October 22, 2013

Work // Life

I've settled into the semester and although I am spent, things are mostly good. I am so proud to share that Chris has submitted his dissertation draft! In all likelihood, we will have both finished our doctoral degrees before Emilia turns 1. I almost can't believe it! I realize we should have done so before her birth but we didn't (and there's nothing we can do about that now). I try not to beat myself or Chris up about it. And frankly, it's amazing that becoming parents didn't derail us irreparably. If anything, having a baby forced us to become better time managers and lit a fire under us to take care of business. So, thank you Emilia!

Speaking of, Emilia is having a blast with "Aunt Katie" on my teaching days. I am so grateful that my sister comes to my home to be with her when I can't be. Baby girl lights up as soon as she sees Katie's face and although there are days when I wish I didn't have to go, I never leave with worries or fears about her care.

My teaching days are l.o.n.g. It's hard on everyone for me to be away for 12 plus hours (on some days when I have meetings for example). But it's necessary and it's not every day. Chris is forging his way with bedtime routines. He got a raise this week. He's working on a publication for submission. He's teaching a class in the spring and will likely take some research trips abroad. I'm working on my book proposal and a few small grants. I try to finish my course preparation and grading on campus but that isn't always possible. I have my big three year review this December (delayed by one year due to maternity leave stopping my tenure clock) so I am gearing up for that. Things are busy!

Emilia and I are still happily breastfeeding and on my working days I almost always manage to out-produce the volume of milk she consumes. I've found that (depending on how my schedule shakes out), it is easier to pump either right before I leave or right when I get to work, and then always as soon as I get home. I was pumping in between classes and before I left campus but that made for really harried afternoons and later arrivals home which seemed silly. I'm no longer anxiously squeezing in pumping sessions during short breaks between back to back classes so I can focus on course prep or grading during that time instead. I do run the risk of engorgement with my current pumping schedule and break things up more on the occasional 12 hour day. But so far it has been manageable.

I will say that I am tired. Maybe that is to be expected? Emilia's teething, separation anxiety, and night waking are hard on my sleep. I just bring her into bed when she wakes up rather than attempt the more frustrating process of staying up until she's back down so that I can put her back into her crib. Bringing her into bed and going back to sleep myself (as much as I can while nursing) makes everything a bit easier, albeit crowded. Truth be told, I long for the wake-ups after the on-campus workdays when we're apart. And I'm sure there will be a time once she's older that I'll long for all of it; the harried days of working and pumping, scooping my teary and bleary-eyed baby up from her crib, and bringing her into bed with me. Her first (almost) 11 months have flown by. It's difficult to fathom.

When I'm having a rough day or week, I remind myself how fortunate we all are for our health, our extended families, our jobs, and our circumstances. Life is a perpetual balancing act at the moment so maintaining our senses of gratitude is really important. Chris and I still haven't properly gone out for our anniversary (the "10 years coupled" mark that we hit in August or the "3 years married" mark that we hit just a few weeks ago) for example. But we're finding our way. We're figuring out how to be productive, how to continue forging our careers, how to be some version of our pre-parent selves, and most of all I suppose, how to be a family.

October 16, 2013

Great deal on a fancy nursing bra!

Hey breastfeeding mamas and mamas-to-be, Saks Fifth Avenue's Friends and Family event is on and you can score this Le Mystere nursing bra (note that it includes underwire which is a positive or a negative depending on your preference) for $15 with coupon code FRNFAM now through October 20th. They have a lot of sizes not typically available in big box stores and although it was originally $50+ at retail, I am excited to score this bra for a big box store price. I hope I like it!

Note that the photo was one I assembled for Consume or Consumed because I didn't want to post a woman in a bra for those who read from work.

October 5, 2013

Three to six month favorites

By the time Emilia was three months old, she was sleeping happily in her crib (much to my own unfounded concern and worry... I worried for no reason frequently as I adapted to new motherhood). Over the next three months as her motor skills developed even more, she would put everything in her mouth, chew on anything she could, and roll and scoot as means of mobility. She started sitting up and liked being held in a standing position. Accordingly, a lot of the consumer goods we came to appreciate during this time were those that ensured continued safety, comfort, and stimulation.

She had developed enough head and neck control to sit safely in her Bumbo seat. And with the play tray, this seat became her first eating chair. I am reluctant to call it a high chair since we kept it on the ground but it gave her a nice spot where she could sit up, play, and eventually try new tastes. We waited til she was six months old to actually start solid foods but the seat was helpful long before that as a way to keep her propped up and able to be in the mix, socially. 

Although it wasn't perfect, we liked our breathable bumper.

As I said above, Emilia began scooting and rolling all over between three and six months. With increasing mobility, our beloved swaddle was no longer safe. We transitioned her from the swaddle when we were in New York right after her four month birthday. As a crib sleeping baby, her risk of limbs getting caught between bars cause some worry. We used a breathable bumper to guard against suffocating. Of course and as demonstrated above, this bumper was not a perfect solution. Still, we were so glad to have it during this period of her growth.

At night she typically slept in a sleep sack layered with a footed sleeper because it was still quite cold in Pittsburgh. We loved the Halo Sleep Sack Swaddle because she had plenty of kicking room plus the optional swaddle wings (since we were still swaddling her at three months). She had all kinds of footed sleepers but because our house is somewhat drafty, I preferred fleece or thicker cotton with a zip closure rather than buttons like this one from Carters. This way changing her could be done swiftly. We would still typically layer onesies underneath most of her outfits.

When it came to bundling up before leaving the house, we learned our best bet was to move swiftly. She came to get frustrated when we would put her in warm clothing while still in the warm house so the faster we could make the process, the better. We were handed down an adorable, thick Gap Baby bunting that had two very easy zippers for closures.  This one is quite similar albeit for fall and early winter rather than the coldest of the cold days.

Whenever we wore her, we began using the Ergo more often because she was big enough to fit in it (since we didn't have the infant insert).  My only beef with the Ergo is that the thick shoulder straps are a bit bulky under narrower coats. A lot of my more tailored outerwear options look ridiculous under the Ergo. But over doesn't feel secure enough to me.

We still prefer the Ergo to our other carriers. I love the big zip pocket in the front. I regularly wear her around the neighborhood sans purse because I can fit my phone, keys, and money in there with no problem.

Her favorite toy during this time became the Winkle. Its rattling sounds, bright colors, and highly grab-able/chew-able tubes were the perfect design for her grabby hands. She loved gumming it and shaking it and does to this day! We accumulated a cache of teethers but her favorite one for on the go was her "car keys." We kept them tethered to her car seat via these "lots of links." The links themselves are fun to play with and chew. And we still keep her keys handy for trips.

Because she enjoyed a supported standing position so much and seemed fairly stable, we also began using the Exersaucer. Yes, it looks hideous. But one of the compromises of this new life is to accept the practical over the aesthetic. We needed a spot to put her into that wasn't her bouncey seat (which she basically outgrew/became bored with) or her swing (which she would only tolerate when already tired).

We still used her sound machines and video monitor religiously. We still loved her hooded towels and many blankets. She still played with her baby gym and some other things from my Newborn to Three Month Favorites post. But all of the above became our most helpful items as she continued to grow and change.