Getting comfortable with the uncomfortable

Boden just turned 4-months, so to say I’m a novice at this parenting thing is a BIG understatement. That being said my neurotic and competitive nature has actually (in my humble opinion) come in kind of handy in these early months. If I had to give a nugget of wisdom to new parents, it would be this; get comfortable with the uncomfortable. 

I don’t mean literally but that comes in handy too. I once used every shred of willpower I had to not itch my nose after Boden fell asleep in my arms and I couldn’t move. Then my arms went numb… I still didn’t want to risk moving and waking him. So I sat like that. Numb and itchy for about an hour. But I digress. What do I mean?! 

When we left the hospital Roger handled the car-seat situation. I was like “F THAT!” Straps and buckles oh my!! Then about two weeks later I realized, I would have to eventually leave the house without Roger. I should probably learn how to use that stupid contraption by myself. It was stressful. Worst case scenario… I do this wrong. We crash. He dies. So yeah… I was “uncomfortable” But practice makes progress. I made myself get Boden in-and-out of the car-seat alone (every time) for weeks. Now I’m fine. Same thing went for running errands alone. What if he has a meltdown? Worst case scenario… We leave the store, abandon our shopping cart and drive home. 

Flexing and building confidence in things you’re uncomfortable with is invaluable. The longer you go without learning or doing the things you’re uncomfortable with, the harder it will be to do them. You’re baby won’t realize you’re clueless. Any judgment is self prescribed. Sometimes babies scream. Is it embarrassing and stressful while strangers glare at you?! HELL YEAH!!! But guess what?! It’s going to happen eventually so embrace it. Don’t be a hermit and stay inside with your kid until they’re eight. Nothing is ever going to be perfect. Take a deep breath, give yourself some grace and get comfortable with the uncomfortable.   

Why babies are like dynamite.

In order to do this post justice we need to back-up. Back-up alllll the way to the start. Two high school kids. One played football and drank multiple cartons of milk at the lunch table with his friends. The other casually stalked said football playing milk drinker from another table in the cafeteria… While consuming only Diet Coke. This was the late 90’s and artificial sweeteners were at their prime (God bless Aspartame)!!!! 

Milk drinker and Diet Coke drinker went on like this for most of their high school years. Not talking. Only really knowing each other existed because #smallmaineschool. Then something magical happened!! A rumor spread that milk drinker thought Diet Coke drinker was cute. They went on a date. It was terrible. The end. 

Fast forward to college. They were at different schools. AOL Instant Messenger was invented and the former milk drinker was now screen-name “holybears.” He sent “Christina805” a message and over summer break holybears promised Christina805 a date (“If I don’t call you – I’ll owe you $5 bucks!”) BUT alas… He never called. One night Christina805 saw holybears out with his friends and yelled across the street!!! “HEY ST.OURS!!!! YOU OWN ME FIVE BUCKS!!!!!” And from there we skip ahead 21-years. They have a baby together and share the same last name. 

Now this backstory is highly relevant and here’s why. Well first! If you didn’t guess, this is the tale of how Roger and I came to be. Lots of things happened in the decades leading up to the birth of our son. A sum of all those things, rather naively made us believe we could handle anything that was to come. When we found out we were pregnant I knew parenting was going to be difficult but I was TOTALLY wrong about what parts would be hard. 

Here is why babies are like dynamite. Simply put. If you think you have a rock-solid relationship. Like really really reallllyyyy solid?! You don’t. HOLD on freeking tight dude, because that baby is going to come in hot and highly explosive! They are going to BLOW shit apart!!! 

It is EASY to practice open communication with your partner when you are both well rested, well nourished, well exercised and MOST of your basic needs are met. NOW here is this baby. You don’t know how but somehow you love this thing more than anything on the planet. Toss every preconceived sense of what this was going to be like aside momma – You fiercely love this little human more than anything. More than good design, wine, coffee and peanut butter combined. Before I had Boden I thought this was impossible. Well. It’s possible.  

So (for me) the baby isn’t the hard part. The baby is easy!!! The hard part? Riding the avalanche of relationship-stress after the high of the birth has fadded (for us this was around week two)!!! Now do not despair. You CAN and WILL do this!!! You grew a human with your partner. You will find sure footing again. You will get bulldozed by hormones and cry before, during and after screaming matches… But you will persevere. You will learn how to handle dynamite. You can come out of the rubble stronger than you went in but that baby will expose every crack and flaw you have. You might see parts of yourself that horrify you. 

But maybe babies HAVE to be dynamite. Maybe it’s part of natures plan. Like – In order to truly let them in you need to blast apart what’s existing to make room. Our Little Family is learning together. We are imperfect but who doesn’t like to play with unpredictable explosives from time to time?! 

The only thing good about breastfeeding is peanut butter

When it comes to newborns, I don’t think there is a more controversial topic than breast feeding. The pitbull La Leche League ladies come and visit you immediately after your baby has exited the vagina (or in my case the stomach – Bodie was a c-section baby) and they proceed to judge your “latch” and hammer-home that if you don’t boob-feed, you’re a piece of shit and you hate your baby. Now I’m exaggerating for dramatic effect BUT the pressure you feel is 100% REAL.   

I LOVE my tiny-human and I’m fortunate to have both a great milk supply and Boden had a great latch. However!!!! The only good thing about breastfeeding is peanut butter!!! I say this because you burn about 20 calories per OZ of milk and Boden eats a TON!!! I get my extra 1,000 calories in by eating an obscene amount of my favorite thing… Peanut butter!!!  Everything else is crap. 

Our situation. I stopped feeding Boden from the boob (aka the tap) once he was done cluster-feeding. This was around the 4-week mark. The medical professionals in our circle don’t understand why I would transfer over to a pump/bottle situation. Here is my reasoning in bullet points. 

  • Boden would flail around like a wild animal (I find nipples are most useful when actually attached to a boob. He was ripping them off).
  • I’m a big numbers person and I didn’t like not knowing exactly how much he was eating (pumping and bottle feeding allows me to be precise. Plus you have the added benefit of… anyone can feed the baby!). 
  • I’m not a prude but I’m 100% not comfortable boob feeding in front of my father/father(brother)-in-law. 
  • MOTHER F’ING MASTITIS!!!!! Only 10% of breastfeeding women get mastitis (a rather nasty breast infection, that if untreated… you die from). I was lucky enough to get mastits not once, but twice. Once in the right boob and then again on the left. Glorious!. 

I totally get that tap-feeding can be a nice bonding experience… BUT HELLO!!! So is everything else (holding your baby, playing with your baby, changing your babies diaper, etc.)! Just because you don’t tap-feed doesn’t mean you’re missing out on some magical unicorn moment. The magic is being relaxed, calm and available for your growing baby. If tap-feeding is stressful, hectic and emotionally draining… A magical unicorn moment is not made and frankly your love-nugget won’t really know the difference. Babies are WAYYYYY smarter than we give them credit for and they give zero shits momma! They just want the milk!!! They’re hungry and want food – they aren’t judging and rating their dinning experience. There isn’t some baby Zagat where infants compare notes… boob vs bottle and breastmilk vs formula. You’re not getting a Michelin Star at the end of a feeding… You’re getting a diaper full of poop!!!   

Now I am cheap and breastfeeding is FREE. THAT is why I do it. I can not wait to have my flat AA prepubescent boobs back. I’m a butt girl and these knockers are not my aesthetic. I’m holding out to the 6-month mark as a curtesy to our savings account and because it took me a while to find a formula I was comfortable with (I found one. It’s boujee. We haven’t tried it yet, so I’ll reserve my review for another time!).

This breastfeeding journey requires some gear! Here is what I learnt… 

  • Electric Pump: Yup. It’s a good item to have! BUT please check your insurance. You should get a free one. I went with something small that would hold a battery so I could throw it in the diaper bag or pump where there wasn’t an outlet (I didn’t bother buying the special bra that holds the pump in place). TIP: You don’t need to deep-clean the parts every time. This will drive you insane. Rise them and store them in the fridge. Also! The valves on this Ameda Mya pump are absolute crap, so when they stop working (if you go with this model) and you need to buy replacements, buy the Medela Breast Pump Valves + Membranes instead. They fit the Ameda Mya and are much better.
  • Hand Pump: I wish I didn’t buy this. It was ok to take the edge off when my milk-supply was regulating itself in the beginning (I was engorged constantly) BUT I could have just as easily used my free electric pump. I envisioned myself using the hand pump if we were out… But I just pack my electric AmedaMya instead.
  • Breast Pads: YUP!!! You will leak like mo-fo!!! Skip the disposable ones and go right to something bamboo and reusable. They usually come in multi packs, so you’ll always have clean ones. I bought these, they’ve worked great and the little bag is really handy to keep them organized.
  • Ice Packs: You will need ice pack because those boobies are going to be raw!!!!! They sell ones specifically for boobs. I had a family member emergency gift them to me one night when I was writhing in pain. You could use regular icepacks too but these slip nicely into your bra.
  • Let Down: If you are tap-feeding “let down” means one boob is feeding the baby while the other is making a mess of everything!!!! This is a MUST! BUT here is where I went wrong. I thought I was being so fancy and clever by purchasing a Haakaa Silicone Breast pump!! The idea is that you wear this on one boob while the other tap-feeding. Well!!! Boden is a wild man and he would kick the stupid thing off!! This was HELL’A stressful!!!! It wasn’t until after I had abandoned tap-feeding that I discovered the Haakaa brand makes a  collector; this would have been WAY better! It’s small and could’ve stayed clear of Boden’s legs. Don’t make my mistake – buy this instead.

 So. I’m going to miss the XL spoonfuls of peanut butter throughout the day. Like really really miss them but the tradeoff is feeling “normal” again. These breastfeeding hormones have been a roller coaster ride of ALLLLL the feels!!! I’m also looking forward to getting back into my cute collection of unsupportive Lululemon sports bras. They’ve been sidelined while the XXX milk makers do their thing!!! Maybe you’re thinking, this bit$h is selfish and shallow… And that’s cool! Just feed your baby. From a bottle, from the tap… You do you momma and I’ll do me. Peace! 

Minimalist Mom’ing

The other day, it occurred to me that people actually read these posts. Errr… Like some people might actually care about what I have to say. This seems like a great responsibility. An opportunity to be truthful + practical. So let’s do this AND keep in mind mom/dad… YOU do YOU (always)! This is my experience and every tiny-human is different. Every parent is different! What works on a Monday might be rubbish by Thursday, so give yourself a break. There are no hard-and-fast rules here!!! Parenting is like the wild wild west. 

My situation! I’m a mom of a 4-month old boy. I hate clutter. I’m frugal. I’m neurotically organized. This is our first/only child. And… baby “gear” makes me VERY anxious. Readers have asked for an “essentials” list, so here it is!! Grab and coffee and let’s unpack.  

Throughout this pregnancy/postpartum period you’re probably going to pickup a book or two… I read a TON and forgot absolutely all of it once Boden was here. If I had to guess there are approximately 782,423,847 baby books out there; each claiming to to better than the last. However, there are two resources I found invaluable. 

  • Real Food For Pregnancy: The Science and Wisdom of Optimal Prenatal Nutrition (Lily Nichols)
  • Elevating Child Care: a guide to respectful parenting (Janet Lansbury)   

I could go on-and-on about why these books are amazing but just read them. Other good ones include Bringing Up Bebe (Pamela Druckerman) and Simplicity Parenting (Kim John). If you like data, Cribsheet (Emily Oster) is another good read.  

The Essentials List

  1. Happiest Baby SNOO Smart Sleeper Bassinet. Sleep! Don’t believe what everyone tells you “you’ll never sleep again!” This is bleak and an untrue statement. You WILL sleep and your baby will sleep but it will be different than what you’re used to. As a new parent your day will consist of 2-3 hour cycles. You’ll do the same things over and over and over again – so don’t cheep out when it comes to quality items that will buy you added peace of mind day-in and day-out. I was absolutely petrified that Boden would roll over, suffocate himself and die. Yup. That’s where my head would go. It still does. So I’m super happy we were able to borrow a friends Snoo. In short, it’s a robot bassinet that tracks your kids sleep and soothes them when needed. It has wings that clip-in so your kid can’t roll over. They are crazy expensive and in my opinion worth it. You can rent them, to offset the sting of the price-tag. If you do buy yours, you can sell it afterwards and get most of your investment back. The Snoo requires specific sleep sacks/sheets; I recommend buying 3 sheets and 3 sacks of each size. This way you have one available while the others are in the wash. Think 2am spit-up!!! The Snoo is a sound machine too, so don’t bother buying another one. Your kid won’t get addicted to this thing; Babies will outgrow wanting to be swaddled, shushed and swayed after about 6 months. This is when you’ll transition out of the Snoo anyway so don’t panic. TIP: Don’t create a situation where your child needs optimal conditions to sleep. You’ll make your life a lot easier if you avoid things like black-out curtains. Also – Don’t stop living while your baby is napping! Go ahead and run the blender or a vacuum. Have an adult conversation without whispering!!!
  2. Clothes. I do laundry about every other day. This means we don’t need a cray cray amount of shit that he’s going to out grow in a few weeks. We did really well with x3 gown type sleepers, a x5 pack of Organic Gerber Onsies and x3 zipper outfits with feet. OMFG please don’t buy your infant socks or shoes! Socks don’t stay on and your kid isn’t walking anywhere!! If it’s a two-piece forget about it! While adorable, shirts will not stay in-place and pants will make you want to murder yourself during diaper changes. TIP: Buy one unscented/gentle laundry detergent for everyone in your house to use!!! No one has time to be doing special loads of baby clothes! One household. One detergent. Please don’t believe the propaganda that you need “baby” detergent!!! Just buy something that’s not loaded with shit and doesn’t have fragrance. Gown sleepers are a Godsend in the early days when baby is plowing through diapers. Also – We don’t have day clothes and sleeping clothes… it’s all the same. PLEASE wash everything that touches your babies skin before they wear it. I’m partial to neutral organic cotton for newborns but it’s certainly not a requirement.  
  3. Swaddles and Spit Rags. YES you need these BUT you don’t need a million. Buy 3-4 large muslin swaddles and 6-8 big spit rags. Done! Nothing fancy. Boden loves to play with his spit rags and the swaddles have a multitude of uses.   
  4. Baby Bjorn Bouncer Bliss. Seriously… I could be the unofficial spokesperson for this thing! It. Is. Amazing!!!! It’s self propelled and the only real piece of “gear” we have in our house. You don’t need fancy swings or play centers; this thing replaces all of that! Plus it’s super easy to pack in the car or shove in a closet (it folds flat). You can carry it anywhere! The kitchen, while you’re cooking. The bathroom, while you’re peeing. The living room, while you’re _______. Well you get the point! This thing is amazing and we use it several times a day, every-day. It’s good from newborns to 2-years of age, also it’s machine washable and the construction is solid/no fuss.  
  5. A GREAT carrier. This is where your lifestyle kind of comes into play. We have a stroller (Nuna Mixx) but I use our carrier daily.  We actually only really use the stroller to do laps around the house (inside) when Boden is having meltdown. In retrospect, we really don’t even need our stroller. I love our simple Sakura Bloom Scout carrier but really anything that’s easy to clean and has good support is great. You don’t need several carriers! You just need one. Ours is rated 5-45lbs. One and done!   
  6. Convertible Car Seat: This is where people might think we’re insane. I 1000% could not justify spending money on an infant carseat (the type that clicks in-and-out of a base). To spend hundreds of dollars on a carseat only to turn around and buy yet… another carseat?! NOPE. In our case, Boden would have outgrown this type of carseat in 2-months (he’s a big baby); I am really happy we didn’t waste money on this item. It really isn’t a big deal at all to take your kid in-and-out of a carseat for the first couple months. The convertible carseat we bought goes from 5-150lbs, so it should be the only one we need. We have two cars and have the same seat for each (less to think about). TIP: Set-up a PayPal account or something on your registry. This way people can chip-in for big ticket items.   
  7. Thin Down Bunting. This only applies if you have a winter baby!!! But we try to get outside everyday (and live in Maine). A quality bunting is a must! Something thin and with legs so that it easily/safely fits in the carseat. This is obviously not a requirement if you have a spring/summer baby… Or a winter baby who doesn’t spend hours outside. We got ours on super clearance but it’s a ThermoBall Eco Bunting from The North Face; ours is a plain grey color but it’s like this one.  
  8. Booger Tools. There are a million ways to get snot out of your kids nose. The Frida, a suction ball. The only way I like to do this… and the way that has worked the best for us, is a tool called an Oogiebear. Outside of a baby hair-brush, this is really the only piece of baby hygiene gear we have and it doubles as a way to scrape out ear-wax. I am obsessed with cleaning boogers from his nose. I’d consider it a current hobby.
  9. Video Baby monitor. I was on the fence at first about needed one of these at all. In the end I’m really happy we have one but we don’t have anything fancy. When I first stared looking at these, I was looking a Wi-Fi, high range… Then I realized the idea of Wi-Fi freaked me out and I didn’t want to use my phone. We landed on a monitor that is capable of panning and has a wide-view lens. Thinking ahead, I know post-bassinet we want to do a Montessori floor bed so I wanted something where I could move the camera around the room (while wall mounted). I am more relaxed with staring at the monitor now but for the first month, I was glued to the screen… Even though he was only 15 feet away. It’s another peace of mind tool.  
  10. Dyper Diapers. Disclaimer – We spend a LOT of money on Boden’s diapers. They’re worth it to us! I’m not cool with putting chemicals on our infants genitals. I’m also not cool with blow-outs! We have been very happy with this brand and they’re delivered right to the house. Added bonus – the company is VERY easy to deal with (excellent customer service) and Boden hasn’t had a single diaper rash. This makes me feel like we’re winning at parenting!      

More TIPS:

  • Cold milk: I exclusively pump + bottle feed but the same concept would apply with formula fed babies too… Don’t heat your bottles!!! Don’t create a prince/princess!!! We’ve never heated a single bottle and Boden is absolutely ok with cold milk. He loves it! This has saved us sooooooo much time and headache!!!! Seriously – They won’t mind.   
  • Don’t buy special baby-specific crap. 
    • I have one tub of unrefined organic virgin coconut oil. This is my body lotion. Boden’s body lotion. It was my nipple cream. Don’t get sucked into the consumerism of specialized creams and toiletries! Save the money and use one thing for everything!! Coconut oil works great for us, it’s affordable and chemical free (you can eat it). If I run out, I use olive oil.
    • Soap. We all use the same bar-soap!!! This is also Boden’s shampoo – Dr. Bronner’s Baby Unscented Bar Soap. This makes shopping easy. 
    • Washcloths/towels. We all use the same washcloths and towels. Boden doesn’t have anything special. Your child will not be traumatized by an adult sized linen.
    • Changing table. We use a dresser with a faux-leather pad on top. The pad doubles as a padded play area for the floor. The dresser is furniture that we’ll use well past the infant/toddler phase. This Gathre Padded Micro+ is awesome because you can just wipe off spit-up, poop and pee. Fabric feels like a cleaning nightmare. 
    • Baby nail clippers. He uses ours. 
    • Blanket/play mats. Throw an old blanket on the floor instead (or use the padded micro).
    • Bottle drying mats/trees. Use whatever you use for your regular dishes! Umm… Like a dish-towel!
    • Wipe-warmers. This is crazy unnecessary and will actually dry-out your water wipes. 
    • Diaper trash cans. Use your kitchen waste-can. I don’t understand why you’d want to have a bin of shit in the bedroom.
    • Breastfeeding pillows. Use a bed-pillow you have laying around (that is – if you use anything at all).
    • Baby pillow loungers. Boppy,  Dock-A-Toc, etc. Why?! They fit in these for like 4-weeks! Lay them on a blanket on the floor or just sit with them on the couch.
    • Diaper bag. You can use a bag you already have – We have a dedicated “diaper bag” BUT it’s beautiful and something I’ll use wayyyyyy after Boden is out of diapers.
    • High-Chair: You’re not going to feed your baby solids for like the first 6-months and even then, you don’t know what your stye will be (maybe the baby sits on your lap at the table), so WAIT on this item. You don’t need this giant thing taking up kitchen/dinning area real-estate. 
  • Don’t buy a million of each thing: Be diligent about returning items to specific spots and then you don’t need a hundred of them; we have x2 ComoTomo 8oz bottles and 2 pacifiers (one for the diaper bag and one for the house). We never bothered to let Boden dictate what style of bottle nipple he was into. We committed to getting him to use what we had purchased and he did great. Why let him make this choice? If you want the milk dude… This is the only bottle you’re getting. Simple.
  • Pump Parts/Bottles: Store these in the fridge so you can just rinse them and don’t have to wash them every time. TIP: Check to see if you qualify for a free pump through your Health Insurance. Also – Reusable breast pads are a must!!! You’re going to leak everywhere (breast feeding is a whole other beast I’ll cover some other time). Nursing bras and tops are expensive and silly! Pull up an old stretched out  sports bra or something – and honestly the first few weeks just go topless. It’s easier than wrestling with clips and hidden shirt pockets.
  • Board books and Toys: Don’t register for these. People are going to buy you them!!! TIP: Newborns have NO clue what you’re reading them, so I recommend downloading some free chapter-books online. Reading Charlotte’s Web is a lot more entertaining for mom and dad than Cat In The Hat. Once they can appreciate the story and the pictures… Well that’s a different story.   

So what’s the take-away? Don’t buy everything right away! For example, you don’t need to buy clothes more than a few months out because you don’t know what’s going to fit and if you need something, it’s never more than a few clicks away (AKA Amazon). You don’t have to buy something because your friend/sister/cousin says you need it; what works for someone else might not work for you. Don’t travel? You probably don’t need a Pack’n Play. Decide you need one down the road? Ok! When in doubt, air on the side of buying less! Your list is going to be different than mine and please remember – you’re allowed to change your mind.