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.

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.

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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.

 

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”

The Time I Painted the Living Room in My Underwear, and Other Stories about Marriage and Pregnancy

31 weeks pregnant, advanved maternal age, boys, change, first pregnancy, husbands, pregnancy, third trimester

That’s going to be the title of my memoir.

I want to hear from men about going through this pregnancy process. From finding out, to really grasping the concept, the fears, what it’s like to be on the outside looking at this woman who is carrying your child.

Had an interesting few days with my husband this last week. We’ve been trying to not go more than a week without seeing each other, and the long distance will thankfully soon be coming to end. The last time I was in town, we were the cliché couple at the Sherwin Williams store pouring over paint chips, trying to decide the merits of choosing “accessible beige” over “canvas beige”. The guy behind the counter assumed we were home owners, and gave a true chuckle when he heard that no, just a couple of dumb renters, expecting a baby, who signed a lease too soon and are moving into a fixer-upper.

I guess I expected the apartment to be painted when I returned this week. I mean, if I were there, I would’ve had that stuff slapped on the walls in probably 48 hours. My nesting pistons are firing on full steam. I want to see progress: the nursery looking like a place for a baby and not the break room for the camera crew for Sesame Street, our pictures on the walls, everything in its place so we know what doesn’t have a place, a plant or two – some life, some evidence that a family lives in this space, not a frat house on holiday, or Cindy Lou’s home in Whoville with one little ornament rolling around a bare wood floor.

Long story short, that’s not what I saw. Not much had been done, and my husband, the man I love dearly, was in a bad place. He looked like hell (for him…and he’s really good looking). This man that I adore is a creature who needs routine. Getting sleep, working out, eating well…this magic combo bodes well for the rest of his daily life. Substituting sleep for the internet, working out for post-shift beers and a cigarette, and mornings to work on our home for catching up on zzzzzs as the dull gray cloud of an approaching winter starts to set on Chicago…not. good.

I cried. Like, holding my face in my hands cried. Used words I’ve never said to him like “disappointed”. And I suddenly felt more like a mom than a partner, more like a “Wife” than his love. It was shocking…his inertia, this paralysis, this depression…when we have so much to do. The next day, while he was at work, in an act of rebellion and the fire to get things done while my body still feels pretty normal, I painted the entire living room and kitchen, trim, windows, crown molding, edges, two coats…everything. In four hours. He had been adamant that I not paint because of the fumes, but thanks to VOC-free paint (yeah!), my only obstacle was not having any crappy clothes/shoes to wear and not being able to fit into my husband’s pants. So…

October 29, 2014 became the day I was literally barefoot and pregnant, on a ladder, painting the living room in my underwear.

I had tea the next morning with a friend of ours who listened to what I had observed and with total confidence declared “He’s so scared.” And I started to feel bad for the things he had done that maybe I didn’t acknowledge enough. All these questions started flooding in about expectation, and being so focused on myself that I wonder how much I’ve allowed for his experience to enter into our joint equation, and wondering why he wasn’t as eager to make a home for us, with the same urgency that I feel, and on and on and on…

I read this article today that came across my facebook feed, and the headline was “The Three Sexiest Words a Man Can Say”. Those words were: “I got this”. Those words were exactly the ones I wanted to hear, to feel the result of…but here’s the thing: I feel guilty about that.

I’m a woman who has always fended for herself. I have all these female role models in my family who GET. IT. DONE. when stuff needs to be done, who do not hesitate, who move, act, and are always part of the solution. It’s in my DNA to solve problems, to crave results, to keep trying answers until the problem is solved. I cannot rest until all the little boxes are checked off the list. And I should be fine with me being me, and my husband, who doesn’t move at that same pace, being him. Right? And yet the only message I kept hearing in my little, sad head was “if he really loved me…”

There has to be something to this. Now of course I know plenty of men who’ve been heroes all through this crazy 9 month gestation (according to their wives). And I’m married to a great guy. A great partner. But something is there, some resistance, some inability to even put a paintbrush to a wall that symbolizes something much bigger. I want to talk about it. I don’t want to just wish he was the man in the article that says the three words every woman wants to hear. I don’t want to hear my sister say that he needs to strap on a pair and be all about me and the baby (oh, she was staying with us…adding a little public flair to his shortcomings). I want to know how I can help, what’s really going on. Because the men standing on the sidelines of pregnancy are going through something deep, knowing that it’s “the woman’s time”, and that they aren’t allowed to be tired, or stressed, or this or that, because all their “dude you’re a dad” books tell them it’s nothing compared to what their pregnant partner is going through…

Ugh. I don’t know. I haven’t read too much about this. There is definitely lots of internet space filled with women who have really terrible partners who are totally MIA, and straight up a-holes. And of course lots of pinterest perfect husbands who arrive home after a long day work with the perfect treat and gift certificate to a spa. But I haven’t found the women with great husbands who are struggling with fear, who maybe aren’t living up to the expectations set up in the baby books and blog posts.

Looking forward to coming out the other side of this and reporting back.

And to a freshly painted apartment 🙂

Cows

advanved maternal age, boys, first pregnancy, in-laws, motherhood, pregnancy, third trimester

So my sister has a new boyfriend. He’s great. I like them together. She’s happy around him and I think they challenge each other in all the right ways.

The boyfriend has a father. Who might be a hoot. In all the right ways…or not.

I met father o’ boyfriend in a coffee shop last week. I was NOT prepared to see anyone I knew. You know those days? When you just run out the door and hope there’s maybe a crumb of concealor somewhere in your bag, or on the steering wheel (I sometimes do my make up in the car…but NO MORE!), and you tell yourself that maybe you’ve pulled off the messy top bun with the glamour of Gisele? It was one of those mornings. I ran in the coffee shop my sis works at to grab a delicious cup of decaf joe, and there they were.

The mom reminded me of a tall Nancy Regan, with a polished, beautiful first lady air about her. The dad was in full out Packer gear, and didn’t have much to say. He grew up on a farm in Central WI, and I looked like the Wrecks of Hesperus, so I didn’t blame him for the stone cold expression on his face. Maybe he was imagining that his son could reproduce with my sister, and genetically, their offspring could come out looking like my hot mess of a self.

Of course the convo turned to my pregnancy, and the awkward talk of where it was going to happen and how I was feeling about birth, and  if I was taking Lamaze and yadayada. Talk that’s maybe a little personal for strangers, and I always get a tad self-conscious, like I have to apologize for doing Bradley Method and going au natural.

Then, out of nowhere, pops pops in. And delivers a monologue of advice and observations. Some gems that are seared into my memory:

“You know cows lay down while they labor and when they are about to give birth, they stand.”

“Cows moan, and moo, and below for hours and hours.”

“You know some cultures they would dig a hole in the ground and (*insert a spitting sort of sound*) squat and have their baby right in that hole.”

“I’ve seen dogs, cats, cows, give birth tons of times.”

And my fav:

“Child birth is the hardest thing you will ever do in your entire life.”

I think I laughed a lot, in effort to help the new boyfriend not look so mortified as he hung on to his mom’s chair for dear life. There was some joke as we said goodbye about me only being able to think of cows now when I deliver, and I think I may have hahahahagreedhahaha through my ohmygodohmygodsmile.

Good to know a midwestern farmer sees all mammals as equal: bovine, human, canine…and that he feels my labor pains. From the farm belt to your ears ladies!

My favorite saying

change, first pregnancy, motherhood, pregnancy, third trimester

Maybe most of you know this quote already. A quick google search reveals that it’s been attributed to many people, and turned into a million different pics (memes? it that what the kids are callling that…when you put a word and picture together?), so…it’s out there. But I first heard this when I was getting certified to teach yoga this past winter and have found myself coming back to it over the past few days.

My baby shower was today and I’m feeling very grateful. This baby is already so loved. He deserves only my best thoughts…they will be our destiny.

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