Friday, January 23, 2015

Is this a Heart Attack?

I was hot and sweating. It was August in Atlanta so this wasn't shocking. But we were in an air conditioned restaurant, yet I couldn't stop sweating. And my heart started racing. My girlfriends were chatting away and I couldn't focus on the conversation. We were seated next to the door leading to the outdoor patio. With each open of the door a gust of hot air hit me. And my heart would race a little more. A full glass of red wine sat untouched in front of me. A very unusually occurrence for me.

I excused myself to take a break in the ladies room. I felt like breathing was getting difficult. So I sat in the bathroom stall, put my head between my knees and tried to breathe deeply. My heart continued to pound. In. Out. In. Out. 

The internal dialogue started.  Calm down. Nothing is wrong. You are fine.  This is just anxiety, nothing is actually wrong with you. Chill out. Keep breathing.  Seriously, calm the fuck down. It didn't work.  My heart continued to beat out of my chest. I tried running cold water on my hands and finally convinced myself to go back to dinner.  But the rising anxiety wouldn't go away.

I didn't touch my food, it just wouldn't go down. I somehow willed myself to sit through dinner and tried to drink cold water and calm down. I made a few more escapes to the bathroom. The check eventually came and I couldn't get out of there fast enough. 

I never knew dinner with four great friends who I've known for over 10 years could be so miserable. But it didn't stop once we were outside. Or in the car ride home. Or once we we're back at my friend's house.  I could calm down for a few minutes, but the fear, racing heart and shaking continued coming back.  It just kept rolling in and out like a wave. I couldn't make it stop.

I tried to sleep, to no avail. Laying in a dark, quiet room just made me freak out even more.  My hands are tremoring now, 5 months later, just remembering the feeling of that night. 

The tears started because I was now convinced that there was something wrong. Surely a panic attack doesn't last for hours? Apparently, they can. 4 hours later, I was still spiraling out of control.  My heart continued fluttering too fast. I felt scared but of nothing in particular. I just wanted it to stop.

In an effort to do something, I eventually got in the car at 1am and drove 40 minutes home. To my husband and our bed. To my boys sleeping in a room next door. With a tear streaked face I climbed into bed and the comfort of my husband's arms and the warmth of our bed lulled me to sleep. Finally, the panic attack was over.

Only it would come back a handful of times over the next few months. Once in Chicago the weekend of my brother in law's wedding, ruining a day with my husband's best friend from childhood and an evening with my husband's fraternity brothers and their wives. Then in my own home the evening of my son's 4th birthday party while spending time with some of my best girlfriends. And very inconveniently, at dinner on our first double date with new friends in Macon. Plus a few times here and there.

The attacks have lasted varying times and have not all been the same degrees as the first one. A few times I've felt it coming on and have been able to breathe it away. But in social settings it feels like it's always lurking under the surface, ready to rear its head at any moment.

I met with one therapist here about the anxiety but she didn't help in the least. I've been given another name and may reach out to her at some point.  I'm a believer that therapy is good for everyone, but you have to find someone you mesh with.  I'm also trying some natural supplements to keep the anxiety in check and since I've started taken them I've noticed that I can reduce the duration and intensity greatly, so for now they seem to be working.

But it is scary not knowing if a panic attack will suddenly strike. I find myself wanting to cancel plans and worrying before going to social events. I realize that's not the best way to live, but I'm doing the best I can to handle this. It's just difficult when it is your own head creating the anxiety. It's one thing knowing that nothing is physically wrong, but it's another to convince yourself of this truth when the cloud descends upon you.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Why Mommy, Why? - Infant Travel

So my husband, 10 week old baby boy and I are going to do a long weekend in Texas at the end of the month before I head back to work (the baby and I will be flying out and back solo as my husband is already there for work!!!!). Curious of travel tips? Especially for navigating the airport/flight. I plan on taking our stroller/carseat, but we're going see if the car rental place has a car seat base we can use. If not, I think we can actually rent one through a company at our destination. How do I deal with security? Checking the stroller/car seat?? Do I need any documents for the baby?  Your services and advice are appreciated!!!  Traveling Mama

Dear Traveling Mama,

You go girl!  So happy to see that a flight alone with your baby wasn't standing in the way of a travel weekend before you go back to work (because that is SO fun, said no new mom ever).

I've previously written a few posts on traveling, although they are more geared towards toddler traveling - but they definitely have tips to help with an infant too! The first link had two other links in it - check those out too!  





And some additional thoughts that I don't think I've ever written down, so here goes!

 As far as the car seat goes, BRING YOUR OWN!  Don't ever rent one from a car rental company.  You don't know if they've been in an accident, you don't know how old they are and you don't know if they've been broken - basically, you never know what you'll get or how safe it actually is. You can find some bad stories online....safer to just bring your own! You could look into a baby stuff rental company but I've never used one and I think they're pricey (and potentially have the same pitfalls as a rental through a car rental agency).  Do you have a snap and go stroller (that the car seat snaps in to)?  Just stroll the baby through the airport and gate check his stroller and car seat.  Buy the big red gate check bag for the car seat (I think I talk about that in one of my linked posts, but it's just this huge bag that keeps your car seat from getting filthy in the luggage hold of the plane).  Don't bring the car seat base...it's really easy to just use the seat belt to strap it in.  The only reason I hate bringing a stroller through the airport is because you have to use the airport elevators, and my claustrophobia kicks in.  BUT, you get to bypass the big security line at the airport and by using the stroller line!  Also if your flight is delayed, it's nice to have the stroller.  The baby carriers are great but they can get heavy after a while.  I would bring your carrier though and perhaps use it on the flight!  And if you decide to skip the stroller altogether, just bring a light blanket in your carry-on-bag so you can put the baby on the blanket instead of the airport floor if you need to put him down.

Bring a copy of the baby's birth certificate (unless you wait until he is 18 months like us before you actually get around to ordering a copy!).  I think I've been asked for it once for one of the boys but usually never have it. It's never been a problem.  (Julian has flown to Cali, Michigan and Chicago without any documentation, but I was always a little worried about what would happen if I was asked and couldn't prove who he was.)

If there is anything to rent/get from the hotel, I'd say a crib or pack n' play is helpful.  Just pack your own crib sheet.  Talk to the hotel ahead of time to see what they have. I'm sure some people disagree with me here and think these cribs aren't safe or are germ-filled, but I'm not a big germaphob and we've never had an issue with a hotel crib.

On the plane, give the baby a bottle, boob or paci during take off and landing to help with the change in air pressure.  Keep a diaper and wipes and change of clothes handy (big ziplock bag to put in seat back pocket works)!  Pack an extra set of clothes for YOU in your carry on!

Traveling with an infant can be really easy!  He'll likely sleep the whole flight.  And strangers are really helpful!!!!  If all else fails, find a nice looking grandma to help you in a pinch!  

My last flight alone with the boys, I sat next to a guy in his mid-20s who I was sure was so pissed to be seated next to us for a flight from California to Chicago.  Turns out he had little brothers and loved kids and was a HUGE help!  The trip before that when Julian and I were traveling alone to Chicago we sat next to an older gentleman who had ten kids and had no issue with a breastfeeding woman next to him.  I think he even held Julian so I could run to the bathroom.

You'll do great!  Babies really can be great travel companions!  Good luck and let me know how the trip goes!!!

xoxo,
Why Mommy

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Memory Lane



This is the first picture of us after we "officially" started dating.  Over 9 years ago.

I was 24.  He was 23. We look like babies.

Oh I love this man with all his oddities and quirks.  And he loves me despite all mine.

We both lucked out in finding each other.

Just wanted to share this gem.  

And the fact that I fell in love with him a little bit more last night as we did a 40 minute Zumba workout in our living room together.

It was surely a sight.

Also, I'm still not sure why he's wearing maroon to a UGA football game.  I'll make a Dawg out of him yet!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Questions for Potential Nanny

As a follow up to my last post on finding a nanny, here is a list of example questions for the nanny interview.  The conversation will likely just run on its own (especially if you have a good applicant!), but having a list is always helpful!

1. What is your prior experience as a nanny (including age ranges of children, length of time with each family and reason for leaving your last family)?  What age of child is your favorite to care for and why?

2. Are you CPR certified?  If not, would you be willing to get certified? Have you taken any childcare classes?

3. What is your typical daily routine with your current family/last family you nannied for?

4. How flexible is your schedule?  Could you stay late or arrive early if need be? Would you be interested in additional hours (say weekend babysitting for date nights)?  If it is a nanny-share, how would you handle a situation where the other family needs you on one of the days you are scheduled to work for me?

5. Are you willing to do light housework/laundry/cooking/errand running? (They may say yes but would want to be paid more for this...)  Is there anything you are NOT willing to do?

6. What do you like about being a nanny?  What do you find most challenging?

7. What is your view on disciplining a child? (Not necessarily needed with an infant but good to know if the nanny stays with you a long time).  Are you comfortable following any discipline rules I ask you to follow (i.e. will you follow through with time outs, etc.) ?

8.  Do you prefer a more or less structured day?  Are you willing to follow a schedule I provide, if desired?

9.  How have you handled a baby crying uncontrollably?

10. Are you willing to take the baby out on walks or to playdates or activities?

11. How is your driving record? (If the nanny will be driving the baby)

Hope that helps anyone searching for a nanny or babysitter!  If there are any questions I've left out that you think are important, leave them in the comments!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Why Mommy, Why? - Need a Nanny Now!

Dear Why Mommy, I'm considering finding someone part time (1-2 days a week) to take a little of the burden off of my mom who will be watching my baby when I return to work next month. What process did you use to find your girl? What questions did you ask? And how did you decide on compensation?? Oh, do y'all have a signed contract?? No clue what I'm doing here! Thanks, New Mommy in Need of a Nanny

Oh New Mommy, I DO have some thoughts and tips!  Up until a few months ago my tip would've been: DON'T DO IT, FIND AN AWESOME DAYCARE INSTEAD!!  But I've changed my stance on nannies and am now Pro-Nanny given our current super-nanny!  The key, obviously, is finding the right nanny.  A bad nanny can make your life hellish, but a good nanny can ease so many of the stressors of being a working mom.

A little background on my nanny experience:  Both of my boys started at a private daycare/preschool at 12 weeks old. It had a hefty price tag but was amazing and worth every single penny. Then we moved and I couldn't find an open daycare spot for my youngest son, so we were forced to go the nanny-route. I used care.com and hired a 22 year old who was a mom herself. The first 4 days were OK but then it became apparent that she wasn't a good fit. A few examples: she was leaving the house messier than I'd left it in the morning (even though I was paying her extra to do light housework), Julian had a dirty diaper that clearly had been there for hours one night when I got home, she was getting ready for her other job while she was supposedly watching my kids (and by getting ready I mean, changing her clothes, curling her hair, doing makeup, etc.), and she just put cartoons on the TV after picking up Lukas even though her signed contract said the kids were not permitted to watch TV.  But the kicker and the reason I left work one day to fire her was because she hated going outside and gave me HUGE attitude when I told her that it was a requirement. She also couldn't handle a 3 year old talking back to her.  Hello, he's 3. Anyway, she got the boot and we lucked in to hiring our current nanny who is the little sister of my neighbor's best friend.  And she is A.MAZING.

So, the best advice I can give after our first nanny failure, is to try to find someone through someone you know.  Easiest way to go about this is to use facebook. Maybe even tag a few people in your post so it goes up on their wall.  Say what you're looking for (part time nanny for an infant) and that any leads would be helpful.  Are you ok doing a nanny share?  Could put that in the same post - Need a nanny or nanny share a few days a week for my sweet boy. You may be surprised what you get back.  

Also, anytime you see someone, mention that you need a nanny.  Seriously.  This is how I ended up with Super Nanny.  I was at lunch with her sister (who I'd never met) and my across the street neighbor (who I barely knew) and I mentioned I was going back to work in a week and was nervous about the nanny I'd hired.  A few hours later, my neighbor texted me with Super Nanny's info and said to give her a call - I wish I'd done it that day instead of 2 weeks later after showing Bad Nanny the door!  But my point: you never know who knows someone who needs work.

Does your neighborhood have a facebook page or email chain - post a message to any local social media groups you belong to and maybe you'll get a name or two.   And then what about through your church?  I would try to find recommendations through people you know first.  I didn't feel as strongly about this until our failed nanny attempt through care.com.  But now I do.  It was truly an awful feeling not fully trusting someone in my house with Julian.  

Where you Greek in college? Another avenue would be to see if any of the local collages have your sorority on campus.  You can contact the house and see if one of the girls is only having class a few days a week and looking for work the other days - I have a friend who has done this and it's worked out well.  Those girls have energy that the rest of us don't!  On the same lines, try those same universities to see if their early childhood education departments have listserves or even names of people looking for work.  A lot of those masters programs are at night so people are looking for daytime work and if they're trying to get a degree in early childhood education, odds are they love kids.

If those aren't productive, I would look into a nanny agency which is different from care.com.  The issue I have with care.com is that they do not vet the applicants AT.ALL.  Anyone, can sign up.  It's on you to do a background check (which we did), but just because someone doesn't have a criminal record does not mean everything they've told you about their experience and ability to take care of a child is true.  A nanny agency, from what I hear, can be pricey but I think it is worth the money.

Once you get a couple of names/numbers, I'd call the people (don't text), you'll have a better chance of getting somewhere and there may be a few people who you talk to on the phone and don't even want to meet in person.  GO WITH YOUR GUT.  If someone feels off, then you will never feel comfortable with them.  Chat just a bit the initial convo, set up a time to meet in your house - have a list of questions (I'll come up with some example questions in a follow-up post as this post is quite lengthy already).  I'd not have the baby around for this initial meeting, but that's up to you.  You want to get a feel for them before handing them your baby.  But this is probably a bigger deal if the person is totally random to you and not a friend of a friend.  Ask for their certifications (CPR, first aid) and a resume or at least a list of references.  CALL THE REFERENCES.  (I did not do this. It was a mistake.)  If they are a friend of a friend, then the references aren't necessarily necessary.  Meet with a few different people if possible.  You may be surprised that you prefer an older grandmother type over a young energetic chick.  And then you want to see how they are with your little one.  One suggestion, when you think you've picked your person, is to have them come over for half a day and watch the baby with you there.

We did have a nanny contract that we found through care.com. I think Google can help you with a few ideas.  You also need to keep in mind that you have to withhold taxes or pay the gov't taxes on what you pay the nanny during tax season.  As far as compensation - care.com tells you average nanny prices in your area.  I think anywhere from $10-15 per hour is average for one child, but that can vary widely depending on where you live. 

Stay tuned for a list of questions to ask potential nannies - and GOOD LUCK!

xo,
Why Mommy

Do you have a question for Why Mommy?  It doesn't have to be kid-related, I'm happy to talk about anything...  Send me an email at thenestingswans@gmail.com and let's figure it out!!!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

On Moving and Positivity

Most days of the week I'm completely settled with the life move we've made this year. When asked how I'm liking Macon I reply without hesitation that we love it. And we do. There are so many things about moving that have been huge on the pro list. 

We love our house here (disregarding the kitchen which needs a complete overhaul). 

We love the short commutes and light traffic.

We love our nanny and the boys' new school (though I'll always have a soft spot for Primrose).

We love the new-found family time that we have gained by losing the heavy traffic and my new hours at work (I leave at 4:30 everyday). 

We love our neighborhood and new neighbors and downtown Macon has this appeal that just grows on you.

But there are days where I wonder if I am adjusting as well as I'm saying I am or if I'm trying to convince myself that I'm happy here.  And then I wonder if it really matters. If you fake something long enough, you eventually start believing it, right?  So I'm going to continue loving Macon and eventually those few pieces of me that are still not so sure will come around. That's my plan anyway.

Though I must admit that just because I do like it here and am overall happy we moved here (and yes, I would do it again if given the option), there are things I miss from home.

I miss my girlfriends. I have some great friends and I hate not being able to see them on a weekly basis. I miss our Sunday brunches at Radial with the kids and a frazzled waiter. I miss our play dates.  I miss our girls nights. I also really miss working with my coworkers. There's two girlfriends at work who made my work life so much fun and they're proving to be irreplaceable.  I miss them.

I miss my parents being close by and having a regular date night with my husband because of them. Luckily, both of these things are changing soon...my parents are moving to Macon!  And we actually already have our weekly date night back thanks to our nanny.

There are other things and places I miss.  Restaurants and places to take the kids (the zoo, the aquarium, splash pads and great parks). But those aren't leaving any empty holes in my heart, they're just old favorites that will be replaced by new Macon favorites in time..

I think I'm just having a reflective day and wondering what it's all about.  This life. What's the point? I haven't the answer.

But this move has taught me something really important about life and marriage.  We moved here for my husband's job. His dream job. I was scared and we talked a lot about whether or not I would resent him for moving us to a place I had no desire to go at the time. We decided it was unlikely and it could always just be a temporary move if need be.  So here we are.  Well, while it may have been scary for ME, it was the best decision for our family.  My husband LOVES his job. He is a different person than he was in Atlanta where work was trying many days. He is a different husband.  And our whole family has benefited from this move.  It really isn't just about you when you're married.  Sometimes you must take a leap of faith that things will work out.  And you must love and support your spouse and their dreams.  I suspect our marriage would certainly not have strengthened had I made him turn down this opportunity.

We still have bad days and bad moments. I get frustrated and I've been known to cry for no reason.  But that's just who I am, a crier.  A crier who is trying to make a new life in a new town.

I really do think I like it here.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Why Mommy, Why? - Potty Mouthed Preschooler

Dear Why Mommy,

I have a lovely preschool aged son. He is a good kid, as far as 4 year olds go. He even has a little brother who he has yet to try to push down the stairs (he has perhaps fed him the cat's food, but it's full of protein, so we decided to let that one go and his little brother is a biter, so some cat food is mild as far as retaliation goes). Anyway, back to my problem. So this seemingly cute, nice, normal child has picked up some foul language at school.  Not foul in the f*ck, sh*t, c*nt four letter word way (although come to think of it he did yell SH*T the other night while playing a game with his parents and grandparents. And he's yelled f*ck a time or two. It's possible he was mimicking his father, certainly not his mother). Instead, he comes home from school singing these ridiculous songs about pee and poop and killing the bad guys. I feel like every other word out of his mouth is poop or some derivative thereof. What gives?  Is this just what little boys do? Should I be concerned? Do I ignore these sing-songy poop-filled songs or reprimand him?

Thanks for your help,
Mommy of a Preschool Pottymouth

Oh Mommy of a Preschool Pottymouth, welcome to my world.  And the life of boys. They love all things poop, pee, and penises (what's up with all the Ps?). Seriously though, I could have written this question myself because my 4 year old sings poop songs every day.  Sometime around Thanksgiving he came home singing a new little ditty that he learned at school from another 4 year old boy who just so happens to have an older brother. It's always the kid with the older brother. (So enjoy that, since you too have a younger son who will be the one teaching all his little friends at preschool poop songs soon enough- it's the cycle of life! Yay!). 

Anyway, so his song goes like this:  "THIS IS HOW I POOP ON THE POTTY, PLLLLLMMMMPP!" And at the end, as he's making the fart noise, he squats down as though he is actually pooping and makes this funny face.  I really wish I had it on video because it is equally horrific and hysterical. And the worst part about his little song is that his little brother LOVES it.  As in, he thinks it is the funniest thing in the world and will start laughing and laughing like I've never heard him laugh before, which just encourages Lukas to sing the song on repeat.  Which only makes his brother laugh more, which in turn makes me laugh and eventually we're all in a fit of laughter and there's no possible way I can tell him to stop.  And then the stupid song gets stuck in MY head and I find myself humming the song.  So yea, we're all about poop songs in my house.

This is one of those parenting times that you are unprepared for - your gut is telling you that you should probably be stopping the behavior and telling your child no, but you can't because you can't stop laughing.  Just try keeping a stern, unaffected face as someone does something genuinely funny right in front of you.  It is near impossible to keep the giggles down.  I simply can't do it.  So at this point, I've stopped trying.  We let the poop songs ring loudly throughout the walls of our house.  And as the book goes, Everybody Poops, so no big deal, right?

This would all be well and good if we never left the house, but we do.  And a 4 year old who loves making his brother laugh does not understand why the middle of the grocery store at 2pm on a Sunday is not the best time or place to sing about poop. So you'll find me shushing him (while giggling between shushes, which is really quite ineffective) out in public when he starts singing THIS IS HOW I POOP ON THE POTTY, PLLMP!  I try to explain that we don't sing about poop in public, but I don't have a really good reason so usually he ends up singing until I can distract him, unless I'm in an ornery mood and he gets the hint from my "not now" half eye roll look.  (But I consider those my bad parenting days, so don't follow that example). 

So yea, little boys love talking about poop and singing about it too.  I say just roll with it because the more negative attention you give to something your child is doing, the MORE he will want to do it.  Little f*ckers are smart.  

And just remember you're not alone - I'd say most moms of preschool boys are living with little preschool pottymouths.  It's part of the joy of being a boy mom!

xoxo,
Why, Mommy (of a Preschool Pottymouth, too)