Rolling Resolutions: Personal, Creative, and Professional Goals

I hate New Year’s resolutions.

Basically, I hate anything that sets me up for disappointment. And setting a list of goals to accomplish in the new year always sets me up for disappointment.

Sure, I’ll start off great. But then life gets in the way, and by December, instead of looking at everything the year has brought me and everything I have accomplished… all I can see are those unchecked items on my list.

So instead, I revise my ongoing list of goals to reflect what I would like to accomplish moving forward. If it gets done in 2014, great. If I even start it this year, wonderful. Sometimes, all I have to do is mull one of the items over sometime in the course of the year. Other times, circumstances change so that I can’t, or no longer need or want to, accomplish one or more of the items on the list.

And it makes for a nice little blog post at the beginning of the year.

There is one thing I like about tying these goals to a new year: The holidays often take precedence over any type of personal or career development I have in mind. Eating habits worsen. Exercise is laughable. So I can see the benefits of “starting fresh.” But I’m still not going to make myself finish an entire to-do list in one year.

So what’s on this “All-Year Resolutions” list?

Family

Family photos

1. Be more present. One of the things I most regret about this past year, and probably all years, is not being present — but especially because this year brought us the greatest gift ever, our son. I do believe I have been more present, positive, and optimistic this year because of him. But there were also great swaths of time where I was too focused on meaningless details that, in the grand scheme of things, didn’t really matter, and I had no control over anyway. For instance, baby sleep.

wail

My God, how obsessed I was about baby sleep. I logged every minute he spent with eyes closed in an app, built spreadsheets to try to determine his sleep patterns for optimal nap scheduling, endlessly researched baby sleep, and generally fretted over every little thing. I worried about why he wasn’t sleeping in the crib at 3 weeks, 4 weeks, 6 weeks, 8 weeks, three months, four months, five. I dramatically sighed and rolled my eyes and succumbed to despair every single time he made a peep after we believed he had finally — FINALLY — fallen asleep.

The fact is, our kid has never been a stellar napper. And for a long time, he sucked at falling asleep. He was always a good nighttime sleeper — at least, he always slept appropriately for whatever age he was.

And then, at five months, when he learned to roll over, we were finally able to put him in the crib, because he could do what he couldn’t up until then: roll onto his tummy, in his favorite sleeping position, and fall asleep.

And he fell into his own natural schedule.

And sometimes he’s tired behind schedule. And sometimes he’s tired ahead of schedule.

And now we don’t really stress. Mainly because it’s become easier.

But I really wish I hadn’t spent all that time crazed over something that, for the most part, I couldn’t control.

Baby sleep, man. Shit’s nuts. Deal with it and try to stay sane.

That’s just one example, but in general, I would like to spend more time WITH my family — “with” meaning in body, mind, spirit, heart. Not half-listening to my husband, half playing Candy Crush Saga. Not too busy instagramming a great moment with my son that I miss a dozen other great moments. Not worrying about yesterday, tomorrow, and everything in between when I should be enjoying right now with my family.

Personal

1. Physical activity. The year we got married, I really upped my fitness regimen.

Okay, I started a fitness regimen. Because until then, there was nothing to up.

I’m not one of those people who thrives on the adrenaline I get from working out. I hate working out. Hate. It. But I love the results.

But we got married, and went on a honeymoon cruise, and had Thanksgiving, then Christmas, then we were TTC, then I was pregnant, then I was a busy new mom, then I was breastfeeding, then it was Thanksgiving, then Christmas… basically, a million and one excuses for letting things slide. And it’s not about looking great (though that’d be nice). But it’s about feeling great, and feeling healthy. So now that our breastfeeding relationship is nearing an end, I’d like to get back on the fitness bandwagon. Which ties in with my next personal goal…

2. Diet. Not as in, start a diet. But as in, watch my diet. As in, the things I eat.

Eat better.

Like, not having a handful (or two) of M&Ms for a mid-morning snack. Like, HAVING a mid-morning snack. Like, not eating three helpings of pie. And a bowl of ice cream. And a bag of Lemonheads.

3. Work on my book. Last year, I started writing a contemporary young adult novel. I got the first draft done, and then I took a break, and during that break, I started a side business and that has taken up the abundance of my “free time.” This year, I’d like to work on that first draft and see what happens.

Professional

1. Grow my web presence. One of my biggest goals for my side business was to start a website for Franny & Franky Designs, my new graphic design business — which I accomplished two days before the New Year. So now, in addition to having a Franny & Franky Designs storefront on Etsy, it has its own place on the web, as well. I like it.

Franny & Franky Designs website

I registered a domain with GoDaddy and used Wix.com for the hosting. I opted for Wix’s unlimited package, which doesn’t have a shopping cart. That was just fine with me — I actually thought I would do an additional storefront here, but its cart was a little limited for what I wanted to do, and the idea of keeping up a storefront on Etsy and my own site gave me a headache. So I’m just linking to my Etsy shop from there.

There are a couple of things I love about having an additional website. First, it gives me a place to showcase my custom work, which I can’t do on Etsy. It also gives me another place on the internet to work my keywords, hopefully boosting my search engine ranking over time. It’s another way for people to find me. It allows me to tell more of a story than I tell on Etsy. And… well, it’s just fun.

2. Roll out a few new product lines for Franny & Franky Designs. I’ve already rolled out a few.  I’d like to work on more. The cool thing about creativity is that action begets ideas. In other words, the more stuff I work on, the more ideas I get.

family name wix

Franny & Franky Designs Wedding state guest book alternative art print

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New York City road map heart art print at Franny & Franky Designs on Etsy

Custom Wedding City Road Map Guest Book alternative art print at Franny & Franky Designs on Etsy

Custom wedding city save the date postcard by Franny & Franky Designs on Etsy

You might notice a pattern — more wedding products. I really love the idea of many of my designs being used as wedding guest book art prints. You know, those guest book alternatives that replace the traditional guest book, where guests sign a large print that you can then frame and display in your home. I considered having one of these at our own wedding a couple of years back, but ultimately decided on a book. Now, I wish I’d had this idea back then so I could have had one of my own prints there!

At any rate, that leads me to my next goal for the business…

3. Expand my wedding business

I’ve already purchased a featured listing on mywedding.com, and we’ll see how that goes. I just wanted to start with one listing since I’m not super established yet and don’t have a huge marketing budget. It’s really a Catch-22. You need exposure to get big, but it’s hard to come by exposure when you’re just starting out. I’ve identified a few things I need to do, though, to start building this market, and I realize it’s going to come slowly since it is such a saturated market. For now, I’m reaching out to wedding planners (locally for the time being) to let them know about my products, contacting wedding bloggers and shopping sites, setting up as many free listings as possible, and working up a plan to incorporate more wedding decor content on this blog, on my Facebook page, on Twitter, etc. For example, I have a blog post planned on how to reuse wedding decor elements in your home to extend their life and give you a sweet reminder of the day.

4. Expand my business in general

I started this thing thinking, “I wonder if anybody will buy these.” Four months later, I’ve made over 100 sales, with minimal promotion. And without a business or marketing plan. So my goal this year is to develop a business plan and goals, achievements that I’ll need to reach to get closer to my goals, and steps to take to make those achievements. More on this in a later post.

You’ll notice that my professional area has more goals than family. But that’s not because the professional area is more important. It’s just because there are more actionable goals there. And, ultimately, I want to grow it to the point where I can work from home and be there for the kid’s after-school activities and whatnot.

So — what are your resolutions, goals, plans, hopes, dreams, whatever you choose to call them, for this year and beyond?

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Etsy Mondays: Amy Alexander Designs

We all know how much I love the collage-y statement jewelry trend. Well, at least, we should — remember my wedding bracelet from Etsy seller Tatty Chic?

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Which, by the way, I had given one of my bridesmaids to hold in her purse that night, and just finally got back from her TWO MONTHS ago. And I see her ALL THE TIME.

Well, I wanted to talk about Amy Alexander Designs for my first Etsy Monday, because her pieces are so amazing. If I were getting married now, instead of two years ago, I would totally be buying up everything in her shop.

Antique Bronze Flower Pocket Watch Necklace Jewelry by Amy Alexander Designs

Shop owner Rebecca Harris uses both new and vintage components in her creations, like this pocket watch necklace made from a filigreed clock pendant, white enamel and metal flowers, a pink glass rhinestone, and a brass chain.

Gold Bracelet, Wedding Bracelet, Bridal Jewelry, Beaded Cuff, Wedding Accessories by Amy Alexander Designs

I think if this were my listing, I’d call it “The Amazeballs Bracelet.” Handcrafted by a golden-toned double-layer butterfly with glass rhinestone detail, a metal emerald green rose, green resin flowers, a white-and-gold Swarovski rhinestone flower, gold-plated leaf and flower embellishments, and a white enamel flower with a rhinestone center.

Wedding Brooch Bridal Pin Bridal Broach Wedding Broach Gold Jewelry by Amy Alexander Designs

Her pieces would work equally well for a vintage or modern wedding. I was always looking for one-of-a-kind items like this to give my bridal style a unique edge. This brooch is handcrafted from a pastel green resin rose, vintage opal, wildflower with gold-toned trim, and gold-plated leaves.

Some more of her amazing creations (click on any image to be taken to its listing):

White Flower Bridal Hair Comb , Wedding Hair Piece , Crystal Rhinestone Wedding by Amy Alexander Designs Cuff Bracelet , Sage Green Beaded Bracelet , Wedding Cuff , Peacock Bracelet by Amy Alexander Designs Bridal Ring, Ivory Wedding Ring, Flower Jewelry by Amy Alexander Designs White Rose Wedding Earrings , Gold Plated Dangle Earrings , Turquoise and Topaz Bridal Accessories by Amy Alexander Designs

And by the way, Rebecca didn’t pay me in any way to rave about her jewelry — I just stumbled across her shop and had to give her a shoutout because her items are so unusual and sweet.

Check out Rebecca’s shop, Amy Alexander Designs, if you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind piece for your bridal look, or just for your jewelry collection in general.

XOXO

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Journalism Does MATTER

I’ll admit it: My first reaction when I saw that there was a 0.99/month subscription price to MATTER was, “Why would I pay for longform journalism when I can get it for free at The Feature or Longform?” The answer was quickly apparent: Because you can’t get Matter’s content anywhere else.

The online publication’s tagline states that “MATTER commissions, crafts and publishes award-winning journalism about science, technology and the ideas shaping our future.”

In other words, it’s completely original journalism.

readmatter.com

And they pay for it, too. Founded by journalists Jim Giles and Bobbie Johnson, MATTER started in early 2012 as a Kickstarter campaign that raised more than $140,000. Recently, they were acquired by Medium, Twitter and Blogger co-founder Ev Williams’ celebration of the written word, where writers and readers come together on one awesome platform.

MATTER also favors user interaction — since they’re funded by Kickstarter backers and members who pay that 0.99/month fee to access all articles (the one article per month that they release is free to the public while it’s up). They regularly issue calls for story ideas to their loosely organized editorial board — paying readers — on their blog, OVERMATTER. They run Q&As with their contributors, similar to Reddit’s AMA.

And their content is awesome. Their first story, “Do No Harm,” a piece about Body Integrity Identity Disorder by science writer Anil Ananthaswamy, is free to read. Other articles include “Uprooted,” an exploration of genetic geneology and its implication on privacy by Virginia Hughes, “In the Name of the King” about the religious factions battling to lay claim to Tutankhamun’s past and the science behind uncovering his DNA by Jo Marchant, and “Never Say Die,” which delves into the hunt for life extension, by Megan Scudellari.

So what does 0.99/month get you? Besides supporting excellent journalism…

  • Permanent access to the web edition and all archived articles
  • The e-book edition for the Kindle and iPad
  • A free audiobook edition
  • An extra free book chapter each month (this month: Writing on the Wall by Tom Standage.)

Oh, and did I mention it’s gorgeous? All the focus is on the words. I briefly wanted to grouse about the fact that there’s no iPhone app, but no matter — it reads so well in a regular old phone browser.

So go. Read. Join.

xoxo

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A New Baby

I have an announcement to make!

Um, no. Not that kind of announcement.

THIS kind of announcement:

FrannyandFranky Etsy shop!

 

I’ve opened my own shop!

Because I don’t have enough to do in my spare time. You know, taking care of an 8-month-old boy, working full time, writing a book, and trying to spend time with my husband just leaves SO MUCH empty time for me to run a graphic design shop.

But I’m having the best time.

This is something I’ve wanted to do for a while now. Back at my last job, when I was going through the darkest, “I hate this place” times, I talked to a friend of a friend about taking action and creating my own destiny. She asked me what, if time and money and everything else was not a factor, I would want to do. I toyed around with graphic design and started taking some online tutorials, but then ultimately decided on interior design.

You know, because looking at pretty blog pictures and rearranging my living room meant I should run my own interior design business.

So I went to night school, part time, while working at a horrible job. And after a year, I got a different job (my current job, which I’m totally not leaving anytime soon) and I took a semester off and I realized, hey, I don’t want to be an interior designer, I just don’t want to do what I was doing at my last job anymore.

The good thing about that year in school, though, despite the additional student loan debt that it racked up, was that it got me through the worst times at my previous job.

The other good thing is it showed me that I have more talents. More passions. And that if I want to do something, I should do it.

I’ve always wanted to write a book. I’ve always wanted to get into graphic design. And you’d think having a baby would totally tank all those dreams. But instead, it’s somehow motivated me. Maybe I want to be a good example for my son. Maybe I need an identity aside from “mother.” Maybe he’s just inspiring me to create. Whatever it is, it’s a blast.

SO. What am I doing in this little shop of mine?

State heart maps

State map heart prints…

City map heart prints

City map heart prints…

State typography, slogan, and motto art prints

State typography art prints…

Wedding guest book alternative heart map from Franny & Franky Designs on Etsy

Custom wedding date and wedding guest book alternative art prints…

Typography art print from Franny & Franky Designs on Etsy

Typography prints.

Plus, I’m doing custom orders for specific cities, color combinations, and special holiday orders.

A few special deals:

  • If you like Franny & Franky Designs on Facebook and click on “My Etsy Shop” below the cover photo, you can purchase any of our prints from that portal and receive a 10% discount.
  • We also have several “print package” deals on our custom orders page — 2 prints for $25, 3 prints for $40, or 4 prints for $50.

So… what have you been up to?

xoxo

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Gummy Grins and Growth Spurts: A 3-Month Update

3 months SMALL

NOTE: He’s 4 months old now — I’m playing catch-up!

You’re 3 months, bub — no longer a newborn, but a full-fledged kiddo. This month was even more exciting than the last (though I have a feeling I’ll be saying that every month).

You took your 2-month shots like a champ, as hard as it was to watch you cry. You slept like a log the whole next day, but then we were back to your regularly scheduled programming of 30-minute naps and frequent night wakings.

Your smiles became our favorite part of every single day. Your whole face lights up; the delight you feel is palpable. It’s hard not to smile in return. You used to wake hungry and cranky, inconsolable until fed. Now, while you may fuss or cry to tell us you’re all done sleeping, you smile when we appear to lift you from your cradle. A frustrating side effect of this joy are the coy smiles you flash as we attempt to rock you to sleep. You seem more interested in flirting or gazing up at the artwork on the walls than sleeping, and it’s impossible not to smile ourselves and interact with you even though we must remain focused on getting you to close your eyes for just a bit. But how could we possibly get mad at that gummy, gregarious grin? Your smiles took over this month and you became a thoroughly happy baby who left behind the wailing scream-fests of your second month.

smiling

This month, you started grabbing at objects with more zest and purposefulness, succeeding on many occasions at wrapping your fingers around the tentacles of your Captain Calamari toy, the wings of the owl hanging from your activity gym, the spokes of the colorful Winkel we wave in your face during chill sessions on our bed. Your hand-eye coordination took a giant leap and you purposely began swatting at things instead of swatting near them.

You love to look in the mirror, so that’s entered our daily rotation of activities. You smile and laugh at the “other baby” in the mirror, and shyly turn your head from your reflection. You delight at seeing me there, even as I inexplicably hold you in my arms. We also discovered that you love to gaze at the phot0s hanging on the hallway walls, so we take you there daily, explaining who is in each photo. Your favorites are the shot of daddy and me kissing in a gazebo on our wedding day, and a snapshot of Zoe, grandpa’s Boston terrier.

boppy

We started to add a nighttime read to your bedtime routine, and though you’re sometimes a bit too cranky to finish the story, you have started to pay more attention to the book we hold in front of you, occasionally quieting down long enough for us to finish. You especially love “Little Blue and Little Yellow” and “Oh! The Places You’ll Go.” If you’re in a good enough mood, I’ll cradle you in my arms and softly sing “Hush Little Baby” or “Hey There, Delilah” until you yawn and start the slow blink. It’s so sweet to watch you entranced, gazing into my face, and growing drowsy. Truth be told, though, you more often than not prefer to be held in a sitting position or vertically looking over our shoulders, so you can look at the sights surrounding you, rather than cradled like a baby.

This month, you started to really notice Rosie and Andy, our dog and cat. You’re especially fond of Andy, probably because of his high-contrast black-and-white fur. In true Andy style, he’ll settle himself near you while you’re chilling out or eating, but as soon as I turn him to you and stretch your hand out to stroke his head, he bounds away. Rosie has become your constant companion, however, following you around the house and lying next to you as you play in your activity gym, as if to guard you from intruders.

seat

We’ve started taking you out more since you received your first round of shots, to restaurants and a few stores. You are so good while out, and while you often end up skipping a nap, you don’t cry or fuss at all. We even took you out for an early dinner with the grandpas and Grandma P, to our favorite Mexican restaurant downtown (incidentally, I had my last pregnant meal at its sister restaurant the night I went into labor with you). You just played with your Captain Calamari, dozed off a bit, then gained a second wind as you gazed and smiled at the light filtering in through the mesh on your car seat canopy.

You’ve found your voice, as well, shouting joyfully at the toys in your gym and the Tiny Love mobile that you dance along to in your crib. I am convinced you’re going to be either a dancer or a soccer player, the way you kick your legs so vigorously. When you really get going, you point your toes and your arms pump up and down in unison with your feet, and you pant and coo. This is so much fun to watch — though not as fun to experience while trying to change your clothes and your diaper! You’ve even started smiling in the bathttub, and especially love it when I narrate what we’re doing. I’ve added a few moves to our nighttime post-bath massage, which you really seem to enjoy. I love this time with you to get quiet and connect before bedtime.

grandpa

As my maternity leave comes to an end, I find myself gripped with fear at leaving you somewhere else all day long. I dread the time away from you, your face, your smile, your laugh, your little legs and arms, your chunky hands and feet, your cheeks, your hair, and your soft, hot breathing. Although I feel a sense of relief at connecting with the world as a working adult once again, at not having to struggle multiple times each day with your naps, and at gaining back some of my time to do some solo shopping and errands at lunch or to enjoy a hot meal (or a trip to the bathroom) without interruption, I can’t help but feel a sense of guilt and sadness at the span of time we’ll spend apart for 40+ hours each week. Daddy is getting a little misty, too, even though he chided me for feeling this way in the past. We made a quick visit to your daycare the week before you started, to get acquainted with your teachers and bring by some of your stuff. I think that’s when it really hit Daddy that you’ll no longer be the only baby around, that you’ll be one of eight other kids competing for attention. But we both do feel secure in knowing that your teachers are kind and loving, experienced and dedicated to making sure that you have the best day and continue to develop and grow as you have at home. In a way, a part of me is even envious that you have this social experience that I did not — not having spent much time with other children until I entered preschool at 4 years old, I know that you’ll benefit from seeing others achieve milestones you’re coming up on, and from interacting with those your age, learning how to play, share, and more.

I was certain that you hadn’t changed at all since your 2-month shot, but as usual, your 3-month picture side-by-side with the one taken 4 weeks ago has disabused me of that notion! You are far chunkier — you must weigh 15 pounds by now, if not more — and taller, able to support your head and sit propped up rather than toppling over like you did last month. While you’re still far from sitting on your own, you can spend some time in your Bumbo or on our lap without collapsing onto yourself in a pile of jelly bones.

mat closetup

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Growing Up So Fast: A 2-Month Update

2 months small

Note: He’s 4 months old now… playing catch up!

Happy 2 months, buddy! Grandma came to visit you all the way from New York when you were just 4 weeks old — a visit that was timed with your very first social smiles. Tentative but soul-lifting, you flashed a gummy smirk when we gazed into your face and spoke to you — and the smirks turned into grins over the next few weeks as you clearly started demonstrating a precious preferences for us, your parents. You also started laughing this month — the first time at me as I took you out of your rock n play when you wouldn’t sleep, to try reswaddling you. You giggled as if to say, “Haha mommy, that won’t work! Sleep is for the weak!” While they’re still just little chuckles, you’re such a  happy baby that they’ll surely turn into hearty belly laughs in no time. You’re happiest in the morning, unlike your mommy and daddy.

You also started grabbing for things — our faces, toys we showed you. It warms my heart that you might recognize us and be grabbing to say hello. One morning, lying in bed while nursing, you locked eyes with me, and I said, “Hi.” Up came your hand, flailing but aiming right for my lower lip, and you gently tugged. Were you saying “hi” back? I think so.

By the end of the month, your smiles came even more frequently and became so much more special. When I would come up to you after any sort of separation, your face would light up just for me. And your eyes began following your daddy and me around a room. When your daddy handed you over to me, your head remained turned, your eyes on him.

mat closeup

You went from 9 pounds, 7 ounces at your 4-week appointment to 12 pounds at 8 weeks, and shot up to 22.5 inches. We retired footsie pajamas you’d suddenly grown too long for, but are still shoving you into the footless Carter’s sleepers that have now shrunk into highwaters on your lengthening frame. You started officially outgrowing your newborn clothes and fitting into some of your 3-month stuff, and I said goodbye to your newborn wardrobe at around 6 weeks. We adjusted your car seat straps when you shot up and inch, and then again when you suddenly grew by another inch. I can hardly believe how much and how quickly you’re growing, not just physically, but mentally, as well. Comparing your 1-month and 2-month photos, you barely look like the same kid at all.

mirror

You also started sleeping for longer stretches of up to five hours at a time at night, and naps began emerging during the day — but only because we started putting you down at regular intervals. You are not the baby who will sleep anywhere, on or in anything! You will push yourself to stay up longer and longer — unfortunately, growing fussier and fussier as time passes. Aside from the nighttime, you’re not the greatest sleeper in the world. We tried transitioning you to your crib, an experiment that lasted three days before you found yourself back within the comforting confines of the rock n play beside our bed. Hey, if it’s not broke, don’t fix it, right?

We introduced you to your activity mat at the beginning of the month, which you took to right away. You love to swat and kick at the dangling toys and seem delighted when you achieve the tinkling bell noise (though you still don’t realize the cause and effect of your motion and that sound). You started trying to flip over to your back during tummy time, and sometimes you get so frustrated you start crying, but you will get there! You managed to roll over at just 4 weeks, a fluke that sadly has not been repeated, yet thrilled us to the core.

reading

You make the most adorable noises, like a kitten. Your favorite face of ours is the DeNiro face, followed closely by “fish face.”

Daddy started taking over your baths this month, which quickly became his favorite task, even though he was at first afraid of accidentally drowning or dropping you. It’s so special to watch the two of you bonding and to hear him chattering away to you. Of course, I still retain the rights to your pre-bed foot massage, which you love so much.

bathhawk

It’s been an amazing month, kid, but the best is yet to come. You’re no longer that bleary-eyed, feeding, sleeping lump we brought home from the hospital, but rather a child with a clearly emerging personality. “You can tell he’s going to be a good kid,” your daddy commented this month.

And I agree.

rosie

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Sleep Deprived: In the Throes of the 4-Month Sleep ‘Regression’

There’s a sentiment among parents, a sort of superstition, that you are never to publicly share your good fortune regarding any aspect of your child’s sleep. Whether you have an awesome napper who falls asleep promptly whenever tired, or a sleep-through-the-nighter at just 2 weeks of age, keep that shizz to yourself. Because if you don’t, the sleep gods will rain fury down upon you for committing such a sin, and you will be tormented by a period of poor sleep unimagined by even the most pessimistic parent.

Bean has never been a great daytime sleeper, but his nighttime sleep has always been solid — and even more so in recent weeks. So for us, it started with my ill-conceived proclamation to daycare workers that, while he rarely if ever napped in their presence, he had always been a good sleeper at night, waking only once or twice briefly to eat, then going back down sleepily and soundly.

Then, he slept for a 10-hour stretch two nights in a row. And then he slept through all the way, from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., without waking once. And I shared this news with his teachers. And then everything fell apart.

That’s right: We are deep in the throes of the dreaded 4-month sleep regression, and our little overachiever decided to start going through it a full two weeks before he even makes 4 months.

playyard

On one of the rare days he was sleeping through — here, in my office about to take a nap — right before it all hit the fan.

No sooner had he slept through, than he started waking up twice a night again. Then it was three times. By the end of last week, he was waking up four times a night, unable to be calmed by a pacifier. Over the weekend, he started taking upwards of an hour to fall asleep at night, an event that we hadn’t experienced since the bad-old newborn days of 4, 5, and 6 weeks old. After 20 minutes of fuss-filled nursing, he screams for more, only to refuse to remain latched. Then he goes stiff as a board and start screaming the second I attempt to put him back down in his bassinet. A quick pop of the paci can quiet him (once he’s eaten) but it will fall out two or three times, prompting another fuss fest until we quickly replace it. This past Friday, he slept from 7 p.m. to 4 a.m., and took an unprecedented 3-hour nap on Saturday, which gave me hope, but it turns out he was probably just catching up from the horror fest that was his week of nonexistent daycare naps, because he went right back to waking up four times a nap and short, crappy naps thereafter.

You can see why our most recent attempts to move him out of our bedroom and into his crib were yet another big, fat fail.

wail

We don’t swaddle him anymore, but this most closely matches what bedtime looks like these days. Again.

Google “4-month sleep regression” and you get tons of blog posts and frantic forum postings. What the eff is going on with my child’s sleep? Even though I knew it was coming, I kidded myself into believing it was a myth, or that I’d be one of the lucky few it didn’t happen to. I told myself that, since a friend reported that her son’s regression involved two night wakings a night, that we didn’t have far to regress because Bean was already doing that, and it wasn’t that bad.

Oh, how foolish I was. I’m here to tell you that, in our house at least, the 4-month sleep regression is alive and well.

This regression, or whatever, is theoretically tied to Wonder Week 19, which helpfully starts as early as week 14. According to scientists Hetty van de Rijt and Frans Plooij, there are 10 developmental spurts that occur independently of physical growth spurts. These phases, which can last a few days or a few MONTHS (holy hell), are when babies are working out pretty amazing concepts regarding themselves and the world around them. They may co-occur with growth spurts, but are not the same thing. The pattern goes:

  • Fussy period when they’re working it all out
  • The “leap” where they can now demonstrate a grasp of what they learned during the fussy period
  • A sunny period between Wonder Weeks where your child is tolerable again

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This is what stares back at me each night. Clearly not the face of a child who’s sleeping.

I haven’t read the book, because I haven’t really found it necessary — there are plenty of good resources regarding WWs online. One of my favorites is this rundown by Who’s That Mom? Ask Moxie also has some really useful posts on this topic, including “A reminder about sleep regressions” (hey-o, there’s another one in four months!) and “Should you sleep train your 4-month old?”

So what’s going on that’s so disturbing my kiddo’s sleep?

Wonder Week 19: The World of Events

Basically, he’s learning about sequence of events (grab toy, inspect toy, put toy in mouth). Not to mention there is also a 4-month growth spurt. EXCELLENT. All that means that not only has he become a tremendously shitty sleeper all around the clock, but he’s also:

  • Moody: Lately, the littlest thing seems to set him off. He’s like a mini toddler: Take away his stuffed frog? Meltdown. Put him down in his crib? Meltdown. Walk into the hallway with him? Meltdown. Dry his hair after a bath? Meltdown. One second he’s a giggle box, the next he’s Professor Fussypants from Tantrum University.
  • Clingy: He just can’t hang as long as he used to under his mobile or his activity gym. If we’re not right by his side, he’s screeching to be picked up.
  • An atrocious, yet voracious, nurser: Good grief, he hasn’t been this bad of an eater since I was engorged. He always seems starving, but he just won’t latch. He latches then pops off a dozen times in as many seconds, eventually screaming and pitching a fit because there’s no milk in his mouth — because it’s pouring down my boob. Meanwhile, he’s waking up every two hours to eat throughout the night. Because what I really want to do at 3 a.m. is wrestle a 16-week-old who’s hangry but won’t eat. In fact, this terrible eating was largely responsible for my sudden fear last week that my milk supply was plummeting, which led to my taking supplements containing fenugreek, which apparently causes Bean great gastric distress and led to several huge diaper blowouts at daycare, making me feel like Mommy of the Year. And then at the end of the week, I ended up putting 18 extra ounces in the freezer, so… no, my milk supply is fine. My kid is just a terrible nursling ATM.

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“I’m exhausted but I’d rather spend 45 minutes rubbing my blanket all over my face.”

For now, I’m taking great comfort in the fact that this is a temporary phase. I did attempt some CIO with interval checks on Friday, determined to make the crib transition over the long weekend despite his poor sleep patterns, because apparently I had not yet read the aforementioned article on sleep training a 4-month-old (short story: Don’t do it). And he ended up screaming so powerfully that it took him a full 30 minutes to calm down even after I transferred him back to the Rock n Play. Which made me feel like a SUPER awesome parent.

The bad news? Once he’s out of this phase, he’ll be prepping for Wonder Week 26 (the world of relationships, AKA cause and effect) and probably teething.

Because the fun just never stops.

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I guess it’s worth it.

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Lies They Told Me About My Newborn

Parenting books. Childcare classes. Internet forums. Blogs. Baby websites. Developmental milestone emails. Nurses. Doctors. There is a plethora of sources from which baby facts and advice spout, and as an avid Googler and incessant researcher, I gobbled them all up like they were manna from heaven.

In the end, however, I realized that some key points were just total garbage. While I had hopeful thoughts of our baby sleeping nonstop, dropping off wherever he may lay, and establishing a reasonably spaced-out feeding schedule, the harsh reality was anything but.

I thought I’d take a moment to log some of the most outrageous lies I was fed. Not to burst your bubble, but just to let you know that we, too, were fed the party line – and choked on it.

Spoiler: Most of them have to do with sleep.

1.       They consolidate their sleep around 6 weeks, nap for upwards of 2 hours at a time throughout the day, and can sleep through the night!

First off, “sleep through the night” in and of itself is an awful, terrible misdirection on the part of the medical community. It turns out that when they say “sleep through the night,” they mean, “sleep five hours in a row.”

What? What kind of honky tonk BS is that? Whose night is five hours long? I mean, yeah, I’d love to sleep five hours in a row, don’t get me wrong. But when the baby goes to bed at 7 p.m., not only am I not at all tired, I still have to make and/or eat dinner, take a shower, pump, and get everything ready for work the next day — not to mention converse with my husband ab0ut more than diaper output and neck cheese (as in, “Make sure to clean his neck really well during bathtime, he has some major neck cheese and I don’t want him to be the smelly baby at daycare”) and have some small amount of downtime to play Candy Crush and catch up on “Mad Men”. So, by the time I crawl into bed way later than I should, this “sleeping through the night” kid only has about two more hours of sleep in him. Therefore, sleeping five hours in a row, while nice and all, is pretty much useless to me.

Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, let me tell you what a great, white beacon of hope the daytime “sleep consolidation” lie was to me in those first four or so weeks. Sure, it got me through some of my darkest moments, allowing me to look forward to the mythical day when he’d turn six weeks, the sleep gods would flip a switch, and he’d stop taking 45 minutes to fall asleep for a 20-minute nap. Seriously, I think I have PTSD from those early days when I’d breathe a sigh of relief, sneak out of the room, make myself a hot lunch or start cleaning up or take a shower or just lay on the couch and watch “Grey’s Anatomy,” only to hear a tiny cough and a piercing wail within five minutes. Nowadays, even though he’s 15 weeks and usually naps for more than 30 minutes at a time, I rarely leave the room after putting him down, instead lolling on the bed playing on my iPhone or napping myself. I’m scarred from those days of hopefully leaving the room only to be called back within minutes. Scarred, I tell you.

And those two-hour naps that Babycenter claimed I’d start seeing? Sure, he had a couple last week. But he was also sick. So, you tell me – was he just so tired because he was sick?

By the way, Murphy’s Law dictates that, if you do leave the room, it’ll be a 15-minute nap. If you stay, he’ll sleep for three hours. Of course, you will have chosen not to nap yourself, and will instead of whiled away the time shopping on Amazon, thinking he’d wake any minute. And then when you finally get so tired you decide, “OK, he’s slept for a while, I can probably catch a few myself”… he wakes his ass up.

2.       They eat every two to three hours!

This sounded pretty reasonable to me. I breastfeed, and when we were in the hospital, the nurses would declare his next feeding time as three hours from when he’d last begun eating. So if he’d start eating at 1, he’d be due to eat at 4. Totally doable. And since he was so sleepy in those first few days out of the womb, I’d be the one waking him to eat. By the time we got home, I was told to feed every two hours to stimulate my milk production. OK, still doable – eat for, what, 15 minutes, then nap or whatever? And I can still get tons done, or nap myself. Deal.

Except, wait. He’s not exactly eating for 15 minutes. It’s more like 45 minutes. Per side. And then we’re done, and he’s still crying. Or rooting, or whatever. He’s still hungry? I mean, it works… he’s gulping it down… And hey, he’s “stimulating my supply.” But then, all of a sudden, he’s hungry every hour. And it takes an hour for him to eat. So it’s Boobfest 2013 and I’m the main act. Well, actually, I’m the only act.

This two-to-three-hour BS was one of the hardest to toss aside, by far. Not only did feeding him take forever, but it hurt like the dickens, so it wasn’t exactly something I looked forward to spending my entire day doing. I could also not master breastfeeding with one hand until he was about 12 weeks old, so it took both my hands. That meant that, short of setting up Netflix to play nonstop “Grey’s Anatomy,” I couldn’t do anything while he ate – like, oh, eat myself. Or drink water. Or let the whining dog out into the back yard. Or pee (seriously, there were days I didn’t pee all day long). This was especially difficult once my Mister Mister returned to work at two weeks postpartum.

3.       Baby won’t nap? The swing ALWAYS works!

Thank goodness we didn’t buy a swing ourselves – it was a hand-me-down – because this kid does NOT, nor has he ever, slept in or even enjoyed the swing. At all.

See, when you have a baby who will not nap, you run all sorts of frenzied Internet searches while frantically rocking him in his bassinet with one hand and loudly shushing. “4-week-old baby won’t sleep.” “4-week old 15-minute naps.” “Newborn sleep deprived.” “Infant sleep schedule.” And then you find these promising sleep experts and their books and blogs and 8-step low, low-priced personalized sleep programs, and you see there’s hope. Because there are things that work! Like shushing, and swaying, and swaddling, and sucking. And the swing.

Ah, the infant swing. All over the place, there were parents extolling its virtues, proclaiming that their crappy nappers would log one, two, even three-hour naps in these things.

So I’d pop him in there, turn the swing on, maybe even switch on some white noise, and he’d chill for a few minutes… And then he’d start crying. Powerfully.

Then I started searching for things like, “Baby won’t nap in swing.” Because everybody promised me he would. And I’d get an entire blog series about how to get your baby who won’t nap in the swing, to nap in the swing. And I do all of the stuff. ALL of it. I swaddle him, and I put the swing in a dark, quiet room, and I stick the pacifier in his mouth, and I turn on the white noise machine, and I turn the swing on high, and I strap him in, and I leave the room, and I wait 10 minutes.

And he wails. And wails. And does not nap.

So, I’m not saying the swing doesn’t work. But it certainly doesn’t work for every baby, because for us, it was a bust.

Plus, it’s a space-sucking monstrosity.

4.       Baby still won’t nap? Put him in the carrier! That poor kid just wants to be held! 

OK, so even if the swing doesn’t work, the infant carrier should, right? I mean, it totally makes sense that he was held 24/7 while I was pregnant with him, so he should be totally comforted by being held so close to me, and just nap the day away while I actually get some housework done. Or pee.

Thankfully, there are approximately 84 different infant carriers. So I bought a soft structured one, for shopping trips. And a long fabric one, for around the house. And a Mei Tai-style one, because it was cute.

And he hated them all.

Seriously.

OK, he dug the soft structured carrier occasionally, and mostly in the first few weeks of his life. I could got a couple of trips to Target and an outdoor gender-reveal party out of it. But the Moby Wrap? Ugh, awful. I used it 1.5 times – once to try it out, and once to actually carry him around in, until he fussed so powerfully I thought he would snap himself in two from arching backwards. And the Mei Tai? Oh, God. Hated it so much I thought he would melt into a poof of hate.

My theory is that, when held so close to me, he was right there in Boobland, but there was no access. He just wanted to eat, but instead I was cooking and emptying a dishwasher. And no, breastfeeding while carrying was not going to work out for us. Just trust me.

So these useless infant carriers sit on our closet shelf, and while I’ll probably trot out the soft structured one once he’s old enough to be carried on my back, the other two are officially wastes of money and wastes of space.

5.       They’re so great at this age! You can take them anywhere, and they just sleep!

If I had a nickel for every person that told me this, I’d be able to buy a pair of brass knuckles and punch them all in the face.

 

I could go on and on, with countless lies told to me about ways to get him to calm down, and ways to get him to nap. But in the end, what worked for him – and us – was time. It was hell, and I threw a pacifier across the room once or twice at my lowest moments, and even packed a bag and told my husband I was leaving at my very lowest, around six weeks postpartum. But then he got a little older, and breastfeeding didn’t hurt as much, and he became more efficient and ate for less time but got more so he went longer between feeds, and he started napping nominally longer and at least more frequently, mostly because we actually took the time to physically put him down in a sleeping structure instead of using a swing or a carrier or waiting for him to just flop over while playing on his activity mat and snooze for a couple of hours.

If I knew then, what I know now, I wouldn’t have wasted so much time wondering why he wasn’t doing what the books and blogs and sites and emails and forums told me he should be. Or wondering why all this stuff was working for them, but not for us.

Or, as my friend JB says, “If we knew then, what we knew now, we’d be $1,000 richer.”

Because today, while it’s not perfect, he’s healthy and happy and growing like a weed, and learning something new seriously every minute of every day.

The greatest truth of all is “this, too, shall pass” – and that’s no lie.

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A One-Month Update, Two Weeks Late

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Little man, you’re one month old today! When you were just a few days old, I held you on the couch and sobbed happy tears, telling your dad that my whole life, I’d been rushing from one thing to the next — marriage to house to pregnancy to labor — but that now, I was done rushing. I didn’t want you to grow up too quickly, or for me to have wasted your childhood anticipating the next thing. Yet I find myself oddly rushing your growth for a strange reason — you have so few newborn clothes and so many 3-month outfits that I’m dying to see you in!

Still under 10 pounds, you seem like such a shrimp to me. Your 3-month onesies fit, but the pants are still big. But then I took your 1-month photos and sat them aside shots from 1 week, and wow! How you’ve grown. I may have cried… just a bit. You’re taller, rounder, more unfurled than you were at birth. It’s amazing and scary. It makes me proud to know that in a sense, I did that. Breastfeeding was rough for both of us at the start, but keeping with it and feeding you with what nature gave me has helped you grow so big and strong. I love knowing that I’m doing that for you. It’s a gift only I can give you.

1 week

 

One week

You’re holding your head up for several seconds during tummy time and when we hold you upright. You’ve also become so much more alert and aware when awake, looking around in wonder with those big blue-gray eyes (what color will they eventually become? Daddy thinks brown, like his; I bank on hazel, like mine). You’ve also started to fix your gaze on certain things, locking eyes with us here and there. You stare and bat and kick at the toys in your activity gym and appear delighted when you manage to whack one and make its bell ring. You grab at the toy bar in your swing. You open your arms and raise them toward us when we approach you in your playpen, and when I hold you upright and walk you around when you’re cranky and overtired, you nuzzle your head against my shoulder, the top of your scalp against my cheek, and fling your arm around mine. You don’t know what you’re doing, but you seem to know comfort and are leaning how to find it. It makes my heart burst that it’s in our arms.

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You also treated us to your first social smile the weekend you turned 1 month. You smile more at sounds than anything, and your laughs are still small and random (but so delightful — a gloriously hearty one while you were falling asleep one night warmed my heart and gave me butterflies — a sneak peek!) but you’re showing what you like more and more and becoming so responsive.

As for what it’s like to have an infant — overwhelming, wonderful, stressful, unpredictable, humbling, unexpected, life-changing, mind-scrambling, and more. If I could go back to that first week, I’d have some words for the new mommy who marveled at how much you slept (or maybe I’d just let her remain blissful naive). After that first week, we added “severe sleep deprivation” to the challenges parenthood presented us with. But now, just four weeks later, we’re all settling into a routine — as much as it changes.

At your 4-week checkup, you were 9 pounds, 7 ounces — a huge jump from the 7 pounds, 12 ounces just two weeks prior! It makes us so proud to see you fill out and grow.

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I’ve found that small things have begun affecting me in new ways. Having a child is like getting a new pair of glasses — the world doesn’t change, but your role in it does. While the idea of harm brought to children certainly bothers you as a human before you have children, it affects you as a parent afterwards. Children in pain, sick, dying — they make you grab onto what’s in front of you, sob for the other parent and child but silently thank God it’s not you. It makes you realize the confluence of miracles that must occur for you to stay with us day after day. Not only were we blessed with a relatively quick and painless conception when so many other couples struggle to get pregnant, we didn’t have to suffer the silent pain of a miscarriage. We didn’t have frightening ultrasounds or dramatic complications during pregnancy. You were never in distress. Your labor and delivery were practically uneventful. You passed all your tests, all your screenings, put on weight appropriately, and continue to develop well. The things we hear and read, the indignities and devastation that others must endure, and the fact that we didn’t have to — it changes the way you look at life. And while I’m sure you’ll get sick, hurt yourself, be hurt and live through disappointments, worry and fear, doubt and fret, panic and skulk, today, you are happy and healthy and snoring sweetly in your bassinet next to our bed. And for that, for just that one moment of you near me, I would trade a million yesterdays and tomorrows.

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I love you, little man.

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Bean Becomes a Little Man: A Belated Birth Story

How can I update this blog weekly on my pregnancy and go more than an entire month without even telling you that Bean was born? Oh, that’s right — diapers, breastfeeding, nap attempts, sleepless nights, and trying to squeeze a shower in there somewhere. Well, here’s Bean’s birth story, once and for all.

Little D was born at 8:27 a.m. on February 2, one day before his due date. He was 7 pounds even and 20.5 inches and healthy as can be — so the gestational diabetes apparently didn’t do any sort of number on him. After weeks of wishing and hoping and worrying and waiting, he came rather abruptly (at least compared with what I was afraid of — a long, protracted birth followed by an emergency c-section) and without too much fanfare.

I had been having some false labor for about a week before he arrived. The first couple of bouts, I knew it was nothing — it wasn’t timeable or terribly strong, just some cramping and general ickiness — but I kept hoping it would turn into something. My mucus plug had fallen out at 35 weeks, and I’d been having lots of discharge since, so I was paranoid that I wouldn’t be able to tell when my water broke. I’d also been having cramps, so I was paranoid I wouldn’t be able to tell a contraction from a cramp. All I could do was time my cramps and see if that told me anything. At 39w3d, I was having timeable cramps 10 minutes apart for an hour while at work, then they went away. They came back later that evening — not strong or really even very painful — 10 minutes apart, then went away.
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My last belly shot, 2 days before I went into labor.
At my doctor’s appointment the next day, I mentioned the regularity of the cramping and how crappy in general I had been feeling. To be honest, I was hoping he’d do something to speed things along, so I tried to look as dejected and exhausted as possibly — which wasn’t too much of a stretch. We had a biophysical profile ultrasound to check on the baby’s size and development, and everything looked fine, as usual. The doctor said he was hoping I would give birth sooner rather than later because of the diabetes. I had an induction date scheduled for the day after I turned 41 weeks, but after he examined me, he reported I was 2 cm and almost completely effaced, so he didn’t expect me to last that long. He also stripped my membranes, which was so, so painful. I bled quite a bit that day and had some strong cramps, but nothing regular, and by that evening, it had subsided.

That was also my surprise last day at work. My boss had told me earlier that week that, while Friday was supposed to be my last day before maternity leave, she wanted me to go a couple of days early to rest. I stayed for the lunch they had brought in, and went home for a really uneventful day. I was exhausted, so I napped in the afternoon, then for five hours at night before turning in for good  – my body must have sensed I’d need the rest. But otherwise, I didn’t feel like any progress was being made.

The next day (Friday February 1, two days before my due date), I felt discouraged because I’d had no timeable cramps or any other labor signs since the membrane sweep. I knew I was still two days away from my due date, but I was so consumed with the birth and so physically miserable that I was psyching myself out — and, I worried further, not relaxing enough for labor and potentially stressing the baby out.

My husband and I went for a walk around the block that afternoon, and then I napped a bit before we went out to dinner with my father-in-law, who’d come into town a few days earlier. I ordered the spiciest things I could on the menu in the hopes of jump starting something — I wanted to try all the tricks in the book. I’d also taken a warm bath earlier that day to try to force my body to relax.

When we got home that night, I complained some more about how much I wanted to go into labor right then and there, and how sick of pregnancy I was. Finally, I took the longest, hottest shower ever, just letting the water run over my back, and meditated and concentrated on the things in my life I was grateful for and the hopes I had for our unborn son. I tried to let go as much as I could and just enjoy the shower and the uninterrupted time with Mister Mister before Bean made his appearance.

After getting out of the shower, I put on underwear and a tank top and started to get into bed — that’s when I felt a pop and suddenly had what I thought was the strongest cramp known to man. I also let what I thought was a tremendous amount of discharge go into my underwear. I had to brace myself against the wall until the “cramp” passed. My husband popped up and asked, “What is it? A cramp?” I nodded, and then, when it passed, I sat on the toilet to check my underwear — which looked as if it had been soaked through with water, not discharge. And then I was leaking water into the toilet — not peeing. I looked up at my husband and said, “I think my water just broke!” He got nervous, I started laughing uncontrollably, he said, “Are you sure??”, and I stood up only to let a huge gush of clear liquid onto the floor with every laugh.

OK, so I think I know the difference between water breaking and discharge leaking.

I cleaned myself up, put on fresh underwear with a pad, and called the doctor’s answering service like they’d requested, just to tell them I was headed to the hospital because I thought my water had broken. We crazily packed up the rest of our hospital bag, all nerves and excitement tinged with a bit of fear and vague worry. Mister Mister called his dad to come over and watch the dog overnight, and then I sat on the couch and was treated to what I now know was my second true contraction, exactly 10 minutes after the first one. It was sickening, wrapped hard from my back to my front, and gripped me tight for up to a minute. For the next hour, I walked, I leaned against a wall, I had my husband press against my back. I tried getting on my hands and knees and bouncing on the yoga ball. Nothing pulled me through them except the breathing I learned in birthing class.

Well, I now know the difference between a cramp and a contraction.

By the time Mister Mister’s dad arrived an hour later, the contractions were  five minutes apart. By the time we got to the hospital, 10 minutes away, they were two minutes apart. They just kept crashing over me; I felt like I couldn’t breathe. It was 11 p.m.

>We checked in, they did a cervical check in triage, and I thrashed around on the bed and begged her to finish quickly.It was the longest minute or so of my life. “It hurts so bad!” I screamed. “That’s because you’re at 7 cm,” she said. Holy cow! My goal was to hit 5 cm before getting an epidural – this made that decision much easier. Two nurses arrived to set me up with an IV since I had requested an epidural and needed to be fully hydrated first. I had requested they tap a location that would be more convenient to breastfeeding than the inside of my elbow, but they had difficulties finding a good vein in my left hand and tried for a couple of minutes, digging around trying to catch a vein that kept moving and disappearing. It was sort of horrifying combined with the contractions, but they were finally able to get something on my right hand.

It’s funny how your priorities change in labor. I had been so afraid of the epidural because I wouldn’t be able to move around and I wanted freedom to labor in any position. Yet as they got ready to wheel me up to labor and deliver, they asked whether I wanted to walk or ride (in the bed) and my immediate answer was RIDE. I did not want to walk anywhere!

Over in L&D, I got my epidural at 1 a.m., and by 1:15, I was 8 cm but feeling very little pain — just basically low pressure  when I had a contraction. At 1:45, I was feeling more constant pressure in my butt, and they checked me and declared me a 9, 90% effaced, with baby at a 0 station —  just hanging out.

The epidural did slow things down, though, to where my contractions were spacing out and not strong enough to push the baby down much, which made any pushing less than effective. By my next check at 4 a.m., I was at 10 cm and fully effaced, but baby was still a 0 to -1 station. I practice pushed a bit around 5 a.m., but the nurses said if I started pushing then, I’d be pushing for two to three hours and they — nor I — didn’t want that. The nurses could see his head full of dark hair, though, which was incredible to hear.

Around 6 a.m., my midwife had them start me at Pitocin to help my contractions come stronger and closer together. They bumped that up a few times and I tried to relax and save my energy for pushing. Finally, at 7:30, my contractions were strong enough and close enough that I could effectively push. My midwife pushed with me for a bit while Mister Mister and nurse helped, then she left for a while and came back around 8:15 as I started to crown. I pushed through a few more contractions and finally he crowned – at which point the burning and pressure was so intense that I decided I couldn’t do it and said so. That, unfortunately, was not an option, and I pushed hard – and just when I thought I couldn’t do it anymore, Mister Mister exclaimed, “Baby, look!” and I looked down to see our son coming out of me. He started crying almost immediately, I stopped pushing out of shock and started crying, the midwife reminded me to keep pushing, and I pushed him the rest of the way out of me. My midwife had Mister Mister delivery the shoulders, and then had him move our baby up to my stomach while they vigorously cleaned him off. Mister Mister then cut the cord, and they moved him up to my chest for immediate skin-to-skin contact. I was so amazed and overwhelmed — I have no words. I had been so worried I wouldn’t bond with him immediately, but reality could not have been further from my fears.

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Mr. Grumpypants being weighed and measured

The first part of our hour of kangaroo care wasn’t all rainbows, though. I had to push out my placenta (no big deal) and then I was bleeding too much so my midwife had to manually help my uterus clamp down (slightly bigger deal). They were messing with the IV in my hand and gave me a shot of something in my leg. I ended up with a 2nd degree tear, and the epidural helped only slightly with the stitch pain. But then the hub bub was over and I got to nurse Little D for the first time. After about an hour, the nurse took him and weighed him, got his footprints, and helped my husband take some pictures. She helped me up to go to the bathroom (I’d had a catheter but needed to be able to pee on my own, which I did) and get cleaned up and put on the mesh hospital panties and a pad (both of which I stocked up on when leaving the hospital — the mesh panties are amazing!). Then we were wheeled over to our mother/baby room and the grandpas got to visit their grandson for the first time, with my stepmom and a friend coming later.

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Our family

 Altogether, I am so grateful to have had a relatively easy birth. The nurses and staff at our hospital and our midwife made everything as easy and wonderful as possible. All my fears throughout pregnancy — an emergency c-section, an epidural bringing an avalanche of dangerous interventions, problems with the baby, complications — all proved unfounded, showing that I probably could have stood to relax a bit over the previous nine months. My body and my baby did exactly what nature intended, and now we have a beautiful, perfectly healthy son.

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Four weeks later
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