2012 Resolutions

1 Jan

I love new year’s resolutions. Sometimes I actually even keep them. For the past several years, I’ve made the habit of taking some quiet time on New Year’s Eve, reflecting on the past year and writing down my goals for the coming year. Aside from the ubiquitous weight loss resolutions, in the past I’ve set a lot of personal improvement goals ranging from taking art and creative writing classes to buying a home and trying for a baby. In the past, this has been a private ritual, but this year, I decided to make it a little bigger.

Growing up, we never had many family traditions, and I was always jealous of families that had cute little activities to mark holidays, birthdays, or other days of significance. Now that Baby E is in the picture, I want to start setting some fun traditions of our own. So for New Year’s, I suggested to The Hubs that we start doing family resolutions.  On NYE, The Hubs, Miss A (my step daughter who is visiting from Colorado) and I all wrote down a list of resolutions, placed them in an envelope and sealed them up. Next year, we’ll open them, read them aloud, and the person who accomplished the most, by percentage attained, wins a prize. I’m thinking maybe some kind of ridiculous crown and the winner gets to be King or Queen of the New Year and we’ll come up with some privileges that go along with the title…

If it all works the way I hope it will, this little tradition will allow us to share and set goals, hold each other accountable, and get a fun little peek into the minds of the kiddos on a yearly basis. I mean, when you ask a three-year-old what they hope to do in the next year, it’s bound to be funny, right? Of course, we’ll keep them over the years, so I’ll have something to embarrass Baby E with when he’s a teenager and Miss A when she gets married.

So here’s to a fun and productive 2012! Time to get crackin’ – I want that crown!

Training for Birth

28 Dec

One of the things that I found most interesting and empowering about midwifery care was the amount of participation that was expected of me and The Hubs through the whole process. Of course, all women participate in their pregnancies and births, but I really feel that under standard OB care, you just don’t learn as much about the whole process. For the most part, I think that American women are victims of pregnancy – that it happens to you, you don’t have much control, the doctors are the bosses, and things end up how they end up. With our midwife, I felt that I was in charge, that I played a major role in maintaining a healthy pregnancy – and I learned that what you do can make a HUGE difference in how you feel and the total outcome of the whole ordeal.

I have to say, I had an awesome pregnancy and felt pretty great the entire time. Not too much sickness, not too much tiredness after the first trimester, no swelling, healthy weight gain, and while my third trimester belly inspired comments like “do you need to use a wench to get out of bed in the morning?” (no joke, a guy said this to me around week 37), I was active and pretty much pain-free down to the very end. For all of this, I feel very blessed. I know a lot of women have a much harder time, through no fault of their own. But I do feel that my actions contributed to my wonderful experience. Here’s what I think made the difference:

  • Diet: My midwife recommended the Brewer Pregnancy Diet, which basically recommends eating a s%!t ton of protein every day, getting plenty of calories, and NOT restricting salt intake. Okay, I’m paraphrasing it a bit – here’s a link to its daily recommendations. I tried to follow this as closely as possible and I drank a ton of water. While it’s challenging to eat 70-100 grams of protein each day, it’s worth the effort. The diet is filled with healthy, satisfying foods that give your spawn the nutrients it needs to grow, it helps you maintain your energy, and it helps prevent conditions like pre-eclampsia. I started my morning every day with two eggs, wheat toast with butter, orange juice and some fresh fruit. I snacked on a lot of almonds and tried to add spinach to pretty much everything. And I did not restrict my salt intake at all. My blood pressure stayed low for the whole pregnancy and I had no swelling. Now, the blood pressure thing isn’t that big of a deal to me, as I’ve never had any issues with it, but the swelling thing was huge. My non-pregnant, birth-control-taking self would plump right up for any old reason. If it was hot out, my fingers and feet would swell. If I was on my feet a good bit, my ankles would get huge. I just KNEW I would have cankles by the third month and my rings would have to be cut off of my enormously fat fingers. My baby was due in August, after all. To my shock and delight, none of that happened. Thank you, Brewer diet!

    This is what I thought I'd look like at 9 months.

  • Exercise: I’m not a fitness-ey person. I don’t do things like run or have a gym membership. But I did make sure that I stayed active during my pregnancy by walking a lot. My midwife and our childbirth educator emphasized the importance of doing some simple exercises to prepare your body for birth. Do a lot of Kegels – squeeze and hold for extended periods and do short bursts. And do them a lot. They help strengthen the pelvic floor, keeping your uterus and stuff in, helping you push that baby out, and possibly preventing incontinence when it’s all over with. To counter Kegels, do a crazy amount of squats. Short, repetitive squats and loooong deep squats. These can help prevent tears. If that’s not worth it, I don’t know what is.
  • Chiropractic: I saw a fabulous chiropractor every two weeks throughout my pregnancy. He uses the activator method, which is extremely gentle and doesn’t involve any weird positions or loud cracking of things. He helped keep my neck, back, hips and pelvis loose, aligned and feeling good. And he has this fabulous massage device that he runs over your back at the end of each visit. Absolutely heavenly.
  • Education: Being mentally and emotionally prepared for pregnancy and birth is just as important as being physical prepared. Unfortunately, they just don’t teach you much in school about how pregnancy and childbirth work, and a shocking amount of American women know squat about childbirth options. The Hubs and I took a wonderful class with Mary Kury where we got to learn in-depth about pregnancy, how to stay healthy, what to expect during childbirth and tips and techniques for pain management. I cannot emphasize how important this info was for a natural, normal childbirth. Plus, it was just so darn interesting. Being pregnant is kind of like having your body taken over by aliens. It’s just weird. I was dying to know every little thing that was going on in there.

While my birth experience didn’t go exactly as I had envisioned it, I do feel like I was extremely prepared and in control the whole time. I made it through a 36-hour labor, pushed out a 7 lb – 13 oz baby with no tearing and had a really quick physical recovery. Absolutely worth every scrambled egg, deep squat and Kegel!

Ezra’s Bedtime Story

24 Dec

Baby E has a pretty regular bedtime routine that we follow every night: bath (if it’s bath night), put on our jammies, play alone in the crib for a few minutes, read Brown Bear, bottle, then nurse to sleep.

Now since we’ve reached 4 months, nursing has become much more….lively. Or dangerous. Depends which side you’re on. Baby E likes to grunt loudly, kick and flail his arms, slap me about the face, rip my lip off, dig his baby fingernails into my neck skin, and if he’s feeling really spunky, try to scratch mommy’s cornea out. Fortunately, his night time feedings are a little more subdued, due in part to him being partially swaddled.

However, the night before last, Baby E gave me an extra special treat. All through his bedtime nursing he kept unlatching and whipping his head around to look at me. My first thought? Great – this kid is wired and is gonna be up all night.

But then he started talking to me. Not in his usual, loud, boisterous daytime talk, but in soft, sweet, breathy little coos – like he was telling me a secret or my own little private bedtime story. For about ten minutes, I got to sit there, holding his hand while he gazed into my eyes by the glow of the nightlight. Eventually, his eyes became heavy, his coos became softer, and he fell asleep while telling me his little bedtime story.

He slept there on my lap for a few minutes, then woke and was a bit restless. I moved him from my lap to my shoulder where he nuzzled in and drifted right back to sleep. He so seldom stays up on my shoulder anymore, and I had forgotten how wonderful it feels to have him warm against my chest, to feel him breathing softly, to smell the back of his neck, to stroke my cheek against the silky hair on the top of his head.

A bedtime so sweet makes the occasionally scratched cornea seem like a small price to pay.

Merry Christmas to Me!

20 Dec

I got the best Christmas present I could imagine this year…BabyE’s first laugh. He’s turning into a happy, funny little human and I’m loving every second…

Decisions, Baby! Installment 2

12 Dec

Baby is the new black.

Babies can become rather inconvenient once they pop out into the world. Not that they’re not all cute and amazing, but they do make handling mundane tasks like going to the bathroom a major challenge.

I know some people have babies you can just plop in a bouncy seat and they can sit there all content and maybe even catch some z’s. Not so much for Baby E. At four months old, he’s just beginning to realize the fun of sitting on something besides me. So it was quite lucky that I had considered baby wearing before E was born.

If you’re not familiar with baby wearing, here are but some of the benefits. Once you dig in, you might find it a little cultish and a bit confusing. There are tons of carrier types and even more options within each style. If you’re simply thinking Baby Bjorn, you have no idea (serious BWs won’t touch that one – apparently it puts all of baby’s weight on his crotch and no one wants to be carried by their crotch).

I spent a ton of time researching carriers and reading reviews. I even visited a local baby wearing group where I could try on different styles and ask questions. Here’s what I learned:

  • Wraps. These are basically just long pieces of fabric that you can tie and wear in a million different ways.
    • Stretchy: Some wraps are stretchy like t-shirt fabric. These are good for newborns and small babies and are super snuggly and warm. The Moby is a popular knit wrap. These are generally great, but can be hot in warm climates.
    • Woven: For bigger babies, choose a woven wrap which will hold its shape and support baby weight better. You can tie these in a million ways and wear baby on front facing in or out, on your hip or back. These come in pretty prints and cooler materials like gauze. As a bonus, you can nurse in a wrap if you’ve got mad skillz like that.
    • Other: there are other wrap-like contraptions that aren’t quite wraps. I have a Baby K’tan that a dear friend gave me. She didn’t care for it, but I LOVE it. It’s cozy like a stretchy wrap, but it’s two loops of fabric joined by a fabric band. You can wear it like six different ways, and there’s no tying or having wrap tails dragging on the parking lot pavement. Watch the sizing, though.  I have an old one that’s a small, but they changed the fabric and the small now is way too tight for me. They said it will stretch, but I don’t know…Mom's-eye-view of Baby E in the K'tan. Quite cozy!
  • Slings.  These go over one shoulder and secure with a knot or a ring and work for little babies and bigger ones as well. Pros- quick and easy, pretty, and you can nurse in them. Cons- not completely hands-free, doesn’t distribute weight evenly and can hurt a little if you wear it for a long time.
  • Mei Tai. These are Asian-style carriers that are squares of fabric with straps at top and bottom. Not as good for newborns, awesome for ones with moderate head control and up. Pros- cute and comfortable, wear front, back, side. Holds the baby securely. Cons- takes a little practice to learn to tie it quickly, especially for a back carry. I have a Babyhawk and really like it. I’ve also tried on an Ellaroo and liked it, too.Babyhawk
  • Structured Carriers. These carriers have straps, snaps, buckles, and, well…structure. I have a Bjorn that The Hubs uses from time to time. I have heard from those who know that the Ergo is the schiz. If someone wants to buy one for me, I will gladly take it!

And that brings us to price, which is always a big factor in my world. Carriers are expensive, y’all! I found my Babyhawk on eBay  at about 50% of retail. Thebabywearer.com has a for-sale-or-trade section on their forum. You have to register to participate. I did, but found the forum a little intimidating. Lastly, I found paxbaby.com, where you can rent carriers to try them before you buy.  $9 for two weeks, and if you decide to buy, they deduct the rental fee from the sales price. Pretty good deal!

So there you have it – a crash course in baby wearing from a novice. If you’re new to the game and have any questions, shout at me in the comments. I’d love to help if I can!

BTW, all of this is strictly my opinion. I am in no way paid to promote anything I mentioned here.

Things I miss about newborn Baby E

10 Dec

Today Baby E turned four months old, and I have to say, he has grown into quite the little person. There’s so much that I adore about this age – the huge smiles, our conversations, and the fact that I now usually know what’s wrong when he’s crying. Yes, good times indeed.

But there are so many things that I miss about newborn Baby E. The first few weeks of his life I was one weepy, sentimental momma. Now, this is the opposite of my normal temperament, and it really made an impact. Freaked The Hubs out, too. Especially that time when he was singing Puff the Magic Dragon and I burst into tears at the part where little Jimmy grows up. Ah, postpartum hormones…

I would sit there for hours gazing at the precious babe, trying to record every detail in my memory because I was terrified that I would forget all the little details of his newborn existence. In honor of Baby E’s transition into a little dude, here are the top things I miss about him as a newborn:

  • The Rooting Reflex. The bobbing and swooshing of his tiny head was just the sweetest. Now he attacks with focus and determination.
  • Frankenstein Arms. This one was great! He would wake from a dead sleep, eyes popping wide open and arms shooting straight out in front a la Frankenstein. Made me laugh every time!
  • Tininess. I miss how I could fit his whole body on my chest with his head right under my neck, all cuddly and warm. He’s still cuddly and warm, he just doesn’t fit into that nook quite as well.
  • Bird Face. He used to do this little puckered open lip face all the time. We thought it made him look like a baby bird. I miss that face.

    Little Bird Face, how I miss you.

While I miss all of those little newborn quirks, they’ve been replaced with countless other endearing faces, sounds and movements. Here’s hoping the next four months don’t shoot by quite so quickly.

Why does this not exist?

9 Dec

One of the most frustrating parts of being a new parent is figuring out what gear you need. I literally spent months researching and reading Amazon reviews to decide which bouncy seat and humidifier I wanted. And how, exactly, are you supposed to choose, say, a breast pump, when you have absolutely no experience with such a contraption?

I mean, it's stylish, but does it work??

Sure, there are a ton of registry checklists out there, and people are more than happy to give you advice. But the whole time I was making my registry I kept thinking, “I wish I could just try this stuff out.”

So why doesn’t some place like that exist? A baby demo store, where, for a set fee ($25-$50?) you can go in and try on to your heart’s content just seems like a great idea. It could carry the most common models of the main baby items, and each display would have product info, pricing, pros and cons. And since the store isn’t selling the items, the info would be impartial. Just think about it! You could run that jogging stroller around a little track to see if you’ll bang your shins against it. Or put that big ol’ rear-facing car seat in your compact car to see if it will actually fit. Or bring your screaming, colicky baby in to see if that $300 swing can bring you any peace.

And then, when you find the products you love, you can scan them to a list or maybe have them go straight to an Amazon registry. And maybe it could be tied in with a consignment store where you could buy the demo brands gently used. I don’t know – lots of possibilities. Just seems like something like this should exist!