Monday, October 24, 2011

Working Out

When Jude was born, he took what little ab muscles I had with him. For the past four months, I've examined, poked, prodded, jiggled and sucked in this silly putty that sits in place of my abdomen. I've come to realize the strangest thing about pregnancy is not the disproportional look of being pregnant, but the aftermath of when the little booger moves out.

For all interested parties, I gained a total of 26 pounds during the pregnancy, and at my 5-6 week post-partum check-up, had already lost 24 of it. Let me tell you something I've learned. Numbers lie.

I may be back to my pre-pregnancy weight, but my body is certainly not back to its pre-pregnancy form. I have slightly wider hips and a mini-FUPA (this is basically a crass acronym that my friend Sarah and I once spent hours (literally--hours) laughing over. I won't tell you what the letters stand for, but it's basically a sagging stomach. And it is ugly.) I only have one pair of jeans that fit (well, they button and zip but produce a slight muffin-top). Once upon a time, I called those jeans my "fat jeans." Now I just call them "my jeans."

However, in recent weeks, I have seen some changes in my body--positive ones.

All of these changes come, thanks in large part, from Reggie Haralson. Four weeks, ago, I made a commitment. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, I get up at 4 a.m., leave the house at 4:30, arrive to Goodman at 5, and begin an hour of grueling workouts created by Reggie. He trains the athletes here on campus, and most of my days working out, I think he mistakes me for one of those young, strong, strapping football/baseball/basketball/softball/whateverball players. After the workout concludes, I shower somewhere on campus (depending on vacancies--haven't thought much about what I would do on a day lacking in vacancies. Can't think about it, really.)

I'm not the only one suffering through the workouts, either. Four of us meet up each time with similar goals toward weight loss and fitness. I have to say that these folks make the waking up and facing the seemingly unattainable challenge a lot of fun. Another fun part I experience includes having Reggie demonstrate some exercise that looks like hell would freeze before I could get my body to move like that, and then I turn around and actually complete it (or something like it.)

Today's workout left me speechless and breathless. We had to do chin-ups (among many other things. O.k. simple enough, but no. Not even close. This contraption which we performed this exercise on required us to climb some 2-3 feet off the ground. (To someone as afraid of heights as I am, 2-3 feet may as well be 2-3 thousand feet.)Once we climbed up, we then moved our hands to the handles and stepped both feet into the elastic band (I wonder if others were as terrified of being the one to break the band as I was). With Reggie's assistance (how much assistance is beyond me since my arms were a hurtin'), we did 10 chin-ups. With my eyes closed the whole time, I tried not to think of plummeting to my death. After my last chin-up, I completely freaked out, so Reggie had to get me down. I should have been mortified, but I was actually quite pleased with myself that I didn't cry. I wanted to cry so very badly, too.

But days like today allow me to test my limits and to do what I initially deem impossible. Of course, I hope we don't do any more chin-ups for a while, but at least I know I can do 10 of them. My hope for Jude is that he will push himself beyond what he thinks possible. Just as I'm getting my body back in shape, Jude is starting to grasp the concept of mobility. And once he finally gets going for good, may nothing stop him from discovering what's beyond possible.

Now, for all of those inquiring minds wondering what happens to Jude while I'm G.I. Janing it at work: Jeffrey gets him up and ready to take to the baby-sitter. He totally understands my drive to exercise, and as a bonus, he gets in some quality time with his son, especially since he gets home late on so many of those days. Perhaps knowing that Jude is in great hands while I go about achieving this particular goal motivates me to push myself more.

No, I don't plan on entering any kind of body building contests any time soon (or ever), but I hope I can continue to exercise with these great people and this great trainer. Plus, maybe I'll get a better body than my pre-pregnancy one out of the deal!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Four Months --Two rounds of shots down, many more to go

Last Friday, Jude turned four months old. That means one thing--another round of shots.

We got to the doctor's, stripped the boy down to his diaper, covered him with a blanket, and waited on the nurse to come in and check his height, weight, head, etc. True to form, Jude behaved practically perfectly--never even noticed his clothes were off (a future NASCAR fan I'm raising, perhaps?).

The nurse came back in to do her business, and we found out that Jude's head circumference is...I can't remember, but he currently weighs 13 lbs. 6 oz. (25 %) and is 24 3/4 inches long (45 %). He's a long, lean baby, that's for sure. Through all of that, he never cried, whimpered, anything.

So I figured I have a few good months left before Jude deduces that doctor=shots. He was doing so good and just flirting away with his nurse. This was a piece of cake.

I was wrong.

In came Dr. Stewart, and as soon as he took that baby, that baby hollered, and he didn't stop until that last shot was given--and that was about 30 minutes later. Yep. Jude rejected that doctor like Brett Michaels would reject a woman with conservative style and strong morals. How did Jude know?????

Dr. Stewart, whom Jeffrey claims resembles the lead singer of Staind, is actually very good with Jude. In fact, Jude has liked him the last two visits, but I guess he recalled those 6-8 week shots and won't have anything to do with Dr. Stewart any more.

Some things Jeffrey and I both learned from the doctor:
1. Jude is pretty advanced for his age, and we should go ahead and baby-proof the house--like right now.
2. Crawling is in our VERY near future.
3. The boy is strong. (He did kick the doctor a few times. We'll work on that later.)
4. and I'm excited about this one---time for solid foods that are not rice cereal (which actually translates to food pureed into a fine paste).

And a final thought on the 4 month check-up: I don't know who was more pitiful--Jude or Jeffrey. Hopefully, Jeffrey will come back with us for the 6 month check-up.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Never Too Early

So what's the one thing that's been on my mind since first learning I was pregnant? Education.

Education started with me.

I needed to school myself in taking care of my body to ensure a healthy pregnancy. I took a common sensical approach--if it's bad for you (in other words, if it tastes good), don't eat it.

Once I got that less than fun practice underway, I next learned how to have a baby. Lots of pictures, diagrams, anatomically correct models, and loads of tasteless jokes later, I wasn't what one would call ready, but I knew kind of what to expect.

Then there was the breastfeeding class. Skip ahead to the next one.

The point is, preparing for a baby, for me anyway, was much like preparing for my Masters Comps, except I didn't get three chances with a baby. I only got one shot (anyone else faintly hear Eminem's "Lose Yourself" playing in the background?). I was determined to make it count, and after all was said and done, I'd give myself a B+. ( I totally missed the part in childbirth class about the possibility of the epidural not working.)

Education did not stop with the birth of Jude either. I've gone from learning about baby bathroom habits to learning about clothing sizes to growth percentile charts to , my latest obsession, introduction to solid foods and how to prepare those foods at home (no jar crap for my kid, at least that's my stand for the moment. I've eaten many words since I've become a parent with "pacifier" being the toughest word to chew to date.)

I figure parenting will just be another one of those "continuing ed." courses. There's always something new to learn. Good thing I love school.

All the while I've spent learning how to achieve perfection as a mother (got a looonnnng way to go on that one), I've also dedicated time to Jude's education. Looking for a way to stress yourself to the point of pulling out hair and curling into a fetal position while rocking back and forth? Try comparing different schools' curriculums, tuitions, extra-curricular activities, and classroom/teacher ratios, wait-lists, and that'll do it!

Yep. Jude turned four months old this past Friday, and I've already researched different private schools where he'll start 4-K, driven by them, calculated how much I need to start putting back, picked up the phone and dialed before hanging up after the first ring (for fear someone at the school will discover what everyone else already knows about me--that I'm a weirdo), and mapped out several alternatives of how Jeffrey and I will get him to and from school since both of us commute 30 minutes from our home to work.

Let me back up and explain. Jeffrey and I live in Canton, MS--a place known for its historical Victorian beauty (although, our home is one of the newer ones--a craftsmen style bungalow built in 1924) and terrible public schools. Given that we stay in Canton (and we do really like the area and love our home even more), Jude will have to attend a private school.

Now, don't get wrong. There's always the possibility he will attend Canton Public Schools. See, these four years before he marches off to elementary are his trial run. During this time, Jeffrey and I monitor Jude's behavior and will take it from there. If Jude acts like a good little boy, we'll send him to private school--no questions asked. However, if he decides to turn into a little terror, he will need the survival training that only Canton Public could offer. Simple enough, and so far, Jude's been a perfect angel, as if he already knows Mama and Daddy's scheme.

Jeffrey and I have already selected a school for him--St. Anthony in Madison. We like the school for several reasons. First, Jude has the opportunity to learn our faith, Catholicism, every day, not just at home but in school as well. Second, St. Anthony takes part in the Whole Schools Initiative--a program through the Mississippi Arts Commission that integrates fine arts across the disciplines. My mother did her doctoral studies on this type of curriculum and serves as a field advisor for Whole Schools. In other words, Jude will have a little piece of family history invested in this sort of learning. Third, the student to teacher ratio is small, which is code for "Hurry up and get him on a wait list."

Anyway, of all the schools in our area, we like this one best. Of course, within four years, things could change. We could end up moving, Jeffrey could leave Holmes and take a job in Madison County School District (which has excellent schools as well), Jude could turn into a delinquent and find himself in Canton Public Schools, or we could have a change of heart about some of the other area private schools.

Of course, what we ultimately want is the best education for our child. Unfortunately, the school we really like as of now is expensive but not entirely impossible for us to send him there. Sacrifices will have to be made, but doesn't that hit at the heart of parenthood?

Every day, I compose a prayer for two things: Jude's education and Jude's future wife. I've long ago accepted (begrudgingly so) that my little boy will one day become a man. If these two things fall into place, maybe he'll turn out o.k.

Monday, October 3, 2011

A Choice

I just read a friend's post on some wenches who have, more or less, criticized her for choosing to formula feed her child. One paid her a backhanded comment about how it takes "a real sacrifice" to be able to breastfeed. Read between the lines. Is that heiffer saying my friend doesn't sacrifice enough for her child?

My friend, just like myself, tried to but couldn't. So my question is, what are girls like us supposed to do--starve our children?

I feel fortunate that no one, so far, has approached me about my decision to formula feed. The worst I've gotten so far is "Well, at least you tried," which is actually pretty crappy since I find nothing wrong with a woman choosing not to breastfeed from the getgo.

Fortunately, I've found throughout my life that typically no one really questions me when I have big decisions to make. (Well, there was that stint throughout undergrad where I decided to major in English and even doubled my marketability with a degree in History. My parents, though they supported me, surely had some concerns that I would dwell in one of their attics for the next 30 or so years. I showed them, though. A band directing husband and a Masters degree later, I finally arrived to my career as English Instructor at a community college.)

Anyway, I attribute that I'm never questioned to one or maybe a combo of three things:

(1) I'm already just so brilliant that anybody need not question my motives.

(2) people take notice of my commanding presence (i.e. tall, gym coach-like physique) and find it best not to ask questions

(3) I wouldn't notice someone's doubt if it hit me in the face.

Yeah. The first option definitely proves most befitting.

Back to the baby feeding topic, though. Seriously, I have heard people say things like "No woman lacks the ability to breastfeed". I'm not entirely convinced by this statement's validity. When Jude dropped over a pound of his birth weight in just a matter of days and then took until he was nearly two months to put the weight back on, I think that was my first clue that something wasn't quite working. Not to mention, when I finally gave up the practice, I never had to perform any of those tricks that would help me "dry up," so to speak. So either I'm not a woman (and even though I did drop a gym coach reference earlier, I promise that was me in those stirrups pushing eight pounds of life into the world) or that statement is plain assanine.

I've also heard that same statement backed up with "After all, that's how everyone did it in the old days." Ok. Well, I do buy that. I also believe that infant mortality was higher and, oh yeah, didn't some babies have wet nurses? What ever happened to that sanitary practice?

Anyway, Jude's been a formula-fed baby since about 2 weeks old, and he's happy as a clam and growing like a weed. Maybe he'll be sicker than breastfed babies, but for now, I'll just take the precautions of running a humidifier when he sleeps and bathing him every day. Maybe he'll be morbidly obese one day, but in the meantime, I'll prepare balanced, nutritious meals and encourage daily exercise by playing with him.

So to all those breastfeeding mamas out there. I admire and respect what you're able to do. I wish I was included in that lot. However, I had a choice to make, and I too have a happy, thriving almost four month old.

To my friend: I'm sorry people have been so wretched. You have no idea how this makes my blood boil and my heart hurt My guess is their ability to breastfeed is the ONLY thing that's working out in their lives so they must "latch on" to it. After all, the best way to hide our own inaccuracies is to spin someone else's choice as flawed.