Tis the Season to reflect

I’m a holiday person. Did you know that their are people out there who actually do not like the holidays? Yeah. They are crazy. Thanksgiving to Epiphany are the best time of year to me. I wait all year for this time. I mean I love other times of year as well but this is my favorite by far which makes what I am about to say weird.

Every since I was a little girl I put a lot into ensuring everyone in my life has a magical and happy Christmas. I want everyone to have a nice gift, enjoy the food, laugh, have fun and get along. I want the decorations to be nice. I try and send a card full of holiday cheer to all those who have made a difference or had an impact on me throughout the year. I try to pick traditions and attend events that will make this year or that year special. The past five years or so I come away from Christmas and the holiday season strangely dissatisfied. I had fun at times, but there was always some sort of sadness attached to it. Perhaps my expectations were too high or I was celebrating with the wrong people but something just wasn’t right. Last year was a little better. I was still anxious and a little sad and it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be but it was better. This year I think will be the best yet and not just because I have a cute little bunny to celebrate it with.

This year I made a few changes. When I sent out my Christmas cards I sent them to the people I wanted to send them to and didn’t worry about any of the people I should send them to. I loaded those things full of cute Carl pictures and warm notes and I enjoyed it. I sent out probably half the cards I normally send and I am happy with that. Candy cane Christmas Carl

 

When I made a list of people to get gifts for it was shorter. I didn’t get a gift for my inlaws, except the wonderful Inez. I didn’t get a gift for anyone  I didn’t actually enjoy having around. How nice is that? I put up my tree when I felt like it rather than when I thought would make everyone else happy. I put three trees up and guess what, no one complained. My house is not perfectly clean, but it is decorated and it makes me happy.

This year is different and not just because I am separated (for yet another Christmas), or because for the first time in years I am not spending Christmas with my inlaws,  or because I have a new baby who loves all the lights and pulling things off the tree. This year is different because I have figured something out that I was missing before. I’m doing what I want to do. It is sad that things are changing, and that I won’t have that someone special to share everything with like in the Hallmark movies but I have a pretty good family, good friends and a cute baby and the realization that nothing will ever happen the way I think it will. And that’s ok. I am 26 years old and my life will never be a hallmark movie and I may spend the next 20 years celebrating the holidays with my sister and my little bunny and that will be grand. Its much more than many people have.

If you are, like I was, dissatisfied with the way your holidays always seem to go my advice is to do what you want and forget the rest. I guarantee you will be happier. Merry (early) Christmas and may the peace of the lord be with you and yours.

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Some post labor thoughts

I have a few reflections that I would like to share in light of the fact that I have had a lot of time (six months) to think about the experience of labor and birthing a baby. Some people have told me that my labor was easy and short and that i should be grateful and to those people i usually try to keep my mouth closed because what i want to say starts with an F and ends with a U. Others have said that it sounds horrible and let me tell you that at the time it wasn’t a bed of roses. It hurts. The one good thing I can say about natural birth is that I was up and out of that bed within hours and my recovery as far as being able to care for the baby was much easier than some of my friends who have had to have csections or who had time to have an epidural.

Birth is not necessarily beautiful, but the results are wonderful. I know so many women who want to paint the experience as beautiful (they actually use that word for an experience where you bleed and poop on yourself) like a Monet or a classical piano concert and its not. Its scary and wonderful and a very unique experience but beautiful isn’t the word I would use. Awe inspiring maybe. The only way you can truly understand it is to do it. Much like i imagine landing on the moon can only be understood fully by astronauts, giving birth can only be fully understood by someone who has given birth.

In light of all that I have a few post labor tips for all you about to be moms;

  1. Post labor you are tired, and fuzzy headed and their are a million people or in my case about 30 who really really want to see you and the baby in the hospital as soon as humanly possible. my advice is to limit who you allow to see you in that first 24 hours and what is posted on social media.
  2. Pack a gown or something you can nurse in that is flattering because someone will take your picture that day and you will be bloated and feel gross and that will most likely translate on camera. See below:11155013_10206692387253520_7718902778280125210_o
  3. Be prepared to be inspected…roughly every three hours. A nurse will be asking to see your stitches, giving you vitamins, checking your blood pressure, or “checking on you” constantly.
  4. Get a baby app for your phone to record feedings, changings, etc. Not only do you have a nurse but so does baby who will constantly be checking in.
  5.  Bring your own snacks! Unless you like hospital cornflakes. If you are breastfeeding you will be hungry…all the time.
  6. if you want your baby in the room with you keep him there but there is no shame in keeping him in the hospital nursery. I kept Carl with me except for one night when Steven hadn’t returned yet and I needed a shower. I called the nursery and took him down there for about twenty minutes and then went and got him and brought him back to our room. All new moms could benefit from the occasional break.
  7. Enjoy it. enjoy every uncomfortable, sleep deprived, insane second of it and write about it. Write your thoughts, feelings, hopes and dreams.

And now for some cute baby Carl pictures;

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Baby: Month 1

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Having a baby is great. Having a baby is messy. Having a baby is exhausting and terrible and wonderful and draining.The first month is a testament to how much a woman can go through and survive and help a new life to thrive. The first week is hard, but also great because for me at least there was someone there all the time. My mom, or Steven, or Faith was always there to help out. They grow pretty fast though. The best part of the first month is that once you find  rhythm, If you are lucky enough to have time off, it is a wonderful bonding experience.

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I decided to breastfeed. It was a decision I made pretty early in my pregnancy and while I worried a little (a lot) after he was born about my milk coming in, I just kept on feeding him whenever he would open his mouth. That’s the secret in my opinion. Keep on keeping on until you get the hang of it. Breastfeeding is a commitment, like a job or a marriage or anything else. If you can hang on past the first few weeks where it hurts and is uncomfortable then you can definitely manage it when it is more of a routine.

Babies grow so freaking fast. The weirdest thing for me to get used to at the beginning was being solely responsible for a tiny human. Sure there are other people around, and you get help, but in the middle of the night most of the time you are the only one that little screaming human wants for comfort and food and to get him to sleep. Its crazy and overwhelming for a little while. It gets better though.

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Flimflam, its the word of the day!

Today’s word of the day:

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Flimflam – To subject to deception or fraud

Flimflam, its the word of the day, What a fun word to say. Its not really a fun word to be on the other side of but it is a very fun word to say. One day, in the distant future that will probably be here before I know it I hope this is one of Carl’s vocabulary words. It’s funny, but actually fairly accurate that having a baby will change things. It changes your whole life. Just last year I would have been able to sit down and enjoy life while writing a blog post while being generally lazy before work. Now it takes a lot of planning to get ready for work, and get breakfast, and get the baby ready, and feed him, and make his bottles, and make sure his bag has been repacked, and clean up a little around the house all before I leave for work in the morning. Usually I try to fit in a little morning reading before all that happens and on a really good day I attempt to work on some project as well.

I wouldn’t trade what I have now for what I had then, fat thighs and extra weight and lack of sleep and all, but it is funny to reflect on the changes. However there are definitely things I would do differently. Too many times over the last year I have allowed myself to be flimflammed. Maybe it is my nature to just believe people at face value. I shouldn’t. I’ve seen the very worst in people but still I tend to want to believe that everyone has a greater nature and that greater nature will win out. Maybe it will. See there it goes again, that infernal optimism.

So flimflam. Use that in a sentence today!

Happiness. Its a thing!

When I was younger, more idealistic and wondering at the supposed marvelous powers of luv, true luv I knew an older woman who I really respected and admired. This lady had been married and divorced. She had two beautiful, talented and exceptionally sweet children that really loved her . I’m sure they had problems. Everyone does. But they seemed really happy. Still, I always worried that she would end up alone after they grew up. I thought, at the time, how sad would that be. This awesome woman raised her kids, really well, and after they left she would be sad and alone and her life would suddenly be unfulfilled.

What bullshit.

Of course at the time I had no idea it was bullshit. I thought I was generally on the right path with the idea that we are all driven to companionship in order to be happy. Turns out in order to be happy there are a lot of different factors that come into play and sometimes the biggest of those is that we are not saddled to another human being. For me happiness is a choice that I wake up every day and decide to make. I’m going to be happy today. Period. If there is no money, my power bill is late and I have a crappy day at work I can still find a reason to be cheerful about something. I mean I have a freakin cute baby.

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I know so many ladies in their 30’s and 40’s, some who have children and a lot who don’t that are really happy all on their own. Some own their own homes, some have careers they love, some just rent and others really don’t care for their jobs but they are all happy.

Lets try this happy thing.

All about that baby: Ack! Where did the time go?

When you are pregnant they don’t tell you a lot of things. Doctors and nurses are wonderful people but they don’t really help prepare you for what it will be like, they are too busy trying to get you through the experience of pregnancy. I spent countless hours in the doctors office while I was pregnant and while he did tell me it would be amazing and unique that didn’t really prepare me for the sad feeling I get every time he grows out of a size of clothes or goes up a diaper size (like he is right now). Family and friends try to tell you but their own memories are  usually so glossed with the veil of the past that they don’t remember what makes those first few months so special and wonderful.IMG_1873

from this

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to this!

 When you bring that baby home its sweet and beautiful and he smells like all the best things in the world. He might be quiet or he might be loud but the one universal truth is that he needs you. Dads are wonderful, don’t get me wrong, but brand new babies seem to instinctively know who mom is and what they need from her. They need nourishment and even though the first hundred times they latch on will hurt like a son of a bitch you gladly endure it because it is what sustains this wonderful bundle of soft, doe eyed, sweetness someone somehow let you leave the hospital with. They need comfort and they just need you. They seem so fragile for the first few days and weeks. The chord is still hanging on and you are afraid to bump or move or even brush by it for fear of hurting them. You have to clean them, feed them, check to make sure they are breathing when they finally fall asleep, watch over them like a hawk as your family gets acquainted with them and if you are lucky you get to see them get to know their dad.

I don’t think it is a mistake they we feel so protective of them when they meet someone new. I know when Carl was very little every time someone other than myself, Steven or Faith would hold him I would hold my breath. You worked to nurture that life and then helped it into this world, now it feels like you have to control everything in his environment to keep him safe. The first moment I really realized how fleeting and incredible this experience was going to be was when he lost his umbilical chord. That was the last thing that connected him to me and it came off before I knew it. The next time was when I had to go back to work. It felt like those seven weeks literally came and went in the blink of an eye. This weekend has been another one of those moments. He will be 20 weeks old this week and I remember being 20 weeks pregnant not all that long ago. This time is fleeting and what makes it so precious is that everything changes at a more rapid pace than at any other time in life. Right now he is still making sweet baby noises but before I know it he will be talking. Right now he wants to cuddle and play and he wants my attention but before I know it he will be independent and off doing his own thing.

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I am striving to enjoy these moments as much as possible because I know they wont last. Some people in his life are going to miss out on all the precious moments and look back with regrets but I am determined to be there and live it with him while I can before I blink and he is wanting a tattoo and for me to meet his new girlfriend.

Have a wonderful Tuesday.

Thrifty Thursday – Old to New!

I admit it. I spend a lot of time pursuing Pinterest for ideas for various things. One of the things I found recently was this neat trend of preserving babies things in shadow boxes like this one:

birth-boxes-11This one is from Taking Care of Monkey Business

I decided I wanted to do one for Carl. The only problem is that I am horribly thrifty. Some of these shadow boxes run up to $20 which is way more than I intend to pay. I kept looking for one at garage sales and thrift stores to no end and finally I came across this at a garage sale a few weeks ago.

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Awful right?

I’ve always thought these things were rather terrible. As you can see it was a clock so I took the perfectly working clock mechanism out to be used for later. After some thorough cleaning because this had developed a little dirt and the glass was cloudy I got to work. I wrapped the footprints background in some cute baby friendly fabric. Then I proceeded to pick out the cute things I wanted to preserve. It turned out like this.

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Sorry for the blur.

Lesson: Don’t waste your money, be creative!

What have you thrifted this week?

All about that baby: Baby sleep part 2!

So baby sleep part 2!

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Baby Carl has been sleeping through the night going on three weeks now. There have been a few hitches, like when we visited my mom for a few nights. He didn’t like sleeping in the elevated pack n play so I lowered it to the lowest level the next night and he slept pretty well. I spent a lot of time reading about baby sleep on blogs and trying out books about baby sleeping and happy babies and let me just say that most of it, especially Happiest baby on the block, is just not as awesome as the authors would like you to believe. Having said all that I will let you all in on my nightly routine.

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He used a pacifier for exactly five minutes and now refuses to use one.

We have a very lose daytime schedule. I say lose because he just really wants to eat a ridiculous amount during the day and his naps are not very predictable. However his night time schedule is fixed and unmovable.

  • Before everything else, and because he is missing those night time feedings now I let him nurse as much as he wants between 7:00pm and 9:00pm.
  • Starting between 8:00-8:30pm~ if it is bath night he gets a bath. I bathe him every other day. After the bath he gets a lotion baby massage If there is no bath I put him in his footsie pajamas or a sleeper around 9pm.
  • Around 9:00-9:15pm I read some books to him.
  • Between 9:15pm and 9:30pm, after I make sure he has a clean diaper, I settle him down on my chest in the glider and throw a blanket over him. While I am checking his diaper I turn on his noise machine and projector.
  • It usually takes between 15 and 30 minutes to get him settled and in his crib asleep. Sometimes it only takes a minute especially if he is tired and has had a long day.

I always use his noise machine. That’s something I did from the beginning. I wanted him to be able to sleep through anything and he can. He can sleep in a crowded stadium with a marching band playing. I know this because he did it just last week. I also don’t talk to him after I get him settled on my chest. I read somewhere that if you want babies to know that it is time for sleep you shouldn’t stimulate them and talking to them is just that. Carl definitely seems to know when it is time to be quiet and sleep. He wont chatter and I don’t chatter to him. I will sing to him if he isn’t settling well but I don’t talk to him like I do during the day.

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I think a bed time routine is really a great thing for mom and baby. Even if your child isn’t sleeping through the night or in his crib having a bedtime routine will signal that it is time for bed, not play. I also try not to nurse him to sleep anymore. I will let him nurse as much as he wants right before bed time, but after we start our bed routine I usually don’t. I don’t want him to rely on that to go to sleep. I do rock him which I know some people disagree with but fooey on them. If he is being especially inconsolable and wont even nurse I will set him in the crib and let him cry for a few minutes before getting him out and trying again. This usually settles him down out of that initial fit.

Please don’t expect my night time routine to be the magic things that gets your baby to sleep but I hope it might help in some way. Find a routine that works for you!

Have a great Tuesday!

All about that baby: Some reflections

It is Tuesday. Tuesday is the day I talk about motherhood and babies and such because frankly I need an outlet and I’m trying not to talk about it all of the time. I’m in a weird sort of limbo. I only know one other person in this weird limbo and her life is a little more defined than mine is at the moment. Four months ago I had a baby. He is adorable. See…

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I never really expected motherhood. There was a time I really, really wanted it. Years ago, right after I got married I thought a lot about what it might be like. I didn’t think I could have children, at least not without a lot of bother or adoption so I never really considered the nitty gritty aspects of it. After a few years of being with someone who really seemed to not want children I stopped thinking or planning for it at all. When we separated last August I was at that point where I had actually started rationalizing why it was way better that we never had kids and every time I made a decision then it was with the thought “I’m so glad it is just me I have to worry about”. No kids stuff to move, no child to worry about. I was starting over and it is much easier to do that when you are only responsible for yourself. I gave up my dog, got a tiny apartment, and went on a self imposed low cost diet to fit my new responsibilities and general sense of aloneness.

When I moved out I didn’t have much of anything. I had some dishes, a few personal things, and a little bit of money. Almost no furniture to speak of. I slept on an air mattress for six weeks. I slept on a bed on the floor for another few months. I didn’t have a dresser, or even enough hangers. I didn’t have a tv or a couch or much of anything. I acquired a couch eventually. I borrowed a tv. Life went on. I spent the entire month of August in a weird haze of just trying to get by and mourning what I had lost.

A year ago today, on Labor day, after a long day of being out in the heat at the labor fest selling my crafty wares and making balloons to a much smaller crowd than originally anticipated, something weird happened. I can remember the moment like it was just minutes ago. I was standing with Faith and a friend and a gaggle of teenage girls were standing just a few feet from us and all of the sudden their smell hit me. It was awful and strong and reeked of perfume and sweat. I wanted to gag and hurl. Nothing like that had ever happened to me before. It was weird. My friend made a joke. A harmless innocent joke about me being pregnant. That was the moment my mind was opened up to the possibility and it was terrifying.

How could I possibly be pregnant (hahahahaha)? This was the exact wrong moment in my life. I was alone. My husband and I were getting along like oil and water. I was not in any way, shape, form or fashion ready for that thought. I shrugged it off and decided it couldn’t possibly be. I think even then I knew. A couple of days later I took a pregnancy test. Then I took six more because I didn’t believe the first one. How could this be? I mean I knew the logistics, but I just couldn’t believe it. A part of my mind decided it had to be cancer. My hormones were messing with the test and I had cancer. So I booked an appointment with a doctor and two weeks after my appointment I told the world there was to be a mini me because turns out it wasn’t cancer, just a fast swimming little bean of a Carl who grew and grew.

A lot has changed since then. I am much more acquainted with babies now. I’m also much more forgiving of the transgressions and annoyances of others. My relationship with my own mother improved while my relationship with my inlaws pretty much went down the tubes (except Inez of course). I’m still at a relationship impasse in the marriage department but I see a light at the end of the tunnel. I’m in a house not a tiny apartment. Same job. Entirely different clothes size. I still like getting up early and I still read every chance I get but now I do it with a mini me running around. I turn 26 this month and I am really excited to be celebrating it with Carl and all those other important people. This isn’t the life I planned for or expected but I am enjoying it, moment by moment, bit by bit.

Book Review – Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Womens Prison

Over the last few months of teeny baby craziness I haven’t done a ton of reading, but I have managed to squeeze in a few books. One of those books was Orange is the New Black: My Year In a Women’s Prison.

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I’ve watched the Netflix original series based on the book and I enjoyed it so I decided to read the book and it was actually a really good read. The story center around a woman named Piper Kerman. Kerman was a self surrender to the prison system after being convicted of a crime she committed many years earlier. Thanks to mandatory minimum sentencing and a rather self serving justice system a one time mistake she made in her twenties ended up being a prison sentence she served in her thirties. Kerman tells of the relationships she developed with the other inmates and the ways that her stint in prison changed her outlook on the prison system.

I’ve read many biographies and I often blog about my own life so I am familiar with a myriad of stories and storytelling ways but this was a unique and well thought out perspective on what is often a rather mysterious place. Kerman met many interesting women while in prison and she tells part of their story as well as her own. She also hits on an important topic, especially in today’s world; the privatization of the prison system. Is it right to place our offenders in prisons run by private corporations for profit? Even before reading Kerman’s story I would have said, probably not, but definitely after reading her perspective I think we are doing a terrible disservice to our citizens by placing them in these privately run facilities. The sad conditions and silly bureaucracies of the private prison system driven by a monetary bottom line are obviously not going to be particularly interested in rehabilitation of prisoners since they, by therevery nature, only make money if people are sent to their facilities.

This is a great book. Go, forth and read.