Thursday, February 4, 2016

Parenthood - The New Frontier

I realize that I haven't said a lot of positive things about parenthood yet. The first 3 months are a bit dicey as we move around in a sleep deprived state of adaption. It's all about survival. But as we arrive at the end of the 3 month stage, I wanted to share some thoughts I've had as I neared the end of my maternity leave and in the blurry mornings before work this week. Below is something that is uncharacteristically sappy - something I never quite pictured about myself - but it rings true just the same. I don't feel the radiating love or mush that some people talk about, but I feel this.

Knish has changed from a sleepy newborn to a giggling baby. So much change yet so much the same. She is still so new yet has always been here - as if our lives have been saving room for her. We are still learning how to listen to her, and how to comfort her, and how to make her giggle. But we're all getting better at living together.
From the very beginning, Knish will raise her left eyebrow from time to time. My mom did the same thing - with the baby pictures to prove it. When Knish does it, I see so much of my mother in her, and it's almost like a reassurance from beyond.

Knish's smile is infectious (what is it about baby smiles??). She can now recognize Hubs and me, and will smile when she sees us almost every time (that won't last long, I know). She smiles at toys and at nothing at all. Everything is wonderful and entrancing to her.

I'm back at work this week and I'm very lucky to have been home for so long (by American standards), but I'm still struck by how time can be so slow and so fast at the same time. Days full of tedium and endless new experiences. Knish is still so new to us yet she fits right into the family. I am amazed at the duality of every feeling - nothing is simply anymore. Complex feelings of love and guilt and freedom and dependency. 

And as much as I had wanted a baby, felt the achy love of what could be, it was still always hard to picture myself a mother. I never felt like my life was incomplete without a baby, much like I don't feel a different "completeness" now that she's here. I'm glad she's here and she's definitely ours. But there are some parenting cliches that are hard for me to identify with. And yet I am so amazed by this baby. From her neck rolls to her sweet yogurt breath; the way she sleepily looks at me and slowly recognizes me before smiling in the mornings; from her eyelashes to her Johnny Bravo cowlick. It's all so familiar and new and sweet.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The Fog is Lifting


How is it already February? I feel like everyone says that, as if the fog from the whirlwind of the holidays has finally lifted, and suddenly everyone realizes they've been back in the real world for a month already. Thanks to maternity leave, and the fastest 12 weeks I have ever in my life experienced, I get to rejoin the work force just as this fog lifts for everyone else.

On February 15th of this year, I sat down to my second lunch of the day - a bowl of pasta carbonara. There was an ice-pack stuffed into my sports bra (the twins HURT) and I was feeling restless. The night before, Valentine's Day, after a negative pregnancy test, Hubs and I had a fantastic dinner out, complete with cocktails, wine, and too much dessert. February 16th I would get a positive test.

My irrational craving for Hobbit style meal day (I think I ate 7 times that day), was my first hint I might be pregnant. Or hungover. And today, as I sit at home watching a snoozing baby, I searched my bare cupboards to find all the fixings for another carbonara. So I sit here, munching on a fully loaded carbohydrate lunch, confessing my need to go grocery shopping to the entire internets, and hoping Wee One doesn't wake up before I can finish my grocery list and watching Love Actually. (Edit: she woke up before the list, hot dinner, or blog post was finished). I’m feeling a little bit sentimental, chowing on the same pasta.

2015 was exceptional. Not necessarily in a good way. Losing a parent and gaining a child in one year is an experience without words. I have tried. But there is nothing to say. There are lots of little stories to tell. Happy and sad.
  • Weekends in Portland with our nephew.
  • Passover in LA when my parents and husband got drunk enough to jump a fence (yes, parents).
  • My 29th birthday – I was on a work trip in Utah and my mom was supposed to meet me there. Instead, she was home on pain medications, waiting for what would be her cancer diagnosis, but too lost to actually talk to me.
  • A work trip spent looking more at my phone than my computer screen.
  • Her funeral.
  • Friends moving.
  • We’re having a girl!
  • My last work trip – halfway around the world at 24 weeks pregnant.
  • Girls weekend in Minnesota.
  • Weddings.
  • Baby Showers.
  • Ferris Buller’s day off (Seattle style).
  • Babymoon.
  • Crafting with my aunt.
  • Baby arrives.
  • *Enter baby fog*
  • Then the holidays happened and suddenly it’s February and I’m as confused as everyone else.

Once I have some time in the office, I hope I can share some of my insights from The Sisterhood of Crying in the Daycare Parking Lot.
Happy New Year!

Thursday, January 7, 2016

It's easy to be the martyr

I had had a rough day. I cooked three square meals and then washed and put away all of the dishes. I planned meals for the week, did the grocery shopping, and put the groceries away. I was the main care provider (and food source) of a 7 week old baby. I fed the cats and did some laundry and paid the bills. All while my husband worked his full time day job. I made dinner and washed up in between feeding the baby while he sat on the couch and watched TV. When I finally got my alone time (at 10 pm), it was a shower. And then off to bed before the baby woke up for her 3 am feeding.
I stood in the shower and felt terrible. Sad for myself. How is it fair that I do ALL that? Yet he just has his day job then gets to have the fun with the baby when he's home. I still feed her and feed us. I wallowed. It's not fair. Where's the justice. What about me?

Then it hit me - what about me? Did I ask for help with any of it? Did I give hubs instructions on how he could help with dinner prep while I breastfeed? Did I ask him to grab a few things at the grocery store? Or leave the laundry until he got home? 

No. No I didn't. Because when you're tired and alone all day with a slobbery babe, it can be easier to push away and stay isolated. It's hard to ask for help and find your place in the world, which has mysteriously kept moving forward despite the new baby or any other imagined trauma has left you alone. 

Last year, I read I Thought It Was Just Me, where the author discusses the isolating impact of sympathy. "I feel sorry for YOU," removes US from those feelings. It isolates the other person; they're sadness or pain is unique and I am above it. Martyrdom (or the feelings of it) is just as isolating. Except instead of being pushed away, it's a way to pull away. "I am the only one to feel this way. My suffering is unique. No one else on the planet works a full time job, with a baby, and still gets chores done..." Oh wait. What a selfish train of thought. Not only do people do all that, but there are people around me who want to help so I don't have to feel this way or do all that.

These thoughts usually crop up out of loneliness and are fostered in that void. By reaching out - either for help or support - it is possible to climb out of the pit (if we want to). Even the most introverted among us can benefit from a good gab session of "Me too!" and "You're not alone." 

And when I ask myself why I'm really upset, it often comes down to where I didn't want to have to ask for help. Are you kidding me, self? So I get into a funk because my husband isn't a mind reader? Real smart, self. If he doesn't cook dinner, how is he supposed to know that I finished the eggs? Sure, there are some mutual chores (like feeding the cats) that always gets done, but why do I have to feel so terrible about doing it? How can I possibly be mad at him for something that he wasn't even around to know? So it comes down to basically wanting attention and wanting acknowledgement. But how is he supposed to know I need this unless I tell him and ask for his support?

This is not just about marriages. How is my friend supposed to know I need her unless I tell her any of this?

Yes, sometimes we need a good sit on the pity-pot. But it's a selfish place to be. There's never room for two on that pot. Take that moment to be alone in the pain and suffering, if you need it. But then leave it there. Come out at the end of the day and tell that person (any person!) that you had a rotten day for no reason in particular. That hormones and sleep deprivation make you think terrible things. That you're not used to sharing every single moment of your life with a dependent squishy non-person and it's draining. That you need to work together to better divide the chores. And that you need a reminder that equality isn't sameness, and that you can both contribute to the future of this tiny human (or cat, relationship, house, etc.) to the same degree, but by different paths. These things are hard to measure, so the inequity is usually in our own heads; by being too selfish to see what the other is doing.

Take a deep breath. And look around. And ask for support. Share your feelings. And for goodness sakes, ask yourself if this is really worth being that lonely for.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Bumpdate - 2 weeks post delivery

It finally happened. At 9 days after our due date, our little girl finally joined us.I have debated on sharing our "birth story", and while I won't now, I haven't fully decided if I will yet. It was exciting, though!

Knish joined us at 9 lbs 11 oz (at least a pound larger than the OB was estimating while I was in labor) and 21.5 inches long (this is about what Hubs and I were expecting - lots of long babes in our families). Complete with a full head of hair (that shocked us both!). She is beautiful, and we are learning about each other.

I sit and write as Hubs is taking the evening shift on a particularly rough day. She and I have both cried our fair share today. We are both clean, fed, and napped, so we're quite sure what all the angst is about. But until today, she was making this whole thing a big easy on me. She latches easily and nurses efficiently. She's an excellent napper. And (at least until today) she wasn't a big yeller - she would patiently fuss until she was fed. Nighttime is a struggle (as with any newborn) - and we bounce between nights where she's up every 1.5 hr to 4 hrs.

I thought I'd share some of my favorite things over the last two weeks that have helped me. And surprisingly enough, none of them is coffee (after 9 months off the juice, it really disrupts my nap time!).

(1) Maternity Leggings
 
I have not packed these babies up yet. For those who have never had kids, you may be surprised to learn that most women do not leave the hospital being able to fit into their pre-pregnancy clothes (this was a big shock to me). And while I am only 11 lbs away from my pre-pregnancy weight, I have not ventured into any of my pre-pregnancy clothing. For starters - I have all these great, comfy maternity clothes I can still fit. I have two pair of the Target black maternity leggings and I love them. Every day, I hop into those, a nursing cami, and a sweater. I'm dressed for the day! If I need to leave the apartment, I just through on some boots (which thankfully fit again), and I look "put together" (I was actually told that. What? Weird.

(2) Lansinoh Lanolin and Nipple Pads

I love this stuff. Someone on my mommy board mentioned that you can start putting the Lanolin on nightly about 3-4 weeks before your due date, which will help with the suppleness of your skin and help prevent cracking/bleeding as your wee one and you learn breastfeeding. Well I did that and I have to say that I have not had any bleeding, and I only had one sore that healed quickly. This stuff is amazing. I don't quite make it on every day anymore, but I try to before bed most nights. 
This brand of pads is great. They stick on and last the better part of a day. I haven't tried many other brands, but I like these better than the Medela ones that came with my pump. 

(3) Dermoplast

Without going into too much detail, I think we can all safely agree that pushing a watermelon out of one's vajay is not a delicate process. Yadda yadda yadda, sore. Yadda yadda - numb it up with this. I read about it first on Pinterest, and was pleased to see it in my recovery room at the hospital. My lovely nurse even threw in an extra can (seriously - ask for everything!). I didn't need two cans (only needed it for about a week), but I'm going to hang onto this for general first aid purposes.

(4) Lactation Cookies

By putting the word "lactation" in front of cookie, it magically becomes a health food. True story. Okay, but seriously. Breastfeeding burns an insane amount of calories (300-500 calories per day), and it's hard enough to eat the normal calorie limit with a bouncing newborn, let alone enough to keep up your milk supply. Enter cookies. What makes these special are these three ingredients: (i) oatmeal (fiber!), (ii) Brewer's Yeast (milk production), and (iii) Flax (healthy omegas). I made this recipe that I found on Pinterest, which also includes coconut oil (cure all!) and chocolate (...hurray!). I made a batch and froze the whole thing in pre-formed scoops. Every couple of days I throw a few directly from the freezer into the oven. I found that I didn't even need to adjust the baking time. While the additions can make these a sort of supplement, I can say that in my experience, I have actually felt my milk let down after binging eating a few. They taste great, and their easy to eat one handed while I try to soothe Knish with the other hand. I have even modified a normal cookie bar recipe by adding brewer's yeast and flax seeds to it. It did add a bit of an earthy flavor, but Hubs didn't notice a difference (his milk did not come in after eating them - safe for the whole family!). 

A few final thoughts... 
I have not wanted to pound back a beer nearly as much as I thought.
I am less interested in caffeine now than in my 9th month (probably because I know I can nap). 
Having a supportive and patient partner has made all the difference in this experience. He doesn't feel that just because he's out of the house at work all day, his "fair share" is done, just like he knows I don't "sit around" all day while she naps. Parenthood is hard - whether you're doing if for a few hours per day, or full time. I wish more partners could share in the empathy - but I am so thankful that Hubs sees his time at work as "missing out" on parenthood, rather than any part of "sharing" duties. Tonight, after knowing I had a rough day being yelled at by my tiny boss, he couldn't wait to get changed and take over. They've had some great cuddle time, and I've been able to eat with two hands and get some thoughts out.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Bumpdate - 37 Weeks

There we have it. Three weeks left. I feel so torn between "OMG That went so fast!" and "Finally! This took ages!" Somewhere between flying time and crawling. Timey wimey, and all that.

My ever calm hubs is finally starting to feel the pressure - his nesting has kicked in. Just tonight, as I finished my ice cream, I heard him wander into the nursery and start playing with some of the toys. I went in to ask what he was doing, he just looked around and said "I'm ready to come in here and to see her!" Bless. He has stayed so calm with my crazies for this whole journey, and now he's cracking in the final weeks. It is just the sweetest thing to see him unravel.

I am working in the office for another 9 days. I'm ready to work from home so I can stay in my pajamas and bake freezer meals. I have had some luck with freezing a few smaller meals instead of halving the recipe to feed us, which is what I normally do. I was able to freeze a chicken pot pie (recipe made two), and some zucchini gratin. I'd like to prep some breakfasts and lactation cookies, too.

At this point, I have sworn up and down so much that she's going to be late, that I'm starting to think she might show up early just to show me that I know nothing. But both hubs and I were late (by 2 and 3 weeks), and the timing of these things is actually hereditary (yes, I found a scientific journal on it), so there's actually a good chance that she could be late. I wouldn't mind at this point - I'm still feeling good and I have things to do still!

We also have one mini babymoon planned before she comes. Our plans for this summer were cancelled when the fires took over the Chelan Valley. It will be a short one night away (if she doesn't come, first), and it means so much to both of us.

The great Pinterest hunt has begun to find the very best lists: (1) Diaper bag checklist, (2) Hospital bag checklist, and (3) Postpartum kit. I think I have a good balance of "just in case", but not quite to the "OMG Hoarder" status. If successful, I'll share my lists here! Did you have any not-so-obvious favorites for these bags?

Monday, September 14, 2015

Pregnancy ProTips


Hi all! I am now firmly in my third trimester (just over 6 weeks left!) and I thought I could share the oh-so-popular “here’s what I’ve learned” pregnancy post. Maybe not completely unique, but every pregnancy runs a little differently, so the content is a little different. Anyway! Here’s a bit about what I’ve learned.
Progress!

1.     Morning Sickness!
a.     What Worked: Although my nausea was fairly mild, I found that seabands really helped take the edge off. For all my Crohn’s pains, nausea is the one thing that I struggle to just work through and the seabands took the edge off enough. I also particularly enjoyed sour candy through this phase. Any of the preggo pops are actually sour – and since I couldn’t find them fast enough and wasn’t patient enough for Amazon, I had a lot of Shockerz.
b.     It also helped to be completely flexible with meals. Meal Planning wasn’t so hard, but the execution was rough for about a month there. Every day was a gamble – would this taste like dirt? There was one particular occasion when, after frustrated that I wasn’t eating enough, Hubs went to get our local standby, Taco Time. I tried a bite of everything, and it all tasted like dirt. It didn’t make me sick, but I was just uninterested. He had so much patience with me during this phase, which is great because I couldn’t control it and getting frustrated at me only would have made me cry. I did manage to drink a lot of Jamba Juice during the first tri. Sometimes twice a day.
c.     Note to men: be patient. You mammacita isn’t doing this on purpose, and tiny humans/hormones are jerks. While you probably don’t need to run out in desperation, Hubs’ patience and flexibility were so important to me.
d.     What Didn’t Work: Ginger. Morning Sickness Teas. I have nothing against ginger (I actually normally enjoy ginger ale or candied ginger), but it just did not help. And any of the special teas tasted like the earth to me. I couldn’t drink them enough to know if they helped at all.
2.     Fatigue
a.     I should get a medal for my napping expertise in the first trimester. I had a 2-3 week spurt where I could sleep for 10 hrs, struggle through work, nap for another 2-3 hrs, wake up to (maybe) dinner and talk to Hubs, then go immediately back to bed. On one particular weekend, I napped twice each day.
b.     What worked: Giving in to the naps. And have a patient, confused husband who is willing to do enough laundry to make sure you don’t have to resort to turning undies inside-out.
c.     What didn’t work: Caffeine. While I tried as hard as I could to stay under 200 mg (I averaged close to 100 mg per day), even fully leaded coffee could not shake this. So I do not advise that you do – it will not do much, if anything, and both you and the baby will feel better if you just go nap.
3.     Books
a.     This is a touchy subject because everyone has their favorites. And I have to admit that I have purposely avoided doing a lot of reading on this topic so I can (try to) avoid being over-saturated with information. I will start by saying that What to Expect did not speak my love language. It was a little alarmist and overall did not share a bulk of new information. It tries to speak to every pregnancy, which includes a lot of scary stuff. While this is important, it is certainly not the norm.
b.     Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn. The leading doula team in the Seattle area authors the book. We took Penny’s class that goes with the book, but the book on its own offers wonderful, balanced information. My favorite take-away was the way that it empowers the partner, not just the mother, to participate in the birthing process. I found it to be balanced between natural and traditional methods (hospital and home births).
c.     Bringing Up Bebe. I really liked this book, but I can see how it can be polarizing. Who doesn’t want quiet, patient, well-behaved children? Obviously the effectiveness is yet-to-be-proven in our own home, but I liked the authors voice (even as she struggles). The author is an American, married to an Englishman, and they live in Paris. She is struck by the way that her child differs in behavior from the French children surrounding her. While I don’t agree with every method, I enjoyed reading it, and I might have a few take-aways for our own child.
d.     Belly Laughs. I did not care for this. I read it in one night, and I basically felt like it could have been a series of blog posts instead of a book. I didn’t find it particularly relatable or even funny.
e.     Mommy IQ. I read this because I used to be Obsessed with the Pregnant in Heels show on Bravo. Have you seen it? It may have been my most favorite reality show ever. So I read the book. But after I read the other books, I did not find a single piece of unique information. And I didn’t think it was comprehensive enough to replace any of the other books I’ve read, including PCN.
f.      On my reading list:
                                               i.     TheWomanly Art of Breastfeeding (recommended by our lactation consultant in class)
                                             ii.     TheHappiest Baby on the Block
                                            iii.     BabyWise
                                            iv.     SleepingThrough the Night
4.     Stretch Marks
a.     These happen. You cannot avoid them. Unless you have excellent genes. In which case, congratulations. Don’t brag too much. I did try a few belly balms, and as my marks started to appear, I found that using the balms helped reduce some the itching and pain associated with the new stretch marks.
b.     Mama Bee Belly Butter. I used this first and liked it the most. It is thick and has subtle scent. I didn’t find that it absorbed very quickly, so I used it mostly in the evening so it could soak in overnight.
c.     Lovely Jubblies. I received this as a gift and used it when my first jar of Belly Butter ran out. I think I lost some ground with this. I will try it again when the baby is out to see if it helps tighten up (when I’m not growing any more!). The scent was stronger, and it felt a little greasier.
d.     Palmer’s Skin Therapy Oil. I love this stuff! It absorbs quickly (I was really surprised by this) and it has a really subtle scent. I use it twice per day. Once in the morning as soon as I get out of the shower and I follow it with normal body lotion; and once in the evening before my Belly Butter. I still got new stretch marks, but in general I’m more comfortable since using it. So that’s a win!
Those are my favorite things I’ve learned so far! What was your favorite pregnancy tip or book you can share with me?

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Stitch Fix Reveal - Maternity Style

When I first found out I was pregnant, I thought of all the places I wanted to try to look for maternity outfits. To be honest, I was actually excited to dress my new bump. Of course I cannot hide my love of shopping, but this was a whole new style challenge I was excited to venture into. As I thought about my favorites, Stitch Fix came to mind. When I last splurged on a fix, maternity wasn't an option. 
As it happened, within a few weeks of learning of this pregnancy, Stitch Fix also announced their new maternity fixes. Of course I couldn't resist. I have received two through this pregnancy - the first was a successful mix of maternity and non-maternity fashion, but the sizing was off so I only kept two pieces: maternity leggings and an edgy necklace. When I wanted to try it again, I made some notes about wanting more of a romantic feel to my pieces, and they knocked it out of the park! I kept the whole box - which I have never done!

Are you interested in your own fix - maternity or not? Check it out here: Stitch Fix

Note: While this is a referral link, all opinions below are my own and I was not compensated by Stitch Fix.

Tart Shania Ikat Maxi Dress
This dress actually isn't maternity, but it's billowy and is awesome now. Also great to know that this will transition nicely into my permanent wardrobe rotation. The pattern is navy and white, so not too harsh. Amazingly enough, it is also very long. As part of Team Flamingo, my legs and I struggle to find long length maxis. All sorts of winning.

Papermoon Toland Kimono


The back on this won me over. I've worn it with and without the belt, and have found it to be suitable over leggings, jeans, or LBDs. This will also stick around outside Maternity Time.

Full Moon Dacey Lace Overlay Maternity Knit Top

Again - the lace and the detailed back sucked me in. The buttons on the back (gold!) got me, and I love the lace for work. While it is stretchy, it is slim enough that this may work outside Maternity Time, but will certainly be comfy with sweaters over the holidays.

Pale Sky Solana Pleated Maternity Blouse

I love the funky floral/herringbone mash up. Flowy and stretchy. This is will probably stay in the maternity bucket - this style top has always been in my "I want it to succeed but I never feel great in it" pile pre-maternity. It's a little different now with the bump, but I generally need more shape to my tops.

And finally...
Bay to Baubles Liberty Triangle and Tassel Earrings
An easy yes. Coral and gold? Just duh.