Thursday, May 31, 2012

WR 2012

WR 2012 took place over Memorial Day Weekend in Seattle. We laughed ("poonami" in front of Collins Memorial Library at UPS), we cried (Stacy, repeatedly, during the movie Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close), we broke bread (naan at an old haunt, Taste of India). We missed Kathleen, who couldn't get away from NYC, but enjoyed the addition of Francie, the first WR Baby.

The ladies at the Mariners v Angels game. Clockwise: me, Anna, Amy, Gretch, Stac and Francie.
We arrived during the 7th inning. I then had to wait in line at the family restroom to change Francie's diaper. And by the time we actually sat down, she was hungry and throwing a fit, so I breastfed her right there in the bleachers, giving the young boys behind me a sneak-peak peep show.

My group of six college girlfriends gets together annually - events we have deemed "women's retreats" - and have consistently gathered at various western locations each year since we graduated from UPS. That's not to say we don't see each other at other times in different combinations and permutations, between weddings, showers, races, and some of us living in close proximity.

Last year we met in Denver and stayed at Stacy's house. I had blogged then about us going to the Muffly family cabin in Kenosha, lazing around eating jelly beans, going for walks, and taking an art class while drinking wine.

These are some of the most amazing women I know. I love being able to pick right back up with them, even if we go six months without chatting.

Stacy, my BFF and MOH, lives in Denver with her husband, Nick, and their Burmese mountain dog, Samson. She (Stac, not the dog) works as a nurse practitioner on a hospital stroke team. She's smart, she's kind, she's bubbly, and she's damned funny. Probably the funniest person I know; she makes me laugh more than Maya Rudolph and Tina Fey put together. Speaking of Tina Fey, Stac has been reading Bossy Pants for the last year. As long as I've known her, she's never finished a book. She remembers everything you've ever told her, and never misses a chance to tell you good luck, even if it's just for your driver's test or Pap smear.

Gretchen just moved back to Yakima, WA after several years living in New York, where she worked as a dermatalogical physician's assistant. Her husband, Dan, is finishing up his urology residency before settling with Gretch in their new home, just blocks from both of their families, and joining the local urology practice. Gretch is 20 weeks pregnant and just learned she's having a baby girl!

Amy is also pregnant, 27 weeks along, and will welcome a tall baby boy in August. She and her husband, Jake, grew up and live in Eugene. They were actually friends from ski team in high school, got together when we were in college, and were on-again-off-again until they married four years ago. Amy works as a physical therapist and recently became a clinic director.

Anna lives in Big Sky, Montana with her husband Neil. She works in HR for a company called CIEE. She works form home but gets to travel all over the world on hiring trips - the perfect position for someone who loves to visit new places and try new things.

Kathleen lives in NYC, and truth is, I don't really know what she does for work. I do know that it's something in the "business" realm, hence my ignorance. She graduated from Tufts Fletcher School with a Master's degree in international business. I haven't seen Kathleen in nearly a year, probably the longest stretch of time we've ever gone. She wasn't able to make the cross-country journey given employment and financial constraints. But we did get to Skype with her, and virtually introduce her to Francie, so that was a treat.

For this year's WR we met up in Seattle and stayed at Gretchen's parents' condo in the Wallington area. Stac flew in to Portland to serve as my surrogate husband, since Alex went to Detroit to visit his brother for the long weekend. Stac would make a great husband - and wife - because she can vacuum, wipe trash cans, fix snacks, offer encouraging words, change poopy diapers, and plan ahead with the best of them. The drive from Portland to Seattle took us nearly 5 hours, which is no surprise considering Stac and I once drove in the opposite direction of our destination on a roadtrip some years ago. But this time we can blame part of our delay on the baby. 

We met the other ladies at the nail spa to indulge in some mani/pedi relaxation. Although truth be told, it was far from relaxing because I was caught in a perpetual hot flash, the baby was fussy, and I couldn't understand the nail tech's accent. We spent the rest of that Friday talking, talking, talking. Because that's mostly what we do, we chat. On Saturday we took a stroll down memory lane and visited the campus of our alma mater. I'm not nearly as nostalgic as the rest of the crew, but it was a sunny day and a beautiful campus for a stroll. Francie gave us all a treat, when she majorly shat her pants, including a spooge all over my arm, while I was nursing her and we were chatting up some prospective students. Stac and Gretch stepped into crisis mode and cleaned up Francie with surgical precision. Anna and Amy, the biggest UPS fans of us all, continued to reminisce about their own college experiences and sold the prospective students on life as a Logger. That night we over-ate at Taste of India in the U District and watched a movie. On Sunday we spent a leisurely morning eating breakfast, then went shopping, and arrived at the Mariner's game very, very late. But our tardiness had its perks - we got free parking ("You guys are here for the game???"); we walked through the corridor housing the boxes and suites; and we were permitted to sit in different seats because ours had been occupied. Truth be told, we were kind of a walking shit-show, and I myself was a hot mess. But at least our escapades had us in fits of giggles. Until the elevator incident ("Karl?!? We are stuck on level three!") In my humble opinion, the Safeco field could stand to hire some brighter bulbs. Early Monday Stac and I drove back to Portland in order to get her to the airport in time for her flight, and for me to pick Alex up from his trip to Detroit.

All in all, it was a fabulous weekend spent with fabulous ladies. And although I had tremendous anxiety about parting ways with my hubby and taking Francie out of town on my own, I was able to quell my nerves by spending 9 obsessive hours packing and re-packing for the trip. And truth is, once I was with my girlfriends there were more hands on deck than Alex and I have ever had on our own.

Until next time, ladies ...

Skyping with Kathleen.

Virtual introduction.

The condo.

Auntie Anna.

Auntie Gretch.

Auntie Amy.

UPS campus.


Francie loves the shit out of her Auntie Stac.

Mariner's game, 9th inning.

Baby Hitler. Or, Francie with hair.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Crafts of Late

Weekend before last Alex built me a craft table. And since then, I've been able to make a few fun goodies for my expecting friends. Of course, it all has to be baby-related, because what else do I ever talk or think about these days? I'm wondering if and when that will change ... in the meantime, I'm getting my crafty fix met by appliqued onesies, Mod Podged growth charts, and embroidered initials.

And this is the finished product from the Paper Source silhouette class Rach and I took. 
Why does Francie look like a baby Homer Simpson?

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

10 Weeks

I took several photos of Francie this week. Not for any particular reason other than her undeniable cuteness. She is definitely getting bigger by the week, and her 3-month onesies seem to be fitting her quite perfectly. She is continuing to be awake, alert, and enthusiastic a little bit longer each day, and is most engaging in the late morning. She has discovered her hands, and eats them whenever she can. Which also means she is drooling more. She smiles much more frequently; there is no better way to start my day than with her smiling at me in recognition. I am confident, now, that she knows I'm her mother. And she seems to calm a bit whenever I pick her up or return a smile or a coo more easily with me than with others. We have mastered the side-lie for nursing, which means I can feed her at night without really waking up. This also means I can't really recall when or how often she feeds during the nights. I do know she sleeps, on average, with one 5-hour stretch, and on occasion, a 7-hour stretch. She continues to eat every 3 or so hours, and is much more efficient than she was a month ago. She still responds well to being swaddled in her zip-up SwaddlePods, and loves to suck on a Soothie. She's happiest in our arms or on the move, car, stroller, or Beco carrier.

And we can't exclude our other adorable baby, the big sister, who has been suspiciously well-behaved the past couple weeks ...

My Advice, at Two Months

I have a few pregnant close friends, and wrote this ridiculously long checklist and explanation of the things I couldn't have lived without, and those I could have done without - along with some additional random advice based on my experiences thus far - and gave it to them as though it were a gift, rather than a tedious summary of the mundane consumables of my first two months of parenting. However, I collected the same kinds of information from wise friends before Francie burst into this world, and was grateful for the advice and recommendations.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about motherhood so far, it’s that everyone’s experiences are so different. Maybe that’s just because people are so different –mamas and their babies. In my (limited) experience with pregnancy, childbirth, and parenthood, this is the (unsolicited) advice I have to offer.

My Motherhood Manifesto – 2 Months

What I Have That I Couldn’t Live Without (Or Could, But Just Love):
-       Birth doula: We decided last minute to hire a doula to be with us during the birth. I can’t recommend this enough. As much as the doctors/midwives/nurses are on your side, they do have an agenda of their own and don’t actually know you and your wishes for your birth. And plus, they’re all about the health and safety of mama and baby, while a doula can fill in the blanks regarding emotional well-being and education/information about decision-making.
-       Placenta pills: There is no way to tell whether these actually “worked,” as there is no comparison data. But, I had no post-partum Baby Blues whatsoever. I had plenty of energy while taking the pills. And I had no trouble with my milk supply or breastfeeding in general. That’s enough “evidence” to convince me to pay someone $200 to dry and encapsulate my placenta.
-       Boppy or My Breast Friend: I still can barely breastfeed without one of these pillows. The Boppy is more popular and a bit cozier, but I actually think the Breast Friend is more stable for feeding.
-       Beco Gemini baby carrier: It’s versatile, for babies 8-35 pounds. It has both shoulder and hip support. You can use it to breastfeed. There is no extra infant attachment you have to purchase. And it’s cute.
-       Cloth diapers: We couldn’t use these for the first 6 weeks because Francie was too small. But I would not have been opposed to starting with them right away. I find myself doing laundry every other day anyway, so what’s the big deal about adding in diapers?!? In one month of disposable diapers we spent nearly $100. We use both BumGenius One-Size-Fits-All pocket diapers and GrowVia one-size snap-in diapers. So far we like both and don’t have a favorite. They are about $20 apiece. People recommend you have at least 24. We have not yet bought that many, as we’re still trying to streamline our diapering system. Also, we did not purchase a wet bag for home, and use the regular laundry hamper instead. But yes, this does smell a bit.
-       Lanolin nipple cream: This was essential for me the first 10 days of breastfeeding. But the hospital gives out samples, so you don’t even need to buy any. Also, I found that this stained my clothes, just FYI.
-       Spray bottle: The hospital should provide one for you to use when you pee, because you can’t wipe. Use warm water, it feels more soothing.
-       A meeting with the lactation consultant: The hospital should provide this service, but if they don’t, just ask. We also did a follow-up with an LC, and that was great for reinforcing what we had learned, and for answering any additional questions/concerns about feeding schedules, behaviors, breasts, poops, etc.
-       The book, Breastfeeding Made Simple: Seven Natural Laws for Nursing Mothers: Such a helpful resource. I wish I would have bought this book and read up ahead of time. I mostly used it to flip through and remedy any concerns. As in, it’s totally normal for a baby to appear “unsatisfied” after a feeding in the evenings/nights and want to stay latched to the boob for what seems like hours. There is likely nothing wrong with your milk supply. Or with your baby’s latch. This, my friends, is cluster feeding.
-       The book, Happiest Baby on the Block: We are pretty big believers in the whole “4th trimester” theory. We continue to swaddle Francie every evening when she’s fussy and when she sleeps. We also use the aggressive “shh” sound, and ‘vigorous’ shaking. There is also a DVD, which I have never seen, to teach the “5 S’s”: swaddle, shush, side lying, shaking, sucking.
-       The book, The Birth Partner: Your husbands should read this before the birth.
-       Aden & Anais swaddle blankets: These are made of bamboo or something and are a perfect size and texture. We have a million different blankets of all sorts and these are by far the best – the only ones we really need. Target, Babies R Us, and all boutique stores carry these.
-       Summer brand Swaddlepods: The kind that zip and/or the kind that Velcro the arms across. We bought these at Babies R Us and use them. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.
-       A yoga/exercise ball: This is great for calming baby. One thing I learned was to wear the carrier, sit on the ball and bounce, and have use of both free hands. Perfect for needing to use the computer.
-       Soothie brand pacifiers: Specifically, the WubbaNub pacifier. We started out not wanting to use pacifiers, just because they are annoying and you have to constantly re-place or hold them in an infants mouth. But, we could only tolerate sticking our pinkies in Francie’s mouth for about three days. And when you have a baby who is soothed by sucking, these do the trick. Also, I heard from a neo-natal nurse that these are actually the best brand to use.
-       A water bottle you love drinking out of: Breastfeeding makes you insanely thirsty.
-       Advil: Buy stock in it. It’s effective to help with post-partum pain of the undercarriage, and to help alleviate some pain/discomfort when learning to breastfeed.
-       Costco pack of baby wipes: We go through a million. We are considering using cloth wipes for all the pees, because we do so much laundry anyway. But infant poo is gross enough that I use a lot of wipes to clean up those blowouts. Then again, we’ve decided to take cloth diapers one step further and also use cloth wipes, but this is a new venture.
-       Newborn aspirator: We got ours from the hospital. Francie was super stuffed up the first several weeks, and it helped to get out the boogies (my fingers are too fat to actually pick her nose). Also, for the more viscous mucous, you’ll need saline, too.

What I Wish I Had:
-       Co-sleeper: The first few weeks she slept in bed with us. But once we got past the light-sleeping stage, it scared me a bit to have her in my bed, like I might put the blankets over her or roll over and startle or hurt her. We have a dozen sleeping contraptions, including a crib, a bassinet, and some Fisher Price plastic rocker thing. I like this rocker best because she can sleep next to my side of the bed and I can look down at her as needed. It’s hard to see her in the bassinet, and we are nowhere near ready to have her in a crib in the other room. I think an actual co-sleeper would be most convenient and comfortable.
-       Consider a diaper service: I wouldn’t be surprised if it really is more economical (they do the laundry which saves your water bill) and maybe even better for the environment (the loads of laundry are full and complete).
-       A softer bathtub: We have a plastic one, and when Francie cries and flails in the water (throwing me into a panic that she’ll drown in the ½ inch of water), she can hit her head on the hard plastic. We have since made it work by using a beach towel to pad the inside, but I think there are mesh tubs that look much more comfortable and easy to use.
-       A wet bag: Both travel and for home, for the dirty cloth diapers. You can make or buy these.

What I Could Make Do Without:
-       The Moby wrap: We used it the first 10 or so days, but it can be a bit laborious to put on, and the Beco turned out to be much more comfortable. I never really did find a wrap or sling that either Francie or I like better than the Beco.
-       A swing: I use this about 7 minutes a week, when Francie is already happy, so I can put away laundry or take a quick shower. She doesn’t seem to care about the movement and music too much so far. But I hear other mothers swear by these devices. But I could NOT have done without some sort of a chair. We used a hand-me-down called “Fisher Price Calming Vibrations.” We don’t use the vibrations, but it’s our mobile go-to spot to put Francie down when we want to eat or need to bustle around the house.
-       The advice “sleep when the baby sleeps:” Hah! Everyone told us this, and we mostly ignored it. For starters, there is nothing sweeter than having your newborn sleep on your chest. And you can’t (and maybe shouldn’t) do anything else but stare at your baby in total awe of the creature you just made. Also, when it comes down to it, when baby is sleeping is the only time you can get anything else done.
-       The crib – so far: I can’t imagine us using this for quite some time.
-       A monitor – so far: We are with her, so a monitor is unnecessary. If she’s sleeping, I just put her down somewhere near me, whether it’s the couch or a rocker or something. If she’s asleep and I need to change the laundry or get the mail, I just do so. As she gets older and officially “goes down for a nap,” the monitor will likely come in handy. But for now, I just hang with her and know when she needs something.
-       Pack n Play – so far: We registered and received one, but it’s still in the box. I imagine we will use this once Francie is crawling and needs to be contained at times.
-       Bumbo chair – so far: We got this on loan from a friend and won’t be able to use it until Francie can sit up, or at least hold her head steady.
-       Baby thermometers:  You don’t need a special one because you can just use a regular one. And our pediatrician said to take armpit temps. But look up what the temps are supposed to be, because it’s different if you do oral, armpit, or rectal.
-       Sleep bras: I don’t get it. But you will leak breast milk all over your sheets, so maybe that’s why? Anyway, I just sleep in a regular tank top. I think nighttime nursing tops are unnecessary too. Just pull your shirt up.
-       Stroller: So no, I couldn’t have literally done without a stroller, but so far I’m finding it a lot less of a big deal than I originally thought. I do use it, every other day or so. But it’s huge and somewhat cumbersome. Which sometimes is nice because it is enough of a deterrent to encourage me to use the Beco carrier instead, which I believe is better for baby.

Other Recommendations:
-       Watch the birth episode of “Up All Night.” It’s funny and rings pretty true.
-       Learn that you are not in charge of your time. Your baby is boss. And sometimes that means only getting one thing “done” each day. To Do Lists are a way of the past.
-       Practice yoga/meditation daily during pregnancy. This will help during labor and delivery. And will help build mindfulness early, which I think has a positive effect on being in the moment once your baby is born.
-       Heed the advice “time flies.” Everyone told us that, and WOW does time fly by once that beautiful baby is born. All the more reason to practice being in the moment. She will only nap on your chest for so long.
-       Use absorbent washcloths or rags for cleaning baby’s face or wiping up spit-up. Burp rags aren’t all that useful, aside from throwing over your shoulder.
-       Wear a scarf for your first post-partum photos. Everyone will think you look great. We learned this by sheer accident.
-       Dry and encapsulate your placenta!
-       In the morning, at night, after work - kiss and hug your husband before your baby. And tell him to do the same.
-       Get out of the house at least once per day.
-       Don’t buy baby clothes. Everyone else will. You’ll be surprised how much others will buy you or hand down.
-       Register for a shower. If doing it over, I would have just registered at Target and not Babys R Us. That place is just awful. And Target should have most everything you might need.
-       Ask for help. I was fortunate to not experience even an inkling of Baby Blues (placenta pills?!?) But it’s very common for most women. And I hear that the more you try to do it all yourself, the more bluesy you’ll feel. People want to help. They are looking for ways to help. Instead, they just buy you baby clothes.
-       Also, lean on others for advice. I was surprised by how much wisdom my new-mama peers were able to provide on a variety of topics, if I just asked. And to them, I am so thankful. (Shout-out to Rachel, Dee, Liz, Breezy, Jess, Laurie, Stacie).
-       I suspected parenthood would be fun, but I could have never imagined just how much I would really love it!
-       The bottom line, in my humble opinion, is to throw your expectations out the window (or teach yourself to expect the unexpected), chill out, know in your heart of hearts you don’t really have “control” of this little being, and enjoy the ride – likely the greatest adventure of our lives.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Weight of the World

I'm carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders. Rather, on my chest. And not so much the weight of the world, but at least 20 pounds. Or so says an old Discover Magazine article about the science behind bras.

After my treadmill workout at the gym this evening, and complaining about the discomfort of running with huge boobs, I got to wondering just how big my chest really is. That, coupled with the fact that I don't feel as fat/heavy as the scale indicates. So I came home and Googled "how much do breasts weigh?"

I found several links to discussion pages where people with really poor grammar and bad spelling offer their insights on the topic. And then I 'discovered' the 2005 magazine article saying that size D boobs weigh between 15 and 33 pounds, "the size of carrying around two small turkeys." Since boobs are mostly comprised of fat, which doesn't weigh as much as muscle or bone, I'm curious how much lactating boobs weigh.

One thing is for sure, I'm going to tell people I weigh "130 pounds, plus boobs."

(Dead) Mom Club

(This post was written several weeks ago, and I am only now getting around to posting it.)

There are certain things that bond us to certain people; we make connections with friends in a variety of different ways. Maybe it's the girl you sat next to your first day of middle school. Maybe your parents were friends from their prenatal class. Maybe you played on the same soccer team or pined after the same boy. Maybe you became friends through your freshman college roommate. Maybe you met while each pushing strollers and walking dogs around the neighborhood, discovering that you are both first-time moms.

Or maybe, as is the case with my dear friend Anna, it's a shared membership to the Dead Mom Club.

That's not how we met, of course. We both studied Psychology at UPS and had several of our upper level courses together. We were both involved in the outdoor programs and had several mutual friends. Senior year we took the Wilderness First Responder (WFR) course and spent 10 days of intense training and practice scenarios together. After college, we kept in occasional touch by email. And then a few years later we were both attending Portland State. And then we both found ourselves living in Eugene. While we lived close in proximity we were able to get together on a weekly basis for lunch or coffee. She quickly became one of my favorite people to talk to. Granted, she's an LCSW and listens to people's problems for a living. But I always felt like we connected in ways beyond that of some of my other close friendships. And when it came time for marriage, in-laws, and talk of starting our own families, we often related to each other as motherless daughters.

Motherless women, I believe, have a unique perspective on childrearing. It holds more weight with us, whether we are trying to create, replicate, or avoid the mother-child relationship that we lost. I admit to feeling that I deserve a daughter, and now that I have her, sometimes feel a certain sense of entitlement, like I have a monopoly on loving her. Or like I love her more than other women love their daughters, because they have intact mother-daughter relationships.

When Anna visited several weeks ago (and brought us delicious Thai takeout - a much needed break from casseroles and chili), she inquired about my feelings as a new mom, whether or not I missed my own mother. I don't recall exactly how I responded, but as I reflect on it now, I'm surprised by how infrequently I have had that pit-of-the-stomach sorrow about my mom. It seems I did most of my grief work while pregnant, anticipating the trials of being a motherless mother. Mourning the loss of Francie's maternal grandmother. Daydreaming about what role she would have played in the life of our growing family. And since Francie's birth, I have mostly been entranced by her simply being, captivated with my new role of mother, and nurturing my ever-growing love for my husband and co-parent. Of course, I miss my own mother daily, and while I am grateful for the amazing women in my life - high school best buds, college girlfriends, mother-in-law, aunts, amazing co-workers, and everyone in between - no one can ever replace or even come close to emulating the role my mom had and would have continued to have in either mine or Francie's life. And that's something most women can imagine, but few can actually understand. And for that, I am so grateful for AMPM in my life.

Then again, I often daydream about posting a Craigslist ad saying something to the effect of: "Married 30 yo motherless mother to newborn baby, seeking maternal figure 50-70 yo who enjoys baking, laughing, listening, being a shoulder to cry on, leaving hand-written notes, shopping for others, Christmas decorating, 'films,' and random novel experiences. Must love reading and children."

Francie at 4ish weeks with AMPM.


I try to keep Francie on me or near me more than I put her down. But in this day and age of running around and "to do" lists, it truly is more convenient to use a car seat, a stroller, a swing.

But in other ways it's much easier to put the baby in a carrier and have two free hands.

The research is pretty evident that wearing your baby leads to more secure attachment, fewer tears, and better sleep.

On the days that Francie spends more time in the carrier, she seems to fuss less. And even feed less, though I don't know whether this is a good or bad thing. I tell myself that she feeds less frequently, but that may be she in turn feeds more efficiently.

Today I attempted true babywearing. Like how those 'attachment parents' do it. I even breastfed Francie while wearing the Beco. It didn't really go that well. Let's be honest, it's because my boobs are far too large and in charge, and thus hang halfway down my torso, for Francie to easily be at mouth-to-nipple level. But they say practice makes perfect, so I'm willing to give it a few more go's.

Theoretically, you can eat, do laundry, walk the dog, pee, use the computer, etc while wearing your baby. About the only things you can't do are go for a run or change her diaper.

Mama Tears

I had my first major mama meltdown this morning. Francie projectile vomited Exorcist-style. I cried like the baby.

This was 20 minutes on the heels of what I had previously thought was a large quantity of spit up. All over me.

While I was (finally) eating breakfast and Bean was in her brown chair gazing wide-eyed at the colorful mobile above her, I heard the very distinctive sound of her shitting her pants. And then again. And again.

"Damn, girl," I thought to myself, while I kept eating.

I proceeded to take the last bite of my English muffin and put the plate in the dishwasher when she began to barf. It was like a drunken frat boy, an arc of yellowish liquid pouring out of her mouth like a fountain. One, two, three heaves. And then a little bit out her nose. :(

I rushed to check if she was breathing. She was. And she wasn't alarmed or crying. In fact, she didn't much seem to care. So then I broke down crying. I cried because I didn't want to touch her because she was soaked in liquidy puke. I cried because I was scared she was sick. I cried because I didn't know what to do. It felt like an epic mommy fail.

So who did I first turn to (after calling Alex via the school secretary)? Google. Dr. Goog calmed my nerves, outlining for me that Francie is what's called a 'happy spitter.' In other words, unlikely to be anything to worry over.

The worst part was how instantly alone I felt. I was frozen. I didn't know who to call. I wanted Alex to come home from work. Really, I wanted my own mother. She is who I would lean on. She is who I would seek advice from. She is who I would ask for a hug. It can be lonely being a motherless mother. I just hope Francie doesn't have to be one, too.

I gave myself a few hours to collect myself, cuddling with my now-pajama-clad baby in bed. I stared at her lovingly, hoping and praying she'll turn out to be a perfectly healthy and happy child. If not, I'm putting her in a bubble.

This is a photo after I finally got Bean all cleaned up. See how much she seems to care that she soiled herself from every angle?

Monday, May 21, 2012

9 Weeks

Today we officially retired most of the newborn-sized clothes. Admittedly, they were getting a little tight (short, really), especially with her bulky cloth diapers. The NB onesies aren't quite long enough for her anymore, so we packed away her first ever wardrobe.

In order to have two free hands to re-organize and package her clothes, I put her down in the swing. So far, she hadn't been the biggest fan. But today it placated her and even entertained her with nature sounds and a rotating mobile; she seemed to love it. She dozed in and out of sleep, so I used the hands-free time to make breakfast and catch up on some random housework. One of the times when I went back upstairs to check on her, she was holding a little green stuffed birdie in her hand. It seems she has somehow developed the motor skills to reach toward the hanging mobile and grab at the stuffed animals. I laughed and asked her if she was hunting.

Today we decided to take cloth diapering one step further. We are going to also use cloth wipes. Since we're doing laundry every other day as it is, why not just add cloth wipes to the mix?!? I cut up wipes from some of the many burp rags we were given, Googled recipes for homemade diaper spray, and finally bought a wet bag for the dirty diapers and wipes. Trying to do one thing to reduce our ginormous carbon footprint. Next on my list is cloth napkins, since we use more than our fair share of paper towels and napkins.

Friday I had a nightmare about going back to work. I dreamt that I forgot to ask someone to watch the baby, that I forgot to pump and leave her any milk, and that I left my breastpump at home, meaning I had to deal with serious engorgement for an entire work day away from my baby. I was a bad, distracted clinician and a bad, absent mother. It doesn't take a genius to "interpret" the meaning of that dream. I'm harboring some serious anxiety about returning to work in just over one month. It's not so much the work itself that I dread, but the being away from Francie. I've so loved being mindful, present and schedule-less the past two months, and I am anticipating all the day-to-day things I'm going to miss out on when working fulltime. It makes me wonder if my timing was completely off in trying to get pregnant. But fortunately, I have the comfort (and, jealousy) of knowing that Bean will be with her daddy fulltime, and not in some institutional childcare setting where she'd be getting colds every week.

We had our first weekend without visitors in several weeks, and took advantage of the beautiful Saturday weather to work on projects outside. Alex spent some cabbage at Home Depot in the morning while I ate breakfast with friends, and then built me a fabulous craft table for the office. It was a bit of a bumpy ride, seeing as when he was very nearly done building the table, I realized I had told him the wrong dimensions. We had to return to the Depot to buy more wood and start again.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Birthday, Brother

Happy 36th birthday to my big brother Brian. And to Francie's Uncle B.

And here's the fist pump from our little party girl:

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


Some old bitch at Craft Warehouse today told me I would make my baby retarded if I jiggle her head like that.

I wanted to punch her in the face and make her retarded.

Instead I retorted politely, "Pardon me?"

She repeated herself, mumbling, walking the opposite direction.

I simply said.,"You don't know what you're talking about. I have a Master's degree in child development. I'm replicating the womb!"

So apparently I bend the truth when I'm angry. I do not, in fact, have a Master's degree in child development. But "communication disorders and sciences" wouldn't pack quite the same punch.

This was my first experience with a stranger commenting on either my pregnancy or child rearing with unsolicited advice (aside from friendly banter such as "When are you due?", or "How old is your baby? Aww.")

I continued to fume at, one, her ignorance, and two, her entitlement. So I went outside and breast-fed my perfectly healthy perfectly happy baby in public. Take that, mama-bashers.

But the worst part? Was that I let her comment make me doubt my own maternal instincts. It made me question whether or not how I was carrying Francie in the Beco might actually be hurting her. What if this lady new something I didn't know?

I mentally kicked that bitch in the vagina and thought, "You're retarded, old hag."

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

8 Weeks Old

She coos, she raises her arms, she's discovered her hands, and she holds her head a bit more steadily. But nothing compares to her newest development - her smiles. It seems she is trying on a variety of smiles - sometimes an ear-ro-ear grin, sometimes an open mouthed arc, and sometimes a little something more subtle with her lips together. All of them make my heart swell, particularly when I am the recipient of such unsolicited happiness. Unfortunately, we have yet to capture these smiles on camera. But I'm confident there will be plenty of smile snapshots in the many years to come.

She continues to be a good sleeper, usually in about 4 hour stretches. Although once last week she went 7+ hours between feedings. That said, her mama is starting to feel the cumulative effects of interrupted sleep cycles. Plus, she's so noisy in the nighttime that while she might be catching some zzz's, her mama is laying in bed peeking over at her with every growl, whinny, and cough.

She's still a good eater. During the day she snacks about every 2-3 hours, and in the evenings she likes to eat every hour or so. She latches on by herself, which means I'm mostly hands-free when she eats. I still use the Boppy to prop her up when at home, but am perfectly comfortable to feed without a pillow when we're out and about. She spits up a lot, which is kind of gross. And sometimes I think to myself, "I worked really hard to produce that milk, and I spend a lot of time sitting down so you can eat at your leisure, so don't waste the milk by spitting it back up. Just save it for later or something."

She's 100% in cloth diapers now. We're using both BumGenius and GrowVia brands, and I'm not sure which is my favorite. I think she leaks less with BumGenius, but I like the quick snap-style of the GrowVia. We change her maybe 8 or so times each day. Although she's as gassy as you would expect from her parents, she certainly doesn't poop much, maybe every few days. I'll just assume it's because she's doing such a good job growing!

As for me, I'm still loving motherhood. More than I would have expected. But that means I'm dreading the return to work, which is not what I would have expected. I have six more weeks to stay home and love on my baby girl, but I wish I had a lifetime. I'm definitely more tired than I was the initial weeks, and find myself dragging around the first part of each day. The Bean does not let me sleep in as needed in the morning, waking me with her noises every four minutes, fussing for the Soothie to be placed back in her mouth. But I love laying around in bed with her, even if it means constant REM interruption. If we don't have anything planned, I pretty much spend the first part of the day lounging around- feeding, watching snippets of Private Practice, embroidering, reading, and watching "Francie TV." One thing that likely contributes to my increased fatigue (aside from the 90 degree weather), is my body. I am so over the discomfort of being 20 lbs heavier than normal. I find this body more uncomfortable than I ever found my pregnant body to be. Part of it is that I feel like enough time has passed that I should just magically be back to my pre-preggo self. I got a punch-card pass to the local gym, but have only been once. Mostly because I have been so enjoying taking Francie on long walks, and can't justify going to the gym when I can spend time outdoors. On Sunday I went for my first run (plod) in nearly a year. That shit hurt. My body feels so different - not just out of shape, but heavy in a new way. And my boobs. Don't even get me started on how uncomfortable it is to try and work toward fitness when you have a huge rack filled with milk that you try to strap down so you can jog without getting two black eyes. I know, I know, 10-months-on-10-months-off. But I'm impatient and I'm ready to fit into my old clothes. NOW. In the meantime, I bought a pair of fat jeans from H&M and several long tanks to wear with my maternity leggings. Yes, I recognize the irony - being fat but wearing stretchy pants. Hey, it's the most comfortable to hold in the girth. And just when I'm feeling too fat for my own good, I glance at my baby girl and am so grateful that my body was able to create, carry, nurture, nourish, and grow this precious little being.

Mama's Salary

Several weeks ago Hilary Rosen made some off-hand comment about Ann Romney having "never worked a day in her life." This spurred feminists from all ends of the political spectrum to wax philosophical about whether staying at home and raising a family constitutes "work." More interesting than the social perspectives was the financial break-down of how much a mother would earn based on her time spent doing certain activities, were she able to charge market rate. generated an app that allowed you to calculate hypothetical "mom earnings", and here's what it came up with for me:

Staying at home, excluding breastfeeding: $65, 674

Earnings StatementOur Family
For The year Ending: April, 2012
Job TitleHourly RateHours Worked
 Day Care Center Teacher$13.130
 Facilities Manager$32.37260
 Computer Operator I$15.670
 Van Driver$14.06208
 Laundry Machine Operator$10.01104
 Chief Executive Officer$55.90364
 Staff Nurse - RN$31.2952
 Event Planner$31.63104
 Logistics Analyst$26.950
 Interior Designer$21.28156
 Administrative Assistant$18.840
 General Maintenance Worker$16.010
Total Value
Average Hourly Rate$28.382,080$59,032
Over Time Rate$42.57156$6,641

Staying at home, including breastfeeding: $117,747

Earnings StatementOur Family
For The year Ending: April, 2012
Job TitleHourly RateHours Worked
 Day Care Center Teacher$13.130
 Facilities Manager$32.370
 Computer Operator I$15.67104
 Van Driver$14.06260
 Laundry Machine Operator$10.01156
 Chief Executive Officer$55.90104
 Staff Nurse - RN$31.29104
 Event Planner$31.63104
 Logistics Analyst$26.950
 Interior Designer$21.28104
 Administrative Assistant$18.840
 General Maintenance Worker$16.010
Total Value
Average Hourly Rate$23.712,080$49,318
Over Time Rate$35.571,924$68,429

Working fulltime, while breastfeeding/pumping: $137,698

Earnings StatementOur Family
For The year Ending: April, 2012
Job TitleHourly RateHours Worked
 Day Care Center Teacher$13.130
 Facilities Manager$32.37260
 Computer Operator I$15.670
 Van Driver$14.06208
 Laundry Machine Operator$10.01104
 Chief Executive Officer$55.90364
 Staff Nurse - RN$31.2952
 Event Planner$31.63104
 Logistics Analyst$26.950
 Interior Designer$21.28156
 Administrative Assistant$18.840
 General Maintenance Worker$16.010
Total Value
Average Hourly Rate$27.302,080$56,783
Over Time Rate$40.951,976$80,915

Food for thought ... Here are a few links to articles written by far more eloquent writers on the matter:,0,7757482.story

Hover to Pin

Designed with ♥ by Nudge Media Design