Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Xander Turns 1

Xander turned 1 on September 19 and we had a Sesame Street birthday party that weekend. I was pretty pleased with how it turned out, so I thought I'd share.

The party started at 1 and Xander, who is usually an amazing napper, decided to skip his morning nap. So this is my little party animal as his guests started arriving.
 
 
I was way too pleased with myself when it came to the food selection. It was all themed, which, if you've met me, shouldn't surprise you. We had:
 
Rosita's chips and Salsa
Abbey Cadaby's Magic Fruit Wands
Elmo's Goldfish
Slimey's Worm Friends
Big Bird's Bird Food (chex mix)
Oscar the Grouch's "Garbage" (muddy buddy's)
Cookie Monster's Cookies
Super Grover's Sandwiches
Rubber Ducky Cheese and Quackers (hahaha...hahaha!)
Swedish Chef's Meatballs
 
Then my sister-in-law made the super-sweet veggie and fruit trays to look like Oscar the Grouch, Elmo, and Bert.

 
Not pictured were the favors, which were goldfish and crayons, afterall, "Elmo loves his goldfish, his crayon too."
 

 
Can we discuss this SUPER SWEET CAKE? It's absolutely everything I wanted it to be and more. The cake was funfetti, the icing was buttercream, and all was right with the world. One of my mom's friends started making cakes, like, a year ago? And she's wonderful and made this masterpiece.


I had these hurrican vases hanging out and I decided that the blue obviously had to be cookie monster and that the glass could be Big Bird with some feathers. I just put them on two random tables. 




Cake Smashin' Time! At first he was slightly hesitant, but then the kid was a cake smashin' fool.
 


This was taken after all of his presents had been opened. What is he playing with? Oh, that's a metal rack that holds puzzles. It has been in our home since we moved in. And this is what he plays with on his birthday. Also, this is the only moment during the entire party that he wore the hat.
 

 
At the last minute I remembered that we needed a family picture.

Later, after pretty much everyone had gone home, Xander moved from playing with a metal puzzle wrack to this large plastic lid.
 
 
I really can't believe how fast the last year has gone. We have a toddler now. He loves Daniel Tiger, green beans, fruit, and practicing walking. He's really into sitting on things (baskets, boxes, lids...even toys) and filling the bed of his Tonka truck so that I can dump everything out of it. He's getting sick of being fed and would rather feed himself just about all the time. He's a great sleeper. It's crazy that this time last year we hadn't even started tummy time and now he's all over the place. I love this little boy, that's for sure.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Pinterest Fail

I'm a pretty typical 20-something lady. I live for fall, have had pizza rolls for dinner a time or two, and am certifiably addicted to Pinterest.

My house is full of mason jars and gallery walls, I spent months planning my son's first birthday party, I have a handmade wreath for every occasion, I have so many recipes saved that I could probably fill several recipe books, and every one of my boards has a cutesy name. By the way, how have they not released a Pinterest's Favorite Recipes collection yet? I mean, I know you can just pin all the stuff, but YOU KNOW people would buy the heck out of that book. And you know that everyone's mom will see it at Barnes and Noble and think, "hmm, I've heard my daughter/daughter-in-law/niece talk about Pinterest. I bet she would enjoy that." The thing would sell, I just know it. But digress.

Today my unit at work is having a breakfast. I was recently transferred to this office and haven't had an oppurtunity to cook yet. I always cook for work functions. Always. My first dish in this office had to wow. I scoured my "The Most Important Meal of the Day" and searched "brunch potluck" for days before I found the perfect recipe, Sausage Biscuit Bites. Sausage, cheese, biscuits, AND syrup?! I was so excited! So imagine my chagrine when I remembered at 10:30 last night, while reading my last chapter of my book before bed, that I was supposed to cook. And I had no ingredients. AAnd I certainly didn't have the energy to get up, change into something that wasn't gnome-covered pajama pants, go to the store, buy my ingredients, come home, actually make the dish, and then let it cool a little before packing it up and going to bed. Oh, and did I mention that this breakfast was entirely MY IDEA?!

So this morning I left the house before the sun, Paul, and Xander woke up and went to Food Lion where I purchased yogurt, strawberries, and granola for deconstructed yogurt parfaits (I've been watching a lot of Top Chef on Hulu lately and have been looking for an excuse to call something deconstructed). The strawberries cost  $4, which is insane. Earlier this summer I could have bought 2.5 cartons for $4. But there I stood at 7 AM with my $4 not-quite-ripe strawberries, because I spent my weekend at the park and at a birthday party and at an early anniversary lunch (4 years in 3 days! Woop!) and teaching Xander how not to pick up and throw a plate, and going on a very high school-esque dinner and football game date with my husband. So  I guess when I look at it that way, yogurt parfaits instead of sausage biscuit bites don't sound so bad.

Friday, September 12, 2014

30 Before 30: Find the Perfect Pair of Black Shoes

So I'd forgotten about this item on the list and didn't realize until I was looking back over my 30 Before 30 list that it was on there.

I don't remember when I found these, sometime in 2012 or 2013?  But they're wonderful and I just love them. They're the Dexflex Claire Scrunch Flat. They're the only shoe other than rubber flip flops that I was able to get my giant, swollen, pregnancy feet into last summer and they look good, too. They don't rub your heels and they're as comfortable as sandals. You can get them at Payless and I'd recommend them to pretty much anyone. Run, don't walk, to get these perfect black flats.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Must-Haves for Baby

Everyone knows the basics. Crib, changing pad, etc. These are the things that maybe you don’t know if you need. Maybe you’re unsure about brand. Maybe you're so overwhelmed by registry check lists that you want to scream. I know that all babies are different, but based solely on my experiences with my baby boy, these are  the items that have been life savers for us.

Nuk Pacifiers.  These are the best I’ve found for Xander. He’s not a huge pacifier baby and we don’t push it on him, but sometimes he really wants it and sometimes it helps him fall asleep. These contour to his face and he spits them out much less often than the others. Soothies seem too heavy and Avent are too flat.  Plus, the little “handle” is big enough to attach the handmade pacifier tethers, if you will, that a friend made me.


 
Halo Swaddle SleepSack or SwaddleMe. Swaddling works wonders for Xander’s sleep. He’s not crazy about being in the sack anymore and he doesn’t like being swaddled when he’s awake, but as soon as he dozes off or is about to doze off we swaddle just his arms and he sleeps more soundly. The Velcro is a lot easier than messing with a blanket and also more secure. I  know we should start transitioning him away from swaddling soon, but for now it's still very much necessary. 


 
Gripe Water. Xander was a pretty gassy baby for a while and sometimes it was uncomfortable for him. If we gave him a dose of gripe water it calmed him down almost instantly. I don’t know if it actually helped the gas or if the sweet taste calmed him down, but this stuff is just tops. We don't use it as much anymore, but we used it a lot up to about 3 months. 

 
Bouncy seat. Or another easily transportable seat. I moved Xander’s into the kitchen while I cooked or cleaned until he was big enough for the Exersaucer. Now I put him in the exersaucer unless it's almost bedtime or he just ate, then I still use the bouncy seat. He can bounce away while I sing along to Pandora to him or while I give him a cooking lesson and teach him how to load the dishwasher. It’s never too early, folks.


 Snugabunny Swing. This thing. I’m telling you. It’s the best. It can swing him side to side or back and forth. There’s a mirror over the seat so he can look at his handsome face. There’s a mobile that he loves and it plays lullabies and nature sounds. For the first 3 months it was Xander’s favorite place to be when he wasn't being held. We still use it when we want him to wind down before bed and when we need him contained and happy while we get ready for work. It might be pricey but it’s so worth it. We found ours on a Facebook yardsale site, so keep an eye on those.


 
Avent Natural Bottles.  These are great for breast fed babies. They are similar to the breast so they combat developing poor latch. Plus, they only have three pieces so they’re super-easy to clean. I hear that there are a few different brands out now that have the natural nipple, but this is what has worked great for us. 
 
Sprout Iphone app.  This helps me track everything. I track pumping, feeding, milestones, height, and weight, but if you’re so inclined you can track sleep, diaper changes, immunizations, medications, etc. I forget everything now. This reminds me of when I last fed him and on what side. I'm a lot better at reading his cues now, but I felt like I couldn't live without this thing until he was about 3 months. 
 
Rectal Thermometer.  They will probably send one home with you when you leave the hospital, but if they don’t, get one. This is the most accurate way to record a baby’s temperature. Xander had a UTI when he was 5 weeks old and had a temperature of 101, but we didn’t know he had a temperature because the temporal thermometer was registering a temp of 98-something. If we’d have used the rectal thermometer instead we could have gotten him to the hospital and feeling better a lot faster.

 
Pampers Baby Dry Diapers.  We use Target brand diapers during the day (cheap and just as good as name brands), but at night we use Pamopers Baby Dry. They’re guaranteed for 12 hours, which means that unless your baby poos, you don’t have to change their diaper in the middle of the night, which is awesome.
 
Nursing Pillow. Trust me, your arms and back will thank you. Even if you plan to bottle feed, these are nice. I have the Boppy. You can also use it to prop baby up in the early days of tummy time. 
Sound Machine.  Some people don’t want their baby to rely on a sound machine to go to sleep, but my theory is that there are worse sleep habits. As long as he’s sleeping in his crib and I’m sleeping in my bed, I’m happy. They make stuffed animal sound machines, which is what Xander had at first, but they're battery powered and have a timer, so he got a machine that will play all night for Christmas. It’s great for blocking sounds from around the house and at lulling him back to sleep when he wakes up but doesn’t need to eat or be changed. Added bonus? When baby has a sound machine and you use a baby monitor, mommy and daddy also have a sound machine. 
 
A Soft Blanket. Xander has a fuzzy blue blanket with Tigger on it that is just his jam. It calms him down when he’s upset and it makes him happier when he’s already happy. We put it on him in his swing, we bundle his legs in it in the car seat, and we put it on the floor for tummy time. Feeling that blanket on his face, I’m convinced, is one of his favorite things. Watching him cuddle that blanket is one of the cutest things I ever did see.
 
Honorable Mentions

Baby carrier. There are tons of options out there, but the one we have and that I like is the Boba 3G Carrier. It’s expensive, but worth it. I wear Xander at the grocery store sometimes so I have more room for groceries. His seat takes up a lot of room in the cart and I won’t  balance him on the seat because that click doesn’t mean his seat is secure. I’ve heard great things about wraps, but I know I’d be afraid it would come undone and down goes baby, so it’s just not for me.  No matter which type of carrier you go for, do your research and try them out before purchasing because the good ones are not cheap. As great as the baby carrier is, I could live without it so far. I think ours might get more use when it warms up and neither Xander nor I are bundled up for the cold. 

Nursing Pads. I haven’t needed these at all and I bought two boxes before Xander was born. I haven’t had a leaking issue; however, I can see how these would come in handy if that’s an issue you have. My advice? Get a small box or a few samples of disposable pads and decide if you’ll need them before investing in more.
 
Travel system. Ours has been really convenient, but not life changing. We haven’t used our stroller THAT much. We could easily have just picked out separate pieces, but I like the stroller and seat we have and I like that the stroller folds up with just one hand.


Gerber Sleep n Play pajamas. They zip and they’re light weight enough so that he doesn’t get too hot when he’s swaddled.
 
Skip It
Pee Pee Tee Pees.  Seriously, they are not necessary. If your baby pees on you it’s not the end of the world. And if you’re that icked out, just cover him with a wash cloth (especially in the bath).
 
Gowns. Xander wore one one night and when he woke up his legs were freezing. Maybe our house just has temperature control issues, but we have a bunch in a drawer that will not be used.  

Wipe Warmer.  I  can't find it in me to coddle him that much. Also, I hear the wipes dry out and that's a waste of money. So no. Just no. 

Bottle Warmer.  Much like the wipe warmer, no. Just no.  SO not necessary. 

"Complicated" Outfits. Before Xander was born I thought I'd dress him in little sweater vests and jeans all the time. The reality is that he is most comfortable in one piece outfits. So anything that's not a one piece or made of cotton is reserved for special occasions. At least at this point. 

Friday, January 3, 2014

Disconnect

What made me think I could be a parent? Sure, I liked cute babies, but I was uncomfortable holding them because I was sure I would break them. And talking to kids? Forget about it. On occasion it has been physically painful for me to talk to kids.  I was never a "little mother." I had dolls, but all I did was change their  clothes, fix their hair, and display them with my other dolls and stuffed animals. I never rocked them, "fed" them or "changed" them. I never sang them songs or talked to them. I thought that was dumb. So why in the world did I think I could or should have my own child?

I felt little to no connection to that little baby in my belly for most of my pregnancy. Maybe that's why I didn't track the growth of my belly or track the progress of my pregnancy or write letters to Xander, like I always thought I would. Some people feel so connected to their baby the minute they find out they are pregnant and I expected to be the same way. In reality, I didn't really feel pregnant until I felt him kick at around 23 weeks.

This disconnect scared me. I was sure I wasn't going to be a good mom because I didn't feel like I knew his personality in utero. I couldn't tell the difference between hiccups a rapid fire kicks and I certainly didn't know what was his favorite way to sit/curl up.

When I woke up from anesthesia after my c section I was terrified to meet my son. What if I felt just as disconnected to him as I did when I was pregnant? What if I never felt like I knew him? What if I took this blank slate of a human and ruined him? What if I was a bad mom?

And then I met him. 


I held this tiny, swaddled bundle and all of a sudden I was his and he was mine.

For a few weeks, I listened to the experts and the momiverse more than I did my own instincts and perhaps worse, more than my husband. When he was 5 weeks and uncharacteristically screamed all night (and ended up having a UTI), I was hesitant to take him to the emergency room because the doctor said it was probably just colic. It was Paul who insisted we go to the hospital. When he slept all the time the first couple weeks and didn't gain weight fast enough, I was stubborn and refused to supplement his feedings with formula until I was basically told I didn't have a choice. Xander was essentially starving,  but the internet and books told me I should be able to give him all the nutrition he needs, so I took that as gospel. Paul had been saying for weeks that Xander was hungry.


Somehow, and I'm not sure how it happened, Xander and I seem to have reached a good stride. I still can't differentiate between cries, but I can read his cues and am pretty good about using those to tell if he's hungry, tired, or just wants to be snuggled.  I know that he likes looking at the tv, especially Law and Order: SVU and The Fox and the Hound. I know that he will always smile and giggle when his daddy makes up silly songs. I know that he loves the blue monster lovey his Uncle Ric gave him. I know that he likes to be put in his bed while he is sleepy but awake, instead of being rocked until he falls asleep. I know that he sleeps best when his arms are swaddled. I know that he loves splashing in a warm bath but hates having water poured over his head. I know that he loves the Very Hungry Caterpillar mobile over his changing pad. More than anything, I know that he loves me. I know that he knows I'm his Mama. And I know that any disconnect I felt when I was pregnant is but a distant memory. 



Friday, November 1, 2013

Xander's Birth Story: Part 2

For part 1, go here.

When last we spoke, we had just decided to head to the hospital. I called ahead of time to let them know we were on our way and when we arrived the floor was pretty much dead. There was no running in the door with Paul screaming "my wife is in labor!" and someone whisking me away in a wheelchair.  There was no commotion. It was just Paul, my mom, and I getting buzzed onto into labor and delivery and a bored looking nurse taking us to a room and telling me to change into a robe and wait for someone to come back. I answered a lot of questions and explained how frequent my contractions were happening, told them that my pain was probably a 5 or 6 on a scale of 1-10, and was hooked up to monitors. No one seemed terribly impressed by my labor and they seemed even less impressed when they hooked me up to monitors that couldn't pick up my contractions. I'm sure the nurses thought I was crazy, but believe me, contractions were totally happening. 

Over the next few hours Paul and I alternately walked the halls and sat in my room with our moms. Finally at around 11 PM the nurse came in and told me that I was going to be admitted because my blood pressure was still somewhat elevated. Little did they know that I was going to be admitted either way because I was not about to go home in the amount of pain I was experiencing. So they gave me some morphine, Paul went home to attend to Ginny, and my mom settled in on the couch for the night. 

The next morning I was woken up by my new nurse at about 6 AM. Why so early, I'm not sure. She told me that I might feel better if I took a shower. I didn't. She then told me not to wear a sports bra when I got dressed again. I didn't and still don't understand why. 
 
 At 7:30 AM the doctor came in and I had progressed from 3 cm to 4 cm dilated. The doctor asked if I wanted to be induced and, having said for months that I wouldn't be induced unless it was an emergency, I asked what my other option was and she said to go home. Well that was still not an option so I think I said, "let's do this thing." I was started on pitocin and the doctor broke my water. I expected one big gush and nothing else. But mine continued all day long so I constantly thought I was peeing myself.

Despite my intentions to go pain med-free, I finally broke down and got the epidural at 9:30 AM. I didn't know how long I would be in labor and I knew that if I was in that much pain all day I would be too exhausted to actually deliver a baby. 

Over the next 8 hours I continued to progress, albeit slowly, and rested as much as I could. My epidural wore off a couple times and the anesthesiologist quickly saved the day each time. 

At around 5 or 5:30 PM I developed a fever and had only dilated 6 cm. At about 6 the doctor said that she was going to perform a c section. She said that she would be back in about an hour minutes and if I had progressed more, good, but if I hadn't we would need to talk about a c section. So I had a little meltdown because that wasn't part of my plan, but I moved on. 

When the doctor returned my fever had not subsided and I hadn't dilate anymore, so she told me that we needed to perform a c section because I had been in labor 24 hours and Xander was cooking in my fevered self. So I had a second meltdown ( because this was not part of the plan!) and we got ready for surgery. What no one told me was that Xander's heart rate, which had been normal all day, had gone up. A lot. 

Next: Drama in the O.R. 

Xander's Birth Story: Part 1

Throughout my pregnancy I swore that I didn't have a birth plan. I said I was really laid back and go-with-the-flow. I just wanted to have a vaginal birth with delayed cord clamping and I wanted My husband to cut the cord. And I didn't want pitocin or an epidural or to have my water broken by the doctor. Yep. Totally laid back.

The reality of Xander's birth was much different from my non-plan. 

I started to have true contractions in the middle of the night on Wednesday. At first I didn't realize that's what they were. They felt like the Braxton Hicks contractions I had been having, but with some added stabbiness. Regardless, I got up that morning and went to work where I was practically screamed at to leave by several people. I figured there was no reason to leave since they were still 6-8 minutes apart and I really wasn't that uncomfortable. So I stayed. And then I made the mistake of telling my husband I was in labor. He wanted me to come home and then go to the hospital immediately and I just didn't think it was necessary. I did finally concede to call my doctor's OB nurse. She told me that if I wanted to come in to be checked I could do so at 1. 

It's possible I was channeling my inner Pam Halpert and was so scared of having the baby that I was in denial about being in labor. Maybe.

Over the next few hours my contractions became more frequent, but not more intense. I went to the doctor and had indeed progressed from the previous day, but I wasn't ready to be admitted because I was able to speak full sentences and I wasn't grimacing. So I went home with orders to eat something light and rest. So that's what I did. 

And then around 3 pm things got more painful. And there  was some gritting of my teeth and grimacing and maybe some tears. 

And then around 5 the doctor called to say my blood pressure was elevated and if I didn't come to the hospital that night I'd need to come to the office in the morning. So I called my mom and told her to come on down so that when I did leave for the hospital, she could follow us. 

And then at about 6:30 my mom showed up and my contractions were between 3 and 5 minutes apart so we left for the hospital.

Next: How I spent the next 24+ hours