Establishing a routine

I just found this post I drafted on July 5, 2012. Clearly, I was feeling bitter about routines that day! I’ve included it below, along with a present-day update.

One unrealistic, totally-stupid piece of advice books give to new moms is “establish a bedtime routine” for your newborn baby. Here’s a sample of this ridiculousness:

The sooner you establish a bedtime routine, the better. When your baby is as young as 6 or 8 weeks old, start following a set pattern every night; she’ll quickly come to appreciate the consistency and predictability. And remember that a bedtime ritual is often good for parents, too. It’s a special time set aside for you to spend with your baby, something you can plan on.

Six weeks old?! For the first three months of Suzianne’s life, our bedtime routine consisted of:

-keep baby alive;

-feed her when she’s hungry;

-attempt to make her sleep by any means possible; and

-pray she sleeps more than 48 minutes.

It wasn’t until Week 15 that Team Newman finally figured out a bedtime routine. I didn’t have the self-confidence or energy to “establish” anything before that. For the first three months, Suzianne did just fine without a book-approved routine. Your baby will, too.

Around month six, we nailed down this routine, that we still stick to today:

-Between 5:30 or 6 p.m., dinner;

-Around 6 p.m., bathtime;

-6:15 to 7 p.m., playtime;

-7 p.m. bedtime!

-7:05 p.m. adult beverages.

This schedule remains VERY flexible, depending on how sleepy Suzianne actually is. So, please don’t do what I did and feel guilty and stress over your lack of routine in those first few months.

Ask yourself: is my baby alive? Is my baby relatively happy? Was I able to brush my teeth and/or bathe today? If you answer “yes” to two or more of these questions, you’re a rockstar.

All this “routine” talk makes me tired.

Guilt-free assessment: months 0 to 7

My momma’s hormones were whack, ya’ll.

I don’t feel guilty when I think about the first seven months of Suzianne’s life, just sad.

Seven whole months with her were wasted on my postpartum depression. It’s not my fault and there is nothing I did wrong, but it still breaks my heart.

It started March 6, the day after Suzianne was born. Before they send you home with the tiny version of your spouse you just made, they make you sit through this class about how to diaper, bathe and generally keep your baby alive. All the other new moms were sitting on pillows, looking attentive. I sat on my pillow and cried. Hard.

I remember the pit in my stomach each evening as “the night shift” approached. Many new moms refer to night feeding as “snuggle time” on their Facebook pages; it was not snuggly for me. It was simply sleep deprivation. Around 7 p.m., my mind would begin to process the “night dread” — I knew what time it was without even looking at the clock.

March 6, 2012

For three months worth of night feedings, I ate grapes, counted the windows in the office building next door (43) and wondered if I would ever sleep again. I did not enjoy this “special time together” as so many other moms seem to. I didn’t even enjoy weekends.

In those first few weeks, when it came to breastfeeding, I experienced overwhelming anxiety and anguish. Knowing that I was only able to produce enough milk for the moment, and not enough to store away for later, like so many of my friends could. Even when I was pumping 15 ounces a day, she needed more, and I had to supplement 10 ounces of her milk with formula. That felt like a failure to me. My friend Olivia (who breastfed her baby for 12 whole months) reassured me that I was awesome, then sighed, and said, “There’s nothing like pumping breastmilk to put a specific measurement of ounces on a woman’s worth.”

***

In April, from my perch on a sitz bath, I called my best friend and bawled as I told her I was a horrible mother. That I didn’t know what I was doing and felt like it was not fair to Suzianne. “I’m not good at this,” I kept repeating. She listened and told me I was a wonderful mother, that Suzianne loved me and all would be okay. Four more months would pass before I believed her.

In May, my back went out. I remember laying in the bed, not being able to lift Suzianne or play on the floor with her. For some reason, I was convinced that those few days of little interaction with me were scarring her for life. I laid on my pillow and cried.

In July, I went back to work; the hormones started to level out and I began to feel like myself again. Until I stopped breastfeeding. Just like my friend Beth warned me about, my hormones went through another insane shift ALL OVER AGAIN. It was like when you are trying to rewind “Smash” on your DVR, and you push the button a little too hard and you have to watch a scene with “Ellis” again… again. Just awful.

In September, when we were in Hawaii (hard life, yeah?), I finally figured out my hormones were still whack. Here I was, five months after Suzianne was born, and still getting emotional and exhausted by trivial things, like not having a white onesie and corresponding bunny for the six month photo. But it was being away from her for a week–and being really, really relieved about the break–that led me to the conclusion that I remained a little off. I felt a little better once I acknowledged it, but I couldn’t shake the fog. So, I sat at the pool overlooking the Pacific and cried.

***

In October, I went with mom to a GNC store and asked the guy, “Do you have anything for postpartum issues? He said, “Sure!” and escorted me to the menopause supplement section.

I said, “No, no. Not menopause hormones, ‘just had a baby hormones.'”

He said, “Your problem is that you stopped taking your prenatal vitamin after you had the baby, amiright?”

Me, “Yes, but this is hormonal, not vitamin related.”

Him, “It’s the vitamins. Take these for two weeks and bring them back if you don’t feel better. I swear.”

I do feel better. Thank you, GNC guy. 

***

From March 6 to mid-October, my head was cloudy and my heart was heavy nearly every day.

I don’t know if it is the vitamins, the perfect San Diego weather, or my hormones finally leveling out, but I’m feeling normal now.

Proof: Thanksgiving week we spent seven straight days with Suzianne in Nashville and I never lost my mind. I never one got flustered or upset about anything baby-related (I did get emotional the last night there, but that is only because I really miss my Nashville friends).

Holiday travel with an infant and no baby-sitter was just the test I needed and I passed like a boss.

I’m me again. I have always liked me, so I’m really excited about that.

***

Dave and I spend more time with our baby than most families are able to. It’s a luxury I do not take for granted (this time). It’s fun to finally feel and experience those new mom warm fuzzies that I’m always reading about on Facebook. I, too, could spend a full hour just starring at Suzianne! She’s remarkable! I didn’t feel this way until recently–there was too much hormonal clutter in the way.

Moving to California has brought with it a most awesome gift: a second chance at spending quality time with my infant. I don’t deserve this do-over, but I’m grateful and am soaking in every moment.

Me and my baby — November 23, 2012

Eight Months!

Eight months old…wow! Where does the time go? Thankfully, in Suzianne’s eighth month, my hormones FINALLY evened out. I started to feel like myself again. Maybe it is these GNC vitamins, or maybe it’s just time healing my tiny body. Either way, it’s good to be back. I’m so back, that I didn’t even cry over not having a white onesie to take this photo in; I totally sobbed over not having one for the month six shot. That’s progress, people!

Watch her grow! Take a scroll through the Month-by-Month archives.

Deflation

There’s all sorts of things no one tells you about pregnancy. Same goes for life after a baby. But the one thing I SWEAR NO ONE TOLD ME was that a woman’s breasts may actually be SMALLER after breastfeeding than they were prior to breastfeeding.

I want those of you who know me to think about that.

… … …

I KNOW.

Let’s reflect a bit: I have never been a curvy gal, but I had grown accustom to the little bit of curve The Good Lord gave me. Then, I got preggers! AND OMG, THE CURVES! I felt sexy, even while carrying what turned out to be an 8.5 pound replica of my spouse.

After Suzianne was born, I got curvier! The girls went up a full cup size! Um, that would be a B, but still. I got used to having my B’s and sported them proudly. When I stopped breastfeeding, the gals were sore for about two weeks…

Then, one morning, THEY WERE GONE.

Just…gone.

Poof, ya’ll.

How can this happen when I had so little to begin with? I’m really struggling with this, as vein and trivial as it is. I can’t help it.

So, today I marched my tiny chest right over to Victoria’s Secret, where a delightful gal named Josie fitted me for bras.

Josie: “Well, it looks like you’re really a 30A. We don’t actually carry bras that small in the store. You have to special order them.”

Me: “Yeah, well, let’s find me a 32A that mostly fits. I cannot make myself purchase a bra so small that someone with tiny hands in a sweat shop somewhere had to custom sew to fit my freakish frame.”

Josie: “Okay, then!”

I ended up buying three of these. Great fit; fun colors. I feel a little more confident about the way I look now that I’m not wearing a bra that is 75 sizes too big. But I’m still sad that my beloved B’s are gone. {sniff, sniff.}

Anyway, when this happens to you, ladies, don’t mope about for two months like I did. Seek professional help; find your Josie. Retail therapy is the only way to rise above the body image issues that accompany overnight deflation.

She’s very advanced

One thing I love about Dave is now genuinely fascinated he is by Suzianne’s developmental milestones. I share his enthusiasm. Each new thing she does is a full-out Team Newman celebration. However, I am realistic about her understanding and motivation for some lesser “advancements.”

Take this action, for example:

Mmmm. Why, thank you for the milk, mother.

If you are Dave: this is a photo of your BRILLIANT SPAWN daintily tapping at the corners of her mouth after a delicious meal. 

If you are me: this is a photo of Suzianne attempting to stuff a burp cloth into her slobbery pie hole. And she’s doing this only because she recently figured out how to grab things and smack herself in the face with them.

Every time Suzianne smushes something against her face after her bottle, Dave beams with paternal pride and exclaims, “Look, baby! Suzianne is wiping her mouth!” 

I love this child and all that, but I’m not buying it.

Weeks 15 & 16

Hi. I’m a week late with Week 15’s post, and we’re nearly done with Week 16. I hope this doesn’t hurt your feelings, but I’m kind of excited about forgetting to write.

I know I always preach about how the Internet is not your diary. But since Suzianne came shooting out into this world on March 5, this blog has been a much-needed outlet for me. Most of the time, I write as a way to sort through my self-doubt. Or to remind myself that there actually are some things I am doing well.

I guess you could say that blog posts (with words) were a sign of a not-so-confident me. So, when I would go for a while without blogging, it was a good thing!  And these past two weeks have been very good things. See:

Helmet-schelmet

Remember how I broke the baby? Well, last week, I took Suzianne to see those flat-head helmet people, even though our repositioning work seems to be doing the trick. The whole experience felt very sales-y to me. No doctor; just a nice lady who smiled at odd times while she was talking. She basically told us that Suzianne didn’t really need a helmet, but that she was going to recommend the $3,500 device that Suzianne would need to wear 23 hours a day for several months anyway. Um, no thanks?

BUT the trip out to BFE, Virginia, wasn’t a total waste of time. I did get these awesome baby mugshots:

WANTED for excessive drooling.

Flaily-armed and dangerous.

NPR

Also last week, Suzianne made her first pilgrimage to NPR’s Washington, D.C. headquarters. A couple of my friends work there, so we went for a visit. I’m most excited about the NPR visitors pass they made her wear. It will be a great addition to Suzianne’s yet-to-be-cracked-open baby book.

Rolling Over

On June 16, Suzianne rolled over on her tummy for the very first time! As you can see, she was super proud:

A few days later, Dave looked over at the play mat and found her like this; and not nearly as angry about it:

Chatty Cathy

Last week, our child somehow figured out she can make purposeful noises. Lord help us. She’s a loud talker who doesn’t think twice about telling you every detail about her day, no matter what you have going on. Not sure who she gets that from. It’s so cool how for three months, she was just a little, relatively silent, blob; a week later, she’s rolling on her stomach and chatting with us about her music preferences. She’s a night-talker, too; I now keep the monitor on low when I go to bed.

Nashvegas

During Week 16, I made a sneaky trip home to Nashville to surprise my grandparents. We had a great time just hanging out and talking; meanwhile, Suzianne had two days of daddy-daughter party time:

The most awesome part of my trip was how Dave kept Suzianne’s routine right on schedule; from arriving at Nanny D’s, to baths and bedtime. You always hear women complaining about how their husbands mess with the baby’s routine, or refuse to do some parts of it because it’s easier to just skip them. But Dave was a rockstar and I came back to a well-rested, clean, happy baby.

D is for Dang-we-are-so-lucky-we-found-Nanny-D

I love how in the middle of the day, I get pictures like these from Nanny D; along with texts that tell me how well Suzianne is eating, pooping, playing, napping, etc.

We are so, so blessed to have found our wonderful nanny-share family and such a thoughtful, caring woman who takes amazingly good care of our baby girl.

Giggling

This week, Suzianne started to giggle. Just a bit. I have a couple of videos to prove it, but WordPress is acting odd and won’t let me embed them here. So, the most proof I can offer you is this blurry picture:

Guilt-free Assessment: 3.5 month-old infants are way more fun than newborn ones

I remember asking my friend Beth when babies usually start smiling, giggling and actually acting happy to see you. She said “just in time.” This is true. Week 15 was a big turning point for Suzianne, as it seems to be for most infants. Suddenly, your tiny baby blob is human-like. Talking, watching you walk across the room, expressing joy and displeasure. Beaming like you are the most awesome, funniest person in the world when you greet her at 4:30 each morning. It’s fascinating. And, selfishly, a lot more gratifying.

I would not push pause on these weeks for the world. Each one brings something new and amazing for Suzianne. Onward we go!

 

 

Hey, preggers! Read this.

Dear Momma-to-be,

Hey, sister. How are you feeling? You look amazing today. I know you’re all glowing and double fisting BBQ chips right now, but I want to talk a bit about labor and delivery.

Wait. Where are you going? Look, if you listen to me for just a few minutes, I’ll bring you a jar of Nutella. 

Now, then. Let’s cut the chase. Here’s how it’s going to go down:

You will be strong and powerful* 

Why are you blinking at me like that? Have another chip or 10 and hear me out.

I’m sure you were hoping I’d say “you’ll be great!” or “just get an epidural and it will be a piece of cake!”

But this is serious business, this human-creating thing. Labor and delivery is work. It’s exhausting, intense, miraculous work. It is work your body was made to do. And–you Type-A’s will appreciate this–your body does it so well

Your job is to breathe, focus and allow your body to work its magic. I don’t mean to belittle your fears. They are valid. The thought of going into labor is scary; the unknown always is. But you will rock this, lady. I promise.

By the way, it does’t matter whether you deliver vaginally or via c-section:

  • your body will produce a life; 
  • you will witness a miracle; 
  • you will be strong and powerful. 

However, if you deliver vaginally, you will poop on the table in front of your spouse. He/she will not mind because the baby’s-head-is-coming-out-of-your va-jay-jay-and-OMG-that-is-SO-COOL-honey-you-have-to-see-this-bring-in-the-mirror!  

Sister, please don’t over-think this. Prepare by going to a good Lamaze class and having your spouse read The Birth Partner, but don’t over-think it. There’s no need to; your body knows what to do and it will do it when the time is right.

One last thing: I am so proud of you. For nine months, you will have sacrificed beer, wine, brie, hotdogs, roller-coasters and sushi. You’ve peed 27 times a day; and by the time your ninth month rolls around, you’ll not be able to tie your shoes–or see your own lady parts. Know this: you are a ridiculously impressive, beautiful vessel of life. A vessel that will very soon be able to drink again. Hang in there.

In the meantime, rest up, read this book, schedule a mani/pedi, and get ready to have your world rocked by this tiny, beautiful creature that love, your uterus and God made.

xoxo,

Margie

 

Week 14: victory is mine.

This week, I was kind of a big deal.

Proof:

I wore a belt nearly every day this week–and that belt does not belong to my husband: On Mother’s Day, I walked out of the bedroom and made Dave watch as I was about to put a belt around my waist for the first time in nearly a year. “Watch this!” I squealed. And then…um, Dave watched as my belt came no where near buckling.

Sweet Dave then handed me HIS belt to wear. Although it was a sweet gesture, it was quite a bruise for my ego. BUT! This week, my hips must have come back in a bit because I was able to wear my old belt again! It’s the little things in life that make a difference, ya know?

I wore an infant to a public place–and we are both still alive: frequent readers of this blog know I’ve not had the best luck in the baby wearing department. BUT thanks to Rakelle and her K’Tan suggestion, we’ve found an infant carrier that Suzianne doesn’t hate with a fiery, vocal passion. See. Not angry:

I even wore her to an evening barefoot running seminar at REI that Dave signed us up for. Yes. A seminar where everyone is supposed to be quite and attentive. Suzianne rocked that, yo:

I completed Week 3/Day 3 of my Ease into 5k training–while pushing a stroller…with a wide-wake infant inside it: I was more than a little ecstatic about this one:

So thrilled was I that I made a random man take my picture right after I completed the run. As he was taking it, I asked, “Do I look athletic?!” He handed me back my phone and said, “Not when you do that leg kick thing, so I cut that out of the picture”:

We somehow reversed this week’s trend of no sleep with a Friday night, no-wake, no-nightfeeding, 8 hour stretch of awesomeness! I had a partial breakdown this week because Suzianne sort of decided to quit sleeping at night and napping in the day. As a result, she was cranky all week. You know, because she’s EXHAUSTED MOMMA. WHY MUST YOU KEEP ME AWAKE ALL THE TIME? WAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH. Of course, the more public the location, the more vocal she got. Take Rock Bottom Brewery, for example:

The problem seemed to be that no matter how much breast milk I fed her, she was still hungry. Then, when she’d try to sleep, she suddenly HATED the swaddle and would fight it all night. And when I say “fight it,” I mean she’d flop over on her stomach and nurse the mattress. There’s no milk in there, by the way. When the mattress refused to feed her, she’d be all: WAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH! WHY ARE YOU KEEPING THE MATTRESS FROM FEEDING ME MOMMA!?

It sucked.

I took my desperation to Facebook. Friends advised we give her more formula than we had been and swaddle her with one arm out.

AND IT WORKED! On Friday night, my girl slept from 9:40 p.m. to 6 a.m..

{squeal!}

{virtual high five}

Yes, friend. That DOES mean no night feeding for the first time since Suzianne shot out into the world on March 5. Miracles do happen!

—-

Week 14 also marks my last full week at home with Suzianne. Starting Tuesday, we’ll take Suzianne to an awesome nanny-share family down the street from Dave’s work. We are so excited about this; I’m hoping a routine and playing with another infant will help her sleep better at night. We’ll start her part time until I go back to work at the end of this month. More on that later!

Week 12: Llama Llama Mad at Momma

Week 12! It was a doozy! And awesome. Here are three new experiences I just have to share:

1. Suzianne slept through the night every night for seven days, with progressively earlier bedtimes each evening. O M G. {Squeal!} Regardless of the time we put her down, (which ranged from 7–10 p.m.) she would not wake for 7 hours. IT WAS AWESOME. And scary. Is she breathing? Yes, Margie, she’s breathing. Good thing you kept poking at her so you could wake her up to prove she’s alive while she’s sleeping. Brilliant. 

2. Holy cow, our girl has a temper! And it only seems to rear its inconsolable red head when I’m around. Because I smell like breakfast all day long. I’m like a walking Sonic– with birthing hips.

This week, we had several major scream-fests, where I was just sure someone would call Child Protective Services on me. I mean, these screams were violent, never-ending torture screams. If you were in the next room–or parking space– you’d swear I was chopping off Suzianne’s pinky toe. But no, she’s just hungry.

It does’t matter that she just ate 1.5 hours ago–or that you are trying to find a parking spot at Tyson’s Corner and can’t really do anything about it right now–she’s STARVING MOMMA WAAAAAAAAAAAAH! 

And she must tell everyone within a 5-mile radius that her momma NEVER feeds her. But her daddy? Oh, he’s cool, ya’ll. You can trust him. Just don’t turn your back on that milk lady.

A quick Google (thanks Dave) told us this is a 3-month growth spurt. But since Suzianne is sleeping through the night now: scream, child! Momma don’t care because she will feed you AND get some sleep all in the same day. Bring. It.

3. Team Newman has found a routine! Sorta. We don’t stick to a hard and fast timeline, but we do have a routine of feedings, playtime, naps; repeat. We’ve also gone from primarily breast feeding to expressed breast milk from the bottle feeding. When we did this, Suzianne started sleeping through the night. I have no clue if it is her age or the bottle-feeding that is making the difference, but it seems to be a better solution for her. We are having to supplement with formula. This makes me sad, but Suzianne wakes up beaming with glee and ready for the world these days…so we’re gonna stick with this plan:

In other awesome news, Suzianne met my best friend in the whole wide world this week. A woman whose friendship means more to me than she will ever know. We love you, Pavis:

And finally, I got back to my 5k training this week! I am re-doing “Week 2,” since I’ve not run in three weeks. I am feeling good, thanks to the fabulous stretching techniques Michelle and Rebecca sent me. Thanks, ladies! Hopefully, I can stay on track this time.

On Sleeping Well

For 10 weeks, Suzianne never slept more than four consecutive hours. Around week 9, she was only sleeping in 1.5 hour stretches.

I prayed, chanted and danced in circles hoping that by some miracle, she’ll learn to sleep at night.

Suddenly, week 11 arrives and she’s sleeping for 6 and 7 hours at a time. As I type this, she’s been asleep 3.5 hours since her last feeding, which was preceded by 7.5 hours of sleep!

And how do I repay her for this amazing, body, mind and soul-rejuvinating rest she’s gifted me? I sneak into her room every few hours to make sure she’s alive.

She is alive, by the way.

I know because I hover over her tiny, swaddled up body trying to peep out some chest movement.

When I don’t see breathing, I poke her.

I POKE MY SLEEPING BABY.

It’s so funny to me how now matter what she’s doing–sleeping, not sleeping; pooping, not pooping–I’m questioning my parenting skills.

Why can’t I just let it be?! 

I AM a good mother, dangit!  

I am also a moron for nearly waking Suzianne up to prove she’s alive while she’s asleep. Geez o Pete.

BUT! I’m now a well-rested moron, so I’ve go that going for me, which is nice.