Thursday, January 16, 2014

On Motherhood

We recently took Jack hiking for the first time in Griffith Park.
This photograph was taken in the enclosures of the old L.A. Zoo.  
I think I'm finally getting to the point where I'm realizing that I'm not exactly the mom I planned on being... simply put, that fantasy I had left out one really crucial thing... me.  So, I wear my son, but he is now formula fed.  When Jack was 7 or so weeks old and Tim went back to work after paternity leave and my postpartum depression was emotionally paralyzing, he watched the entire SERIES of Weeds with me.  (not an entire season, the whole show... in two or so weeks.)  He gets homemade baby food but wears disposable diapers.  At 7:30 AM when he wakes up, I gladly let Tim get up with him.  I love being a stay at home mama for him.  I love that every weekday I get almost 10 hours of just me and Baby Jack time.  We play, we read, we sing and dance, we laugh, we take naps together.  But once he's in bed for the night, I take long baths, hang out with my husband, drink whiskey, and plan travel adventures.  Every Friday, Jack and I get excited for the "freakin weekend" and time with Tim and family and friends.  I love watching Jack learn new things and explore this world.  I also love date days where we let his great grandparents get their baby fix and Tim and I drive to one of our favorite bars and every time I want to kiss the actual bar because it feels so nice to sit somewhere other than a booth and with my feet dangling, I savor those pisco sours and craft beers and gin-lemon-rosemary concoctions and the rapport with a bartender.  I stood on the Santa Monica pier at the Over Yonder Folk Festival sipping my husband's beer and listening to First Aid Kit accompanied by the lapping sounds of the Pacific Ocean this past fall and felt perfectly in my element.

So that's how it is, I guess, at least for now.  I love being Jack's mama.  But that also means being me.  The concept of motherhood had almost convinced me that the two couldn't coexist.  I try to tell my brain every day that that isn't the case.  I am almost equally at home with my hair in a messy bun and wearing drool stained clothes laying on the floor of my son's nursery playing with him as I am in heels at the Masonic lodge listening to John Darnielle's musical ramblings at midnight on a Tuesday with the love of my life.  As much joy as babywearing brings me, I still don't like to cuddle at night when I'm trying to sleep.  No matter how hard I try, I will never be excited to change a diaper.  But in the same sense, I never thought I would be so excited by a little baby boy smiling when he wakes up and sees that I'm there waiting for him and I never thought my heart would happily break into a million pieces when he then reaches up for me with both arms, eager to be in my arms once again.

So, here's to motherhood, in it's many varied and beautiful forms.  May my son grow up to appreciate that his Daddy and I wrapped him onto our bodies instead of pushing him in a stroller most of the time.  May he grow up to appreciate really good books (I can't help it, I'm reading him the Phantom Tollbooth already.) and more music than just little kid songs.  May he understand that I do the best I can for him, that motherhood in the traditional sense doesn't come naturally to me but my love for him does.  I hope he learns that his playground is the world, not just his neighborhood.  I hope that he grows up to appreciate different cultures and people and food and ways of thinking other than his own.  I hope he grows up openminded and kind.  I hope one day he will realize that in order to be the best anything to anyone else, you have to be the best you first.

Tim babywearing using an Ergo at Angel City Brewery in Downtown L.A.   
Babywearing at home using Pavo Clementine  

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Merry Christmas (Christmas Card 2013)

So, with all the hubbub of being new parents, Christmas cards completely went by the wayside.  I remembered at the last minute and contemplated not doing them at all this year, but then decided that I would probably regret not putting one out for Jack's first Christmas.  

Of course, professional pictures were out since I decided to do this so last minute.  These photographs are actually iPhone / Instagram filtered but I kinda love how they turned out.  It was actually a (semi) cold day in Los Angeles the day we went to pick out a Christmas tree (Jack's first!!!!!!!!) so it worked out that the three of us were bundled up in winter clothes.  It was 80 degrees two days last week here.  Shorts in December?  Yup.  

The card is from Tiny Prints, our go-to for pretty much anything for fancy snail mail.  (Bridal shower invitation, wedding thank you cards, Jack's birth announcement, Christmas cards, etc.)  So far, I've always been pretty pleased with how they turn out and they have great coupon codes and promotions going year round, which was especially convenient for us because going down to one income so I can be a stay at home mom in a high cost of living area means that money is a little tight now.  (But totally worth it to do what's best for our family.)  

We only sent this out to our closest family and friends this year due to budget constraints, but I still wanted to share it with all of you.   Whether you're near or far, you're never far from my heart.  

Merry Christmas to all of you.   

Friday, December 20, 2013

Get A Job In Retail. (Or, Don't.)

Turn 16 years old.  Tell your mom you think you want to get a job.  Turn in 3 applications and realize the next day that you made a horrible mistake.  Vehemently agree with your mom every time she tells you that, "school is your job."  Breathe a sigh of relief.

Graduate from high school with better than average grades, a ton of community service logs, AP classes, student body government roles, and a yearbook editorship under your belt.  Decide not to go away to college and to live at home for a couple years and go to community college.  Make big plans to move to Seattle in two years with your high school boyfriend.

Spend that idyllic summer on the beaches of Malibu.  Drink with your friends.  Lose your virginity.  Spend whole day in bed devouring Bradbury and Vonnegut and a little bit of Dessen thrown in for good measure.

Decide you're sick of asking your mom for money.  Get a job.

Work 20 hours a week and go to school full time.  Feel adult.  Be excited by using a register.  Actually help customers.  Smile every day because you're having fun.  Save your money.  Buy an annual passport to Disneyland.  Buy a new car.  Stop saving your money.  Get your hours cut due to favoritism.

Start to see retail for what it really is but lie to yourself and convince yourself it's just this job.

Get into catty girl fights with the other 16 - 20 year old girls that work with you.  Break up with high school boyfriend.  Don't move to Seattle.  Reconnect with a childhood friend that is working with you.  Chain smoke cigarettes together on your breaks.  Discover that the lotion sold at your store miraculously masks the stench of cigarette smoke.  Use the entire tester bottle in a matter of weeks.

Decide one day that you're better than this.  Quit your first job and feel proud of yourself for doing so.  Take a slew of other retail jobs over the next 3 years.  Spend 3 weekday afternoons and every weekend selling collectible figurines and jewelry to the nouveau riche.  Wear low cut tops and bend over display cases with certain men, guaranteeing a sale.  Become great friends with the owner's son.  He is 14.  You are now 19.  Talk about life.  Non important subjects like old Disney Channel shows and your pets.  Important subjects like how he thinks he might be gay.  Let him teach you how to play Pokemon.  Make up code words for when a customer comes into the store so inappropriate conversation can stop immediately.  "Mahair."  Scrawl "Back in 10 minutes" on a piece of printer paper with a drying out black sharpie and scotch tape it to the locked doors of the store.  Go to the Apple Store and take a billion photos of yourselves using Photo Booth.  Walk around the mall and talk to your friends.  Be gone closer to 45 minutes.

Don't give a shit.

Learn how to measure kids feet.  Learn how to fake smile.  Count to ten all day long in your head as kids throw shoes, run around on furniture, and moms stand by talking on their cell phones.  Decide this job's not so bad because it pays $11 an hour and you get to work with your sister sometimes.
Distract yourself in whatever way you can.  Update your Livejournal from the store when it's slow.Read more tabloids than novels.  Eat more McNuggets than veggies.  Send more text messages than actual letters.  Play boardgames on Sundays in the back room with your sister.  Read the Twilight series under the cash wrap when customers aren't looking.

One especially dismal day, bring your bed pillow into work.  Lay on the floor of the back room and take a nap.  Spend too much time with a coworker.  One day realize that you're starting to find him attractive.  Make out with him in the cab of his truck.  Be sober enough that you vividly remember it but drunk enough that you don't think about having to see him the next day at work.  Tell yourself it will never happen again.  Admit that you're a liar when it happens again.

Learn that a location is going to close.  Put off finding a new job.  Continue to put off finding a new job.  Save your money.  Cry unexpectedly on the final day the store is open.  Spend two blissful months unemployed.  Slowly blow through your savings.

Go to Vegas with your new boyfriend.  Win $2500 on a slot machine and the first thought that enters your head is that's four more months I don't have to work.  

Realize you're on a slippery slope.

Come home from Vegas and drunkenly apply to a Craigslist post for a position at a store in an outlet mall.  Get called in for a group interview.  Worry that you're under qualified because you don't have an MBA like the guy in the suit next to you.  Realize that working in an outlet is it's own special form of hell.  Start drinking wine juice boxes with your coworkers on your breaks.  Get trapped under boxes in a stock room.  Avoid questions from a male coworker asking you and another female comrade about Diva Cups.  Pull a dirty diaper out of a bin of shoes.  Get threatened by a tourist who thinks you kept his receipt.

Work long hours.  Work whatever they ask you to because you want to get into management.
Become good friends with your coworkers.  Become even better friends with your manager.  Go to a store meeting drunk.  Get in trouble for it.  Get the job as a manager anyway.  Consider yourself grown up because you make more than $1000 a week and have health insurance.  Sell your soul for a couple extra hundred dollars a month and take on your own store.

Don't factor in the drive time, gas, and wear and tear on your car.  Move in with your boyfriend.
Realize that you hate your new staff.  Start brainstorming ways to get them fired.  Spend every day on the phone with HR documenting behaviors and actions.  Spend every evening driving home crying.

Eventually drop out of school because you had to miss too many classes to make this store successful.

Hire a better team.  Become friends with your employees and drink with them after work.  Sell your soul again for a bigger location.  Further away from your apartment.  In a crappier mall.

Work there for six months.

Start to hate yourself.

Get engaged.  Plan a wedding.  Realize you want more out of life.

Put in your two weeks notice.  Get coerced into staying for a month.

Take 2 months off.  Get married.  Go on your honeymoon.

Step down from management and transfer to a store really close to your apartment because you can't quite stomach the idea of being a stay at home wife just yet.  Say you only want to work 8 - 12 hours a week.  End up working 32.  Bargain for holidays.  Have conversations with your manager that sound like a marketplace haggle.

I'll work Memorial Day, Labor Day, 4th of July, and Black Friday if you give me Christmas Eve off.

Throw in Valentine's Day and you've got a deal.  

Decide that you aren't OK with paying $14 a day for parking and protest by waiting after work for your husband to pick you up.  Use that extra unpaid time to distract your coworkers.  Bitch about your manager.  Bitch about each other.  Try on the product.  Share french fries.  Whole Foods salad bar fixins'.  Cheddar popcorn.

Make a promise with your closest coworker that you will not be working here when you're 26.  His birthday is 3 days before yours and you are both so serious this time.  Your birthdays pass and you both still work there.

Get pregnant.  Throw up in the bathroom for weeks.  Try to keep your blood pressure in check when customers ask stupid questions.  Catch your reflection in the floor to ceiling mirror at 33 weeks pregnant and text your husband that you're done.

Mean it this time.

Put in your notice.  Get excited about never having to work retail again.  No more inventory.  No more weekends in artificial light.  No more smiling through rude customers, shitty upper management, and pretending like you're happy to be working Black Friday.

Your last day get nostalgic about using the POS.  Get nostalgic about everyone you've ever worked with.  Walk out the door and hold onto your key even though you were supposed to give it back.

Worry that you've made a mistake.  Worry that you'll miss it.  Go to bed.  Sleep in until you naturally wake up.  Wear shoes you want to wear.  Don't put on a uniform.  Smile authentically.  Go to malls for fun.  Spend your first Memorial Day in 9 years at home.

Realize you don't miss it.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Blogging When You Have A Baby

Blogging when you have a baby... hey pro bloggers out there... HOW DO YOU DO IT?


I'm a stay at home mama and Baby Jack is about 5 and 1/2 months old and I really don't see where there is time to blog.

Jack takes a 3 hour or so nap every day but I use that time to fold laundry, eat lunch, use the bathroom in peace, shop for Christmas presents, make Target shopping lists, attempt to clean the apartment, wash bottles, etc.

I guess I could blog at night after Jack goes to bed, but usually at that point I'm exhausted and I just want to spend time with my husband, Tim.

Seriously, props to you guys.

I remember before we even got pregnant thinking that I would have so much stuff to write about relating to pregnancy and eventually motherhood.  I have my beautiful baby, my (husband's) Macbook, and a DSLR and... a brain that is so fried from dealing with postpartum anxiety and raising our son.

I even have a super supportive husband who is a hands on dad.  A dad that comes home from working all day and commuting in Los Angeles traffic and immediately washes his hands and reaches out to hold his son.  A dad that gets up with our baby in the middle of the night and loves to give our son baths.

And yet, blogging has fallen by the wayside.

This is not to say that I'm not writing because I am, but I haven't been publishing it here.

This is not to say that I'm not taking pictures because I am, but they're all on Instagram or just sitting in an album on my iPhone.

There is so much I want to say about our sweet son.  There is so much I want to say about how having a child changes you, changes your partner, changes your relationship, changes your marriage.  There is so much I want to say about motherhood.  About postpartum mood disorders.  About what it does to you (or, at least me) as an individual, a wife, a woman.

Now if only I didn't feel like napping for a year straight and maybe I'd be blogging about it.

To all you moms out there that have it all together, that are eating gourmet homemade salads for lunch, that are doing your hair and makeup, that are posting outfit posts, and still managing to raise happy healthy kids... I applaud you.

But this Mama over here is wearing her husbands boxers and t shirt, unshowered, eating lunchables.  But I'm no less of a woman.  And no less of a Mama.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Baby Jack's First Cold

My boys asleep under Christmas lights (messy apartments are totally OK when 2 out of 3 Mathers are sick)   
It's not over yet.  We're still in the thick of it... Baby Jack has his first cold.  I'll be honest.  This is a time I've been dreading since before he was born.  I was terrified of getting sick while I was pregnant because I know it can be dangerous to a developing fetus, plus you can't take most cold medicines while pregnant and I was so so fortunate to avoid getting sick that entire time.  (With the exception of an "implantation cold" that last 24 hours before I even knew I was pregnant.)

Once Baby Jack was born and I held him in my arms, I knew that I never wanted him to get sick.  Unrealistic, of course, but true.  He was so little (and still is, relatively speaking) and I just wanted him to be happy and healthy.  I watched with knots in my stomach on Instagram as off and on, my friends' kids got colds, viruses, stomach bugs, and I kept crossing my fingers that Jack wouldn't get it.

Well, folks...  we made it until November.  November 26th to be exact.  I had an off feeling for a couple days prior that something was up with Jack.  He had been grumpier, having issues sleeping at night, and in general just wasn't the same.  I chalked it up in my mind to a sleep regression.  Then Tuesday came, and with it a trip to my therapist with Baby Jack in tow.  It was my first time bringing him along, as my therapist wanted to switch days that week due to the Thanksgiving holiday.  We made it there, with enough toys to entertain him for a year, let alone 50 minutes and in her office he started sneezing.  She and I both thought it was because of the holiday candle in her office and the festive scent, but when we got home and I tried feeding him, he pulled away from the bottle and the sneezing continued.

I texted Tim at that point and told him that I thought Jack was coming down with something.  Honestly, I thought in the back of my mind that I was being a paranoid, overly cautious mom, but sure enough, I was right.  Sometimes a mother just knows.

Tim woke me up around 3 AM the next morning to let me know that Jack was having a really hard time breathing and that he thought we should take him to clinic (at UCLA) the next morning if it kept up.  I agreed, half asleep, and laid in bed for the next 30 minutes listening to our poor baby hack and hack and gasp for air.  Right as I was about to suggest it, Tim decided that we needed to take him into the ER right then.

We were all feeling a little tired and greasy at this point  
So 4 A.M., two very tired parents, one sick and tired baby, and a diaper bag filled to the brim head to the emergency room at UCLA.  Gratefully it was a slow night there and we got back in right away.  The triage nurses were so sweet and so was our Jack.  He sounded (and must have felt) awful but he was still giving his big gummy smiles to all the new people he was meeting.
I want to remember that there was a Macauly Caulkin lookalike in the picture above this hospital bed  
A few hours and 2 doctors and 1 medical intern later, we were told that it was just a cold, not in his chest and as long as he didn't have a fever or more severe symptoms they couldn't really do anything.

So, back home we went and all three of us got into bed to try to get some sleep.  Tim slept for 3 hours before having to wake up and get on a call for work and I laid there with Baby Man rubbing his back every 20 minutes when he woke up crying.

This sickness has carried through and we're still dealing with it tonight.  He seems to be getting better during the day but nights are still rough.  Tim spent a few nights sleeping on the couch with Jack on his chest because that was the only way Jack would stay asleep.  Magic sleepy dust... Daddy has it.

I caught Jack's cold on Thanksgiving night and knowing how bad my throat hurts makes my Mama heart so so sad for our little baby boy.  We have been Nose Frida - ing his nose and he has had a little bit of Baby Vapo rub but other than that, and holding him in steamy bathrooms, there's not much else we can do since he's only 5 and 1/2 months old.

He's been a trooper though.  He wants to play during the day and gives us big smiles and the occasional soundless laugh.  (Once again, poor Baby Man's throat.)  I'm hoping the rest of the cold is over soon because it is so hard to see him unhappy and know that we can't fix it completely.
Lots of sweet snuggly time on Mama (and Daddy) over the past few days  
Dear Baby Jack,
You are trying to fight off your first cold right now.  On one hand, I'm really really glad that we went an entire pregnancy and 5 and 1/2 months with you out here without getting sick, but on the other hand, it still sucks.  You have been such an inspiration to your baby of a Mama who has been exceeding the recommended dosage of Chloraseptic for the past couple days.  You are our little trooper and I can't thank you enough for being so happy in spite of feeling so icky.  You really dislike the Nose Frida but it really really seems to work.  You've gotten a lot better with the "Boppy" as your Daddy calls it.  (No, not the breastfeeding pillow.  The nasal aspirator they give you in the hospital when the baby is born.)  Baby Vapo Rub might be a hoak.  Mama tried a little bit of it on herself and it didn't help me at all.  Your Aunt Brooke said, "Of course it didn't help YOU.  It's for BAAABBBIES" when I told her that today over Skype.  I know it's for babies but I thought I'd test it out a bit for you too.  Plus, I was desperate to breathe better when I was trying to sleep.  In all fairness, it didn't really seem to help you either.  Your poopy diapers have increased during this cold too, which I think is a result of how much mucous you're draining.  It's disconcerting to see you eat a little bit less, but overall we think you're doing pretty well.  Daddy pointed out after three days of you in only pjs that we're already teaching you that sick time equals pajamas all day time.  We love you so much Baby Man.  Forever and A Day.  We hope you feel better soon.


Thursday, November 21, 2013

3 Months

Dear Baby Jack,  We love you so much.  Forever and A Day.  

Weight:  Jack weighed 12 lbs, 8.6 oz at his 2 month appointment.  I think he is probably around 13 or 14 lbs now.   

Health:  Jack's health was great this month!  We've definitely learned that he can get a little fussier than usual if his bowels are backed up, but other than that, things were great!    

Sleep:  Jack slept great this month.  He started going to sleep around 9 pm at night and sleeping until 9 am or so.  At the beginning of the month, he would wake up at midnight and 3 am to eat, but lately, he usually only wakes up once to eat between 3 and 4 am.  Naps have been all over the map.  Usually I get two naps out of him a day.  The first lasts 2 -3 hours around mid day and then the second nap is usually late afternoon / early evening and lasts around 45 minutes.  

Social:  Smiling a lot.  Laughing more and more.  He smiles when he wakes up and sees me or Tim, when we talk to him, when he sees something on TV, at his car seat toys, when we sing to him, when we change his diaper.  He laughs when I cry, sometimes after he poops, and sometimes just when we're having a conversation with him.   

Diet:  Jack eats between 4 and 6 ounces each feeding and we feed on demand so feeding times vary between every 3- 4 hours during the day, with longer stretches overnight.    

Clothes:  He just outgrew most of his 0-3 month clothing, because it was getting too short.  Some of his onesies were starting to look like high waisted bikini cuts.  3 month clothing from Carters fits him perfectly right now.  3 month clothing from Target is still a little wide on him.   

Baby Gear Love:  Daily we use Pampers Swaddlers (size 2 now!), Pampers Sensitive wipes, Graco swing, Graco Pack n Play, Graco Travel system (car seat and stroller), Gerber cloth diapers for burp cloths, bibs, Dr. Brown's bottles.  We're loving our two big play mats.  The Infantino Vintage Twist and Fold, and the Fisher Price Kick n Play Piano Mat.  The Solly Baby Wrap is also one of our favorite things.  

Crying:  Crying has decreased and been replaced by all kinds of noises and sounds.  He will fuss occasionally, but the actual full on crying from his newborn days is pretty rare.  He tries to communicate with us in other ways now.    

Likes:  Jack likes Mr. Lion on his Infantino play mat, watching Weeds, naps on my chest and belly, being worn in our wrap, playing with his car seat toys (Perry and Farfanalle), having his diaper changed, his bouncy chair, "Royals" by Lorde, looking out windows, when Tim comes home, putting his hands in his mouth, his burp cloths (also occasionally in his mouth), kicking, 

Dislikes:  Socks, not a huge fan of tummy time, starting to not like car rides as much until he falls asleep in the car seat, has weird reactions to Skype sometimes, 

Postpartum:  Pain is gone except for a few select times when I've strained to do something and then I'll get a little pain where my tear was.  Postpartum periods are ridiculous and not regular.  Postpartum sex is amazing.  My postpartum mood disorders seem to have improved, but I definitely still have my ups and downs.  

Milestones:  Jack rolled over for the first time yesterday, belly to back, and he will occasionally roll back to side, but then he just lays there on his side unsure of what to do next.  He laughs, pushes himself up during tummy time, makes different noises (ooohs, aahhs, squawks, etc.)   

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Newborn Memories: Bring Jack Home From the Hospital

I didn't have a lot of time to blog in the days and weeks immediately following Jack's birth, but we have so many memories that I want to remember.  

After less than 48 hours in the hospital, we were ready to head home.  It was pretty impossible to get much rest in the hospital and honestly, I was starting to get a little stir crazy.  We loaded up all of our bags (we way overpacked) and Tim took a couple trips down to the car while I tried to get myself dressed.  I knew that I needed to pack clothes that would fit me around 6 months pregnant so I had thrown some random stuff into the suitcase, but had really just assumed I would wear a pair of maternity jeans home.  When it came time to get dressed, the last thing I wanted to put on was maternity jeans so I ended up wearing an Abercrombie and Fitch cotton skirt that I've had since early high school and the top that I had planned to wear with the jeans.  It was probably the strangest outfit that I could have worn but it was comfortable and I was so sleep deprived that I didn't really care.

Tim and I had meticulously picked out Jack's going home outfit and bought it and brought it in both NB and 3 month sizes just in case.  Turned out that our little man was long and lean and even the newborn sized option was huge on him.  Thankfully, I had packed a basic white onesie and these red shorts just in case and they were a much better fit, but looking back on these photographs, they were still really big.

Once we were all dressed, Tim went and got the nurse who came in and read us all of our discharge paperwork.  It was a lot of information about aftercare, taking care of a newborn, etc thrown at us in about 15 minutes.  It made me really grateful that we had read the books and taken the classes.

I don't think I will ever forget the moment that the nurse came in with the wheelchair and placed my son in my arms to wheel us out of the hospital.  It was so incredibly surreal to think that we had entered the hospital less than 2 days before a family of two and were now headed home a family of three.

Two hospital volunteers escorted us out of the hospital and they kept remarking about how incredibly alert Jack was.  He was holding his head up and looking around as we left our sweet recovery room and headed down toward the elevators.  People stopped to ooh and aah at him and offer up congratulations.  It was truly an amazing few minutes.

I look so exhausted, but I was so happy and so proud.  It brings me joy to see how happy I looked.  
Tim went to get the car and when he was in the front of the hospital, the volunteers wheeled me out and Tim got to put Jack in his car seat for the first time.  I, very carefully, got into the backseat and rode home next to Jack.

Looking back on these photographs, it's incredible to see how much he has already grown.  Mama and Daddy love you so much Baby Jack!

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