A King with No Christmas

Papa Bear called me a Grinch. I don’t really celebrate holidays except birthdays which are your very own personal holidays. Papa announced that he is getting a tree, a real one. I gave him a blank stare. We have a mobile almost 1 year old. So now my life is going to be about keeping tree shedding out of King’s mouth, making sure he does not pull the tree down or break an ornament. Sounds like fun right? This time of the year is troublesome for many reasons starting with the weather. Ice, ice baby. Too cold, too cold.
The celebration of Christmas presents a lot of issues for me. The first one is, it is a lie. People work hard for their money and then go into debt to buy gifts only to give a red-faced fat white man all the credit. What? I will be telling my child the truth, that Mommy worked hard to get him things and he shouldn’t just expect gifts just because it is December 25th. Why do we lie to our children about the Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, etc.? A few years down the line they find out the truth and look at their parents suspiciously. And spare me the argument of keeping children innocent by telling them lies. You keep them innocent by protecting them from adult content, keeping them safe, encouraging their imagination; you know, being a parent.

xmasblog pic
And for the Christians that want to take issue with me, I am here for you too. I am by no means a theologian. Based on my limited understanding of the Bible and concordance I’ve read, Jesus was born in the spring time. So what exactly is Christmas again? To all my culture freedom friends Kwanzaa is made up also. However, what Maulana Karenga did was create a holiday that affirms my sun, his ancestors and culture. I’m choosing that if I have to choose something made up to celebrate. Every year I go to the Kwanzaa celebration at Dance Place. Hopefully, now it can become a family tradition. King loves African drumming. He thinks it’s a lullaby.
I do like the spirit of Christmas. It does bring the best out in some people. Thinking of others and volunteering time and resources to the less fortunate happens often around this time of the year. That is a good thing. If I give anything this year, it will be my time, love and talent. How will you be celebrating?

Advertisements

Raising a Singleton

As soon as I had my first child people were asking me when I would have the next. It is repulsive enough that the government tries to make decisions about my womb, now I have randoms doing it also? No sir, we are very happy with our #1 and have no plans of making #2. After folks learn this, I get bombarded with ugly comments.
“Your child will be spoiled.”
“He is going to be selfish!”
“Who is he going to play with?”
kingpicforblog raising a singleton
It seem as though being an only child has gotten a bad rap. Since I am an only child; I would like to have a PR moment on behalf of only children everywhere. There are wonderful skills we have acquired as a result of having no siblings. Only children have wonderful imaginations. Creative people tend be only children. Famous only children include Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Alicia Keys, Frank Sinatra and John Lennon; maybe being a singleton had something to do with their genius. Just maybe. My grandparents used to tell me the story of how I would set my dolls in a row and play school, teaching them their alphabet. They would also crack up laughing at how I would beat the dolls for getting out of line. I was a big disciplinarian in my young age. Exercising my creative juices allowed me to manifest my current job as an educator.
Only children know how to be their own best friends. One of my favorite things to do is going to the movies by myself. I have plenty of girlfriends who will forgo an event because they have to go alone. Dear single ladies, you increase your chances of being approached by a man when you are alone. Those mobs you like travel in, intimidate men. Just saying.
I can have laser beam focus when raising my child because I have only one target. I plan on encouraging his creativity in every way. I also think it is important that he appreciates his own company. And don’t worry, he will earn his rewards; they won’t just be given to him. He will learn to share and play with others because his father’s family is overflowing with children. So randoms, if I didn’t ask for your opinion about my single offspring, why would you offer it? And would it be inappropriate if I said to a mother of multiples, “it looks like you don’t pay much attention to that middle one. He has boogers in his nose, his shoes are mismatched and it looks like he has gum in his hair!”

King the Baby Yogi

photo

A few weeks ago King and I attended a mother and baby yoga class at Centered Being Studio. The studio is relatively new, located in Lorton Virginia. They are still renovating but I saw at least two yoga spaces in the facility. The staff is friendly and there is an overall Zen vibe when you enter the space. King and I had our own personal session. This can be viewed in two ways. The one on one attention was spectacular but is there something I need to know about this place that would keep me from returning?

photo (1)

When I asked the instructor why no one else was there she said, they just started the class and they were still in the process of recruiting. There is also a Thursday class in the morning that stay at home mothers and child care providers can go to. But if you’re a working mother like me; Saturdays work better. The instructor was friendly and patient. She told me that King was natural. He did a lot of crawling around, climbing and ball chasing. She pointed out that a lot of the ways babies naturally move are yoga poses. Some of these poses include happy baby, child’s pose and Virasana aka hero pose. My son sits in this pose daily!

photo (2)

For the most part it was easy to get my practice in while incorporating King at times. The instructor told me he was well-behaved compared to other babies she had encountered. His favorite part was playing with the ball. I quickly purchased one after our session. The drop in fee is $20 which seems steep for this area. Even in swanky old town Alexandria Virginia the drop in fee is $18. Based on the different spots I’ve been a patron, drop-in rates range from $15-$18. Also, the owner, I’m not sure if was her, but someone tried to slick talk me into purchasing a membership. I thought this was a yoga spot not a car dealership. I respect the hustle but I don’t like to feel like I’m being hustled.

Overall, it was a good experience. I enjoy doing anything that includes spending time with King. Will I go back? Maybe. My mother says I should try things at least three times before making a decision. If you have $20 dollars to blow and live in the Woodbridge/Lorton area, go check them out.

The Birth Story of a King

003

I have been hesitant to tell my birth story because I wanted to avoid processing for as long as possible. King is now 8 months old so maybe now I should give it a try. After being told that my eggs were old, in low supply and that my one fallopian tube was blocked; I miraculously conceived a child. That was easy! Now on to the hard part, where and how did I plan on delivering? I come from a family of light workers, my mother has always been what people now call “new age”. I just call her Mom. Natural child-birth seemed like the logical choice for me. A birth free of medications, and minimal interference was a no brainer for me. There was one hiccup, Papa bear. He is very accommodating and acquiesces to most of my non-traditional shenanigans but there was no way I was having a home birth on his watch.

A happy compromise for him was giving birth in a birthing center. So I began my research, there are limited choices in northern Virginia area. The Birthcare Center located in Alexandria Va., seemed like a feasible prospect. I attended an information session and had a couple of appointments. The benefits of this place were that my insurance covered the visits and possibly some of the birth experience which is an anomaly. They also have registered nurses as well as midwives on the facility. Insurance rarely covers any birth experience outside of a hospital. Birthing babies is big business! The disadvantages were the place was less than hygienic for my personal taste and the front desk people were trained at the personnel school for the snarky, unprofessional and unenthused. I was certain if I had to deal with one of them checking in for delivery; they would have been sufficiently cursed out! I don’t need to deal with people who will bring that out of me or maybe I need to exhibit more self-control.  Either way Birthcare was nixed.

The second place we visited was Nova Birth Center located in Chantilly Va. I fell in love the minute I walked through the door. The facility is modern, with state of the art equipment. The information session was traumatic for Papa bear. They were talking about placenta encapsulation. Whoa, this is his first visit let’s not scare the poor man! We had options of different rooms we wanted to labor in and every room had a large birthing tub. A con of this facility was it cost $3200 to give birth there plus your prenatal visits. Insurance covered zip. If you had to be rushed to the nearest hospital you were not refunded. For me, none of the women being RNs was also a con. There was also the 45 minute commute to the facility. If you have disposable income and have given birth before with no complications, I highly recommend this place. We made a different choice, the traditional hospital route. The horror!

King stayed in my womb 5 days past his due date and I wanted to evict him. My doctor(s), it was a practice of rotating doctors which I loathe, scheduled me to be induced. I was on my way to the last supper before checking in to the hospital when my water broke. A little trickle, nothing major, I put on a sanitary napkin and went on my way. At the restaurant I went to the bathroom to change the napkin and the levies broke. Water forcefully escaped my body and flooded the bathroom stall. Oh my God! Then the mucus plug came crashing onto the floor. Oh my God! I’m standing in a public bathroom with pants around my ankles trying to clean the floor. OOOH –MY-FREAKING-GOD! I texted Papa Bear to tell him to pull the truck around front; I planned on running and jumping into it.  Have you ever seen a fat, pregnant woman with soiled pants run? Trust me, you don’t want to. Sitting on a towel I leaked on Papa Bear’s new leather seats. Luckily, the hospital was around the corner. I pre-registered in hopes that I would be admitted quicker. No such luck. I stood in public leaking answering question that I had answered 12 times before. Then we went upstairs to labor and delivery only to answer the same questions again. “Is it possible for me to sit somewhere since I’m leaking and having contractions?” I asked.

Finally the nurse took pity on me and admitted me to my room. I refused the Pitocin and labored through the night. They did put a hep-lock in my arm and gave me fluids. I wasn’t dehydrated and I couldn’t move hooked up to all those machines. Sigh. Babies are big business! The doctor checked me, I was only 2 cm dilated. What? I’ve been at this for 6 hours now. Early the next morning I was checked and still only 2 cm. They promised the Pitocin would move things along. Well it did move the labor along but it also brought with it the most excruciating pain I have ever felt in my life. Each time I had a contraction I felt like bones were breaking. I finally yelled at Papa Bear “Do something!”

He assisted me with moving since I was hooked up to machines. Moving freely to get into a comfortable position was almost impossible. I did find some relief in standing and bending over while having a contraction. It became too much. My mother wasn’t there to Jedi mind trick me and I asked for the epidural. Well what did I do that for? They were in my spine for ages trying to get it right. Meanwhile, I was having contractions but I had to remain still so that I wouldn’t end up paralyzed. Ugh. I cried out for my mother it hurt so badly. Yes, 36 years old crying out for MY mother. This was almost worse than the contractions themselves. But I survived and quickly felt no pain. Laboring was easy now but I still wasn’t dilating. By this time I was on my third doctor rotation. King’s heart rate dropped. I turned on my side and went to sleep, my mother finally arrived. Around 10 AM the following day the doctor checked me, then the baby. His heart rate was still low and they wanted to operate. A c-section? Really? Wow. Everything I wanted to avoid was happening. I didn’t feel in control of my body, the decision making, or anything. Mom consulted a couple of her midwife friends, did some reiki/prayer on me and I was rolled into surgery.

Lucky thing they cut me open. The umbilical cord was wrapped around King’s neck three times. I have heard from other doctors, doulas, etc. that there still could have been a way to deliver him vaginally. But who really knows? We are all speculating here. King was delivered at 9lbs 3oz covered in meconium with full strong lungs. He was perfect. The nurse cleaning him kept commenting on how big his testicles were. I told her to shut up from the surgical table, gut wide opened, I had already transitioned into the lioness protecting my cub. Because of anesthesia I had to wait an hour to nurse and I wouldn’t allow them to feed him formula.  King and I had skin to skin contact until it was ok to nurse then he latched on like a champ. Recovery was slow and I stayed in the hospital for four days.

My birth plan ended up simply being a writing exercise. Nothing went the way I planned. I think I suffer from post-traumatic stress due to my birth experience. No matter how messy the process the end result is pure bliss. I have a healthy baby boy who has deepened my capacity to love. And for this I am grateful.

The Greatest Gift You Can Give to Your Child….

Working in education and surveying various mothers I see a common theme. Many mothers subscribe to the philosophy that they must abandon their dreams to support the dreams of their children and sometimes their mates. I think that this is detrimental to the development of our children. We must model the behavior we want to see in our offspring. If we are teaching them that they can become anything that want, teaching them to be an entrepreneur and to protect their dreams at all cost; we cannot send mixed messages.

Mixed messages are exactly what children receive when we give them advice and do the exact opposite. Yes, achieving your dream of becoming an author becomes harder to pursue when you have a family. You must do it anyway. You are modeling the ability to multi-task, deal with adversity and being true to yourself.  Going back to school may seem daunting with the ever growing to-do-list but where there is a will, there is a way. There is night school, you can take one class a semester for a million years and let us not forget online courses. You can make it happen! There should be a piece of you that gets very conflicted when you tell little Johnny that he can be the president of the United States yet you have a basement full unfinished art work that you could sell and generate additional income.

Some of our dreams, if we pursued them fully could give us financial freedom. This means we could spend more time with our children and that is the gift that keeps on giving! If you are not busy building your dream, you are busy building someone else’s. If you are unhappy, working a dead-end job and simply existing; you are teaching your child this is what life is about. Is this really the message you want to convey to little Johnny who is still optimistic about his new world? I don’t think it is.

The greatest gift you can give to children is the one you give to yourself. Never give up on your dream. If you have breath, there is still a chance to see your dream come true. What I know for sure is, some children do what you tell them to do, some children do what you tell them not to do; but ALL children do what YOU do!

Are you modeling dream chasing?

Advice for a New Mother

Rule number one, ignore all advice. Everyone on the planet that ever raised children before you will tell what they think you should be doing. They will be shoulding all over the place. You will never encounter more unsolicited advice than when you become a mother. Most people mean well but they can’t imagine how mentally exhausting it is to hear several conflicting stories about what is best for YOUR child. Trust your instincts. These flabby guts our children have given us tell us the correct choices to make.
Rule number two, save your money on the books. They will only confuse you. A lot of the doctors that write books, the Ph.D. kind, not the, my child has an ear infection kind; don’t even have children. I did find the DVD The Happiest Baby on the Block helpful. It is still trial and error though because every baby is different. The video was a nice starting point. I read several books on sleep training and drove myself crazy trying to figure out what was best for King. I did figure out how to get him to sleep and it is very unconventional and not in any book.
Rule number three, relax. I know you have made lofty goals for yourself in this motherhood game but perfection is not the goal here. Your baby will teach you more about yourself than you could ever imagine. We want to do all of the teaching but never think about what we need to be taught.
I wish someone would have said these things to me when I actually asked for advice. So here is my offering.
~A King’s Ma

Rude things people say to pregnant women:

This is an oldie but goodie. I think I wrote it when I was near the end of my pregnancy. It was at the part that is no longer blissful, the part where you feel like you have been pregnant forever. The part where your body is pulled so tight if someone stuck you with a pin, you’d pop. This is when you are counting down to your due date.

Can I touch it?

My stomach is not some inanimate object. It is attached to my body housing a living, breathing person. Can you touch my stomach? Maybe. It? Hell no, because I don’t know what it is!

 
What are you having?

I respond, “A giraffe”. Straight faced. I would like to note that one of my students’ asked if I knew the gender of my baby, I gladly responded by smiling and giving her the appropriate information.*

 

Are you having twins?

What I hear: You are the size of a small house and there is no way there can be only one baby inside of you. Really? You want to call a hormonal, pregnant lady that can eat you, FAT? My answer to the question varies depending on my level of pissedosity. (new word)

 
Hope you are having a boy!

The feminist in me is appalled. This is America jack! (Cue Coming to America) Why is a boy child valued more than a girl child? Women themselves tell me how much easier it is to have a boy than a girl. I wish these self-hating women would have several seats. Isn’t the goal to have a healthy baby no matter the gender?

 
How many months are you?

This may seem an innocent enough question but doctors speak to us in terms of weeks not months. I can tell you how many weeks I am and I will let you do the conversion. PSA: you stay preggers for 10 mos. not 9. If you don’t know, now you know.

I hope this little rant will make you a more sensitive human being when dealing with pregnant women. And if it doesn’t, I hope at least I made you laugh.

~A King’s Ma

*At the time this was written we were not telling the gender. It’s a boy!