Happy Mother’s Day

And may we never have another like it. Honestly I could just end the post with that sentence.

But Happy Mother’s Day. I think it’s been 7 weeks of lockdown, but maybe it’s been 8? It stopped being important a couple of weeks ago and started just being now. This is now. For me I don’t find it helpful to think about “when this ends” because I think we’re in the long haul and there will be ups and downs. Improvements and setbacks. So I have settled as best I can into “now”.

This time has been many things, but I feel fairly confident the majority of Moms will agree with me that it’s been an intense focus on the joys and the struggles of parenthood. My son had a tough day Friday. That meant that he cried, got angry, or lost control almost all day. Sometimes it was justifiable, sometimes it was just happening. I had a lot of work to get through too and he’d woken us up in the night the night before. It wasn’t a good day. There weren’t many breaks since “rest time” ended up with me laying down with him for most of that time because he was too hysterical to be by himself. Today however was a good day. He was ecstatic about seeing his grandparents and he had lots of fun working outside with Daddy and he laughed a lot.

Most days aren’t so extreme, but they are every day. And just like most adults, kids aren’t sleeping well right now so having kids means your own sleep issues + their sleep issues = we’re all very tired.

But I’ve gotten to see my daughter start walking and now dancing. I’ve gotten to see my kids learn to have fun with each other and grow closer. I’ve gotten to watch my son get really good on his balance bike from morning walks. I’ve also gotten to experience my 3 year old starting to talk way too much like his parents (such as letting you know that ‘he can work with that’ when you offer him something). I’ve gotten to experience my 3 year old having video calls with his friends (the first one involved discussing their mutual appreciation of hot dogs and another one had them playing hide and go seek with his friend repeatedly putting the phone under blankets).

I’ve had good days and bad days as a Mom too. I’ve had days where I’ve been exhausted and didn’t have the energy to deal with meltdowns so I locked them in the closet and took a bath. Just kidding, but I have had days where I didn’t feel great about myself as a Mom. But there have been less of those than days where I’ve felt good about deescalating and comforting.

We’ve had to figure out new rules in a new normal and a lot of it has been trial and error. And I know that every parent out there is doing this right now. And while there is an amazingness to this amount of time that we are getting to spend with our kids and the understanding of them as human beings and connection we are getting to create (seriously America, stop sucking so fucking much with paid time off), it’s undeniably hard right now and exhausting.

So I see you and I wanted to tell you Happy Mother’s Day.

Happy Mother’s Day to my Mom who is being very brave right now and supportive while I know it is a daily struggle to be so far from me and her grandkids.

Happy Mother’s Day to my mother-in-law who is a mile away and through most of this has had to social distance from the kids she’s used to spending time with on a weekly basis.

Happy Mother’s Day to my wonder women Mom friends who are working and at home with their kid(s) and pregnant right now. Holy shit, I know you are getting through this because you have to but I am still in complete awe of you and you are so amazing.

Happy Mother’s Day to my friends who are pregnant for the first time and having to navigate work stress with first time Mom stress with pandemic stress. Take the moments of joy as they come and know that you too are amazing and I am so sorry that it happened like this.

Happy Mother’s Day to my Mom friends who let me vent and make me laugh over text. We’re all going to hell but it’s going to be a good time with you guys.

Happy Mother’s Day to the Moms of my 3 year old’s besties. It has been an unexpected perk to talk to you more as we navigate 3 year old video calls and attention spans and I am so looking forward to cocktails at a playground some day.

And Happy Mother’s Day to me. It’s a crazy world out there, but I’m looking forward to tomorrow with feeling special with my family and doing some fun kid activities and please for the love of God let me be able to take a nap…

I was going to write a blog

I was going to write a blog about how hard the first two months of the year were with my health issues and pain.

But then a pandemic happened and people were dying so it seemed small to complain. Then it continued and I came to feel that I was lucky that my hospital visits were before all of this started.

I was going to write a blog about how hopeless I feel when I see headlines about Lousiana’s impact from covid-19 and the lack of any aid coming from other states. That other states are telling one of the poorest states in the country with some of the worst healthcare “stay out”, “you’re not welcome” rather than “let us help you”.

But then I felt overwhelmed and need to take a break from the computer.

I was going to write a blog about being a Mom of two for a whole year and the amazingness that my daughter has been.

But then I was tired from two kids at home every day and work so I watched a show and cuddled instead.

I was going to write a blog with advice on how to handle your life being put on hold which so many are experiencing for the first time.

But then I posted videos of my kids on instagram and looked at my friend’s shared content instead.

I was going to write a blog about about the struggles with working with kids at home but advice as well.

But then I saw there were so many and called a friend/family member and talked until I was tired instead.

I was going to write a blog… and I wrote this instead.

Mom Meets Sensory Deprivation

What does a Mom of two do to prepare for three days with both kids at home with very unreliable sleep? Well this Mom took the afternoon off and booked a sensory deprivation float session (it was cheaper than a massage).

Sleep has been a battle for most of the time that we’ve had BaeJ in our life between her and Nono being on different schedules and the sheer amount of wakeups that A. and I battle through. What’s it like to sleep more than 4-5 hours in a row? I’m honestly not sure I remember.
How I’m doing during the week depends heavily on how many rough sleep nights in a row it’s been. And on one such jag I looked at the upcoming 3 day weekend where there would be no breaks and requested the Friday afternoon off to relax. Then on a different sleep deprivation day I felt desperate for a way to unwind and relax and started looking at spas and cringing at the cost. I eventually found a spa that offered floatation therapy in a deprivation pool with a discount for the first time and thought, alright that sounds like heaven. Just shutting off my brain and everything around me for 55min? Let’s do this!IMG_5652
Just about everyone I spoke to was intrigued so I thought I’d share how it went.
Because it’s me, there was of course a comedy of errors.
First was running late and being stressed out that I wasn’t going to get my full appointment that I’d already paid for to relax. It took me longer than I’d planned to pump and get everything sterilized and ready for my return (when I’d have to pump again). (That’s my weekday in a snapshot, organizing my work and life around a pump schedule and it can be a very precarious thing at times, such as Friday). So I left the for my 25min drive with roughly 10 minutes to get there.
Cue the anxiety and stress. The irony was not lost on me at the time that I was heavily increasing my stress level trying to get to my appointment to destress.
I got there and they were totally cool about me being late and my anxiety started to decrease.
I got the walk through of the “chamber” which was a large tiled room with an open shower, the egg shaped pod, and a bench to put personal items and some toiletries like soap, shampoo, ear plugs, and a pool noodle for your neck. They turned the water on in the pod and I took a shower to clean off before getting in the pool.
So in order to float there’s a ton of salt in the water. Like dead sea levels.
And did you know once you’re all wet (like from a shower) that other liquid spreads on you reallllly easily and it’s like really difficult to get that off because you’re all wet?
I’m sure you did. I mean I do, but I didn’t think about what that would mean when I got out of the required shower and into the salty water to mostly submerge. I definitely didn’t think about how easy it would be to get salty water in my eyes even while closing them.
So here I am in this “relaxation tank” in the dark with salt in my eyes and rubbing isn’t helping because my hands are wet and also covered with salty water. Sounds relaxing right?
I finally had to hop out and run over to the bench and grab the towel and scrub against my eyes to fix the situation. Fortunately I was able to stop the stinging and dry my face off enough to successfully enter the pod again, although my eyes definitely felt dry after that.
Ok, starting to get the hang of this now.
Then my neck started to get sore. I tried the pool noodle piece, but it was too high to be comfortable so I settled with having my hands under my neck which helped the tension.
Ok, floating. Floating.
Hmm…
There’s some light coming through the door cracks and it’s kind of cool to be able to open my eyes. Maybe I should close the top of the pod.
I close the top of the pod.
Well this is definitely dark now. Can’t see anything.
Is the air getting warmer in here?
Oh man the air is definitely getting warmer in here.
Ok I don’t think I like this.
Nope definitely need to open the top again.
Fuck.
The inside is smooth. HOW DO I OPEN THE TOP!?
OH MY GOD HOW DO I OPEN THIS THING!?
At this point I am kneeling on the bottom of the pod and pushing against the top, trying to open it while full on panicking. Can’t see a thing.
I finally run my hand along the inside and find a handle that easily opens the top of the pod when used.
You are an idiot.
No idea how much time has passed since I salted my eyes and then gave myself an almost full on panic attack, but guessing I still have a while to go.
The rest of the time was mostly uneventful with just floating and changing my hand position periodically to support my neck.
It was relaxing and a few times it did feel pretty cool.
But it’s not for me.
It highlighted for me the sore places in my body (which there are quite a few this days from kiddos) so I found myself wishing I’d gotten a massage before getting in.
I also had a hard time turning off my brain and I think the physical sensation of a massage does a better job for me of distracting my “what about…” that’s constantly running, as well as helping me feel less sore. And obviously it’s nor necessarily made for the accident prone.

Five Weeks in Vermont Postpartum

I thought we were crazy. Sure it sounded good, leaving New Orleans when it’s blazing hot to be in Vermont at the B&B (as we affectionately refer to my parent’s home), but packing up a toddler and a 3 month old baby was insane right? My motto with baby #2 was ‘how can I make it easier’? Every decisions from doula to dockatot to k’tan to king sized bed was guided by this and here we were, getting ready to leave this carefully crafted nest of comfort with our two dogs and two kids. Crazy.

I wasn’t even sure we were really going to do it. Every time my aunts checked in about our plans so they could meet us there there I’d remind them that it wasn’t in stone and I had Southwest tickets and it was all depending on how BabyG was doing. She was having some stomach issues that had already led to one late night emergency room visit so I wasn’t keen on leaving our pediatrician in another time zone. But I was trying to stay open to it while really being ready to bail at the first sign of trouble.

But somehow through my anxiety and fears I found myself getting on a plane with baby, toddler, and my Dad while A. started his two day journey with a packed car and our two dogs.

I was a wreck. I think we were both wrecked. We had spent the last two months with two kids on two different disrupted sleep schedules and A. I were like two ships passing in the night, occasionally sleeping in the same bed. It was not a good scene. We were exhausted.

And here I was, on a plane, leaving behind my carefully crafted nest to uproot to my parent’s house, extremely jealous that A. was about to have a night without any kids waking him up and two driving days where he could call friends to catchup or listen to books on tape/music to his heart’s desire. It sounded like heaven.

The first days were hard. Nono wailed that the room at my parent’s “isn’t my roooooooooom” and continued with his middle of the night wake-ups that now required A. to go downstairs and comfort him instead of next door. I started work again and had my baby, toddler, husband, Mom, four dogs, three cats, and a chicken in the background, as well as my Dad, my brother, and my brother’s dog intermittently coming in and out. I hopped off one call with co-workers exclaiming “I think my dog just attacked my Mom’s chicken, I’ve got to go!” (The chicken lost some feathers, but was fine.)

The weeks were carefully scheduled to accommodate my work needs and keep Nono busy since he was out of daycare and they flew by.

Suddenly it was time for my aunts’ visit which had seemed so far away, and then that was over too. Suddenly there weren’t weeks left, but days, and then hours.

And then it was the last full day.

Things had calmed enough for me to reflect on things by the end. The time was incredibly precious because of the family time on multiple levels:

For many family members, it was the first time they got to meet BabyG

For me, it was much needed time with Nono after a tough pregnancy made A. his primary caregiver and then the first couple of months kept me very busy with BabyG. Having Nono out of daycare was exhausting, but it gave me so much time with him after not enough for so long. And he is a hilarious and crazy little kid.

The four of us got to be together so much, when Nono was born A. took a month off after my maternity leave ended and I went back full time to an office. This time I used vacation to go back part time for June and I work remotely so we got to have 5 weeks of all of us together

My parents got to experience the amazing changes that happen in one of the early months with their grandbaby, the BabyG who left was a very different baby than when we arrived and they were there for all of the little moments of progression

My parents gave us support and a safe place to be while we figured out how to become a family of four and we got out of a very difficult period, we arrived a bit of a mess and we left ready to get back to our new lives

We got to reconnect with old friends and spend quality time with new friends. There is a big piece of my heart in Vermont with the friends I have there and the friends there span from childhood to college to San Francisco to in the last couple of years of when we’ve become friends

I spent a very important anniversary there. Five years ago I turned 30 and shortly after was diagnosed with some pretty lame cancer. We’ll never know if it was caused by the rhinestone birthday tiara my Mom gave me (I’ve never worn it since and I’ve never had cancer again, so I think evidence is pretty strong), but we arrived about to embark on a new chapter in our life in New Orleans involving kids and house and careers and instead got a frequent flyer membership to the hospital (just kidding, hospitals don’t give membership perks because the American healthcare system sucks). For my specific special snowflake diagnosis, the two significant anniversaries to reach without recurrence are two years and five years. It meant something to spend my 35th birthday at my parents (I think my Mom finally threw out the tiara) and be there with the family I have now in spite of what happened five years ago.

We’re going back in three weeks for a week. But who’s counting?

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A Mother’s Day With Two

My life was blown up the day that BabyG was born and the smoke hasn’t cleared so I’m not exactly sure what it looks like now. There are moments where I wish I could clear the smoke and rejoin the world where there is some measure of control/regularity in day-to-day, but most of the time I’m content to exist in the now in our small little world knowing that it will change and open up in months to come and these moments will be lost to time.

Having one kid, things changed but it felt like the change incorporated some of my familiar life, this time around I truly have no idea what life is going to look like, but at the same time, I have a clearer picture of “what do you think you’re life will look like in 5 years” than I’ve ever had before.

My first mother’s day I wore my rehearsal dinner dress from my wedding and we went to a craft fair, this mother’s day I wore shorts and it was a two tank-top type of the morning since my first got way too much spit-up on it to continue wearing. We started the morning in the sculpture garden and I cracked up as Nono touched sculpture butts and we talked about them. Post nap we went to the amusement park in City Park and we rode the carousel and train together and A.and I got to see Nono go on his first by himself rides. Wonderful.

In the morning Nono opened my mother’s day gift bag and took everything out “for me”, it was mostly food (I’m dairy free due to BabyG issues so indulgent food I can eat is pretty exciting and thoughtful). He then cried because I put his art he made me up on the wall instead of letting him play with it. Nono also gave me a card that he made at daycare that said, “I love my Mommy because she cooks chicken for me.” I’m not sure I’ve ever cooked chicken for him in his entire life. Then he asked me for money (change to put in his piggy bank, he doesn’t actually know what money is for).

A and I got to actually sleep in our bed together until 5:45 (when Nono came to get him) which was a rare treat and BabyG contributed the thoughtfulness by not doing one of her two hour staying awake sessions in the middle of the night which was nice.

Things are amazing right now and they are also really hard. Days are not really one vs the other but a combination that we do the best we can through. Maybe this isn’t a right now, but what life with two young kids will be for the foreseeable future?

But something I thought about that morning was my Mother’s Days are numbered, they’ll want to spend the whole day with me for a small portion of our lives. Normally I’m not a “make every day count” kind of person, but for this I decided that I only get so many of them, so I’m not going to use the day for “Mommy time” (ok I did take a bubble bath). I’m going to do fun things (that I want to do) with them.  These are hard days, but they’re also magic and I’m very lucky to have them.

The Second Time Around

My first pregnancy was tough. Emotionally and physically I’m not sure I was completely ready a little after a year of completing cancer treatments. I spent most of my pregnancy hardly being able to eat and didn’t have a good support network as I was mostly the first/only one in my friend group to be having a kid. At one of the lowest points, I called a dear friend who had also had a very difficult pregnancy the year before and told her “I need you to tell me honestly this is worth it. You’re the only one I’d believe right now.” And she, of course, responded that it was absolutely worth it and that it all faded behind you once you had your baby and that helped me get by.

Now I’ve made it through my second pregnancy and have a one-month-old and a two-year-old. I was warned by some friends with multiple kids that during pregnancy (and after) you’re a lot more tired this time around and in some ways, it’s harder, which is totally true because you can’t be as self-indulgent in your needs when you have a little person with needs. I also continued to struggle with various pregnancy induced ailments that have led me to the conclusion that my body does not like being pregnant and I will not miss that.

However, this is a very different experience of being pregnant this time around and I’ve learned and grown a lot from the first experience.

1. This time I have a village. A lot of that village is remote and that is totally fine. It comes in forms of close friends who have kids/are pregnant now and being able to ask advice from or just understand the frustrations. It also comes from friends forgiving the fact that I’m in a tough friend period right now with my availability and weathering through that with me (thank you so much). I also have an amazing Facebook group this time full of a few hundred parents in New Orleans that has been invaluable with advice, support, and humor around kids, babies, and pregnancies (It’s basically 90% of the reason I have a Facebook account). They’re not affiliated with anything and the tone is very “do what works for you” which is exactly what I need. I also made Mom friends in New Orleans while struggling through newborn and baby life with Nono. This time I don’t feel like A. and I are doing it alone. I closed myself off a lot my first pregnancy and looking back recognize there was a lot of depression going on with that as well and this time around I made the time/effort to see my friends, have phone dates, and return texts/emails even when I was exhausted from pregnancy because I knew when the infant days came it’d be a while before I return to the world again.

2. I got a doula. A. and I decided last time to do it just the two of us and take a really extensive birth class. I don’t regret it at all, but this time around I recognized that I would feel anxiety about being completely reliant on A. with Nono in the picture. We had a plan for Nono when I went into labor, staying with A.’s parents who live a mile away, but what if they’d been sick or he’d been sick? There’s a lot of things that can happen and I didn’t want to be in the position of having to choose between having A.’s full attention and stressing about Nono or being alone for any of my labor. It was absolutely the right decision for me. I went into labor on a Friday night (same as with Nono) and it was perfect having Melanie there to support me and for her and A. to tag team getting a hospital bag packed (she was early!) and coordinate Nono and the dogs without me having to be alone. It was also really awesome to have someone to check in with when I was having a tough time with hospital staff that has been around the block with labor.

3. I got a new job. My last job was not pregnancy/family supportive and I worked long hours and had a lot of stress at the end of my pregnancy, no real plan for coverage while I was out, and then had my team and boss tell me how hard things would be when I got back (while still on maternity leave). It was exhausting and it definitely deprioritized my self-care at a time I needed it the most. This time around I’m at a very pro-family company that I’m able to work from home when I want to which made the end of pregnancy much easier and the hours are significantly better. They also offer 12 weeks of paid leave which takes a lot of stress/burden off and we prepared for me to be gone for months ahead of time, including telling the clients 4 months ahead of time. It enabled me to feel like I could make time to do a lot of self-care things I needed and the peace of mind being part of a strong transition/coverage plan.

4. Self-care! I started going to a chiropractor at the end of my first pregnancy because I was having bad nerve pain and walking was a struggle. It helped, but was limited in what we could do at that point. This time around I started seeing a chiropractor very soon after finding out I was pregnant, Nono and I actually see the same one which helps with cutting down on appointments. One week I was in intense pain whenever I moved and she fit me in that day and I felt so much better after she adjusted me, it was like fucking magic. I actually got adjusted the day I went into labor (probably not a coincidence), but I think it really helped how I felt post delivery. I’ve also gone to yoga on an almost weekly basis for the second half of my pregnancy. It’s meant that I miss some bedtimes and have to make time when I feel tired and overwhelmed, but I think it’s been so good to do something that both physically feels good and mentally makes me clear my head and be present in what I’m doing. I also started seeing a pre/post-partum therapist. Looking back, I badly needed to do this the first time around but was so overwhelmed with appointments and not feeling like I could make the time that I didn’t. It’s been a really interesting experience seeing someone who we just focus on pregnancy/birth stuff and preparing for that and she’s made house calls for my early post-pregnancy appointments so I wouldn’t have to drive. I got incredibly lucky with my referral having space, taking my insurance, and being someone I click with. It is NOT easy finding mental health resources.

5. I made things easier based on experience. First time around we were new parents and had no idea and was also skeptical of “what we needed” (seriously it turns out if your baby is into it that a wipe warmer is a game changer). This time around I knew exactly what things were more difficult and am not trying to power through it now that we’re juggling infant and toddler. Examples would be getting a used glider chair (nursing is so much easier in those but they’re so expensive new), a king size bed so that Noah and baby can fit with ease when we happen to overlap bedtimes, and a dockatot because even though we weren’t co-sleepers with Noah there are times an infant is only going to sleep on/with you and it was incredibly stressful/not conducive to sleep not having a way to manage that with some baby protections in place. I also did a thing I said I WOULD NEVER DO, I got a TV for our room. I was exhausted by 8:30 when I was pregnant and going downstairs to hang out was just often not in the cards for me and now I also have the option of staying upstairs with our infant and not being bored out of my mind if she’s sleeping on me and we’re upstairs. Plus now I go up to bed with her around 7pm and I’m up for the night.

6. I stopped feeling guilty (mostly). The first time around I felt so guilty for how little I could help A. at home because of how sick/exhausted I was (if you can’t eat, you also have no energy). I felt guilty doing things for myself and I felt guilty for leaving him to go do things with my friends that were “girls only”. It was all in my head and it sucked. This time around he did even more with being Nono’s primary caregiver the majority of the time, I probably did 10 or less mornings with Noah since becoming pregnant because my number one focus in the morning was ‘take it slow and try not to vomit’. BUT instead of feeling guilty, I feel empathy. I appreciate everything he’s doing and I empathize with how much he’s putting into work, household, dogs, pregnant wife, and kid which is often at the expense of time for himself. I also recognize that being pregnant is really hard on me and we made this decision together so we each have our sacrifices and roles to play while we get through this. From last time I’m also very aware that in the infant days I am going to be really limited by breastfeeding and exhaustion that’s going to take a really heavy toll on my social life that he’ll have some more flexibility with. So I (mostly) let go of the guilt and I try to find balance with empathy in supporting him when I can to take some time for himself too, and also give myself permission to do things for myself that ask him for more time (such as going to a women’s retreat for a day a few months ago). I read something recently that talked about how it’s rarely 50/50 in a marriage, especially with kids and appreciation is really how to make it work which I completely agree with.

So is it better/easier now that I’m one month in (well technically tomorrow). Yes and No. It is better. I’m not a scared first time parent and the comfort and confidence I have with an infant this time around is soooo much better. I also get to have time with Nono that feels so precious and is a big mood boost that I didn’t have the first time. It is not easier though. It’s still exhausting, it’s still an emotional rollercoaster, and this time we have to divide and conquer rather than take turns. But just like with our first infant go around, it gets better with more sleep from her, big brother moments with him, and I know her first smile is not far away to really change the game.

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The Absence of Nero

I lost someone precious to me. Nero, a founding member of the Hasenkitties, is gone. I get teared up writing this and it’ll take me a long time for the loss to get easier.

Note: I originally wrote this in April 2017, I still miss him and get teary eyed reading this but thought it was time I posted it since cats don’t get official obituaries. If you’re just here for the baby posts and skip this I understand. 
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The Lasts and the Firsts

The experience of motherhood is rarely talked about without a discussion of the losses it brings. First, there’s the loss of your body as you’re told repeatedly that it’ll never be the same, and entire sonnets are written for breasts after nursing ends. You’re told of the sleep you’ll lose, the connection with your spouse that’ll suffer, and the freedom you once enjoyed being at an end. The friendships you’ll be forced to neglect, the ability to multi-task at work that you’ll lose, and the sense of self that will diminish. With my first baby, I felt weird being happy in the sea of loss. I wasn’t sure how to enter the conversation sometimes with the good stuff. After having a miserable pregnancy, the baby part of it felt amazing, it was tough, but unlike being pregnant, I had an amazing little human that I was falling in love with and experiencing so many new things like his smile.

With baby number 2 I had an easier pregnancy, although it was still tough and not something I’d be eager to do ever again. Part of that was having Nono to distract me and also thinking about the fact that soon we’d be a family four, so our family of three was something to soak up and treasure before that period was over. I made a lot of plans for the end of pregnancy around getting special time with Nono before I entered months of needing to make our new baby my priority. I told my Mom she couldn’t come over Mardi Gras because I wanted those two weeks to just be the three of us to get the house ready and spend some time as our little family of 3 before things changed. I worked over MLK and President’s Day so I could take Mardi Gras and Lundi Gras as holidays and have a 4 day weekend with Nono to enjoy parades and each other. I planned all of this weeks and weeks before my due date to make sure it would work out because I was confident baby girl would be coming earlier than planned.

We had our first mardi gras weekend and it was a little bit of a mixed bag with Nono telling us “time to go home?” before either parade was over, but we still had fun as he enjoyed for the first time the New Orleans kid experience of waving at floats and getting footballs and light up swords and all sorts of random kid treasures. He sat on my diminishing lap for the bands as I covered his ears and we discussed how the drums are loud. He saw the horses prance by and the dance groups sparkle in their variety of styles and themes. I most enjoyed the time after the parades when he would repeatedly bring up the things he saw and experienced in his few words over and over again “Bands?”, “Drums loud?”, “Cover ears?” “See parades?”.IMG-0744

I carefully planned out the parades we’d try to go to for the big weekend, knowing that he wasn’t going to be able to sit through multiple ones and that we needed to plan around nap time as well (he’s pretty militant about his nap schedule). I finished up my work on Friday and couldn’t wait for my four days off to relax a bit and all the Nono time I was going to get.

Then, of course, my water broke. It wasn’t anything dramatic and seemed pretty low key so after some googling and discussing with my doula, I was hopeful that this wasn’t it. It was going to mean I’d have to be diligent about taking it even easier the next few days, but it was still going to be ok. I wasn’t having contractions so I took a bath in an effort to calm things down and hoped this would pass.

It didn’t. 13.5 hours later and baby Pom made her entrance into the world and A. and I cried with happiness when I held her the first time and marveled at her full head of hair.

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But the first hour of actual labor I cried for a different reason. I cried over losing my four days with Nono, knowing that it’ll be quite a while until we’ll have the opportunity to spend time like I had planned together. I was deeply sad to lose that time I’d planned for and looked forward to so easily, right on the cusp of having it. Losing those “lasts” without being able to soak them in was and is hard.

But now we have the firsts. Pom is just beginning so many firsts and having experienced them with Nono I look forward to them in a new way and appreciate the little windows of her newborn behavior while they’re here. And now Nono is a big brother for the first time. I love each day as he warms up to the idea that she is here and part of his life now as he talks about his little sister and being a big brother. He points out her MANY sleeping items (my single biggest lesson from Nono was having baby sleep options is key) and talks about how she was in my tummy before. He smiles at her more and more and wants to look at her and talk about her more and more as he wraps his head around this new world where we are a family of four.

I still grieve a bit for those lasts that will never be, but just like it is and has been with each baby, the firsts more than make up for the lasts and I find myself enjoying where we are so much more than looking back at where we’ve been.

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Toddler Travel Tips

My husband and I decided we’d like to take one last big trip before Nono started costing us a plane ticket. We chose Hawaii (we live in New Orleans) because it was a big trip, but seemed very baby friendly given the ability to have a laid back beach vacation instead of a trip requiring a lot of plans and activities.

Hana Waterfall

The most daunting part of the trip was the flight. About 10 hours in the air with a 17 month old who could walk and wouldn’t have his own seat. How was this going to go?

We hadn’t flown with Nono since he’d started walking so I really had no idea what to expect and visions of meltdowns while we were stuck on the runway were starting to flash in my head.

One of the tactics we took was to split up the flights. We flew to San Francisco and spent the night and flew to Maui the next morning. We stayed with friends so we didn’t have to add any hotel cost and it meant a 4.5 hour flight one day and then a 5.5 hour flight the next day instead of doing it all at once. On the way back we chose to take a redeye with a long break at SFO before heading home to break things up again.

A good friend of mine who flies regularly with her son shared some great tips with me. Her son is a little younger so I had some challenges that she does not yet with the walking and him being too big to wear in a carrier, but many of the tips were really helpful. Here’s how I took her tips and applied them with our trip and toddler:

  1. Get on the plane as late as possible to cut down on time that Nono will have to be sitting in our seat.
    • We normally fly Southwest so this isn’t really possible, but when we flew to Hawaii we were flying Hawaiian air from San Francisco and Alaska on the way back so we had reserved seats.
    • Overhead space can still be a concern so what we did is one of us would board during the ‘traveling with small kids’ time to gate check the stroller and car seat and also stick our two overhead bags up above our seats. The other one of us would hang out with Noah in the waiting area until almost everyone had boarded so he was able to walk around and be a crazy baby up until the last moment. I talked to boarding staff ahead of time and all of them were understanding and supportive of this and we didn’t have any trouble boarding without Nono during the small kids boarding time.
  2.  Think of the flight in 15 minute increments
    • i.e. Don’t give them everything you brought at once. I gave him one thing at a time and tried to maximize the time with whatever that item was, food, toy, or book. It required a lot of attention from me or A. to keep him engaged, but welcome to traveling with a toddler…
  3. Go for slow to eat foods
    • This was a great way to keep Nono focused on something and happy. Rather than mostly doing pouches, which he goes through very quickly, we did crackers and puffs that he would pick up individually and take his time with.
  4. Get some new toys
    • Nono has some favorite items that I made sure to bring, a couple of books that he can’t get enough of and some toys, but I also got some new items with that 15min increments in mind:
      • Little animal figurines: Definitely the most bang for my buck. I used leftover easter eggs and put 3-4 animals in them and had a small bag of them. I brought these out one at a time through the flight and Nono had a great time playing with the animals as well as packing and unpacking the eggs with them. They also take up very little room so they were perfect for the flight and cheap enough that if we’d lost some it didn’t matter (miraculously we didn’t).
      • Magnetic Sketchpad: This was the longest lasting entertainment. The stamps are hard to keep track of, but Nono didn’t seem to mind when those would disappear. He spent hours drawing on this. It’s great because it’s compact, no mess, and easy to keep reusing.
  5. Books that hold attention
    • This one was a little too advanced for him, but a few months later (now) it would be perfect. It didn’t hold his interest for long a few months ago, but now it’s great for the “where is the…” or “what does a ….. say?” that he’s really into. There’s ton of animals on each page so if your kid is ready for it, it is definitely a book that can eat up a lot of time.
    • Open up book. This one was good because it is super tiny so it hardly take up any space and Nono had fun opening the doors on the page and finding the animals in them. He needed a little help to open the doors because they stick a bit, but definitely a good plane option based on size and enjoyment.
  6. Fuzzy Headphones. These were a waste of money. First I thought they were adjustable and they’re not so my toddler’s giant head wasn’t a good fit. Second, he didn’t want to wear them AND he didn’t care about sound. I had downloaded some videos to watch and he ended up watching free videos on the plane entertainment center without sound and being perfectly happy.

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When we got to Hawaii I put away all of the new plane items so that we could use them on the flights back and they’d still have novelty. We got very lucky and he slept the whole redeye back to San Francisco (so we did too) and we really had no issues with all four flights. I now appreciate the flights where I am by myself and can read a book these days, but I think with the right preparation and a cooperative kid, flights don’t have to be something you dread.

Any tips or tricks to share that worked for you?

How We Talk About Being A Mom

(written pre-baby but pregnant 2016)

As someone standing on the doorstep outside this new club, I have some concerns about how we talk about being a Mom.

1. Motherhood is not a job. Why do we call it that? There aren’t set hours, you don’t have a boss (please don’t call your toddler/teenager/tween your boss, you lady are a boss), you don’t get paid (try using hugs at the grocery store next time you check out and let me know how it goes), there aren’t promotions, and you have to pay people to play hooky (depending on how old your kid is). It’s not a job. It’s something much bigger and more overwhelming than a job. When I come home from my job, I sometimes have work to do, but even if I have work there is a big separation between my real life outside of the office and my office life. I also get most weekends off. There’s a professional courtesy I can mostly expect and boundaries, and I can switch jobs if I’m unhappy. I mean these two things have so little in common with each other that it just boggles my mind that we seem to have signed off on this comparison.

2. There is no one-right-way to be a Mom. There was a post in my college Women’s FB Group sharing an article about working Moms and nannies and some women came out swinging, implying the women discussing childcare should feel ashamed for being able to afford it. Can we stop? This is an area where instead of trying to put each other in our place and having a contest of who is the better Mom or most out of touch from privilege we could be having a bigger conversation about access to childcare for those who need it. It amazes me this is still how we discuss childcare among ourselves in a country where MILLIONS are poured into anti-abortion ads and legal fights, that it’s ok that women make less money, don’t have national paid maternity benefits, and have to struggle with childcare costs. Instead of policing each other on how we make being a Mom work let’s work together to improve things for Moms and Dads, let’s build up instead of tear down. Some people have grandparents that want to watch their kids, my Mom was able to work at home as a way to facilitate having kids at home too, some people split nannies with other people to make it work, and some people can have and want full-time nannies. I LOVE the daycare that my son goes to, I think daycare is the jam. And that’s all ok, you’re not a better Mom because you’re tearing down other Moms. Let’s try spending less of our time trying to shame each other about how we make being a Mom work and focus our ire towards equalizing things for all Moms. And while we’re at it, let’s get some changing tables in men’s bathrooms. They’re caregivers too.

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