The Bearded Iris

A Recalcitrant Wife and Mother Tells All

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The Picture That Cost Me 1.3 Million Dollars

They say a picture is worth a thousand words.

Sometimes a picture is actually worth a lot more than that.

Thirteen years ago this month, I quit a good job to stay home with my two-year-old son, Vincent.

We had moved from California to North Carolina—not for my husband’s job as most people assume when they hear we relocated cross-country, but for mine.

My husband agreed to temporarily leave work and do the stay-at-home dad thing while I brought home the bacon as a training manager for a technology company. I was pretty good at it (at first), and with my bonuses I was on target to earn about $100,000 that year. Well, I would have earned that much… had I lasted more than 9 months there.

But I didn’t.

Because in the fall of 2001, my sweet little Vincent came home from preschool with his first school pictures and everything changed. 

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That time I sprayed breast milk all over my dentist

Have I ever told you about the time I accidentally sprayed breast milk all over my dentist?

No?

Oh honey. Pull up a chair—this is a juicy one… so to speak.

Honestly, I would have rather been at home cradling my newborn son’s sweet little blue face to my beach-ball-sized bosoms, but I just couldn’t wait another day—I had to get to the dentist. It was an emergency.

I’m a “woman of a certain age.” Oh fine, I’ll tell you. I’m 43. And like most of my friends born in the ’60s and ’70s, my teeth are falling apart. I don’t know if it’s because we didn’t have the same preventative dental care back then or because I didn’t do a very good job brushing the Razzles and Now and Laters off my teeth, but by the time I was a senior in high school, every single one of my back molars was more filling than tooth. (Sorry, Mom.)

And the metal fillings from back then? They had a shelf life. By the time I was 30, every single one of those fillings had needed to be replaced.

All that drilling and refilling takes a toll on the old chompers.

I got my first crown when I was 35.

And then when I was pregnant with Bucket Head, it was obvious that I was going to need another crown.

But I was pregnant! And going to the dentist is the only time I get the good drugs! It would have to wait.

I bided my time for the rest of my pregnancy, chewing only on one side of my mouth and avoiding anything too hot, cold, sweet, or crunchy. It sucked. And then apparently while I was giving birth and biting on that leather strap out in the woods (not really, but that’s what it felt like) I cracked that compromised molar somethin’ fierce. I would need to get to the dentist as soon as I could remove the ice-pack from my nethers.

My husband had to work that day, so I called my neighbor and BFF, Tammie, and asked if she would be so kind as to drive me and newborn Bucket Head to the dentist and hold Bucket Head in the waiting room while I got my new temporary crown. “It will take two hours, tops.”

She agreed, God love her.

We timed it perfectly, or so we thought.

We got there a little early, and I nursed baby Bucket Head in the waiting room. Then he fell asleep in Tammie’s arms as I waited to be called into the back.

I was really scared. I hate having dental work done. It riles every single one of my freakishly heightened senses and I usually get prescribed valium for the night before and the morning of my procedure.

But I didn’t want to do that since I was nursing. I was drug-free and more nervous than a virgin at a prison rodeo.

As luck would have it, the dentist was running behind, and our perfectly timed breast feeding was for naught.

I’ll never forget it as long as I live. There I was, fully reclined in the dentist chair—mouth wide open, eyes tightly shut against the bright light, suction tube slurping away while the dentist drilled… and drilled… and drilled. I had my iPod rocking in my ears so I wouldn’t hear any of it. But the song ended, and in that 3 second lull between songs, I heard my baby cry.

Game over.

The tingling started. Then I felt the slightest bit of wetness in my ginormous nursing bra. I squeezed my eyes shut harder and prayed my breast pads would soak up the run-off.

The drilling persisted. My dentist, also a mother, kept stopping every few seconds to ask if I was okay, “Do you need me to stop?”

“No, keep going! He’ll be fine.”

“Are you sure? Do you want to go see him?”

“NO. The Novocain! It might wear off. Just do it. But hurry. I’m starting to leak.”

Suddenly, Bucket Head’s cries were the only thing I could hear, even over the drilling and the music on my headphones. My sweet little baby needed me, and my milk bags were responding to his hungry pleas.

Drip. Drip. Drip.

I glanced down and my shirt was soaked. Actually, it was my husband’s shirt, since I had just had a baby and all I could fit in was one of his old button downs.

Behold, a dramatic reenactment:

That time I sprayed my dentist with breast milk by The Bearded Iris

The milk flow was so strong and steady, it soaked clear through the paper bib resting on my chest.

Y’all, there was milk everywhere. It was dripping down my back onto the chair!

I could smell it.

I was absolutely mortified.

Everyone worked at lightening speed to get me up and out of there. (And not just because of the milky mess I was making in their dentist chair.) The microsecond that temporary crown clicked into place, I was on my way back to the waiting room, unbuttoning my shirt like Clark Kent on his way to the phone booth. I could not get that baby onto my boob fast enough. Poor Tammie—I practically ripped her arms off taking that wailing baby from her.

Thankfully, everyone in the dentist’s office was so sweet and understanding. “Bless your heart!” they clucked repeatedly, and not in the stereotypical Southern “Oh you pitiful idiot” kind of way. It was more like, Solidarity, sister! We salute you and your overactive milk ducts! They were women helping one of their own, and I would be forever grateful.

Talk about the milk of human kindness.

This post, and my 13-year-old son’s future therapy bills for having to take that reenacted photo of my leaking fun-bags, were both made possible by the International Breast Milk Project. Their vision is that every infant in the world have access to donor human milk as a first choice when a mother’s own milk is not available, and they aim to create awareness for the need for donor human milk, mobilize donors, and provide donor milk to infants in need. 

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Does a Kegel a day keep the transvaginal mesh away?

I don’t honestly know. I just thought it sounded catchy.

Not that you want anything to sound “catchy” when you’re talking about vaginas, but you get my drift.

Wait.

Can I start over?

(This is why I don’t do more sponsored product reviews.)

Starting over, NOW.

Hello lady friends. Do you or someone you love suffer from urinary incontinence or sexual dysfunction?

Then you might have weakened PC (pubococcygeus) muscles. These muscles are attached to the pelvic bone and act like a hammock, holding in our pelvic organs. The weakening of these muscles is a natural part of aging due to gravity, pregnancy, childbirth, and the axis of evil.

Don’t panic. You’ve got choices.

1.) Spend the rest of your life changing your bulky pee-pee pads or adult diapers every time you laugh or sneeze.

2.) Have surgery and hope the transvaginal mesh they use to hoist up your goodie bag doesn’t get recalled a few years later.

3.) Tone up your PC muscles with a regular Kegel routine.*

4.) There are probably other options, but I only have so many hours a day to devote to my vagina-related research.

I don’t know about you, but I’m totally going for the prize behind door number three, Monty. And I might possibly be the laziest woman on Earth, so that’s saying a lot.

Speaking of sexual dysfunction and laziness, this is my idea of “doing it doggie style.”

Sad but true.

Anyhooo.

I’d like to pause right here and remind you that I’m not a health expert in any way shape or form. Please do your research before embarking on any exercise or treatment program. 

I’ve been doing Kegels and teaching my friends about them for a long time, but I’ve recently suspected that my little “Kegel at stop signs and red lights” trick may not be enough to make a difference in my long-term health. Apparently that’s like doing three sit-ups during a Here Comes Honey Boo Boo commercial break and then going to refill your ice cream bowl.

Sorry, but I take my vagina more seriously than that, and you should too. (Your own vagina, that is—not mine. Thankyouverymuch.)

The folks at The Medical Center for Female Sexuality think Kegels are so important that we should be doing them for a minimum of 5-10 minutes every day! And they’ve created a way to help us do just that.

They sent me a copy of their Kegels Anywhere CD to review and I’ve been using it religiously for about two weeks.

The CD is designed so that you can gradually increase your workout as your PC muscles grow stronger. There is a four-minute Beginner Circuit, two five-minute circuits, and two ten-minute circuits.

Regardless of the amount of time you choose to devote to your daily Kegel workout, you can choose the type of background music to squeeze to: “Piano Dream” or “Smooth Jazz.” Personally, I prefer the “Piano Dream.” The “Smooth Jazz” tracks remind me of Kenny G and I don’t really want to be thinking about him when I’m rhythmically pulsing my lady junk. (No offense, Kenny G.)

The beginning of the CD has a very informative introduction. I think the voice-over artist speaks a little fast, but after you hear her spiel a couple of times, you don’t really need that part anymore.

One word of warning, take it from me and DO NOT listen to the Introduction or “How To Do Kegel Exercises” track in the car if your kids are with you. There’s a part when the speaker explains where the PC muscles are and suggests you can find them by “inserting a finger into your vagina.”

Long story short, Bucket Head is probably telling his Kindergarten teacher things like “My mommy does exercises with her bagina,” and “A bagina is like a pocket! You can stick things IN THERE! You shouldn’t stick things in your penis though. A penis is not a pocket like a bagina.”

(Sadly, that’s not even the weirdest conversation we had all week.)

Like any exercise CD, the voice-over guides you through each routine. The thing I like about it is that I can just follow her lead and not think about timing or repetitions. The five or ten minutes actually flies by and unlike my Jillian Michaels’ DVDs, I’m not looking at the clock and muttering a pox on her the whole time.

I’m pretty excited to report that over the past two weeks I have gradually increased my workout from the four-minute Beginner Circuit to the ten-minute circuit. A couple more weeks of this and I’ll be able to open beer bottles with my lady cave. I just don’t want to bulk up my vag muscles too much; that could lead to my vagizness wearing a muscle-tee at the gym and pounding protein shakes between reps. I draw the line, you know?

Please visit the website of The Medical Center for Female Sexuality for more information about Kegels or to purchase your own Kegels Anywhere CD.

-Leslie

*Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor, and this is a sponsored post. Please do your own independent research before choosing a treatment plan for your aging lady bits. I also will not be held responsible if we find out ten years from now that Kegels are the Anti-Christ. I’m just sharing a potential resource. What you do with that information is up to you. 

And now the road to fame is paved with placenta.

Oh for the love of Pete, my placenta and I have been mentioned in a real life magazine.

pregnancy and newborn magazine cover feb 2012

Swear to God, my placenta and I are quoted in this issue!

I hope this doesn’t count as part of my 15 minutes of fame because my placenta is totally hogging the spotlight.

And also, I’m not sure why they put that slightly bloated pretty lady on the cover when they could have had a picture of a fashion plate like moi:

(Photo removed by Iris due to extreme case of blogger remorse.)

 

Holy CRAP. That picture was taken just a few hours before my sweet 9 pound 11 ounce Mini-Me burst onto the scene in 2002. It’s no wonder my belly looks like a Shar Pei today.

Actually, I couldn’t be more proud to be a part of the Pregnancy and Newborn Magazine article, The postdelivery party favor: Getting to know the amazing placenta. The author, Mary Seckman, contacted me for an interview last summer after reading about my own placenta horror story and the “Placenta Keeper Plus” I created for my good friend Mama Cloud as a semi-gag baby shower gift. If that post doesn’t shout “Ask me anything! I have no sense of shame or decorum,” I don’t know what does. Jayzus.

And speaking of newborns, Mama Cloud’s little bundle of love is about to celebrate his first birthday next month! Can you believe it? My how time flies.

Mama Cloud's beautiful newborn son in the crook of my hairy arm 11 months ago. Makes my nipples tingle just looking at him.

{Sigh.} What an angel. Newborns are BEST! (Except for that whole sleep deprivation and bloody raw nipples part.) Hey, know what else is pretty cool? Having a child who is finally old enough to get your humor and snicker when he hears you sing “Chuck Chuck, bo buck, banana fanna….” Yeah. That just happened and we totally bonded over it.

In other exciting news: there is a contest to find the Top 25 Funny (Blogging) Moms!

What do you think? Do I belong on this list? My fate is in your hands. This contest is running until March 21st and you can vote for all of your favorite funny mom bloggers once every 24 hours until then. (Pick me! Please pick me!)

I can’t even begin to tell you how much I’d like to be on this list. Making people laugh is what I absolutely LIVE for. Well that, and my children. Fine, my husband too. Whatevs, the point is: if I have ever made you laugh, or chuckle, or smile, or leak into your Poise Pad even a little, then perhaps you would spare two clicks for The Bearded Iris? (Click the thumbs up symbol once you get there.)

Perhaps you’d even tell a friend? Look. I just showed you my naked belly AND outed myself as a recovering scrunchie wearer. It’s the least you can do.

Thank you kindly for the support!

with love and placenta prints,

-Iris

Placenta Crafts and More!

“It’s 2:00 AM. Do you know where your placenta is?”

I’m imagining a deep, slow, and serious tone for the voiceover… maybe James Earl Jones, or a Don LaFontaine impersonator.

Details. Anyhooo.

I’m getting ahead of myself, as usual. Let me back up a bit.

Pregnant women have a lot on their minds these days. In our information-overload society, they are bombarded with choices. Vaginal birth or planned caesarean? Hospital birth or home birth? Circumcision or intact? Cloth diapers or disposables? OMG, should I be teaching my baby to read?

Probably the last thing a woman who has just given birth needs to be thinking about is “What the hell do I do with my placenta?” 

I didn’t even know what the fark a placenta was the first time I had a baby nearly twelve years ago. I was young(er) and clueless. Didn’t do any research whatsoever. Just assumed that women had been having babies for thousands of years…what else did I need to know? (Have you met my triplets? Denial, Avoidance, and Procrastination?)

As a fancy-free first-timer, I can assure you that I spent more time and energy decorating my baby’s nursery than I did actually contemplating a birth plan or any postpartum details. The good news? My nursery was super cute, like Oh-my-God! The bad news? Holy shit – childbirth is hard and painful! Who knew?

Der.

My second time around on the Birth-o-Rama ride I actually did bring home my placenta in a Ziploc freezer bag. I just had no idea what to do with it.

So I stuck it in a bucket on my back porch for a few days and forgot about it while I was bonding with Mini-Me and icing my hoo-hoo.

Lord have mercy, you do not want to know how that story ended. Trust me.

But the young girls today are much more educated and conscientious than I was in my breeding years. Or at least my friend Mama Cloud is. I knew she was planning a home birth and so I assumed she’d also have some pretty spectacular plans for her placenta. 

I didn’t know what… the things people do with their placentas these days are pretty incredible. For instance, among other things, she could:

Dang. I must have missed the session on Placenta Crafts at Mommy College. Fuckin’ A.

Regardless of her choice, I knew she’d need a way to store that placenta until she was able to do whatever it was she was going to do with it. So, I designed a special gift for her baby shower that I thought would be practical AND funny.

Practical. Yes.

Funny, pretty much only to me. (And hopefully to you too, my twisted readers.)

Yes, I learned a valuable life lesson that day about gag gifts, and baby showers where you don’t know anyone but the mama-to-be, and ladies who take their placentas very seriously. Oh well. Live and learn.

I probably started off on the wrong foot by giving her a card with this on the front:

 But Mama Cloud had read and enjoyed the post I wrote about my favorite childbirth terms, so I knew (well, I hoped) she would appreciate the humor. She did. Well she said she did anyway…to my face at least.

Next up, the unveiling of my special, personal, handmade gift! I mean, what’s more personal than a storage system for your placenta?

Mama Cloud and I were the only ones laughing. Oh well. Luckily for me, she absolutely LOVED my gift and it sure came in handy! Would you like to see a close up of it?

Ladies and Gentlemen, allow me to introduce:

The Placenta Keeper Plus:
For All Her Afterbirth Storage Needs

Just in case you can’t read the fine print on the back, let me spell it out for you…

Congratulations on choosing:

Placenta Keeper Plus

Exclusively distributed by The Bearded Iris
for all your afterbirth storage needs.

  • Air tight seal prevents spoilage.
  • Matching lids help you keep all your post-partum souvenirs organized!
  • Highly visible labels prevent your oh-so-helpful-hubby from accidentally defrosting your placenta for stew meat.
  • A variety of sizes to accommodate any placenta…small, medium, or large!
  • Ecnomical! Why pay pricey cord blood bank fees?!
  • Semi transparent containers give your placenta the privacy it deserves.
  • Neutral design to complement any decor.
  • Heirloom quality – a keepsake for generations to come.
  • Environmentally friendly – repurposed containers from local thrift store.

I’m so impressed with myself! And so that’s why I’m thinking I should start auditioning voiceover artists to hock my awesome product. I think I’m onto something here folks. Placenta Keeper Plus might just be my golden ticket! Remember, you saw it here first.

Sure wish I had had one of those when I brought home my placenta 8 years ago. Maybe then I could have safely frozen it until I was ready to deal with it. {Sigh} Another mothering opportunity out the window (writes the mother whose children are on their 4th hour of TV for the day so I can blog. Nice.)

Epilogue: My dear friend Mama Cloud had her Placenta Keeper Plus ready to go when she birthed her beautiful son at home. And a few minutes later when she delivered her placenta, it went right into one of those handy dandy containers and into an ice-filled cooler on the front porch. And no, I don’t know which size she used, but thanks for asking.

The next day, a volunteer from a local Search and Rescue Dog Training organization came to pick it up. I bet he was awfully impressed with Mama Cloud’s professional placenta packaging! Yes indeedy, yet another thing you can do with fresh placenta is donate it to help train Search and Rescue Dogs to find missing people! Incredible! Wish I had known that when each of my three babies were born. Mama Cloud – you rock. What a cool thing to do!

I’m a little bummed I won’t be able to taste some of her encapsulated placenta or get a placenta printed thank you note, but I sure as shit am glad Mama Cloud didn’t make that thing into a teddy bear. “It puts the lotion on the placenta.” {Shudder.}

entrepreneurially yours,

-Iris Beard, Inventor of Placenta Keeper Plus

Ten Skin Care Tips I Wish Had Followed

Had to take the youngest to the dermatologist the other day to have a weird warty thing on his earlobe removed. We actually had it burned off once before, but it grew right back like a mini devil horn.

Wanna see it? You know you do.

See? It’s even shaped liked a horn. Told you!

Bucket Head/Spider-Man called it his “Molpie Thing,” and it was as much a part of him as his curly hair and perma-wrinkly sucking thumb. We ignored it for a long time when it grew back, but it recently got to the point where his teachers and peers were commenting about it and making him feel bad. Fuckers.

Here’s what it looked like from another angle. Once I realized it had a face, I knew it was time to part ways. I have enough mouths to feed.

So off to the dermatologist we went.

Now let me tell you something, the dermatologist’s waiting room is not the place to be if you have a poor self-esteem.

Everywhere you look there are reminders of what’s wrong with the way you look and how you can improve it.

“When your neck looks younger, so do you.”

“Show your frown lines some love!”

“Winter Hand Rejuvenation Special: includes a laser hand treatment and a FREE retail size of Lumiquin.”

“Ask about Sculptra Aesthetic… the first facial injectable that gives you subtle results over time.”

“Inadequate or not enough lashes? Ask your doctor if LATISSE is right for you.”

Jesus H. Christ. I get it, I get it. My face, my neck, my hands, even my tiny little eyelashes are all not good enough. Great. Thanks for that, evil marketing geniuses. Just the little boost I needed today. As if I don’t have enough on my mind imagining how it will be to once again hold my screaming three-year-old down while a doctor snips and cauterizes an inch away from his little face.

Needless to say: not a pleasant experience, before, during, or after.

But it got me thinking…

I don’t have great skin. I’m 40 years old and I spent every summer of my youth sautéeing myself in baby oil and sea salt. I have pictures of myself as a tween/teen/young adult where my sunburns were so bad I looked like I had been pulled out of a lobster pot. Add a sprinkling of adult acne, some patches of melasma leftover from pregnancy, a handful of suspicious moles, my infamous hormone-induced facial hair… and we have the makings for a dermatologist’s wet dream. Seriously, when I walk into my dermatologist’s office it’s like Norm walking into Cheers.

I’d like to help you avoid the same fate, so for today’s Just the Tip Tuesday post, I’m going to share with you the best skin care tips I never followed but wish I had. Some of these are so basic, I’m sure you know them already. But there might be a few new ones you didn’t know, so don’t leave before we pull out the pimple shaped piñata, okay? Here we go:

1.) Wear sunscreen everyday. Put it on your face, neck, and upper chest. Bonus points if you remember to spread it on the backs of your hands.  Seriously, my step mother won’t even go out to the mail box without her sunscreen and she has awesome skin.

2.) Wash your face every night before bed. My mother in law is 81 years old and doesn’t have a single deep set wrinkle on her face. She had 12 children, so I suspect that she was so busy living in a shoe and all that her face never saw the light of day. But in addition to that, she swears by Cetaphil cleanser. Buys it in bulk at Costco. Trust me, she is gorgeous.

3.) Apply eye cream with your ring finger. The skin surrounding your eyes is the most delicate skin on your face. Your ring finger is the weakest finger on your hand. The two are a match made in heaven. Also, a cosmetologist once told me that there are no oil glands around your eyes. Don’t know if that is true or not, but the look on her face when I told her I wasn’t using eye cream? You would have thought I had just confessed to making out with Hitler. I now use eye cream. And I always apply it with my ring finger. You should too.

4.) Don’t frown so much. They’re called frown lines for a reason, duh.

5.) Drink more water. No brainer. We all know it. But if you are anything like me, it can be hard to squeeze the water in between the coffee all morning and the wine all afternoon. Best tip for that I never follow is to drink a small glass of water every hour on the hour. Set your watch or smart phone to beep every hour to remind you… it will become a Pavlovian response.

6.) Don’t wear panties to bed… they cause cellulite! Seriously. Not making this up. Side benefit: also a marriage enhancer.

7.) Get your beauty sleep. This is critical for cell regeneration. Just make sure you do it nekkid from the waist down. See above.

8.) Pick it with your elbows. This one comes from the home office… passed down from my father and his father before that. To clarify, they were talking about zits and not splinters or lotto scratch off tickets.

9.) Gently push back your cuticles after every bath or shower. I never do this and my hands look like feet. Man feet. My sister in law Teresa has the prettiest hands you’ve ever seen. She does this. Seriously, bitch could be a hand model.

10.) Lay off the liquor. Experts say that more than one drink a day can lead to increased oil production and enlarged pores. Fuck my life.

And now, as promised, a pimple shaped piñata. Just make sure you pick it with your elbows.

Image credit: http://loteriachicana.net/

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