Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Crap Circus

Words you never ever want to wake up to, especially not with a baby who needs to be fed in the mix:  "You're gonna want to swiffer all downstairs because the dog just barfed and pooped everywhere."

"Not again" is also not a reply you want to give, because of the repeat-performance implication.  

I was looking for a crying-sob gif, but son-of-a-bitch turns out to be just as, if not more, appropriate.  Anyway, if you tuned in yesterday, you already read about the wonders of the crying baby + vomiting dog fiesta from the other night.  Today, let me be your ringmaster in a whole new show I like to call the Crap Circus.  

There's not much to tell really.  My inlaws are visiting and staying in the guestroom where Neville is normally happily crated for the night, but heaven forbid we mess with his pwecious schedule, because he decided to unleash unholy things from both ends in what I only assume is revenge (or, you know, eating something that didn't sit well...for several days).  Around 4:30 he started whining and the next thing you know, the Crap Circus had rolled into town.  After a few horks we thought it was over, but it turned out...not to be the case, as Patrick discovered three hours later when he was up for work.  

I eventually banished him (Neville, not Patrick) to the patio long enough to clean everything up and nurse in peace and ensure -- knock on wood dear sweet god -- that he's pretty emptied out of his concentrated evil.  Luckily texting exists so I can get some good laughs in.  Better to laugh than sob uncontrollably, right? 

I will say, Freddie's definitely earning some major points in all of this, just in terms of comparison.  Kid, you're the hands-down winner in the house.  Apparently the bar is set at "not puking and pooping on the ONE CARPET we owned" (note the past tense).  

I will not reenact Old Yeller, I will not reenact Old Yeller, I will not reenact Old Yeller...

Monday, August 18, 2014

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times

The baby was mostly happy as a clam all day Sunday, riiiight up until one of the dogs started puking everywhere.

I can understand her upset.  I was upset too, as was Patrick who got the task of mopping up while I tried to soothe the sad baby while listening to new horks from afar and hoping they weren't on the ONE CARPET WE OWN (spoiler alert, he totally nailed it).  I'm sure Neville wasn't having that great a time either, although it's hard to tell with him since as far as he's concerned those horks were extra dinners he was putting out for himself.  

Happy Monday!  I go back to work later this week!  Horks all around!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

One month as a family of three

It's been over a month, and things are -- what are they?  They are blissful and tearful and sleepy and all those other things that come with having a newborn.  I'm horribly behind as far as the actual baby book is concerned, and I have thank-you cards that need sending (running low on stamps though, so that may have to wait until I can fit that errand into the mix -- I feel awful since I try to get those out lickety-split).

I just realized that the top picture combined with the post title makes it look like the family of three is me + Freddie + Neville.  That's obviously not quite right.  Pull it together, Hayley.

There we go.  The goober-iest family photo of all time (at least so far).  Life as a small family really has been great though.  It's been rough some days, to be sure.  Patrick finished his two summer grad classes, thank goodness.  He's starting some minimal band practices back up, but as far as time commitments go, summer school was WAY more of a thief, so I'm happy to sacrifice him to the weekly doom metal gods at least a little.  Of course, he's got more fall classes coming up, so we'll see how things go then (*shifty glance at the doom metal gods*).

It's one of those things where I suppose I could choose to be a bit grumpy about the way guys get it easy and it's easy for him to pop out for two hours of drumming while it's hard for me to eat a sandwich...but then I get texts from him saying he wants to make sure I get time to myself too, and to please take some time on Saturdays or some other times when he's around to get out of the house (and to do my freelance work).  So it's all evening out on paper, at least.  I'm not saying everything has to be cut right down the middle.  But the intention of giving me some time too is there, so that's fair enough for now.  Right now, I expect to be doing more of the heavy-lifting, but it's good to know he's not taking that for granted, and that when I need time to get a haircut (so desperately needed, I'm starting to get that Bieber look again, yikes) and write, it's already been noted.  And he's followed through.  I've gotten myself out of the house, and have gotten zero frantic texts (so far).  He discovered she could be soothed by walking around the back yard instead of alerting me to sad-baby-times, and that was that.

I'm always a bit squeamish about praising dudes for essentially pulling their end of the yoke in terms of partnership or parenthood responsibilities (soothing her on his own instead of like this guy who's afraid to pick up his own baby, WTF).  It's not that I take it for granted that Patrick will sit with Freddie for hours like he did last night when she was inconsolable and I'd been trying to soothe her for hours prior while he was at work.  I don't take it for granted.  I'm very thankful.  That said, I expect us to be roughly equal but I don't think expecting equality means praise and thanks for making that happen aren't merited.  I'm still going to thank the guy.  It's just polite!  I just don't think a parade is warranted.  A simple "thank you" on the other hand...yes!  All the time!

That's probably my biggest take-away at this point in parenthood: keep thanking your partner.  Thank them for doing stuff that you expect of them.  Thank them for doing things they do normally (cooking dinner etc).  Compliment them on doing a great job and being a great parent, even when changing a diaper at 2am isn't something that should warrant a Best Parent Ever Parade because it's just something that has to be done.  A little thanks still just feels good, dangit, and people should do it often.

And I should really, really get those thank-you letters mailed...

So that sums up the last month...except oh, right, this little cutie and I have started reading The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe a tiny bit every night before bed.  Reading is important (obviously, *tips librarian hat*) but by golly, I really prefer reading books I enjoy.  And yes, there are some WONDERFUL baby books out there.  Gobs and gobs of cute baby books...if you like patting bunnies and saying goodnight to moons.  Which I do, sometimes.  But I wanted our first big read to be special too, and since this is all rather the same to her at this point, I figured why not start with the best?  Plus, thus way I can make sure she's exposed to the series in the correct order (that's publication order, not the soul-crushing order Lewis preferred, which has The Magician's Nephew first, UGH).  I really can't wait until we get to the Voyage of the Dawn Treader, though.  That one's obviously the best.  Narnia holds such a dear place in my heart ("Courage, dear heart" is going to be incorporated somehow into another literary tattoo -- I've already got Tolkien & JM Barrie, so Lewis seems perfect to shore things up) and of all the things to introduce my daughter to early on, this is one I've been so waiting eagerly for.  I know it's mostly all for me right now but someday she'll understand them, and hopefully she'll love them too.  

What book(s) did you pick as your first-read(s) to your little one(s)?  Alternatively, what books are you looking forward to experiencing together?

Friday, August 8, 2014

Baby must-haves that won't break the bank (6 under $10.50)

So, baby stuff.

Now that I've got almost a month (as of tomorrow...oh my god) of baby-having under my belt, I'm a total expert on all things baby.  Insert a sage nod here.  ...  Okay, maybe not.  But there have been a handful of things that, were someone to ask me, I would suggest to have on hand for the first weeks.  Nobody's actually asked me, but what else is a blog for, but for writing about the things nobody's asked about?  Some items are just self-care/self-preservation-related, while others are more directly for baby, but both are important for survival/sanity.  I've tried to keep the majority of the list in the $10 range -- there are a few exceptions, but no boutique bouncers here.

None of these products are sponsored items, I did not receive any of them for free, and I'm not being compensated by their makers for their inclusion in this list.  I am utilizing Amazon affiliate links for some items.

So, here we go.

+  Podcasts!  When I'm pumping or nursing I'm often listening to The Longest Shortest Time, a blessedly non-judgey podcast that is "a 3:00am bedside companion for new parents" recommended by my library colleague Nathan.  The episode that has most impressed me so far was one in which the host Hillary Frank interviewed THE Ina May Gaskin to tell her how let down she felt by the legend's natural birth literature.  Gaskin was so receptive in the interview, as well as kind and thoughtful with her responses, and Frank was equally kind and frank with her critiques.  It was everything an interview should be when it's something emotional and hard for the participants, and as I've listened to other episodes I've been repeatedly impressed with the level of reporting and the variety of stories.  Episodes are also the perfect length for a nursing/pumping session.  I highly, highly recommend adding it to your library.  Best of all, it's free!

+  Sprout Baby app for the iPhone/iPad.  Sprout lets me track sleep, feeding, diaper changes and consistencies, pumping, height/weight gains, doctor appointments and questions to ask the pediatrician, medications and immunizations.  I can set alarms (for feeding), and (my favorite) it will format certain data into charts and graphs.  If there's one thing I'm a sucker for, it's the graphic representation of data.  Sprout Baby's design is easy on the eyes and the app overall is user-friendly.  I also like that I can add "missed" items later so I'm not tied to my screen lest I miss tracking something when it happens.  Free trial available/$4.99 after that

+  Burt's Bee's pink grapefruit facial cleansing towelettes.  These are light and fast to grab for a quick tide-over until a full cleansing routine can be undergone if I'm short on me-time.  They smell bright and freshly cheerful without being cloying which is good early in the morning (or late at night, depending) when I might be feeling less than cheerful.  $5.39

+  Summer Infant Swaddleme velcro wrap (organic dots model featured in Instagram above).  At first, Freddie haaaaaated being swaddled.  "Happiest baby on the block my butt" was my initial review of swaddling.  But suddenly, after an episode of someone sad-sniffling in the rocking chair at 1:30AM (hello -- that's a motherhood rite of passage right?) I decided to try the swaddle method again.  Magically it worked, and she's happily settled down with the swaddle since, knockonwood.  Because she's small, swaddling with other blanket-type wraps has been harder since it ends up being too bulky -- the velcro on these ones helps keep things compact and contained.  You can get these in sets, but I recommend buying a singleton and if at first you don't succeed, try try again (and if it really doesn't work out, you're only out one instead of a set).  These range in price -- try this bumblebee print one for $7.99

+  Earth Mama Angel Baby Organic Milkmaid Tea & EMAB Bottom Spray.  They're worth it if you need them (consult your doctor regarding herbal supplements/milkmaid tea and your supply, as I am not a medical professional).  Some medicinal teas can taste absolutely terrible, but this blessedly isn't one of those.  As for the Bottom Spray, I highly recommend ordering it online so you can avoid the oh-so-fun experience of checking out at the cool-person hippie store with something called, well, BOTTOM SPRAY.  Learn from me, possibly-pregnant padawans: get that stuff delivered to your door.  $10-range for both

+  Wee Gallery art cards.  I love a good mobile and by the time Freddie was imminent there were a LOT of cute colorful mobiles on my to-buy list...but ultimately I put them on the back burner in favor of more close-up black-and-white images, since those are most stimulating to babies (and having her in the cosleeper = no place for a permanent mobile anyway).  What better way to spend a day than cooing "Look at the ring-tailed leeeemuuuur!"  $12.95

+  Nursing scarf from Oliver & Lucy Designs.  I haven't been too fond of the nursing cover styles out there, so when I found these infinity nursing scarves, I was sold.  They look more regular-clothing-like than a lot of nursing covers because, well, they are exactly that: regular clothing...with a twist of being big enough to nurse with.  I haven't used it a bunch yet, but I've been glad to have it the times I've gone out.  $35

+  Bamboobies.  I know the name is a bit silly, but look past that and get them anyway!  I've had some epic cluster-feeding going on, so woohoo softness -- and they seem to get softer with each wash.  The cream is nice, too -- it's safe for ingestion & non-greasy.  The unusual heart shapes of the pads also contour better than round pads for me.  I got the Breastfeeding Bundle (6 regular pads + 6 overnight pads + cream) for $44.99 

+  Kindle Touch.  I know I said no boutique bouncers and such but hear me out on this one pricier item.  There are a few reasons this device has been wonderful (more so than my pre-baby days with it).  First, it's hard to read a regular spined book with only one hand while nursing or pumping.  With the Kindle I can set it on my lap and tap the pages with ease.  Secondly, my vision has gotten worse, and being able to change the font size is great, and reading on an E Ink display with a matte screen instead of a glossy screen is also way easier on my eyes (for this reason avoid the pricier Kindle has a glossy tablet screen).  Finally, having instant access to titles through my library's OverDrive system is great (OverDrive is essentially a free version of Oyster/Kindle Unlimited -- see if your library offers this service...they probably do!)  I wish I had a Paperwhite since it includes a built-in light, but I bought my Kindle prior to that model (which shows that at least they have a good shelf life).  A new Paperwhite is $119, but used and refurbished Kindles run in the $45-$80 range, from what I've gathered in my searches.

This post took me a laughably long time to compose.  Yay little spurts of sleepy-times!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

An email came for my uterus, sort of

I got an email from my IVF clinic yesterday reminding me of when my embryo cryobank "rent" is due.  I wonder if this is how parents feel when college housing rent is due.  Probably not, seeing as how it's for an existing child and the rent is for more than keeping them viable...  Although considering the college atmosphere, maybe it's more similar to that than I initially thought.  College housing is pretty much about preserving as much of the person intact for four years as possible, right?  Like, better than off-campus housing could guarantee.  I should know.  I lived in a goth industrial band house for part of college.  What's the movie called?  Safety Not Guaranteed?  That could have been the name of that house.  Instead it was called The Nightmare House, which was just as appropriate really.  (Man, college!)

But where was I?  Right, so rent is due in November.  Not a ton of money -- less than 100EU, which is ridiculously decent for a year's worth of cushy cryobank luxury living.  Granted I'm sure the square footage is nothing to brag about...

Then I got to the part of the email that explains my options should I want to do something with the embryo -- use it for treatment, dispose of it, etc.  I'm holding this little newborn and the problem is that I LOVE THE NEWBORN STAGE WITH THIS BABY.  I love it.  I want all the babies.  Gimme gimme gimme.  I know I got a comparatively easy baby, so maybe I just want doubles of this baby...but anyway, then I get some dumb reminder email telling me, hey hi you have to, like, make a decision someday about what to do with the possible other potential baby you could have, if you want to do this whole dumb expensive procedure again.  Or you could dispose of your embryo.  And of course I'm like POTENTIAL BAYBEEEEEE WAHHHH.

I starred the email like I do for all bills and Important Things To Get To Later.  I guess I'm starring it in a literal sense (gotta remember to pay that rent!) and in the sense that it's Future Hayley's problem, and that decision can wait for now.  It can wait for a while.  It really can.

The main takeaway here is that it's really weird to get reminder emails about your family planning options.  Really weird.

Monday, August 4, 2014


6 weeks sounded like an eternity -- certainly the longest stretch away from work ever -- but now that I only have 2.5 weeks left of leave, it feels like it's been the tiniest sliver of time.  Days and nights blend together and I want to pump the brakes, say no, stop, slow down, but of course that doesn't happen.  Every few hours I'll think about the saaaaands of tiiiiiiime [doomy voice] and want to crumble in despair.

I love my career, so it's not like I want to stay home forever.  I don't.  But I would kill for a few more weeks (who am I kidding, a few more months) here, nestled in our house-cocoon together, wiggling her pink toes, smiling as she looks around all big-eyed in the bath, and soaking up her tiny snuffling snores.  But that's not the way it works -- definitely not in my particular situation (fairly new on the job, not protected by FMLA, not fully-paid leave).  I go back to work in 2.5 weeks, and I'm sure there will be times I'm happy to have something to focus on besides getting her to latch (sure would be nice to get that perfected before I have to switch up our routine...meeting with a LC this Wednesday) but...I'm never going to get another shot at being home with my newborn unencumbered by other responsibilities.  This is it.  Even as I type this one-handed as she sleeps on my lap, it's slipping away.  Snuffled snore by snuffled snore.

As it stands, I'm just going to soak up the hours of snores as much as I can and ignore the giant hourglass in my peripheral vision.  I don't mean for this to sound like a long whine.  I know I have have more time than some get.  I know I will still wiggle her toes and watch her eyes widen in the tub and listen to her snore...that there is so so much yet that we'll do together even if she's not with me during the day, that she'll be with her very smitten grandma and very very loved and cuddled...but inside my little self-bubble it's still a melancholy tale.  In this moment it feels like we are the opposite of infinite.  In this moment, we are finite.  Limited.

I don't want to stay home forever.  I don't expect to 'have it all' (a post for another time).  But I wish I could have some more time.  Just a little more.

2.5 more weeks.  I will drink it up as best I can.  And sleep while the getting's good.

tl;dr: Dickensian boohoo

Monday, July 28, 2014

New motherhood summary

I am so, so smitten with this little girl.  Totally smitten.  Irreversibly smitten.  

I know, I know, obvious statement is obvious. motherhood:

1.  I'm rather trapped in the house, since she's so very tiny that even with a newborn head cushion insert in her carseat she will bop her head forward and if I'm driving that's impossible to fix safely, and getting the stroller down from the house to the outside involves stairs and having to leave the baby either inside for a second or outside for a second, neither of which is going to happen.  Since it's been hot-hot-hot here, it's just as good to wait until Patrick gets home for the help and the dusky temperature anyway, lest my little pale baby (and I) burn to a crisp or drown in the humidity (in Virginia, it'll be like 92 degrees with a matching 92% humidity...lovely!).  This means I'm on the Internet a lot, watching Project Runway, and reading every tweet anybody tweets when she's sleeping.  This is not to say I'm being lazy although it feels like it -- doing much else is kind of exhausting.  The time I had to go downtown to drop off some HR/short-term-disability paperwork just about did me in for the day.  But I gather this is normal...I'm looking forward to feeling a little more with-it energy-wise as time goes on.  That'll happen right?  *flop*  

I am immensely thankful for all the help.  Immensely.   The food, the dishes, going with me to the pediatrician just so I have someone in the back seat to help with the baby while en route...  I came down from a nap while my mom (a saint) watched Freddie and discovered she'd not only done dishes but she'd cleaned the dining room table and set dinner for us.  

Let it not be said that I've not had a bunch of help.  Thank goodness...because I still feel like I got run over half the time.  It's driving me a little nuts since I WANT to be more productive but...yeah.

Basically, this is my maternity leave summed up:

(+ bit of this on the side)

2.  Having a strawberry-gingery baby means everybody is a total enabler when it comes to me thinking my baby is the cutest of all the babies ever.  Look at her haaaaair!  everyone in the waiting room squeaks while at the pediatrician.  Look at her haaaaaaaaaaair! coo the two separate nurses who popped into her room to pat said red hair.  Look at her haaaaaaaaaaaaaair!...I squeal every time I look at it myself.  The point is, look at her hair.  I practically got myself a Weasley kid (okay, Weasley Lite).  I know it may not stay that way, of course, but it does run in Patrick's family.  Basically, it's all sorts of cute (although perhaps I'm a little biased and miiiiight think my kid is cute no matter what).

3.  The adorable watermelon newborn-size going home onesie I splurged on is still ridiculously too big for my preemie-sized baby AND now it's marked down to $8.79.  Womp womp.  I laugh about it -- could there be any more stereotypical rookie parent mistake?  Glad I didn't splurge on the Rockaroo.  

4.  Patrick is a rock star (not just the metal drummer variety anymore).  Since I gave birth early on the 9th, he was further out from finishing his two summer grad classes than he would have been had she been born around the 24th, which has meant more group work commitments etc.  But in addition to that, his employer instituted strongly-encouraged overtime, so he worked 10 extra hours this week including Saturday morning and going in an hour early each day on less sleep.  This is really, really good for us since I'm on leave with less pay, obviously, but the whole less-sleep-more-work situation is a bit unfortunate.  Yet there's nary a peep of complaint, whereas we all know I would be taking Twitter by storm to air my grievances were our places reversed.  I could probably take a cue from him regarding that.  Anyway, all this in addition to watching her when I need to get out of the house for bit (exciting trips to Ellwood Thompson's and back!) and taking her while he does schoolwork and I nap for an hour in the evening, etc.  The lesson here is obvious: metal drummers are the best and you should try to catch one if you haven't already (protip: just leave a pile of flannel shirts somewhere, maybe place a beer on top of the offering, and one will likely mosey on over to investigate -- they are docile creatures attracted to grunge-plaid and porters).

5.  I've woefully fallen back into the horrible horrible habit of peeling at my chapped lips, thus making them more chapped, thus making them more peel-able.  I do this out of anxiety.  I'm okay, but it sucks to have this bad habit grow worse.  I'm hoping I can ease myself out of it once the initial terror/anxiety of babyhaving wears off...  Oh god it does wear off, doesn't it?  If not, I'm going to be looking all the more ugly-chapped for the rest of eternity.  Small price to pay I guess.  Poot.

6.  What else is there to say?  I love our daughter so fiercely.  I'm feeding her, and trying to figure out the whole breastfeeding business (I should probably read a book about this womanly art...).  I'm sleeping sometimes.  All the blissfully normal stuff.  I feel like I've climbed this great steep trail and I'm at the top basking in the sun, exhausted but so very, very, finally here.  Zzzzzz...