Too Mainstream to Be Hippie… Installment #3: ON HIPPIE MOM IDENTIFIERS

Here lies the third and final (for now) installment of “too mainstream to be hippie, too hippie to be mainstream” (aka trying to figure out where we fit into this whole “parenting” thing).

There’s nothing like a cloth diaper sticking out of a onesie or an amber necklace or a toddler who has never seen Finding Nemo to scream, “HIPPIE MOMMY HERE!” So let’s chat about bums, necks, and TV-induced brain rot.

ON CLOTH DIAPERING: Okay, so I’ve been a pretty big cloth diaper proponent up until the last month or so. I swear, Willem’s, ahem, output is just not being contained anymore. We go through three, sometimes four outfits in a single day due to wetness. Our newest experiment is doubling up the diaper pads, which makes him look like an extra straight out of Sir Mix-a-Lot’s “I Like Big Butts” video. So far, it seems to be working; will report back.

When I told Chris I was considering the possibility that we’d need to move to disposable diapers soon, his response was, “If you had seen the diaper I changed the other day, you’d already be running to the store for diapers.” I think he’s still traumatized.

20140717. Willem.ON AMBER NECKLACES: Maybe once Willem starts teething and I’m desperate for something, anything to help us get through it, I’ll feel differently about the ubiquitous hippie mama amber necklace. For now, the science just doesn’t back up the claims of soothing teething pain enough for me to insert this beautiful choking/strangulation hazard into our lives. No judgment whatsoever for those using amber beads, for real – I have a lot of friends who swear by them. For us, it’s a no.

ON “SCREEN TIME”: When Willem was first born (okay, let’s be real, for the first four weeks of his life at least), I was a Netflix junky. The TV was on ALL. THE. TIME. Because I was a sweaty, hormonal, exhausted mess just trying to keep it together, and I spent more time on the couch, nursing my son and eating Pop Tarts, than anywhere else. We’re talking, “I made it through 7 seasons of the Deadliest Catch” Netflix-junky-level. Oh, yeah. Shit just got real in this here blog.

Nowadays, the TV is hardly ever on when Willem is awake, but this winter? When football season starts? We’ll see what happens then.

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Willem at 1.5 weeks old. I somehow look pretty coherent here. What I’m thinking: wha…? Where am I? Who are these people? What is this baby doing here? Am I awake or asleep? Can we go back in time to when I was pregnant so I can just have one more full night’s sleep?

When it comes right down to it, I just can’t get my undies in a bunch over screen time. We’ve Skyped with faraway relatives, and when he’s super extra crazy fussy, 10 minutes of Finding Nemo gives mommy a much-needed break. I can’t imagine his synapses are getting that jacked up from 10 minutes of THE SWEETEST MOVIE EVER.

I think that sums up the latest in my quest to figure out who the hell I am as a mom. For me, it comes down to “live and let live.” If it’s working for you and your baby, awesome. If it’s working for me and my baby, I will never assume it’s the best for anyone else. I’m thankful for the good days and the minor successes, and I’m getting better at taking the tough stuff in stride.

And I love my kid with all my heart, so that certainly makes all of it worth it and perhaps one of the coolest times of my life.

Too Mainstream to Be Hippie… Installment #2: ON SLEEPING

In the second installment of “too mainstream to be hippie, too hippie to be mainstream (aka trying to figure out where we fit into this whole “parenting” thing), let’s talk SLEEP. Or lack thereof?

ON SLEEPING: I think co-sleeping is super awesome. I really do. I always feel a tiny pang of wistfulness when people talk about co-sleeping. Again, though, it’s one of those “love it in theory, not for us in practice” type things. Mostly, we just don’t have a big enough bed, but also? Newborn babies are LOUD. Willem slept in a mini pack and play next to our bed until he was four weeks old, and the kid honked like a goose. I kid you not. At four weeks, I realized I was getting quite literally NO sleep, and it was off to the crib with him. We never looked back.

20140823. Willem's room is coming together.

Where the sleeping magic happens.

At four months, we experienced the dreaded four-month sleep regression. It was awful. The dude would only nap for longer than 30 minutes in my arms or in the carrier. Which is no huge deal, but have you seen my baby? My baby is BIG. My body was HURTING. Ideally, I wanted him to be able to nap in his crib.

20140429. Me and the babe.

Back when Willem’s naps were ON ME.

Not only that, but none of us were happy or well-rested. He’d wake screaming, and I’d struggle for 45 minutes to get him back to sleep. Something had to change, and so we finally got on a loose schedule (I KNOW! A baby on a schedule?!), following the “Eat, Awake, Sleep” cycle. I quickly realized he really didn’t need to nurse to sleep. We instituted a nap and bed time routine. We know how long he generally is able to be awake before getting sleepy again, and we watch for sleep cues like a hawk. We focused on nothing but getting Willem into this new mode of sleep, complete with three decent naps a day, for about two weeks. And you know what? It took. We now have a baby who, most days and nights, actually SLEEPS.

So yeah. It was really, really hard work, but it worked for us.

Sweet sleep.

Nap time, complete with elephants on parade.

On the sleeping note, I scoff a bit at the suggestion that there is any sleeping solution that could be entirely “no cry.” Yeah, yeah, I bought the book. I read the book. The book has a lot of good ideas in it. But a baby, not crying at all? Babies cry to communicate. They cry when they are tired or overstimulated or just want to be held or just want to be put down. Sometimes babies cry, and you can’t figure out a reason. All you can do is hold them and be sweet to them and sing them songs. Sometimes, you even have to put them down into the crib crying (GASP!) and give them a minute to try to work it out themselves. I discovered this one day when, at my wit’s end, I set Willem down – and 30 seconds later, all was quiet. He just needed to settle himself, and no amount of me holding him was going to help him do that.

And you know what? Some babies are just complete shit for sleeping. For real. I think Willem is actually a pretty easy baby (now) in the sleep department, and he still wakes screaming inexplicably some nights. If we ever have a second, he/she will probably be hell on wheels, and I’ll look back on these days, a single, silent tear of wistfulness running down my cheek. Eh, who am I kidding? I’ll be weeping openly.

Too Mainstream to Be Hippie… Installment #1: ON EATING

Too mainstream to be hippie, too hippie to be mainstream.* I’ve been turning this particular idea over and over in my head lately in terms of parenting. As a new parent, especially at the ripe old age of 35, I feel like I’m redefining who I am quite a lot these days. I’m suddenly doing the doggie paddle in the deep end of the pool, and I’m surprised to find I’m a whole lot more conservative than I thought I’d be in terms of parenting… although maybe it’s all relative.

Let’s back up. Pre-Willem, I was a working girl with lots of hobbies and passions; I wasn’t exactly interested in “climbing the ladder” work-wise, but I had been successful at growing my career and had consistently been able to support myself since grad school (it IS possible to survive on $1000 a month).┬áThese days, I’m no longer supporting myself, putting money into my retirement fund every month, putting away savings… That last sentence cannot be emphasized enough. It is extremely weird to go from being a very self-sufficient person to being dependent on another person and bringing in just a little extra salary from my very part-time (yet very fulfilling) job.

100430. fancy hotel room. (i did not use the tub).

Another work trip, another fancy bath tub I’ll never bathe in.

100408. just another day at the office.

The candy ring signifies that SUPER IMPORTANT WORK is being done.

201404. Urban Times Article.

And my current work (in addition to being Willem’s mom).

And back then? I did ALL sorts of stuff. You know, just for fun. Whenever I felt like it. Oh, the luxury! Knitting and gardening and canning and baking and reading and and and… ALL sorts of stuff. These things are still high up on the priority list for me, but by necessity, they must fit around my primary new role: mom.

Baby K has arrived.

That one time Willem was born.

Yup. Mostly these days, I’m a mom to a wonderful little human who gets cooler and cuter and more amazing every week. Sometimes every day. It makes my heart hurt to think about it too much. In a good way.

This guy.It’s even weirder, though, being all old and stuff and suddenly trying to figure out where you fit in this entirely new world of mom-hood. The only thing keeping me going is the hope that every other mom is probably trying to figure out the same damn thing – where they fit, who they relate to most, and how to navigate this new terrain. Even if they’re fronting and pretending like they’ve got it all figured out.

20140816. Visiting grandma and grandpa.I was going to document some of the extreme views I’ve heard come out of people’s mouths lately re: parenting, but I realized two things: 1) that’s way more negativity than I want to perpetuate in my life and 2) I don’t really want to give their words more power than they have obviously already had over me.

So instead I give you the first installment of “being a parent” thus far, a la Chris, Christie, and Willem, aka “too hippie to be mainstream, too mainstream to be hippie.” I’m guessing many parents fall into this category, but, just like bad talk radio, the extremists on one side or the other drown us out with all their shouting and fervent insistence.

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ON EATING: Baby led weaning? Not exactly for us, not yet, at least. In theory, it’s awesome: teach your babies to chew before swallowing, feed themselves, eat what you’re eating, etc. In practice? Not so much. It turns out Willem is very, very good at shoving food into his mouth. Giant chunks of food. After the first couple of tries led to immediate gagging, coughing, and (yesterday morning) puking, I’m sticking with purees and some very limited feed-himself options (green beans and super soft sweet potato sticks are big hits so far).

He also REALLY REALLY likes food, and he totally gets the whole spoon in mouth thing. He opens his mouth wide like a little baby bird any time the spoon comes near, and it’s adorable. I want to celebrate the fact that he’s interested in trying a lot of new flavors at this age and not place limits on that because he’s too busy dropping his food on the floor, choking on it, and getting frustrated because he would actually love to EAT EAT EAT.

Lunch yesterday was some green beans, sweet potato sticks, and a pureed beet/spinach/lentil medley. And he loved it.

ON BREASTFEEDING: Dudes, breastfeeding is awesome. It really and truly is, and I am so glad I had help getting through those first 2 weeks 10 weeks of utter, toe curling pain and exhaustion. With that said, I cringe when well-meaning breastfeeding professionals make off-hand comments about “how I’ll handle the disappointment if so-and-so gives up on breastfeeding.” Like it has anything to do with them, you know? I lived through those first horrible months, and I can tell you it was sheer will, stubbornness, nipple cream, and a lot of encouragement that got me through. I totally, totally wanted to quit and almost did, like, 20 times. I have absolutely zero judgment for anyone who decides breastfeeding is just not working for them, I guess is what I’m saying.

The takeaway? Mamas, just keep doing what you’re doing and don’t feel bad for not being “enough” of anything or to anyone. Probably no one’s even paying attention to how you’re feeding your baby, and if they are, screw ’em. If it’s working for you, go for it. In the end, your way IS the best way – for you and your baby.

NEXT UP: SLEEP. Or lack thereof. Oh, yes. We’re going there.

*Stolen from my brilliant friend, Nikki, who’s in the same boat, parenting-wise.

Happy Mother’s Day, Willem!

It’s my and Willem’s first Mother’s Day! To commemorate it, here’s a brief list of just some of the things Willem probably thinks are his name:

  • Cookie
  • Sweet pea
  • Little guy
  • Big boy
  • Peanut
  • Darling
  • Baby
  • Grumpers
  • Hi!
  • Yeah?
  • Willem

Happy Mother’s Day, my little guy, my cookie, my sweet pea, my Willem. THEN:

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NOW:

20140427. Bathtime!

20140429. Me and the babe.

20140501. Willem and his blanket.

Short legs, long legs.

Giving Thanks, the Wrap-Up (in Which My Family Is Amazeballs)

Right after Christmas, Thanksgiving is my favorite. I mean that in an Elf sort of way. Actually, I generally relate to this clip perhaps a little too much this time of year.

Chris and I went up to Chicago and had a wonderful Thanksgiving at my aunt’s house with my parents, aunt and uncle, and some of my cousins and their kids. Food, family, football: the Thanksgiving trifecta. It was a warm glow kind of afternoon, and I’m not just talking about the weather.

20131128. Me and Chris. Our amazing baby shower!

On Saturday, my mom threw us the best baby shower ever. For real, the best. It was at a tea house near their place, complete with your choice of 50+ types of tea, personal tea pots, mismatched (gorgeous) China cups and saucers, and delicious itty bitty sandwiches and desserts.

20131128. Grandma, Amy, me, and Pam. Our amazing baby shower!

The women in my family are pretty rad, too. They are down to Earth, funny, silly, loving, generous, REAL ladies who inevitably have a serious hoot any time they get together. Our shower was no different. I think my favorite part was getting to spend the morning with them all.

20131128. Shawna, Braelyn, me, and Chris. Our amazing baby shower!

That beautiful “little” girl standing next to me? I was her nanny when she was 6 months old until she was 13 months old. It’s hard to believe that was 11 years ago!

I also feel like we are so ready for this baby – at least, as far as “stuff” is concerned! Between my parents’ astounding generosity and these amazingly generous ladies, I am overwhelmed with gratitude – and BABY STUFF. I don’t know how they managed it, but we didn’t even have any duplicate gifts. Well done, family!

20131128. Bibs from Pam. Our amazing baby shower!

Wait… we’re going to be PARENTS?!

Of course I don’t have a single photo yet of my mom and me! (Hint, hint, Chris – you need to upload your shots stat). I got a wild hair when we got back home Saturday and managed to unpack and put together almost all of our goodies. Here are a few outtakes from the office/nursery (heavy on the “nursery” part):

20131205. The office is giving way to the nursery.

My desk gets more and more interesting every day.

 

20131205. Baby's got the goods.

An army of sleepers, the most amazing chicken hat, and tiny baby booties knitted 34 years ago by my grandmother, now for our little one.

 

20131205. Baby's got the goods.

A blanket my aunt Beth embroidered for me when I was a baby, art I made for the kid, and the most ingenious storage idea ever for tiny baby things.

Thanksgiving weekend also meant another four weeks of BUMP WATCH 2013. We’ve learned the kid now weighs 3.5 pounds, which puts it in the 80th percentile for weight. No wonder I feel so rotund!
Bump Watch, 2013: Weeks 26-29.