Saturday, July 31, 2010

Saturday, wait

TJ is on his parental leave right now so my life just got a LOT easier.  Now I don't have 100% baby duty from 7am-7pm on the four days he usually works. 

We can go out and do random things during the week, like meet up with our friends Dave and Baby Max and Adrianne and Baby Rae for cupcakes in the middle of the day.  After the cupcake adventure, we got some Thai food and walked over to the Olympic Sculpture Park on a bright sunny Friday afternoon.  A good time was had by mamas, daddies and babies alike.

Babies chillin at da Sculpture Park
But TJ has this crazy idea that he wants to spend part of his 8 week leave doing things he likes to do, which are usually things he does by himself.  (What a novel idea.)  So today he's off on his motorcycle to ride around Mt. Rainier for most of the day.  Which makes this a sort of usual Saturday for me and BabyT. 

I go a little crazy just staying in the house all day with her - I love playing silly games and singing those dumb songs I make up on the fly, but I can't do that all day or both of our heads would explode.  So we try to find Baby-Mama Outings.

Today after a short morning nap, we went to the Redmond Saturday Market.  It's the closest farmer's market, and is only on Saturdays (duh) from 9-3, May-October.  I always forget about it, and realize on Sunday that I meant to go.  Or in November. 

But this year we've been three times already, or two and a half, since the first time we brought the stroller, which doesn't navigate the bumpy gravel or the crowd very well.  So BabyT rides close to me in the Ergo.  My girl is getting way too heavy for the front carry, sadly, though she still likes it, and so do I because it allows me to talk to her about what we see, and allows her to snuggle close when she gets a temporary bout of stranger anxiety. 

The last two times we've shared a crepe.  More accurately, I snork down a crepe and T gets 2-3 tiny little pieces.  Is it bad that a hot crepe is the highlight of my farmer's market experience?  Sigh. 

But we also buy blueberries, because that seems to be T's favorite fruit yet.  She eats most fruits I've put in front of her, though after the very first Avocado Day, she's pretty much rejected them every other time.  Blueberries are a special favorite, though.  Miss Baby went through 2 pints of blueberries in about 4 days.  Which, considering most of her calories still come from breastmilk, is no small feat.

Today there were also hip-hop dancers and live music at the market, not to mention LOTS of dogs, kids and other babies.  We saw several babies in Ergo carriers and it emboldened us to learn how to do the back carry, which is going to be much easier on my back now that BabyT is > 25 lbs.

I also realized that it's now difficult for me to drink something through a straw with T in the carrier, because she wants some, too.  And unfortunately she can't have any of my iced chai, so I had to distract her with the aforementioned blueberries while I enjoyed my frosty beverage.

After such a busy morning, Miss Baby slept for over 2 hours, the longest nap she's had in a few days.  So hooray for the Saturday Market!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Cuts you like a knife

I was chatting with a pregnant coworker a few days ago and she mentioned that she might have to schedule a C-section due to her baby's position. She wanted to know how the recovery went for me, and of course I was enthusiastic as ever about my experience with BabyT's birth, which was perfect for us.
In the ultra-granola, hippie Northwest, it seems like most pregnant women are really terrified and/or dismissive of the C, especially those with the perfectly-detailed natural unmedicated "birth plans".

From the parent-baby group we briefly attended, it seemed like the women who *really* didn't want to even think about the C-section as a possibility were really traumatized/disappointed in their birth experiences when it had to be a C for various medical reasons. It was pretty sad to hear that their baby's birthday included stress and regret, even 6 months later.

And on a side note, I feel like I should get a medal for staying through the whole meeting where people discussed their birth experiences, because I am super-squeamish.  But I sort of felt a responsibility to tell our positive C-story after hearing so many negative ones, if only to show that it doesn't have to be a horrible experience and one to avoid at all costs.

I wrote a sort of "Lessons Learned" a few months after T was born for a friend of mine.  Yes, it's the Project Manager in me, and I can't help myself. 

Many of the tips apply for any sort of giving-birth experience.  Hopefully this helps out some apprehensive first-time pregnant mamas out there. 

22 Tips to Prepare for a C-Section and the Resulting New Baby

When you're hugely pregnant
  • PRIMP: Schedule a haircut/waxing/pedicure/massage as close to your due date as possible but far enough in advance that you won't miss it. It was nearly a month or more before I had time for even a quick eyebrow wax and I didn't get out for a haircut until 8 weeks post-baby.

  • PHOTOS: If you want professional pictures of your cute pregnant self and pre-baby family, set that up for your 33-36th week.  You don't want it to be so late you'll miss it but you want to be nice and round for the pictures.  If you want brand-new-baby pictures, find a photographer and book a tentative appointment before you give birth as the first several weeks are usually a blur of sleeplessness and adjusting to your new reality.

  • SHOWER: The night before, or the morning of, your surgery - take a very long shower. It will probably be a few days before you can shower again, and for sure, weeks, before you have the time to take a nice leisurely shower. I swear BabyT knew when I was going to get in the shower, and exactly 5 minutes in, would decide she was hungry.

  • TRACK: The TotalBaby app for the iPhone ROCKS for tracking baby stuff like diapers, sleep, feeding etc. which you need to do for the first several weeks - doctors always ask about those details at early appointments.

  • COMFY: Set up the spot where you're going to feed the baby at home to be super-comfy. Chair, cushions, music, a table for your snacks, laptop, whatever. You will spend a LOT of time there.

  • CARSEAT: Practice getting the infant seat into/out of the car and clipped to the stroller before the baby comes. Some babies HATE the carseat so it's a lot easier to practice without a screaming baby first :)

  • PUMP: Figure out your breastpump. You might need to use it right from the beginning while your body adjusts its supply, and those first weeks are not the time to struggle with putting the little pieces together or realizing you're missing something.

  • VISITORS: Discuss your plan for early visitors with your husband/partner and make sure you're on the same page.  Do you want family to come and stay with you to help out from the beginning, or do you want time for yourselves first?  Visitors at the hospital or not?  The first few days and weeks are blurry and chaotic so plan for this up front and communicate it to all parties involved.  You don't want to be surprised by too little help or unexpected guests.

  • ANNOUNCE: In the same vein, discuss how you want to announce your baby's birth to the world.  Facebook, Twitter, and blogs enable you to share all the gory details as they unfold, but make sure that's what both partners want.  Also discuss what (if any) hospital photos to post/email.  It can be a little weird to send those disheveled "just-born" mama/baby shots to coworkers so make sure your partner knows your wishes.  

  • FOOD: Before the baby comes, stock up your house with things that are easy to eat with one hand, and little to no prep. You will be spending *so* much time feeding your baby, and napping, that you need to eat quickly. I ate pop-tarts, bananas or sandwiches while feeding her. Literally in the beginning, a nursing session can take a whole *hour*.

Bring to the hospital
  • PILLOWS: theirs suck. 

  • NURSING PILLOW: much easier to learn how to feed your baby using the same pillow you'll have at home. I wish I had done that. BTW, the "My Brest Friend" is way better than the Boppy, more supportive, less back pain. Horrible name, but awesome product.

  • LIP BALM: They have nearly everything else, but I needed lip balm a lot.

  • SUPPLIES: Change of clothes/pajamas/snacks for your husband/partner. We forgot to bring something for TJ to sleep in, so he had to leave to get a pair of shorts at home, and I was so sad (hormonal) to be left "alone" with the baby. Also bring toiletries for him since you'll be there for a couple of days.
At the hospital

  • H20: Drink water like crazy before/after your surgery. It helps with everything.

  • ADVOCATE: A friend had a not-great experience with the postpartum nurses. Enlist your husband/partner to be your advocate, and ask all the questions you need re: breastfeeding, etc. Also, if they have you supplement with formula at the beginning, instead of going straight to the bottle, they have these little syringe/tube thingies that you can use so that you don't risk the chance of messing up breastfeeding later. But you'll need to ask for this - they might not even tell you this is available.

  • MOVE: In the hospital, the nurses had me cough, sleep on both sides, and eventually get up and walk, to help me heal faster. I swear it worked because after about a week I only needed Advil every 6 hours for the pain/soreness. And within 4 weeks I didn't feel *anything*.

  • HELP: Even if you think you're getting the hang of breastfeeding, ask different nurses for help at each session. Different ones had different tips and tricks, and we learned something from each of them. (Well, except the one who came in and told me I was doing it all wrong.)

  • PAIN MEDS: Don't be a martyr about the pain meds, esp after a C-section. Confirm that what they're offering you is safe for breastfeeding and then take what you need. A side benefit is that they help with the pain of learning to breastfeed. 
After you're home
  • DIVIDE/CONQUER: Feeding a baby is HARD work, and takes a LONG time in the beginning so make a deal with your husband/partner/family members for them to do diaper duty and keep the house running so you can focus on feeding and getting lots of naps.  Even at 10 months, I'm pretty sure my lovely hubby has changed more diapers than I have.

  • CAPTURE: Take quick pictures daily or at least a few times a week, even if it's only with your crappy cell phone camera.  Babies change SO MUCH in those first few weeks.  It's fascinating to look back at those early pictures.  Don't worry about processing/uploading them, just take them and deal with them when you're ready.

  • NO GUILT: It's ok not to love every minute of it (or even most of the beginning) even if your baby was long-awaited. Don't let anyone make you feel guilty about that.

Other mamas out there in Internet-land, what would you add to the list?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Can't sleep at night I just toss and turn

I realized this morning that in the past 3.5 months, I've only had about 5 nights of uninterrupted sleep (7 hours or more). And I'm not a complete mess, surprisingly. I think it's the combination of the Vitamin D supplements I'm taking and the fact that BabyT does sleep in until about 8:30 or 9am, though she gets up 2-4 times to eat through the night.

It also helps that My Awesome Husband(tm) takes the night feeding on Saturday, Sunday and Monday nights so at least I don't have to do anything when BabyT wakes, and I can get back to sleep relatively quickly. (Because I have not yet developed the ability to sleep through baby crying.)

I suppose this is karma and the universe righting itself after giving us a baby who slept through the night (12 hours!) around 9 weeks, and who slept 4-6 hour stretches from the very beginning. I'm still very grateful for that because it allowed me to recover from the birth and sort out the breastfeeding business without being too much of a zombie. Plus I got a LOT of Etsy orders made last Christmas, thanks to our baby's amazing sleep schedule.

Now, not so much. I was starting to get that crazy stressed feeling, and realized it was the combo of work + broken sleep + Etsy orders (more work!) + trying to keep our house in reasonable shape + being a good mama to BabyT when she was awake. Something had to give, and sadly it was Etsy. I didn't want to feel like my craft was becoming an obligation so I've decided to just stick with selling things I've already got made, until I'm getting better sleep and work is less crazy.

And work. Sigh. I do love my team and my job, but my awesome friend Michelle who was doing my job while I was out on maternity leave, then sharing my job when I came back part-time, is away for 100 days (!) on a mandatory break as part of my company's rules for contract workers. So I'm trying to do a roughly 50-60 hour a week job in 25 hours.

As you can imagine, that's not really going well, because I don't have a Time Extending Device. I'm also a Type A perfectionist about work, so it's hard for me to not do *everything* at 110%. Which isn't exactly possible in half-time. So I'm learning to prioritize and really figure out what needs to be done NOW, and what could possibly wait until I have some breathing room.

I'm also learning how to compartmentalize so that I'm not doing work all day on my days off, in between taking care of BabyT. Sure, while she's down for a 2 hour nap, I can squeeze in a glance at my email or get a few short tasks done, but I don't want to plunk her down with her toys while I spend hours on conference calls, etc. Obviously, at times that's unavoidable, but in general it defeats the purpose of me staying home with her.

So of course, it's a work in progress, but I'm learning. As per ZenHabits, I've started making a "Most Important Tasks" list each day with only 3 items on it, and I make sure I get those done. Anything else is gravy. But getting those three tasks done makes me feel like I've accomplished *something* on these crazy fragmented days.

Other mamas out there, how do you deal with those competing priorities? What are your time management/sanity tips?

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