and had the option of staying, moving into a town home with a brand new, wonderful job, OR moving to Atlanta in an unhappy relationship and being closer to family. I prayed a lot about which to do, and cried a lot over the idea of leaving my precious MN friends and family. In the end, I really felt like I was supposed to move to Atlanta. I remember sitting in the Kowalski’s parking lot (the one on Chicago Avenue) talking to my mom on the phone and telling her, “God wants me to move to Atlanta. I think I am supposed to meet my husband there.” She was cautious, but I know she was VERY happy that I was choosing to move two hours from my hometown rather than staying across the country from Tennessee. The move was heart breaking- I was miserable as I packed, devastated when I told everyone goodbye, and numb by the time I made the 17 hour drive. By the time we arrived at our new apartment, every cell of my body wanted to go back to the snow.

The whole reason I selected that particular apartment complex was because of a singular amenity- the dog park. With two hyperactive puppies and no clue about where to go in a new city, I felt like having a park close to “home” was a great idea. During the month of December I was supposed to spend my days looking for work in Atlanta, playing house keeper and taking the dogs to the park. In reality, I took the dogs to the park and kept the apartment clean, but I was working out a deal with the office in Minneapolis to return in January. The townhouse was still mine if I wanted it, the job was still mine, and I missed my friends. I booked a U-Haul and planned for Christmas to be the last time I would see my family for a while. During that month I met Captain Laser Pants for the first time- he walked out from his apartment to the dog park, wearing sweat pants and old man slippers, and walking two little dogs. He was gorgeous, elusive, and kept to himself. He briefly smiled at me, but said nothing. Although I was used to people at least making small talk with me, I assumed “my goods” weren’t as hot in the Atlanta market as I had hoped. Sure, I was in a relationship, but it was miserable, and I was miserable. Looking never hurt anyone, right? We started to talk by the middle of the month; I found out the Jeep Wrangler I had been drooling over was his. Hot, loved dogs, and drove one of my dream cars. He didn’t seem real.

I was set to move back to Minnesota on January 2nd and begin work on January 4th. The night after Christmas I was driving back to Atlanta from my parents’ home in Tennessee and was in a car wreck- sandwich between two SUVs. The girl that hit me was texting and pushed me 20 feet into an Expedition. My car was totaled. My parents told me to take it as a sign that God wanted me to stay in Atlanta; I couldn’t disagree. I found a job working as a teacher at Gymboree on December 29th.

Over the course of a few months we met one another’s significant others, began talking more, and I discovered what a jewel this man truly was. He was passionate. He was incredibly intelligent. He was kind. He was GENUINE. The more time we spent together, the more I realized how unhappy I was and wished we were both single. My friends knew him as “hot dog park guy.”

Eventually half of my wish came true. He confided in me and while I appeared sympathetic and listened, my little selfish insides were rejoicing. Win for me! Maybe, just maybe, I had a chance. Or, not. Through the summer we spent plenty of time together walking the dogs, spending time at the park, blah blah blah, but he never hinted at any sort of attraction. I played it cool, and acted like we were just friends. I told people we were just friends. Heck, I told myself that, and repressed any sort of feeling that I thought I had for him that wasn’t platonic. My anthem that summer was “Funny Girl” and I would belt it in the car when no one could hear me. He told me I was funny, fun, entertaining, but… that was it.

Until the end of August.

I had started a new job to make more money so I could leave, move, be single. Captain Laser Pants and I would talk throughout the day, walk our dogs together in the evenings, and I dreamed about him at night. At the very end of August he asked if we could meet for lunch- a first. In the Sidney Marcus Parkway parking lot of Chick- Fil- A he told me he had feelings that were more than platonic, and feared that I felt the same way. He was worried about pushing things too far. We hugged, looked at one another longingly, and drove back to work. Rather than being deterred, I was more determined than ever. He went with me and my best friend to a girlfriend’s wedding in Gatlinburg. We held hands amidst the tacky t-shirt and taffy shops, and at the wedding, I prayed to God to not take him from me. I couldn’t bear the idea of losing him. By the end of September I signed my new lease and was free to call him mine.

You would think that the happy ending, the beautiful sunset, the chorus of birds and bells and all things beautiful would happen about now, right? Wrong. Apparently I had stored four years worth of painful emotional baggage and pushed away the very man I had dreamed about for so long. Most men, lesser men, would have been infuriated, pushed me away, and pushed me aside. I would have never heard from a lesser man. Captain Laser Pants was patient, but he was persistent. He fought for us when I wasn’t emotionally capable of fighting for what I had wanted since I had met him. By Thanksgiving of 2010, we had weathered the storm of my “crazy”; by Christmas of 2010 I knew I was going to marry him (he claims he knew on September 19th, 2010).

The week before Valentine’s Day 2011 we talked about marriage- my time line was between 3 and 4 years. Logically, it made sense- a year to be together, a year to pay off debt, a year to plan the wedding. He laughed at me and esoterically told me that wasn’t really his time line. The next week he proposed.

We found out we were expecting a baby mid-March. The wedding planning ceased, and the rest is history (and for future blog postings).

Some people bring out the worst in one another, some people make us better, and very few bring out the best. Thank you to my rock, my center, my love, for making me better every day.

Cake in the Dishwasher

Several years ago there was a commercial for a dishwasher that went a little something like this:

A woman bakes a two layer, 9 in. round cake, puts it on a pretty glass stand, and frosts it with a beautiful “frosting peaks all over” technique for which I have no actual name. She then puts this cake in the dishwasher and proceeds to wash the cake. Fast forward through a time lapse, and the glass stand comes out without a single spot or speck of cake- the dishwasher does its job, and then some.

As a child, I remember thinking, “What a waste of cake.” As an adult I somewhat appreciate the sentiment of the commercial, but I still think it was a waste of a perfectly good cake.

My very roundabout point that I am making is that I have been, and always will be, a fat kid. Perhaps not always in physique, but always in mind. And being genetically predisposed to gain weight quickly (only for it to take a VERY long time to come off), pregnancy made for a horribly difficult thirty seven weeks.

I’m sure you have heard the following sentences spoken in regards to pregnancy:

“You can eat whatever you want and you have an excuse!”
“I’m eating for two now.”
“You can gain weight and no one can say anything to you about it.”

None, I repeat, NONE of these sentences applied to me. Despite my (mostly) careful diet during pregnancy, I still gained an astronomical amount of weight, which will take who knows how long to shed. And no, 250 pound woman in the Chili’s booth ordering two entrees, you are in fact eating for one (yourself) and something the size of a shrimp (your baby). Even at your baby’s largest before birth, his stomach literally holds no more than an ounce. I made sure to take in lots of healthy protein, and drink plenty of water, and eat lots of fresh fruit and vegetables (yes, I also had French fries), but never did I have the mentality that I was eating for two. Lastly, I didn’t get to gain weight without a commentary from the office in which I worked. For someone who has been obsessed with weight since childhood, this made the experience all the more miserable. Pair that with the fact that I did make a genuine effort to avoid Krispy Kreme, and you had one grumpy gal on your hands.

Anyone that was within earshot was sure to hear me complain. My mantra since April has been, “Being fat sucks.” My husband was quick to correct me with, “You’re not fat, you’re pregnant.” Though well intended, the delivery jaded the message.

You know those women that are perfectly thin from the back, and when they turn to the side, they have a basketball tummy under their shirts? Their thighs/arms/caboose never grew, just their babies. I desperately wanted that to be me. Granted, I didn’t want to be pregnant at all, but if I had to be, I wanted to be one of those cute moms to be that could model in the Pampers or Dreft ads with stick arms and a round baby bump.

A year ago I had no idea how much I should have loved my body. If I had it today, I would run around naked.

But I suppose that’s the story of our lives (at least mine), right? We don’t realize how great something is until it is absolutely gone. And, truth be told, if I had my December 2010 body right now, I would still find thirty things about it I hated or wanted to change. And after picking myself apart, I would still want a piece of cake.

The Hypocritical Blogger Begins

When I worked in business generation at a commercial real estate firm, I was asked to start a blog for the company. My attitude towards blog writing for most, especially commercial real estate, was that too many people have too much to say about too little. My bad attitude and I passed the buck to someone else at the firm, and the project carried on without me. When I call myself a hypocritical blogger, it is a true statement. It was always my opinion that there are far too many clever, well written blogs on the interwebs for mine to truly count. Well, now that I’m sleep deprived and have a tiny little person in my home  (hence the blog name- mom zombie, get it? Clever, eh?), I don’t much care for the internet fame and fortune (if it comes my way, woohoo, but realistically …) but more or less want to keep a record of our growth as a family, including the good and the bad. This blog isn’t as much for the gen pub as much as it is for Team Gwinn and those that like us enough to want to know (some) of the inner workings of our home (and the twisted mentality of the matriarch).

With that out of the way, blog content will range from dogs to diapers, baking and cooking to tinkering in the engine bays of our cars, emotional rants to dry humor, and quite a bit in between. I’ll be doing some retro posting about pregnancy, labor and delivery, the first four weeks with Fletcher (that’s our little duderino), and life with my favorite husband, Ehron. I already have ideas for the future and encourage you to ask questions- this will be (among other things) a frank, open forum to shed light on the gritty side of motherhood, usually with a side of sarcasm.

Stick around, thanks for tuning in, and thanks for stopping by.