Sunday, October 31, 2010

That Time of Year

It's that time of year again. Most people start getting excited for the holidays.. for Thanksgiving and Christmas and all of the wonderful things that come with it. 

I was like that, once upon a time. 

But now, the passing of Halloween just sends me into a downward spiral. I can feel it happening and I can't stop it. 

My birthday. Oh, how I loathe it. It's coming up next week, and the past 5 years or so have brought awful things right around my birthday. I won't bore you by enumerating them; suffice it to say that I'm bracing for impact. Plus, I'll be 24, and that's getting pretty old to be a student, living with my mom, and being basically a loser. Blah.

B's birthday. Two days later, her angelversary. That brings such a mixed bag of loaded feelings, and I can't even describe it. Happy that I had her for the time I did, devastated that I lost her, feeling like whatever I do to commemorate isn't enough or is too much or is just not quite appropriate. She would be turning two this year. 

Thanksgiving. I'm looking forward to this a little bit since E eats now, but other than that... meh. It stopped being a fun day when my parents split up (I was twelve) and this year my mom is giving me trouble about refusing to be in the same room as my sister. Last year she (the sister) ambushed me and I was not a happy camper about it. Yuck. 

Christmas. It will be a little fun - I already have most of E's presents (yay for thrift store finds!) and I'm happy with the quality and quantity, so that's good. We're not doing a big tree, because E is Mr. Destructo so my mom obviously doesn't want to risk her ornaments and things. Plus it's dangerous for him. That's fine but feels a little bah-humbug-y. We'll have a small ceramic tree that my mom has had since I was a little girl, so that's good. And again with the awkward family situation. Just ick. 

And New Year's. I totally thought I would be divorced and maybe even be dating by New Year's 2011, and neither of those events look like they're even remotely probable in the near future. So, 2010 fail. I did get 3 semesters of college done, which is good. Silver lining. 

All in all, I'm a total Scrooge after Halloween, you guys. I know it's stupid and awful, and I'm doing my darndest to try to at least put on a happy face. I've started some new anti anxiety meds for the whole thing, so hopefully that will keep me a tiny bit sane. Please forgive me if my updates are sparse or morose. 

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Mother's Milkmate - Review and Giveaway!

I was so excited to have a chance to review the Mother's Milk Mate rack and bottle storage system!

When I got it in the mail, I couldn't wait to try it out to see how it worked for me. I had somewhat of an organizational system with my refrigerated bottles of breast milk, but it was kind of hard for my mom and other caregivers to figure out. Sometimes the fresh bottles would get taken out first, which wasn't a huge deal, but still kind of annoying.

I immediately washed all the bottles in hot, soapy water (I was just giddy about how many there were - the less often I have to wash bottles, the happier I am!) and set them out to dry. I cleared out all my regular bottles and transferred all the milk into the Mother's Milk Mate bottles, put the lids on, and put the rack and bottles in the fridge. I used quite a few bottles, since the Mother's Milk Mate bottles are 4 oz (well, you can squeeze 5 oz in, but they're marked to 4) and my Gerber bottles are (marked to) 5 oz. The size difference wasn't a big deal to me - generally with breast milk, the smaller portions you keep it in the better. It tends to safeguard against waste. Besides, smaller bottles are easier for independent little baby hands to hold themselves.

Let me go back a little bit and talk about the lids. They have two pieces - one fits inside the bottle, preventing spills, and the other is a regular screw on cap. It works soooo well. You'd think with the bottles being sideways and all that there would be a leak from time to time, but I haven't ever had one. Plus, I feel like it kind of "seals" off the milk so it stays a little fresher in the fridge. I really, really like the design of the lids.

Once I had all my milk stored in the rack, it was so easy to just grab the front bottle and know it was the right one. The set does come with little stickers to label the milk with the date, but I didn't bother with them because since E only takes bottles I knew we'd go through all the milk before it spoiled. Those would be very useful if your baby is only taking a bottle every now and then, though! Especially because - and I'm telling you this from experience - your breast milk changes composition throughout the course of the day. You do not want to be feeding your baby morning milk at night. That's the equivalent of your little one downing a shot of espresso right before bed.. and I don't know about you, but that's pretty much my worst nightmare. So those little stickers? Don't only write the date on those. Write the time. Trust me. (And if you're saying - Hey! Then why didn't you label your milk with the time? It's because I put my milk in the fridge in the order that it was pumped, and cycle through it in that order. So I don't need to. Ha. But I learned that lesson the hard way.)

The bottle mouth is the standard size - I was able to use any and all of the standard nipple/ring sets I had on them. I didn't have a problem with that at all. I also pumped directly into the bottles a couple of times - they fit just fine on my Medela pump and on my Lansinoh pump. That's definitely a perk!

Overall, the Mother's Milk Mate system is very convenient. It can even be kept in the freezer, for you moms who just have a few bottles pumped for Dad or whoever to feed once in awhile so you can sleep or go out for a couple of hours every now and then.

The only things that I wish were different are the quantity of the bottles and lids. I'm a master at losing things, so more lids are always a plus in my book. They give you one extra, with that in mind, but for an exclusive pumper who's dragging bottles around everywhere... they just get lost. So I would have appreciated two or three extra. But not a big deal. The set comes with the perfect number of bottles to fill the rack (10), which is a lot of bottles, but I found myself wishing I had the Mother's Milkmate On-The-Go Pack. It's an extra 6 bottles, and that would have allowed me to have a few bottles in the sink and still have the rack pretty much full. As it was, with me constantly taking bottles out, I didn't have enough of the Milkmate bottles clean to keep the rack full. I may just have to purchase it!

Want one for yourself? You can purchase one of your very own here!

If you're feeling lucky though, I have one fabulous Mother's Milkmate storage system to give away!!

Mandatory Entry: Leave a comment telling me what your current milk organization system is like, or if you even have one!

Extra Entries:

- Follow my blog with Google Friend Connect

- Follow me on Twitter 

- Tweet the giveaway: " Pump, store, & feed from the same bottle! Win a milk storage system from Mother's Milkmate & @HauteSingleMama! #bfcafe  " (You can tweet twice a day, at least one hour apart)

Each worth one entry. Leave me a comment for each thing that you do! Don't forget your extra entries if you RSVP'd - leave comments for those too!

I was given a Mother's Milkmate milk storage system to keep. I was not compensated for this review. All opinions are honest and my own. 

Images from 

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Monday, October 18, 2010

McFatty Monday

It's another McFatty Monday!

I don't know if I've gained, or lost, or what. I'm still too scared to weigh myself, and I'm still in my fat pants. So that's never good.

Here's the thing I've discovered about myself. I'm a stress eater. When I get depressed, I just stop eating (hence the "divorce diet"). But when I'm stressed? I'm like carbs carbs carbs sugar sugar sugar more more more!!! And since my life is basically extremely stressful right now, I need to tackle that. Like yesterday.

So here are my goals for this week:

1. Eat breakfast every day. I am not a morning person, so this is not as simple as it sounds. If I get E and I out the door on time and we're both dressed and our hair is done, that's a success. I hardly ever take the time to feed myself or do anything else in the morning. So I've made this goal probably ten times this semester and haven't done it once. But this week? I'm all about the breakfast.

2. Drink more water. I've been slurping down diet pepsi in an obscenely overzealous manner lately. I never used to drink soda - only if I was eating out - but this single mom/student with a baby who wakes up 3 times  a night thing is killing me. So I need the caffeine. But I'm going to try to wean off of it a little and hopefully get energy by being more properly hydrated.

3. Wear jeans. This sounds dumb, but I tend to eat more when I wear stretchy pants. I really love stretchy loungy pants and luckily on my college campus I can get away with them. But when I wear jeans, it automatically reminds me that I want them to be getting looser and not tighter, so I tend to intuitively watch what I eat without having to over think it.

And I think that's about it, guys. Those seem like piddly goals, but I think a) they'll make a bigger difference than you think and b) that's all I can handle. Midterms are this week, so I'm not going to set the bar too high. I'm going nuts as it is.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day

This day is so very near and dear to my heart. Through losing my two precious angels, I've come to know a community of the strongest women out there. Those who have lost a child through miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant death have known true heartbreak, yet they shine so brightly as examples of love, hope, and generosity. 

On October 15th, I remembered my babies by first heading out to B's grave. I hadn't been for too long, and I wanted to decorate for Halloween. E and I swung by the dollar store to get supplies, and then went to see his sissy! 

I lit my candles a little early, but quickly had to blow them out because E was all about getting over to them! Whoops! Didn't think that through...

I love this picture. So sweet. 

E was an awesome helper. He especially loved throwing the flowers around. The ones that fell off? Courtesy 
of E, lol! 

I think it turned out pretty cute! You can't tell from the picture, but the garland on the shepherd's hook is very sparkly in the sunlight. It's black with little orange pumpkins!

We also took a little bit of time to visit the other babies that rest near B. I picked out her burial plot specifically because it was by other babies, so I always like to say hello when I go and think about them and their mommies.

B usually gets all the attention on my blog, because I have a tangible memorial of her (plus I got to hold her in my arms, and it's just different), but later that night I took some time to remember my other precious angel. It was my first pregnancy, and I was so excited and nervous. It took me a good week after I got my positive pregnancy test to get used to the idea that I was having a baby, and I only got to keep her one week after that before I miscarried at 6 weeks. The thing I remember most about that pregnancy was right off the bat I was so tired. I literally would sleep all day, wake up for 4 or 5 hours, and go back to bed. It was so weird. Anyway, I just knew she was a girl (and I was right with my subsequent two pregnancies, so I have no reason to think I was wrong!). I wanted to name her Aimi (I was taking Japanese classes at the time, and when written in kanji, it's written with the symbol for "love" and "beauty" - 愛美

I lit my candles again at 7:00 for the Wave of Light. One for B, one for Mia. 

I love and miss you, my angels. I can't wait to hold you again.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

E's First Birthday

Today, E is exactly one year old - adjusted!! It's 365 days from my due date. Never mind the fact that a year ago, he'd been born for two and a half months, survived NICU, flown on a plane, and moved across the United States already! Anyway, this is a great milestone for me. I feel like he's "officially" one, and I can feel comfortable giving him all the one-year-old foods and stuff.

So since I just now uploaded the pictures from my camera, you get to see what we did on E's actual, non-adjusted birthday!

I decided not to have a huge party for him. I know a lot of people do, and I kind of felt like a lazy/bad mom, but I'm so glad that I did it this way. There will be so many other birthdays where he'll want friends over, and it was so special to have this one be so intimate. It was just me, my mom, and my step dad - his primary caregivers. I don't think he would have done well at a party either - he's pretty easily overstimulated and he would have been miserable, I think. Anyway, the way we did it was perfect for us.

I ordered him this shirt and hat from Sprinkles of Love on Etsy. He looked sooo precious. It was totally worth what I spent for it!!! I loved working with her and definitely recommend her store. If I can I'll be ordering him a 2nd birthday outfit too!

I made him a chocolate cake shaped like a bunny. We lit the candle, sang "Happy Birthday," and then just put it in front of him and let him have at it. It was soooo cute! 

I didn't have the foresight to take a picture of the cake with my actual camera before he dug into it (I had taken one with my phone).. .but there it is after he had demolished the bow tie a little bit. Cute, right? What's that? I should open a cake decorating business? I think so too.

After we got all cleaned up, we opened presents! E was more into eating the wrapping paper than tearing it.

 Eventually (with some help from Mama) he got his first ever birthday present opened - it was a lion walker that converts to a ride-on toy. He loves it!

More present opening... He loooved that curling ribbon! 

Playing with his walker! (My mom made me take his hat off. She thought the elastic looked uncomfortable, lol.)

He doesn't look particularly thrilled in any of the pictures because he had refused to nap at all that day. The poor kiddo was exhausted! Right after he played with his new toys for a bit, I took him upstairs for a bath and bed. 

I have to reiterate that I loved how low key it was. It was so nice to have it be just us. It will be so fun to have big parties for him in the future, but for the very first birthday I loved having him (almost) all to myself!!

Happy adjusted first birthday, E! I wish I'd been able to carry you 40 weeks so this would be your actual birthday, but I'm so proud of how well you've done despite your early entrance into the world! You've grown by leaps and bounds and I can't wait to watch how you change over the next year! 

I bought E's outfit from Sprinkles of Love on my own, and paid full price. She did not ask me to include her shop in my blog post - I really just loved her product so much that I wanted to give her a shout out. I was not compensated in any way, and this is my honest opinion.

More Milk Plus Winner!

So I FINALLY picked the winner for the More Milk Plus giveaway! Yay! And the winner is....

Comment #28, which was Tara!!!! Yay!!!!! I'll be tweeting/emailing you shortly! Congrats!

Note to self: figure out how to get posts to be numbered so I don't have to count them. Ahem.

Some of you entered so many times and I wish I had more bottles of this to give away. It's such amazing stuff and I'm not even just saying that because I got to review it. It totally saved my supply when E was still way too small to be weaned - it's just awesome. 

Friday, October 8, 2010

Mine and Nobody Else's

I got an email from my attorney today.

M is offering to terminate his parental rights in exchange for no child support, no alimony, not paying for my attorney's fees, and marital debt divided equally.

So basically, he walks away scot free, and I'm left with 99% of the responsibility and no help.

The thought of never having to see him again is awesome. The idea that I will never, ever have to turn E over to him and be sick with worry the whole time? Better than I can say. In many ways, it's what I was hoping for.

Now that I'm staring it in the face, though, I'm having a little bit of trouble with it. First of all, I feel like I've been screwed over. When I got back together with M, I had just rehabilitated my credit from the havoc my last boyfriend had caused. I married M and our financial situation was not ideal, and that was compounded by my pregnancies. He also cheated me out of my goals. I never wanted to have children until I was finished with school, and he talked me into it after his sister got pregnant. He convinced me that it would be better and healthier for me to have children young, and to go back to school once they were in school. I gave in. I wouldn't trade any of my babies for anything, but I do wish I was in a position to be able to provide for E. The way I planned to be. I made so many decisions based on the fact that he promised to be there, and he's just left me high and dry. I just feel so taken advantage of... violated... used.

Secondly, my heart breaks for E. What am I going to tell him when he gets older? How am I going to explain that money was more important to his father than he was? M can't undo relinquishing his rights. Once it's done, it's done forever. And he's making the decision like it's nothing. He's legally disowning him. Saying I have no rights to this child, nor do I have any obligation to him. I just... I have no idea how someone could do that. No idea.

And lastly, the thought of being the sole person responsible for this little life terrifies me. I know that I've been doing that all along, but there was the hope of financial support, at least. I'll legally be the only person in the world responsible for this precious child. Tonight, that feels like a lot of weight to bear. What if I can't do it? What if I can't provide for him? I'm just terrified. I don't have parents who can financially save me. It's just so staggering to be the only one.

So, I'm not sure what to make of it. My attorney said to call him on Monday. There's not too much I can do until then.

Tonight, I'm just wishing that I had someone to lean on. Some semblance of stability and security in my life.

But I don't. I just have E. And that's really wonderful. He's going to be all mine. No one can take him from me, not even for visitation. I just need to focus on that.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Scary and Damaged

Today, it has been exactly one year since I found out about M's affair.

That morning, I had been up every 3 hours with E (and I know it was every 3 hours, because he was still a preemie - 37 weeks - and I was setting an alarm to wake him to feed every 3 hours!). I thought M had to work at 5am (his schedule was very erratic) and he wasn't awake yet, so I decided to check his schedule on his BlackBerry. We were completely open with each other about our phones and passwords and things, so it wasn't weird or abnormal for me to do so.

I checked, and saw that he didn't work until noon or something, I can't remember. As I was exiting the calendar, I saw a new email account that I wasn't aware of. Not only was it new, it was in that transparent ghosty state, the kind that comes when you click "show hidden" - if you have a BlackBerry you know what I mean. I'm not sure if other phones do that. Anyway. I thought it was weird, but I wasn't too concerned - I thought maybe his regular email had gotten too filled with junk, or he wanted a "junk" account specifically for mandatory forms and stuff. Whatever. But I was curious, and I opened it.

There was one email. "Thank you for joining MySpace. Click here to activate your account..." Hmmm. He already had a MySpace, and he didn't use it much. I was starting to get suspicious, so I logged onto the new account. He had one friend - a girl. His profile picture was a picture of only his abs. His status was "I need to find a secret place...." Her status was "I wish I was with someone special..." and had that stupid mood smiley with the eyes that are hearts. Ugh. Those images are seared into my memory like it was yesterday.

I woke him up and said "Who is she?" For a minute he tried to act like he didn't know what I was talking about. I showed him his own MySpace page.

And then something in his face... I'll never forget that look. Kind of like... an angry... yet... defeated look. Like, "Well, the poop has hit the fan, so I'm just going to do whatever I want." It's extremely difficult to describe. But from the time he made that face, he turned into someone I no longer knew.

It was as if he didn't know me from Eve. My feelings no longer mattered, the past that we'd shared no longer mattered. The future we'd planned evaporated before my eyes.

I called my mom. Sobbing. "Mom, he did it again. Can I come home?"

I called his mom. "He did it again. I don't have anyone else to ask for help... can you come help me pack?"

He went to work. Like nothing was wrong.

I don't really remember the rest of that day. I called a friend and stayed the night at her house. She got up in the night with E so I could sleep. It was so sweet.

The next day I went back to our apartment. I asked M to speak with him privately, as his parents had already arrived. I begged him to work on this. I said that I knew that I had said I was going to leave, but we needed to try. For E. Please. Please. Please. He said no, he didn't think we'd ever get past it. I asked if I could at least go stay with his parents for awhile, four hours away. Try separating for awhile. See how it went. He said no, that's not going to work. You need to go home.

I asked one more time before I left. Again, the answer was no.

So, his parents took me to the airport. I took my baby on an airplane two weeks before his due date, during RSV season. It's a miracle he didn't get sick.

And that was that. It's already been a year. My baby is now a toddler, and I'm a year further in my education. Other than that, things haven't really changed. I'm not divorced. I live at home. I haven't been on a date.

But I'm a different person. I'm not the girl who woke up that morning, concerned about getting her beloved husband off to work. I don't even know her anymore.

I'm cynical and bitter. I'm independent and smart. I always doubt other people's intentions. I do things myself now - I don't wait for someone to save me. I've done more in the past year than I knew I could, and more than I ever thought I would have to.

And for E? It's totally worth it. All of it.

I didn't come out unscathed though. I'm afraid I'll always be this way. Scary. Damaged.

But who knows. In another year? I could be a completely different girl.