First Time Mom

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

 

Surprise: You’re Doing Everything Right (Probably)

Last week I shared an emotional and moving guest post by a friend of mine who’s story really got me thinking. Her journey has been a long one, and having arrived at the shared destination of “motherhood,” it struck me that her challenges aren’t over. Far from it, they now look a lot like mine. These shared post-mother struggles are something I not only live out on a daily basis, but are something I see playing out on Facebook feeds and blog posts across the world, as I watch friends navigating the tricky waters of parenthood. The baby isn’t sleeping. The baby isn’t eating. The baby might be possessed. The baby bites the cat. The cat bites the baby. The baby locked me in the bathroom and I said shit approximately 1,000 times. I LOVE THE BABY! The baby the baby the baby. (more…)

7 Minutes in Heaven: Part 2(AM)

Co-sleeping. If there’s one thing I’ve learned since becoming a parent, it’s that the term “co-sleeping” is a bit of a misnomer, as there is seldom any sleeping involved with co-sleeping. Perhaps this is our fault, as we have never sat Baby 1.0 down and really explained what co-sleeping means to her. In Baby 1.0’s mind, it is clear co-sleeping is viewed as a WWE Smackdown-esque competition where Baby 1.0 is perpetually defending the highly coveted Paperweight belt. But last night, after receiving 22 tiny blows to the face at 2am, it hit me (literally): I need to bring this to the people, because you know what they say about misery loving company. Now the problem I encountered immediately was if I were to “live-blog” it, as I did with the previous 7 Minutes in Heaven post, then I couldn’t continue to pretend I was sleeping, and I would lose all hope of Baby 1.0 rolling over and attacking my husband instead. So forgive me, as this is from memory, and as I previously stated, I was actually punchslapped 22 times in the head last night. Also, it should be mentioned we were staying in a hotel, which is why we had to attempt to co-sleep at all.

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Let the games begin.

10-1:00- Sleep soundly, like a little baby lamb in a warm bed of hay, until Baby 1.0 wakes for her usual early morning feeding. Nurse her back down, and successfully transfer her back into her Pack and Play. Do small victory dance before crawling back into bed.

1:45- Start to drift off to sleep. Heart stops cold when two syllables are whispered from behind the barricade of chairs we have set up to block Baby 1.0’s view of our bed… “Mama?” Starts off soft, but quickly turns into full on whaling cries. Jump out of bed to retrieve screaming child before she wakes up every guest in the hotel.

1:46- Rock screaming child, and panic because rocking, shooshing, swaying and snuggling aren’t helping. Make (bad) judgment call, and slide into bed with screaming child.

1:47- Screaming stops. Use this opportunity to lay down and close my eyes in an attempt to convince her I have fallen asleep, and she should do the same. “Mamamamamamamamama. Mama. Maaaaaamamama.” Fingers in my ears. Fingers in my eyes. Fingers in my nose. Fingers trying to go from deep in my nose to my mouth forcing me to move slightly, therefore reinforcing to Baby 1.0 if she pushes far enough, I will react. Reality sets in I am done for, and also if I ever have to play dead for a Grizzly, I am screwed.

1:48- Baby 1.0 lays down next to me. For 2.2 microseconds I think “Great Scott! I think I’ve done it!” Baby 1.0 then aggressively adjusts so she is now in standard “H” formation, with her head pressed into my rib cage, and her feet delivering heel kicks to her Dad’s sternum. She lays here for approximately 35 seconds, kicking away, then quickly switches back to the correct head to toe position between us. Nervously, I begin to hum Twinkle Twinkle, her go-to bedtime jam.

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The dreaded H position, curtesy of How To Be A Dad.

1:49- After quietly humming 6 verses of Twinkle Twinkle, I stop. “Mooah! Mooah!” Baby 1.0 yells while slamming her tiny fist into my stomach. Humming resumes. Humming is interrupted by Baby 1.0’s sudden desire to make train noises. “Choo chooooo!” she yells with high-pitched delight. She sits up on her knees and begins bouncing on the bed. “Choo choo! Choo chooooo!”

1:50- Baby 1.0 suddenly topples forward and lays down between us again. Curling into my body, she begins to sing. “Shake off, shake off,” she coos, over and over. Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” song is now firmly embedded in my head, and continues to play on repeat even to this moment, a full 12 hours later.

1:51- Apparently tiring of my boring early-morning mood, she turns her attention to her daddy and begins to name features on his face. “Eye. Eye. No. Mow. Eye.” This last eye gets him in trouble because he corrects her and says “ear” which was exactly the gateway Baby 1.0 was looking for. BINGO! Dad’s awake. She dives onto his chest and smothers him with whatever was wet on her face.

1:52- Baby 1.0 yawns. She circles and lays down, flips, flops, circles. Kicks. Pulls at covers. Pushes at covers. Lifts covers with legs approximately 18 times. Yawns. Flips. Head butts. Nuzzles. Wiggles her fingers into my shirt sleeve and scratches at my skin. Puts hand to my mouth and requests kitty cat kisses. Punchslaps me 22 times in the head, with some sort of wiggly, wobbly backhand move.

After over an hour of nonsense, my husband, who is apparently a magician who seldom uses his powers for reasons that remain unclear, managed to get her back down and sleeping in her Pack and Play, where she remained for the rest of the night.  It was a co-sleeping nightmare that ended in a world class magic trick. It was…7 minutes in Heaven.

When Does This Get Easy?

Yesterday while walking home after picking my husband up from work, I was, to put it simply, wigging out. This week Baby 1.0 appears to have dropped her last remaining nap. Though each day we try, and try again, she just won’t fall asleep, and by 5 o’clock, we are both at our wits end. Nearly in tears, I explained to him how each step has been so hard for us, and I just have never felt like we were really getting it, if you get what I’m saying. This whole time we’ve been surviving, but I have never felt like we are thriving. With her deciding this week to drop her last remaining nap, yet again, I am left scrambling as I figure out how to manage this next developmental stage.

Today the frustrations again reared their ugly head after I lowered a sleeping child into her crib, just to watch her eyes pop open, and remain open. How stupid was I to think that for the first time this week, I would get to pee alone, and then eat a sandwich without someone screaming for me to draw another picture of a cat.

Now before you get all “It could be worse on me” trust me, I get it. The guilt of feeling frustrated and complaining that my healthy, wonderful child won’t sleep or eat when there are people with sick kids, or worse, no kids due to some tragic situation, makes me feel absolutely despicable. I should just be thankful I have a kid, right?

But for the love of all that’s holy, would it be too much to ask that the kid I have just eat a meal or two every day without me having to chase her around the house with 18 different options, and then, because she is tired and needs it, get a little sleep? It’s eating and sleeping, I’m asking for here, not the solution for the conflict in the Middle East.

So what do I do? What can I do, other than just put one frustrated foot in front of the other, and carry on as we always have, waiting for us to both settle into yet another new pattern. I’ve been through enough with Baby 1.0 to understand this is temporary, and in no time at all we will both adjust to 13 hours of awake toddler-time. But until then, all I want to do is cry, eat four chocolate croissants, and whine about it on a very public platform. When does this get easy?

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Proof that one time, she actually did nap.

The Unbelievable Mess of Toddlerdom

It happens so fast. Although I’ve never been in a tornado, the aftermath appears the same. Toys, trash, food and clothes are scattered everywhere. The three lowest shelves on the bookshelf have been completely emptied, the books strewn haphazardly around the living room. A windowsill has been broken, leaving a piece of molding dangling carelessly, inches from the floor. Glancing towards the door I see what is either a turd or a half-eaten teething biscuit, peeking out from under a stray boot. “Please don’t be a turd” I say to no one in particular. The cats cautiously navigate the mess with curiosity and a mild degree of fear, which I echo. My husband exits the bathroom, steps over a soccer ball, dodges a laundry basket and nearly crushes a set of custom paper mache finger puppets and sighs. The only one who seems unaffected is Baby 1.0, who is contentedly shredding pages out of a magazine. “What happened?” he asks. “She woke up,” I reply.

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This mess, this unbelievable mess, is Baby 1.0’s mission in life right now. There are few things that bring her more joy than dumping, smearing, swiping, emptying and otherwise removing the contents of anything that has contents. From baskets of blocks to bowls of blueberries, nothing is safe from ending up in a pile on the floor. The white carpeted floor, mind you, which is quickly starting to take the appearance of Desert Storm-era khaki camouflage. The fridge seems to have become a breeding ground where tiny containers spawn other tiny containers, all filled with a few bites of food Baby 1.0 has decided she no longer likes. The windows and sliding glass door are nearly opaque with sticky finger prints and tongue marks alike.

But the mess isn’t contained to the play area, or even the house for that matter. The car looks like a giant hamster nest, with enough Cheerios, raisins, and shredded paper to sustain a family of 4, and keep them warm in even the coldest of winter nights.  The stroller, no matter what I do, seems to always have a new crop of crumbs escaping out of crevices, waiting to be ground into the carpet, or be gobbled up by grubby fingers on the way home from the park. Somehow we even leave the park looking dirtier than it was, with a trail of wood chips following us home, as if we were the lumber-jack version of Hansel and Gretel.

For the most part, the mess doesn’t bother me. Or at least it didn’t until this morning when I was hunched over the sink, eating second breakfast, nestled between a greasy paper bag waiting to be taken out to the compost, and what remained of the bowl of aforementioned blueberries rescued from the carpet. But standing there, disintegrating breakfast burrito in hand, I couldn’t help but wonder, am I super gross, or is my acceptance of this mess a survival mechanism? I tend to lean more towards the latter, because it’s not like I don’t try. All day, every day, I am constantly picking up here and there. But the mess multiplies in a way I can never keep up with. And so things happen, like a greasy paper bag, waiting on the counter for days to finally make it down to the compost.

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I wasn’t even kidding. This is how I eat most meals. It’s scary. And a little sad.

I suppose this is just par for the course, and in due time she will learn to help us pick it up and put it away. So for now, I think I will stay the course, and do my best to simultaneously turn a blind eye, and try not to fall victim to the dreaded full-bodyweight-on-a-lego scenario.

So who’s with me? Any other parents out there with houses that could potentially be confused for an episode of Hoarders?


Things I Never Want To Forget: A Letter To Baby 1.0

A letter to Baby 1.0, days before you turn 18 months old.

Oh Baby 1.0, you are growing so fast. It seems like just yesterday you came into this world, with your head full of black hair, and your tiny pink lips. It’s no secret we had a bit of a rough start, but that doesn’t take away from how much I love you, and have loved you, from the very first second of your known existence. Every day you grow, and every day you change. Looking back, there is already so much I fear I’ve forgotten, little details buried under more recent developments that are equally as important. So today I will write you this, in hopes that someday, you can look back and know how I was feeling days before your 18 month birthday, and if not you, then me when I am days away from your 18th year birthday, and I want to rip my hair out because you have decided to get a neck tattoo and run away with a biker gang to Costa Rica.

-You sing songs and communicate with us by meows. You also seem to think you have kitty cat hands and feet, and often hold them up to me requesting I kiss them by making a pouty face and sadly meowing at me until I do it. In fact, as we discovered tonight, you actually quite like it when we talk to you and pet you like you are a cat. (Note to self: socialize Baby 1.0 with more babies, and attempt to reinforce she is indeed a baby.)

-Speaking of animals, you love dogs. I mean, you really love dogs. The way you say it “dawg dawg daaawg” makes me laugh every time.

-You have an insatiable appetite for dancing to questionable music. To be fair, it’s not all questionable, as you will dance to anything that makes a rhythmic sound (including the dryer), but you appear to show a strong preference for pop, much to your daddy’s chagrin. I may or may not have introduced you to that pop, so I don’t care much. I just like to see you happy. We both do.

-You still have baby breath, and it is the most amazing smell in the whole world. Sometimes while I’m rocking you to sleep and you are breathing tiny puffs of air in my face, I close my eyes and try with all my might to put that smell so deep in my brain I will never forget it. It is the only thing about you that is still baby-like, as you are turning into a little girl faster than I am prepared for.

-You love books. You have always loved books, but the bigger you get, and the more capable you are at handling them, the more you love them. I hope you always feel this way.

-You are so smart. I can’t imagine this ever changing, but you never cease to amaze your daddy and I with how much you know. You just have to see us doing something once, and for better or worse, with enough time, you will figure it out.

-You show an incredible degree of empathy for humans and animals alike. When our rambunctious young male cat picks on our old female cat, you drop everything to break it up, and then calm our old lady. When someone is crying, you are right there to pat them on the back, or participate in a good old-fashioned sympathy cry. You have a good heart, little baby. I hope that never changes.

-You are fearless. There is no play structure too high, no hill too steep. You take a lickin’ and keep on tickin’ and this is equal parts admirable and terrifying. I hope you continue to toe the line here, and never fall too far on one side or the other.

-You love your daddy. I get that, he’s a pretty great guy. Watching the two of you together, laughing and being silly? It doesn’t get any better. I hope you always think he is as funny as he thinks he is, though I worry one day you will think both of us are actually quite embarrassing.

-You are loved. Though you’ve never been a snuggly baby, occasionally when I do get an extra long hug in, the feeling of your little body in my arms is enough. It’s all I could ever ask for in this world. You are all I could ever ask for in this world. I may make light of the parenting undesirables, but at the end of the day, I wouldn’t change one single thing about our experience together. You are truly my sunshine, little baby. I love you so much.

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Parenting In 5 words Or Less: #3

In light of the horrible tragedy in Pakistan, it seemed important to remind myself that for however difficult life can be with a kid, I cannot possibly imagine how hard it would be to continue living without your kid. My heart breaks for those families.


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