Quick Parenting PSA

As mentioned in my previous post, I really know nothing about babies.  But I’m a quick learner.  And one of my favorite -to-date parenting hacks: BLUETOOTH HEADPHONES.

Whether I’m out for a walk around the block or trying to not let the mind-numbing screeches of the Children’s Museum drive me to day-drink, my bluetooth headphones have saved the day.  I’m not zoning out to ultra chill beats, but rather making my brain a little more wrinkled by listening to podcasts!  These four have been in heavy rotation:

podcasts

 

1. | 2. | 3. | 4.

(I also love Joanna Goddard’s recommendations too.)

So when you see in my eyes that “thousand-yard stare”, it’s not just because I’m the mother of a busy 15 month old, but mostly because I’m listening to something really interesting!

My Baby Sleeps On The Floor: Our Montessori-ish Baby Room

Heston's Room

Let me first qualify this post by saying, I know nothing about babies.  Really.  I’ve never been a baby person, nor have I spent any substantial time with them.  We’re totally winging it over here.

We didn’t set out to be all Montessori-ish in our approach to raising Heston, but the more we engage with this life-learning method, the more I’m a convert.  Thus, our baby sleeps on the floor.

We originally bought a two bedroom house (albeit a tiny one) because we envisioned having a guest/baby’s room (and in that order).  I remember being pretty self-righteous and saying things like “Elch, why in the world do people dedicate an entire room to ‘kid-stuff’?!”  I said it before, but it’s worth mentioning again, I know nothing.

Our approach to the monkey’s sleeping situation was not guided by any particular method, it was simply that we couldn’t decide on a crib.  Between cost, design and our tiny space, I remember throwing my hands up in frustration and saying, “Why do we even need a crib?!” I was thinking about having just a day bed so that my mother (and other guests) could have an actual bed to sleep in.  But again cost, design, and space were not intersecting.  And I felt like I had time to decide since I knew he’d be sharing our room for the first part of his life.

I wasn’t sure how we would establish our family sleeping situation; I didn’t even know how I felt about it other than the extreme stereotypes represented in RomComs everywhere: Hippy-Dippy Family Beds whilst shunning vaccinations vs. ice-cold, detached robot parents who farm our raising their kids to a staff.  Surely there were more options than this?!  I implored the same approach we had with Heston’s impending arrival: we would just figure it out.  We started by RENTING the most beautiful (and functional) bassinet, but my little guy didn’t do much sleeping in it (much to my disappointment.)  And really, if I could have had my way, I think I would have preferred co-sleeping with H until he was in college old enough. But by 7 months when we knew H could lay on his back without choking (and sort of roll over) we knew it was time to fish or cut bait.  I felt like I had this window to transition him and this was it.  Armed with some research and my sleep bible, we put Heston on a mattress on the floor.

H Room

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The First Year

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How do you put into words the first year?  Nearly impossible.

Heston’s pediatrician danced with me in her office as I said, “It’s not Happy Birthday, baby! But CONGRATULATIONS Mamma & Papa!” She vigorously agreed and added, “the banner should end with, ‘and we’re still married — sort of!'” #truth #preach

Right now our little monkey has 3 teeth, but according to his 1 year check up yesterday, he has FOUR more sprouting any second!  His weight is in the 64th percentile, his length the 57th percentile and his gigantic, watermelon head is in the 93rd percentile!  Ha, ha! But for a baby that was once ONE OUNCE away from being labeled “failure to thrive” (at 16 weeks old) this is basically a miracle.

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Greetings From 9 Months

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I’ve been searching for my words in others’. I know they won’t be there; but somehow my thoughts are still a jumbled mess of syllables inside my mind. Much like my little monkey learning to babble, it’s how I feel about trying to articulate just what exactly has happened over these last 9 months.

The overwhelming love and joy that I have begun to experience since Heston turned 7 months is white-washing the nightmare that was my daily routine from day 1 – month 7. Everyone says you’ll forget the hard times, and maybe they are right. But it’s not that I’ve forgotten…but I can’t quite remember it, rather articulate it… it’s still so foggy and yet I can’t believe that I actually have “hindsight”.  We were in the trenches.  And then we weren’t.   I may not have the words for it, but I feel that I’ve been marked, branded, in some unique way.  And I’m talking about more than the permanent dark circles under my eyes and the severe postpartum hair loss (how did I not know this was a thing?!); nor is it the mark of general motherhood — but it is the mark of mothering an un-well baby, battling the demons of expectations and comparison, and digging down to a very deep, personal place to find the strength to get up again and again — for 7 months straight.

Color 9.21.05 PM

There are things I spontaneously remember that I’ve clearly already forgotten about…. My mantra for so long was “don’t forget about this,” but the way PTSD works, you’re supposed to forget, to be able to move on.  So while my pen had no fortitude and my memory no energy, nothing is more telling than my google search history; my digital legacy paints quite the picture.

  • what’s wrong with my baby
  • newborn won’t stop crying
  • newborn choking
  • what to do with a newborn
  • does my baby hate me
  • baby poop by color
  • how do i know if I’m going crazy
  • how long can I go without sleep
  • sleep deprivation as torture

And let’s not even go down the google rabbit hole of the breastfeeding problems I was having.  Oh Lawdy.

But I keep waiting to be able to articulate my experience to write in this space, but I think what’s needed is a fresh page, starting now.  So I’ll start with the present.

At 9 months, my little monkey is finally mobile.  He still breastfeeds, so eating is more about trial and error and tactile experience rather than nutrition.  But he loves almost any flavor food I’ve tried, spices and all.  But things with texture… not so much.  Because I’ve never been around babies I’m not sure what is unique to his personality, but I’m picking up on what others say about him. One of the most common comments I hear when we’re out and about is, “he’s so serious!”  And he is.  Whilst out in the world, he likes to be worn in my ring sling.  And he’s SO contemplative.  He sits straight-faced, soaking it all in.  But when we’re at home, he’s all squeals and giggles.  He’s definitely my kid.

His head is finally becoming more proportionate to his body and is in the 71st percentile (down from 92nd!), while height is 47th percentile and weight is 24th.  Watermelon on a toothpick.  And he’s wonderful.

 

My Birth Story

Prologue:

I don’t have the “Pinterest Perfect” images I thought I might capture during my labor and delivery (you know, a la Kate Middleton).  But these images are invaluable to me and was all thanks to my amazing doula for being able to multitask.  They are raw and real and capture the energy of the experience. What I’ve written here is not everything I remember from that amazing day; I could write more about expectations, conversations with my nurse and the choice to encapsulate my placenta. But those are stories for another time.  

Day 1

Well, I should clarify, this is not MY birth story, but rather, my son’s!  *insert some serious side eye*

Like any lover of good stories, I love me a good birth narrative.  It’s got great story structure built right in: an obvious beginning, middle, climax, and then an end.  Even when I adamantly didn’t want children, I still loved this narrative. And it’s time I add mine to the history books.

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Coming Up For Air

Struggle Quote

I think we’ve finally emerged from the fog of newborn days….20 weeks later!  I think I’ve finally caught my breath.  I seem to not only have my nose above water, but I’m actually treading water over here.  I’ve got a lot to say.  I hope I can find the words to adequately capture the last 20 weeks of my life.  Maybe it will all come out all at once, maybe it will trickle slowly.  But words are what I need right now to keep this experience in perspective.  And I want to remember; I want to not have rose colored glasses when hindsight is all I have.  I feel a new strength has surfaced…and lord knows I’ll need it as I find my new pattern of life.

*Mediterranean Sea Moraira, Spain, 2014*

It’s A Boy

Eight weeks.  We’ve survived EIGHT WEEKS!  And I’m still in “survival” mode.  So many things I want to blog about.  My (great) birthing experience, my declining health in the first week of postpartum, my difficulty breastfeeding, colic, tongue tie, and mostly how much I love this little boy.  I cannot believe I have a little BOY.  Bananas.  The only time I seem to have is when I’m sitting at the pump, and hopefully I’ll soon get to process this whole thing with words, but in the mean time you can see me process visually on Instagram.

Baby Heston Birth Announcement

The Day Is Near

Waiting

How do you describe the day before you know you’ll meet your child?  I am being induced tomorrow.  My mom texted me today and said that today feels different for her; for me it feels the same as the last 39 1/2 weeks — completely normal and completely surreal.

My last post at 34 weeks seems like yesterday and 100 years ago.  Maybe this is the entirety of being/becoming a parent: a constant paradox.

Ironically, since my shingles has cleared up, I’ve never felt better.  Really, these last 2 weeks in particular have been the best of my entire pregnancy.  Don’t get me wrong, my pelvis is about to completely fall apart and I walk like a 2,000 year old person, but mentally I’m finally there.  I’m finally ready to say: #letsdothis!

When I went in for my 37 week check up the doc told me, much to my surprise that I was 2cm dilated and 70% effaced.  The adrenaline kicked in.  At my 38 week check up I was 3cm and 80% effaced.  The adrenaline really kicked in and I thought for sure I would be meeting my monkey over Memorial Day Weekend.  So last Friday at my 39 week appointment I wasn’t sure what to expect; however, my progress has stalled and I’m still the same (3 & 80).

The emotion of it all manifested at the 37 week check up.  My sis came over that weekend and helped us set up the guest room baby’s room.  She and I and B nearly all lost it a few times, but especially during another Target run when I realized that I lost my mucus plug.  It was “gettin’ real in the whole foods parkin’ lot” if you know what I mean.  But we’ve all had time to settle a bit and now I just feel calm — a really weird calm.

I feel really fortunate to have gotten a little staycation weekend with the hubs over Memorial Day weekend.  We thought for sure it was our last together as a family of two so we made the most of it.  We watched like 5 movies (even went to the theater for one of them!) and cleaned the house, played cards, cooked almost all our meals at home together, limited phone calls, slept a lot; it was magic.  Then nothing.  I was all geared up — or rather zen-ed out — and then, nothing.

So I’ve tried to keep that level of internal calm for nearly another two weeks.  I’ve tried to be present to every opportunity — including junky tv, a random breakfast date, “long” walks, watching B cook for me, listening to music and meditations, and just sitting in the quiet of the house staring at my budding lemon tree.  I know that there will never be a time like this again.  As melodramatic and cliche as it sounds, I know life will never be the same again.

But I am ready.  I am ready for this new journey; a chance for renewed self-discovery and connection with my husband and the world.  And mostly, I’m ready to get this squirmy creature out of my body so I can squish it pieces!

Wish me luck!

We’re Having A….

BOY or GIRL

{Photo taken at one of my favorite places ever: the James Turrell tunnel at the MFAh}

I decided that I wanted to wait to find out the gender.  It could have something to do with my fear of early attachment… but I don’t think so.  I’ve just always thought it would be great to wait to find out.  I mean, I’ve got enough issues that I don’t think I need to start projecting gender bias onto something still in utero!  I also kind of like the personal challenge of turning down the opportunity of finding out.  It’s like being able to say no to a piece of free chocolate cake. (I mean, what sane person does that?!)

One of the unexpected enjoyments has been how EVERYONE has an opinion about what I’m having.  I’m not kidding.  Just last week a lifeguard, parking lot attendant, entire Chipotle staff, and a random lady on the street offered up their unsolicited opinions.  Bradly even had someone at a taco shop tell him what they thought it was and I wasn’t even with him!!!

It’s pretty predictable and usually conversations go something like this:

[Stranger:] “Wow… how far along are you?!” or “Congratulations”

[Me]: fill in appropriate blank

[Stranger:] “Is this your first?”

[Me:] yes

[Stranger:] “What are you having?”

[Me:] Not sure, we’re waiting to find out.

[Stranger:] “What?!?! Really? Wow!  Well I think its a {insert boy or girl}!”

I’m not kidding.  People flock to this belly like free ice cream on a hot day.  Surprisingly, the misanthropic introverted part of me doesn’t mind this.  I actually think it’s really funny.   I’ve talked to more strangers in the last 3 months than I have probably in the last 3 years combined!

I’ve also really enjoyed reading about all the old wives tales about gender.  Most of them suggest that I’m having a boy.  I keep flip-flopping as to what I think it is.  I wish I could say I have this other-worldly connection and my intuition is spot on, but really I have no idea.  I think for sure that it’s human…  But these days this is what I think I’m having:

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