This is Harder Than I Thought: Neck Rolls and Armpit Crud

My husband once told me a story about a woman who had become so obese, that it was impossible for her to clean her own body. One day the woman got extremely sick, but the doctors were at a loss as to what was the issue. After countless tests and examinations, the culprit was found: part of a roasted chicken had become lodged underneath one of the woman’s fat rolls, and had begun to decompose into her skin.

Babies are like obese people.

Dirty Baby Arm Rolls - Mommy Makeover Network


Even a relatively slender baby has a ridiculous amount of skin rolls, which are constantly accumulating some seriously disgusting muck. It took me awhile to realize the main culprit in the problem: new babies have no neck. Because their heads basically sit directly on their shoulders, excess drool, milk, and spit up becomes trapped deep within the folds. I used to think a simple wipe down after feeding was enough to talk care of the issue—wrong! There is nothing so horrifying as having your baby tilt his or her head back far enough to stretch the skin tight, revealing a bathtub ring of encrusted crud. It’s really gross and often wraps all the way around to the back of the neck.

The same is true with armpits, fingers, and toes. Imagine the worst bellybutton lint your husband has ever had. Now imagine that snaking in between your baby’s fingers. Combine it with a little sweat and body grime underneath her tiny armpits, and you have a recipe that will undoubtedly make you feel like the world’s worst mother.

But don’t be too hard on yourself. The fact is, even with frequent bathing, babies are simply adorable little grime monsters! All you can do is be aware of the “high traffic” areas and check frequently for build up. Thankfully, wipes are always on hand for little spot checks and sponge baths between major cleanings to keep your secret safe. No one will ever know that your little angel is really a moss-covered swamp monster from the mouth of the Mississippi.



This is the sixth in a series of posts offering a candid first-person depiction of motherhood in all its wonderful/horrible glory. Check out the introduction to the “Harder Than I Thought” series and browse the archives for previous posts.

This is Harder Than I Thought: I Just Want to Sleep at Night

Have you ever wondered what causes zombie mommies? The answer is simple: reverse cycling.

This phenomenon causes your baby to become nocturnal, sleeping through the day and staying up at night. At first, this diurnal rest seems lovely—you are free to cook, clean, and have uninterrupted time to work. And then you realize, you are never going to sleep again. Before the baby, I maintained a hectic work schedule, often averaging upwards of 80 hours a week. I can handle minimal sleep, I told myself, this isn’t so bad. However, I quickly realized the main difference; with a baby, you have to be actually nice ALL THE TIME.

Sure, getting off a 17-hour shift sucks. You are tired, cranky, and just want to go home, open up your favorite bottle and sip yourself into a blissful few hours sleep. If some jerk decides to wake you up screaming about some bullshit at 4 a.m., you could, in good conscious, punch them in the face and go back to bed. Unfortunately, with a baby, it’s always bullshit, and you’re never allowed punch them.

Reality and hallucination begin to meld together; one night I woke to my baby’s cries, pulled back the blanket and was completely sure she had removed her diaper and was lying half naked in her bed. “She got out the diaper!” I shrieked to no one in particular. “My god, I bet she’s peed everywhere!” Frantically grabbing a diaper to salvage the situation, I looked back to find her completely clothed, diaper fully intact.

Sleep deprivation is definitely one of the worst tortures, but still one that mothers everywhere suffer silently in commiseration. If you can awake from a 20 minute nap at 2 a.m. to a wriggling 10 lb human waist deep in poo, and address the situation with a smile, congratulations, you might be a supermom. My hat’s off to you all, ladies.



This is the fifth in a series of posts offering a candid first-person depiction of motherhood in all its wonderful/horrible glory. Check out the introduction to the “Harder Than I Thought” series and browse the archives for previous posts.

This is Harder Than I Thought: How Motherhood Turned Me into Hunter S. Thompson

I am Hunter S. Thompson - Mommy Makeover Network Mommy BlogPerusing my Netflix options the other night, I came across a cult classic, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. I’ve always loved this movie, and all of Hunter S. Thompson’s works for that matter. In fact, it was stories like his that peaked my interest in the “glamorous” journalist’s lifestyle in the first place.

As a budding college journalist, I imagined my life at this point would involve exotic assignments, wild nights, and adventure. Now a new mom struggling with the reality of working from home and caring for an infant, I started getting a little bit sad that this life would probably never happen for me. I worried about making it all work, afraid that I would never be able to turn in assignments now that I’m hindered by so many distractions. Was my career over before it began?

The movie began to wind down as thoughts like these swirled around my head, leaving me a little disheartened about the future. Suddenly, the camera panned backwards. The screen showed Johnny Depp, lounging in his flooded hotel room surrounded by the aftermath of drug-induced ravings. Then, as if by some miracle, he got up, sat down in front of his typewriter, and began to write. It didn’t matter that he was ankle deep in the flooded mess of a ransacked hotel room. He was not distracted by his thigh-high waders and rubber dinosaur tail. He ignored the human excrement and crusted like mustard on the wall. He simply lit his perpetual cigarette and began to compose those enduring words that would be read by millions.

“I can do this,” I thought.

Then a greater realization dawned on me, I AM Hunter S. Thompson in Fear and Loathing. There was no need for psychoactive drugs and seedy Vegas hotels; living with an infant was like a mainstream induction into the drug culture itself. I realized that my life is really not so different after all, and I was, in fact, living in some parallel reality. Let Johnny and Benicio show you what I mean (warning: videos NSFW):

1. My house on most mornings looks pretty similar to Thompson’s hotel room.

2. The experience of interacting at obligatory children’s parties isn’t completely unlike this.

3. It seems like puke and car rides always go hand and hand.

4. And finally, anyone who has attempted to wash a screaming two-month-old has no fear of a raving Benicio Del Toro in a bathtub.



This is the fourth in a series of posts offering a candid first-person depiction of motherhood in all its wonderful/horrible glory. Check out the introduction to the “Harder Than I Thought” series and browse the archives for previous posts.

This is Harder Than I Thought: Going Back to Work aka Can a Mommy Get a Break?

Going back to work is one of the most challenging decisions a mom can make, both financially and emotionally.

Pre-baby break from work vs. Post-baby break from work

During the first few weeks alone with my newborn, I longed for the days when I went to work every morning, showered and dressed, and sat at a calm desk surrounded by fellow adults. “Hello, Dave,” I could wave to a friend on the street, smiling over a cup of hot coffee I’d purchased on my break. “Break,” I’d murmur to myself dreamily, huddled in the bathroom at home, the place of sanctuary mothers around the globe cling to for a few moments of peace and quiet. There are no breaks as a new mom; lunch is an afterthought as you use the precious moments your baby sleeps to accomplish some housework or get some sleep of your own.

Thankfully, after a few weeks, things started to get better. The baby started to sleep for longer periods and cry less, leaving more time to relax and get through the day. As the prospect of going back to work began to loom nearer, the reality of becoming a working mom hit me hard. How did I feel about putting my child in daycare? Could I really trust a stranger to care for my child? Could I afford to hire a full-time nanny? Would I be able to handle balancing work and still have the energy to spend with my baby at night?

Every woman’s answers to these questions are different. For me, the allure of the workplace is sweet. What a treat it would be to simply plug into a set of headphones and work interrupted for (gasp) several hours straight. I smile at the thought of having access to a pot of coffee I didn’t make myself and enjoying a full mug while it’s hot, instead of finding several half-sipped cups scattered around the house, forgotten as some other matter was attended to. However, the decision isn’t that simple. I used to think going back to work was a no-brainer. Stay-at-home mom? Pssh, not for me. But with circumstance, thoughts certainly change.

As my last weeks of full-time motherhood draw to a close, I’m still not sure what the right choice for me will be. But when I do finally resume my place in the workforce, like the millions of women before me, I’m sure I will manage to wear both hats with the style and confidence that goes along with the respected title of “working mom.”

This is the third of a series of posts offering a candid first-person depiction of motherhood in all its wonderful/horrible glory. Check out the introduction to the “Harder Than I Thought” series and part two, “This is Harder Than I Thought: Lactation or the Art of Milking One’s Self in Public.” 

This is Harder Than I Thought: Lactation or the Art of Milking One’s Self in Public


That Awkward Boobs Moment - Mommy Makeover NetworkLadies, love them or hate them, we all have boobs. For most of your life, these constant companions are merely aesthetic. We strap them down for workouts, we push them up for dates, but mostly we treat them like any other normal body part. Until the baby comes. While pregnancy boobs are delightful—your C cups swell to DDs as your husband looks on in awe and respect—post-baby breasts are the worst. When your milk comes in, I was informed, your breasts will need to be “expressed” every two hours or so to prevent them from becoming “engorged.”

Engorgement is incredibly painful. Your breasts become hard and stiff due to blocked ducts, and shooting pains begin to radiate across your chest. This is the reason milk cows line up to be milked every morning. Every moo is really a cry for help. I know this now. The only way to relieve the pain is to somehow get the trapped milk out and relieve the pressure.

You can do this one of three ways: by nursing, with a pump, or by hand. My first experience with engorgement happened on a city bus. My husband had forgotten to pick me up from an appointment before work, so I was forced to take public transport to get my car. Waiting at the stop in the hot sun, I started to feel an uncomfortable tingling in my chest. Once on the bus, the milk continued to “let down,” and pressure began to build, becoming increasingly painful. Shamelessly, I started to grope myself, ignoring the stares of my fellow passengers in an attempt to massage away the pain.

It didn’t help.

As the pain began to shoot deeper into my chest, my eyes started to water. The injustice of it all crashed down around me. I was a nice girl! I didn’t deserve to be the crazy lady squeezing her own boobs and crying on a public bus! After an eternity elapsed over the next five blocks, I reached my stop, and ran frantically into the bathroom of the restaurant where my husband works. I took a moment to look at my face in the mirror, to contemplate the need for what had to be done. What I saw was that it definitely had to be done. I took off my shirt. I removed my bra. I began to milk myself in the sink of a public restroom. And I was unashamed.


This is the second of a series of posts offering a candid first-person depiction of motherhood in all its wonderful/horrible glory. Check out the introduction to the “Harder Than I Thought” series. And keep your eyes peeled for Part 3.

Motherhood: This Is Harder Than I Thought

This is basically a before and after photo.

I have always been a dog person.

Like dog people, there are also “cat people,” “baby people,” etc. I was never a baby person; babies cried all the time, they were ticking puke bombs, and the fresh ones kind of looked like dehydrated rats. Ok, I wasn’t quite that cynical, but I was just fine looking at your adorable bundle from a safe distance.

And then I got pregnant.

Bringing home my new baby was like the first day of high school, defending a dissertation, and starting a new job, all rolled into one. “Can I handle it?” “Have I done the research?” “Will the baby even like me?”

During my pregnancy, I never had time to take birthing or child care classes, and honestly, I really had no particular desire to do so. Up until B-Day, I worked six days a week at two jobs. Believe me, by the time my cherished day off rolled around, the last thing I wanted to do was sit on a birthing ball and watch three hours of ancient Lamaze videos. (Also, ew. The 70s were not kind.)

Pictured: Women Not Working Two Jobs

So when my water broke just before a shift one night, I calmly excused myself to the manager, saying, “I am so sorry, but I think I’m about to go into labor. I should probably leave for the hospital now.” And off I was on my journey to motherhood.

Therefore, all of my knowledge and observations are from on-the-job experience.

What I’ve learned is this: Being a mom is hard. Being a mom is gross. Being a mom can produce some of the most rewarding and emotional moments you will ever experience in a lifetime. But most of all, being a mom takes a sense of humor. This series is a look into my life as a new mommy, and a collection of the things I’ve learned on my ongoing odyssey of parenthood.


This is the first of a series of posts offering a candid first-person depiction of motherhood in all its wonderful/horrible glory. Check out part two, “This is Harder Than I Thought: Lactation or the Art of Milking One’s Self in Public.” 

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