Happy Wednesday everyone! Wanted to pop in here real quick before we leave for the river (or RIVAH as most Richmonders would call it). The river house doesn't have wifi, so probably won't be able to post much if at all while I'm gone, but will probably be obnoxiously over-posting on Instagram if you want to click the link to the upper right of this page and follow me :)
I cannot believe Ryland is 5 months old today. FIVE MONTHS. That's like a month away from six months. Which is SIX MONTHS from a year. Which means she's practically in college!
Okay so that may be a slight exaggeration, but it does feel like time is starting to speed up exponentially. The last few months have felt chunky and long, because newborn time is this weird, sleep deprived haze where you lose your bearings. But now that she's becoming more of a baby and less of a blob (a cute blob, but a blob nonetheless) I can sense things moving forward far faster than I would like.
I have been a total failure at doing those cute monthly posts where I put a little number sticker on my baby and pose her in the exact same place. But I feel like I average about 20 pictures of her a day on my phone so her life isn't exactly undocumented.
But even though I'm late to the game, for the sake of posterity I would like to try marking each month from here on out. Instead of doing the good old month sticker with the baby on her glider thing I thought instead I would write future Ryland a little note about what her life is like right now so that one day when I am old and demented, she can look to these for recollections of what her early life was like.
So, my dear Ryland,
Today you turn 5 months old.
5 months might not seem like a milestone birthday. It's kind of like the 20th birthday of the first year, overlooked by the much splashier 6 month mark, but 5 months is still deserving of its own notice and attention.
In the last few weeks you have suddenly and without much warning turned into a full fledged baby. Gone are your squishy, blob-like newborn days where you were adorable but let's be frank, a little one note.
Now you are bursting with personality, and it is the personality of someone with multiple personality disorder. You are either a cantankerous feral cat, squawking and screeching to the heavens, or you are the happiest stoner on earth, all lazy, gummy smiles and finding EVERYTHING hilarious. In these moods, you are particularly amused by our dog George. Your father and I will act like baboons to try and get a laugh out of you, with faces and noises. We practically perform choreographed song and dance routines in the living room to get a chuckle. You will blink at us. And then George will walk across the room and you cackle and giggle like it is the FUNNIEST thing you have ever seen.
You know how to turn on the charm when you want to and will grin at total strangers in Costco with that dazzling, mega watt baby smile that you will one day use to totally manipulate mom and dad (but especially dad!).
You also know how to express it when you are displeased. And express it you do. You have in the last 2 weeks or so found the ability to scream. And you love it. You act like you are rehearsing for a role in a horror film, what with the frequency and vociferousness of your screams. You scream when you are happy and you scream when you are mad. You scream in the car and on your playmat. Our house sounds like a baby torture den these days.
Even better is when you talk. You will look deeply into our eyes and talk for minutes with passion and urgency. I know you are trying really hard to communicate with us, probably something along the lines of "GIVE ME MORE FOOD MY SLAVES!". Unfortunately for you, right now it is only coming out in disparate vowels and consonants. When you talk to us it is like being talked to by a drunk and opinionated Italian person. Unfortunately it is just not translating. But you do your best, and one day I promise you will get the hang of this whole language thing.
You have very clear likes and dislikes these days. On the "like" list: Mom's boobs, bottles, anything you can put in your mouth including your toes, things that rattle or make noise, paper towels, magazines, pulling mom and dad's hair, flailing your legs and arms, the jumparoo, fans and/or wind, baths, being naked, the changing table, going on walks, the vacuum, hanging out with your grandparents, and the dogs. On the "dislike" list: the moment when you finish a bottle (you like to put a dramatic flourish on drinking a bottle by crying hysterically for 2-3 minutes after finishing it like it was the LAST BOTTLE LEFT IN THE WORLD), cold food or liquids, getting strapped in the carseat, waking up alone in your crib, tummy time, similarly when you accidentally flip yourself over from your back and end up on your tummy, the bumbo, being put down anywhere when you are cranky or tired, and long car rides.
Your sleep is...interesting. Some days you are a champ and take a 2-3 hour nap in the morning in the crib and go down easily for the rest of your cat naps. You have slept as long as 7 hours straight in the crib at night. And then other days you decide you will do an evil laugh in the face of any attempt at sleep training and at night refuse to sleep anywhere other than directly adjacent to mom and her boobs. But as long as this preference is fulfilled, you will snooze happily all night, only waking up occasionally for a little thirst quencher.
You are happiest first thing in the morning, and you love to hang out in the big bed with mom and dad, cooing and smiling and smacking us in the face/pulling our hair.
You like hanging out at home, but you also like being out and about and seeing new places and people. Now that you will tolerate the stroller you will contentedly (usually) join mom on her errands or shopping, even though you find it a little boring and don't mind showing your boredom from the comfort of the stroller.
You have a talent for toots, and while they have luckily stopped smelling like rotten eggs, they are still often as loud as the toots that a grown man could let out. You especially like to grab both of your feet with your hands, stick your butt in the air, and let one rip. It's a move you've really perfected.
You can roll from your tummy to back and back to tummy (you've only done this twice) but only when you feel like it. You can grab things well and bring them to your mouth. You have hit all of your milestones like an over achiever.
You drool like a faucet.
You just tried your first solids, a sweet potato puree cooked up by mom. You were way more interested in the spoon than the food, but you might have swallowed a teaspoon full. You pulled a face like we were trying to feed you dog food, but gamely tried each new bite, even though you made the same disgusted/surprised face each time like it was the first time you had tried it (you don't have much of a short term memory right now).
You are for the most part a happy baby, but you do have stormy days. It's okay. You're learning a lot and growing so fast that anyone would get a little sassy at times. Even when you're moody and scream at us, we still love you a lot.
You have so many people who love you in fact. Two sets of grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, mom and dad's friends.
Oh and you're a Catholic! You probably don't remember your baptism, but for better or for worse, it's official that you are a Catholic now. It will explain a lot of your guilt when you're older.
You are 13 (probably 14 now!) pounds of sweetness and perfection.
You are loved so very, very much, loved to the moon and back, loved beyond measure or comprehension. My heart cannot contain my love for you, so I feel it spill out to the tips of my toes. In fact your mom is a little obsessed with you, bordering on creepiness. I already am planning how I'm going to follow you to college (sorry!).
You are five months old my little monkey! And even though you've only been in our live for 5 months, it's already impossible to picture a life or world with you.
Hello everyone! We are having a lazy Saturday over here. R is working today and I'm working tomorrow, so nothing too exciting for our household, other than watching old Survivor seasons on Amazon (I am HOOKED).
So I thought I would take the opportunity of a slow day to post a follow up to my previous Newborn Essentials post (for clothing). This time I thought I would share what stuff/gear/gadgets/doowikkis have been absolute musts in our home for the last five months of baby time. I'm sure in another 5 months I will have an entire new list of essentials, but for the early infancy/newborn stage these have been key. I would recommend the following items whole heartedly for any mom to be out there!
1. Rock n' Play. This little piece of fabric and plastic is spoken of on parenting blogs with the same kind of quiet reverence usually reserved for cherished antiques or works of fine art. And I'm sure there are some babies who hate the almighty R n' P, but I think the majority of infants, especially in the early newborn weeks, LOVE this thing. There are many, many versions of this out there, but we went for the deluxe auto rock n'play with smart connect. The smart connect feature (basically it means you can turn it on and off and adjust settings with your phone's bluetooth, even from another room) is absolutely useless (except for when you want to turn it on from a hiding place for the sole purpose of freaking out your dog, which does provide some solid entertainment), but the auto feature is key. If it's plugged in it will rock forever and ever. Some of these run on timers and the rocking shuts off after a certain amount of time. I think most people out there who work to get a newborn to sleep and transfer them into the rock n'play do not want them to suddenly turn off just as your little one is getting into a deep sleep. So again, the auto part is a must. Ryley slept in this for all of her naps (minus the naps on us) for the first 12ish weeks of her life. She also slept decently in it at nighttime for the first couple of weeks, and I know some people's babies sleep at night in these for months. They are light. They fold up and are easy to bring in the car. When Ryley got a little older she would hang out in this happily awake. They are not cheap but way more affordable than the fancy Mammaroo. The only con I would say is that they are a little creaky, so if you are a light sleeper you might have a hard time having it go in your room (it drove my husband crazy, hence why we stopped using it in the bedroom after a couple of weeks despite his desperate 2am efforts to get the screws in tighter to stop it creaking). But overall definitely an essential for us!
2. The Boppy. Obviously this is key if you are breastfeeding, but I think you would get use out of it even if you don't breastfeed (for example as the perfect place to pose baby for pictures). The lactation nurses at the hospital were not fans of the Boppy for some reason (they frowned on many things), but it has been like a 5th limb to me over the last 5 months. I honestly am going to be a little distraught when I put it in storage in the future. Early on there were days were the Boppy was almost literally attached to my waist for the majority of the day and night. Either the baby was eating on it or the baby was sleeping on it. And if the baby was awake, chances are she would be in or on the Boppy. Babies are floppy little jellyfish the first few weeks. They need something soft and firm to keep them from flopping around too much. Enter the Boppy. For our next kid I seriously plan to buy a 2nd Boppy, just so I can keep one in the car and one at home. I use it that much, and when I am out somewhere and breastfeed without it, it's way less comfortable for me and baby. Plus they come with adorable changeable/washable covers! I would honestly say this has been the #1 most used and useful item for us.
3. A bouncy seat. Another absolute essential. This is something of which I will also likely buy a second one for kid #2 (if and when that happens, not right now people!). Except for the fact that my husband would think I was crazy, I would get one for every room. For the first few months, you honestly just need easy and safe places in your house to put the baby in. You can't just put a baby on a wood floor or even on a rug if you have two huge crazy dogs like we do. You are terrified to put them on an elevated surface just in case. But you also need to put them down from time to time. As adorable as they are, you really don't want to hold a baby while you say, shower, or pee. And this is where the bouncy seat comes in. I would say don't splurge on pricey ones. We got this one for like $25. It's from Amazon. It's bright and ugly. But it's light and easy to move around the house or put in the car. It vibrates. It has a little toy bar that still entertains Ryley, despite having looked at it about 1000 times by now. Early on she just stared at them and now she likes to pull the toys into her mouth. They are cheap and simple and worth every single penny and then some. And yes I do think you need both a swing and a bouncy seat for a baby, because as similar as they seem they definitely serve different purposes and you will use both. For example you can't put a swing on your kitchen counter while you cook (as pictured above)!
4. The Dohm. I got this on the advice of my best friend who has used it with her baby, and I'm so glad I got it. I just wish I had bought it sooner. We use this for every single nap and for bedtime. It's basically just a white noise machine, but it uses a fan to make the noise so it doesn't have that static type sound that some noise machines do. It doesn't cut off. It's easy to use. It's small and doesn't take up much space. It does a really good job blocking out sound from outside the nursery (also very important when you have two crazy dogs!). It is a little pricey at near $50, but I do think again this is worth every single penny, and will be something we will use for the baby's sleep for quite some time. And when she doesn't need it my husband might steal it for when he works night shifts (he already has taken it into our room a couple of times!).
5. A mobile. I did not get this before having Ryley, because I knew we wouldn't really use her crib for a little while. I got it when she was around 6 weeks and it was an instant hit. Forget sleeping. A mobile is great for when you need to keep the baby entertained in a safe and secure place for a few minutes while you go to the bathroom or shower or do something that you can't do while holding her. Ryley would stare at this thing for a solid 10-15 minutes. It was also a good way to gently introduce her to the crib and get her used to it as a safe and "fun" place before trying to get her to sleep in it. I got this one from Baby's R' Us, but there are a million out there. My only recommendation would be to go for one that plays music and moves (this one you have to crank up which is kind of annoying because you have to go back in and crank it more every few minutes, I imagine there might be battery operated ones that play for longer periods of time). I would also steer clear of light up mobiles, just because that might be way more stimulating than you want for a bedtime routine (unless you want the club/rave vibe in your baby's room, and then by all means go for it).
6. Playmat. So we started out with the little pink one pictured above. I got it for like $25 from Baby's R Us and it worked great for the first 4 months. Babies can kick the keyboard to make music. The hanging toys provide a pretty solid amount of entertainment for the little brain of a newborn. However recently it was obvious that Ryley was starting to outgrow it, considering she would get stuck against the side bar if she tried to turn over and flail angrily until I rescued her. She still definitely needs a playmat so I decided to get this one from Skip Hop, because it gives her more room to move around. It is quite a bit more expensive, but it's not as bad as some comparable ones from PB Kids or the Land of Nod. Plus it's cute :) And the little hanging animals play music and squeak and do all kinds of things to keep a baby happy. In retrospect I should probably have gone for a more expensive but larger mat like this from the start that she would have room to grow in, but you live and learn.
7. Activity bar for stroller/carseat. So this is a little thing and it's cheap, but you will get A LOT of use out of it. This is also Skip Hop (LOVE all of their stuff, they sell it at Target and Babies R Us but they also have a website full of cute and adorable baby things, which I just recently found) but I got it for a shower. She may not look super entertained by it in the picture above, but this little toy bar has been super helpful in a variety of situations, in the car, on walks, in stores. It doesn't keep her happy and entertained forever, but it will definitely buy us a few more minutes of happy time, and sometimes those few minutes are worth their weight in gold.
8. Muslin swaddle blankets. Before I had a baby I wondered if these were just "trendy." And maybe they are trendy, but they are also so USEFUL. Like beyond useful. They are amazing blankets/swaddles because they are super soft but also light weight. You can put it on the floor over a rug and put the baby on it for play time. They are perfect nursing covers (you also want fabric that is super light for this because it has to go over the baby's face pretty much). They make great burp cloths. You could fashion a makeshift diaper out of it in a pinch. They're just the best. Aden & Anais makes great ones (also pretty pricey) but Target has cute ones that are pretty comparable in quality but cheaper (and they come in cute prints like flamingos!). If you are going to have a baby do yourself a favor and buy like 5 of these. Put one in your car, one in the stroller, one in the diaper bag, and a couple in your house. You will absolutely use them.
9. Merlin's Magic Sleepsuit. You can't use these until a baby is over 12 pounds, so I didn't start using it until close to the 3 month mark. Basically it's meant to be a transition out of the swaddle that will still muffle the startle reflex and allow a baby to sleep longer. And honestly it hasn't been 100% "magic" for us. Anyone who has read this blog knows that we still struggle with sleep. However I do think the sleepsuit has helped her sleep longer. More importantly I think it helps with the initial transition from being held to being put in the crib. Plus they look like they make babies look like a cross between the kid from A Christmas Story and a sumo wrestler, so for the comedic value alone it's worth it.
11. Stroller/carseat (for us Citi Mini and Chico Key Fit 30). So obviously anyone reading this knows that a stroller and car seat are "essentials" for a new baby. And any carseat or stroller you buy is going to be safe thanks to rigorous testing done on any baby product that hits the market in the US. So really I will just say that for us, we have been extremely happy with the combo of the City Mini stroller and Chico Key Fit carseat. I think they are reasonable price wise (definitely can either find cheaper or pricier, but closer to the lower end price spectrum versus like a crazy Bob stroller or something like that). My favorite aspect of these are that they are extremely easy to use. You can fold the City Mini up with one hand (crucial if you have a baby on your hip). It's light and easy to stow. It maneuvers well. With an adaptor you can use an infant carseat in it which is what we've done. And we've been really happy with the Chico Key Fit carseat. The base is super easy to install and remove and install again. And the carseat itself literally clicks in and out of the base and you can do it easily with one hand (again very necessary!). Plus it's one of the lighter carseats out there. This is one of those choices you'll research for weeks or months (if you're like me at least), but the best thing you can do is go to a store and try your stroller and carseat out in person. Test it for its lightness and ease of use. Carry it around. Fold it up. That's the only way to know if you'll be happy with your choice!
12. Wubba Nubs. Before having a baby I thought a paci was a paci. But then I met some little friends named Wubba Nubs. And now we have like 6 of these guys. The best feature early on is that the weight of the stuffed animal will help keep the pacifier near your baby's mouth (without the stuffed animal Ryley was constantly spitting out her pacifier and then it would easily get lost). When the baby gets older the animal will also help them to be able to get the pacifier in their mouth when they lack the dexterity to get just a pacifier alone near their mouth. Plus they double as a soft little lovey. And they come in a variety of adorable animals! Ryley's favorites are this hippo and a colorful sea turtle her grandma got her at the Jersey Shore.
13. A Sling! I have talked here before about how essential a sling has been in our life these last few months, but I cannot overstate it. In the first three months especially, a sling was such a lifesaver. Out in public it would almost always instantly put Ryley to sleep and she would stay asleep while mommy was able to eat or have a beer. At home we put her in it when she was going through her fussiest phases and it kept her calm and happy way longer than just being held would. With her in the sling I could clean and cook and do things with my hands even on the days she would not allow anyone to put her down. When she hated the stroller early on the sling allowed us to take her on long walks. The first few times I took her out on errands the sling made it so much less nerve wracking, because I knew she would stay content there. They're just great. The one pictured is Serena and Lilly market sling (and can only be found on Ebay or Amazon because they don't make them anymore sadly, let's start the petition now to bring it back!). I love it because it's so easy to take on and off which is great for running errands. I also have a Baby K'Tan which is also pretty easy to put on and off (not as much as the Serena and Lilly one, but not as complex as the Moby, which I think you must have to have an engineering degree to get on correctly). The Baby K'Tan is also nice because it evenly distributes the weight between both shoulders and the baby can face outward in it when they get older. I know "baby wearing" has become sort of a cultural thing related to attachment parenting and all that, but no matter what style of parenting you choose, a sling will be your best friend as a new mom.
14. A structured carrier. There are so many out there, but we went with the Onya Baby Outback due to good reviews and my husband's preference for a "manly" carrier :) We haven't used this a ton so far, because we've mostly used the sling, but I think as Ryley gets older we'll use it more and more (especially now that she's almost big enough to go in it without the infant insert, which is kind of tricky to use). When I have used it I've found it really comfortable and Ryley has seemed to enjoy it (if falling asleep immediately=enjoyment). The big con for this is that there is no forward facing front carry position, which may end up being something we really regret as she gets bigger. But hopefully she'll be okay being carried on our backs, because everything else about the carrier I like, especially the fact that it has lots of zippered pockets to stash keys/money/ID/etc. And R will wear it, which is definitely important!
15. A jumparoo. Ryley wasn't old enough for this until about a month ago (when she was around 4 months), but after one minor blip of fear and confusion the first time we put her in it, it has been a massive hit. We went with the Fisher Price Rainforest model , and I cannot recommend it enough. It keeps her entertained for ages (at least long in baby time, which granted is slightly different than adult time). She bounces. She plays with the toys. She chews on everything she can grab. It is a non-stop baby party. And it gives mommy some time to get stuff done (or just sit peacefully and have a glass of wine).
16. Angel Care Bath Seat. This has been just the best. We have used it from literally week 1. It fits perfectly in our sink. Ryley fit well in it when she was a few days old and she still fits great in it at almost 5 months old. The holes in it let water and soap flow through easily. It's soft. It's light. It's cheap. LOVE it.
17. Misc/Baby Beauty and Personal Care
-Diapers-have used Pampers, Huggies, and Honest. I am a peds RN and we do use Pampers in the hospital. But I have to say Huggies out of all 3 of these brands have been my favorite. They leak the least. They're the cheapest. And they're available at Costco in bulk!
-Wipes-literally does not matter. I think we buy Huggies brand also because they're available in bulk. But out of all the things you could waste money on with a baby, wipes would be like #1. You are literally using them to wipe away pee and poop. They do not need to be designer! They also do not need to be organic. I'm sorry, but your baby's bottom won't care. Again, as a peds RN, I will say that we do not use "organic" wipes at the hospital. Ryley's skin is super sensitive and Huggies brand wipes have been totally fine.
-Diaper cream-Boudreaux's Butt Paste-my favorite and we've used a few. Love the smell. Love the consistency. And it works really well.
-Lotion-Johnson and Johnson Purple Lotion. You will literally want to eat your baby.
-Shampoo/Body Wash-have used Johnson and Johson, Aveeno, and Cetaphil-all smell and work great and like I said Ryley has pretty sensitive skin
-Other misc things I would recommend are:
- Some solid nail clippers (they make ones with little magnifying glasses, which seems silly, but really helps when your baby has microscopic little nails)
-A basic thermometer that can take underarm and rectal temps (don't waste money on the infrared/forehead/pacifier/ear/magical ones, please as an RN I beg you, you need a basic thermometer that you can put up your baby's butt, a pediatrician will request a rectal temperature if you think your baby has a fever or if they have a fever using one of the other fancy thermometers because rectal is most accurate, you cannot put the ear thermometer up your baby's butt, get a basic one!)
-Children's tylenol (after 3 months, before then make sure to ask a doc first!)
-A bulb suction and saline drops if your baby gets a stuffy nose (they actually usually sell these together)
-Aquaphor (works great for anywhere your baby's skin is irritated, face, bottom, arms, you name it, Ryley had an awful rash on her chin early on from nursing and this cleared it up in like 2 days), get a giant tub of it and put it next to your changing table
-Humidifier (we didn't get one, but I know some people swear by them, and babies do tend to get stuffy/dry nasal passages)
-A cheap plastic comb/hairbrush
As far as bottles/feeding I'm not even going to get into that, because it's really trial and error to find what your baby likes. And if your baby is like mine you will spend a small fortune on every type of bottle/nipple in existence and she will refuse all of them until one day magically she takes a bottle like no big deal and then after that will take literally any kind of bottle without a care in the world.
Don't buy formula in advance unless you are exclusively formula feeding. If you are breastfeeding and just need some for supplementation down the road wait and get samples from your pediatrician's office (you never know what kind your baby will tolerate and it's better not to waste money on formula you won't end up using)! Whatever you do don't listen to Kristen Cavillari and make your own "artisan" formula from goat's milk. There are rigorous health and safety standards for baby formula out there for a reason.
And that's that. Like I said, in five months I'm sure we will have a whole new laundry list of necessary items. Babies change and grow. What is absolutely essential one day will literally be rendered useless the next. Which is why for the most part my recommendation is don't go for the most expensive option, no matter how trendy or fashionable it is. Cheaper brands like Fisher Price or Graco or Chico have been doing their thing for a long time. They know babies pretty well. Research some but don't go too crazy. If it is sold through a legitimate retailer then it's been safety tested, probably exhaustively so. Really you're buying for style/ease of use/personal preference so no matter what you get it will be okay. Keep your receipts. Ask for hand me downs/lenders if at all possible.
You and your baby will do fine :)
1. As a new mom, you really do need to take a moment to (say it with me everyone!) treat yo self. This week was kind of big for me on the self indulgence front. I shopped online for shoes. I Stitch Fixed. I got my hair (or what's left of it, darn post pregnancy hormones!) highlighted and cut for the first time since before Ryland was born. And then because I was just really feeling crazy and my mom was watching the baby, I popped into the nail salon next to the hair place and got a PEDICURE. While having a complimentary glass of wine :) I sat in one of those nail salon massage chairs that are alternately amazing or abusive depending on what setting you choose. I read People magazine. I didn't think about sleep schedules or tummy time or anything having to do with a baby (okay fine I might have still thought about that stuff some, but at least there were moments where I didn't!). I think now that I'm getting a little more distance from that whole labor thing, I realize how single minded and intense I've been the last 5 months. And that's natural. When you suddenly are in charge of a tiny human being, it's normal that said tiny human beings occupies pretty much 100% of your thoughts and energy. But 5 months later, I think it's time to give myself little selfish me me me breaks now and again (and working a job as a pediatric Rn that as much as I love is also exhausting and draining doesn't count!). And of course I feel guilty. As much as I loved my pampering afternoon of hair and nails there was serious mom guilt the whole time (the wine helped ease that). But I also recognize that it's so necessary, that to be the best mom I can be to Ryland, I have got to step away from time to time and do things that aren't for her but for me alone, even if I feel a little guilty about it. Right now that is getting my hair done. When she's a little older it might be a trip away with my husband or friends. It's a balancing act. My life is still pretty heavily tilted toward all things mommy, but I know that it will get easier and easier to find that balance. And I hope that any other new moms reading this are finding times to treat themselves, whether it's with a pedicure or shopping or whatever it is that floats your boat and makes you happy as a woman first, mom second!
2. Parenting is PHYSICAL. You know how annoying it is when people ask celebrities how they lose the baby weight and they chuckled good naturedly and say something along the lines of "oh just by carting my baby around." And you want to punch them right in their face? Well apparently there is some truth to that. Granted celebrities also bounce back so quickly thanks to cleanses and trainers and copious amounts of plastic surgery, but STILL, there is an enormous physical element to parenting that I did not anticipate. In some ways it's the biggest change in my day to day life. I still do a lot of the same things I did pre-baby, go to the grocery store, go to Target, go for walks with the dogs. Only now I do it while lugging a massive car seat and stroller in and out of the car, and in and out of the car, and in and out of the car, and one more time, IN AND OUT OF THE CAR. All of this baby equipment that you buy because it's marketed as "light" is not so light when it also has a 13 pound baby in it or when it is the 25th time that day you have folded it and hefted it into your car's trunk, which you never realized was so inconveniently high until you are tossing a stroller into it for the 100th time.
And then add in grocery bags or shopping bags, dogs pulling on leashes, the baby on your hip when you take her out of the stroller, the bright sun and heat of August. I swear I am usually dripping in sweat even when we've just gone out to Food Lion for a can of corn. Babies are tiny, but they take an enormous amount of physical strength and energy to get from point A to point B due to the fact that they are lazy (that and they lack the ability to walk, although still I blame lack of work ethic primarily). I cannot wait until I am old and feeble and I get my payback by having Ryland push me through the mall in a wheelchair. Even if I am perfectly able to walk, I will rent a wheelchair just for the satisfaction.
3. There is Pinterest parenting, and then there is real life parenting. Comparing the two will make you feel like a loser. So I went through something similar to this with wedding planning. Pinterest will drive you crazy if you are planning a wedding (or really any party) because somehow the people who post on Pinterest just do everything perfectly (or at least photograph it that way). Everything is beautiful and detailed and flawless. And then you do the same thing in real life and it looks like a 3rd grade arts and craft project. There are a lot of parenting posts on Pinterest that will make you feel the same way. For example tummy time. Here is what Pinterest expects tummy time to look like.
Isn't that amazing? That is some grade A level tummy time. That baby is touching fresh rosemary for God's sake! He looks so interested and content, and his brain must just be expanding exponentially with each minute of tummy time (and per these Pinterest posts, a baby should get like 90 minutes of tummy time per day, MINIMUM). Okay so there's that. Here is what tummy time actually looks like in my house.
And those are the "happiest" expressions I was able to capture. There is no rosemary involved (and if I put fresh rosemary in front of Ryley right now she would shove the entire twig into her mouth and have rosemary scented poops for weeks, which come to think of it wouldn't be so bad). She hates tummy time with a passion. Usually she will immediately flop back over onto her back and if I flip her back onto her tummy she will look at me with indignation and fury. We do tummy time, because I do know it's important developmentally and yada yada. But 90 MINUTES? She can't do anything happily for 90 minutes right now except for maybe a marathon breastfeeding session.
The bottom line is that Pinteresting can be hazardous to your mental wellbeing as a new parent. Do it with caution. And a healthy amount of realistic expectations. I cannot even imagine what Martha Stewart levels of ridiculousness I will come across when the time comes to search Pinterest for children's birthday parties.
4. Single working moms (or dads) are super heros.
Like no joke. SUPER HEROS. I bow down to you. I am in awe of you. I do not know how you do it. On the days that my husband and I both work, I will get home around 4 (my husband usually won't be home until 8 or 9), say bye to my mom (who has been watching Ryland), and then literally lack the energy to do anything else for the rest of the day that is not essential to keeping my daughter alive. I do not cook dinner on these days. I do not clean the house on these days. I do nothing except maybe call for pizza delivery and pour myself a glass of wine.
I'm so tired after working that it is everything I have to feed my baby and change her diapers. I just don't see how women who are working and raising kids on their own do this every. single. day. I don't see how you can go straight from work to parenting every single day without the help of anyone else.
You guys are just incredible. I hope you know that.
5. So this was originally going to be a list of 5 points, but the baby just woke up from her nap (it's been over a week since we had a morning nap longer than 45 minutes, sigh), and as I've realized with parenting you just have to roll with things and be FLEXIBLE. Okay so fine I guess that is a fifth lesson. Short and sweet, but true.
Have a great weekend everyone!
Happy Monday everyone! I hope you all had lovely weekends. Ours was not super exciting due to the fact that I worked on Saturday and all three members of our household have come down with a summer cold in the last 10 days (baby's just started yesterday and hoping it will be mild since I got the cold first and should be making antibodies now and passing them to her in my breastmilk, definitely a big pro of breastfeeding!). But we still managed to squeeze in some good stuff.
1. I started Stitch Fix!
I have thought about doing Stitch Fix for a while, because I had friends who do it and have seen it on blogs. I put it off though due to the whole growing a baby watermelon inside my belly for almost a year thing (you can do it for maternity clothes, but I didn't really feel like I needed a virtual stylist to pick out my maternity clothes because I pretty much only wore leggings and giant sweaters). And then right after Ryley was born, buying clothes for myself was the last thing on my mind. The few times I went to the mall I came away with clothes but only for the baby. If I shopped online I bought baby stuff. The first few months with a new baby (at least the first baby) it feels like all of your time, money, and energy have to be baby related, and so buying for myself just wasn't something I even thought about. Plus there isn't a lot of "style" involved in clothing yourself right after birthing a child. For me at least it was all about comfort and ease of breastfeeding. Even for date nights and special occasions I pulled out things from my closet instead of thinking about getting a new outfit. Again it was all baby all the time. I also couldn't imagine shopping with a newborn, particularly by myself. Going to the grocery store was a challenge enough in those early weeks, much less attempting the mall.
Enter Stitch Fix, which conveniently sends "stylist curated" clothing right to your door each month, wrapped up neatly like a little present. I was pretty doubtful I would like anything the first time. As I filled out the online style profile, I wasn't sure if I was giving enough information for my "stylist" to really peg me (probably my #1 favorite thing about Stitch Fix is having a "stylist", it just makes me feel so fancy and high fallutin', even if she is probably a robot). I also honestly don't really know what my own "style" is, aside from favoring comfy things and v-neck tees. So I was very pleasantly surprised when my first box arrived and I LOVED everything inside of it, even things I would not have picked for myself and definitely outfit combinations I never would have thought of. I got a pair of skinny jeans that fit amazingly and are as soft and comfy as leggings, a striped sleeveless tee (something I normally would not have chosen, but I think it will be really versatile), a loose cardigan with fringe (normally not a fringe gal but it was so soft and I think it's actually really cute in person), and a cute necklace. These four things I would never put together, but when I followed the advice of my "stylist" and tried them on together, I actually think it's pretty funky and fun, while still easy and casual. I feel like I could wear this to a concert or to a baby playdate, which is perfect for my life speed right now.
I also got this sweater with a solid navy front and polka dot back, which I LOVE!
So at least based off this first month, I am very much on the Stitch Fix bandwagon. I kept everything and got the 25% off discount, which brought all 5 pieces in for a total of $165 (which I think is pretty darn reasonable for nice jeans, two nice tops, a cardigan, and a necklace). I think it's really great for anyone but for moms especially, because it takes the going to the mall with a small child thing out of the equation. It also feels like a little treat, and I've realized the last couple of weeks that after almost 5 solid months of only living/breathing/thinking about my baby, I need to start thinking about myself from time to time. In the immortal words of Donna and Tom for Parks and Recreation, sometimes you gotta TREAT YO SELF.
2. I devoured Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, and it gave me all the feelings. (ps spoilers ahead if you haven't read it, so skip to #3 in that case)
Yes, this is a play and not a book. And no, it is absolutely not perfect and is not the same thing as reading one of the Harry Potter books. But still, I loved it. It felt like a little unexpected gift to be able to reenter the lives of these characters, when I think pretty much everyone thought the 7th book was the definitive end of the story. I would kill to see this play on stage (apparently I would have to kill to actually get tickets), and I do think that is probably the ideal way to experience the Cursed Child, but I still got so much out of it reading it on the page. I started reading Harry Potter in middle school, so i feel like I grew up with these books and these characters. And so it was strangely poignant and touching to read about Harry as a father (it also made me feel kind of old!). There were a lot of moments in this that felt like direct gifts to obsessive fans (why hello Snape as the dashing, selfless hero he always way only we never knew about until the end!). The fraught, tentative friendship that developed between Harry and Draco based on their sons' friendship just destroyed me. Draco's son Scorpius is possibly my new favorite character in the Harry Potter universe, and his friendship with Albus was the sweet center of this story. The moments between Harry and Dumbledore's portrait were literally too much. Ron and Hermione as an old but still caring married couple! Professor McGonnogall still at Hogwarts! I loved it all. Of course I would have loved it more as a novel, but beggars can't be choosers.
3. We made it out to brunch at Tazza Kitchen.
We always struggle to find brunch spots on Sunday. For some reason wherever we go either doesn't do Sunday brunch or ends its brunch at noon (I'm looking at you Short Pump Baker's Crust, what civilized brunch place stops serving brunch on a weekend at NOON!?). But this weekend I looked up Tazza Kitchen and was pleasantly surprised to see they have a Sunday brunch. I LOVE Tazza kitchen and it's probably my favorite Short Pump restaurant for dinner (definitely the best food and vibe). Now it may also be my favorite Short Pump spot for brunch. I wanted to eat the entire menu but restrained myself and went with a sausage sandwich. It had tomato jam, a fried egg, cilantro, and was served on the most perfect crunchy on the outside soft on the inside fresh baguette. SO good. And it came with a perfect side for a hot summer day, fresh watermelon with a little sprinkle of feta and basil. I can't wait to go back and try the French Toast, or the BLT sandwich, or the Huevos Rancheros, or the breakfast pizza, or literally anything else on the menu. They also have a great outdoor patio which makes it very kid friendly!
4. Ryland got to see her great grandma and five great aunts all at the same time.
I went out to lunch with my mom Friday (to the Fancy Biscuit, also AMAZING) and on our way into the city we stopped by my grandmother's apartment. As luck would have it my dad and all five of my aunts were there (the place where my grandma lives does a big estate type sale every Friday, and you can get amazing things there for very cheap, my family likes to hit it up frequently). Ryland loved getting a little visit in with all five of her great aunts in one place for the first time. I have a huge family in Richmond and I love to see Ryland surrounded by family in the same way that I was growing up :)
5. Sleep has been an ever moving target, and that's okay.
Since my last update we have had some sleep victories and fails and I think that's just the way it's going to go for a little while. Two nights in a row she fell asleep within minutes and slept a solid five hours (and of course I took forever to fall asleep on these nights since I've gotten so used to her sleeping next to me and I kept resisting the urge to go and check and make sure she was still breathing). And then the next couple of nights she resisted falling asleep in the crib completely (she was coming down with a cold so not too surprising). I know at some point we will get into a groove, but for now it's just going to change by the day, and that's alright. We are miles ahead of where we were a few weeks ago, simply because I know that it is possible for her to sleep 5-7 hours in the crib at night and fall asleep on her own. We're going on vacation in a little more than a week which will throw things off. And maybe I'm soft or weak or "spoiling" her, but when my baby is sick and doesn't feel well I think it's okay for her to get extra snuggle/nursing time in at night with mom. In fact I think that is exactly what she needs to feel better. I've read so many blogs or posts that talk about sleep training and after the first night it goes well that's usually where the story ends. I know now that just because it goes well one night doesn't mean it will be that way for every night onward unless you have one of those amazing, sleep all the time babies special ordered from the factory. Babies get sick or start teething or just have an off night. And that's okay. We all just do the best we can right?
Hope everyone is having a great Monday!
In general I am a pretty positive person. And I realize that my last few posts over here have been heavier on the negative aspects of parenthood. I'm okay with some of that, because I want to show the honest, unvarnished side of being a new mom, which can be at times very hard. It also has always helped me to write about things that are difficult, to share my challenges with other people, because it makes those challenges feel more manageable and less lonely.
But my life as mom to Ryley, for all of our sleep challenges (and honestly pretty much 99% of our challenges revolved around sleep, the rest is pretty golden right now) is incredible and more wonderful that I could have ever imagined. I love being a mom. I look forward to her waking up in the morning because I miss her (and she sleeps next to me for the second half of the night, talk about being a mom who is creepily obsessed with her child). On the nights she has slept in the crib for several hours, in the midst of the relief and joy and happy dancing, I have also felt this weird loss, knowing she is getting more and more independent in the world, that she doesn't have to be held by or around mama 100% of the time anymore.
It is a beautiful contradiction, being a mom. And even as I look forward to our next stage, even for all of the challenges of the fourth month, there are also so many things about right now that I love deeply and impossibly, that I want to inhale and soak up and remember always. And these aren't even the big, mushy, life altering things that make being a mom so great. Just ten of the countless little details that are so wonderful right now. In no particular order:
1. Watching her try to figure out the world. Ryley has the most amazing startled/puzzled face.
This expression crosses her face about a million times a day, when she hears a new noise, sees a new person or object, or just hears the crinkle of me grabbing a new diaper on the changing table for the 200th time. For a 4 month old baby, life is an ever surprising and magical event. It is lovely to get to experience the world like this as an adult, if only vicariously.
2. Her smiles.
I mean come on. I know she's my child and all, but even an objective person would have to admit this is pretty darn irresistible. Babies smile with their entire faces. And the moment they smile you can watch it travel across their face like a wave, from their gummy mouths to their little noses to their crinkly eyes. Ryley has smiled a few hundred if not thousand times by now. It never gets old. And her dad and I will go to any silly and ridiculous lengths to elicit one of these.
3. Her complete and total lack of short term memory. It's like living with a gently demented person. Or the guy from Memento only with less tattoos. It doesn't matter how many times I've given her a bath, every time I put her in her little bath seat in the kitchen sink, she widens her eyes in horror and shock, clenches her little fists, and starts to work herself into a full blown cry. And then after a beat or two, she remembers that mommy is not trying to drown her and that she in fact enjoys baths. Same goes for putting any type of clothing over her head. It is endlessly entertaining.
4. The fact that right now she can be entertained with a paper towel. My husband discovered this trick on one of the days he was home alone with her and proudly showed it off when I got home. And seriously you would not believe the amount of baby time that can be occupied with a paper towel. These soft, bendable, crinkly things are way cooler than anything bought in a store. Same goes for most objects that are not actually baby toys. If she starts fussing when we're out now I can hand her a diaper and that will keep her busy for a solid 15-20 minutes. I know keeping her entertained will not always be this effortless. But right now it is amazing.
5. Chunky little baby legs. For some reason I can't get enough of her legs. I have become a weird baby leg fetishist. They're just so chubby and short. And bow-legged. When we put her in the jumparoo it's the best because her little legs stick out the bottom and it is just. so. cute. It is everything I can do not to bite them.
6. Baby skin. Who knew that becoming a parent turns you into a creepy Put the Lotion in the Basket level weirdo about human body parts? But it really does. Her skin in general is a very close second to her legs on the list of things I want to munch on. It's so very soft. I could just touch it for days and days. And I am doing so as much as possible now, because when she's a teenager she will probably think it's weird that her mom constantly wants to stroke her skin.
7. The way she stops in the middle of breastfeeding to look around or smile or watch TV. When Ryley was first born there was NOTHING that would distract her from a breastfeeding session. An entire mariachi band could have flooded the living room and she would not have broken that latch. But now she's becoming more of a little person, and little people are distractible y'all. But it's so cute. I will be feeding her and distracted myself and on my phone, and look down and notice that she is staring directly at me with a huge grin on her face, milk dribbling down her chin. Or she'll stop and contort her entire body so that she can see the TV or dad across the room or the dogs fighting. I don't know why I find this so adorable, but maybe it's because it's a sign that there are other things in this world she finds more interesting than mommy's boobs, which is a development I whole heartedly welcome.
8. Her noises. Ryley has been a big fan of making noise for a while, but just in the last few days she has discovered that she has the ability to scream. And crow. And now that she knows she has that ability she is OWNING it. She will be in her jumparoo and let out a crowing/screaming type noise and hold it for like 60 seconds. I had her in the stroller in Nordstrom's the other day and she let out a constant series of interesting feral cat type sounds for the entire store to hear. She has found her voice and she likes to contort it in as many weird sounds a possible. The best is when she makes noises while also making definite eye contact, because it's very obvious she is speaking fluently in baby language and fully expects you to understand her. And then she gets disappointed that her parents are such dumb dumbs that they didn't brush up on baby tongue before having a child.
9. Her little fuzzy baby hair. My daughter has the craziest hair. She was born with a pretty thick head of dark hair but a lot of that has fallen out and new lighter fuzz is growing in. But currently from a distance all you can really see are a bunch of bald patches and then the hair she does have sticking up in every possible direction. She has constant baby bed head and the receding hairline of a middle aged man. It is incredible.
10. When she's snuggly. Infants, for all of their adorabless, are not super snuggly unless they are sleeping. They don't hug. Or kiss. When you hold them they do more squirming than anything else. But Ryley is finally getting to the age where she is showing the first signs of awake snuggliness. She only gives it out in small doses, like when I get her out of the car and she rests her sweaty head on my shoulder on the way into the house, or right before a nap when she is blurry eyed and sleepy and rubs her face into my chest. When she is really happy she will grab my face with her tiny hands and try to eat my cheek (which I interpret as a kiss, in reality she probably is literally trying to eat my cheek). She likes to pull my hair when she is feeling sassy. Interacting with a newborn is mostly a one way street. Newborns are like aloof little divas who want constant attention but refuse to make eye contact with anyone. But Ryley is finally getting to the point where there is actual feedback and response on her part. I crave her baby cuddles the way I imagine a drug addict craves a fix. And I will soak up every last cuddle and snuggle for as long as they last.
I'm a thirty-something mom of two, wife, pediatric RN, and writer with a passion for all the big and little things in life.