Advice from the trenches

advanved maternal age, babies, baby advice, first pregnancy, first time moms, infant, mom advice, motherhood, newborn

1. Do not buy any baby clothes that you have to pull over their heads. They hate getting dressed. Having shit jammed over their big noggins must remind them of trying to descend the birth canal…just don’t do it to them. Buy ONLY kimono style things that SNAP or ZIP.

2. All shirts MUST HAVE MITTEN FOLD OVER THINGS attached!!!! Those little nails are terrifying, the separate mittens do not stay on. This is huge. You don’t want to worry about them clawing their face in the middle of the night. Or your boob.

3. Your going to be tempted to tear the tags off of every cute thing that people buy you. People are going to love to buy you onesies and adorable newborn things. My baby was wearing 3 month old clothes by day 10 of his life. And so much of the stuff we bought or received are cute and studly, but TOTALLY STUPID! BABY CLOTHES DESIGNERS WHAT ARE YOU THINKING 89% OF THE TIME?!? I wish we could take back half the stuff we bought, and we ended up rush ordering a bunch of Baby Soy/Loved Baby clothing 5 days into his life once we learned what actually works.

4. Buy a few really nicely made items and do more laundry. Those cheap packs of onesies that pull over the head with the long sleeve arms that you bought about 10 of from Target? You will dread putting those on over his head and trying to jam his locked up chicken arms into those little sleeves. FORGET IT.

5. Get a prescription for COMPOUND ALL PURPOSE NIPPLE OINTMENT now. Before you deliver. I don’t know why it took a $200 lactation consultation for someone to tell me about this stuff. Ask you doctor, or doctor’s nurse to get you a prescription, find a specialty pharmacy that makes compounds, and have it on hand immediately. It’s the best $50 I’ve ever spent.

6. The ugly undies they have for you at the hospital? Grab as many pairs as you can. The ones they had for me are like boy shorts, super comfy, go up high so they don’t irrate my c-section incision, and I’m still walking around in them 2 weeks later.

7. If you are planning on a c-section or have had one, C-panties will be your best friend. The high waisted ones. Again, I wish I hadn’t waited a week post-surgery to discover them.

8. Why on earth do they make nursing bras out of lycra and icky material?!?!?!? I only have two cotton nursing bras and am obsessed with them because they are SOFT. DUH!!!

9. Pooping. It’s an issue. Especially with a c-section and the pain killers that cause constipation, but I’ve had other friends go through agony from vaginal tearing as well. So again: KIWIS. Try and eat two kiwis a day. One first thing in the morning, and one at night. I skipped the stool softeners they wanted me to get because I felt like I had enough drugs in my system…and kiwi plus an avocado a day, with lots of H20 and warm teas kept everything running smoothly. Trust me on this.

10. Schedule a session with a lactation consultant a couple weeks out. Once you’ve been at it for a while. Even if things are going well, it’s great to know that you’re not just winging it, get all your crazy questions answered, have someone stare at your nipples and make sure everything looks good. I was on the fence about this because I knew the baby was packing on the ounces in a serious way…but I did have soreness that I wasn’t sure was “normal”, and the peace of mind from the consultation is worth every penny.

11. You can’t have enough cross over shirts, tank-tops and cardigans. Regular crew-neck shirts will not work when you have to be able to take out your boob every couple of hours. So farewell lululemon yoga tops that I loved all throughout my pregnancy. Hello criss cross nursing shirts that I can pull down.

12. The belly band is nice. It worked for me. My tummy shrank a lot faster when I started wearing it a few hours a day.

13. If you use a pacifier at the hospital, get multiple pacifiers of the same brand. Our hospital used an Advent Soothie and that’s the only one the baby will allow in his mouth now.

14. As much as we wanted (and still want) to use eco friendly diapers, the Huggies with the indicator strip that they used at the hospital have been a life saver in the middle of the night (and in general). My husband really appreciates the lack of guess work.

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The new arrival

advanved maternal age, babies, boys, change, first pregnancy, first time dads, first time moms, motherhood

Where. To. Start.

The fact that I’m writing this while leaning over the kitchen counter soaking my nipples in warm salt water?
Or that the 17 day old baby boy is sleeping and I have maybe 2 precious hours to get myself back to feeling like a person?
Or that after 60 hours in labor I ended up having a c-section and the whole ordeal had me PTSD crying almost every day for a week after?
Or that I finally saw my incision, slightly crooked and cut longer on the right side than the left because his little shoulder was lodged in a weird way on my right side, and felt like some science experiment?

No one told me that having a newborn would reduce my being to a pure physical vessel…my only purpose to feed and care for a helpless being. Or that caring for a newborn is a one way street, giving everything to this little life who cares not that you have layers of stitches crossing the bikini line, or that your mammary glands are freaking out, swollen and sore, or that your uterus is shrinking and cramping, that there will be vicodin and stool softeners and more people wondering about your gastrointestinal functions than you ever thought possible, that you would replay the events of your labor over and over again with your husband and cry over the pain and trauma of it all, that he will see and do things for you that you never imagined (involving blood and vomit and maxi pads and helping you walk and do ANYTHING).

But I was warned how wonderful it would be, how I would fall in love like never before, how all the pain would go away once that little babe was in my arms.

Readers, moms to be, new moms, professional moms…I have to say this wasn’t 100% true for me. It is there. It comes and goes. It is profoundly present when he smiles in his slumber, when his little fuzzy head nuzzles into my neck and he falls asleep, cooing and making the sweetest sounds, when he sees my face now or hears my voice and I think I can truly see some sort of recognition, when I’ve learned what soothes him and can calm those cries with a song, or a rocking chair session, or my milk. Still, it’s a liiiiittle more like a blind date than love at first sight…we are getting to know each other. Sussing out what we are in store for us with this union. Learning what we can tolerate, let go of, give, what we love about each other, what doesn’t work. There’s the fear of commitment and enormous responability mixed with an eternal love that can’t be explained.

And remember how afraid I was of losing my relationship with my husband? Well I’ve never loved him more. Our household has been a constant (and VERY welcome) stream of help and family and visitors, so we haven’t had a lot of alone time, but holy moley…he has become the head of our household, a caretaker like I’ve never seen, and although we were committed to co-sleeping, we now start the baby in a bassinet and the half hour we have together, in bed, side by side, has become one of the best parts of my day.

The baby was feed and changed and asleep last night at 10pm, my husband’s mom was in town and we were feeling ambitious, so we decided to surprise my husband and show up at his work. When he saw us, his family, he teared up.

Because it’s finally hitting us. This is our family. We are family.

I looked up “family” and the defintion is pretty sterile:
: a group of people who are related to each other

: a person’s children

: a group of related people including people who lived in the past

I suppose this cardboard definition is necessary and the best dictionary.com can do with the “traditional” sense of the word. But what a shame. If you are reading this, you probably understand how little justice these definitions do the word.

I am formimg my own definition and will share it soon as I learn more from this little boy and the big man in my life. It’s bubbling inside me, this deep feeling of awe and confusion and love and sense of forever…

The in-between.

41 weeks, advanved maternal age, babies, change, motherhood, overdue, pregnancy, third trimester, winter baby

I’ve been trying to tell myself the truth about how I’m feeling at 41 weeks. Am I kind-of ok with it? REALLY ok with it (still feeling good, husband is 5 hours away still, and there’s no need for alarm until next weekend)? Super anxious? Over it? Done-cooked-time is up-eviction notice is posted? I tend to feign the latter attitude when people check me out, wide eyed and sympathetic that I’m not a mom yet. Everyone is checking in daily, wondering if I’m at the hospital, if the baby has arrived.

No.

Baby is still a mysterious rolling movement inside my body that occasionally has the hiccups.

Despite seeing a very happy baby during my non stress test a few days ago, my doctor offered to induce me on Monday if I wanted.

As each day ticks on, I’m giving into not just ice cream and turkey sandwiches (been a vegan for over 5 years), but also thoughts like “maybe I’m not ready for this, maybe I want to be childless and I’m a DINK (that’s: dual incomes no kids), maybe my subconscious is scared and holding this baby in instead of welcoming him out, maybe I don’t trust myself or my husband, what is next, what happens after the baby is born, will anyone ever hire me, will we ever have enough money, it’s freezing out we should’ve stayed in California of course baby wants to be in the womb I would stay in there too…”

So then I had a big crying session the other morning. Actually woke up crying. And then after trying to seek comfort in my poor husband who couldn’t do much over the phone, had French toast and fake bacon and felt a little cleansed.

Then, I came across this article

http://www.mothering.com/articles/the-last-days-of-pregnancy-a-place-of-in-between/

The place of in-between. If you are expecting, in this boat of “baby could come any minute!”, waiting for this new life to arrive, give yourself a few minutes to read this piece. It’s a beautiful tribute to the days, the moments, the space before we, mom and baby, make the transition together.

Ode to My Winter Maternity Coat

40 weeks, advanved maternal age, babies, first pregnancy, maternity clothes, maternity coat, motherhood, overdue, pregnancy, third trimester, winter baby

After a whole summer and fall  wearing the same lululemon leggings, top and cardigan, I was wondering if I’d really have to succumb to buying you. Would you be worth the expense of needing you for only a measly two months? Maybe I could get away with leaving my old winter coat unzipped and using a cozy scarf like Mr. Kravitz?

2ba8c1df0e7a37021cc0d23851401b85-lenny-kravitz-why-is-your-scarf-so-big

I had been living in California for the past five years. I didn’t really remember what “winter” meant in the Midwest. Yes, I had seen the news of the polar vortex last year from my sunny living room while wearing my ridiculous Uggs because it was like, 60 degrees out and felt a little “chilly” in the apartment.

I decided to tentatively search for you on a brisk day at the end of October when the zipper in my XS puffy coat finally gave up the struggle to operate. It was around 40 degrees and I was cold. And scared. Because I knew that soon it would be 45 degrees LESS than what, at the time, felt cold enough.

Still feeling stubborn, I decided to go the craigslist route with buying you. I didn’t need a $150 winter maternity coat. I didn’t think you were worth it. So I spent a few days scouring the “for sale” section, sheepishly searching “winter maternity coat” with a few paltry results in the wrong sizes showing up here and there, but disappearing just as quickly.

Then you appeared. A size 4 Gap puffy jacket. In the grossest, weirdest grey/green/brown color. You were priced at $25. I emailed your owner and began the somewhat dubious, sketchy, always skeptical process of hooking up with a craigslist buyer. The mistrust, the “are you for real”, the “are you someone who I should be meeting at a public location” sussing out, the “will you actually show up because I’ve been burned twice this last weekend” question, the hiding behind an anonymous email address before you finally get a cell number to “text when you’re close and I’ll come outside” god forbid we exchange names or see each other’s private living quarters. After a week or so of back and forth and figuring out when we could make the exchange, which now seemed as difficult and forbidden and spontaneously organized as a first-time college nickel bag pick-up, we had a meeting place and time. There had been so much back and forth that I forgot if your price was $20 or $25. I texted your owner who told me it was $25. I only had a $20 on me, so I could go pull out another $20 at the bank. Did she have change? No. Ok, I thought, still semi-annoyed that was even making this temporary, unfashionable monstrosity of a clothing purchase, how about I give her $20 and we call it a deal? Nope. $25, and she just procured $15 from her husband for change. This was starting to feel like too much effort.

I parked on the crowded Lincoln Park street with my hazards on, and the “I’m here!” text that sent you down to me. Your owner was pleasant and all business, and I threw you on as if you had always been in my closet. You looked brand new, covered my butt, and fit my expanding belly perfectly.

You still do. You still do maternity winter coat that I have grown to love and depend on.

Yes, you’re big, you have a nondescript muddy color, and are ugly as hell. I’ve spilled so much crap down my front that has been caught on the belly area of your facing, and my mom says I look like a mushroom when I have you on, but you’ve been worth every penny. I would’ve paid more for you if asked. You’ve been functional. You still fit so well even though I’m 40 weeks +1 day and am drawing stares everywhere I go (seriously, something happened this last week…every person, ALL THE PEOPLE, can’t help but ask me when I’m due and comment, and “ooooo” and “ahhhh” with wide eyes and open mouths…my body is screaming “HAVING A BABY ANY DAY NOW!!!”). And this morning, when I saw the temps (-3. Yes, NEGATIVE THREE) and thought, “hey, I’m going to try and squeeze into my old winter coat that I know is more technical and warmer than this used GAP coat” and almost threw up because of the squeeze and compression and could feel my baby squirm as if asking me “what in the hell?”…I put you back on and sighed at your comfortable fit, your warm embrace, and you know what? I was toasty, damn toasty, as I made my way to the icy car.

I was wrong to judge, to question your need. I underestimated your extreme value and you know what winter maternity coat? I think I might even wear you POST partum, until the temperature warm up again. And when the time comes to bid you adieu, I will write you the most amazing craigslist add and find you an owner deserving of your worth.

Love, Me.

photo

Things I will not Facebook about when this baby arrives

39 weeks, advanved maternal age, babies, first pregnancy, motherhood, pregnancy, third trimester

39 weeks (tomorrow), 50% effaced (my doula said to decline internal exams, but I couldn’t help it at my appointment yesterday and was like: “reach in there and feel my cervix thankyouyesplease”), my husband has the worst case of the flu I’ve ever seen (trying not to be mad at him for it and play the convincing role of “Concerned Wife: late 30’s, blonde, could give birth at any momo. She’s not afraid to sequester her husband in a separate room and get annoyed every time she hears him hack up a lung without covering his mouth, but also feels bad for him and makes soup, does grocery store runs to get Gatorade and drugs…and secretly follows him around with disinfectant wipes, scouring down every surface he touches), and I fins myself paying extra close attention to the Facebook status of new moms on my feed.

I’m going to vow here and now, (with clear eyes and an open mind that I might, ok probably will, do ALL these things once baby fever hits me and I fall in total love with this creature that I have been growing), that I will NEVER post on FB:

1. The sleeping patterns of myself and our baby. Because really…an adult getting 4 hours of sleep and celebrating publicly isn’t really interesting, is it?

2. Ask things in a status that I can easily google. Because…the internet. And if I really have a question that demands a trusted answer, I will private message the moms that I know, individually, not in some big group message that they (with their own spitting up, pooping, crying baby) will have to eventually bow out of.

3. Put ANY photos of my labor and delivery story up. Any. None of the before, the DURING, or the immediately after.

3. Put braggy pictures of myself without makeup on, my sleeping newborn curled on my chest.  Duh, I will have make up on. What’s the point of a braggy new mom pic with the perfect newborn I don’t look radiant with the help of a little macaca and Nars orgasm blush?

4. Posts about how we’re “so blessed”. This really gets me. And I know people do it all the time with the best of intentions…but what is this really saying? That some being, some one, some deity, is sitting somewhere, blessing some of us humans, and then with others just being all “nahhhh, you’re not gonna be blessed, sorry sucka!”. And what if something were to happen to me or the baby during labor…does that mean I was blessed with a great pregnancy, but then whoever dishes out these blessings, decided that I shouldn’t be blessed with a healthy baby? I know this is a cynical attitude…but I just have enough friends and people I care about who have had huge problems becoming mothers, that to say I’m “blessed” because I have had a baby would just be a kinda dick thing to say. Don’t get me wrong…this whole pregnancy/baby making thing is A FREAKING MIRACLE, like, I can’t wrap my little human brain around it, even now…but all species procreate, and I doubt monkeys or fish or worms go around thinking they are blessed because they did what their bodies just naturally do. I will be grateful, and might express that, but I will not let all my facebook friends know that I’ve been blessed.

5. Selfies of me and baby. Because public selfies are bad enough. Why subject an innocent being to a world or narcissism he will come to know alllllllll in good time? Plus by the time he’s old enough to know what a selfie even is, I’m sure it’ll be a relic from the past, like record players, VHS tapes, and J.Crew mock roll down turtlenecks.

6. Declare FB a “no baby” zone. There’s the high and mighty “I’m going to break my NO FACEBOOK PICTURES OF BABY rule and just put this adorable video of River dancing to One Direction…” type status that I’m kinda over as well. I get it. You don’t want to exploit your baby, or have FB creeping around with their advertisers all up in your baby business. Totally understandable. But who are you? A Kardashian? Princess Kate? I think if we are friends of Facebook, I probably want to see at least a few pics of you and your precious bundle..especially after a few weeks when he/she is cute and doesn’t look like a little old blob of a man. Don’t over do it. Like, I don’t need to see a million photos…but let us all know that everything is ok, give us a visual aid so we can put a face to the name, and let us see, every once in a while, how things are progessing with the little guy/gal. Promise I won’t sell the image to TMZ.

 

The Waiting Game and What’s up With the Obsession With Using Acronyms on Message Boards?

37 weeks, advanved maternal age, babies, change, first pregnancy, first time dads, husbands, in-laws, motherhood, pregnancy, third trimester

Ok ladies and gents, I still don’t know what “LO” “DS” or “DH” mean on these pregnancy boards. The use of acronyms is out of control. Is there a decoder or something? I’ve been googling the crap out of the internet lately and pregnant women write in code 1/3 of the time. I’m in the pregnant club! So I feel like I should be able to translate!

37 weeks today.
How do you play these last zero to 21-ish days? Officially full term and shhyyyyyat has gotten real. Full blown nesting (what did people do before the internet to keep them busy and Amazon Prime for all the last little things they need?!), belly dropping, food passing right through me (tmi, but I guess the emptying out is a big sign), crazy hysterical crying in the middle of the night because I’m worried my husband has enough on his plate with his own life and throwing a baby into the mix is going to spell a word that rhymes with “schmivorce”.

I haven’t written in a while because everything seems like it’s already been written about: the funny body pillow routine, the heartburn, the shower, the third trimester aches and pains, the lists of how to prepare, advice on anything you can imagine. This last trimester I’ve pretty much been on cruise control (i.e. boring stuff that no one needs to read about).

There have been two things that have happened that I didn’t expect:

1. Pain. Like I’m being kicked in the vagina pain. I did take a slip in the snow and went down like a tipped cow a few weeks ago. I felt pretty well padded with the snow and my puffy coat…and it could’ve been coincidence, because the baby dropping down and getting bigger does cause pain, but the day after that I could hardly walk. A chiropractic appointment and massage where the lady was actually massaging the ligaments that attach to my sit bones…yes…right all up in there, really helped FYI. I feel like I’m back. Dare I say…comfortable.

2. Loneliness. I don’t know what’s going on in the marital department. I’m going to set up my husband’s behavior with an anecdote that involves his blood line:

The mother-in-law said a month ago that she looked at our registry and wanted to buy our mattress. AMAZING! It’s one of our more expensive items (and by “our” I mean snobby, paranoid, picky “ME” who suddenly wants my baby to only sleep on organic cotton), and a necessity we haven’t purchased. My parents have poured a small fortune into this grandchild, so my husband and I felt comfortable letting his mom take on this luxury item.

Weeks go by. No mattress. She emails me to say that she found one made of soy foam that is cheaper and would I take a look at that.
Ok. Sure. I take a look, and suggest to her that she buy one or two or three of the gazillion other things we need off the registry, or give us a gift card for whatever she’s comfortable with that we can put towards getting the mattress I obsessively researched and picked out. “No, if the $259 mattress is the one you want, that’s what you should have” is the response.

So now I feel like an asshole. Husband is getting peeved that his mom won’t just get the damn mattress like she offered, that’s she’s been pretty absent this whole pregnancy, that he had to ask her if she was excited to be a grandma to which she responded “Am I excited? I mean, I’m happy for YOU”. And the friggin mattress is still on the registry and I’m boring you to death writing about.

POINT BEING: she’s on her own time, is doing this at her convenience, isn’t thinking about making our lives a little less stressful…or putting me in a position to defend my registry choices, or worrying that the baby could be early, or blah blah blah. And it’s fine. She’s not my mom. We have places for the baby to sleep. We can buy our own mattress. But…

I see the same thing in my husband. This “I’ll do it tomorrow”, this procrastination, this inability to think ahead, or plan things out for the future, or GET IT DONE so the reward of being able to relax and feel secure can happen. And he’s operated like this in small ways from the get-go 9 months ago…painting himself into corners with money, with time, with his career, with his health, with getting our apartment ready. I guess I assumed that having a baby and becoming a parent creates a universal shift in the human species. That he would change right along with me. That he would be buying onesies that say “I love my mom”, and pedicures for me, and actively assembling the nursery, and worried about the air quality in our home and always thinking “what does my pregnant wife need? What can I do?” I pee a thousand times a night…like maybe get that night light I asked for?
But then I think that I’m a big girl and I can do/get/buy/assemble anything. I’m not sick. I’m pregnant. And I feel like an asshole again.
How entitled are we during this 9 month gestational time? I feel like I have to detach from him, pull away and let him struggle as he grapples with this weird resistance and inertia and procrastination. He’s not really there for us, so I need to be there for me, and let him…what?

This all came out last night at 3am in a big, heaving, crying, curled up in the fetal position, bawl. I couldn’t believe it. Again…me..with the crying. What the hell?

I have an amazing husband. He loves me. I love him. We have a lot of fun and tenderness and understanding between us. But I keep replaying in my head all the blog posts and friend’s stories about how “ammmmaaaaazzzing” their husbands were, and I can’t say that. My husband has been really disappointing and it scares me to the core. We are in our late 30’s and, I thought, ready for this. Ready to make a shift. Ready to welcome this responsibility. But maybe the older you are, the harder it is to change, to break routines and habits, to change the narrative you’ve told yourself your whole life.

Great.

Things I’ve Googled in the Past Few Days:

32 weeks pregnant, advanved maternal age, babies, first pregnancy, google, husbands, in-laws, motherhood, pregnancy, third trimester

“What not to google when you are pregnant”

“Will yoga squish my baby?”

“If I lean too much against a counter will I damage my baby’s head?”

“When will my husband accept that there is a real human in my body that will be his son in 7 weeks?”

“Do first time parents ever have sex, ever again?”

“What’s the difference between regular underwear and maternity underwear?”

“32 weeks and something hard as a rock is pushing out my stomach in a sustained position, what is it?”

“For real, what’s the story with vaccinations?”

“Will blinds really kill my baby?”

“Will bumper pads really kill my baby?”

“Do I really need to buy breast pads?”

“Having a newborn during a polar vortex”

“My baby is moving like crazy, can he strangle himself with his umbilical cord?”

“Pregnant and my hair never gets greasy, why can I go 6 days without washing my hair?”

“My mom’s nursery for the baby is nicer than mine”