It’s been over a year since I posted on my beloved blog for my beloved Wasteland Wanderers, few as you may be.  The essay below may shed a little light on the reasons why.

 

This may not be the definitive truth about parenthood, but it is truth and most certainly my truth.  After tag teaming with Ranger Mike at 3:30am trying to get Nova back to sleep, I finally decided that I’m thoroughly over being a courteous, polite, and self-deprecating parent. Let’s shed a little light on the myths and reality of reproducing.

Myth: Babies sleep all the time.  This is true for the first month or so of life, except when you’re exhausted and need a good nap.  Then babies don’t sleep. Ever.  I was told by seasoned mums, parenting professionals, and BabyCenter.com emails to sleep when baby sleeps.  So does that mean I cook when baby cooks and clean when baby cleans? Let me tell you, Wasteland Wanderers, those newborns are freeloaders.  For real though, the suggestion was to have friends and family assist with cooking and household chores while you and baby snooze.  This is a great idea, if you have friends or family who live in the tri-county area.  My mother graciously stayed with us for two weeks from the day I went into labor; she cooked delicious meals, did our laundry, and was a calm reassurance in those postpartum moments of panic.  But she did have to return to my dad, their dog daughter, and her practice. After she left, aside from one dinner one member of the church ladies’ group brought when Nova was a month old, we were on our own.  I know women who, before they’ve even conceived, have family members lining up to provide child care and maid service.  But our families live hours and even states away, so that just wasn’t feasible.  We would’ve been so grateful for a handful more meals brought in during those first months, or a helping hand to pick up necessities from Target or wherever, but unfortunately it didn’t work out that way.

Myth: Breastfeeding comes naturally.Breastfeeding is natural, fulfilling, and extremely beneficial for both baby and mother.  And while an instinctual urge for both parties, a little help may be needed.  Because Nova was taken to the NICU shortly after birth, we weren’t able to take advantage of the hospital’s lactation specialists, and the internet wasn’t giving me much help.  After the first week, I dreaded feedings because of the toe curling pain they caused.  Luckily, our pediatrician’s office has an LC down the hall and after two visits, Nova and I were able to get a good latch and successfully breastfeed.

Myth: Baby poo is the most disgusting substance on earth.  Well, you might as well put your snorkel on and dive right in, because you’re going to be intimately acquainted with the goo.  We learned that poop can be shot from one’s bottom like a surface to air missile, so proper precautionary measures must to be taken.  That lovely mustard yellow stain will not come out, no matter how quickly or vigorously you launder those pastel purple jammies (unless you have the Magic Stain Remover…email me for the recipe).  And although its solid counterpart is about 150,000 times more odorous, Ranger Mike & I both agree that we will gladly take the toxic smelling turd over the wet poop explosions.

Myth: Other parents will offer helpful advice at appropriate times.  Other parents are judging judgers who judge.  When Nova was one week old, the question “Is she sleeping through the night yet?” started.  Biologically, newborns need to eat every 2-3 hours, so they physically cannot sleep through the night.  Babies metabolize breast milk in about 90 minutes; formula is harder for their systems to break down, averaging about 4 hours per bottle.  So no, you smug jerk, my baby wasn’t snoozing the night away at three months old.  I’ve been back to work for a year, and now, in addition to “Is she sleeping through the night?” I also get “Is she walking yet? My baby was walking at 3 days old,” and “How long are you planning on breastfeeding/pumping (this is asked with a distinct note of disdain)?” Parents like to mentally compare their child’s development to yours; as if it validates that they’re a better parent than you.  Just like adults, every child is unique and progresses at her own rate.  Nova had eight teeth when some of her peers only had two, it doesn’t mean anything.  If you have concerns about your child’s development, ask your doctor, don’t try to infer that I’m a bad parent because my kid isn’t conjugating the French subjunctive yet.

Myth:  Parenting is instinctual; you just know what to do.  If this were truth, there wouldn’t be so much judgment going on, or so many call-the-nanny shows.  I remember phoning my own parents, distraught that every other family with young children seemed to have it all together but I was alternately consumed by fear, panic, and exhaustion.  My dad had this pearl of wisdom, “They’re all faking it. There’s no handbook on parenting; everyone acts like they know what they’re doing, but inside they’re just as scared as you are.” Every time I feel like an inferior mum, these words echo in my mind and I feel a bit better.

Myth: New mothers walk through fields of daffodils in gauzy white gowns, whilst their silken curls blow like a Mustang’s mane on a summer’s day.  Right about the time you’re able to sit, stand, and walk again for any length of time, your hair starts falling out. In handfuls.  And don’t even get me started on the horror show when your monthly cycle comes back.  Being a new parent is more akin to a soldier returning home from war than a goddess walking the gardens of Mt. Olympus.  Again, this is my experience, everyone is different.  I felt like the person I had been before was gone, burned away in the 39.5 hours of labor.  Neither my pregnancy nor Nova’s delivery had gone as I had imagined; there was disappointment and grief, I’m not going to lie.  Postpartum PTSD is a real thing, but I think going through childbirth, whether vaginally or C-Section, surrogate or adoption, changes you on a fundamental level.  Seriously, I can’t watch a nature documentary if the adult animal abandons its young out of self-preservation. Survival of the fittest, whatever. Check on your baby before you cross the raging croc infest river, you idiot!

If you’ve carried and delivered your child, your body is changed forever…parts of you will never be the same.  Adjusting to that isn’t helped by reading every two weeks about how some celebrity got their pre-baby body back.  They may have personal trainers, a chef, plastic surgeons, and all the time in the world, but you can’t convince me that their body is the same as it was before.  While you’re pregnant, everyone asks how you are doing, you see your ob/gyn often, and even strangers at work are concerned about your welfare.  But once you are no longer an incubating vessel, all the attention transfers from you to the child, which is appropriate and good to a degree.  In the US, mothers have a one week physician follow up after birth, and then a six week check to clear you for work and end your maternity disability.  At six weeks, I asked my doctor if she could extend my disability benefits, as I couldn’t sit, stand, or walk for more than 10 minutes without major discomfort.  California affords a fairly generous (by comparison to most states) bonding period after maternity disability ends, but my reasoning was if I had to go back to work after six weeks, I would not have physically been able to.  My doctor responded, “Your tear is healing, so I have no reason to extend your disability. You can go back to work tomorrow.  Be sure to make your annual appointment at the front desk before you leave.”  And don’t let the door hit you on your way out.

That’s it. That’s your postpartum support from your medical professional.  But even friends didn’t seem to know how to interact with me anymore.  They’d ask how I was doing, but almost immediately their eyes would glaze over and they’d have to return to whatever important task suddenly needed doing.  I finally figured out that they don’t really want to know.  Friends and acquaintances want to see pictures of the baby and hear anecdotes about silly things she is doing; they don’t want to know that you feel like a stranger in your own skin, that you’ve developed dishydrotic eczema and a milk allergy, that you want to feel like you belong but can’t stomach the superficial BS of social interaction.  This is why 85% of women who experience postpartum depression go untreated.  Their doctors wash their hands of responsibility after six weeks, and their friends don’t want to break the media-fueled illusion of what childbirth and postpartum life is supposed to be.  So you just paste on a smile and regurgitate some trite phrase when someone asks how you’re doing.  “Baby is growing up so fast,” “I’ll be better when she starts sleeping through the night, but we’re having fun” and “She’s teething, but otherwise great” are three of my standbys.  You can’t help but feel like you’re everyone else’s free therapist and mother to all…friends come to you for sage advice and a shoulder to cry on, confiding the most intimate details of their lives.  But you are not the person they call to join them on a fun weekend adventure, and they most certainly don’t want your exhausted, half dazed/half panicked self to bring down their good day by being honest about how life is going.  And they really don’t want to see you cry.  That realization hurts, Wasteland Wanderers.  It hurts a lot. To quote the late Robin Williams, “I used to think that the worst thing in life was to end up alone. It’s not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people who make you feel alone.”  I am grateful that in my moments of despair, there have been kind souls who have validated that I’m neither crazy nor alone.

Myth: Parenthood is rewarding; full of life changing joy and love.  This is actually truth.  But parenting is also frustrating, exhausting, and at times even soul crushing.  On the third sleepless night in a row I may have been heard to say, “I’m getting dressed and we’re dropping you at the fire station so they can send you home with a new family.”  There’s a reason why sleep deprivation is still used as a form of torture.  There will be many times you look back on your pre-child life with regret and longing (and I’m sure it only gets worse as those kids hit the teenage years), but really you couldn’t imagine life without them.  There will be times when you feel like the worst parent on earth, but bumps and tantrums are par for the course (and again, I’m sure get worse in the teenage years) and one goose egg or skinned knee isn’t going to have Child Protective Services knocking at your door. You will lose sleep, hair, and friends, but you’ll gain compassion, patience, gratitude for and a new understanding of your own parents.  The regimented scheduling side of this Capricorn has been blasted away and replaced by the mantra of, “Go with the flow, we’ll see how the day goes, we’ll work with what we’ve got.”

But when I walk in the door after a grueling day of work, the loneliness, alienation, physical discomfort, and personal sacrifice are swallowed up by two bright smiles and the tightest family hug ever.  Is parenthood what I thought it would be? Yes, and in so many ways, no.  Are we going to have any more kids? After nine months of nausea and 39.5 hours of labor, I can honestly say, it’s not looking super likely.  But was it worth it? Yes.  Undeniably, yes.

I’m sure this post will bore some, comfort others, and probably even hurt some feelings.  But these are thoughts that have been cluttering my mind for 15 months and finally need to be purged.  This is my truth, your mileage may vary.

 

Rock-it Ruby signing off.

 

 

P.S.  If you reeeeeally want to see pictures of Nova and other shenanigans, follow me on Instagram @rockitruby

Please Stand By

Posted: November 7, 2015 in Adventures, Gaming, Health
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Happy N7 Day Wasteland Wanderers!

Yes, this has been the longest hiatus that we’ve ever taken here at Surviving the Wasteland, & unfortunately, it’s not quite over yet.  I did survive the remainder of my pregnancy, with poise & grace I believe. Then, just as my OB was pressuring us to induce labor, a mere three days past my due date, my labor began. After a challenging 39.5 hour labor, Nova Ripley was born September 15. Her first name is a nod to the most rare & brightest astronomical phenomenon (as well as an obscure reference to a character in our favorite game franchise). We wanted her middle name to embody the strength, intelligence, poise, & courage that we hope she will possess, so what better person to name her after than the most badass woman in all of science fiction; Ellen Ripley. Because Nova’s birth was life altering in more ways than one, I won’t be sharing the intimate details with all of cyberspace. But if you are interested in reading her birth story, you can shoot me an email at rockitruby@gmail.com.

 

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Now, almost eight weeks after her arrival, Ranger Mike & I are still getting into the groove & learning the ins & outs of new parenthood.  I’m still recovering physically from labor, & learning to appreciate this new body I inhabit. That, coupled with the end of my maternity leave looming on the horizon, is giving me a lot to process & prepare for. Thus, my humble blog will be on pause for a wee bit longer. But, my beloved Wasland Wanderers, there is much to share with you in the coming months (& so many fantastic games launching) so I promise I will be back in fine form before you know it!

Thank you for your patience & for continuing to follow the musings of a scifi geek. Keep on rocking on, & as always, aim for the head.

 

Rock-it Ruby signing off.

 

War…war never changes…

Posted: June 3, 2015 in Uncategorized

We’ve been waiting seven long years for this, the game that started it all…

Crossing our fingers for a 2015 release! We’ll be waiting for you in the Wasteland…

Rock-it Ruby signing off.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution has held the top spot in my list of all time favorite games since it launched in 2011 (it even edged out Tetris – I know!), & I’ve written a handful of posts about the sociopolitical moral decisions that are posed to the player therein.  I’ve been following Eidos Montreal’s Facebook for several years, patiently waiting & hoping for any hint of a sequel. Wasteland Wanderers, the wait is over.  Behold:

 

 

Those three minutes just made my day, no joke. It’s been a tough year thus far, as evidenced by my lack of posting. I’ve had an outline I wrote two months ago, just waiting to be fleshed out in cyberspace, but it’s been a struggle to find the focus & energy to sit down & get ‘er done. Why, you ask? Ranger Mike & I are adding a third player to our co-op game, & I’ve learned that “morning sickness” is a gross misnomer. Try 24 hour, non-stop nausea & motion sickness. I’m six weeks beyond when the nausea usually magically disappears, so I’m steeling myself for the long haul, picking myself up by my barf–er–bootstraps, & trying to carry on. But more on that in my next post (including which games I have NOT been able to play since December).

For now I shall bid you good night, there’s some salted peanut caramel gelato that’s calling my name. I’ll be back soon, thank you always for your continued support here in the Wastes.

 

Rock-it Ruby, signing off.

 

To Be Continued…

Posted: January 21, 2015 in Adventures
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Dearest Wasteland Wanderers, 2014 was a year of villains, giant grungey trolls, & crossing a Halloween dream off my bucket list (which I haven’t written about yet, bad Ruby)! Thanks for your continued support, “likes,” comments, & laughs. Without you, I’d just be spouting wittiness & existential video game philosphy into empty cyberspace.  Below are my fascinating blog stats for 2014, click the link for all the exciting info! Woo! Sorry, I found $10 on the pavement while doing my lunchtime walk, & it’s put me in an unsinkably good mood! Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,600 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 27 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Working the Day After Christmas

Posted: December 26, 2014 in Uncategorized

Pros: No traffic

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No, Officer, I did not take this photo while driving 65 mph down the 405.

Cons: Everything else. Even the sun is like, “Forget that! I’m not getting up early today.”

We are not amused.

We are not amused.

If I can survive the next nine hours, I’ll be rewarded with a week long vacation. The countdown begins now…

Anybody want to bring me a slice of deep dish pizza? That would really hit the spot on a dark, chilly winter’s morning. Mmmmm…

Rock-it Ruby, signing off.

Midweek Pick Me Up

Posted: November 12, 2014 in Adventures
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It seems like a lot of people I talk to are getting their trash kicked this week by stress, co-workers, self doubt, & lingering head colds. Never fear, Rock-it Ruby is here! I’ve got a few inspirational quotes to banish those midweek blues!

Yesterday I binged on Thai food. It was delicious, yet wicked starchy & chock full of sodium. If you look in the mirror & sigh, as I did last night, the following quote helps put things in perspective.

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Beyonce, Adam Levine, Channing Tatum, & even JLo have all been struck with gassy, stinky, nasty poop. PhotoShop, money, & teams of face/body wranglers have elevated some folks to unattainable near-god status, making the rest of us feel like swamp dwelling gremlins.  We are all magnificent beings having a human experience, but it’s easy to forget that I have the same zazz as Scarlett Johannsson when she’s in Monaco shooting a makeup ad while I’m getting nasty looks from a transsexual at the laundromat. Imagining beautiful people with the runs isn’t about being bitter or mocking, it’s just a (humorous) reminder that no one is perfect, despite what People Magazine would have you believe. Diarrhea: the great equalizer.

The next quote is from the hilarious, yet challenging, puzzle based video game, Portal 2. I laugh every time I read it, seriously.

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Some days, a brisk walk down a tree lined path is enough to calm my mind & release the tension from my body.  Other times though, I do need hidden blades, a fistful of fire, or an AK-12 with a thermal imaging scope to soothe the savage beast.  In September, my daily de-stress routine consisted of a lunchtime nature walk, supplemented by a post-work session of Watch Dogs, wherein I’d go vehicular bowling for pedestrians along the streets of Chicago.  I am aware that I sound like a psychopath, but better to take out anger & frustration on virtual people than the real thing, right? In fact, during October I didn’t game for over three weeks because I was working on our Halloween costumes in my free time (more in that in another post).  After about half a week, I started getting migraines which increased in frequency & severity until I was in agony daily.  I’m still trying to wrestle them back under control.  So my personal recipe for zen is made of equal parts spiritual meditation in nature & Mature rated video games.

I hope this little post has given you a laugh & renewed your energy to conquer the rest of this work/school week. Find your formula for inner peace, whether it’s singing to the radio with wild abandon, the solitary joy of fly fishing, or imagining Justin Bieber with dysentery.  And with that amazing imagery, I bid my Wasteland Wanderers a good night.

 

 

Rock-it Ruby, signing off.

 

Good afternoon, Wasteland Wanderers.  We are finally at the end of the travel log for our Washington Adventure.  It’s been a crazy couple of weeks, with travel, work schedule/stress, & health issues getting in the way of my blogging time.  But if you’re still interested in seeing a bunch of pics of the Space Needle (& the world’s first Starbucks), click on through!

Read the rest of this entry »

We’re in the home stretch of my Washington trip travel blog. Follow me on a little jaunt through the worlds of fantasy, science fiction, & horror.

Read the rest of this entry »

Hola Wasteland Wanderers! We’re taking a temporary respite from our Washington travel blog, as it’s too frakkin’ hot to sit in front of the computer (huzzah for mobile WordPress). I feel like a ginger haired stewed tomato, y’all. Most So Cal dwellings do not have air conditioning, so you get to the point where fans are just blowing the hot air around, like a wind tunnel to hell. The heat makes it hard to focus, so enjoy the bit of randomness below!

A couple years ago, a friend asked me what job I would like, if I could pick any vocation, past, present, or future. Without hesitation I responded, “Space pirate!”  What could be more exciting than traversing the universe, plundering the ships of bourgeois travelers whilst evading capture by the totalitarian planetary government (it is inevitable, according to every space opera ever written)? That would be one adventurous life, I tell you!

 

Randomly, that conversation popped into my head this morning while I was working, and I discovered one major flaw in my dream job. I’ve mentioned in past posts how horrifically claustrophobic I am, yes? As in, I won’t ride in an elevator & have panic attacks in the back seat of a two door coupe.  I realized that particular quirk might be a pose an issue as a galactic scavenger, being stuck inside a space cruiser for weeks at a time. And also there’s the empath thing. I’d have an even shorter pirating career than my ill fated ancestor, Richard Worley. But I’d sure be the most savage, yet remorseful, space pirate in history, before I freaked out & flushed myself out an airlock.

Guess I’ll have to stick with becoming the most entertaining geek blogger the world has ever known.  Although, if we had one of those particle transport devices like Star Trek, I could just beam myself to a hospitable planet every night for home cooking & some fresh air. Hmmm, perhaps interstellar piracy is still an option after all.  So, Wasteland Wanderers, if you could work anywhere in time & space, what livelihood would you choose? Leave me a note in the comments below!

 

Rock-it Ruby, signing off.

 

 

Promo photo for Captain Harlock Space Pirate behind to its respective owners.