LIFE HACKS—BABY EDITION

  1. Read Great with Child: Letters to a Young Mother. Then read it again.
  2. Listen to The Birth Hour podcast—it will make you marvel at the variety of labor stories, and the astonishing empowerment of birth!
  3. You don’t have to change a wet diaper in the middle of the night—just a poopy one. Our doula tried to tell us this, but we didn’t listen until our baby was like seven months. What a difference.
  4. Oh—get a doula.
  5. Take a trip with your newborn at 4 weeks, 8 weeks, even 12 weeks old—they’ll sleep almost all the time, and you can sightsee (albeit through sleep-hazed eyes).

  1. Don’t try to lose the last 10 lbs. of “baby weight” if you’re breastfeeding—the baby needs you to keep eating and drinking plenty so you can keep up the milk factory. Or to quote my friend, “Eat like a linebacker.”
  2. Tulip-hem/open-front nursing shirts from Motherhood Maternity will be your sole wardrobe for the next year. Sans bra.
  3. A midwife and a birthing tub can be your two new best friends. (The model of midwifery care was light-years beyond typical OB-GYN care. It was like the difference between lighting a candle & sinking into a couch…vs. napping on the divided seats at the airport.)
  4. Be Team Green! Don’t find out the sex of the baby in advance. The surprise at birth is 100% worth the agony of waiting. Plus, you won’t have to suffer through endless blue baby shower gifts, or endless pink.
  1. Don’t register for a changing table. Change the kid’s diaper on the floor. Stick a puppy pad under them and you’re good to go. You’ll feel the need to wash your hands like three different times by the end of each changing, and what will you do with the baby then? The floor prevents baby from…falling to the floor.
  2. Read Magda Gerber’s book Dear Parent: Caring for Infants with Respect, or anything by Janet Lansbury—ditto Lansbury’s podcast Unruffled. You know all those things other parents do that annoy you? You don’t have to do them! It’s a miracle.
  3. Haakaa silicone breast pump! Lightweight, portable, perfect! You stick it on one breast while you’re nursing from the other. No cords, no batteries. You can score so many extra ounces this way—I stopped using a regular breast pump! But on that note:
  4. Elvie breast pump if you have to work outside the home! These cordless gals tuck into your bra and let you pump while driving, walking, or preaching (okay, I took them out for preaching, as they would have made my congregants wonder if I’d gotten implants—they are a tad large—and they light up like Fembots).
  5. Don’t give up on breastfeeding at 6 weeks when you want to, or 3 mos. when you want to. You’ll finally hit your stride by 6 mos., and then you can do hardcore things like nurse in the middle of a waterfall in the mountains of NC or on a chilly beach in Alaska:
  1. Write down, or do a voice memo of, all your memories of labor & birth before too much time goes by. Before any time goes by. In those bleary and weepy first few days, jot down whatever details come back to you—put them on your Notes app or in a journal, just somewhere you can access it at 2 p.m. or 2 a.m. These are unbelievably priceless.
  2. Yes to a maternity photo shoot (though you will be tired). Yes to labor/birth photos—ask your doula to take them. And yes to a newborn photo shoot (though you will be tired). 110% worth it.

  1. For those who want to keep some semblance of a spiritual practice amidst the new normal of chaos—open your holy book and set it on the table beside your nursing chair. Glance over now and again while nursing, and try to commit a verse to memory. (My current verse: “You have put gladness in my heart, / more than when grain and wine and oil increase” Psalm 4:7 BCP—so chosen to remind me to be GLAD!)
  2. They tell you to take Ibuprofen for the recovery pain, but hello? It makes you constipated! The last thing you need is a herculean effort to push anything else out down there.
  3. The cliché is true: It goes by too fast. Savor it.
  4. And finally, the real secret to happiness in your new life as a parent to the world’s most precious kiddo: Only have one.
  5. **edit** Had to add one more I just thought of. You don’t need to heat the milk. Or the formula. Or the purees. They will drink/eat it cold. Trust me.

the pink tax

As the mother of a baby girl, I feel my ears prick up in newly painful ways whenever I read about gender disparity. I’m currently reading Boys & Sex, by Peggy Orenstein, having appreciated her previous Girls & Sex. Also reading Fair Play, by Eve Rodsky. I forget which of these books clued me in to the “pink tax,” but, I’d just read about it before going to Amazon to look for bottle-cleaning brushes.

Lo and behold….

pink brushes

blue brushes

 

Click here for pictures of products in stores–blue and pink, side by side–with the mismatched price tags as proof.

There’s a bed in my bathroom.

But, that’s because I put it there.

Or, more accurately, my husband put it there.

A huge mattress stuffed into the bathroom, taking up all the floor space, so that walking to the toilet requires three steps across the squishy foamy square.

This is my new plan for dealing with 5x/night potty breaks: Sleep in the bathroom. The walk from the usual bed to the bathroom was just too long.

The move happened just in time, because I’ve been battling a head cold/sinus infection for the past week. Now the bathroom bed is surrounded by Sudafed tablets, glasses of water, a box of tissues, a trash can, an eye mask, a pair of earplugs, a book light, a pregnancy book, a tube of chapstick, a pillow for my heavy legs, and the night guard that would keep me from grinding my teeth, except I can’t sleep with my mouth closed anyway, because I can’t breathe out of my nose, which is perfect, because third-trimester pregnancy doesn’t give you enough dry-mouth as it is.

But I can’t complain! I can, but not on a deeper level. Because I still get to feel those baby rolls and reflex kicks…I still get to see the surface of my stomach move with this growing child…I still get to talk to Little Swan and be as one. I’m not yet ready for pregnancy to end.

currently listening:

birth-center-waterbirth

The Birth Hour podcast. It is a judgment-free zone. I marvel at how every single woman’s birth story is different. They’re different from other women and they’re different from child 1 to child 2, 3, and more.

Of course I have daydreams of how my own birth story would go. I picture being in the peaceful room of a birthing center, no IVs stuck in my arms or monitors strapped to my belly. I picture the baby being brought immediately to my chest (okay, if the cord is tugging, then maybe just my abdomen). Of course I hope for euphoria. Counting on those natural hormones….

“How should Christians have sex?”

That is the question in a New York Times article from last week. As someone who grew up in the purity culture of 1990s Christianity, both benefiting from it and being stunted by it, I found this article helpful:

I am grateful for my upbringing, but it fell far short of the ideal way to teach teens and young adults about sex. I wish there was a perfect way to handle these imperfect, mysterious things.

Everything Happens for a Reason (again)

Last week, I came into church and was immediately hugged by a woman who’d just heard of our miscarriage.

“I know you know this,” she said, “but, God has a reason. We just don’t always know what it is.”

It was, of course, her way of trying to offer comfort. It was her way of making sense of the senseless. It was her single lifeline, and as a wise pediatric oncologist once said, “Don’t take away someone’s lifeline.”

So I didn’t say, “No, I don’t ‘know’ that. I don’t believe that. In fact, I have preached against that. Or were you not here that Sunday?”

Instead I said, “Thank you,” and meant it. Because her hug was the more important thing. Her broken heart, displayed on her face, was the real comfort. And we all just take our lifelines where we can.

8 types of toxic parenting

  1. helicopter parents – hover too close
  2. karaoke parents – try too hard to be cool
  3. dry-cleaner parents – drop their kids off for others to raise
  4. volcano parents – erupt over minor issues
  5. drop-out parents – let their kids down
  6. bullied parents – don’t stand up to their kids
  7. groupie parents – treat their kids like rock stars
  8. commando parents – let rules rule over the relationship

I have seen 1, 4, 6, and 8 in person. Mean Girls showed #2. The Nanny Diaries featured #3. I think I’ll be most tempted by 4 & 8.

courtesy of Tim Elmore

Parenting is like driving a car.

I remember when I first got my driver’s license, I couldn’t imagine how anyone ever falls asleep at the wheel — or, for that matter, eats/texts/fiddles with the radio while driving. There was so much to worry about! So much to keep track of! I would hunch over the wheel, back tense, and give it my undivided attention.

Then I got used to driving and became as drowsy as the rest of them. (A horrible game to play with yourself is to look at the faces of other drivers as you pass them on the other side of the road. They are invariably a) half-asleep, b) actually asleep, or c) looking down at their phone.)

When I imagine staying at home with a newborn and toddler, I imagine it to be full of endless stimuli. How could I ever get bored? There is so much to worry about! So much to keep track of! Parenting is such a new concept — to me, anyway — that I doubt I’ll ever lack for distraction or something to do.

Am I wrong?

new year’s resolution

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For Christmas, my husband got me a book with the subtitle “how to stop complaining and start enjoying the life you always wanted.” Should I be upset? All right, to be fair, it was on my wish list.

I’m not ready to undertake the book’s 21-day challenge, not even if it is the first day of 2019, perfect for fresh starts. But I will. The book says on average it takes people 4-8 months to successfully go 21 days straight without complaining, criticizing, gossiping, or being sarcastic. (If you slip up you start back on Day 1.)

Meanwhile, on an unrelated note, I’ve begun a list of Things That Bother Me:

  1. When built-in ribbon bookmarks start fraying, so you have to trim them and then they’re too short.
  2. When I’ve stopped before a crosswalk to wait for a car, and then the car slows down and stops for me.
  3. That feeling you get when you’re wearing leggings, jeans, and snow pants, and you have to go the bathroom.
  4. When drivers glance up and glance down, glance up and glance down. You know they’re texting. No one’s lap is that interesting.
  5. Houses with those laser-star Christmas lights that look like the house has green chicken pox. We have ours angled onto tree branches and it is much, much classier.
  6. When a parking lot is sandy and then I step into my car and feel the brittle sand rubbing the pedals under my feet every time I accelerate or brake.
  7. When you take great care to clip your nails over a sink or trash can but the clippings still go everywhere.
  8. People who clip their nails anywhere.
  9. Nearly all styles of parenting.
  10. Almost all children.