31 July 2014

Twenty-Five Tips for New Moms/Things I've Learned in Two Months: Part 2

I just sent one of my besties the last preggo care package before she has her baby boy in August. It got me thinking through some things I've learned these past two months. In the spirit of solidarity and paying forward (and probably for a laugh later), here's part two of the 25 tips I picked up along the way.

After the Hospital:
11.  People would ask me, "Is he sleeping well at night?" Ummm…what? There is no day and night for the first weeks. It's just three hours at a time over and over. Your schedule will be: feed baby, feed yourself, change baby, change yourself, nap, cry, take pain meds, and repeat in no particular order. You will probably get up only to go to the bathroom. Give yourself permission to go at baby's speed. Focus on his or her eye movement and go no faster. Don’t check the clock. You have no place to be or anything more to do than be this baby's mama. This is sacred time.
12.  Are you used to accomplishing a list of 4-5 things a day? You will now accomplish negative 8 things. You will watch whatever you would like to get done not get done. Change your focus/perspective. Somethings no longer matter. Others now do. Practice letting go.
13.  Give your husband specific jobs. Have him keep your bathroom and nursing baskets stocked or get the dishes done. Whatever you know will be most helpful to you. Trust him to do it. Also, give him dad jobs. Let him change diapers or get baby dressed without your help. Let him bond on his own with no critique. Go take shower or sitz bath or just lay there and stare at where the wall meets the ceiling. Or pray for those two beings God entrusted to you and ask that He helps you give them right back up to Him.
14.  Give your/his mom specific jobs. Give her different jobs than your husband. Household chores, mealtimes, and shopping seemed to be most helpful for us. While she can obviously be a great help with the little one, your/his mom’s job should be taking care of you, while you and your husband take care of and bond with your baby. Your/his mom is going to be sensitive. Kindly set healthy boundaries anyways.
15.  Make a plan for visitors with your husband before baby comes. Make a plan on how to say no. Visitors (this includes family) will add stress no matter how helpful they are. Don't be a host. If you have guests, let them do your day-to-day chores so you can rest & recovery & recognize those small, special shifts in you, your baby, your man.  
16.  Become a student of your baby and your hubs. Just stare at them and drink it in. If you feel yourself getting scared and trying to control, take a step back and just learn these new things they do.
17.  Eat well. Enjoy whatever is brought if people are so kind to bring meals. Then choose life-giving foods. You need the energy & nutrients. If you are eating healthy foods first, then don't feel guilty for eating whatever you want after that in moderation. ALSO, take your stool softeners like it's your job. And fiber. For real though.
18.  Take pictures with your phone and sort them later. If my baby was crying, sleeping, pooping, staring at me, I'd get my camera and quickly snap a ton in a row. Then I could go back and pick out a good one with missing anything in the moment trying to get the perfect shot.

Disclaimer: this advice may lead to literally over 1,500 photos on your phone leading to very slowed function of your device due to not actually sorting them later or refusing to pick the "perfect shot" because which ones aren't??? Every single shot is a keeper. The next picture you take will always be your very favorite.

19.  Seriously, 6 weeks. Take a break from exercise, sex, or whatever it is you are waiting to get back to for the full amount of time the doctor orders. Take every bit of the entire 6 weeks. You will feel like you can start earlier, but it's not the normal physical stuff that will hold you back. I would hike up to three miles in the few weeks before Eli was born. It’s not like after giving birth my muscles were no longer capable of this. I was still in good shape. But your energy, hormones, and internal anatomy will be very altered and are major factors in what you will be able to do while still making progress in your recovery. Just 2-3 weeks after Eli was born, I went on maybe a 1/2 mile walk. I felt like I could and even felt better right after, but was completely drained and in the worst mood that night. My hormones took me for a ride for the next few days. Relearn your body and try to understand that everything works together. Other parts of you are compensating for the parts still working to heal. It is very necessary to wait for some balancing.

After the first 2-3 weeks:
20.  You will get in a groove, you will come out of the haze, you will find a sweet spot. Until then, roll with it. Find something that soothes you: music, silence, tea, cupcakes, laughing, crying. You will come out of the bathroom where you've been in pain for 25 mins to a screaming baby who aggressively fishes for your sore bleeding milk dispenser and your husband will rush over with no inkling how to help but with a deep, deep desire to make it stop and you will scream at him to go far, far away before you sob through the millionth feeding of a tiny insatiable human. This will not be the first nor last time you will just sit with your sweet babes and sob. Sometimes for no reason or very good reason. Sometimes because everything hurts. Your heart hurts, body hurts, brain hurts, eyeballs hurt, and feelings are hurt. It will pass and you will only remember the sweet stuff.
21.  Ask other “New Moms”. “Old Moms” seem to have selective memory. “Not Moms” are clueless, just like everyone before the moment they go into labor. But “New Moms” are like some underground cult and you do not belong until you are a “New Mom”. So send the text telling how you have never loved nor hated your hubs so much ever, send the disgusting pic text asking if this looks normal, send the email venting about your mom/friend/dentist, send the dog for a play date, or send the friend who offers to pick up something to the grocery. And then when you don't text back for 3 weeks they totally get it and you don't have to feel a lick of guilt or explain.
22.  Your hubs will probably crack under pressure. Mine has never needed more gentleness. He is a “Not Mom”. But he is a dad and he gets to define what that means. Some days he needs a flipping break. So do you but you don't get one. You will resent him and say there's no way in hell he's leaving the house to do whatever recreational activity he had the audacity to suggest he might do later. But then when he leaves to go do the activity anyways, the house will get quiet and tension you didn't realize was there will soften and he will come back softer too. And he'll ask what the baby is doing. DO NOT sarcastically quip about all the ways you suffered at the hands of this newborn to make him feel bad. Because he will not feel bad. He'll be glad he missed it and begin strategically planning his next escape. Instead, tell some sweetness and invite him to join in. Then he will know he was right to miss you both. This is not a manipulative tactic to make him stay. It is an intentional decision to not build a defense, but rather to encourage intimacy. (This is obviously a hypothetical scenario and not something I personally experienced. I always implement such grace to my hubs who is lucky enough to benefit from my wifely wisdom at all times.)
23.  You know that advice you’ve probably heard a bajillion times from nostalgic “Old Moms”? Enjoy every moment, they say. Do NOT take this advice. You will feel like you are doing something wrong when you aren't. There is no way that the process of enduring so many changes- no matter how incredible and beautiful and welcome- won't bring overwhelming difficulty. It's worth it, of course. But there are many moments you just will not enjoy. So instead of expecting to enjoy every moment, just try to be present. Don't get ahead of yourself wondering what he's gonna do or gonna be or gonna look like. Don't look back and worry what you missed. S/he is a person right now. Just recognize the moment.
24.  Each day, be humble in learning how to love your man and teensy babes better than the day before. Then let it be ok if you don’t. Mercies are new every morning. Never give up!
25.  Pray. Everything will seem so strange. This new baby is strange. Your husband will be strange. Your family will be stranger than usual. Your schedule, your house, your body will be strange. These things have changed and they will change. Only God is constant. Pray.

29 July 2014

Twenty-Five Tips for New Moms/Things I've Learned in Two Months: Part 1

I just sent one of my besties the last preggo care package before she has her baby boy in August. It got me thinking through some things I've learned these past two months. In the spirit of solidarity and paying it forward (and probably for a laugh later), here's part 1 of the 25 tips I picked up along the way.

Before the Hospital:
1.  Make a coconut oil based booty cream. I had some sweet friends gift me a portion of their batch they made with essential oils. I use it every time I change Eli. He's never had diaper rash and his dirty diapers are easier to clean off his skin. If you want to pack some for the diaper bag, make sure that the travel container seals tightly since the oil melts when warm.
2.  Make a bathroom basket** with all essential items. I initially stocked both the upstairs and downstairs bathroom, but found it so much easier to put one portable supply basket right next to the toilet and have the hubs relocate it as needed (downstairs during the day and upstairs at night). 
3.  Make a nursing basket** for easy access during feedings. I kept mine on a side table by the recliner I basically lived in for the first two weeks home.
**see below for item suggestions

For the Hospital:
4.  Make a birth plan. Then, accept it as an ideal itinerary for a completely uncontrollable event. Making a birth plan is great. It helps you become educated about your options and helps the hospital staff get to know you quickly. However, do not attach yourself or your idea of success to this birth plan. Whatever is best for your baby at that time should be the ultimate plan. 
5.  Make a plan with your husband before the birth about contacting family and friends when you go into labor and when baby is born. Our plan? We picked point people (our sisters) to distribute the happy news. That way, Hubs only had to make sure two people were informed so he could spend his time with me and Eli instead of answering texts or calls until the next morning. I know others who change their voicemail message to all birth info and apologize in advance if it takes a while to return the call. It took me a good 2-3 weeks to begin contacting anyone outside immediate family and close friends.
6.  Pack your hubs a lunch. The hospital food will be gross or he won't have change for the vending machine or he will forget to eat until it gets too close to time to push. If he's anything like my hubs, he NEEDS food to function appropriately on a normal day, let alone, such a stressful, overwhelming one!
7.  Have your hubs take pictures right after your baby is born. You will be feeling all the feelings and floating above everything in the room. Just give him a list of essential pics like the first little cry, weight & length, first bath, first swaddled, and when you first hold him. You can worry about getting Pinterest-worthy pics later that night or the next day.

I joke about my hubs having that whole deer-in-headlights vibe for two days after labor and delivery. But we wouldn't have any of these pictures if he hadn't had the smarts to take them (because I sure didn't!)

8.  Be in the pictures. This is no time for image issues. You will probably look terrible, but you'll regret it if you aren't in any.

Am I proud of how I look? Nope. Am I proud of these pictures? Heck yes I am. 
In the top one, I'M TRYING TO HAVE OUR BABY. Bottom left is the first picture I ever took with my sweet tiny man. Bottom right I am DYING over that head of hair! You might take prettier pictures in your life, but being a momma looks good on ya, trust me. There's nothing more lovely. These are all keepers!

9.  If your nurse is kind at all and with you for the majority of your labor, take a picture of them or with them or of them with your baby or whatever. Just document that precious angel that attended to you. I didn’t do this and wish I had. I will never ever EVER forget Alan. And I will never ever EVER forget Jennifer. I shared a certain intimacy with them that I will probably never come even remotely close to sharing with anyone else ever. Unless there's a next birth.
10.  Whenever that thing that will go wrong goes wrong, just remember what went right. More went wrong with me than we would have liked, but there has never been one issue with my son's well-being. I'd choose that again in a heartbeat.

**Bathroom Basket
Extra undies-prep before showers
Peri bottle- they will give you one at the hospital
Pads- variety of sizes (length & thickness), no wings is way easier
Tucks pads
Ice packs
Epsom salt for sitz baths
Cottonelle wipes
Possibly other hemorrhoid meds
Hand mirror- ok this is weird, but my dr told me I had to look once a day to watch
for signs of infection (especially if you have stitches).

**Nursing Basket
Whatever you want to make life easier! Here are some suggestions:
Phone/iPad and chargers
Bible/Book/Journal and Pen
Water, straws, and snacks
Chapstick, Hand lotion
Hair ties and clips
Warm socks
Nail clippers and file
Nursing pads, Lanolin
Burp cloth
Pain meds, tums, cough drops
Thank you cards

Stay tuned for what I learned after the hospital and the first weeks after in Part Two!

23 July 2014

Mimi, Johnny, and Edna

Mimi arrived early morning on July 5th. Eli waited to wear his July 4th DIY shirt, like the big show off that he is. 
We went to Beluga Point and checked out a fun open-air market downtown. Mimi and I enjoyed an expensive plate of halibut fish and chips and Hubs got a reindeer dog. Delish!

Sunday, we made the three-hour drive to Seward. We stopped off the highway at a small site with a trailhead. Mimi and Hubs took Jessie on a short walk while I fed Eli. Hubs left the keys in the ignition with the air going and since it was cool enough, I turned it off. The small problem, however, was that I didn't quite turn the key all the way. We were ready to set out again and the engine wouldn't even turn over. I had stranded us on Seward Highway! Luckily, not 10 minutes later, two couples walked up from fishing and jumped our car off. They saved the day! And saved my butt…I hadn't seen Hubs that aggravated in a very very long time. Whoops! After a quick drive through town, we had amazing halibut at Chinook's and a treat at the Cremery before hiking Exit glacier. We saw a mama moose with her two twins on the way home just to top it all off. The weather called for rain all day, but we drove through some showers just through Anchorage that morning on the way there and again on the way back.

We were so excited to have Hubs' Uncle Johnny & Aunt Edna visit from Wyoming! They arrived a few days after Lea Anne. Their first day, Eli and I took them to hike Flattop while Andrew was in Kodiak on a work trip. The steep walk up was definitely worth the crazy view of Anchorage. After a quick detour to pick up a phone forgotten in the bathrooms, we had an early dinner at the popular Moose's Tooth Pizzeria.

Due to poor weather conditions in Seward, the fishing trip Johnny, Edna, and Hubs had planned was cancelled for Friday. 
Since Hubs had already taken a pass at work for that day, he was able to take the crew to Eagle River Nature Center for a gorgeous six-mile hike instead while Eli and I had a rest day.

Saturday, Eli put on his formalwear to FaceTime Aunt Kari. He got to take one of several visits to the brand new Bass Pro Shop before going to meet Johnny and Edna's friends from Wyoming for dinner. Cinda and Maurice have lived here for 13 years. They were so kind to invite us over for an amazing dinner of salmon and shrimp. It was by far the best seafood we have had in Alaska yet. The salmon was caught just a couple of days before. Hubs and I are so appreciative to have met such a friendly and helpful family here and hope to keep in touch!

The fishing charter was rescheduled for Sunday, so Mimi, Eli, and I had fun day together on our own. We took Eli to his first church service, and he loved it. He was all smiles until he quietly fell asleep snuggled in his moby wrap. The song service was even an unplugged acoustic style, so it was just perfect for his tiny baby ears. Afterwards, we had halibut (yes, again!) for lunch at Firetap before doing a little shopping.

The three fishermen left at 2am and didn't get home until about 10pm. They were so tired and so stinky, but excited about their loot! They also came back with a cooler full of fresh fish and some pretty amusing stories. Sounds like the people in Seward were interesting to say the least!

Monday was our guests' last day. We did some last minute errands and shopping before ordering pizza and telling stories. Hubs and I are really hoping Johnny and Edna come back to visit in these next couple of years that we live here! I absolutely loved getting to know them better. And we were super sad to see Lea Anne leave for now. All three were so gracious, helpful, and fun to have around! They flew back to Denver together, and Mimi has spent the last week with Kari and the Wyoming bunch. We hope they have had such a blast and a blessed time together!

21 July 2014

Two Months Old

"Children are a gift from the Lord; They are a reward from Him." Psalm 127:3

Eli was two months old yesterday!

Eli had his two month well baby appointment today. He weighs 13.78 lbs and is 22.85 inches long. This puts him in the 91% for weight and 24% in height. Translation: he's short and fat. Not that you can tell it by looking at him or anything. He also got his shots, but we don't wanna talk about it. 
Our little man is super strong and super squirmy. He pushes off with his legs, flails his arms, and is beginning to reach. He is starting to open his hands more out of the tight little fists. He tries to sit up and arches back. Eli is now talking to us. Cooing, sheep sounds, and dolphin noises mostly. He is definitely a drooler. Also, he is starting to smile! He only grins in the mornings. It's not for very long but his muscles are developing more each day. He recognizes our voices and turns his head to find where the voice is coming from. Very alert and focuses on things nearby really well. He can see much further now too. He loves pictures on the wall and getting to look around outside. Eli's eyes are still the same blue color. Lost a good deal of hair on top and sides but still rocking the thick long hair above his neck. He is starting to like his being in his swing- hallelujah! He is a great napper when he gets to lay on someone, but usually doesn't stay asleep if put down during the day. If he is in his baby carrier or moving in his car seat, he is sure to sleep. This makes for a great little traveler. And he loves going to church service in his moby wrap. He sleeps 5-8 hours straight at night in his bassinet. We are usually in the bed for around 12 hours with feedings. We like to take our time in the morning. Sweet snuggles and sleeping in is the best! He takes a pacifier, but he also likes to suck on his teensy hand. Jessie is warming up to him. She was never acting out, just a little shy not knowing what to think about this new little person. It helps that she has our attention back and is getting her family hikes back in her schedule!