Category Archives: post-pregnancy

Bye, Bye, Baby

This summer has been one full of firsts for my husband and me. The latest first for us was leaving baby for the first time for an adult night out.

I don’t know when most newbie parents first have their first night away from baby–whether it be for a dinner and movie or a night on the town–but my impression is that we’re on the leading edge of that learning curve at two months into life with baby.

Our night out was exactly that–a night spent outside, sitting around a fire by lake with my brother and sister and their spouses. We had been at a family barbecue when my aunt out of the blue offered to take baby home so we could stay and hang out. (I have one of those patchwork divorced families where everyone is spread out all over the place and consequently it’s rare that so many of us siblings are all in the same place at the same time.)

Maybe it was the beautiful sunset that was brewing or the promise of a cooler full of cold beers, but I think it took maybe 30 seconds of deliberation between my husband and I before we had the car seat and kid strapped in the care with her, grandma, and my dad.

As they backed out of the driveway, my husband and I could see baby’s

You're Seriously Leaving Me?

round little face through the backseat window. He was giving us this look that made we want to open the door and run my finger down the side of his face. It looked similar to this photo. His little brow was furrowed, his mouth was in a pensive line, and his blue eyes were open wide, looking slightly confused. My heart tightened a little seeing that look.

We stood waving as they drove away.

“I didn’t like that at all,” my husband said.

As we grabbed our beverage of choice and picked our spots by the fire, my sister-in-law says, “I can’t believe you did that. I’m impressed.” My siblings had been watching the whole farewell scene, more or less in disbelief. Apparently we made it look easy.

I started to wonder if we were weird. Were we somehow deficient in the parenting department because we were able to let our two-month-old baby go in the name of a good fire and good conversation?

But I looked at this decision as the right one a few different ways. First, we weren’t leaving baby with a stranger; he was with family. Second, we weren’t going to be out all night. (Although I will say 2am came amazingly quick–too quick, in fact–when you’re having fun catching up.) Third, he wasn’t likely to be a pain. He had two full bottles, clean diapers, and a change of clothes, so chances were that he was just going to eat, poop, and pass out for the evening.

But there was something else that made me feel like it was okay to send baby packing for the evening. It was the feeling like I needed to share him. I find him so beautiful, so wonderful, so perfect that when someone offers to hold him, change him, feed him, or, in this case, watch him for a few hours, I have a hard time saying no. I want them to share in the wonderful feelings that I get when he’s close by experiencing those little moments–a snuggle against your neck or a little snooze on your chest–for themselves. And I figure the more I share him, the more he’ll be loved; that’s one of my biggest hopes for the wee one, that he’ll be as adored as he deserves.

But sometimes I wonder if my willingness to share will be confused for something else. My paranoia makes me hesitate for a second every time I give my wee one over to another pair of hands; I worry people think I’m a bad or negligent mother. But I’m not about to stop sharing–I think babies are good for the soul–but I wish every goodbye to baby didn’t feel like such a milestone.

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Filed under daily life, infants, moms, newbie parents, parenting, post-partum, post-pregnancy

The Incredible Shrinking Uterus

My OBGYN is a little different from what you’d imagine most mommies-to-be would want in a doctor. I like him because he’s to the point, thorough, and pretty chill. I can’t stand doctors who end up scaring their patients by outlining every possible (even if unlikely) health scenario. But he doesn’t make small talk, he’s not particularly warm or fuzzy, and he doesn’t really do drama. And he’s definitely not funny.

Except during this last visit.

I went in to see him for my new mommy check up. Basically, this happens around six weeks after birth and is a chance for the doc to make sure everything had returned to normal, or at least as normal as possible. (Remember, giving birth is like having a grenade go off in your underwear.)

So, similar to a routine visit, the doc did a physical exam to see how things were coming along. The stitched area appeared fully healed and nothing was abnormally smooshy on the inside, so he moved on to checking my uterus.

Now, the uterus is basically a giant muscle that holds the baby in place during pregnancy. The contractions leading up to child birth are basically the uterus flexing, pushing the baby out. At any rate, during pregnancy, the doctor is always checking to see where the top of your uterus–the fundus–is to make sure the baby’s growing at the right rate. It starts out below your belly button and by the time you’re into month nine, it seems like it’s snuggled in between your rib cages.

It's How Big?

Post birth, the doctor checks to make sure it’s gone back to its original size. Now, original size is small. Really small. I didn’t realize how small it was until my doctor held up his thumb and his forefinger to show me.

But the part that I was really get stuck on was my doctor. He just seemed so amazed at the fact that the uterus basically shriveled up like a raisin in less than six weeks. I think he even referred to the process as “cool.” And he kept holding up his fingers to show me just how little it was. Throughout my whole pregnancy I hadn’t seem him this excited about anything. It was hard to believe after all the pregnant women he’s dealt with over the course of his career that he’d still be amused by a shrinking uterus. (Men are kind of all the same, aren’t they?)

With my uterus snapped back into shape, I scored an A on my post birth exam. So, my doc gave me the green light on the gym and sex (in that order, as if one leads to the other) and sent me packing with a birth control prescription and reassurance that post-baby sex will get better. What a way to end on a high note.

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Look at the Baby, Look at the Baby

My husband and I never get sick of the movie Old School. We’ve seen it a gazillion times and still get a kick out of all the awesome one-liners. One Vince Vaughn zinger that my husband and I particularly find hilarious has taken on a totally new meaning for us post Baby Aleksi’s arrival.

Watching, Judging

The quote to which I’m referring comes from the wedding scene, where Beanie (Vince Vaughn) tries to talk Frank (Will Farrell) out of getting married.

Frank: “This is the best thing that’s ever happened to me.”

Beanie: “Why don’t you give that six months. You don’t think that’s gonna change. I got a wife, kids. Do I sound like a happy guy to you Frankie? There’s my wife. Now, see that: always smiling, hi honey, judging, watching. Look at the baby, look at the baby!”

(Better yet, listen to the actual movie quote here.)

For me, there’s something insanely hilarious about that last line: “Look at the baby, look at the baby!” Pre baby, my husband and I would whisper that line to each other every time we were around a baby that everyone else was oohing and ahhing over. We always giggled at our little inside joke; “baby” was barely in our vocabulary.

Not only am I now living that quote, but I’m totally one of “those” parents.

Nearly every morning, I spend probably a good 15 minutes just lying in bed, staring at the baby, memorizing every little curve of his face. I’m not really thinking about anything; I’m just looking, looking, looking, as if something in his round, little face could have changed overnight.

And it’s just not me and it’s just not the mornings.

I’ve caught my husband doing the same. He puts his face right up to the baby’s and just stays there until he’s got his fix. Sometimes he even calls me over so I can stare with him. (Ok, I admit it; I do that, too.)

Same thing when I’m having dinner with my parents. The baby moves or makes a peep (or even just sits there), and conversation at the table stalls out and we all just stare at him. I’m half surprised that our mouths don’t drop open and drool starts falling out.

What is it about babies that makes grown people do this?

Babies are definitely cute, but it’s something more and it’s definitely deep and it’s definitely profound. It’s like there’s something in us that recognizes that this is a new, fresh life, one so full of possibility, that forces us into a temporary state of awe.

Or maybe it’s that something in us recognizes that this little person is one of us, that he (or she) belongs to us, with us. So, we get a little glimpse of how big our responsibility is to this wee one. Maybe it’s our sense of how big the job is and how small we are that gives us reason to pause. We need a moment to see how much it’ll be worth it.

Or maybe it’s just that we see ourselves in these round faces and curious eyes. And in seeing our reflections, we feel so much less alone or insignificant in the world. We know this little person is glad to see to see us, will look up to us, will love us and so the longer we look, the better we feel about ourselves.

Then again, maybe it’s none of these things that drive us to linger a little longer on a pair of lovely lashes or bright eyes, a button nose or a pouty mouth. And maybe it really doesn’t matter. Just look at the baby.

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Filed under baby blues, daily life, emotions, hormones, infants, moms, newbie parents, newborns, post-partum, post-pregnancy

Growing Pains

I’d always thought of growing pains as something that kids experience as their bodies and brains stretch, but I’m starting to think they’re more something that parents go through as they watch the whole process.

This occurred to me the other day when I got a message from a friend who is a mommy-to-be. Turns out that her baby boy is likely to arrive a couple weeks early, so he’s probably going to be a little tinier than she and her husband were expecting and she wanted to take me up on my offer to give her some of the newborn outfits that baby already has outgrown.

A Box Full of Memories

Of course I was thrilled to help, even if it was as simple as throwing a bunch of onesies into a box and mailing them to her. But as I was putting the box together, I found myself getting a little verklempt.

Blame it on the baby blues (damn those hormones once again!), but it was somehow really sad to be packing away these little, itty bitty outfits. I found myself taking extra care in folding them, lingering a little longer on the ones that I thought looked really cute on baby. I ran my fingers one last time over the embroidered designs and pulled some of the snaps together for old times’ sake. I may have even put a couple up to my face and taken a deep breath, as if I was never going to smell baby smell again.

It was almost heartbreaking to think that even though he’s still a wee one, he’s never going to be that small again. In the matter of a few weeks, he’d grown so much. He suddenly had a past.

And then it hit me that I have a lifetime of more moments like this. My baby isn’t always going to be a baby. He’s going to be big, and then bigger, and then really big and then suddenly he’s going to be a man and then an old man. And it feels like it’s going to go by so fast that it might be easy to miss something.

When I was growing up, I don’t remember seeing parents–or at least moms–hysterical all the time over their kids. Of course, I’m sure I saw a parent or two shed a couple of quiet tears on the first day of kindergarten or at high school graduation. But with how I felt folding those oh-so-soft onesies and footie pajamas, I think I might find a reason to get misty every day (or at least every other day).

Every day he’s going to learn something new, develop more personality, become a little more independent, and leave a deeper imprint on the world around him. And for as wonderful as that growth is to watch, I know part of me will be wishing there was a big pause button I could push so I could hold on just a minute longer to the really special moments that I know we’ll have.

No wonder my grandmother always carried a Kleenex in her sleeve. There are tear-worthy moments to be had every day.

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The Itsy Bitsy, Teeny Weeny Bikini Challenge

It’s no secret that new mommies come with new curves. But somehow it never is anything but shocking when it happens to you. One morning a few days after giving birth you wake up and you look like you could be a B-list porn star.

It’s totally weird–and a bit painful–at first. My body had totally outgrown my expectations; one day I found myself standing in front of the nursing bra selection at Target hardly believing that I could actually be searching for a D cup. (Incidentally, a 34D might be the hardest size to find on a rack. I’m not sure if its because its a popular size or a freak size, but I’ve been in four Targets and found only two bras in that flavor.) I couldn’t believe I’d reached that far into the alphabet.

But then things sort of feel like they’re under control. There’s no pain and no tightness or fullness. I was once again comfortable in my own skin–so comfortable in fact that I sort of assumed I had shrunk a half a cup size or so.

All I needed to remind me that I was dead wrong was to try on a bathing suit.

But I was feeling good enough, or rather the weather was just hot enough–it was nearing 90 degrees over the holiday weekend–that I thought maybe I’d expose my pale flab-flesh to the sun in the name of cooling off.

Well, if I thought my nursing boobs were big, trying on bikini tops confirmed they were giant. Now, I hate to look a gift horse in the mouth, but in this case the more that I had wasn’t exactly better. I tried on one top after another–I had five bathing suits on hand and then I tried one of my sister’s–only to get more and more disappointed.

If I wasn’t falling out the top, I was hanging out the bottom. Bandeau tops looked like a strip of electrical tape across my chest. Triangle tops screamed bad boob job. V-necklines were a little too plunging. There was no way I was going out in public wearing any of that; it would be horrifying to children and small animals.

I needed a solution or I was going to miss out on one of the best boating weekends of the summer.

I had a sports bra in hand as my last best option–the big, thick tan lines that I’d undoubtedly end up were not exactly appealing but neither was the possibility of being ticketed for indecent exposure–when I had an idea. Maybe one of my nursing tank tops might be able to do double duty. After all, it was hot pink and matched a set of bathing suit bottoms that I seemed to still be able to wear. So, it was settled. Nursing tank meet bathing suit and voila! I had a tankini.

Most people would probably tell me to just enjoy my new-found–and hard to miss–curves. I mean, from padded push-ups to surgical enhancement, lots of women shell out beaucoup bucks to end up with this kind of rack. But it’s hard to feel like me when I feel like I’ve got twins on a trampoline on my chest.  I guess the whole swimsuit session was a reminder that even though I’m feeling pretty back to normal, my body’s still got a mind of its own.

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Not So Hot on the Hormones

I have written before about hormones–the ones that make you sappy, weepy, and hysterical. But it turns out the hormonal changes that happen after you have a baby can have as many physical side-effects as emotional.

Up until a few weeks ago, the only hormonal changes I was experiencing was resulting in tears and more tears. But an e-mail from a mommy-friend warned me that there could be more to come. She wrote:

“SWEATING… do you have that? Hot flashes from the hormones leaving your body? I was in shock and had no idea what was going on in the hospital until they explained that one to me. Nothing worse than getting up after only an hour of sleep in the middle of the night AND being drenched!”

So, I never got the night sweats right after giving birth, but mysteriously about a few weeks after giving birth I started to smell differently. And by differently, I mean not good. My normal smell was altered and no amount of deodorant seemed to tame it.

At first I thought it was just something my hyper sensitive nose could detect. However, my mom confirmed that others indeed could smell the new, pungent me. I had gone for a walk with baby and then picked her up. It was warm out, but not outrageously hot. We got into the car and I said, “I stink.” She replied, “You do.”

Wow. How’s that for honesty?

Sadly I thought, “Hey, that’s better than night sweats.” (Those came later.) But the other really weird thing was a skin rash.

After another walk with baby (maybe it was the same one where my mom confirmed that I, indeed, did stink–I can’t remember), I got in the car. I took a quick look in the mirror–my neck had been a little itchy–only to find a wild-looking red rash, very much akin to a heat rash.

Now, I’ve had heat rash before. It was a sunny day when I took my walk, but the sun at the River (we’re near Canada for god’s sake) in June had nothing on the sun in the Dominican Republic in March the last time I got heat rash.

I popped a Benadryl and just wrote it off as a one-time thing; I really hadn’t been exposed to a lot of sun of late.

Then it happened again. And again.

So, this is weird. I’m a person who tans, damn it.

A few days ago, I mentioned this skin irritation to a dermatologist friend. She immediately fingered, as I suspected, the sun as the culprit. Other than popping a Benadryl here and there or lubing up with anti-itch cream, her prescription was to get out in the sun. Weird that a dermatologist would prescribe that.

But the worst were the mosquitoes.

It was one of those perfect River nights, complete with to-die-for sunset and my family decided we should enjoy a glass of wine on our limestone terrace. Sounds absolutely perfect, right?

Under Attack

So, I nestled into one of the super comfy faux-wicker chairs. Baby was asleep so I was ready to savor a glass of some delicious chardonnay. I took one sip, only to be interrupted by a buzzing mosquito.

Okay, that’s annoying.

But what do you say when you’re swarmed?

I’m so not joking. Within three minutes of sitting down, mosquitoes were everywhere. Buzzing around my face, pricking me through my leggings, biting me on the bottoms of my feet.

“It’s because you’re lactating,” my mom said.

Okay, I’ll accept that. Breast milk is after all super sweet and sticky. But I was still under attack.

My step-dad busted out the bug spray and I sprayed myself down with some kind of DEET without hardly a second thought about bug spray on baby. (It’s so worth the view, I assure you.)

These damn bugs were immune. They were swarming around me.

I was totally squirming, covering baby so he didn’t get hit, and trying to fend off attacks.

But, it was too much and they overcame me. I gave up and sat myself and baby on the couch in the living room, happy to just yell through the screen door while my parents offered them up for sacrifice.

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Hitting the Wall

Today I lied in bed for 10 hours. I probably would’ve stayed there longer had the window washers not been milling around outside. I wish I could say that I slept that whole time, but I think if I back out the half-conscious feedings, my roundtrip to dreamland probably maxed out around seven hours. I still feel exhausted, but those sweet seven or so hours were enough to make me feel like I can go another day, another week, maybe even a month.

Yesterday I wasn’t so sure.

In the three-plus weeks since Baby P graced this world, I’ve been working off this time schedule:

8am-ish Get up, shove a granola bar and glass of lemonade down my throat, turn on the TV, gather dirty laundry from the night, make the bed, and maybe check e-mail, if time allows.

9am-ish Feed and change baby and once he starts to nod off, put him in his crib and hope to god that he stays asleep for awhile.

10am-ish Shower and get dressed. Maybe try to pump.

11:30am to noon-ish Feed and change baby, sometimes giving him a bottle of expressed milk in hopes that he will stay asleep for the next couple hours so I can throw him in his stroller and get a walk in. If not, I stay home and basically just hold him, maybe watching some TV or working on the computer, while he sleeps.

2pm-ish Feed and change baby. Hope like hell he’ll stay asleep in his crib, so I can finish laundry and maybe get some food–usually pretzel sticks with Heluva Good horseradish and bacon dip and/or a chocolate chip cookie–into me.

4pm-ish Feed and change baby. Basically collapse on the couch with wee one on my chest. Sometimes I don’t sleep but make phone calls, work on the computer, or  do housework instead.

7pm-ish Wake up from nap, feed and change baby.

8pm-ish Think about getting some dinner, maybe walk over to my parents’ house in hopes that my mom has made extra food. (Otherwise, it’s a ham and cheese sandwich with some sort of salad, maybe more pretzels and/or a cookie.) She usually tells  me baby is hungry, so I give him about 3 ounces by bottle. She then gives him another 2 ounces because she’s convinced he’s still hungry. (He usually throws up on her after that.)

9pm-ish Baby finally conks out. I finish my dinner and the glass of wine I poured sometime between 7pm and 8pm.

10:30pm to 11pm-ish I go back to my quarters. Baby is usually still in a food coma, so I either leave him in his bouncer seat (or even car seat sometimes, depending on what I did that afternoon) or put him in his crib. I spent the next hour or so pumping and washing and sterilizing all the bottles, nipples, and other pumping accoutrement that I have dirtied during the day.

Midnight I collapse into bed.

1:30am to 3am-ish Baby wakes up demanding to be fed and changed and I oblige. (It’s amazing how much can be done with one eye open.)

4:30am to 6am-ish Baby’s up again, so I feed and change him. I usually don’t risk putting him back in his crib again for fear that he’ll be restless, so I let him fall asleep with me for the next couple hours before I’m up again.

So, that’s pretty much the schedule.

But the problems–the ones that can only be fixed with 10 hours of lying in bed–happen when baby doesn’t stay on schedule. What got me finding my wall yesterday was that the the night before last, baby got up at 3am for a feeding as usual. However, getting him back to sleep was a major challenge.

Baby would fall asleep mid gulp, so I’d wait for a few minutes before moving him every so slowly back over to his crib. I’d put him down and jump back into bed, quickly flipping off the light. Not three minutes later, he’d be fussing–the kind of fussing that if you just wait and see what happens it usually ends in screaming. So, on went the light and my glasses, so I could pick him up and start all over again. That went on for an hour and a half (it usually only takes about a half hour to 45 minutes to feed and change), by the end of which I literally was pleading with him to go to sleep. (It didn’t work.) Finally, I tucked him in close to me in the bed and he eventually settled down.

Only to wake up at 6am again, marking the official start to my day.

It’s funny how you can sort of deal with an insane schedule, as long as it stays a schedule. But when baby goes off script, it totally messes you up. I feel much better this morning than I did yesterday evening–boy, was I dragging–but I can definitely tell I’ve got a 4pm nap with my name on it.

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