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Archive for September, 2012

Now that I’m a mom

I don’t know what it is, but when I became a mom, something changed.

Well, duh! Lots of things changed. My body, my social life, my priorities…but that’s not what I mean.

My ability to mentally and emotionally handle certain things has changed. In some ways, I’m stronger. Like when my grandpa passed, I didn’t fall apart like I always thought I would. I couldn’t. I had a baby that needed to be fed, changed, and cuddled. I couldn’t lay in bed for days and cry. I had to learn to compartmentalize my grief, only letting it show when the baby was asleep or being held by someone while I took a shower. I’m sure there are ramifications for dealing with it this way – like prolonged grieving, especially since I almost forget he’s gone sometimes.  I’ll start to miss him and then I’ll remember. But I’m usually good at keeping myself busy and focusing on putting one foot in front of the other, so I don’t let myself completely break down.

But then again, I think becoming a mother has made me weaker. No one ever likes to hear about sick or abused children, or babies dying, but I feel like I used to be able to turn away from it easily. I would think, “It’s the news. Terrible things happen. That’s the world we live in and there’s nothing I can do about it.”

But now. Now I watch the news and I’m heartbroken. A mother kills her own children before shooting herself, one of them a 22 month old baby. A BABY. Justin Bieber’s mom was molested starting at 4 years old. A FOUR YEAR OLD. What sick fuck would ever harm a child? And I dwell on these things for a very long time, thinking that if anyone ever hurt my child, I would surely spend the rest of my life in prison for murder. Tortuous murder too. A bullet to the head would be too kind.

And then there are the stories that have no human evil to blame. Like the story that had me bawling today about little 4 year old Ronan Thompson who died from cancer. And Taylor Swift wrote a song about him, using his mom’s words from her blog. And I just…I lose it. I feel for that mom and her feelings of helplessness. I imagine my baby being so sick, and not being able to do anything to help him. And it’s the worst feeling I could possibly imagine. A parent should never have to bury their child and yet it happens all the time. And while that’s always been a sad reality of life, it bothers me so much more now that I’m a mom. It makes me fearful of the future. I know I can’t protect him from everything forever and ever, and it’s that feeling of having no control that drives me bonkers. In my eyes, he’s the most precious thing to ever exist in the history of the universe, and to have that thing be so tiny, and fragile and mortal makes me fear everything. And every story about something bad happening to their own most precious thing makes my heart so very heavy.

So I do the only thing I know how to do. I cry. And then I donate money. And then I go home and cuddle my baby until he gets annoyed. But I have to do more. I just don’t know what “more” is yet.

 

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I thought it might be helpful if I kept a list of my favorite baby items. Perhaps to remind myself for when #2 comes along, or just in case anyone else is preparing to have a baby and might find this list useful. So without further ado…

1. The Halo Sleep Sack & Swaddle. AKA baby snuggie. Other than diapers, wipes, and feeding necessities, this is by far my most-used baby item. We have three – two fleece versions, and one cotton version. For the first 2+ months, D couldn’t sleep for longer than maybe 20 minutes without being swaddled. That weird falling sensation babies have all the time would have him throwing his little arms in the air like he’s in the middle of some turbulent roller coaster ride. So even though he hated being swaddled, often grunting and fighting to get his arms free, it was necessary. And the velcro on this thing gave me so much more peace of mind than relying on a blanket and my own swaddling abilities. Right around the 3 month mark, we stopped swaddling. He just hated it so much and I could tell that his arms weren’t nearly as jerky. Not to mention he fought me on it every single night, so finally I gave in and said, “Ok, I’ll give you a chance. But if you wake yourself up, it’s back to the swaddle, mister.” And sure enough, he still continued to sleep through the night. We still put him in it every night, but we use it more as a sleep sack with his arms out.

2. Baby Mozart and Baby Beethoven. Part of the Baby Einstein collection by Disney, these DVDs are brilliant. As soon as D started noticing TV, I broke out the DVDs and he just LOVES them. We only let him watch one or two a day, at most, but it’s just so cool to see his little face light up at certain things or characters. I know a lot of people have been accused of using these DVDs as babysitters, but usually we’re right there, watching him watch it, because it’s just so fun to see his reaction.

3. Sophie the Giraffe. I was really starting to think this little toy was highly overrated, but then D turned about 3 mos old and it’s definitely his favorite toy now. I tried giving it to him around the 2 month mark and he wasn’t interested in the least. But once he started really using his hands more and trying to put things in his mouth, Sophie became a huge hit!

4. Boppy feeding pillow. At one time, probably THE most used baby item in the house. We used it for feeding and baby propping on the couch. We still use it for feeding most of the time, but not so much on the baby propping since he’s all about trying to sit up more these days. I have two slip covers that I switch out when one gets dirty, but I kind of wish I would’ve bought covers with cooler patterns. I use a plain white one most of the time, which is great because I can tell when it gets dirty, but it’s just so…boring.

5. Cloud B Giraffe Sound Machine. This little guy stays attached to his crib and we use it every night. It has two settings for time (25 min or 45 min.) and 4 different sound settings. We really only use the white noise sound, and it’s just one of those little ritualistic cues that tells the baby that it’s time for bed. Plus, it helps to drown out any noises we’re making after he goes to sleep. And before your mind goes to the gutter, I mean like the clinking of baby bottles or dishes, or putting away laundry.

6. Moon in My Room night light. Not helpful in the LEAST for doing anything with the baby, but it’s just a really freakin’ cool night light. It’s light weight so it hangs on the wall easily. It’s battery powered with a remote, and goes through all the moon phases with the click of a button. So you could have a full moon, a half moon, a crescent moon…it’s awesome. I just wish it had a longer timer setting since it only stays on for 30 minutes.

7. Playmat. Ours was a shower gift and is super simple, so I’ll probably buy another one soon, but ever since we first brought him home, the playmat has provided loads of entertainment, and has really helped me in a pinch when I needed to occupy baby for a few minutes so I could grab something to eat, use the bathroom, change clothes, etc.

8. Bath music. We’re on an every-other-night-unless-needed-more-often bath ritual around here. Which means we’re giving about 4 baths a week. And each bath takes about 10-15 minutes, 20-25 if you count getting the water ready, drying baby off, putting on lotion, and dressing in PJs. I love doing it, but I’m usually so exhausted by this point in the day, that I just don’t always feel like filling the time with my own voice. Especially when the only voice I seem to use anymore is that high-pitched mommy voice that everyone hates, including me. So we’ve been playing our own “bath track” that pretty much just has Sesame Street’s Rubber Duckie on repeat most nights, but I’m also adding Splish Splash.

9. Postagram. It should be a given that things like a nice camera and video recorder are necessary when trying to capture all of baby’s firsts. So are things like social media when it comes to sharing all those adorable baby photos and videos. But part of me still finds it necessary to have tangible photos in hand, either for myself or to send to loved ones. Enter Postagram. A really cool app that let’s you create postcards from your phone using your photos (Instagram photos work best for dimensions) and sends them anywhere in the US for only $.99. When the postcard arrives, it features a customized message of your choosing, and the photo is on a perforated, glossy cardstock that the recipient can pop out and put in a frame or on the fridge. It can take up to a week from the time  you send them for them to be printed and arrive at their destination, but that’s really my only complaint. And for a dollar, you can’t beat it. I spend close to $4 on a generic greeting card from the store. Why wouldn’t I send a creative postcard with a keepsake photo instead for a fraction of the cost? It’s amazing. Check it out.

10. Wubbanub paci. I was hesitant to even put this one on here since D really didn’t use it much until the last week or so. He’s not big on pacifiers unless it’s bedtime. And for whatever reason, he really never took to the Soothie brand pacis either. But, he does seem to like playing with this one and uses it more as a toy than a paci. So when Sophie isn’t cutting it, sometimes this little guy can keep him entertained for a little while.

What’s your favorite baby item for those first few months?

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Happy Birthday,Grandpa!

I knew this week was going to be tough. Grandparent’s Day was yesterday and today is my grandpa’s birthday. He would’ve been 78.

Last year at this time I was working my tail feathers off to orchestrate a surprise birthday party for his 77th birthday. It was my idea, which occurred to me months before (I think around June, after reading this post about a blogger throwing her dad a 60 Years of Memories birthday party). Even though he was doing alright, I think deep down I knew that this could be his last birthday. I hate that I was right, but I’m glad we spent his last birthday surrounding him with love and memories. My mom, cousin, aunt and I all worked hard to get as many family members and friends from his past together in one place to celebrate the day. Do you know how hard it is to track down a bunch of seniors when none of them are on Facebook? In fact, my grandpa was the only one with a Facebook page. (side note: He was always trying to learn new things, never content with just “the way things are”. He was the only grandpa I knew that played Nintendo or used a computer regularly, emailing his friends jokes and sending forwards of pretty pictures and inspirational messages. I never realized just how exceptional this was until I learned just how few older folks embrace technology the way he did.)

Anyway, we spent weeks tracking people down, researching venues and planning the menu, ordering cakes (one for his birthday and one for his/my grandma’s anniversary which is Sept. 14), and best of all, collecting memories. We had 77 in all, and it was so fun reading all the memories from people – especially people that knew him long before I was ever born.

My favorite memory wasn’t written down on a piece of paper or emailed in on a FB message. It was a video, from one of my grandpa’s best friends, Wild Bill, who lives in Florida and couldn’t make the party.

We didn’t go through each of the written-in messages during the party. (A few of us went back to his house to open them and read them out loud around the kitchen table.) But I brought our iPad and played the video message from Wild Bill. My grandpa’s reaction to the video, the party, everything – was priceless. He always acted like he hated the attention, but I know that he had a blast. In fact I think I recall him saying something about the day going by too fast. There were just so many people he wanted to sit and talk with and we only had a few hours.

Here he is listening to the video message from Bill:

I wish I could relive that day all over again. A thousand times. It was so much work, but so very worth it. Instead, I have to spend this day at work, missing him and wishing I didn’t have to visit him at a cemetery like I did yesterday.

He’s buried at Jefferson Barracks which is the second largest cemetery for veterans, next to Arlington National. Because it’s so busy, headstones typically take a few months to come in. We were told grandpa’s headstone wouldn’t be in until October so I expected to visit him yesterday and just see a little marker. Instead, we saw a brand new headstone. My grandma didn’t even know it was there. She’ll get to see it today when she visits, but I’m so glad it’s in already. Just in time for his birthday.

I miss him so much. Of course, it’s a gorgeous day today too. Not a cloud in the sky, high 70’s, and just….beautiful. I know he would’ve enjoyed today. And tonight I would’ve ran home after work, loaded up the babe and the hubs, and headed down to his house for dinner and cake. Instead, I’ll be running home, fixing dinner, and watching a movie he told me to rent and watch probably about a month or two before he died called Pharlap. It’s been out of print for awhile so I couldn’t rent it, but I could buy it and so I did. I just haven’t watched it yet.

And maybe, if I can bring myself to do it, I’ll go through and read some of the 170+ emails he’s sent to me in the last year that I’ve left unread. He’d send so many forwarded jokes, videos, photos, etc that I just didn’t have the time read them. I never deleted them, but I didn’t read a lot of them either, so they’ve sat in my inbox since last year. Now I can barely bring myself to read any of them without breaking down, so I’m going through them in very small doses. I kind of like it that way though because it’s like I’m reading a new message from him once in awhile.

I’ll leave you with one that I just read that I thought was fitting for today:

Subject: Will I Live to see 80?

Here’s something to think about.

I recently picked a new primary care doctor. After two visits and exhaustive Lab tests, he said I was doing ‘fairly well’ for my age. (I just turned fifty-five).

A little concerned about that comment, I couldn’t resist asking him, ‘Do you think I’ll live to be 80?’

He asked, ‘Do you smoke tobacco, or drink beer, wine or hard liquor?

‘Oh no,’ I replied. ‘I’m not doing drugs, either!’

Then he asked, ‘Do you eat rib-eye steaks and barbecued Ribs?

‘I said, ‘Not much… my former doctor said that all red meat is very unhealthy!’

‘Do you spend a lot of time in the sun, like playing golf, boating, sailing, hiking, or bicycling?’

‘No, I don’t,’ I said.

He asked, ‘Do you gamble, drive fast cars, or have a lots of sex?’

‘No,’ I said…

He looked at me and said,.. “‘Then, why do you even give a shit?”

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Time Is Love

Heard this song on the radio during my frantic commute home and it just fit so perfectly with how I was feeling in that exact moment. And really, how I feel every day as the clock strikes 5pm.

I only get so many minutes,
don’t wanna spend ’em all on the clock
In the time that we spent talkin’,
how many kisses have I lost?

Time is love, gotta run,
love to hang longer,
but I got someone who waits,
waits for me and right now
[he’s] where I need to be,
time is love…

I love my job and over the last 8 plus years I’ve never really minded putting in the 50 hours a week required. But I love those baby snuggles even more and I only get a couple of hours a day of awake time with the little guy before it’s lights out and we do it all over again. Weekends are precious, and I’m pretty sure my friends are going to stop asking me what I’m up to because my answer is always the same: snuggling the baby and cleaning the house. It may not sound very exciting, but I soak up every second, every kiss, every smile, every cuddle. Because time is moving fast and I know I’ve only got so many moments before he’s off to school, off to college, off to his own life away from his momma. So excuse me while I try to figure out this whole work/life balance thing, because suddenly life just got a whole lot more important.

 

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3 Months

Baby D turned 3 months old on Aug. 30! For some reason, 3 mos feels like a pretty huge milestone. Maybe it’s because I’ve already had to pack up most of his 0-3 mos sized clothes. Maybe it’s because I went back to work about 2 weeks ago and we’re figuring out a new routine. Whatever the reason, I just feel like my tiny little newborn isn’t a newborn anymore.

Weight/Length:  He’s just under 15lbs. Not sure on length but I know it’s changed because even if some of his onesies fit width-wise, they don’t snap at the bottom anymore. Sad.

Sleep: Going great, most nights. He goes to bed around 9pm and gets up between 7am and 8am. Although his bedtime has been inching earlier and his wakeup time later. Now that I’m back at work, we’ve figured out a pretty good schedule of bath at 8pm, lotion, jammies, eat, burp, swaddle and sleep. Some nights he’ll wake up around 4am and either scream from a night terror or just fuss loudly, signaling the need for a diaper change. Whatever it is, he’s usually back asleep within just a couple of minutes.

His naps are getting more predictable too. He typically goes down for a late morning nap, and then an afternoon nap, with each one lasting between an hour to two hours. And although I’m not a huge fan of it, he usually falls asleep around 7pm for a half hour or so. I’d say we’re pretty lucky on the sleep front.

Feeding: I’m still exclusively pumping, and thanks to some reader comments on my breastpumping post, I purchased a hands-free bra and it is LIFE CHANGING! Honestly, I’m kind of mad that no one cared to mention this to me sooner. I could’ve been milking (ha!) the benefits for weeks, yet I only just discovered it days before returning to work. Still, it’s such a nice thing to have at the office. Here’s the one I bought.

D is eating about 6 oz at each meal now. And although we’ve had to supplement a little here and there, it’s not a daily thing. In fact, I’ve got a good 10-12 oz in the fridge for tomorrow already.

Firsts This Month:  Oh my goodness, so many! Sleeping through the night was probably the biggest accomplishment for the month. The best was probably hearing his first real laugh. It wasn’t a huge belly laugh, but we still loved it. He’s only done it a few times since, but man, it’s the best sound ever. He also started watching TV this month, which sounds awful, but when I noticed he was really looking at the TV screen, I put on a DVD of Baby Mozart that we bought and he LOVED it. He sat on the floor on a blanket in his boppy and watched it for the entire half hour it was on.

We started doing real baths in the bathtub as opposed to our usual sponge baths, and thankfully, he still loves them. They’re a little harder on momma since I have to bend over the tub and setup/cleanup takes longer, but we have fun and even play bathtime music like Ernie’s Rubber Ducky song.

Developments:  He’s all about trying to sit up lately. When we set him down in his boppy, he leans forward, like he’s doing baby crunches. He’s also in love with his hands and is starting to use them for things, like pushing away the bottle when he’s done, and grabbing blankets and burp clothes to chew on. And for weeks now, he’s been pulling the cord on his music toy on his playmat. I think he knows his name, but I can’t really say for sure. But I know that he recognizes himself in the mirror. He’ll look at himself and just smile the biggest smile. I’ll ask him, “who is that cute baby?” and he’ll just grin. Adorable!

And when he’s mad about something, he doesn’t cry, he yells in his baby gibberish. Or as my husband says, “He’s givin’ you down the road!” It’s actually ridiculously cute when he does it.

Oh and one random thing that just happened tonight: Every night before bed when I’m doing his final bedtime feeding, I recite my own version of Goodnight Moon since it’s too difficult to hold him, a bottle, and a book at the same time. Basically I just say “Goodnight ______” and fill in the blank with whatever catches my eye in the nursery. If I’m feeling extra creative, I try to rhyme things. Like, “Goodnight clock; goodnight socks!” “Goodnight chair; goodnight bear!” Anyway, since he didn’t have an evening nap tonight, he was extra tired and extra crabby around 8:30, so I started the bedtime process a little early. And in my rush, I forgot to say goodnight to anything. So when I put him in his snuggie (aka his swaddle sack), he was fussing so I gave him his paci. Then I remembered that I hadn’t “read” his book to him, so I said “Goodnight moon!” which is how I always start, and his face just broke out into the biggest smile! So I kept going.

“Goodnight kittens; goodnight mittens!” And then he laughed!

I tried non-rhyming words. “Goodnight giraffe; goodnight floor” No laugh.

“Goodnight wall; goodnight ball!” Big laugh!

So maybe I’m crazy but I think he understands the difference between rhyming and non-rhyming words. Not only that, but the fact that my little mindless game of saying goodnight to everything is apparently a really big part of his bedtime routine. Really strange, but really cool!

Likes: Eating, bathtime, going places, his playmat, Baby Mozart, his hands, mommy & daddy, looking at daddy while mommy is holding him, the mirror, being naked

Dislikes:  Being hungry, tired, or bored. Having his clothes changed. Putting on clothes after his bath (REALLY hates that one). Sleeping in a dirty diaper. Being held like a baby (he prefers to be held upright, or looking over the shoulder).

What I’m Thankful For: Sleeping through the night! And just generally having a good natured baby. People say newborns aren’t much fun, but really, he’s been a lot of fun. Especially lately.

Also incredibly thankful that the hubs and I are able to raise him on our own at the moment without needing additional childcare.

What I’m Looking Forward To:  Belly laughs. His first words. Watching him try solid foods for the first time.

How Mommy’s Doing: Still haven’t really lost any more weight. I haven’t been on a strict diet or exercise regimen, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, but I feel like I’ve been more active and eating less, so I assumed to see more than a 1lb drop. Oh well

Still miss my grandpa like crazy. In fact, I think it’s worse now. Maybe it’s because his birthday is coming up this month. But sometimes I find myself missing him, thinking of calling him, and then I remember that he’s gone and it’s like I’m realizing it for the first time. It knocks the wind out of me. Over the last several years, I can remember having dreams of my grandpa dying and I always woke up, so relieved that he was okay. Now it’s the exact opposite. I think about calling him, feeling like it’s been awhile since I’ve talked to him, and then I remember why. And I go from feeling okay about my life, to feeling like things will never be okay again.

Work has done a really great job of keeping me occupied though. I race through the work day, barely stopping to eat or use the restroom, and I use my commute home to decompress and switch back into mommy mode. Once I get home, all focus is on the little guy until he goes to bed. Then I spend about an hour pumping, washing bottles/pump parts, and getting ready for the next day. This leaves very little time for cleaning or working out or “free” time, but thank goodness for weekends.

So month 3 has been a pretty big month for us, and I can’t wait to see what next month brings!

(Sorry for lack of pics. Will post more next time.)

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