Monday, December 31, 2012

Pregnancy MUSTs

Now that my pregnancy is a few months in the rear-view mirror, it is a fantastic experience to think back and remember it fondly. There are even days now that I miss my big ol' belly (my belly now is of an entirely different, not so fabulous, kind). Yes, my pregnancy had its tribulations - the bleeding scare, pneumonia, a displaced rib, hip pain... you know, fun stuff. But overall it was a very happy time for me. I felt prepared, at peace, and calm. Like I was finally on the right track.

There were a couple of things I did (and one or two I didn't and wish I did) that I feel really worked well for us. And now we are blessed with a few friends that are expecting little people and I am simply GIDDY to be able to share my own mommy-wisdom with someone else. After all this time, it's a bit of a trip actually.

On with the list!

1. A mom friend. People, I am all for being an independent woman. I like to program my own damn electronics, thankyouverymuch. However, I think women in general have done themselves a real disservice, at least I did, by not spending more time building their village. The old adage that "It takes a village to raise a child" could not be more true. You need a confidant. A mommy who's been there and done that. No, your experience will NOT be like hers, good or bad, count on that now. Don't use her experience to establish expectations, but use her instead as a sympathetic ear, an expert on what baby gear is a must and whats overpriced garbage, and you'll certainly want a cheerleader in those last couple of hard weeks. Don't even get me started on how invaluable these people are after your wee-one arrives, that's an item for a whole different list. And for God sake, stop feeling like a burden! I love sharing my experiences when I can and to do that AND help a friend? I wouldn't think twice. Plus, if you're bugging me, I won't hesitate to tell you you're being a crazycakes. 

2. A body pillow. Remember Tony Danza? Admittedly, J was not the biggest fan of sharing his bed with my new love. But Tony literally saved my ass. Well, technically my hips and back, but you get the idea. Things, they are a changin' and that especially applied to my joints. Having a plush, supportive pillow (I swear by my Snoogle.) was key. There are others out there that aren't as plush, so if that floats your boat, have at it. Also, washing the cover for my Snoogle was a royal pain in my previously-achy backside. It's worth it, but you've been warned. Also, they can be a bit pricey. Check for sales and coupons!

3. A photographer. There will be a day, sometime in your mid-30ish-weeks that you start to feel like a blimp. Pregnancy is beautiful and growing a child is a miracle topped by nothing else, but damn you won't feel as 'glowy' as everyone says you look. Take at least one day in the beginning of your third trimester, erase that mess from your mind, and have your picture taken. Can't afford it? Check Craigs.list or something similar for a student looking to build their portfolio, or have a friend that just got a new shiny DSLR for Christmas take pictures of you and your partner. The day before I had mine taken, I almost backed out. I cried, felt ginormous, and almost cancelled my pre-paid session. Can I tell you that I am SO happy I didn't? I will forever treasure these:

4. Maternity wardrobe staples. At least one cozy dress, yoga pants, and a bra to sleep in. I just passed my long cotton beautiful dress down to own of my best pals and my yoga pants? You bet your sweet ass I still wear those once a week. Ooooh yeah. Their the best. And there will more than likely be a point at which your boobs are tender and angry. That point for me was conception through sometime a couple months ago. A good sports bra or sleeping bra is a life saver.

5. A Doula. If you can afford this type of support, I highly recommend it. Our doula happens to be my very best pal. They are trained, educated, and handy as all hell. Mine did personal childbirth education classes in our home, answered my thousand questions a day, and was there during about 45 of my 53 hours of labor. If your husband is anything like mine (i.e. not a huge fan of discussing vaginas, and its various functions during labor, with an entire group of strangers, home childbirth education was awesome.) She helped us through all of the decisions we had to make. She didn't make them for us, or pressure us one way or the other, but she was an incredible source of knowledge as we talked through pros-cons, etc.This should be right up there with a good mom friend. It can change your life. (Doula Match)

6. A good chiropractor/masseuse. Speaking of life changing! Remember that displaced rib I was talking about? My chiropractor specializes in treating pregnant women and babies - he saved my damn life. Thankfully chiropractic treatments are covered by my insurance, so regular visits kept me much more comfortable. Especially toward the end. Your body is actually a professional contortionist, whether you knew it or not. You'd think your joints loosening and getting more flexible would feel good - but it doesn't. Nope! Not to mention, especially toward the end, you'll be carrying more weight than you're used to, your gait changes, etc, etc, etc. If your insurance covers this, take advantage!


7. A journal. Pregnancy is filled with highs and lows. For me, this outlet with priceless. Wax eloquent about your pregnancy, your relationships.. make lists, check off names, write down questions for your next doctor/midwife appointment. Get that stuff out of your head. This really helped me sleep at night. Mostly, it helped me keep the peace. When I got all of the STUFF out of my head, I could focus on quality time with my husband, and more communication with my baby. I would talk to her (out loud and in my mind), rub my belly, day dream... without all of my worries or to-do's floating around messing it up. A huge bonus is that it is really fun to look back at.

I am certain there are many more things out there that can help someone through pregnancy. These happen to be my MUSTs. What were yours? What was it that you couldn't have survived without? A steady diet of ice cream? That probably should have been my #8... Let's hear it!

Labor and Newborn lists to follow soon!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Happy Holidays!

Christmas was amazing this year. J and I took the week leading up to Christmas off, just to have family time. We saw Santa, visited family, and mostly just hung out with Lily. I couldn't possibly feel more in the holiday spirit.

Lily had her 4 month check up last week and she's perfect! She is almost 26" long and 15lbs, 6oz. The girl is tall! Even when I hold her to nurse or rock her, I get tangled up in her long legs. She's growing like a weed and has changed so much in the last few weeks. Her awareness, engagement, and even 'talking' has increased a great deal. The only downside to this cognitive development - the dreaded 4 Month Wakeful period (4MW). Baby girl does NOT want to nap. Granted, I am still very lucky, because while she isn't napping much (maybe 20 minutes 2-3x) during the day - she sleeps like a champ at night. 10-12 hours most nights now! ::happydance::

Combine Lily's lack of interest in napping with her first cold, teething, (and her 4mo shots... ugh) and we've had a few rough days recently. Poor thing really hates to have her boogers sucked out. I mean, who does?? It's hard for her to lay flat without mucus draining.

We're starting to find a good stride. With a baby our pace isn't quite as leisurely in the evenings as it used to be, but we're starting to get on top of most things. Last night even ended in a well deserved high-five. After work we managed to make it to the bank, post office, and library before we came home and did three loads of laundry (new toys, Lily clothes, and diapers), vacuumed, cleaned up the rest of the Christmas present boxes, etc, repacked the diaper bag, washed and re-filled bottles, prepped lunches, made dinner (woooooot - Christmas dinner leftovers!), etc, etc. Needless to say, we kicked yesterdays ass.

I think the evenings are getting easier because Lily is more alert. She can sit in her high chair and we can sing while I pack lunches. Or she can play on her mat while I fold her laundry and pack her bag. We're able to be together, without my needing to necessarily hold her every moment. And, as each evening does now, we snuggled up as a family for about 30 minutes of snuggles/tv watching before we started the bedtime routine. My favorite moment of the whole day.

Christmas day for our clan was relaxed and fun. Our parents came over, as did my sister and her boyfriend. We ate breakfast and opened presents with Lily (Son of a Nutcracker that kid is spoiled already). We got her only a couple special toys (stacking rings, a wood elephant shaped puzzle) and a couple little dresses. Our parents? I'm fairly certain they bought every 6m+ toy on the planet. Her stocking was filled with rattles and teethers, links, blocks, fabric toys that light up and sing, and so on. And she was really into it! She was griping the paper, chewing on her new things. I've packed some of them away for later (especially the more advanced toys) and she's still got plenty to keep her entertained until the end of time.

I'll end today with a few more photos. Is she not the cutest damn thing you've ever seen? How did I get so lucky?
 She absolutely loved Santa! We happen to have a fantastic local Santa who's been around FOREVER. 
(he may just be the real thing, I'm just sayin'...)

 Our beautiful girl on Christmas Eve. Cutest of the elves.

Even more than she loves Santa, Lily adores her daddy. This might be my favorite picture in the history of photography. I can retire my camera now. I will never top this one.

I hope that each of you have an amazing holiday season. I wish for you all of the health, happiness, and love in the world. Love and hugs to you!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Being a working mom.

I'm certainly not the first person in the world to be a working parent. I'm also not the first one to have a hard time with it either.

The last month has actually gone pretty well. We were finding a fairly decent groove. J is incredibly helpful in the evenings to make sure that we've repacked the diaper bag, diapers are washed, Lily's laundry is done, bottles are remade... not to mention our own dinner, etc. It's a lot, but we've been surviving. Yesterday I attended a training class, which left me working about two hours later than normal and sitting in about an extra hour of traffic to get home. Not to mention we'd had a bit of a childcare crisis during the day, so I coordinated having my mom pick her up (thank goodness!!), so that I didn't have to leave class. It was a 12 hour day. That fact, coupled with just being SO TIRED, I was a mess last night.

My dad called on the drive home and kept me company through the stop-n-go. We chatted about silly things (the great prices on the new computer he wants from Costco - good deal! lol) and then asked how "his Lily" was doing. "She's absolutely wonderful." I had recently posted this photo:

My dad mentioned that my uncle, who is on FB, showed the picture to my grandma. "She is just so proud of you." He said. "Who would ever think of doing such a sweet thing?" (Well, actually Grams, everyone on the internet, but she doesn't know that. lol) My dad proceeded to tell me how proud he was of me. How amazing J and I have been with Lily and how love and lucky our daughter is. I bawled.

I probably would have cried anyway, because when your tough dad tells you he's proud of you, you shed a tear. That's just how that goes. But I'd had a long, fairly stressful, day away from my baby - so I was in a bit of a state as it was.

He asked if I was going to be okay and then told me to suck it up, because I was driving after all. Safety first! We talked quite awhile about how hard it is to be away. I don't have any other choice, but still. Not to mention the crazy amount of money we get to pay for daycare so that someone else can snuggle up to her sweet face.

We've previously covered how I'm a bit Type-A, and we've waited a long time for these moments, so I don't want to miss them and frankly I really want to kick ass at being a mom. I want beautiful family photos. A gorgeous first Christmas. A baby book to be proud of. I want to sew and create beautiful things for my daughter... that list is endless. Now here comes the 'but' -

THERE IS NEVER ENOUGH TIME. Or energy for that matter.

I need to adjust the expectations I have for myself. This year, I ordered my cards through TinyPrints, instead of making my own in PhotoShop like I'd dreamed of doing. I used candid photos instead of having them professionally done or taking the time to shoot them myself. Basically, I have to compromise. I can't be the perfect super mom. And the sad part is, no one is pressuring me to be perfect, except me.

Being a stellar employee at work, and a wonder woman at home, sounds great. But in reality, it's burnout waiting to happen. Where is the quality of life there?

It took me a month, but this working mom thing finally caught up to me. Smacked me right upside the head. So, I'm learning. I'm trying to adjust. For now, I'm just going to have to do the best I can and that's going to have to be good enough.

My bathroom is going to stay a little messier while I rock my daughter. We'll be getting dressed from the laundry basket, because it won't get put away while I'm relaxing with my family. The only thing I need to fit in, is more time with J. We're both running 1000mph and thankfully, it is in the same direction, side-by-side. But we need to be husband and wife too. Not just parents. That's first on the to-do list. After I love on my sweet Lily a little longer.