Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Picture perfect..


It's not easy being a mother. If it were easy, fathers would do it. ~From the television show The Golden Girls
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So last April..Friday the 13Th to be exact...a group of friends and I decided to celebrate what most people consider to be a very unlucky day and a very unlucky number. This, like most things in my life, has proven to be the opposite. The number 13 is my lucky number..the day I went on my first date with Richard, the day we moved into our brand new house, and our first full day as Man and Wife (we were married on November 12 at 5pm). In order to celebrate this "lucky" day, we invited an astrologer over to our house to give us our "readings". After sending her our birthday, time of birth, and place of birth, she came up with the universe's master plan for the rest of our lives. I have to admit that I buy into this crap even though that sheet of paper looked like a circle with a bunch of dots on it..partially because my father's culture does the same thing when a baby is born...yet my sister didn't marry a rock star at the age of 21...hmmm, I may need to reconsider. Still it was fun and interesting to find out where the universe had me plotted on the map of life. Well after a few glasses of wine and way too many Freddy jokes later...I found out. She pretty much hit the nail on the head...I went to school because I thought I had to....hated what I did in life...would end up being an interior designer, but not until I gave birth to "all" my children and they made their triumphant leap into kindergarten. Unfortunately, I asked what "all" meant and she told me that I would have SIX children starting last fall. A month later...I was preggo! Trust me..Richard has a very important snip in his future to avoid that scary devil six she was mentioning. ;) She did mention that I wouldn't ever have to worry about money, so maybe I should start pimping Corbin out after that commercial we did..blah, we were blurry extras in the background..but still, can you say your child was in a commercial?? I didn't think so ;)
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So since she really had me going..I decided to check my yearly horoscope on her website..too freakin' funny our truth teller has her own ".com"...but anyway..this is what it said...
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Virgo: No doubt you have read this before: Now is the time to redefine yourself and your life direction. You've known it for over a year, but in the late summer of '07 it became starkly clear. It may be lonely on the path for a couple of years, but the effort will give you new life, so stay with it. Let the past go. Keep only what and who is truly important to you. Between now and the 3rd quarter of '09, the main project is to blend what is at your core and unchangeable with what is nontraditional for you. If this is not immediately apparent, it will be so in March. This undertaking will be a test of confidence and creativity, but it is timely now. If your wish is to have children or encounter a new lover, it likely will be granted this year. Take especially good care of yourself in Jan-Feb. Your energy and reflexes are lower at that time. You will be fuzzy-minded in latter April. In May-June you will likely travel to someplace you have been in the past. Sep-Oct is a time to pause and think carefully about the next steps. In Nov-Dec you will begin the new project in earnest.
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It's funny because we found out we were having a boy in Aug '07 and I decided to be a stay-at-home mom in March of this year. Don't you love how you..maybe its just me..can turn any horoscope into what's REALLY going to happen or has happened in your life. I think I have too much time on my hands ;) But anyone who knows me, knows that I'm not really the quintessential soccer mom. At this point in my life, I don't ever plan on having a mini-van or an oversized SUV. Sadly, after our afternoon outing with Max and Heather...this might just be a pipe dream on my part and I will more than likely take my riteful seat as a bus driver to six screaming children...can I make some kind of team with that many?
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Recently, I've hit the stay-at-home mom plateau...my initial drive to fill my life with playdates and lunches out..has scaled down and I'm left to find myself obsessing over a mommy website that seems to be one of my only outlets to the "outside" world. I was so naive when I was pregnant with Corbin...I may be alone on this, but at least have the loving support of our friend, Sally, who also traveled the walk of shame afterwards... in apologizing for being so opinionated about motherhood when we really had NO idea what we were talking about. One of those very opinions was how if I were a stay-at-home mom I could never just sit in the house all day...I would join mommy groups and have Corbin immersed in all kinds of activities to socialize him and make sure he was learning while he played..its a wonder someone didn't take me out before I even got going :) The truth of the matter is that being a stay-at-home mom can be very lonely...Mrs. Astrology herself predicted I would feel this way and yet again, she knows me best. All babies find different schedules..and coordinating those schedules is more pain than its worth..I've learned this the hard way. Most new mommies picture their lives with their newborn..from the day he's born to the day he learns to walk to the day he leaves for college. What he'll be, who he'll marry, and of course, how much he'll thank you for being that perfect mother..if there is such a thing..ha ha!! This perfect picture you paint is never what it seems to be..never what really happens..kind of like a horoscope. If everything worked out the way you had planned, life wouldn't be any fun. If I knew where the universe had me mapped, where's the element of surprise. The surprises come in the best places.
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Corbin started teething just a few weeks ago. Oh the joys! At least I got about a month off from the chaos ;) His spit up has gotten itself semi-under control only to be replaced by this faucet of drool he conveniently broke the nob to. He chews on anything and everything, including my face when I'm rocking him to sleep. He's always flush with a little baby fever and hasn't stopped sucking on his hand long enough to shove a bottle in his mouth. The other morning was especially rough and Corbin couldn't manage to put himself to sleep for his first nap. Richard was home from work with a sore throat and I was exhausted. I opted to go get him and just bring him back to bed...he hasn't allowed this since he was four weeks old. He must have been really tired because after settling under the covers, he lied his head on my chest...thumb in mouth..and fell fast asleep. I woke up about an hour and a half later to find the Bray family snuggled up and happily dreaming. I found my perfect picture. It's not the vision of you walking your toddler into school on the first day..its the feeling. The warm feeling that comes through the lonely times when you are staring at a computer screen. When everyone is sick and you wake up to find your family huddled up under the covers just being together. No one gets that easy ride you have in your mind when your pregnant..if you say you did, you are lying or that awesome drug your brain gives you to forget has already kicked in...but I just decided to steal this quote from one of my good friends to describe motherhood perfectly....."I'm not telling you it is going to be easy - I'm telling you it's going to be worth it" -- Art Williams

video

Monday, May 12, 2008

Lost in translation

The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new. ~Rajneesh
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Webster's defines Mother's day as the second Sunday in May appointed for the honoring of mothers. Sounds like a pretty sad definition to me, but my first Mother's day has come and gone, not without the typical "Alissa" drama. My dear sweet husband tried to plan a surprise for his wife and mother of his first born. Of course, Corbin's four month doctor's appointment got in the way and he was "forced" to tell me, so we could reschedule, of course. He reserved an oceanfront suite in the Isle of Palms, just north of Charleston, and we were going to have our first family vacation together. Corbin's first beach experience. It seemed so sweet at the time.
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Well, Mother's day weekend rolled around and after a day full of shopping with the 'rents...we headed home to start the process of getting things prepared. For those future parents out there...being prepared is definitely the name of the game....it may seem like common sense now, but it is an acquired taste! Anyway, we basically packed our entire house. From the pack-n-play to his bouncy to at least 15 bibs and 15 burp cloths for our spitting child to THREE swim trunks. Yes..we were going overnight ;) Much to our surprise, it all fit in the CRV with enough room to spare for our cooler and kid. We woke up at Corbin's first feeding on Sunday at around 6am to the sound of pouring rain. We figured it was a good thing we were leaving all the crappy weather..urgh! I showered while Richard fed him and we were in the car around 7:30am. We dropped off the dog at my parents house and hit the road. It poured the entire way. We decided to stop at my sister's house to see Eli and Emmett..and my sister, I guess ;) While we were there, the rain stopped and the sun started to peak around all the clouds. We were pretty sure that it was clearing out and the weather would be beautiful by the time we got there. After feeding Corbin again, we continued our trek down to the coast. We got there at around 1:30 and although at first glance, the weather was beautiful...horrible winds with gusts up to 45 mph had replaced the rain. Poor Corbin hasn't learned how to breathe in the wind yet...so death by suffocation was his worst nightmare. By the time we got in our room, Corbin needed to eat and take a nap. We fed him and thought we might be able to get him to doze off in the Bjourn. Boy was that a pipe dream! We strapped him in and headed to the waves. Between the sleepiness and the hurricane force "breeze" barrelling at his face, Corbin was not a huge fan of the beach.
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He swallowed a ton of air and started screaming...that ear-piercing colic scream we have come to know so well. We took him back up to the room just in time to put him down for a nap. He basically passed out...thank god..and we found ourselves enjoying some cheap "Harris Teeter" Sangria in plastic cups while we lounged on plastic lawn furniture. But HEY we were overlooking the ocean. Corbin slept for about an hour and woke up screaming again. When he does this, it is because he usually has to burp and due to the large quantities of air shoved down his throat..we had a hard time getting it out. After some Gripe Water...a freakin' lifesaver in our house...and a few thousand pats on the back, it finally came up, but since Corbin had been crying for so long he didn't know how to stop. We fed him again and decided to just head home because the weather was supposed to be the same the next day, which meant we couldn't leave the hotel room. As I fed Corbin his last meal for the day..Richard started packing up the hotel room....just in time for another storm to add more humor to our already "not so funny" day. Right when we shut the hotel door with a cart full of crap we never used, the hotel lost power. You might think this was a good thing..the last straw to prove we should just leave and go home..but our room was on the third floor and an elevator doesn't work without power. ;)By this point..Richard is DONE..he starts carrying everything down the three flights of steps to our car..I'm sure cursing the entire way..while sweet mom (me)..laughs and chats to her sister on the phone. This might be the story of poor Richard's life...just kidding. So Richard carries..a suitcase, pack-n-play, bathroom bag, bag of toys, a beach umbrella, a bouncy seat, bags of groceries, a changing table pad (Corbin sleeps on it), a boppy, a cooler, and a camera bag down those steps..AND got our money back. (He's quite the guy) Then it was off we go...to start up that first bridge to clear skies and a beautiful sunset. Not a cloud in the sky or drop of rain in our sight...WTF! We ended the night by stopping at Zaxby's and eating Zensation Zalads in the parking lot because Corbin woke up and was crying again. Only to stop when mom got in the back seat to play with him.
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Yesterday, Richard wanted to buy me something to make up for it..sadly, all I really wanted was a jumperoo for Corbin...and now I'm thinking I might want a Miracle Blanket too..this is how you know you are truly a mother..ha ha! It's funny how there is one day a year when we are supposed to "honor" our mothers. Ditto on the dads. I don't even really know what that means. Does a card and a box of chocolates really "honor" anyone? Elisabeth on the View said yesterday that if we didn't have the structure of a given day..no one would remember to do it. This might be a little more sad than the three hour drive home Sunday night. I think the day is to stop and actually take a breath from your everyday life to soak in the meaning of family. I think honoring me comes in those small moments when Corbin accidentally grabs around my neck and I pretend he's actually hugging me :) or when I'm rushing to put Corbin's bottle together and when I get downstairs...Richard did it for me before he went to work. I don't need a huge day at the beach...I don't even really need a card. It's in those moments that I realize how loved I really am and feel so grateful to be riding this rollercoaster or running this marathon with the two greatest people I'm sure I will ever know.

Friday, May 9, 2008

We welcome with joy...

Families are like fudge - mostly sweet with a few nuts. ~Author Unknown
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...another sweet little boy! :) Introducing Eli Tate Lashbrook..Corbin's cousin #2. He came into the world on April 29th at 5:39am, weighing in at 8lbs 8oz and 21 inches long. We drove down to Sumter, SC to greet our new nephew and just shy of four months after Corbin was born, he reminded us of our own birth story. Surprisingly, it seemed like a distant memory.
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It's so crazy how your body literally forgets everything you went through. I can't even remember what it felt like to feel him kick when I was pregnant. Every now and then, my stomach will grumble and I'll feel something roll. I'll think..oh yeah..that's it. The first six weeks of Corbin's life are a complete blur and I'm pretty sure that this happens to ensure that humanity continues to exist. ;) It blows my mind that just four short months ago...we were just a two person family. I wasn't a mother. I feel like we've come a million miles in a blink of an eye. A guy I worked with at TWC once told me that after his daughter was born (his first child) that he couldn't remember what it was like without her. I understand now what he meant. Since my last post, Corbin has taken an incredible turn for the best! I've been told to make anything a habit..just do it for three weeks...(unfortunately, my workout routine hasn't gotten that memo. :) As of tomorrow, it will be three weeks since he started feeling better and I'm hoping that it has become a habit. Motherhood has gotten so much more enjoyable, so much less stressful. There are days when I don't want to put him down for a nap, but know that I will deeply regret it in 30 minutes if I do something selfish. So when we went to celebrate Eli's birth, just one little look and I'm hooked on having another...CRAP!!
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Of course, we don't plan on having another for at least 2 years and have taken the necessary steps to make sure there are no surprises in our near future (sorry for the TMI). I feel the need to document everything I can recall as of right now, so that when I get this sudden itch to bring another Bray into this world...I'll snap back into reality and just enjoy the sweet ride that is Corbin's life right now. So in case you would like to compare notes or add a little comment with your own experience..here is my stamp on child birth "Bray" style (i.e. what they don't tell you!):
  • Don't let anyone tell you that getting an epidural cures all pain...it works for contractions, but not for pressure, so pushing..WHOLE different story
  • Contractions don't feel like cramps..I'll leave it at that
  • People say pushing is exhausting because it is. I had this lovely picture of it taking just a few pushes to get him out...wrong-O.
  • If you push for longer than 15-30 minutes...a month or so later, a nice little consolation prize may pop up...not pleasant..and they never go away. :-\
  • The baby blues are inevitable. Don't feel guilty...drink lots of wine ;)...mourning the life you used to have is just a rite of passage.
  • It takes 3 weeks for a baby to recover from birth..in that time s/he will sleep a lot. There is a growth spurt at 3 weeks..after that...watch out.
  • Know your growth spurts...6 weeks is the worst..be prepared!
  • Sleep deprivation feels A LOT like depression..it's not post-partum...get a good nights rest.
  • "Sleeping when the baby sleeps" is A LOT harder than it sounds...never worked in our house..hence the sleep deprivation.
  • Babies settle into the world between 3-4 months..it gets much easier after that.
  • Babies run in 90 minute cycles. From birth-four months, only let them stay awake for 1-2 hours before putting them down for a nap, even if they don't look tired. This helped Corbin sleep 10 hours straight at 10 weeks and take 3-4 one hour naps during the day. LIFE SAVER!!
  • Every baby has some sort of issue...Corbin had acid reflux and a milk allergy, our friend Max had lazy baby syndrome, we have two friends who have kidney reflux, etc. Be thankful for your own issue, but never wish it on someone else.
  • I swear you get a good eater or a good sleeper..never both..if you do, stop having kids immediately because you have used up all your "good" points :)
  • Your marriage will be strained..I dreaded this when I was pregnant...but your "new" marriage includes someone who thinks you both are everything.
  • You will cry if you go back to work...some people get over it, some don't...don't feel guilty either way.
  • Totally losing your mind...like not being to remember a word and using the word "thing" in its place four times in one sentence

And that is my small recollection of the things that will keep me on the one baby track for the next year...they are my story and probably very different for others, but I need to remind myself of the good too...because that I definitely don't want to forget!!

  • Feeling Corbin move when I was pregnant and then getting to see what he was actually doing in real life...no one else has that connection!
  • Watching every milestone from finding his voice, to finding his smile, to laughing out loud, and learning to hold and EAT his toys...all just as good as the next
  • Playing the "he looks like you, no he looks like me" game..he has my eyes, but is a spitting image of Richard
  • Being the one person that can really soothe him..I know, it's selfish, but very gratifying
  • Seeing him light up when I come to get him from his crib
  • Watching him laugh for 45 minutes at a Baby Einstein movie (what he's doing right now)
  • Dressing him up in clothes that are too expensive for how long he'll wear them...the kid actually has three bathing suits
  • He's so ticklish and laughs so hard that he gets the hiccups..its so sweet
  • Seeing Richard light up when he laughs or smiles at him
  • Still rocking my arms even when I'm not holding him..ha ha
  • Doing what I've always wanted :)

I have to admit that the good definitely out weighs the bad...sorry Richard..you are sooooo screwed :)