Back when I was pregnant with Penelope, I was on bed rest for twelve weeks. A lot of people have jokingly admitted to me that the Butt Rust era was probably just about the best time ever for this blog, and they’re probably right. I was posting almost every day, definitely every weekday, a lot of times even twice. I had a lot of time to sit – lay – around and think about ridiculous stuff, when I wasn’t being shuttled to two or three appointments a week, or being checked in and out of labor and delivery on the regular. I also did a lot of puzzle books, and I colored, and I watched all of Battlestar Galactica and all of Wings. It was definitely an interesting time, in both the most extreme sense of interesting and the totally opposite of interesting kind of way.
When you have to stay in bed all day, there’s just no real delineation between daytime laying in bed and nighttime laying in bed. It’s all just laying in bed. So I got in this habit of putting on my lemon EOS lip balm at night. I really liked it. But I would only do it right before I settled down to sleep at night, which was different, of course, from my mid-morning nap and my afternoon nap and my predinner eyeshutting and any other sleeping-because-what-else-am-I-going-to-do. It didn’t take long before it was the highlight of my whole day. That’s kind of a pretty shitty situation to be in, one where putting on lip balm to signify the dividing line between “okay, I’m laying here because I’m medically required to lay here so as not to accidentally have a stroke on my way to the kitchen” and “now I’m laying here because it’s regular person sleeping hours.” It was a really good time for my blog, for sure, but that was a distracting shell over the whole wretchedness of the entire situation. It’s long past now, so I don’t see the need to re-explain all the medical details I don’t think I ever really explained in the first place, but I think it’s reasonable to assume that anyone reading knows that a pregnant woman confined to her bed for months on end isn’t there for fun and games and that things aren’t good. Aren’t good. At. All.
If Phil and I stick to our current plan – there aren’t guarantees of anything, but it is the plan in place at the moment of this writing, which is today but not tomorrow or any other day you might read this, so this sentence doesn’t actually bind me or Phil or anyone to anything nor can it be referenced in any kind of future “GOTCHA!” way should plans change – to have just one kid, I don’t think I’ll ever really come to grips with my feelings of unfairness with regard to Garlic Bread, and the guilt attached to having feelings of unfairness related to a living, healthy child. I think the advent of the jokey “first world problems” meme has summed up the feeling in a tongue in cheek kind of way, the feeling of being unable to acknowledge something annoying (or legitimately shitty) without at the same time recognizing that some – many – people have it much worse. First world problem: no fortune cookies with my takeout. Real problem: SOME PEOPLE HAVE NO COOKIES AT ALL EVER. Effect: I’m kind of a bad person for even giving a crap about my fortune cookie, considering all the cookieless people. Yet, I still have no cookie and I did want a cookie. I’m going down an analogy path I don’t want to take, let’s regroup below.
Right now, as the plan stands, we’ve got Penelope and that’s it. Sometimes I wish – well, wish is the wrong word, and so is wonder, which I also tried, so I’m just going to stick with wish – that things would have been different with her pregnancy. Of course I do, it was wretched. I want a do-over, I want another one. Another pregnancy, that went the way pregnancy is supposed to go. All the way to 40 weeks – or, by the way the whole Garlic Bread thing shaped up in the end, maybe more than that. All the way to the end ON TWO FEET. To have a whole maternity wardrobe, instead of not bothering – men’s gym shorts and t-shirts are fine when you never need to be out of pajamas. All that superficial kind of stuff, minus, you know, the medical misery and discomfort and danger and all of that. I’d like the whole kid experience without the giant ball of negative attached to the front end of it all. I’ve only got the one kid and only plan to have the one. I’d like another pregnancy with the same result, the same kid. A different, better pregnancy. It’s been over two years and I still think the whole thing was unfair. But then, I’m an adult. I can’t even think the word “unfair” without feeling like an enormous brat. I can’t think about something in my life being unfair without thinking about how good I do have it compared to others. To people whose pregnancies similar to mine had much worse outcomes. To people whose children aren’t healthy. Or to people who just want to be pregnant at all. At least I was pregnant and had Penelope, and she’s here and we get to keep her. So, then, guilt. Because sure, getting her was unpleasant, but she’s here now, and not everyone gets to have a perfect everything, and the whole saga of me getting pregnant, and the labor, and the delivery, and the NICU, and the next hospitalization, and the postpartum anxiety, and the VUR, and the year of monitoring and specialists, and the subsequent surgery, and the more monitoring – anyway, that’s getting past pregnancy, a bit – all of that is done and finished and we’re here now with our healthy kid.
Anyway, I was reading Swistle’s blog the other day because SHE ALSO GOT A TURBIE TWIST FOR CHRISTMAS (actually she gave some, but she’s also enjoying one, so close enough for bonding). That’s not why I was reading it, I always read Swistle’s blog. I have a category in my feed reader that serves up my “first to read” blogs whenever I open it, and hers is in there, among the ones I read first. I would have read it whether or not she got a Turbie Twist. But I mention the Turbie Twist because I was driven by our new connection to comment, so I was on her actual blog rather than reading through my reader, which caused me to be reminded of her tagline – one of the best ones in blogging, I think, because it neatly shuts down a lot of the common complaints about bloggers/blogging, and also helps me (because, ME) feel okay about a lot of the things I have to say here, and, okay, have to say in general.
“I acknowledge my luckiness, without giving up my claim to the suckiness.”
And while I washing dishes last night and thinking about this post, I kept coming back to that line, because I guess I do. I acknowledge that we have Penelope, and we are very lucky for it, especially in light of the incredibly large range of child-related struggles of friends and acquaintances. But at the same time, I don’t give up my (our, but honestly, Phil needs to just write his own blog) claim to how sucky certain parts of it all have been. To be clear, no one I know has ever shamed me for dwelling or struggling with my experience with Garlic Bread – sometimes the opposite, in fact. I tend to separate Garlic Bread off from Penelope and deal with them separately, or one not really at all, except for brief flashes of unfairness/regret, which is of course followed quickly by that guilt. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to really get past that Garlic Bread/Penelope separation, though, and the regrets and frustrations and stress attached to the whole thing, if every time I think back to that time, any negative thoughts are slapped down by guilt and self-shaming about how good I actually had/have it. The fact is, there was a long stretch of time where the highlight of my day was putting on lip balm, because it marked the end point of another day that I made it through without a medical emergency, without having to check into the hospital for the duration, and without having to delivery a severely premature baby.
Vaseline Lip Therapy in Rosy Lips
EOS lip balm in the weird ball shape is probably still my favorite and most useful lip balm, but I wanted to tell you about this Best/Worst most Useful/Useless lip balm in the world. I talked a while ago about how my face was getting really bad at facing, remember? You don’t need to, this is the Internet, it’s still available for you to refer to forever, even if I start to regret saying it some day. It’s right here. My lips were not excluded from that issue. This isn’t usually a huge problem, because I tend to lean toward darker lipsticks which cover a multitude of sadnesses and crimes and tear-filled journal entries about raindrops and, I don’t know, I don’t have much beyond surface feelings, I’m trying to draw on a teenage experience I didn’t have. But I do love mattes these days, and also, I have a few lighter shades that are essential for my newer attempts at a no-makeup makeup look, in my efforts to be a little more appropriate for various occasions, see question 31 of the 2013 year end wrap up. If your lips are all dried up, matte lipsticks and light shades are going to look like a pile of hot garbage.
One of the things that you absolutely need to do if you’re going to wear lighter lipstick shades or ESPECIALLY with mattes like the Revlon Matte Balms (I really like this formula and haven’t yet picked up a color I don’t like) or NYX Matte lipsticks (I like Alabama and I think I’ve only tried one other in the line, so unless you’re looking for a deep, deep red, I can’t offer a lot on that variety, but the reviews are fantastic) (also, I was going to put Amazon affiliate links here, because someone insinuated that the fact that I haven’t used them at all in a million years of blogging was unintelligent of me, but as I suspected, I found it hasslely, so let’s cut out the middle man, and some of you get really offended that I dared, and I get offended that you got offended, and we all talk behind each other’s backs, and then move on like it never even happened), do you remember what we were talking about? I was about to tell you that aside from lip balm – I really want to type lip BLAM! – you also need to exfoliate your lips. There are a couple of ways to do this. Soft tooth brush, homemade sugar scrub, purchased lip scrub, any kind of scrub.
Personally, for exfoliation, I’ve been using the e.l.f. Lip Exfoliator. It’s from the Studio Line of e.l.f. products, and it’s $3. It’s basically a sugar scrub, formed into a lipstick. Big grains of sugar in some kind of binding material. At first, the top layer of the moisturizing, binding stuff made it feel not especially effective, but after a few uses, that wears away and the sugar does get quite abrasive. I don’t think that this is anything special, though, compared to other lip scrubs you could buy or make, so it depends on the type of person you are. If you like making this kind of stuff, do that. If you want to buy a different brand, do that. The things this one has going for it – it’s $3, it’s in a convenient form. I don’t like sticking my fingers into my makeup/products very much. It’s a holdover from when I had really, really terrible skin in middle school and just reflexively try to keep my hands off my face and keep my hands off of things that are going to go on my face. e.l.f. products are sold at most Targets, but I haven’t seen this particular one at mine, which is a pain. The site does run constant sales, though, if you sign up for the mailing list, which is of the creepy variety that emails you immediately after you visit the site to tell you it missed you. I like to wait for a sale that offers a combination of free shipping and a percentage off the Studio line to grab a few things. The brand is very hit and miss, but there are a few things I like. In general, products in black packaging (the Studio line, $3 or $6) are better than those in white (usually $1-$2). There are a couple of Studio brushes I like, along with the HD setting powder, and I’m going on and on here, but if you’re interested in the lip exfoliator and can’t find it in store, there are a few things on the site that, when on sale, make a stock-up purchase worthwhile.
When I was Christmas shopping, I spotted this Vaseline Lip Therapy in Rosy Lips among the stocking stuffers at Target. I don’t know if it was supposed to be there, because it was the only one, but since my lips were about to set out across the desert to find themselves and possibly their real family among the cacti on some kind of vision quest, I grabbed it on a whim. It has been the best/worst and most useful/useless lip balm ever.
With an elephant, for scale.
First, I am pretty sure I grabbed this because it is adorable. It is a tub of Vaseline, except it is miniature. It is 0.25 oz. It’s Vaseline for ants. Vaseline for terrifying ants. Terrifying ants with chapped lips. It’s tiny size lends to the idea that you just pop it in your purse for on the go lip balm application. Just reach in your purse, and BLAM! Tiny Vaseline, for your lips. Except, no. You can’t use this that way at all. By you, I mean me, and probably also you. I’m really making an effort to think about this reasonably and not just in the “my way is obviously the only way” kind of way, but I’m having a hard time, because my way is obviously the only way.
Backing up. I got this in the “shade” Rosy Lips, because it was the only one there at the time, but I probably would have anyway. This are a bitch and a half (hi, sorry, the language, let’s talk about it tomorrow) to find online, so I’m not linking to them anywhere, because you should look for them in stores. Since I got mine before Christmas, I’ve seen them in Target with the Vaseline, not with other lip balms and lip products. They’re $1.77 at my Target, and there were other kinds – original Vaseline, cocoa butter, and maybe something else? I could look it up. I put “shade” in quotation marks up there, because while it’s clearly pink in the tub, it doesn’t make my lips especially rosy. Since my liptone is a fairly neutral pink, I swatched it on the back of my hand to check, and there was no rosiness there, either. So you wouldn’t be missing out on any flattering color if you decided to go with cocoa butter or some medicated version that might or might not exist, I don’t know, because I didn’t look it up.
I’ve been putting this on at night, after using the e.l.f. lip treatment, along with a whole pile of other stuff I’ve started using on my face in the battle against the side effects of my medication and also the fact that, FINE, I GUESS I’M ALSO SEVERAL YEARS OLDER THAN I WAS SEVERAL YEARS AGO. I don’t have anything to say about any of that yet, because lips show things much faster than faces. I may or may not report later. I’m unreliable. (HEY, POTENTIAL FUTURE BOSSES, WHAT’S UP.) And it’s good! It’s thick. It’s… Vaseline. (Tangerines.) It’s thicker than I’d use in the daytime, I think, but I also use a thicker lotion at night, so it works in that way. I’m really pleased with it as part of my nighttime routine and how it’s helping combat not only the dehydrating side effects of my medications, but also the winter air and my nighttime mouth breathing. That’s a pretty tall order, and it’s hanging in.
BUT YOU CAN’T GO ANYWHERE WITH THIS. This little tub – it’s a TUB. There’s no application method with this. You must stick your finger directly in it. And it’s Vaseline. (Magazines.) When, throughout your day, is an appropriate time for your index finger to be coated in Vaseline? That’s setting aside the long term ramifications of sticking your finger repeatedly into something goopy you apply to your mouth, back and forth, over and over again. It’s not good. You can’t apply this on the go. Maybe at the very beginning of the tub, when the surface of the goop is at the very top, you can swipe a light layer onto the pad of your index finger and then onto your lips, and that’s fine. As use continues, though, the product gets lower down in there, and the size of the tub makes the angle of… finger-sticker-innery… such that there has to be a slight scooping motion, meaning that one, there’s always going to be just a little too much goop, and two, if you have fingernails of any length, some is going to get under. So you have to clean your finger after you put this on. World-ending? No. But I think that means this is not an out of the house lip balm.
Even if you don’t mind a good finger-gooping now and then, we were all becolded over Christmas, and you know when Vaseline shines? When every part of you is rattley and wheezey and dried out and husked up. I use a Q-tip to get my Vaseline lip therapy out of the tub each time and I only dip it once, because if not, then the tub would ALSO BE BECOLDED. AND RUINED. And do you KNOW how many times I would go to Target before I remembered to pick up a new tub? Probably a THOUSAND. Which means that I would say a lot of bad things when trying to apply an appropriate shade of lipstick for church (which no one determines but me, but still), because my lips would look like HOT GARBAGE, and that’s what happens when you have a lip balm that is SUPER USEFUL in healing crappy lips, with the most USELESS format ever.
Except, you can just use a Q-tip and also not take it anywhere and just use it at home, at bedtime, and I also recommend using it in tandem with your lip exfoliating method of choice. You’ll probably want to stick with your regular purse/pocket balm for daytime needs, but I think this is a pretty solid addition to whatever nighttime routine you’ve got going on. It’s just a regular part of my day, not a significant one. You can probably find Vaseline Lip Therapy at Target, or any number of other drugstores.