Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Breastfeeding Diaries

Hello lovelies.  Today I'm guest blogging over at The Girl in the Red Shoes.  Julie has a wonderful series for new moms called "The Breastfeeding Diaries."  Each week she features a blogger/mama to share her breastfeeding experience.  Today it's my turn.  To be honest, I am really sensitive about my breastfeeding experience, since it definitely didn't go as I hoped it would.  This was a tough post for me to write and share.  I hope you'll stop by and read it.  Please be kind.  




And if you found this blog from Julie's, WELCOME!  I hope you'll stick around for a while.  :)

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Score Keeping


Today I want to talk to you about score keeping.  Maybe you are a new parent and know a little bit about this or maybe you have a perfect marriage and have no clue what it is, but let me fill you in.  In our house, score keeping is what we call arguing over who does more.  It's keeping a mental tally of who has spent more time in the middle of the night with the baby, who has changed more diapers, who has gotten up in the morning more, who has logged more nights alone with him, or who got less sleep and then using it against the other person.  It's a constant battle of who did what and who did more that no one can ever win.  I think it's pretty normal and I'm sure we're not the only ones that do this, but I'm sick of it.  So is my husband.  Yet we can't seem to make it stop.  

I'll be the first to admit that our marriage isn't perfect.  It's pretty damn great, but we definitely have our moments.  I love my husband with all my heart and soul, but he drives me absolutely fucking crazy sometimes.   And I know I drive him just as nuts (probably more so - he's way easier to deal with than I am).  I'm sure that's true for all new parents all parents all married people anyone that's ever been in a relationship in the history of the world.  And that's ok - it's bound to happen.  For the most part, we have a very strong marriage and wonderful relationship.  What helps a lot is that I think my husband and I have always felt like we were on equal footing in our relationship.  We have similar careers with similar paychecks, we both have our own group of friends, we each have hobbies that we enjoy, we both appreciate our free time and independence.  Having a baby changes all of that.  We are closer now than we've ever been, but becoming new parents is tough on a marriage.  Not only are we dealing with sleep deprivation, raging hormones and the stress of trying to raise a child not to grow up to be a serial killer, but we're struggling with our new identity as parents, role models, caretakers.  We're no longer Ryan and Sara, or even newlyweds.  We're Mac's parents.  It's an adjustment.  One that we'll probably struggle with for a while - and that's ok too.  I know we'll figure it out.  Eventually.

But in the meantime, we're playing a dangerous game of keeping score.  We both still work full-time.  We both still want to have a life outside of being parents.  We both still want to have some independence and ability to pursue our passions.  We both want to be individuals.  But having a baby is a team sport.  Our team has 2 captains that both want to run the team.  Maybe it's because we're both so competitive, or maybe because we're both struggling with our new identities, but whatever the reason, we keep having the same fight over and over.  We each want to one-up the other, have the upper hand, be the better parent.  So we use what we do for the baby against each other.  It's awful, but it happens.  Neither of us feel like what we're doing (whether it's long nights awake rocking the baby or changing diapers) is a punishment or anything.  If anything, it's pride - we both want to be the best parent we can and somehow we think that whoever got the least amount of sleep wins.  I don't know.  It doesn't make sense.

For me, becoming a parent has been the most amazing experience in the world.  It was something I had hoped an prayed for for years.  It's a dream come true.  I'm willing to sacrifice almost anything to be the best parent I can and spend as much time with our little guy as possible. That means that I spent less time with friends, reading, working out, pursuing hobbies and watching crappy TV shows so I can spend more quality time with the baby.  I go out less, I travel less, I do less.  And my husband has made a lot of the same sacrifices, but not to the extent I have.  And I'm fine with that.  I think it's good for him to still have a life outside of the baby.  But it's also hard not to feel some resentment along with that. I resent that he seems to be able to do it all while I can't seem to do anything but be a mom.

I know that it's important for me to have a life outside of my baby, but it feels so much harder for me.  Why is that?  Is it just mommy guilt?  I miss the baby so much while I'm at work all day, the last thing I want to do is miss hanging out with him in the evening or on a weekend.  I need him.  The more time I spend with Mac, the more time I want to spend with him.  He's growing up so fast, I feel like I can literally see him getting stronger and smarter and bigger by the minute.  I don't want to miss a second of it.  My husband doesn't either, but he's also much more excited for the baby to get older so they can do things together.  He wants a buddy; I want my baby.  Will the world end if I miss some evenings with him or have a weekend away now and then?  Absolutely not.  Will the baby love me any less?  No.  Will I be happier?  Maybe, I don't know.  Will I?  I do know that I'll miss him like crazy and probably beat myself up about not being there.  It's such a vicious circle. 

To his credit, my husband's managed to retain some aspects of his former life and keep some hobbies and interests.  He still hunts and fishes.  He still spends time with friends.  He still goes to dinners and concerts and events.  I don't.  Or at least I don't nearly as much.  It's not that I can't, it's that I choose not to.  My husband is more than willing to watch the baby while I go out to dinner or get a pedicure or anything, but I don't want to.  I want to be with my baby.  Therefore, I feel like I automatically "do more" with the baby for this reason alone.  So I win.  Right?  My score is higher!  I make more sacrifices.  I have less of a life.  I'm the winner, but I'm also the loser.  I feel like since I'm the mom, I should do more.  I should win.  That's my job.  Obviously my husband doesn't feel like I'm the winner or that I do all the work and make all the sacrifices or else we wouldn't still be having the same fight about who does more.  He feels like he's doing the brunt of the work and I feel like he's out of his freaking mind if he thinks that.  That's a major disconnect.  

We both make deliberate choices and yet I get angry with him for doing the things I wish I could do...but I don't want to do, even though I really do want to do and I can, but I don't.  What?  It's a no win situation for both of us.  And I constantly feel like an asshole for feeling like this.  Yet it's not something that I feel like I can fix by just going out more or "getting a life."  My choice is to spend time with the baby over everything else and I'm not apologetic for that.  I know it's crazy, but I want my husband to make the same choice all the time too.  I know that's not realistic or even good for us/him/baby.  We'd probably kill each other.  I guess maybe I'm just trying to restore that equilibrium that I felt like we used to have in our marriage to our parenting?  Or maybe I'm just a tired bitch that wants him to be as exhausted as I am.  You know, take one for the team.  Misery loves company.  (I'm not miserable.)

The funny thing is, I really do think we are a great parenting team.  We both contribute, we both make sacrifices, we both love that baby unconditionally.  In the end, he's the real winner that has two parents that would do anything in the world for him.  I couldn't have chosen a better teammate for this whole parenting experience.  I don't want parenting to turn into a competition.  I don't want to keep score anymore.  And I don't want to win.  But how do you get over this mindset?  How do you take down the scoreboard?  How do you get back to even?


Any other score keepers out there?  

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Mother's Day Gift Ideas

Mother's Day is less than a month away!  I have been looking forward to my very first Mother's Day for a long time.  Last year I missed it by ONE WEEK.  I'm glad Mac was fully cooked when he decided to arrive, but I was really looking forward to maybe possibly becoming a mom on (or by) Mother's Day.  Oh well.  However, this year I cannot wait to celebrate being a mom with the little dude that made me one.  

And not that I need anything more than Mac kisses and snuggles on Mother's Day (or a full night's sleep), but just in case Ryan somebody (ahem ahem) was thinking about maybe (ahem) getting me a little something-something special (ahem) as a token of love and appreciation (ahem) on this glorious celebratory day of all mothers, I just thought I'd help him that person out.  Any of these items would be greatly appreciated and find a nice home with this mama.  

Feel free to send your husband's to this post for their shopping (or hell, just buy this stuff for yourself and write your kid's name on the card - you deserve it!).  


Mother's Day Gift Ideas 2013



Home is Where Mom Is - poster by  AmandaCatherineDes on Etsy ($15.00)

Coral Infinity Scarf - Modcloth ($12.99)


Vinyasa To Vino BagLululemon $138)

Mama Mini Photo Session with mom and kiddo(s) - contact a local photographer (prices vary) (if you're in St. Louis, 
Fresh Art Photography is having mini sessions on May 25th) 

Camera Lens - preferably a nice prime lens with a big wide aperture for capturing your littles (prices vary)

Bottle of nice wine or champagne - I've heard Dom Perignon 2003 is nice (prices vary)

Pajama set - J. Crew ($85)

Personalized Photo iPhone Case - tinyprints.com ($40)

Cashmere booties - Mark & Graham ($99)

Custom Baby Footprint Art - PitterPatterPrint on Etsy ($30)

I Heart Mom long-sleeve tee - Smalltreads on Etsy ($45)

Bouquet of Peonies - call your local florist (prices vary)

Accordion Photo Brag Book - Pinhole Press ($25)

DIY footprint footstool - (prices vary)

Silver Rectangle Locket Necklace - Pottery Barn Kids ($129)

Flicker Fabric Bee wristlet - Kate Spade ($78)

Personalized Stacking Rings - SevenElementsStudio on Etsy ($50)

Personalized Chef's Medallions - Felix Doolittle ($25)



What's on your Mother's Day wishlist?

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

A Sappy Sentimental Birthday Love Fest

Pardon me for a second while I get all sentimental and mushy and attempt to wish my husband the happiest of birthdays in the most public, obnoxious and possibly humiliating way I know...on the internet for the whole wide world to see!  Am I not the best wife ever? 




And while I'm at it, I thought maybe I'd share a couple things about this wonderful man that make him so incredibly special to me. 

1. He owns more hats than any person I've ever known.  He has at least 40 hats in his truck, around 15 in his car and probably another 30 in the basement.  He has a hat for every occasion in every shade of camo, green and brown ever made.  Some with lights on them.  Some chosen based on material, fit, brand/logo or degree of luckiness.  He goes to great lengths to make sure he picks the correct/appropriate/best hat for whatever he's doing.   Guess what I got him for his birthday?  Another hat.  :) 

2. When I cook dinner, then he's on dish duty and he always sings hilarious made-up silly songs to the dogs while he loads the dishwasher.  I sit in the living room and crack up at some of the goofy nonsense that comes out of his mouth.  And then he walks back in the room and blushes because he knows I heard him and that whatever he was singing was absolutely freaking ridiculous.  

3. He loves to hunt and takes pride in what he can kill and eat, yet he will not kill spiders in our house.  Last summer there was a giant spider that made a massive web across our front door and he captured it in a plastic cup and drove it over to the golf course by our house and released her it into a tree on the side of the road.  Anytime I find a spider in our house I have to call my husband (a/k/a St. Louis Spider Relocation Services) (or just kill it myself and don't tell him).  

4. He's my biggest fan.  Despite what having a baby has done to my body, he thinks I'm hot and still pinches my butt.  He tells me I'm the best cook he knows.  He tells his friends that I'm a good mom.  He says I look beautiful in every photo.  He laughs at my awful jokes.  He loves me even when I'm a total bitch nutcase.  

5. He is a wonderful father.  I had no doubt when I married this guy that I hit the jackpot when it came to finding a man that would be an amazing dad.  He was born to do this.  He is so good with the baby.  You should see Mac's face light up when Ryan walks in a room.  Mine does too.  We're both pretty crazy about this guy.  The way he plays with Mac and talks to him and takes care of him makes me want to have a million babies with him.  Best dada around. 

Happy birthday, love.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Names & Faces Photobook

I'm so excited to share this post with you, because I just know you're all going to love this product!  A couple months ago I saw a pin for something called "The Big Book of Names and Faces" from Pinhole Press.  I absolutely fell in love with the idea of doing a photo book for Mac with pictures of his family members and favorite people/pets.  He loves looking at the photographs on the walls at our house and pointing to Mama and Dada, so I figured this would be the perfect way to keep him familiar with out of town family members.  Done and done.

I checked out Pinhole Press's website and found the book was $49.99.  I'm all for splurging on my kid, but I thought that was a little high for a baby book that Mac was probably going to destroy.  So I looked around for an alternative company that could do a similar book with spiral binding and big thick pages cheaper.  I found nothing.  Nada.  Zip.

So despite some minor hesitation, I went with it.  And boy am I so glad I did!  

I am madly in love with this book!

The cover is gorgeous!  

The photo is big and beautifully printed.  

It's thick and durable and has red cloth on the side and back (they have 4 different colors to choose from).  

The binding is strong and well put together.


The pages are REALLY thick, which makes it worth the extra price.  It's like a board book!  Perfect for babies and little kids that could easily tear out pages of a regular photobook.


The photos in the book are excellent.  


They're big and bright and fun.  





The names are perfectly centered and big and easy to read.  



The colors and fun and bright.



Mac loves looking through the book; he waves at everyone and gives them all kisses!  It's the most adorable thing you've ever seen.  He laughs and squeals in delight at the pictures.



The photo of Jigs is his favorite.  


It's just a beautiful book.  


I love it.  Mac loves it.  
I've even caught my husband flipping through it and smiling at the photos.
Totally worth it.

Pros:
  • No software to download to your computer. You make the book online and can save projects and return to them later from any computer. 
  • Easy to make (took me less than 20 minutes once I'd picked out which photos to use)
  • Extra thick durable pages for tiny hands that like to rip things
  • Hard, thick, drool-proof and durable cover
  • Pages lay flat and turn easily for little ones
  • Beautifully printed photographs - excellent quality
  • Quick turnaround - I received the book less than a week from placing the order
Cons:
  • No ability to swap pages or change the colors on the page
  • No ability to change font or font size
  • No ability to change the color of the text on the front of the book (white only)
  • No ability to add more (or have fewer) pages
  • Slightly more expensive than other photobooks ($49.99)

Overall, the pros WAY outweigh the cons.  I love the book.  I'm obsessed.  So what if I couldn't change the font?  I think sometimes not having the ability to tweak every little thing a thousand different ways is a good thing.  It only took me 15 minutes to make the book and order it.  If I had endless options of fonts and colors and layouts, I'd probably still be working on it.  


The only other drawback (which was my initial hesitation) was the price of the book.  Now that I've seen the book and the excellent quality of it, I think it's totally worth the pricetag, but I know not everyone is going to be convinced until you get one of your own...

SO, the good folks over at Pinhole Press would like to offer you a discount on all photo books RIGHT NOW.  25% off through April 26th!  Just use the code: RLMD13


I hope you all go make one right now.  Your babies will love it!


* I was not compensated in any way for this review.  I purchased the book with my own hard-earned dollars and cents.  After I received the book (and fell madly in love with it), I contacted Pinhole Press to see if they'd offer readers a discount and they were kind enough to help a mama out.  Lucky you!  I've never reached out to a company before, so you know that I'm seriously crazy about this book.  I want you all to order one because your kiddos will love it!


** However, I sure wouldn't be opposed to being compensated (in photobooks) for this review.  Wink wink.  So Pinhole Press, if you're feeling generous, I have a lot of photos looking for a home. ;-)



Go!  Now!  Make a book!  

What are you still doing here??





Pinhole Press - 25% off all photo books through April 26th - use the discount code RLMD13

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Taking a Stroll

Now that the weather is finally starting to get nice, it's been so much fun taking Mac outside to play.  He's about this close to walking on his own!  I can't even get over it.  These photos were taken a few weeks ago (a couple days before we got 12+ inches of snow!), so he's not getting around nearly as well as he does now, but this is pretty cute nonetheless.  I can't believe the improvement he's made in just a few short weeks with both walking and steering his walker.  I'm confident that he'll be walking (or running) on his own by his first birthday.  This little VTech walker has been his favorite toy for months now!  He has really gotten a lot of use out of this thing.  He pushes it all around the house, uses it to chase (or run over) the dogs and loves ramming it into our walls.  When we finally had a nice day, we were so excited to take him outside and let him walk on our street/sidewalk where he could just go go go without running into anything.  



And he's off! 


Look at that concentration.


I'm coming for you, mom.




This is awesome!





Our dogs were at the front door watching, so Mac had to stop and wave to them.
Adorable.


Hi puppies!


Guess what...I'm outside!





Love the butt shot.




Is this not the cutest thing ever?  



An early-morning walk is a blessing for the whole day.  ~Henry David Thoreau

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

To Sleep, Perchance to Dream

First of all, THANK YOU all so much for all your comments last week about Mac's sleeping.  It was so nice to hear from both so many first time commenters and veteran moms.  I'm so blessed to have the smartest mamas out there as readers!  Y'all rock.  


Secondly, I really hope that post didn't come off as whiny or complaining.  As you all know, it took us a LONG time to have a baby and I don't want to take one second of it for granted.  I know there are millions of women out there that would give anything to be in my sleepless situation because it means they have a baby to love.  I never want to make it sound like I'm ungrateful for my baby or complaining.  I know sleepless nights come with the territory of being a mom and I spent years praying for those nights.  I definitely don't want to give the impression that I've forgotten about that or am unappreciative.  


Since last week's post, a lot of you have asked how things are going, so I thought I'd give you a little update.  Here's the deets on what we've done/changed in the last week.  


We've added a morning nap to Mac's schedule.  He does not want the nap at all if he's home and playing, but we've found that if we put him in the car and drive around for a while, he falls asleep.  So that's what we've done.  He's had a 15-45 minute morning nap every day for the past week and while I'm not sure it's helped with night-time waking, I definitely think it's improved his mood in the afternoons.  He's not nearly as tired and clingy in the evenings any more (or maybe that's because he's finally not sick). Either way, we're going to try to keep this up.  It may not happen every day, but it's a good start and good to know that he needs more daytime sleep.  I had no idea he was so young to drop a nap - thanks for the comments on that. 



We've been giving him a lovely to hold during his night-time routine.  He has absolutely no interest in it and doesn't even want to hold it.  Basically I hold it in front of him and kiss it, love on it and talk to it and he looks at me like I'm batshit crazy.  I put it in his crib with him, but he's never once even acknowledged it's existence in there.  Not sure if this one's going to catch on anytime soon, but we'll keep it up. It definitely can't hurt anything.




I've been putting him down to sleep at night awake.  This is HARD.  I still rock him and sing to him and give him his nightly bottle while snuggling and cuddling, but I've been cutting our routine a little bit short and putting him down before he's passed out.  He's definitely tired and oh-so-close to falling asleep when I put him in his crib, but as soon as he touches the mattress, he's wide awake and pissed off!  The first night he cried for about 20 minutes and then laid down and went to sleep.  The second night he just kind of whimpered and whined for about 12 minutes and then went down.  The third night was around 20 minutes again.  The fourth night was an hour of full blown screaming bloody murder and I had to go in and calm him down.  Ugh.  Regression.  The fifth night was 45 minutes of major screaming.  And last night we were back to only 12 minutes of whimpering.  I don't have a clue if he's getting any better at self-soothing.  


When he wakes in the middle of the night, we've been trying not to give him a bottle.  Every now and then we do, but only when he's inconsolable and needs it to calm himself down.  I think he's having bad dreams because he's had a few wake-ups where he's just freaking out and still crying in his sleep while in our arms.  A lot of you commented that he could be having dreams of falling from just starting to walk, which makes a lot of sense, so we try comfort him as much as we can in this case.  The bottle's our last resort, but sometimes necessary.  He usually only takes an ounce or two, so I know he's not really hungry and doesn't need it.  Otherwise, we've tried to eliminate the nighttime feedings.  


We've also been trying to put him back in his crib awake if he wakes in the middle of the night.  Also very hard to do.  Mainly because it's the MIDDLE OF THE FREAKING NIGHT and we just want to go back to bed.  The first time I did this, he cried for about 30 seconds and then fell asleep!  WOW.  I thought I'd won the mommy lottery!  But then I did it again on Monday night and he cried for 45 minutes before finally laying back down and falling asleep on his own.  There is nothing worse than lying in bed wide awake at 3:00 a.m. on a Monday night listening to your child scream his head off knowing that you have to go to work in a couple hours.  Ugh.  


So, has his sleep improved?  Maybe.  The first two nights on the new system he slept through the WHOLE night without ANY wake-ups.  I'm talking 11-12 straight hours of sleep.  OMG, it was the greatest thing EVER.  I was convinced that I'd solved the world's baby sleeping problems and was daydreaming of writing a best-selling book on sleep and making bajillions of dollars.  Then he starting waking up in the middle of the night again and has ever since.  So we had 2 awesome nights, 2 crappy nights with one wake-up, and 2 miserable nights with 2 (or more) wake-ups and lots of crying.  


So, basically we're back to where we started.  We're going to keep the new routine up a while longer, just to see if it starts to sink in.  Maybe our kid's just thick-headed and stubborn (like me) and needs a little longer to adjust. Who knows.  If not, I'm very happy (and excited) to go back to our routine of rocking him to sleep every night with a bottle and a lullaby.  I'll keep you all updated.  And in the meantime, I'm going to try to really appreciate those middle of the night cuddle sessions because I know they won't last forever.  And if it turns out he really does need me to go to college with him and rock him to sleep every night, I'll happily go!  I loved college, after all.  :)