One

A year ago, I was walking around in a sleep-deprived haze, my breasts felt like they would explode at any second, and every 10 seconds I’d shift on the couch and my, um, undercarriage would cry out in pain and I would think, OMG I have a baby. I GAVE BIRTH to him less than a week ago. I would tuck the little guy between me and my arm, on the Boppy of course, and nurse him for 20 minutes, never wanting it to end (but then remember: I get to do this again in an hour). I would sit and stare at him, and usually cry while doing so. Being a new parent was the weirdest thing I’ve ever been through. (And stressful. I didn’t even put him down the ENTIRE FIRST NIGHT HOME.)

Two years ago, we were just starting to try to conceive. I was poring over websites dedicated to tracking your ovulation. And I’d pass on all the (gory) details to my husband. I purchased my first pregnancy book, The Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy. I immediately flipped to the back, to the “Labor and Delivery” section, praying to God there was a section entitled, “It Won’t Hurt That Bad”. There wasn’t.

I remember seeing those Johnson & Johnson commercials before I had a kid, the ones that say “A baby changes everything”. I thought, well they don’t have to change every single thing. That’s crazy. But, they do. As corny as it sounds, they really do. There is no part of my life left untouched my by little man. And I truly have a hard time remember what life was like before him. What it was like to decide at 9pm that you were going to go out for beers with friends at 9:30. What it was like to pop out the door for five minutes to go grab something at the grocery store. What it was like to sleep from 10pm to 10am. What it was like before I had this new piece of my soul that I am now convinced I could not live without. Happy, happy birthday my sweet boy. Here’s to many more.

Bowie's 1st Birthday Cake-1

Ten things I want you to know about having a baby

  1. Childbirth isn’t that bad. Yes, it hurts. Yes, it hurts a lot. But, you get through it. Some simple breathing exercises, an epidural, squeezing the life out of your partner’s hand, there are ways to get through. Think of it this way: it’s what your body was made to do. So, don’t have a planned C-section just to avoid labor. As a friend has said, “You don’t know pain until you sneeze with a fresh C-section wound.”
  2. Breastfeeding is hands down the best thing for your baby. I know some of you will have trouble with it. It’s not easy for everyone, in fact it’s not easy for anyone. If you stick with it and your milk supply is ok, you’ll get the hang of it. I’m not saying you have to stick with it for very long, an amount is beneficial. But, just try it. If it doesn’t work, so be it. At least you tried. P.S. It’s not weird, not even with a son. I too thought it would be, but it was quite the opposite.
  3. You don’t have to go for days without showering. I used to read about this all the time and I was seriously freaking out. I loves me some showers. But, I have yet to go a full 24 hours without taking a shower. There are simple tricks to doing this: putting the baby in a swing or bassinet outside the bathroom door, showering while baby naps… just rest assured you don’t have to give up your regular morning shower to be a mother.
  4. You can have alcohol if you’re breastfeeding. Just one or two drinks has no affect on your baby. More than that, and you should not nurse for 2 hours, but you can pump and have milk on reserve for such occasions. I mean, abstain from alcohol if you want to, but it’s not necessary.
  5. Go to every mom-baby activity or new mom group in your area. You might not click with all the women, but you will find a few good go-to people, and maybe even make some new friends. Plus, you and baby both need that time away from the home to keep your sanity. Trust me.
  6. Rotate the toys. Keep a healthy stash of toys hidden away, and a handful of toys out in the regular play area. If one day the baby seems to not want to play with anything, swap the toys with some from the stash and it’s like a brand new set of toys to them. Works like a charm.
  7. Sleep when the baby sleeps. At least in the first 6 months. I know you’ve heard this a zillion times, I know I did. But, I’m telling you to take heed. It’s so important to keep yourself rested and healthy so you can take care of the little one. Let the housework go. Nothing will happen if the laundry or dishes sit for an extra day, believe me.
  8. Take me-time or have a date night only if you feel like it. I felt really pressured into taking a date night with my husband, about the time my baby was 5 months old. But, I wasn’t ready. And I sat and worried about the baby so much that I could barely participate in conversation with my husband. He and his sister (our babysitter for that evening) told me I was too much of a worry wart and needed to “cut the cord”. But, I was totally ready two months later, and relished in the time away from baby. Yes, getting away is important for your marriage and for your sanity. But don’t feel pressured into doing it before you’re ready.
  9. Travel early and travel often. In the first 6 months, your baby is so portable and travels so well, you have to get out and go places, even if it’s only a few states over to visit family. After 6 months, they become more mobile and are harder to transport. They don’t want to sit still, they don’t want to be quiet, and good luck trying to keep their nap schedule. It will be tough to travel for a few years, so try to get the travel bug out of your system while the little one is still really, uh, little.
  10. Sex is going to feel different. And I mean *different*. And you may not want to have it for a while. But, don’t fret. You WILL want to again. And you just have to acclimate yourself to your new body and learn a few new tricks.

Junior Gourmet

I make my own baby food. There, I said it. I never talk about it because A) it almost never comes up in conversation and B) who cares??? But lately, I can’t pull up a parenting blog or pick up a parenting magazine without some woman getting all snarky about people who make their own baby food. Or even my circle of mom friends. We’ll just be hanging out at the park, one of them gets a jar of baby food and starts to feed their kid lunch and then someone says, “Can you BELIEVE people MAKE their own BABY FOOD?!”

Um, yes I can. Because I do. But I just sit there with a sheepish grin on my face. I mean, if I was doing it just so I could say I was doing it, it wouldn’t have lasted this long. I don’t do it because I was told to by some parenting “expert”. The idea actually came to me mid-pregnancy. I was thinking of how much money we were going to save by breastfeeding, and I wondered if the same savings could be achieved with food. Eureka! I’ll make my own! It can’t be that hard. Took me about 10 seconds on Amazon to find a few good sources, and the rest is history.

I do it first and foremost because it’s cheap. A few dollars worth of produce and I have at least a week’s worth of food. I’ve heard the argument that it’s really not cheap because “my time is worth more”. In my opinion, being a mom is a non-profit organization. I’m volunteering my time for a cause I believe in. I would have no idea where to start putting a dollar value on the “work” I do as a mother. Everyday with Rachel Ray recently ran a good article on this theme. I’ll paraphrase: Medical Diagnosis: $150 each, Birthday Cakes: $35 each, Career Counseling: $85/hour, Cooking: $65/hour, Cleaning: $30/hour…

The point is moms do A LOT. If they got paid for it, it would be the highest paying job ever, and everyone would want to be a mom. And not only that, but making baby food doesn’t take anywhere near the “all day” time frame most people think. An hour, tops, on a Saturday afternoon, and we’re set for 7 to 10 days. So, yeah, let’s put a dollar value on your time, and then we’ll give you what you’re owed for an hour. And I’m betting it’s still cheaper than paying $0.85 a jar for 10 days worth of food.

That was a bit of a tangent, sorry. Like I was saying, the first reason I do it is monetary, but the second reason is that my in-laws are major foodies. And they’ve turned me into a bit of a foodie too. And I want my son to be as adventurous with food as a kid can be. I know there will be those years where he’ll eat only PB&J or mac & cheese, but I hope I’m instilling a love of adventurous eating [knock on wood].

So there you have it folks. You can say I’m a snob. You can say I’m idealistic. You can say I’ve got too much time on my hands and just wait until #2 comes along. I don’t care. I like making baby food, my baby likes eating it, simple as that. Next time you want to say something about it though, try to remember the mom sitting next to you just might make her own baby food.

To Vax or Not to Vax

I have to come clean. Previously I have been the outspoken sort when it comes to absolutely, hands down vaccinating your baby. I had heard all the media babble about the MMR being linked to autism. And then that it was not related at all, which decided it for me. I was going to get ‘em all. Why not?

But, turns out before your baby’s first birthday, you don’t really have to think about it very much. I mean, they get vaccines, but those are basic vaccines that all babies should get. And just a few. You don’t have to think about many of them, and when they’ll get them and how many at once, etc. until the 12 month check up.

So, here I sit with that 12 month appointment looming, and three times in two days, random moms at the playground and café have asked me, “what are you doing about vaccines?” I took it as a sign that I was slightly uninformed and really ought to get informed before D Day (V Day?) arrives.

All it took was one 10 second Yahoo search for me to realize I was in trouble. All that shooting off at the mouth that I had done, and it turns out I don’t want to give my son the MMR until 24 months, and I don’t want to give him the Varicella vaccine at all. There’s WAY more to this than just autism. Ooops.

So, this post is two-fold. For starters, I want to apologize for any parent that I have offended on other sites with my very vocal campaign to vaccinate your kid against every known ailment, no matter what. Clearly I was misguided. And secondly, I want to reach out to the parenting community out there on the intertubes: What did you do? Why did you do it? What is your advice for me?

The No-Nanny Diaries

For the past few weeks, whenever I mention to someone that I work at home, their immediate response is, “oh, so you have a nanny come and watch Bowie?” And when I say no, things are working out for us at the moment, I get only one look—perplexed.

Honestly, I’m just very lucky. The type of work I do is such that I can pick it up and put it back down a hundred times an hour if I need to. And I don’t have to keep certain hours. When he’s napping I have a good chunk of time during which I am able to get quite a bit of work done. And then again at night for an hour or so before going to bed. The point is, it gets done. And it gets done well. If I had a big, high-powered, fast-paced kind of job, I’d get a nanny in a second.  But I don’t have that type of job and don’t need help.

I know people mean well, and I appreciate the concern and the advice. But none of them knows of the exact nature of my work, of my working style, of my son’s daily routine or typical behaviors, of my income and whether it’s worth paying for the help or not. What worked for them is not necessarily what will work for us. Heck, what works for a ton of people in this world, in this day and age, still is not necessarily what will work for us.

I enjoy the way things are working right now. I look at my hourly breaks from the work as a bonus, not a pitfall. I’m happy when I’m with him, which I’d like to think improves my job performance. I have had some busy days where I know I won’t get everything done that I want to. Once in a while something’s got to give, but I’d rather it to be the laundry or the trip to the store.  I’m not above asking for help–when I need it.

Orange

At Bowie’s six month check up, I was feeling pretty good about myself because I’d been making my own baby food for the previous month and he was loving it. I followed all of Dr. A’s guidelines about when to start what, and how much milk he should still be drinking.

But, once she saw him without his shirt on, she put her hand up to his chest and I instantly knew what she was looking at: he was really orange. “You’re feeding him too much orange food,” was all she said. I was devastated. Not only because I had turned my baby orange with my cooking, but also because he loved sweet potatoes, carrots and squash and now I was going to have to find something else to give him, something not orange.

We managed. We moved on to things like spinach, corn, broccoli and cauliflower. And eventually he looked less orange to me, but a month later when he was in getting the flu shot he still looked too orange for her taste.

Today I was looking through all the food I have for him in the freezer, and I saw it there. The lonely little bag of sweet potatoes I had made for him. Sometimes his nose still looks orange in pictures, but I said screw it and gave him sweet potatoes for dinner. Afterward I wiped him up thoroughly and joked that we had to “hide the evidence from daddy”. I hope the little bugger appreciated that.