Parenting

How To Survive Your First Month Of Parenthood

Congratulations! Baby is here, and you’re back home. If you’re anything like me, upon arriving home and sitting your bruised and battered behind down oh-so-delicately on your couch, you gaze upon your snoozing infant with pride, and then promptly wig the fandango out because ohmygodwhatdowedonow?!

Having now survived the first month of parenthood, twice (**enthusiastically pats self on back**), I’ve gleaned a few tips I’d like to share to help you get through this raucous rodeo with as much zen as possible.

Wear comfy clothes: Your body has taken a lickin’. Do it a favor and don’t squeeze it, cram it, squish it or otherwise mess with it by attempting to stuff it into pre-pregnancy clothes. Get a bra that fits. Wear pants that feel like love. One surefire way to add unnecessary stress to your day is by making yourself physically uncomfortable in an attempt to be cute. Screw cute. Do comfy.

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Eat: This one is easier said than done, as more often than not any time you go to feed yourself, someone else requests food. Loudly. And as they say, the screaming, frothing at the mouth, purple-faced wheel gets the grease (or the milkshake). But nine times out of ten, if I find myself getting all ragey, it’s because I’m ravenously hungry. So eat. And drink water while you’re at it, too.

Invest in a baby carrier of some sort: Babies like to be held, but even eight pounds gets heavy after hour 1,734. A Moby or Ergo (or whatever you fancy) that turns you into a human marsupial can be a real lifesaver. Or at least a hand and arm free-er-up-er.

Wash yo’ face: I had no idea how hard it would be to find time to shower with two kids, but at the very least, washing my face with hot water makes me feel better. Also, I may or may not use baby wipes on my armpits occasionally. And by occasionally I mean daily.

Make it easy: Give yourself some leeway as you learn the ropes. Now is the time to try out that grocery delivery service, or order something off Amazon you’d normally get at the store. Take any extra pressure off yourself until you find your feet.

Say no: Don’t want to do something? Say no. Don’t want someone to come over and meet the baby for whatever reason you have (and it doesn’t have to be a good one)? Say no. Or have your partner do it for you. You’re the master of this ship. You call the shots.

Say yes: Is someone offering to bring you food? Always say yes. Take up your pal who wants to bring your older kid to the park, or walk your dog, or water your garden. Say yes to things that will reduce your stress by even one iota.

Indulge: There is nothing easy about this time, and finding parts that are enjoyable can be hard. If there is something that brings a smile to your face, do it. Ice cream after dinner (or whenever, for that matter), binging on a shameless reality tv show while you nurse, a couple sleeve of girl scout cookies -whatever floats your boat- do it. Indulge a little because you need all the help you can get.

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This, times about 32 other cookies…

Sleep: Get sleep. Get it however you can. Go to bed at 7pm. Take a nap at 7am. However you can squeeze some sleep into your life, do it. Sleep may not beget sleep, but it does add back a few precious drops of patience to that oft-used well.

Get outside: Feeling punchy? Get outside. Put kiddo in a pack, and walk around the block. Hear the birds. Feel the wind on your face. Almost get run over by a 90-something year-old man who ran a red light, and then realize how much you appreciate your life, even if it sucks a little right now.

Put on some tunes: One of the hardest parts about new parenthood (or just having a new baby in the house) is how isolating it can be. It takes a while to find your groove, so days will go by where socialization doesn’t happen. Turning on the radio, or jamming out to a favorite album can help remind you there is life outside your door, and even if it feels like it, you’re not alone.

Call your doctor if you feel weird: This one is super freaking important. Bringing home a baby is hard. The trifecta of sleep deprivation, hormones, and pain can make it difficult to find your feet. Add to that being solely responsible for someone else’s needs, who, as luck would have it, is incapable of voicing what they want, and you have a recipe for one hell of a headache (at best). While a certain amount of irritability, anxiousness, moodiness and exhaustion are normal, sometimes what you are going through is more serious. A quick call to your doctor or midwife can help you determine how best to proceed, and can give you resources to make your transition into parenthood easier.

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Image credits: Cookie monster, The first 40 years, memes belong to HMDHM

 

On Being (Super) Human

I met someone today, and my initial impression was that she is a goddamn Superhero.

Looking at her, I’d say she is very ordinary. She is of average age to have a kid or two, and wears clothes that would allow her to blend in anywhere from a snazzy cafe lunch with coworkers, to the dish soap isle at Target. She plays happily and freely with her kid, but checks her phone enough for me to know we could be friends.

Admittedly, I’ve seen her a number of times before and never did much more than offer a smile. But for whatever reason today is different, and I finally take the time to say, “Hi.”

Our conversation starts normally, with stats exchanged in moments squeezed between acknowledging, encouraging, and parenting our kids as they ping pong around the room. Ages of children are offered, current employment statuses discussed, and of course comments about the weather are made because this is what adults talk about (right?).

And then a bomb is dropped: Her kid is sick. Like, really sick.

An instant weight falls upon my shoulders as I hear her talk openly about almost losing a child. A tightness in my heart, squeezing, squeezing, as she discusses an unknown future. I stumble with my words, an apology, a well wish, a heavy silence while my brain spins with horrible Hallmark-worthy phrases to offer up.

And all the while, she remains standing. Shoulders back, head up, strong as hell, she talks about what might come, and she remains standing.

Driving home from our brief encounter, I find myself wondering how she can be so strong? How can she wake up every day, look down at the tiny broken body of her child, and wonder if today is the day something changes? How can she stomach the rage, stop the questions, or breathe through the panic? How can she live her life normally when something so abnormal and horrible stands in the way?

My initial answer is that she must be a Superhero, as certainly no human is capable of soldiering on with the heavy burden of knowing at any moment, for reasons entirely out of your control, your kid could die.

But then reality sets in, and a string of painful of memories parade across my eyes. Miscarriages, cancers, suicides, sexual abuse, substance abuse, and more – all of these tragedies suffered by people within my immediate circle of friends.

Yet through all of this death, loss, and pain, through all of this suffering and struggling, perhaps the most important memory of all is the one where I remember that like her, these people remain standing.

Just like the woman I met, these people are living their lives as normally as possible not because they have super human powers, but because they they don’t. They have no other choice but to get up each day, put one foot in front of the other, and get through it. So they do. And yet, by surviving by doing exactly what you and I do every day without remark, they appear remarkable. Extraordinary. Super human, even.

By taking a second and recognizing their humanity, their normalcy, I find myself overcome with emotion. The strength, grace and perseverance they show every single day as they carry around their bleeding hearts and half-healed scars is not only inspiring, but a reminder of a very important lesson for even the most normal of everyday people: We are strong.

I am strong. You are strong. We are so capable, but more often than not we forget that until we are blindsided by tragedy, staggering through the darkness of depression and loss. This woman, this lovely, incredibly normal human woman, jolted me awake with what I wrongly attributed to be Superhero strength, but now recognize as something we all carry around in our core. We are strong. Let this be a reminder for anyone who one day wakes up and finds they need it, that incredible super human strength is in you too.

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(Originally posted on BLUNT Moms, cover image by Andry Shango)

 

 

Reasons I Haven’t Brushed My Teeth Today

I was going to brush my teeth, but then the baby started crying. Then toddler wanted pancakes. Then I made pancakes. Then she decided she didn’t want pancakes. Then she decided she wanted yogurt. Easy enough.

Now I will brush my teeth, I said.

I was going to brush my teeth, but the toddler climbed out of her highchair and spilled yogurt on the carpet. Then I cleaned it up. Then the baby started crying for his second breakfast. Then I fed him. Then I fed myself. Moving on.

Now I will brush my teeth, I said.

I was going to brush my teeth, but then I noticed the time – T-minus 20 minutes to story time! Then I got the toddler dressed. Then I buckled the screaming baby into his car seat. Then I threw on dirty jeans and ran out the door. Hurry hurry!

I will brush my teeth when I get back, I said.

I was going to brush my teeth after we got home, but then it was lunchtime for everyone. Then fed the toddler. Then I fed the baby. Then I fed myself. Then I changed all the diapers. Then I put the kids down for a nap. Phew.

Now I will brush my teeth, I said.

But then I remembered the two lonely cupcakes begging to join their cupcake brethren in my belly, so I ate a cupcake. Then, fearing the remaining cupcake would be sad about being alone, I ate the other one. Then the baby woke up. Then the toddler woke up. Damn.

Now I will brush my teeth, I said.

But then the toddler wanted to go to the park, and knowing I would need energy to push her stroller up the hill while carrying the baby in the pack I decided I needed some protein to balance out all that sugar. Then I ate a hardboiled egg. Then asked the toddler to put on her shoes 98,000 times. Oooohhhhh for God’s saaaaaaaaaake.

Now I will brush my teeth, I said.

But then I decided brushing my teeth while there were still bits of egg in them was gross, and I couldn’t find my water glass to rinse out my mouth. Then the toddler was hollering to go to the park. Then the baby was hollering because he is a baby. Then I left the house to walk to the park with two hollering children and stinky egg breath. Here we go.

I will brush my teeth when I get back, I said.

But then I had to cook dinner. Then I had to eat dinner. Then I had to bathe the toddler. Then I had to bathe the baby. Then I had to get the toddler down. Then I had to get the baby down. Holy shit it’s late.

Now I will brush my teeth, I said.

And I did. But there is no way in hell I’m going to floss.

 

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Image credits: Cover image, floss.

Honesty And The Art Of (Not) Sharing

They say honesty is best. That being an open book is a good thing. Speak your mind, they say. To share is to care.

I beg to differ.

Or at least when it comes to parenting at 3am.

You see, even the kindest, sweetest and most reasonable of people have the ability to Hulk-out and absolutely destroy their partner with creative and hurtful insults, slurred out of sleepy, foul-smelling mouths at 3am.

Being woken up sucks. Being woken up by someone screaming at you sucks worse. Being woken up by someone screaming at you every night for any longer than one night in your whole life sucks the most, which, unfortunately, is pretty commonplace in the circus that is parenting. And this, in large part, is what can make parenting so hard, as you and your exhausted, foggy mind, wrestle with what you want to say to your partner, versus what really needs to be said.

It is here, in the inky blackness of your nightly 3am wakeup call, where sharing isn’t really caring, and brutal honesty is unnecessary.

But as it is currently 1:38 on a sunny afternoon, and I haven’t just been woken up by the shrill cries of a hungry newborn (or the rhythmic puffing of my husband’s snoring), I don’t have a good reason not to be honest.

You see, I have been keeping a secret.

It’s been following me around all morning, haunting me whenever I see something that reminds me of my discretion (or discretions, if I’m being truthful). The guilt nibbling away at me with the persistence of a toddler who has come into possession of a too-big, too-hard cookie. The weight of it resting heavily in my stomach.

Before you get all judgmental, you should know, it’s not entirely my fault. How I came into possession of what would prove to be my undoing was innocent enough. A favor, even. Something that would benefit our family, if used correctly. But I got greedy. More than greedy, I became addicted.

At 10 o’clock, on more days I care to admit to, the urge overcame me and forced me to take action. To indulge. “You need this!” my brain would reason. “You deserve this.” And so I listened, never once really thinking about the consequences.

Until today, that is, when standing in front of my stash, hand rooting around blindly to properly hide the bag after getting my fix, I noticed something awful. The bag was empty. Reality set in as I realized that over the course of a few weeks, I had eaten all 20 of the incredibly delicious, homemade breakfast burritos that were given to us (let me reiterate the us part) to help with dinners after the baby came. There was no sharing. There was no caring. There was no honesty in my shameful actions, as I balled the tin foil up and shoved it deep down into the recesses of the trash to hide the evidence. (And if you’re asking why breakfast burritos for dinner, we probably shouldn’t be friends.)

The repercussions of this discovery are three-fold. For one, when my husband finds out, he’s going to be… disappointed, which we all know is actually worse than being pissed. Although he very well might also be pissed, but since he’s probably reading this while pooping at work, there’s not a whole lot he will be able to do immediately, which will give his brain time to think about what he should say, and reconcile it with what he wants to say. The second reason this is problematic is because, hello, I’m addicted! What am I going to do at 10am tomorrow when my body starts calling for the magic elixir I no longer possess? The third issue is nothing can replace what has been recklessly consumed, except more delicious homemade breakfast burritos. My upstanding morals, however, make it pretty clear there is a quota of how many homemade breakfast burritos you’re allowed to ask someone to make you, and I think that number falls well under 20, and is probably much closer to 1.

So why am I telling you all this?

Well I’m not, really. I’m actually writing this as a longwinded and circuitous way of telling my husband, Honey, I ate all the breakfast burritos. It might make you feel better to know that I burnt my mouth nearly every single time. It also might make you feel better to know that in a panic, I even considered going to Whole Foods to buy 20 of those Amy’s frozen burritos, then removing the plastic and wrapping them in little squares of foil to try to trick you. But I did’t because I didn’t want to spend $45 or screw around with our wonky foil.

I know we say honesty is best, but don’t forget how we also like to practice not saying something if it’s going to be inflammatory and dickish. So yeah. I’m sorry. And I’ll do baby duty tonight, without the side of silent sass.

oops

Oops, I secretly ate all of something you wanted again. At least this time I didn’t replace it with a raw potato (though I did consider this).

Maybe He’s Teething? When Science and Sleep Deprivation Collide

Not to brag, but my husband and I seem to have an uncanny ability to make babies who don’t sleep. We don’t want to make anyone jealous, but our babies are professional not sleepers. We have high hopes that one day, in the throes of a fitful night of no sleep, they will find the cure for cancer, or maybe solve that whole world hunger problem. But for now, they just keep us awake while we rock, shush, sway and wonder WHAT THE F*CK IS GOING ON WITH OUR KIDS SO THAT THEY DON’T SLEEP?! YOU ARE SO TIRED! WHY WON’T YOU GO THE F*CK TO SLEEP?!

Okay, that came out a little on the intense side, but I’m feeling a little intense about how much sleep I’m not getting. I am also feeling a little intense about needing to find a solution pronto so that I stop aging faster than Mother Gothel from Tangled after Eugene gives Rapunzel her snazzy new ‘do.

mother gothel

#SelfieSaturday!

I am not alone in my quest for golden slumber, as my exhausted husband is equally as desperate for some shut eye before he heads back to work next week. And just like when Baby 1.0 was a newborn, even knowing all she needed was time (19 months to be exact), we find ourselves frantically pacing around our living room, a fussy baby in one hand, and a freshly rejected pacifier in the other, wondering what we are doing wrong.

Because we are scientists (okay, I’m not a real scientist, but I once got a 104% on a biology test), we try to talk it out. We try to think through it. We try to be reasonable and rational, and above all else, scientific, because science doesn’t lie like assholes on the internet. And just like any good scientist, we start by asking questions. So many questions. Too many questions. Questions tumble out of our mouths like termites from a broken nest, wriggling around and making everyone edgy. Just this morning, my husband and I found ourselves in an all too familiar question spiral that pretty much went word for word like this:

WHY WON’T HE SLEEP AT NIGHT? Maybe he’s teething? Maybe he’s in a growth spurt? Maybe he’s too cold? Maybe he’s too hot? Maybe we should swaddle him? Maybe we should swaddle him with one arm out? Maybe we shouldn’t swaddle him? Maybe we should change his diaper more often? Maybe we shouldn’t change his diaper so much? Maybe we should hold him more during the day? Maybe we should be putting him down to nap by himself during the day? Maybe I’m feeding him too much? Maybe he’s hungry? Maybe we need to up our white noise game? Maybe it’s too noisy? Maybe I’m trying to put him down too soon in his sleep cycle? Maybe he needs to learn to fall asleep when he’s drowsy but awake? Maybe he has gas? Maybe this is normal? Maybe this isn’t normal? Maybe we should rearrange our room because maybe he will sleep better in that corner? Maybe we should Google it?

And I’m not even kidding, folks. This is *actually* how our conversation went. Sleep deprivation has turned us into crazy people.

Now a good scientist would pick one question, run an experiment to test the variable, and draw a conclusion that addressed their hypothesis. A good scientist would read the research, and trust that our baby, just like every other baby out there, will eventually learn to sleep. A good scientist would be patient, knowing results take time.

scientist

My scientific credibilities are about on par with what Bill Murray brings to the table.

But a good scientist, I am not.

I am a very tired, very irrational, very moody, very tired regular person who is very tired, and very desperate to find any kind of help that will give me even the tiniest chunk of sleep. So if you’ll excuse me, I am off to rearrange my room, order the latest swaddle sack off Amazon, feed the baby for 15-20 minutes on each side, burp him, rock him, assess his temperature, possibly change a diaper, turn on an appropriate amount of white noise, and attempt to put him down approximately 5 minutes after he enters deep sleep, which should be evident by slow breathing and floppy limbs…unless of course I decide to go the whole “drowsy but awake” route.

Yeah. Wish me luck.

Image credits: Mother Gothel, Bill Murray, cover image

Days Like This

Oh sweet baby Jesus. I forgot how hard this is.

Anyone who has had a baby will be quick to tell you how hard it is in the beginning, but much like the pains of labor fade (and they do, trust me, you DO NOT remember how shitty that part is), you don’t actually remember how hard it is until you’re in the thick of it.

But I’m here now, and I’m going to tell you, it is hard.

Your body hurts in ways you didn’t even know it could. Your brain is absolute mush. You are more tired than you’ve ever been. And on top of it, you are basically trying to solve a human Rubik’s cube with a very loud alarm that tells you over and over you are doing it wrong.

Even if you’ve already done this before, it’s all new again. Everything is different. Things that worked for your other babies doesn’t work. Or you’ve just forgotten (damn you Moby for making me relearn how to do fabric origami with a 15 foot piece of cloth on no sleep!). Or maybe some things are even easier. But regardless, everything is different.

Well everything except one thing: This is hard.

But here’s the thing. Some days the hard will be too much, or at least it will feel like too much. Some days the tears will outnumber the smiles. Some days all you will do is sit in dirty pajamas and nurse, shush and rock your way from sunrise to sunset, while your messy house, greasy hair, and smelly breath taunt you.

Other days, though, you will get up and get out and feel alive again.

Now there’s no balance to these days, and it may feel like the scales are heavily tipped in the wrong direction. But eventually it will even out, and even further down the line, the scales will tip the other way.

So from one mama in the trenches to any one else out there, sitting in dirty pajamas dreaming of a shower, a cinnamon roll, and about 97 hours of consecutive sleep, I am here to remind you that we will get through this part, too.

And in the mean time, I will be available for Twitter chat or Facebook messenger tonight, and every night for the foreseeable future from the hours of 10:30pm to 1am, when I hand our newest Rubik’s cube over to his daddy with strict instructions to not wake me unless the house is on fire.

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