Guest Post for The REAL Toni Hammer!

She’s real, yo. So real.

Toni asked me if I’d write a guest post for her over at Is It Bedtime Yet? Something I was so excited to do. I’ve never guest blogged before! It was actually really flattering, and really fun!

The post is up here. I have to warn you – it starts off with some pretty tough things about parental relationships, specifically one line about me and my mom, but I hope it takes the turn to funny. It’s all true (though was written intentionally to be funny, so maybe a little exaggerated)!

Enjoy! If you like it, follow Toni’s blog while you’re at it. You’ll like it! She’s the bees knees.

-M

Staying At Home: In Hindsight….

It’s been a little over a year since we had Baby A, and though I’m not sure if I mentioned, we made the decision as a family that I would stay home with her during the day. However, working is a huge part of my life in that I love my job (I’m a freelance Dog Trainer in Boston). I’m also extroverted and can’t stay cooped up in the house all day without seeing people. It was important to me to get to go to work, see people, and continue teaching. It wasn’t for the money, but it was for my own personal sanity and my own personal identity.

Here are the things that I realized in the course of a year what staying at home really means:

1. Why We Did It:
My husband goes to work, and does so every day – even on the days he might not want to – so I can stay home with our daughter. That means the world to me. If he told me to go to work tomorrow, we’d put the baby in daycare and I would do it – but I would probably , as many women who put their baby in daycare, would have a really hard time with the fact someone else was raising our kid. The fact that we’re sacrificing some money now (and a house, and paying off the car fully) so one of us can be with the baby was very important to all members of the family at the time we made the decision. It’s a decision we stand by and I’m not going to speak for my partner, but I’d personally make it again in a heartbeat.

2. Daycare is too damned expensive.
Even if I kept walking 10 dogs a day, teach 5 classes a week, and brought in 2-3 private clients a week, we still would have been losing money by sending the baby to daycare. That seemed absurd. Yes, I could have charged more, but then I’d be literally working all the time to just pay her daycare bill, it wouldn’t be fair to my clients, I’d be tired, and not able to do the things I do with her. I personally feel, given our situation and our circumstances, that we did the right thing. Either way, my income would have been null and void – so I just stay home with her. Plus, I can pick the dogs I want to hang out with and my clients are super understanding if the baby is sick (or if I fall off the Baby Slide and went to the ER)

3.  You are the preferred parent and this is a double-edged sword.
The parent who stays home feeds, cleans, and changes the baby. When the baby can roll over and make expressions, you’re likely the one to see it (meaning, the other parent will maybe miss out on these “firsts”). You will be excited, and your partner might also be excited, but it will be laced with a little sadness that they missed it.

4. That being said, as the preferred parent, it’s hard to watch your baby turn away from your mate.
It’s hard to hand the baby over because you need a break or your partner needs a baby hug – and the baby just WAILS.  Soulful mourning and tears – real life tears streaming down their face. You have to pee, and they want your comfort. It’s exhausting to be needed all day long, and it’s crushing to see your partner want to reach out, and only have the baby cry at them. Recognize that this is only a phase (really the worst from 1-4 months old if I recall). Now that she’s a year, she gets excited to see Daddy come home, but at the end of the night, if she can see both of us, she comes to me. I can leave now for the night for work, and she’ll cry, but it’s really short-lived compared to the SADDEST SAD OF ALL TIME that we got before. So that does get better over time.

5. Work, Work, Work
I think the thing that I just realized in the last few weeks is that my husband goes to work, comes home, and he is done working. He still has things he needs to do (make lunch, iron a shirt, etc) but his brain is done with work, or he at least has a different set of responsibilities when he’s home. Essentially, he can change the channel. From her first cry in the morning, I’m working. I’m awoken by the sound of her cry like an alarm clock that won’t snooze. Half asleep, I change her diaper, start her breakfast, and get everyone else fed (all 4 animals, all the people, etc). Sometimes, in the course of this, I have food thrown at me. It’s no different from a normal commute on the Green Line, but still – I haven’t had coffee yet, and I’m “on the clock”. I’m with her all day, keeping her out of outlets, climbing on glass entertainment centers, pulling her away from the cat, cheering her on, having a dance party with bad Pop Music, rolling a ball for her, and give her a nap. We repeat this process while I’m doing laundry, washing dishes, walking dogs, and prepping for classes – but I’m constantly watching her. I have to – because if I don’t, she will find something to do, and it’s usually not good (like opening the dog food bin and feeding herself out of it, which she did yesterday).  No matter what  baby proofing you do, she will find something to get into that you really didn’t consider. Today, she opened the dishwasher. So I locked it. In retaliation, she started it, even though there were no dishes in it.  She will find trouble, which is normal. She’s exploring the world, mapping her own experiences on to her previously blank brain, and learning. But, when your partner comes home, you are still on the clock (see #4) because as the preferred parent, they want you to hold them through their tantrums, and in part, you want to do it because your mate has been away all day working. In part, you also just really want to pass them off. Some nights, you will hand the baby over and essentially say “fuck it – you HAVE to take this baby” but other nights you will hold the screaming, wailing baby and laugh because she needs you. And that is awesome.

6. The Baby Will Get Bigger In A 7 Minute Window:
I was just commenting that our kid grew 205% in a year. She came out at 7lbs, 14oz, and is now 20lbs 8oz. If I did that, my doctor would be horrified, terrified, and all sorts of -ifieds. Two weeks ago, her legs could barely make it over the curve of her stroller. Now her legs dangle all the way down, almost to the foot rest. That’s a significant jump in a couple of weeks. I am not being hyperbolic when I say there are days I put her down for a nap, and she is bigger when I get her a few hours later, or her hair is a little darker than it was earlier in the week, or her face is a little rounder. When people tell you it goes fast, it GOES FAST, often in a day or a week. Here is an example. I don’t often put photos of my kid online, but look at her the day we brought her home – my finger is HUGE compared to any part of her tiny body:
Image

Here she is just after Thanksgiving (she was 3 months old)
She’s as tall as my knees, and none-too-happy about it:

Image

And here she is in July – a few days shy of 11 months old. She’s almost as tall as my legs. Almost.

Image

It goes painfully fast. It’s thrilling, it’s exciting, and there will be no other time like it (every parent says that) but it’s hard, it’s exhausting, you will lose things – keys, glasses on your face, sometimes your mind, certainly your memory, but when she falls asleep on me, or learns something new (which she does daily), I would do it again, absolutely.

8. The Best Time Of The Day Is Drinking A Cold Beer or Scotch, Watching How I Met Your Mother Reruns, And Checking Out For The Night: I love having a beer (because every day is a victory that needs to be celebrated), catching up over really mindless television, and decompressing after a long day. Just like anyone else who goes to work. But, unlike going to work, I can stay in my jammies all day, and sometimes that’s just awesome.

Teeth

There were very few things I just knew when I found out I was pregnant. But at the time of seeing the stick with the two lines, I realized these things in rapid succession.

-I knew I was going to actually have a baby
-I knew I had to call my husband
-I knew I’d get an epidural
-I had to get at least one Patriots themed onesie (we ended up with three!)
-I knew that as soon as we had teeth, and a bite, that we’d be done with breastfeeding.

Well, over the last few weeks, Baby A has sprouted a set of teeth. She is a bit unorthodox about the way she got her teeth, but none-the-less, she has at the time of writing this, 4 teeth. It was only this week, however, that she decided to use her razors for pure evil, and she bit down during a morning feeding.

And now, every time she eats, all I can think of my cute, adorable baby, is this:

"I vant to suck your miiilk"

“I vant to suck your miiilk”

I’m a bit embarrassed to say that my initial reaction was to bop her on the head. I had no idea what to do, or how much it would hurt. It also made me realize that people who do this …

Nipple Piercings....nope. I'm good.

Nipple Piercings….nope. I’m good.

…really ought to have their heads examined.

I praise and commend women who continue to breast feed through the first year. I really do. I hope that people realize that the decisions I make for me and my baby are my decisions to make, and I’m making the decisions based on what works for me and my family. And I want to wear a real bra again. A real, supportive, honest to goodness bra that doesn’t need a pad to catch leaking milk. But I told Baby A on day one:

“We’re done when you bite me”, and I’d like to think that at the very least, she knows I’m good for my word. Even if she doesn’t really know what words are quite yet.

Top 10 Baby Shower Gifts

Now that we’ve been at this for a little over 3 months, I feel that I should make a note of the things we found most useful that we will without a doubt suggest to new parents & will bring to any baby showers going forward. Also, if you are my friend and will have kids, you will get something off this list. New moms, register for these things. They are very helpful, all are things we use everyday (exception: #7) and are often overlooked.

1. Baby Legs or other leg warmers (babylegs.com )

Image

When our friends gave us a pair of these, I thought “these are cute, but what on earth am I going to do with leggings?” Turns out, when you have a REALLY squirmy newborn, getting pants on and off are a challenge. These kept A’s legs warm, and were significantly easier to maneuver around while we were learning the fine art of diapering.

Now that she’s a little older, I put them under her pants, and use the bottom of the leggings to hold up her socks, which she inevitably would kick off otherwise and in the colder weather, a second layer is good.

2. Binky leashes (booginhead.com )

Image

We found these in a bag of stuff given to use from a friend. Once we figured out what they were for, we thought it was freakin’ ingenious! One end loops around the handle of the pacifier. The other end clips to the shirt of the baby.

Here is how it works:
Baby spits out the pacifier, pacifier does NOT HIT THE GROUND. The pacifier does NOT get lost in a pile of blankets. The pacifier does not end up as a cat toy. The pacifier stays tethered to the baby! YAY!

3. Long Sleeve & Short Sleeve Onesies, solid colors.
There are lots of adorable prints, patterns, bunnies on outfits, and plaids. When you want to mix and match (or if baby pukes on the shirt, but the pants are still usable), it can be tough when everything is decorated with patterns. Having solid colors does make things easier when dressing. Also, in the climate we happen to live in, long sleeves and short sleeves are super-important as we are now discovering.

4. Clothes beyond 3 months that are seasonally appropriate.
We got a TON of summer stuff for Baby A. TONS! The awesome thing is that we got a lot of clothes that were up to 3 months of age. The downside of that is she only wore some of the clothes, most of it only once, and outgrew the 3 month clothing by 2 months of age. We have a freakishly long baby, but many of my friends with kids say they tend to outgrow the 3 month old clothes before 3 months regardless. It’s not just us.

So now we have a pile of clothes for up to 3 months, which we were grateful for, but that don’t fit her anymore. The significantly smaller pile of clothes for 6-9 months old are mostly summer stuff, which won’t really work in Boston’s December. So though the clothes are cute, Baby A can’t really  get away with wearing a tye-dyed tank top set under the mistletoe.  So we had to go out and get more clothes that were seasonally appropriate, even though we have a massive pile of clothing that technically still fits her.

The best advice I can give is this: ask for clothes that are of varying ages (the NB stuff won’t last more than 3-4 weeks, and the 3 month stuff will not last 3 months), and not just in the season that your baby shower happens. We had a summer shower, and most of the things we got were for summer.

5. Diapering Supplies (Diapers.com or local diapering facility)
Either way, if you are buying bum-stuff for a baby-to-be, the easiest thing to do is get a gift card to Diapers.com so the parents can get the things that they discover that they need, or replenish the things they need AND don’t have to go anywhere during the first few weeks.

If they are doing disposables, they might discover they need more cream, or diapers, or wipes – stat! If they are doing cloth diapers, having access to different cloth covers and inserts is incredibly helpful. Plus, they have other things for babies – not just diapers and diapering supplies, so you know your gift card will definitely be used!

6. Coffee. Bags and bags of ground coffee. 

Image
If you don’t have a French Press, get one. They are literally $20. They also happen to be the easiest, and one of the tastiest, ways to make several cups of coffee. You put the grinds in the French Press. You add boiling water from a kettle. You let it sit for 3 minutes, and plunge the grinds to the bottom of the container. Good tasty coffee in 3 minutes. If you forget, no worries. You can pour it into a cup and microwave it.

If you already have the coffee maker, have people get you bags of your favorite coffee, ground, of course!

7. Massage/Spa Day/Haircut
Two weeks after having Baby A, all I really wanted to do was feel like a human being. I was tired, still really sore from having a baby, but I was also starting to feel a bit stir-crazy. Any significant time out of the house was not possible yet. I wasn’t up to it, and the baby couldn’t handle it.

A haircut fixed all of  that. My husband watched her on his own for an hour and a half. Someone else washed my head and gave me a stylish haircut that was easy to manage with a newborn, but most of all, socializing with other people while I was getting cleaned up a bit made me feel like a human being. AND my husband got a little bit of bonding with the baby. It was a break I needed, and a connection he wanted.

If you know where someone gets their haircut, and they are expecting, do them a favor, and get them a gift certificate to their salon of choice so they can go and experience a little break, and look good after!

8. Baby Straight Jackets /Swaddlers (Kiddopotomus via Amazon)

Image

The Baby Straight Jackets were a lifesaver, and source of comedy. Babies have a startle reflex that will wake them up if they sleep on their backs and move their arms. The more they wake up in the course of the night, the more you wake up in the course of a night. By swaddling, you can prevent the startle reflex from waking up the baby. The baby will still wake up at night, but at least you know it will be from hunger or a soiled diaper.

The swaddle pods, blankets, or other swaddling devices make things idiot proof, and if fitted correctly, impossible for the baby to break out. They have light fabrics for summer, and fleece fabrics for winter. The velcro helps make things stay in place as the baby sleeps.

If you are purchasing for someone, get two sizes: Small and Medium. The small will get a baby up to about 12 pounds, but they still need to be swaddled until 4 months – long past the 12 pound mark for many babies. Baby A outgrew blankets by 2 weeks, the Swaddle Me size small at 2 1/2 months and is now in a medium Swaddle Me. We got a few different kinds – some that transition into a sleeping bag once they don’t need the swaddle anymore, but honestly having a couple of swaddles at each size is so helpful.

9. Babies R Us, Motherhood Maternity or Amazon Gift Card
You will get a lot of things from friends, work, and hand-me-downs. You will also realize 2 weeks into being a parent that there are things you don’t have, or need more of. This is where the gift cards come in. You will still be sore after having a baby, and if you can get things shipped to your home while you are sleep deprived and still adjusting to being a parent, life will be easier. Babies R Us has swaddles, nipple cream, nursing pads, and other “new mom” stuff. Motherhood Maternity (or another “for mom” store) has nursing tanks, and shirts to make nursing/pumping easier. Your shape will be different for a while after the baby is born, and you’ll need in-between clothes. That’s where the Amazon and Motherhood gift cards can come in handy.

10. Nursing Pads (Lansinoh.com)

Image
Get the gel ones for the freezer for the first month ahead of time, and get the disposable ones for longer term use. You’ll find a brand you like, but get ahead of it. The gel nursing pads were a god send in the first month. Put them in the freezer or fridge, depending on the instructions for the brand you get, then stick them to your sore self while you get accustomed to nursing.

You won’t need the gel ones forever, which is something you need to know. However, when you need them, you don’t want to send your partner out for them – you’ll need them RIGHT NOW. The disposable pads are great to have in bulk, because you’ll go through a ton of them at the beginning, and will need them throughout your nursing days.

 

Last Post: New Blog

This blog was set up to document the trials and tribulations of incubating a small human. The events in the blog were solely my experiences and not at all something that every pregnant woman would go through. I wanted to write things down in an honest and humorous way, but also to keep a record of what it was like so I can look back and remember what it’s like being pregnant in the event I decide to do it again.

I might post a few more posts here, but since the pregnancy is over, I’m starting a new blog.

Letters to Little is going to be the new place to find me. This will primarily contain notes and letters to my daughter in the same style that I always write. Hopefully with honesty and humor, but always with a purpose.

I had hoped to write things down in a journal, but typing is faster. When someone is pooping or eating every 20 minutes, time is of the essence. It’s really a means of writing down things that I hope to share with Baby A as she grows up, and will likely not be of interest to anyone. However, I like to jot things down (especially since baby brain doesn’t go away!) and I want to make sure that she has something to look back on.

Feel free to swing by if you like. But for now, this blog will be closed down for business – unless we end up with another Little in the future, or a few “I wish I did X while pregnant” posts.

Thanks for following, and I hope to see you over at the new blog.