New Teeth

Trying to think of any witty way to sum up this last week feels impossible.  I’ve seen it all on social media – people describing the five stages of grief, feelings of sadness, frustration, fear, disappointment, anger, loss – and in my own way I guess I’ve felt all of those things.

All day after the election results, Jack was very very fussy.  I chocked it up to post-election misery (dude, I feel you) but every once in a while I’d remember that he doesn’t speak English nor is he yet capable of grasping the weight of the election results (or the concept of an election generally) but I couldn’t figure out what his problem was.

And then, I nursed him.  Just like I do every night before dinner.

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Rest in peace, boobs.

Guys.  The kid sprouted four teeth at once.  Four.  On the top.  To accompany the existing two on the bottom.

NO WONDER HE WAS SO FUSSY.  He had new teeth!  Four of them, in case you forgot already.  All at once!

I’d half joked with myself the night before, as I rocked my inconsolable baby in the dark of his bedroom, that he was beside himself with woe for the way the results had come in.  He’d worn his Hillary onesie to vote with me in the primary and with his dad the day before in the general.  He’d been awake with us for each of the three presidential debates.  Maybe by osmosis (or my breastmilk?) he had truly developed an appreciation for the gravity of this election.  The first woman president.  The most qualified and capable presidential candidate in anyone’s lifetime.  She was going to win no matter what, but especially since she was running against a toxic, hateful clown with the political knowledge and leadership skills of a back zit.  And then she didn’t.

This outcome of this election was, there is truly no fair way to fully describe how it felt, but it was devastating.  Profoundly disappointing.  Heartbreaking.  It brings fear to the hearts and souls of people and their families all over the world.  These statements aren’t exaggerations by any stretch.  Since the results came in, over 400 incidents of hateful intimidation and harassment have been reported by the Southern Poverty Law Center.  Just by running his campaign the way he did, Donald Trump normalized sexual harassment, xenophobia and racism before he was even elected.  By electing him as President of the United States, people in our country effectively signed on to his way of thinking and treating people.  

After his results came in, I felt let down by so many people.  Let down by him because of his lifetime full of hateful and unfair business practices, his complete lack of respect for women as human beings, his plans to register Muslims coming into the country (a la Japanese internment camps) and, honestly, it would be impossible to name everyone he has attacked.  I’ll leave that to the New York Times.
But I truly felt like a stranger in my own country.  Every single person who voted for him 100% was saying that his hateful way of living life and leading the people through racist, sexist and xenophobic dialogue wasn’t a deal breaker.  This was ok with them.

Even putting together this post is exhausting.  I can only barely stand to listen to the news anymore because it is constantly dominated with the most recent transition flub or science denier being named to his cabinet.

But in Jack’s world, unbearable diaper change boredom and new tooth aches and pains were the worst of it.  I felt like I’d been given a good dose of perspective – I can’t spend another second of time or ounce of energy feeling sad and scared about the future.  First and foremost, even though I’m a woman I don’t in any way have it as bad as most other people who will be negatively affected by his administration and their actions.  But more importantly (to me, anyway), I need to start setting an example for this little face full of new teeth.  He needs to know that our new pr(nope sorry can’t do it still) is not an example of how to act under any circumstances.

I need to set an example for him.  I need to keep him safe and help lead him down the right path.  And I need help doing that – his dad, our families and all of our friends will play a role.  His neighbors and future schoolmates and teachers will play their roles.  We all need to work harder starting right now to combat any efforts to roll the country back into the stoneage, and to spread love and light instead of strength.  Wish me (and my boobs) luck in this new tomorrow.

Hospital Packing

There is so much GARBAGE advice out on the internet about what you need to pack.  But listen:  I get it.  That stuff is 99% written by someone who falls into one of two categories:

  1. Almost moms who are like 50 weeks pregnant, bored as hell, and who have packed and repacked and overthought every single thing in their hospital bag, OR
  2. Moms on early maternity leave who are taking advantage of their new baby’s daytime nap schedule to get onto wordpress for a hot second.

I read that I was supposed to bring everything from thank you goodie bags for the nurses to olive oil for perennial massage.  Even ELI was lead to believe that he needed to pack a super carefully curated new-dad hospital bag.

Guys.  It is all bologna.  But my baby is asleep right now so I’m not about to pretend I’m going to squander an opportunity to write about myself.

A few things to start:

  • I had a planned c-section, so I knew I wouldn’t need to kill time before Jack was born.  Otherwise maybe I would’ve wanted some entertainment.
  • Everyone is different – if you have items that comfort you and you’re allowed to bring them to the hospital, then do your thing and bring your stuff.
  • Eli did have a separate bag, mostly because he is a fiercely independent only child but also because he packed mega snacks and for this I love him.

First, I absolutely love the bag I used.  The Catalina by Lo & Sons.

losons-2There aren’t many ways to feel hip, calm and collected when you’re in def con waddle, so having a simple, chic and well-made bag made a huge difference.

Things I did not need in the hospital:

  • Makeup & hair products – I usually love having at least a little makeup on but it never even occurred to me to do anything remotely stylish while I was in the hospital.  Just make sure you have yourself some hair ties – there are enough wires and plugs in your life so get your hair out of your way.
  • Laptops or tablets – I was too busy snuggling that baby (or being hooked up to machines) to be typing and tapping away.
  • Movies, books, crosswords, sudoku, general entertainment – because of the aforementioned snuggling.
  • Anything that wasn’t baggy or stretchy to wear – but duh this isn’t news to anyone.
  • Birth plan – because honestly my birth plan was to get the baby out of my body safely
  • A robe – For at least the first half of the hospital stay you’re in your hospital gown anyway.  Plus most of the other hospital packing lists talk about your robe getting…uh…messy if you delivery vaginally.
  • My own pillow – there are all the pillows at the hospital.
  • Maxi pads – there are all the pads at the hospital.
  • Hand sanitizer – guys.  It is a hospital.
  • Advil or other painkillers – seriously.  You get the good stuff anyway.
  • Anything for the baby other than a going home outfit – they are mostly naked and wrapped in one of the bazillion baby blankets the hospital provides.  Plus there are all the diapers/wipes at the hospital.

Things I’m glad we had:

  • Nursing bras – you nurse the baby often enough that if you’re like me your gown will just remain permanently undone.  Plus lactation consultants and nurses will be up in your business all the time anyway so its nice to have something that just clips on/off or can be pushed to the side.
  • Snacks – who knows, maybe some hospitals have awesome food but you’re so hungry even if you had a c-section and didn’t labor at all.  I can only IMAGINE how famished mamas are after real labor and delivery!  Cliff bars forever!
  • A tooth brush – it is so refreshing, under any circumstances, to have clean teeth.
  • Our own towels – hospital towels are notoriously (1) scratchy and (2) small.  No matter how you deliver the last thing you want to do for that first shower or two is bend and stretch to get dry with a crappy scratchy hand towel.
  • A loofah/shower pouf/washcloth – same idea with the tooth brushing – it is wonderful to feel really clean after your baby is born.  Since I had a spinal and couldn’t use my legs for a few hours they strapped these SUPER WARM leg massager things on me and I was sweating my face off after my operation and smelling likewise.  The scrub was wonderful.
  • Phone or some kind of photography aparatus – you won’t believe how quickly the photos of a sleeping baby will accumulate.
  • Music – a little speaker plus a phone (don’t forget your charger!) is all you need. Being the mega Harry Potter fan that I am, Eli made sure to play the soundtrack from the first movie for the first day straight and I had so many feelings.
  • Water bottle – Yes there will be plenty of water in cups at the hospital but, particularly on that first day or two, you’re hooked up to so many machines and trying to figure out how to safely hold a baby and so much is going on that you don’t want to spill!  Bring a refillable water bottle along that can fall down into your pillows but is easily accessible and won’t spill.
  • Comfy clothes for you and the wee babe 🙂

Overall, what you REALLY need is your ID to get you into the hospital.  And yourself.  And ideally a support person but hey mama you got this far on your own now there are a bunch of kick ass nurses to help you the rest of the way, makeup and sudoku be damned.

Come out now, please.

Here I sit, waiting (impatiently) to have my sweet little baby.  No, not little baby…big baby. This kid measured in the 90th percentile for his cranial and 95th percentile for his abdominal…a big fat brainiac.

It is a Sunday, a beautiful Sunday not unlike the day I found out I was pregnant.  I was due last Thursday the 7th, but am told it is totally normal for first babies to be late.  Be that as it may, this waiting is bananas!  If you thought you might feel emotional when you find out you’re pregnant, it doesn’t compare a bit to the rollercoaster you’re on while waiting to go into labor!

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Belly shot on my due date, April 7th.

Eli and I were talking a few nights ago about these conflicting emotions and I think we made an important observation.  We were discussing how excited we are for the baby to be born, to hold him and smell him and listen to him.  We hear from every set of parents new and old that it is the best thing in the whole world, meeting your child for the first time.  We trust that we will experience that sudden burst of love and joy and change.  But at the same time, we both also had this ever so small but very present feeling of sadness, almost of mourning.

I brought it up first, that I felt guilty acknowledging this sad feeling because I should be so happy and feel so lucky – up until now both I and the baby have been healthy and normal through the whole pregnancy.  Sadness shouldn’t have a place in my heart right now.  I have nothing to mourn – no wild young and carefree life of partying and freedom that I’m being forced to bid farewell to.  But yet I still felt true sadness, if ever so slightly.

But then Eli said, “I feel that way too, and I don’t think we should feel guilty at all.”  Having your first baby is such a solid marker of the start to a new life.  Of course elements of your pre-baby life continue on, you’re the same person, you’re with the same person, you live in the same house and have the same job and friends.  But the nature of your life is irreversibly different in the biggest possible ways.  That degree of change rocks your world and unhinges some of the strongest parts of your soul.  That’s a lot to deal with.  It is a feeling for YOURSELF, Eli said.  You shouldn’t feel guilty for taking a moment away from thinking about your baby so that you can feel something for yourself.

What an important reminder that self care truly IS caring for your family as well.  You can’t be your best self for your family if you aren’t looking out for your physical and emotional well being.  So the next night I tossed a bath bomb into the tub, slathered on some shower smoothie, put coconut oil in my hair and binged a few early Pam and Jim episodes of The Office.  Daddio took me on a nice long walk this morning, and here I sit reaching around my giant abdomen to write down some thoughts during my last few days before birth while this sweet baby rolls around inside of me.

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Mountain of baby belly between me at the computer

I’ll miss these quiet moments, but will cherish the memory forever.  Sitting in our living room with sunlight streaming in, listening to cars drive by while my baby stretches and rolls around inside me.  I’ll miss the little hiccups, I’ll miss his heel digging into my side and then him snatching them away when I push against him with my hand.  I’ll miss resting my hands on my belly and talking to him about what his life will be like, how much his daddy loves him already, how many people are excited for him.

Most of all, his mama is very very excited to meet him.

Some reading material for you…literally.

Wow so, I totally intended to keep track of my entire pregnancy but then here I find myself at the beginning of the final trimester having missed the chance to write about the most wonderful moments of pregnancy so far!  I guess the second trimester was too big a party for me to sit down and put words to keyboard.

But let me tell ya that is starting to change now that I’m transforming from a speed bump into more of a freeway center divide.  Lord, pregnancy is not nearly as magical and organized as some people make it out to be – they’re all totally glossing over the mid sneeze pee squirts and laughing accompanied by perfectly timed farts and wild hunger rages.  I for one find all of those things perfectly charming but could see them being difficult to glitterfy for the interwebz readers.

Keeping those thoughts in mind, I wanted to quickly plug two sources of child rearing brilliance that I’ve found myself thinking about nonstop from when I wake to when I fall into pregnant mouth breather slumber – Bringing up Bebe and Science of Mom.

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loved this book.  It was the first parenting book I read after finding out I was expecting.  I’d started to read a combo of pregnancy horror stories and perfect pinterest mommy blogs and, coupled with a few choices memories of nasty children I’d run into in the past, I was starting to accept that I may just be doomed to birth a monster.  This book changed all that.

Pamela is, first of all, hilarious.  The book reads like you’re talking to one of your best girlfriends – someone who you trust, who is honest, funny and well meaning.  She shares common sense lessons she learned while bringing up her daughter and twin boys while she and her husband lived abroad in Paris.  She covers everything from tricks to help your baby sleep through the night to the benefits of daycare and cooking with your child.  The best part is, while you’d read the concept and think “oh God here’s another hoitsy toitsy ‘French Women Don’t Get Fat’ piece of nonsense” you start reading it and she repeatedly addresses that fear!  And puts it out of your mind!  She’s a quirky American girl just like you, trying to make it in a world of toned arms French high-heeled preggos!  I bought one for my own mother so she’d be on board for when our baby is born.

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I’m only about halfway through this one and truly can’t stop thinking about it, day and night.  The biggest benefit (aside from the infinite wisdom Dr. Callahan shares throughout the book) is that her approach is as gentle and non-judgey as you could ever want.  Her whole point is that while you should do what feels right for your baby, you should also be able to consider cold hard facts based on real, trustworthy scientific research – so here’s how you can tell what research is trustworthy and why.

She covers everything from whether to get the vitamin K shot (Eli:  “Is that like what’s in Special K cereal?”) to why babies have trouble sleeping through the night early on to breastfeeding and lots more.  You know when you go for your doctor appointment at the OB’s office and they ask if you have any questions and you think “UH YES WHAT THE HECK I’VE NEVER HAD A BABY BEFORE OF COURSE I DO BUT HOW COULD I POSSIBLY KNOW WHAT QUESTIONS TO ASK OTHER THAN HOW DO YOU BIRTH THE CHILD AND KEEP IT ALIVE FOREVER?”  Well once you read this book, you can feel so much more ready and at ease with material to chat to your doctor about.  Everyone can be on the same page, and you don’t need to feel like your doctor is internally rolling her/his eyes at you when you ask about whether you can sit in an essential oil filled bathtub while a medicine woman whispers Enya songs into your ear amidst the candle light during child birth.

The best thing I’ve been told through this whole experience, which was only reinforced by reading these two books, is that every pregnancy is different, and every parent is different. As long as you prioritize the safety and happiness of your baby using advice from your DOCTOR and your mom (as long as your mom isn’t wacko), then you’re doing it right. Or…as right as any of us know how to do it.

Things I’m scared of now that I’m 14 weeks pregnant

There are plenty of things I anticipated being nervous about when I found out I was pregnant.  I knew I would need to be careful about eating healthy, staying out of fist fights, and try not to scoot into my work desk with too much conviction.

But dude, whoa, if I thought I’d be nervous (and excited!  Don’t get me wrong!) before getting pregnant I had no idea what was coming next.  In case it brings a chuckle to anyone or, if you’re like me, a sigh of relief that I’m not the only one scared to sneeze now, here’s a sampling:

Sneezing, as mentioned

Coughing

Laughing too hard

Hiccups

Bending over at any angle, whether sitting or standing

Jumping without being ready to sink completely to the floor in an effort to absorb the impact of my landing (the jiggle is even more intense with even a small belly)

Eating things that are spicy

Moving a bowel which too much vigor (sorry, TMI but totally true)

Flatulence (mine now especially…if you thought babies were stinky…)

Going over bumps in the car

Putting on a seat belt

Not putting on a seatbelt

Sudden stops in the car

Really anything involving vehicles

Stepping off of curbs too ferociously

Sitting down too hard in a comfy chair

Rolling over from my back to my side

Rolling over from my side to my back

Laying on my right side at all (which is apparently not as good for you as laying on your left side but WHO CAN TAKE SUCH A RISK?)

Hugging people too hard (but really hugging in general…that is something I brought along from my non-pregnant self)

Wearing stretchy pants with too-tight elastic that can’t be pulled up over the bump, camel toe be damned

Sex that isn’t very slow and boring

Being within one square mile of someone who has smoked a cigarette in the past hour

Holding my laptop on my lap

Standing too close to microwaves, whether they’re being used or not

Standing too close to the bathroom counter while brushing my teeth/putting on makeup/washing my hands because what if there’s an earthquake and I’m pitched into the counter!  Sharp edge!

This feels crazy, but it is true.  It isn’t as though I’m walking around every waking moment worrying about the world around me – there are bigger fish to fry (Equal pay for equal work!  Student debt!  The environment!  Donald Trump!) but I guess I’m just starting to come into the realization most parents have.  You begin to love something with a strength you couldn’t have even imagined in a way that makes you nervous about anything that could possibly cause it discomfort, let alone harm.  I know, I know – babies have made it through living in caves and rolling through filthy surroundings (and sadly they still do) – but hey.  When you’re told that sleeping on the incorrect side could have scary health implications for your baby, you go a little nuts.

Seriously, I apologized to the fetus when I bent over to plug my computer in.  Because of bending over.  I apologized out loud.

I’m hoping this doesn’t translate into helicopter parenting…I have set my sights on creating structure but with tons of freedom.  I was allowed to break a few limbs and get some splinters and am no worse for it.  Eli thinks I’m bonkers, but then he is always very insistent about drinking enough water on airplanes and getting up to stretch for bathroom breaks.  Maybe we’re both bonkers together 🙂

Am I alone in this?  Is anyone else a little freaked?

Whoa….whoa

Two months ago, on a Sunday morning, I wrote this entry.  Reading it again makes me smile – I remember all of these feelings vividly.  Yowza!  Here it is!

(Two months earlier…)

I’m pregnant.

Or so say two tests so far this morning.  So says my sore boobs and my heartburn.  So says how hyper-conscious I am of feelings in my lower abdomen.  So says mood swings.  So says the fact that I could smell peanut butter on my husband’s breath while he sat 6 feet away from me eating Reeses pieces on soft serve.

I’ve thought for the last few days that this might be the one that took.  I’ve been experiencing all those feelings I listed but writing them off.  The boob pain and tiny cramps and mood swings (did anyone else cry that hard in “Inside Out?”) were part of PMS.  The heartburn was due to the embarrassing amount of chili I ate over the past week for lunch every day.  The heightened smell isn’t heightened smell – it is just my undying love for peanut butter based candy.  I didn’t want to take the last test in the house because I didn’t want to get my hopes up – I’d resolved to waiting another 2-3 weeks before I knew FOR SURE that my period was more than just late.  But I woke up this morning after a restless sleep and just wanted to know.  So I took the test and let it sit alone in the bathroom for 5 minutes.  I came out to the living room and had a glass of water, looked around on facebook, read an article about how Donald Trump is a menace for the GOP.

Then I went back into our bathroom.  I closed my eyes, picked up the test, and expected to be disappointed.  But there was the word “Yes.”  There was the plus sign.  Is that really what it says?  Look away from the test then look back again.  It still says “YES.”  Yes.  Yes as in yes you are not pregnant, like you expected?  No.  Yes as in your eggo is preggo.  There was lots of crying.  There were a few expletives.  There was lots of pacing.  There were many double, triple takes back at the test.  I took a picture, just to be sure.  Then I went to the store, bought coconut water and 2 more tests and came home.  Took one more test, did some laundry, came back to check and there was another plus sign.

This is so surreal.  I fear getting my hopes up about this being true – could I actually be pregnant?  Could all these signs and those two tests be right?  Why isn’t my doctor ready and available on a Sunday morning?  I need to know for sure right now this very minute.  I want this to be true.  If it isn’t true, its ok.  We’re young and healthy and have plenty of time.

But if it is true, whoa.  How do you be pregnant?  How do you mother another human, for whom you are the one and only mother?  How do you share parenthood, share another person, with your partner?  Will I be a good mom?  Will Eli be a good dad?  You fall in love with someone really hard in a way that feels like you fell and can never get back up but you’re ok with it – you love them more than anything.  And part of those feelings make you say things like “You’ll be such a good dad one day.”  But until it is actually true and it is time for him to be a dad aren’t you sort of only just saying it?  I’m sure he will be a good dad.

I’ve been reading about pregnancy all morning and several youtube doctors have told me that one cup of coffee per day is ok.  But I feel guilty drinking this coffee.  This is so weird.  (Editors note:  I didn’t finish the coffee.  It gave me heartburn and I felt holier-than-thou/moral-high-ground-y throwing it down the drain.)

I want to tell everyone I know – I want to tell Eli and my mom and my sisters and my friends and his parents and our grandparents right now.  But wouldn’t that be irresponsible?  Shouldn’t I wait to hear from a doctor first?  I’m already making rash decisions – what will happen when I have to decide on behalf of this new human.  Did I just feel a kick?  Can cells kick?  I’m going nuts.

I feel restless.  I’ve already done a bunch of laundry, but I should clean the kitchen too.  I should start cleaning out the second bedroom – there’s only so much time before another person will live in there.  (Editors note:  The second bedroom still looks like Hiroshima.)  I should do more laundry.  There are drums everywhere in this house – they take up so much space.  What if this new person is a drummer too?  Will I die by drowning in drums?  Will life ever be quiet again?

Maybe this is what its like to do drugs – I feel crazy and restless but calm and introspective all at the same time.  I keep thinking to myself that for the only time in the rest of my life during these last few hours before Eli gets home, it is just me and the baby.  We’re the only two people in existence who know about each other.  Wow.  “The baby.”  The baby.

The baby will grow up into a person who lives and makes decisions and mistakes and creates things no one else has created or will create.  The baby will be unique.  The baby will be loved by us, by their friends, by their partner.  Maybe the baby will get married and have their own babies one day.  My friend just sent me a picture of Vice President Biden leaning down to greet Sasha Obama as the President and First Lady look on.  Beau Biden is standing behind the Vice President, smiling.  He was a baby once, and he lived an amazing life, but then he got sick.  How can parents have children and not be terrified with every fiber of their being that their baby won’t get sick one day.  I feel so overwhelmed, I feel like I could burst.

This is scary but this is exciting.  I love being alone in knowing about this – I love that the baby and I are the only ones who know right now – alone in the world.  But I can’t wait until Eli gets home.