January 24, 2013

On motherhood and life lately

We're going on two months since birth and although Emilia's still tiny, I cannot believe how swiftly she changes. Every week brings more refined motor skills, more focused visual study, more engaged social interaction, and more chubbiness! I am soaking in every ounce because the one bit of advice I receive most is that this time goes by too quickly. "Relish every moment, good and bad."

And I'd be lying if I tried to pretend it is all good. The sleep deprivation is serious. The amount of time it takes to do once-simple tasks like run errands or straighten the house is astounding. The anxiety I feel when I lay her in the crib to nap, wondering "how long do I have?... can I perhaps shower?... should I eat something instead?" is legitimate. But the love. Holy crap the love... it is unlike anything I've ever experienced. It has at once made me more fragile and more strong. It has made me feel waves of retrospective guilt over how I've treated my own parents (especially my mother) as a teen and adult. It has made me feel more in love with my husband, even as our own dynamic adjusts to find sensible, equitable divisions of domestic labor now that we have this new person under our care.

Our new normal is more harried and less insular than it once was able to be. We let things linger on the DVR for longer. We go to bed earlier. We go out less. It's not at all bad. It's just very very different. We had nearly 10 years of just us two. So it has been interesting and sometimes challenging to carve the new normal from where we began. But I can honestly say that I wouldn't change a thing. I don't want to fast forward. I don't want to go back. Now is really truly wonderful.

We traveled for the first time over MLK Day weekend and I'll be writing about how that worked/went soon enough! The above photos are from the hotel and the National Gallery of Art in DC.

January 15, 2013


Perhaps the most amazing and affirming thing about my pregnancy and early motherhood has been the outpouring of kindness, enthusiasm, and generosity from so many people in my life. I have written and sent more thank you notes than I did after my wedding and I still have more to do.

(E wearing an adorable Tea Collection gift from blogger pal, Sharon!)

Part of this is due to our three (yes three!) baby showers. I never got the chance to recap two of them on here or Consume or Consumed, but I will do so when I have time. But part of it is that people (myself included) seem to relish the opportunity to buy tiny things for a tiny person. Before Emilia arrived, my mom and sister and I browsed the baby girl sections of Macys, Kohls, and Babies R US for as long as my pregnant stamina would let me. And it is clear that we weren't the only ones! In her mere 7 weeks of life, this baby has amassed more clothing than her clotheshorse mother. Each outfit seems more adorable and snuggly and cute than the next and each gift reminds me fondly of its "gifter."

One of the benefits of my elephant's memory when it comes to clothing is that I never forget a garment's story of acquisition. Emilia's largely gifted and secondhand wardrobe makes the blowouts and stale milk smell somehow palatable because with each changing we are reminded of our little family's good fortune. With each visit to her dresser, I get the chance to reflect on all the people who have enveloped us with love and excitement. With each baby "OOTD," we marvel over her. Neither of us can believe we made her, in all her perfectly adorable glory.

This Christmas Eve I felt more overwhelmed with extended family attention and love than I ever have, as our traditional observance of the Feast of the Seven Fishes morphed into a "meet and hold the new family member!" celebration. In my limited life experience, nothing has brought out more support and joy from the people who matter to me most than the birth of my baby. Emilia is so lucky to have such an enthusiastic group of cheerleaders! Chris and I are so lucky to be surrounded by so many helpful, generous, and caring people! And all of us feel so lucky to know this little lady!

January 7, 2013

Clutch Pregnancy Consumption (Material version)

When people ask me about my experience with pregnancy symptoms I almost immediately tell them about what I did to combat them. Although it is not necessary to "throw money at the problem," I have to admit that it became my strategy. Thankfully I didn't have to throw a lot of money at most of these product favorites. Through savvy consumption I was able to minimize my discomforts and came to enjoy pregnancy more so for it. Although some of these items were specific to different parts of pregnancy, that doesn't diminish how helpful I thought they were. I will also be sharing the sartorial version of my clutch pregnancy consumption in a separate post.

Although I didn't have a great deal of nausea during my first trimester I did have trouble with dizziness. In addition to cutting out coffee and upping my protein intake (especially in the mornings... eggs and Greek yogurt were my best breakfast friends) there were a few items that helped to alleviate this problem (or at least function as placebos to enable me to feel in control).

Although it was bad in the first trimester, my skin stabilized and looked relatively good in my second and third trimesters. I had to stop using a few items that were a part of my pre-pregnancy regimen so I found myself seeking advice from the dermatologist. She prescribed some topical things (Finacea and Clindamycin) that were safer for pregnancy than my previous topical treatments (Retin-A and Benzoyl Peroxide). She also suggested I consider buying a Clarisonic. The price of the MIA seemed a bit steep at first but in using it I have enjoyed cleaner, clearer skin during and following pregnancy.

In addition to strengthening my pelvic floor through a variety of stretches and exercises, I learned during my birth class how comfortable it feels to sit in a supported squat on an exercise (or "birth") ball. This became my favorite living room spot to relax, correct my posture, and alleviate lower back pain.

I also bought flaxseed-filled neck and shoulder pillows on etsy (for Chris) that I found myself heating for lower back relief. I assembled many maternity and bed pillows to make sleeping as comfortable as possible in the final weeks.

I joked with Chris that there wasn't enough (generic) Zantac in the world to help lessen the feelings of indigestion that plagued my first and third trimesters. Thankfully, my midwife practice approved as much as 300mg/day (in two 150mg doses or in four 75mg doses, spread out). The other thing that helped was fizzy water. Club soda with lime became my pregnancy "cocktail" of choice. We also went through Sodastream carbonation canisters faster than ever before!

Other hits: my maternity pillow which now functions as an excellent and amply sized nursing pillow for nighttime feedings in bed and a probiotic (I cleared acidophilus with my midwife) for digestive support amid the numerous hormonal shifts that could disrupt you.

And lastly, for my birthday (which fell around 5 weeks into things) Chris bought me a journal so that I could keep written records of my thoughts, symptoms, and progress. I kept up with writing more so in the beginning and middle, before I was knee deep in the fall term. But I am sure I will always treasure having the information for sentimental and practical reasons. I hope Emilia will read it someday, too.

Not everything I bought during pregnancy was a hit. There were also quite a few misses. I thought that buying a prenatal cradle would help alleviate what I suspected was pelvic girdle pain. It only made me feel worse. Through trial and error I discovered that a few of the prenatal vitamin brands have far more iron than I personally need. And in excess the iron made me feel nauseous and dizzy. Apparently I have a mild, stomach-specific allergy to the cocoa butter lotions designed to prevent stretch marks. I got hives while slathering myself with Palmer's Tummy Butter but have been fine for years using cocoa butter lotion on my legs and arms. Instead to prevent stretch marks I rotated Jojoba Oil, shea butter, liquid Vitamin E, Cerave, and Cetaphil Cream.

Everyone is different of course. What worked for me might not work for others. But I know I learned from other women about the stuff to at least try and was much happier during pregnancy thanks to their wise wisdom.