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...

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Books I want to read but can't yet

It's kind of torturous being on maternity leave right before a whole bunch of books come out that I've been waiting to get my hands on forever.  I know I could something else, but all I can think about are these books, it seems.  Come, drool with me.

1.  The Magician's Land by Lev Grossman.  The Magicians trilogy has been described as Harry Potter for adults, but I think of it more like Narnia for adults.  It pulls from both, but it has this melancholy tone to parts that pull straight (for me) from the longing for Narnia to be real.  It's also the only book series I can think of that would have this sort of quote: "you could only explain your Gödel, Escher, Bach references so many times before it starts to be a problem."  This is the third in the trilogy, and I am both excited beyond measure, and feeling a bit sad about it because...this is the end.  And like Narnia, I wanted the experience to go on forever.  If they all die in a train crash I'm going to be pissed.

Release date: August 5

Verdict: YAY, this is getting closer, and I can conceivably plow through it during maternity leave...Freddie can sleep, I can read & weep, etc.

ETA: Shannon over from River City Reading alerted me to the fact that this title is available on Net Galley.  *requested*

2.  My Drunk Kitchen: A Guide to Eating, Drinking, and Going with your Gut by Hannah Hart.  I've been watching MDK forever (butter yo shit!) and Harto is hilarious (the puns!) and seems like the most genuine of Internet persons, so I'm eager to gorge myself on this offering soon.  She makes me laugh, and I think I'm in love with her.

Release date: August 12

Verdict: Again, yay!  Just a little more waiting...

3.  Tomboy: A Graphic Memoir by Liz Prince.  I LOVE LIZ PRINCE.  I can't even decide who I love more, Hannah Hart or Liz Prince.  Can I have lady-crushes on both?  Hope so, because that's happening.  Prince is also everything I wish I could be: cute tattooed nerd with mad art skills who writes about adolescence and gender stereotypes and liking guys with beards and flannels and basically everything good and right in this world.  She is talented, funny, and I just love her.  I know this isn't the best review, but those are hard to write with little hearts in my eyes, clouding my vision.

Release date: September 2

Verdict: Waaah, I'll be back to work by then.

ETA: Also available on Net Galley!

4.  As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride by Cary Elwes.  Because duh.

Release date: October 14


5.  Yes Please by Amy Poehler.  Advice on "when to be funny and when to be serious"?  Yes please, if I may borrow the phrase.  Really, Poehler could scribble sweet nothings onto a napkin and I'd line up in the queue to buy it.  And I expect this to be better than a collection of scribblings.  I expect this to be fantastic.

Release date: October 28


What books are you waiting for as the late summer/fall publishing deluge approaches?  And what should I read while I twiddle my thumbs waiting for The Magician's Land?

*Affiliate links are used in this post

Monday, July 21, 2014

Earth angel, earth angel, will you be mine...

Welp, I think I can safely say "Earth Mama Angel Baby New Mama Bottom Spray" was one of my more humiliating purchases to date.  If one were smart, one would order this sort of thing online and have it arrive discretely at one's doorstep, preferably with some sort of label that clarifies "this is in no way a witch-hazel spray for easing a painful caboose-stitch, nope nope nope."  But alas, one was not so smart as all that, and instead one found herself in the local crunchy-granola store plopping the milk bottles onto the checkout belt along with the bottom spray for the tattooed pierced hipster dude to ring up.

"Do you want a bag for these?"

"Yes.  Please."

I don't know if he heard the desperation in my voice or not, but at any rate, I high-tailed it out of there.  High-tailed is, just to be clear, a rear-related joke there.  You're welcome.

And there's still one burning question I have about the whole trip.  When I went there, they had a tester bottle.  Like one of those little mini-bottles of the stuff with an obvious TESTER sticker on it.  Who is testing that in the store?  And on what?

At least the stuff works.  I'll give it that.  The name is horrifying, but it works.

(And hey, thanks to that screenshot, not only do you know about the indignities raining down on my life, you also know that when Patrick and I talk about sending off checks for bills, it is always a sexy conversation.  Aren't you thankful for my blog?)

*So not a sponsored post.  Because I have some dignity left.  I think.  ?  And yet, here I am...

Thursday, July 17, 2014

I can't think of a hat-related pun

Somebody's a week old (okay, more than a week old by the time I write this)!  I felt the occasion called for a hat.  All important milestones and events in life should have designated hats.  I mean, sure we've got birthday hats, people in the UK have fancy wedding hats (I guess they wear them to their daily tea parties too?  Is that part of Life in the UK?  I envy your fancy hats)...graduation hats (academic faculty are particularly lucky in this regard with their kooky Pope-like regalia)...veiled funeral hats I suppose...but what else have we got?  We need more lighthearted hats for specific milestones.  Consider the New Mother Cloche.  The First Kiss Straw Sunhat (with ribbons).  The First Tooth Beret!  I demand the Debt Repayment Derby.  

Hi.  I am sleep deprived.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Winnie + joy

On Tuesday night Patrick and I attended our infant CPR class with those plastic mannequin babies.  Less than 24 hours later, on July 9, we were back on the same VCU floor where the lady from the CPR class asked Patrick in the hall "What are you doing back here??" to which he replied that I'd just had our real live baby! This was not exactly as I’d been planning since she wasn't due until July 24 -- but I'm so glad she's here! Birth story as follows (if you like those sorts of things...there's a tl;dr version down at the bottom if you want to scroll down!):

Wednesday morning around 1:30AM I awoke uncomfortable, and this uncomfortable feeling turned out to be the start of my water breaking -- it was hard to tell since there was no cinematic gush.  One of the tabs left open on my laptop was “how to tell if water breaks” if that tells you anything.  I dutifully called the midwife, who confirmed it sounded like water breaking. Was I having contractions?  No?  Okay, just call her in the morning and sit tight for now.  So, sit tight I did, and I ate an English muffin and had some chai tea while Patrick ran out to CVS. Patrick is great, and I love him, and think I will keep him. ;)

Around 2:30, I started feeling bad period back-y cramps.  Nothing horrible, just unpleasant.  They were about ten minutes apart.  Dutifully I consulted another Google tab I'd end up leaving open ("what do contractions feel like") which told me these did sound like real contractions.  I slept a little through them, but not much.  I timed things on my contraction app, and around 6am woke Patrick to let him know I was pretty sure things were progressing.  My contractions slid closer together. Doula was notified & midwife called back.  

“Try to stay home until they’re 2 1/2 to 3 minutes apart,” she reminded me.  “Okay,” I said through my teeth as a contraction hit near the end of the call.  Still, I was feeling pretty chipper, though I bemoaned the horrible, harsh reality that we never did grab a collection of my favorite popsicles, thinking we still had time.  At some point I emailed my boss to let her know I wasn’t making it in that day, and could she please email the library director because I had a meeting I was supposed to go to with him that day. And also I had library program supplies in my car...and how could I set an Outlook away message if the county was blocking our outside access to Outlook? This, instead of, I don't know, thinking about throwing stuff into the hospital bag... priorities!

Around 9am the contractions were about five minutes apart, and Cindi, my wonderful doula, arrived at our house.  By that point I was in a lot more pain.  Luckily Cindi came bearing rose aromatherapy, which worked surprisingly well considering my sinus stuffiness that I’ve had since January.  She also came with snacks and other goodies.  Basically, Cindi is amazing and I love her.  Bring me a banana and a birthing ball and apparently I’m yours.

By 10:30 my contractions had been about 4 minutes apart for a while, and things HURT.  “I feel like a wimp,” I remember saying.  I mean, duh.  Of course they hurt.  I knew they’d hurt.  But they huuuurt.  Cindi called the VCU midwife clinic (for clarification, my midwife clinic is located in the large teaching hospital in my city, so kind of best of both worlds for me) and tried to secure one of their rooms with the jacuzzi tub, Patrick grabbed some more items for the hospital bag that was only half packed, and we were on our way.  That car ride?  No funsies.  Ditto the wheelchair ride up to L&D.  My face was feeling tingly.

Slooooooowly the nurses checked me in and I signed paperwork I didn’t read then flopped back in the wheelchair and got wheeled to my no-jacuzzi-tub room because apparently everything else was full DAMMIT.  Whoever had that room was on my shitlist, let me tell you.  There went my vision of hot bath as pain management, my one “if they don’t do epidurals, at least they have the tub” mantra blasted to bits.  But, I tried to be optimistic.  The room I got did have a shower and by god I was going to get in there just as soon as they checked to see how far along I was.  Which, please hurry up because ouch.

Apparently one of the nurses told Patrick when we got there that we’d probably be there about 24 hours, but their tune quickly changed when my midwife checked me and found that I was 7 centimeters dilated.  Suddenly they were puttering less.  So I wasn’t being a big weenie wimp after all!  I was actually pretty far along! Also ow!

The next hour and a half I spent in the shower (Cindi, bless her, lit the bathroom with Christmas lights -- these are wonderful wonderful wonderful for the dim lighting and the senses).  Cindi was like the Galadriel of doulas, bringing little lights for dark places.  The shower was magic.  Contractions weren’t so magical, but nobody said labor was going to be fun.  (Oh right, a month or so ago one of the midwives said, “It’ll be fun!”  I knew she was bluffing.) Apparently (again according to Patrick, since I wasn't really paying attention) I kept the nurses giggling by my stellar comments between contractions, usually things like "It hurts. That's the most obvious thing in the world to say, I know." I come fully accessorized with jokes, as usual. Nice to know I was still me.

Then came 25 minutes of pushing aka hell on earth. According to Patrick I only primally screamed “fuck” about six or seven times, which is impressive since it felt like I said it a lot more -- I think most of what I "said" was more primal-scream-to-scare-everyone-on-the-L&D-floor than primal-yell-a-real-word because holy hell that hurt...soon they were all like, you can feel the baby's head, and I was all, NOPE NO THANKS NOPE. They were trying to show me just how close it was to being over, but I wanted nothing to do with the carnage going on down there, thankyouverymuch. Ignorance is bliss and I aimed to keep it that way.  

Crowning is NO JOKE without drugs.

And then, there she was, and there was no more pain. She was here. Perfect. Beautiful. Strawberry-red-haired. Crying. Here.

TL;DR version: 11 hours of labor if you count the non-impressive first hour without contractions and just the water breaking (10 if you skip ahead to contractions actually starting). No drugs, no popsicles, no tub. I ended up laboring in the actual hospital for only roughly two hours.  Turns out even if I’d gotten one of the tub rooms, it would have taken an hour to fill, so....I hope whoever got it enjoyed it.  I type that only slightly begrudgingly.

Then I ate some hospital french toast. 

I’m not at all biased when I say I think Winnie* is the prettiest most wonderfullest little baby ever.  Even if her perfect ginger hair blondes out (ohpleasedon't), she'll be tops on my list. ;) She will always be tops on my list, for everything, ever. She is perfect and beautiful and ours, ours, ours.

Sitting here as I type this with afternoon sunlight pouring in, my baby sleeping swaddled next to me, my husband comes up from behind to hug me, this is a small slice of perfect.  I know things won't always be this perfect, but in this moment, they are.  I've never felt more content.  This is joy.  Finally.

...Born bitter as a lemon but you must understand that you've been bringing me joy. And I'll only lie when you don't want the truth. I'm only frightened 'cause you finally gave me something to lose. And it's as loud as a thunderclap but you hear it too. But you've been bringing me joy. [Interlude] Deep inside the heart of this crazy mess, I'm only calm when I get lost within your wilderness. Born crooked as a creek, didn't come to contest that you've been bringing me joy...

*I'd love to share her full proper name/middle name, because obviously it is as perfect as she herself is, but for the sake of privacy, we'll go with just Winnie here.  Or maybe Freddie.  That might happen, too.  Hmmm.

Monday, July 7, 2014

3.21 Carry

Photo by nineminutes, used via Creative Commons License

I recently fell into the black hole of babywearing wraps/carriers.  It makes a lot of sense for those able to do so, but it is an expensive endeavor, this babywearing!  Typical woven wraps range from $80 to $300 (for a safe, tested, quality wrap made by professionals).  We were lucky to be gifted an Ergo (thank you Lauren!) and a Moby (thank you Ame!) so I'm holding off on any woven wraps for now, in part because of the pricing!  Even if you peruse used woven wrap forums, they're reselling them at new or close-to-new prices.  While this may seem reasonable given the cost of strollers (also a form of expensive baby-carrier) I think the sticker shock is worse with the wraps because it's a piece of woven cloth.  Granted, it's woven cloth that's designed to hold a baby's weight, not just a swath cut down from Jo-Ann's necessarily, but it's still a relatively high bar of participation, especially if you have other more urgent expenses.  For me, this is no big deal -- it's an item I want, but for others, there might be more of a need, and yet, there's that ugly cost barrier.

But now, there's a solution for those who could use a wrap and may have those other more important expenses on the line.  The Maiden Metallurgist and her husband have started a non-profit called 3.21 Carry.  Their goal is to provide babywearing carriers to parents and caregivers of children with Down Syndrome and other special needs at no cost.  They take woven wrap donations, in addition to monetary donations.

When I first dove into the babywearing stuff online, I used The Maiden Metallurgist's Babywearing on a Budget post as a guideline.  I've followed her blog for a few years now and have always enjoyed it, so she was my natural go-to for that information.  Seeing that she's working to make babywearing accessible to more people brightened my day a little, so I wanted to share in case others would want to know and pass the information along too.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Weekend recap theme: Win some, lose some.

Tried to save money.
Scored Craigstlist Baby Bullet!
Dropped phone in river.