Six Years and a Lifetime Ago

Just for fun, I launch up the Timehop app pretty much daily, just to see what I posted to social media on this day in years past. Today, as I was scrolling through photos of my son, tweets about weight loss and running, and photos of snow, I swiped to see this face staring back at me, with the one-word caption, “Worried.”

Worried

It was a feeling I remembered well. It was the day I learned I was pregnant. (more…)

Five years ago today, I had no idea I’d be a mom by tomorrow. t.co/3VEtvD9DDq

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Unsolicited New-Mom Advice, Part Two

Welcome to Part Two in my series of Unsolicited New-Mom Advice! As I said in Part One:

I’ve had more than one occasion where a friend or acquaintance has announced her mom-to-be status, and has welcomed any advice I might have. When I was a new mom-to-be, I found a lot of that sort of advice that was given to me to be invaluable — especially the things that might have taken me a while to work out for myself.

In the first installment, I talked about having a (flexible) birth plan, packing your hospital bag waaaay early, taking home everything from the hospital room that isn’t tied down, making sure Baby has a place to hang out in your — ahem — crib, swaddling and swinging and bathing and zippered crib sheets. In this installment, I recap a bit, sing the praises of second-hand baby clothes, and kind of go on a tangent about breastfeeding.
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Unsolicited New-Mom Advice

I’ve had more than one occasion where a friend or acquaintance has announced her mom-to-be status, and has welcomed any advice I might have. When I was a new mom-to-be, I found a lot of that sort of advice that was given to me to be invaluable — especially the things that might have taken me a while to work out for myself.

I had contemplated just emailing this to the person I’m directing the advice to this time around, but then I thought, why not just put it out there for anyone who might find it useful? Plus, I can direct other new moms to it in years to come, when my memories of those early months fade with time (which I never thought would happen, but it’s starting already).

First, a bit of a disclaimer, or sort of non-specific meta-advice:

No one’s child is exactly like yours. You can read up on what to expect, you can listen to all the advice everyone gives you, you can try to internalize it as well as you can — but at the end of the day, your child is a unique snowflake who may or may not love to be swaddled, or who may or may not care about being too hot or too cold, or who may or may not fall asleep during car rides.

Corollary to the above: Take any blanket statements about parenting with a grain of salt. Yes, including what I have to say. You as a parent will learn what works for you and your child — breastmilk or formula, crib or bassinet or co-sleeper, cry-it-out or patience-stretching or no sleep training at all — and others have very little right to be judgmental of your parenting decisions (especially without knowing your situation).

Now, on to the more specific stuff.  (more…)

37 Weeks Down… And A Change Of Plans

On Friday night, right before bed, my water broke.

Within 13 hours, at 1:47pm on Saturday, September 3rd, our son Connor was born. Weight, 5 lbs 15 oz; length, 21 inches.

All three of us are still in the hospital and doing fine; we’ll be discharged tomorrow. Once we get home and I can write on a device a little more conducive to long-form blogging, I’ll post a full-length birth story with photos.

No worries about his gestational age, by the way; he was assessed at 38 weeks instead of the 36w5d we had originally thought.

Aaron and I are parents! And we’re perfectly OK with it so far.

36 Weeks Down, 4 To Go: Baby Shower

Diana at 36 WeeksThis date, as with the Childbirth Express class, has been on my calendar for months. It seemed so far away for so long (just like my impending due date) that it seems weird to have it over already.

I was genuinely surprised when a total of 22 people RSVP’ed with a Yes to Sheryl’s baby shower Evite. In the end, though, only a dozen people could make it — Aaron’s aunt and uncle had to work, his one cousin with a car had to work (which took the rest of them out of the running), Aaron’s brother had to work, my BFF from junior high ended up unable to wrangle a 2½ hour trip with two little ones, and I’m sure I’m forgetting someone. Although I missed them all, I think it worked out better with a smaller group: we all fit around one hibachi table, and I was able to socialize with everyone without feeling like I was slighting anyone too much.

The evening started with appetizers and dinner at Sakura Japanese Steakhouse. I hadn’t been there for a couple of years, maybe, and had forgotten how much fun watching the crazy hibachi chef can be.

Almost everyone else had something from the grill; Aaron and I got sushi. Along with the appetizers that Sheryl ordered, I think we were all stuffed to the gills after dinner. And cake. Oh, my.

After dinner, most of us drove around the corner to Starbucks for the opening of presents, since Sakura wasn’t amenable to having us take up valuable table space (and there really wasn’t enough space for proper present-opening, anyway). Starbucks was pretty deserted, so the dozen of us didn’t feel too bad about invading for a while. I opened presents, girlie giggles were had by all (even the guys), and I really enjoyed connecting with everyone in a slightly more intimate and less noisy setting.

After all the presents were opened, I thanked everyone for coming and let them know that I wouldn’t be offended if they opted to leave at that point. I knew that Traeonna wasn’t feeling well after getting a tad sunburnt that morning/afternoon, and Erika needed to take eight-month-old Naomi home before she got too cranky (she was such a trooper, though, through two hours of dinner and maybe an hour of Starbucks). The rest of us hung around and talked about the random stuff that friends talk about.

Mark and Rocky took off after a while (she’s still experiencing first-trimester fatigue, so I didn’t blame them in the slightest), and we all hung around for a while longer before I just couldn’t hold my yawns in anymore (I’m experiencing third-trimester fatigue myself, and every night is an early one these days). Aaron and I got to take the cake leftovers home, along with all the cupcakes that didn’t get eaten due to the last-minute cancellations. (EVIL. Pure, delicious evil.)

That was a super fun time, and a perfect fit for my style in general. Sheryl and Amy were fantastic co-hosts (props to Sheryl for doing most of the legwork, being the local one and all), and they totally planned an evening that fit my personality and my social preferences. I had such a great time reconnecting with people I hadn’t seen in a while, and feeling loved and appreciated is always a good thing, too.

At the time of this writing, I’ve posted all but Aaron’s iPhone photos to my Flickr. We brought multiple digital point-and-shoot cameras and passed them around to everyone to get lots of pictures… and here they are.

(For a blast from the past, check out the pics from my bridal shower from Spring 2003, also hosted by Sheryl and Amy.)

Thanks again to everyone who showed up, and who wanted to show up but couldn’t. You all rock. I feel seriously loved, and you’re all welcome to stop by sometime in late October or November to meet our little one — just be sure to set up a date and time with us first, or you’re likely to spend some quality time with cranky, sleep-deprived parents and a potentially fussy newborn. 😉

35 Weeks Down, 5 To Go: Childbirth Class

Diana at 35 WeeksMost expecting parents who take childbirth classes through ProMedica go to class one evening a week for five weeks. Since Aaron works nights, that wasn’t an option for us, so we signed up for one of the monthly Friday/Saturday Childbirth Express classes (aka The Weekender). After months of having this event so far away on the calendar, it finally happened this past weekend. (Which means that The Big Event is that much closer, as well. Yikes.)

Overall, I only picked up a few things I didn’t already know: Lamaze breathing patterns, pros and cons of analgesic pain relief options (as opposed to the ubiquitous epidural), different labor positions, and lots of videos. Aaron, not having read the crapload of books and websites I have, definitely got more of a data dump than I did, but we both feel much better having gone. We had some unexpectedly close bonding time with massage and relaxation, and we both got more used to the idea of not just going through the act of childbirth, but having a child of our own to bring home after it’s all said and done.

This Cabbage Patch Kid (Brett George, my only boy Cabbage Patch of six, in case you were wondering) was the first object Aaron has ever diapered. As a first try, I think he did great. Granted, as a couple of our friends pointed out over Facebook, a Cabbage Patch Kid doesn’t squirm or have explosive diarrhea, but I still think it was a good start.

That brings up something else that’s been an intriguing exercise in observation: Aaron and I imagine that we can tell what kind of parental experiences our parent-friends have had so far by what kind of “advice” they give. A few people have been so positive and supportive and helpful; others tend to dwell on the negative and the “you just wait until…” factor.

We’re not kidding ourselves. We know about the feedings every two hours and the loose poops and the sleep deprivation. We understand about the frazzled nights and the bleary days. We expect the crying for no discernible reason (both from me and from the baby). We honestly don’t need to be reminded — if you’ll all recall, this wasn’t our idea. But we’ve accepted and embraced the reality that we’re going to be parents soon, and what we need now is support. Friendship. Helpful tips. A few last adults-only meals with friends, perhaps, since we might be holed up in our house for a while this Fall.

Next Saturday is our baby shower, thrown by my bestest gal-pals Sheryl and Amy. We’ll get to see people from out of town whom we haven’t seen in years — Aaron will get to meet some people for the first time ever — and we’ll get to touch base with some local friends we rarely see anymore. Honestly, while it’ll be nice to get more baby stuff, I’m more interested in being social with my friends one last time.

It’s only going to be The Two Of Us (Plus Our Cat) for as many weeks as I can count on one hand.

Holy crap.

34 Weeks Down, 6 To Go

Diana at 34 WeeksOur baby acquisitions are finally winding down. This weekend’s purchase was a crib mattress from Baby Depot, with a 15% off coupon. Score! Even more win: the cheaper mattress was the firmer mattress (and firm is good when it comes to crib mattresses).

Now we wait until the baby shower on the 27th to see what our friends and family have decided to bestow upon us — then we hit up Amazon.com or Baby Depot to purchase the necessities that may be left, like a play yard (aka playpen) or changing pad or bottles or bouncy seat or whatnot.

Next weekend is our Childbirth Express class: Friday evening and all day Saturday. Normally, the class would be taken for five weeks, one day a week, for two or three hours each session. Since the only sessions are in the evenings, though, and Aaron works nights, we’re rocking the two-day express course. We’re both looking forward to learning about our options and how this is going to go down: pain management ideas, labor positions, and so forth. Aaron’s never changed a diaper in his life, and it’s been YEARS since I have, so learning/relearning some basic childcare skills will be mighty helpful, too.

The breastfeeding class comes separately with this option, so I’ll be flying solo one of these evenings to take that (because I’m definitely going to be breastfeeding, Flying Spaghetti Monster willing).

New and notable this week: increased fatigue, continued swelling of hands and feet, sore and achy knuckles, and a change from feeling hungry to feeling queasy and lightheaded (which apparently means the same thing now: eat something). Also, I’m not entirely convinced that today’s chiropractic adjustment helped a whole lot, as I’m still feeling the very slight numbness of sciatica in my right buttcheek.

Overall? Feeling mighty pregnant right now. Starting to get used to the idea of being someone’s Mom soon, although it’s still a little freaky (and I’m guessing it still will be, even after we bring our son home). I’ll probably feel more secure after this weekend’s class, though.

33 Weeks Down, 7 To Go: Baby Transportation

Diana at 33 WeeksThis week’s baby-related acquisitions: car seat and stroller. Both second-hand, both in fine shape. The car seat we got from our awesome friends Doug and Erika, whose daughter has moved up in the world from infant seat to convertible seat. The stroller we got from Once Upon A Child, which we’ve been frequenting for the past several weeks, so we knew when we saw a slightly-nicer-looking-than-usual Graco stroller for $48 that we may as well jump on it.

We ended up with the Graco Infant SafeSeat and the Graco Quattro Tour Deluxe stroller. Granted, the patterns don’t match, but we don’t particularly care; we basically got a $200+ travel system used for $50. Once Junior grows out of the car seat, we’ll have the option of either keeping the stroller or trading it back to the secondhand store for credit and purchasing a lighter-weight stroller that fits in the trunk a little easier.

The only thing we still need to buy that isn’t on our registry is our crib mattress. We won’t know until after our shower how much we’ll still need to buy for ourselves: mattress cover, changing pad, bouncer, pack-n-play, etc.

In other preparations, I’ve been reading craptons of books, asking questions of my parental friends on Facebook, listening to podcasts, that sort of thing. Between all that, the hospital tour, and the impending Childbirth Express class coming up in a couple of weekends, I’m feeling surprisingly unstressed… sometimes. Sometimes I do get into a tizzy of OMG I CAN’T BE RESPONSIBLE FOR ANOTHER HUMAN BEING — I’M NOT DONE WITH MYSELF YET, but it doesn’t usually last for long, thankfully.

I’m well into the phase where strangers greet me with either a double-take at my belly or just straight-up asking me when I’m due. I get a lot of “Boy, you’ve probably had enough of this heat!” Luckily, I’ve gotten better with the small talk the longer I’ve worked in an office environment, so I can smile and answer with something appropriate, depending on who’s asking.

My co-worker is due exactly one week before me, so it’s also fun to get comments from other employees from other departments, usually asking about how our boss is dealing with the situation. It’s even better if he’s there, too, so we can get his reaction. Today, for example:

Marketing Bigwig, to my co-worker: When are you due?
Co-worker: September 19th — and she’s due a week after me!
Me: Yep, I’m due September 26th.
Marketing Bigwig, to our boss: And what are you going to do?
Our Boss: Cry.

Priceless.

In My Eighth Month

In My Eighth Month
[Taken 4 August 2011 | 1/60sec @ f/4 | ISO 200 | 24mm | adjusted in Photoshop CS2]

If I’m looking a little less than tickled in this photo, it’s because I photographed myself for half an hour straight in a small, hot room in the upstairs of my house after I got home from work. I’m a little uncomfortable… which isn’t to say I’m not enjoying myself anyway.

This image was actually a pleasant surprise in post-processing: it wasn’t until I messed with this initially-underexposed image (with a bounce flash that was meant for fill) that I thought about tweaking it into a high-key, high-contrast portrait. That’s not my M.O. — but I’m pleased with how it turned out.

I’ve posted some more of my maternity self-portraits in a set on Flickr.