Tuesday, December 15, 2015

An honest mom's guide to new baby essentials

I've read countless Pinterest lists of Essential Newborn Items. They range from basic to excessive, crunchy to mainstream, and more often than not, flat out ridiculous. How did I survive without 25 pairs of newborn socks or the $1500 stroller?! I'll never know. Zulily had a New Baby Essentials shopping category recently that included items such as facial masks for guests to wear to contain their germs. Friends don't let friends share air with their baby.

The simple truth is that what is essential to me probably isn't essential to you. What was essential for my daughter was very different than what was essential for my son. At five months old, my dear boy has spent zero minutes in a stroller, sleeping in a crib, or bathing in a baby tub.

So what do you really need for that new bundle of joy? Here's my honest list.

5. Stain fighting super powers
Even if you embrace stains as works of art, kids have a knack for staining the one shirt that is actually semi-flattering that allows you to easily breastfeed in public. Or vomiting on those pants you tried on for thirty seconds just to make sure they'll work for the Christmas party. Or pooping all over the sofa during a midnight diaper change. OxiClean, Shout, or your all homemade mixture of peroxide, Dawn, and unicorn tears is your friend even when your baby isn't.

4. Strong Coffee
It still amazes me that anyone can function, let along parent, without this nectar from God himself. There's no shame in copious coffee consumption when you haven't slept in weeks, months, or years.

3. Fresh Air
Even if it's walking in circles around your back yard, fresh air can help you and baby recharge. It's my first line of defense against a grumpy baby or grumpy self. You might even get a few minutes of exercise while you're at it.

2. Sense of Humor
When the baby poos mid diaper change, causing both you and baby to need to bathe and change your clothes for the third time today, and it's not even 10am. And it's the only day this week you've actually showered or been dressed by 10am. Or when you wake your husband in the middle of the night and tell him to stop crying, not realizing that three week old infant is the one crying. Or when your toddler is out back butt naked while you obliviously snuggle your sleeping baby on the sofa. Or when the toddler wants you to sing "Let it Go" after an hour long tantrum. Or when you're so tired you walk the dog and don't realize you come back home without the dog. Or when you're at the grocery store to fulfill your donut craving and the stranger in front of you, upon hearing you still have 3 months of pregnancy to go, loudly exclaims, "Well, I guess when you're that short, baby has nowhere to go but straight out!" Or when your toddler completely photobombs your pictures of the baby even though she refused to join when you wanted her to. Or when you spend your Saturday night in the store checking out baby equimpent after the swing breaks. Or when your toddler, who is the most outgoing kid you know and an expert at cheesing it up for the camera, hasn't smiled for a professional photographer in the last two years. Or when the toddler, who is the reason you cosleep because she's never slept a wink in a crib, insists on sleeping in the crib when you set it up for the next baby. Or that week she spent every night on the new dog bed rather than her brand new pink ruffly big girl bed. Or when you're 37 weeks pregnant and your husband decides we need to scrap our list of baby names and start over. Or when you go into labor at 39 weeks and baby is born before you've come up with another name. Or when the baby empties an entire bottle of oregano on the dog. Or that day that was so long that you didn't realize you put the baby to bed without a diaper. Or when your husband graciously agrees to clean the bathtub when your baby is a few days old, and he ends up with a chemical burn from your organic all natural cleaner requiring two different steroids, an antibiotic, and an anti-inflammatory drug.  Need I go on? You're going to need to be able to laugh at yourself. You may very well cry first, but being able to laugh will help.

1. Mom Friends
Everyone needs a friend who will come over immediately the first time the baby falls off the sofa, who will come pick up your naked screaming baby so that you can take a nap, or heaven forbid, shower in peace for just a few minutes, who will laugh at you when necessary. Friends who show up with coffee and ignore your mountain of laundry, who treat your kids as their own, and who support your family even when they parent completely opposite of you. Friends who will laugh at you, cry with you, and help you survive your tiny tyrants.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Toddler Convos

Some recent toddler convos:

While talking to E about fleeing dangerous situations:
E: Well, I don't want to be safe. I want to stay. I want to fight the bad guys!
Mommy: We run. We let the policemen get the bad guys. Do you want to be a policewoman?
E: Why not doctors? Why don't they get the bad guys?
Mommy: Do you want to be a doctor that fights bad guys?
E: Why aren't we eating pancakes?

As she rolls up a napkin and shoves it in Daddy's pocket:
E: Here, take this to the birthday party for me. Then, if I get birthday party on my face, you can wipe it off.

While she plays:
Mommy: Oh what a tiny baby you have!
E: I know! She's so tiny! She's 300 pounds. She just came out of my belly. She's five years old but she'll be one at her birthday!

From a recent car ride now that we turned her forward facing:
Mommy, look, there are cars! It's dark in here. Why can't I see? Can we turn a light on? Why did you stop? Why is the light red? Do you like my sparkly shoes? Where is Xander? Is he home with Daddy? Why didn't he come? How far away are we? You can go now! I think you should go that way. Why didn't you go that way? Why don't we ever go that way? Well, yesterday, at the beach, we had ice cream. Can we have ice cream? There's still a bug on the car. Is he inside or outside? Why didn't you get the bug? Can I squash the bug? Let's wash the car. It's dirty. Is Xander awake yet? Is Daddy at work? I'm going to save this last piece for Daddy. Never mind, I ate it. Why did you stop? Why aren't you going? Let's go that way!

Bedtime conversations:
E: Daddy, can I sleep in Mommy's bed tonight?
Daddy: No.
E: Thank you so much! That's so kind of you!
Daddy: I said no.
E: Um, I don't think so.

Mommy: Why don't you go put on some play clothes?
E: Where are we going?!
Mommy: We're staying here. Just put on some clothes that can get dirty.
E: Okay. I'll go find a plain tutu.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Why having a three year old sister is the best thing ever

When Xander was born, the hospital pediatrician told me that optimum child spacing was 3 years 7 months. I was immediately filled with regret and remorse. Had I simply held off for nine more days, I could have given both E and Xander (Xe/Z/Xe Man) the best possible start on life. 

Actually, I couldn't have cared less. I was just happy to not be pregnant any longer.

And that doctor was a bit of a nut who told me I was her favorite mother of the day and that I was killing my child all within a five minute conversation, but that's another story.

Despite being a whole nine days off from some arbitrary, or possibly well researched, ideal, I feel that Z is greatly benefiting from having a sister that is 3 years, 6 months, and 21 days older than him.

1) He's learning to always be alert and prepared.
My friend mentioned that Z always looks a little stunned/scared. I'm pretty sure it is from never knowing when his older sister is about to pounce, squeeze him til he can't breathe while declaring her undying love for him, or pick him up when I'm not watching (not that I would ever let him out of my sight!) I'm fairly certain that one day hyper alertness and the the ability to sense the enemy approaching from a mile away could come in handy.

2.) He gets way cooler songs sung to him.
When I used to rock E to sleep in the middle of the night, I'd sing her sweet lullabies. My favorite went:

Hey beautiful girl
Daddy loves you
He loves you
Most beautiful girl
In the whole wide world

When I'm singing to Z, it's usually whatever song is in my head. Since E has been on a Tangled kick lately, he usually hears:

I'm malicious mean and scary
My sneer could curdle dairy
And violence-wise my hands are not the cleanest
But despite my evil look
And my temper and my hook
I've always yearned to be a concert pianist...

Clearly, he's benefiting from living with a three year old.

3.) His every move is well monitored.
E is always more than happy to check on him and make sure he's still sleeping. Having a first hand report is so much more helpful than the static filled monitors we had last time.

E: He's still sleeping! I didn't wake him up!
Me: Wonderful! Thank you!
(30 seconds later)
E: He's crying!
Me: What happened?
E: I opened his eyes for him. I think he wants to be awake.

So. Much. Better.

4.) He always receives attention and comfort when he cries.
E doesn't like Z crying and is quick to comfort him. She likes to hold a pacifier (that he hates) in his mouth and when all else fails she's willing to smother him to so the crying stops. Sibling love.

5.) He's developing a strong immune system.
E didn't get her first cold until she was almost a year. Thanks to a sister with the sniffles, Z got his first cold at one week.

6.) Z's three year old sister is always willing to test things out for him.
From his itty bitty clothes to the swing, Moses basket, pacifier, toy, or car seat, she's tested it all.

7.) Having a three year old sister guarantees that everyone takes care of Z properly.
She's very eager to correct your hold, your burping technique, and my nursing position. She keeps a very accurate account of his diaper output and his feeding schedule (I didn't even know he had a feeding schedule!) Without her devoted oversight, Z would be lucky to be alive.

I think we can conclude based on a research sample of one, that a three year seven month age gap is truly ideal... at least for the three year old.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Xander Zekiah's First Month

Dear Xander,

We've had the pleasure of knowing you on this side of the womb for a whole month already! You are a dream baby, perfectly content and very easy going. When you sleep you are floppy and when you're awake you are happy. From birth you have audibly laughed in your sleep and you already smile at your mama both in your sleep and when you're awake. I'm really hoping to catch your little sleep chuckle on video one of these days. In your first week of life you slept through the night twice and you've continued to sleep well.

You have rolled tummy to back more times than I can remember. The Dr says it's just a random movement and not a purposeful roll, but don't worry, Mommy and Daddy are well aware that you're simply advanced.

You still struggle with the whole nursing thing, slurping and gulping and choking until milk pours out your nose. You don't seem to mind, though, and you're already growing bigger. Tear.

You are still in Premie/Newborn diapers and are just starting to outgrow newborn clothes. Please stay small just a little while longer!

You have been everywhere in you ring sling or woven wrap, because we're just so excited to finally leave the house! You've been to market every week, church, walks downtown, parks, and birthday parties. You're happy on the go and like a good poolside nap. But really, who doesn't?

We love you and are so glad you're here!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Xander Zekiah's Grand Entrance

From the moment I found out I was expecting, I was convinced this baby was coming early, hopefully by mid June. I felt very distinct baby flutters as early as 10 weeks, and was in maternity pants just as soon. In my first pregnancy I didn't bother with maternity pants most of the time and wore my regular low rise jeans right up until birth. This time around, those same jeans were too uncomfortable to wear even in the first trimester.

After a grueling 8 months of hg, I started contracting regularly during the afternoon of May 29th. They were coming every 3-5 minutes apart and kept going through me eating, napping, and walking. Although not particularly strong, they were consistent and lasted for 14 hours before disappearing. They picked up again for a few hours on Sunday, coming a bit stronger but disappearing after only an hour or two. This pattern continued every few days. Sometimes they lasted for an hour, sometimes half a day. Sometimes I barely noticed them and other times they could be painful. Exhausted emotionally and physically from the endless prodromal labor, I tried every trick in the book to kick start labor. Some did nothing, others produced enough contractions to interrupt my day but not to start active labor. The beginning of June came and went with my hg once again getting worse by the day. I was only able to keep down simple carbs, bread, and some dairy. My OB and I changed up my meds yet again in another failed attempt to get the middle-of-the-night vomiting under control, and the waiting game continued.

Finally, on Father's Day at exactly 39 weeks, I woke up at 3am with contractions that felt different. They were stronger although still completely manageable and felt serious enough that I woke Chou up and we started to get things together for the hospital. At 4:30, I said we should call my mom at 5:00 to come get my daughter. I then had two consecutive killer contractions and decided now was a good time to call mom. They kept coming every 3 minutes but only lasting 35-45 seconds. At 9am I decided to take a nap and woke up half an hour later because the contractions got so strong. Now they were 50 seconds long and increasingly painful. We worked through them one at a time while sitting on a yoga ball, and Chou kept me fed and hydrated. Around 2:00 or 2:30pm I walked to the bathroom and the contractions piled one on top of each other. Chou grew really concerned, thinking for a minute he'd be delivering a baby then and there. I was growing really tired and decided to try to rest again. I fell asleep, waking to work through contractions and then falling back asleep. I woke up around 4:00pm and the contractions were gone. I could work up the occasional contraction by walking or climbing stairs, but gone were the consistent, active labor contractions that had been present all day. 

I was furious and frustrated. My month long labor just wouldn't end. It was late enough in the day that our Father's Day plans were ruined so we decided to go to bed and get some sleep. We woke up at 8pm and decided to try to walk the baby out just as it started to downpour. It was another two hours before the rain cleared and we started walking. We walked til midnight, contracting occasionally but still not returning to active labor. We decided to call it a night and see what my OB would do for me at my scheduled appointment the following morning. 

I woke up at 2am with more contractions. I got out of bed to use the bathroom and quickly realized we were back in business. I woke Chou and told him it was go time. I took a quick shower, we grabbed the last of our things, and made our way to the car. I took a bite to eat as we drove and immediately needed coffee to wash it down. Knowing the hospital wouldn't approve, I had Chou stop at Sheetz for a coffee and then we continued to the hospital. We arrived and checked in around 3am and spent an hour in triage while they monitored the baby and contractions, informed me I was at 4cm dilated and 80 percent effaced, and doing well. They decided to admit me and let me sit on a ball while they got my IV going. I was in a lot of pain and pretty convinced we were going to go another day in active labor and still not give birth. I was emotionally spent, physically exhausted, and ready to be done. I said I was ready for an epidural. After nine months of hell, I wanted an easy ending. Chou encouraged me to get in the Jacuzzi before we did anything else. I needed an hour of fluids before I could be given an epidural, so in his mind it was worth trying the water before we made any decisions. He was supportive of whatever I wanted, but I could tell he really wanted to try the tub, so I agreed. 

We grabbed his phone and used it to play a worship station on Pandora and hopped in the Jacuzzi. Chou applied counter pressure during the contractions and I felt amazing! I relaxed and worked one contraction at a time. I was afraid the water would slow labor, but we decided it wouldn't do any more harm than laying in bed with an epidural, so we continued. The music playing was exactly what I needed for each and every contraction, as if God hand picked the playlist for my labor. After a bit of time I could feel the contractions change and could tell they were getting more effective. Eventually I needed constant counter pressure from Chou, even in between contractions. The nurse came in at 6am and told me I'd have to get out at 6:30 so they could put me on the monitor. I ignored her and she sensed my noncompliance and sent the midwife in to deal with me. The midwife came in at 6:15 and gently coaxed me out of the tub, allowing me time to work through contractions and make my way to the bed. My pain skyrocketed, as I was already struggling to control it in the tub. She checked me and I was 9cm. She had me push with the next contraction, but I still had a little lip. She suggested that breaking my water could get rid of the lip, getting me to 10cm and ready to push. I had zero objections to anything that would end the pain and told her to go ahead. She broke my water at 6:26am and I immediately dilated the rest of the way. With the next two contractions she had me give a few gentle pushes, and baby boy Chou was born at 6:30am.

Chou and I couldn't believe it. After such a long hard nine months, he was finally here! And without drugs! We did it! We survived! We decided fairly quickly that we'd name him Xander and spent a few hours throwing around options for middle names. I had already decided I wasn't finalizing a name until I got some good, fresh food in me. After some fruit for lunch and some more fruit and salad for dinner I agreed to the name we had come up with while snuggling him that morning. Xander (diminutive of Alexander, meaning defender of men) Zekiah (the Lord remembers) was officially named that night.

As soon as he was born, we realized we were in a complete 4g dead zone. Our phones couldn't get signal and struggled to upload and send pics to friends and family. The fact that Pandora played effortlessly for two hours of labor was truly a gift from God.