March 25, 2013

My "Mane" Postpartum Complaint

In January... a fuller time

I know it is spring time so I'd expect this from Speck the dog, but I too am shedding. My hair is everywhere! On my sleeves, in my car, on Emilia's clothes, in otherwise neglected corners of rooms, pooling in my shower drain. Everywhere. It's alarming how much of it I seem to be losing though I am told this is normal. I knew to expect it and also knew that women with longer hair tend to notice the loss more so. That doesn't make it any easier to touch parts of it that I thought were still attached to my head, only to find them instead filling my hands. :(

 As mine falls out, E's comes in!

The first time I read about postpartum hair loss from a personal perspective was actually on a style blog. Fellow Pittsburgher, Terra of Stylish White Female wrote candidly about her own postpartum hair and how it effected her sense of self. I guess this is a common experience for women who have had children.

Heightened estrogen levels during pregnancy cause you to retain hair you would typically lose on a day-to-day basis. But the process of regaining equilibrium in the maternal body means that in the months following birth you lose that hair. And practically en masse. I usually really appreciate my hair for its waves and general health but right now I find myself pulling it back into a bun so that I don't have to confront the losses constantly. I am also concerned about the potential for my hair to create a baby tourniquet (i.e. thank you Babycenter, for giving me something else about which to worry!).

Now the dilemma is: to cut or not to cut? I love my long hair in theory but if it is shedding like this and decreasing in volume maybe it is time for something short and sweet? 
P.S. Apologies for the title pun but I am trying my best to make light of a frustrating situation.

March 14, 2013

Consuming Parenthood Featured on PG Playground

I was so excited to be contacted by reporter, Anya Sostek about being featured on the Post Gazette's staff parenting blog. And the first feature is up today! You can check it out alongside posts from many other Pittsburgh parenting bloggers by visiting the PG Playground.

Also, on Consume or Consumed you can enter to win a gallery wrap canvas print from Signazon, to commemorate a favorite photo of your family, pets, little ones, or anything you like! Check it out here

March 11, 2013

Sleep (or lackthereof)...

"Is she sleeping through the night yet?" "How are you sleeping?" "What's her sleep like?" And so on. And so forth...

The topic of baby sleep inspires countless books, theories, methods, products, and "experts." It stirs controversies and divides opposing factions of parents. It is interesting though unsurprising that many theories and bits of advice about infant sleep run contradictory to one another. "Put the baby down awake." Put the baby down after she's been in your arms for 20 minutes." "Don't put the baby down at all." "Nurse to sleep." "Don't nurse to sleep." The list goes on...

Perhaps that is why sleep is a subject that dominates nearly every conversation about how Chris and I are adapting to our new lives as parents. Friends and family with and without children are eager to hear about our familial sleep habits. And I am a little reluctant to admit that the answer is that things are going surprisingly well. I don't want to jinx us or sound like a braggart. Sure, we have outlier nights when Emilia wakes and wakes and wakes (usually corresponding with a growth spurt) but on the whole, we are all sleeping. Getting her down for the count is the hardest part. But once she is down she's out. She sleeps for a long stretch (between 6.5 and 8.5 hours) that is typically bookended with a few hours on either side. I should say that it was not always like this and I don't anticipate that it will always be like this (especially with the infamous four month sleep regression around the corner). But our current pattern has endured for weeks. Because I'm worried about maintaining my breast milk supply (particularly after I return to work officially), I try to pump at least once during her long stretch.

For me, as an anxious new mom it is an easily interrupted sleep. It is a painfully light sleep. I was a light sleeper before pregnancy and birth. I have trouble winding down when I go to bed. And I have trouble getting back down after I wake. As long as I can remember I have had bouts of sleeplessness that border on insomnia. I identify as a night owl. So even when I'm sleeping while the baby sleeps, mine is not the most restful. That said, it is more plentiful than I anticipated.

People ask me why that is? Why wouldn't I collapse with exhaustion whenever I get the chance? It isn't that I'm not tired. Sometimes I wonder if I am in fact "overtired?" My mind races, contemplating all the things I have to get done and the little time in which I can do them. I am lucky to have a decent chunk of maternity leave from teaching but I still have responsibilities, projects, and research to complete. I have a house to keep up. I have an elderly dog to care for. I have family and friends who are local and understandably want time with the baby as well as us. I have a husband that I want to spend time with. And I stay up thinking about how there are too few hours in a day. Sometimes (in classic new mom fashion) I stay up just making sure my baby is breathing.

I guess I am still adjusting to my new normal but when the stars align and my anxiety clouds part I finally get to sleep ... provided that the baby still is too.

*** Edited to add on May, 16, 2013: Soon after publishing this post, Emilia began the four month sleep regression. So I indeed managed to jinx things by writing about how well everything was going. But the good (and bittersweet) part about babies is that they change so quickly that we emerged once again with a new pattern. Then she figured out how to roll on her stomach from her back and would cry when she would wake up "stuck." Now she's a rolypoly all night long, back and forth, and loves sleeping on her belly. Those have become the "new normals" over the course of the last two months. Who knows how long our current situation will last (She sleeps from around 7:30-1, eats and is down again until 7. Though last night she slept from 8:30-6am)? She is on the cusp of her six month birthday and I sense that teething is around the corner...