May 30, 2013

Baby Style

Barn Organics peplum onesie; Children's Place tutu pants; Trumpette socks

Baby Gap one-piece

 Gap bear sweatshirt bunting

Baby Gap dress; Gymboree tights- Trumpette socks

Now that Emilia is six months old, I've had a few opportunities to go through her clothing to sort things that no longer fit. Because she grows so quickly some of my favorite ensembles are only worn a few times.

Tea Collection print I loved so much that I got it in a tunic and one-piece.

My approach to clothes shopping for myself centers on maximizing the "cost per wear." But with baby clothes, that theory holds no water. You just dress them in what you think is cute. And there is a whole lot of cute out there!

Beautiful handmade sweater from my Aunt Sylvia (that I hope will still fit come fall!)

 Gymboree onesie and corduroy dress

Old Navy jacket, Etsy wool pants

 Marimekko onesie with jeggings

Still, it makes little sense to overspend. I have had good luck finding cute things at Gabriel Brothers, on Ebay, and in the generous hand-me-downs from mom friends. Not to mention the gifts! Oh my goodness, this is a lucky little girl that inspires so much gift-giving in her loved ones (especially the grandmas)! Above are some of my favorite outfits that I was smart enough to photograph with my real (non-phone) camera.

May 16, 2013

The days are long...

Our family on Mother's Day at Phipps Conservatory. Photo by my sister.

A few weeks ago, I read an apparently popular description of parenting: "The days are long but the years are short." I'm not sure from where the quote originated. I just know that although I had heard it prior to becoming a parent, I never really got it until now.

I've been a mom for nearly six months. I blinked and suddenly five months elapsed. But it also sometimes feels like I've known Emilia my whole life. While I am still myself and I maintain many of the same interests, desires, and goals, my life is so so different from who I was before her. My priorities are changing. The ways I use and divide my time have shifted. My body is different. My sleep schedule is different. My brain seems a little different. And of course, my days are very different.

To be sure, some of my days are difficult. Some days I long for the mundane ease of so many things I took for granted. But most days I don't have many opportunities to dwell on that subject. When I talk to seasoned moms about how I've adjusted, I say that motherhood is both much harder and thankfully much better than I ever imagined.

The days are long but the months/years are short.

May 11, 2013

Daughters and Mothers and Grandmothers

I am my parents' first born child. So I see the reflection of my parents (and my mother, especially) in my own adjustment to being a mom. I think about how my mom (and my dad) must have felt about me the way I feel about Emilia. And I tear up because I just had no idea that anyone could love someone so much. I've always been a sensitive soul but the breastfeeding hormones have made me especially prone to happy and sad tears. And I have a lot of happy ones these days.

Even though I've never doubted or questioned either of my parents' love for their children ... I just didn't know it could feel like this. I didn't know we were loved so much. This nagging, primal, constant love. I love my parents and siblings unconditionally and I love my spouse passionately but I love my daughter with a depth and longing and urge that I can't even adequately describe. When I try to make sense of it I wind up sounding so dorky. "I just think she is the coolest." Or worse, I gush and make people uncomfortable cause I inevitably start getting misty. In an effort to make clear how I feel for her in a relatively concise (and non-tear-inducing) manner, I've taken to telling folks that, "I think she hung the moon." Pretty much.

When I envision my mom in my early days of life, I feel more bonded and connected to her. I feel like I am in on her secret. And she knows that I (now) know. It also makes me have a new perspective of grief over the loss of my maternal grandmother (who's birthday was May 1st and who's own mother inspired Emilia's name). Although she died when I was young, I was very close with my gram. And I've always felt empathy and longing whenever my mom chokes up because x, y, or z made her think of her mom. I've imagined for years what my life would have been like if my gram had lived longer. But now, as I see how wonderful it is to be a mom and how much joy my mom derives from being a gram, I feel as though I understand another aspect of our family's shared loss.

It is always awful to lose a parent, at any age. But my mom was pretty close to my age when she lost hers. And in feeling my heart melt over seeing how my immediate family loves my baby, I am reminded of how devastating it must have been to be deprived of that. My gram was my last living grandparent, and my parents were only parents for a few years while she was alive. I think about how hard it must have been not to have them to call or lean on during tough times. I think about how hard it must have been to never again get to see your baby snuggled and loved on by your parent. I think about how lucky I am to have my mom (and mothers-in-law) around to witness and be sources of support during these special and quickly-moving newborn times.

My mom laments the fact that I am not religious and despite my wonderment over Emilia, I remain fairly agnostic. But something about a baby does bring out my suspended disbelief over some (carefully selected) elements of spirituality. I've never felt more connected to the women in my family, both living and passed.

One of the things my mother has always said to both reassure her children and perhaps herself was that no matter what the circumstance, "your mother is always with you." In doing so, she referred both to the metaphor of enduring parental influence as well as a spiritual afterlife. Now that I too am a mother, I want more than ever for both of those meanings to be true. Regardless, I know my gram would/must think that Emilia hung the moon. Happy Mother's Day to you and yours!

May 9, 2013

On my first (furry) baby...

When I went into labor at home, one of things I remember noticing was the concern and confusion it provoked in Speck the dog. She has such an expressive face and the fur above her eyes contrasts just enough that she seems to have eyebrows. So I often interpret a great deal of emotion from her appearance. She's a very sensitive, loving dog. And at this point we have spent many years together as a family. I have said countless times to Chris (and to Speck) that it was Speck that made us a family. I fell in love with her big personality/small package combo. And I've loved caring for her and negotiating pet parenting responsibilities with Chris. Since we adopted her, she's brought us so much joy. She is the first pet for which I bear significant care-giving responsibility so in many ways, she has also deepened my sense of what it means to love. And it was adorable to see how she became protective of me, especially over the course of my pregnancy.

It could have been the cooling temperatures but I prefer to believe that last fall, Speck sensed that changes were afoot. For her, there were even a few logistical ones, such as the lengths of her walks and the size of my lap once my third trimester belly really popped. Although she is a perceptive dog, she didn't seem to notice the change in my belly. As usual, Speck would request a seat in my lap by gently pawing at my leg and I'd oblige, picking her up. Although I couldn't hold her for as long as before, I still held her and joked with Chris that it was good practice for when I'd be filling my lap with two small creatures soon enough.

Since Emilia's birth I've yet to hold them simultaneously, but I have really loved witnessing their process of mutual familiarization.  Speck stayed at my parents' house while Chris and I were in the hospital and then getting settled with the baby at home. On the day she met Emilia, our house was full of extended family and crowded with props for our newborn photo shoot. Eventually everyone left and we got to be alone as a family for the first time. 

I was still so sore and swollen and overwhelmed by new mom anxieties. I anticipated that Speck would be fine with the baby but I also wanted her to keep some distance from my fragile newborn. Since we slept with Emilia in an in-bed bassinet, Speck could no longer be up with us. And because I went into labor 10 days early (and because I am a procrastinator), I hadn't begun the process of transitioning her out of the bed. For Speck this was all incredibly abrupt and upsetting. That first night, as she paced back and forth from our bedsides, requesting to be lifted onto our/her bed, I sobbed. I felt so guilty.

Now she happily goes to her bed when we retire every evening. And she drops toys at Emilia's feet, expecting fully that her newest pack member will be able to play tug or fetch. It will be so wonderful to see my furry baby playing with my baby baby, once Emilia gets older. I just love them both so much. And I love seeing increasingly how captivated Emilia is by Speck. Watching her walk around and play is one of her favorite things to do right now.

I'm so glad that the integration of my two babies has been successful! I'm leaving for a walk with both of them right now.

May 2, 2013

Postpartum Favorites

I already posted about my hospital-related must-haves for postpartum times. But as a savvy shopper, I didn't just raid the freebies in order to make my transition from pregnancy to motherhood go smoothly. I researched and acquired a number of things that became really important.

Within a week of discharging from the hospital, I realized that I absolutely needed nursing gear. Tanks. Bras. Covers. Tops. Dresses. Ointment. Pads (reusable, waterproof, leakproof, disposable, wool/cashmere... every kind I could find). All of it. I was eager to breastfeed but learning how to do so along with my newborn was challenging. Without the support of my loved ones, my lactation consultants, and my stash of nursing-facilitating goodies, I might not have stuck with it.

I really need to find the time to go back to A Mother's Boutique in Wexford. The proprietor, Judy has a huge selection of nursing clothing and underpinnings and she is a fit expert! In the meanwhile I bought some cheap and less cheap bras from Target, La Leche League, and Anita.

For sleep, I like Gillian O'Malley from Target. I wore Bravado during the day early on. They are surprisingly supportive for tank tops. I like the additional coverage of the tank and the fact that they make regular tops nursing friendly without exposing one's stomach. But my favorite are the Rumina Hands Free Pump and Nurse Tanks. They are softer than Bravado but as supportive. They have two options for coverage (full and regular which both serve their own useful functions). And they haven't faded the way that my dark colored Bravado tanks have with wash and wear. I will be doing a full review and giveaway on Consume or Consumed very soon so stay tuned!

My favorite breast pads were the Lansinoh disposables. Although they aren't as environmentally friendly as reusable, they are absorbent, relatively thin, and affordable. They have two sticky tabs per pad so they tend to stay put better than those with just one. They are breathable so the risk of thrush is decreased. They come in bulk quantities. Of the reusable ones, I liked bamboobies. Soft, heart-shaped, discrete. I just worried about their waterproof layer. For night time (since E is a winter baby) the wool pads were helpful in keeping me warm enough. I also have Lilypads (which prevent leaking) but don't plan to use them until I'm back in the classroom.

Breastmilk storage bags:
I tried a few kinds. The Medela ones attached right to my pump. But I prefer the Lansinoh bags because they freeze so nice and flat, making for easy storage and organization of one's stash!

Hands free pump bustier:
So you can pump and work! 

High-waisted underwear:
They're not the prettiest panties in the world but the Hanes multipack cotton hipsters in a size up from my pre-pregnancy size were great in that once I was out of the mesh hospital underwear, these were comfy, cheap, and sat above my surgical scar.

A good binder:
At the recommendation of another c-section mom, I went with a Squeem. Although I wasn't crazy about the rubbery smell, it definitely held me in well and it provided the counter pressure I so desperately needed when sneezing or coughing in those early postpartum days. Many women regardless of their birth stories swear by binding to promote the return of their pre-pregnancy shape. Although I didn't get this specific binder until I was about two weeks postpartum, I began binding my stomach while I was still in the hospital. Other than the hospital binder, I used this. I don't know if it made a difference because I have no basis for comparison and my waist remains larger than it was pre-pregnancy but it didn't hurt. The counter pressure was really the most important element for me personally. I do wish I had sized down because although it fit at first, it quickly seemed too large to make a difference shape-wise.

Vitamin E and Lanolin:
To moisturize all over!

A water bottle:
To hydrate. Drink "to thirst" as Kellymom says but "to thirst" when you're breastfeeding is more water than you can imagine. My rule of thumb was to have a glass every time I fed her.

I'm going to do an entire post on diaper bags soon but I want to include my favorite diaper bag. I love that it has stroller straps.  More favorites: nursing cover, lightweight scarves (to act as a cover), drapey cardigans, v-neck dresses and tops, layers layers layers, burp clothes.