A Few Of My Favorite Things

As in, a few things that have saved my sanity (as much of it as could be saved, anyway).

best things

1. Lansinoh HPA Lanolin // This was a gift from a friend and I thought “cool” and put it away until I came home from the hospital with cracked and bleeding nipples and then I went and eagerly dug it back out. I like that it’s safe that Mini-Me can nurse without wiping it off and it really helped me heal quickly.

2. Himalayan Salt Lamp // I got this while searching for the perfect night light that would be bright enough to see by but wouldn’t be white light. I love that this one is dimmable.

3. Lansinoh Hot or Cold Breast Therapy // While I was in the hospital my nipples were cracking and bleeding from learning to latch and doing it poorly. I vaguely remembered from my breastfeeding class that if you didn’t want to breastfeed you wanted to wear a tight bra and use cold compresses on it. Since I wanted to breastfeed, I figured the opposite was true and spent time hugging my electric heating pad to my chest for relief. It definitely worked to the opposite effect and when my milk came in, I was suddenly and painfully very, very engorged. As it turns out, I needed a cold compress to help ease my pain. These are great because they can do hot OR cold.

4. My Brest Friend // I hate the name of this pillow and the fact that it’s called “Brest” makes me cringe every time. But I do love how it works. I was using a Boppy for several weeks but I hated how Mini-Me would slip down inside it and it didn’t give me much support front or back. I ordered the MBF (I refuse to write that name out more than once) and really liked it. The Boppy is useful for other things, and my husband loves it for bottle-feeding, but not for breastfeeding.

5. Dohm White Noise Machine // I like this so much I have two, one in my bedroom and one in kiddo’s room. The noise level is customizable and is perfect for drowning out other noises.

6. Lillebaby Airflow Carrier // I ordered this at the strong recommendation for others and it’s great for when I’m in crowded spaces (like out shopping) or when I’d like to have two hands available (like eating) and really helps keep Mini-Me calm and happy. They’re having a clearance sale right now so I picked up a second one so my husband can have one sized for him (they resize easily) and I can have another pattern one sized for me.

7. Sun Basket Meal Delivery system // We used Blue Apron for a while but got tired of how every recipe seemed to use a fond which would invariably smoke up our kitchen and also how every meal seemed to have kale. I like kale, but not for every meal. We’re currently using Sun Basket and while it’s more expensive ($11.99/serving) but we like it a lot better in terms of options available and how easy it is to cook. Most of the recipes say they take 20-45 minutes but my experience has been that they take a lot less, typically around the 30 minute mark, from start to finish. They have paleo, vegetarian, vegan, pescetarian and family friendly menus and you can swap in between all of them. Since my bout of HELLP, we’ve been working on reducing our sodium intake and the amount of red meat we eat every week (hard when your husband thinks meat makes the meal). Sun Basket’s vegetarian and even vegan options haven’t raised a single eyebrow and he’s really enjoyed them without complaint.

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I wonder if sleep misses me too?

As I sit here, it’s nearly 2 a.m. and I’m up because not only do I have a newborn who needs to eat, I need to pump so I can build a stash of breast milk before I go back to work, and also we’re trying a new thing where we split the night so the other person can sleep. We’re still figuring it out and it’s not perfect by any means. Tonight I went to bed at 7 p.m. and slept in a deep comatose state until my engorged breasts woke me up several hours later. It’s sort of like waking up having to go to the bathroom very, very badly except it tingles and can be sort of painful. I stumbled out trying to see if baby was hungry to find her finishing up a bottle I’d left and instead had to turn to my second baby, the pump.

I never thought having a baby would be necessarily easy but considering how every person has been a newborn at some time in their lives, I figured I could handle it and it wouldn’t be that bad.

Come and laugh along with me at my naïveté. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

Having a newborn is HARD. SO. HARD. I totally understand how and why sleep deprivation is a real torture tactic. The other night she woke me up and I thought I was holding her in bed with me, which is nuts for me because we don’t co-sleep/bed share. I’m a rule follower, at least as far as safety is concerned and when it’s for other people. It’s hard for me to fall asleep and when I do, I’ve been having really vivid, strange dreams no doubt fueled by the sleep deprivation and the hours of Adult Swim I’m watching through the night.

At this point, I can’t comprehend having the energy (or time) to work out more than walking her and the dogs around the neighborhood. Strollers are sort of heavy and wrangling two dogs along with it is like running the Iditarod with two very stupid huskies who are constantly getting tangled in each other’s traces.

The things that keep me going are what I like to call “stoner thoughts:”

  1. Literally everyone ever has been born. Someone stayed up with that little person and fed them and changed them and tried to comfort them when they cried. Good people and bad people. I can do this even if I’m not sure how sometimes when she just won’t go the hell to sleep and I’m considering running away and joining the circus.
  2. Nothing lasts forever. Good things and bad things both pass eventually.

So now I sit here watching some sort of anime on Adult Swim and watching her sleep (because of course she sleeps great in anything not her crib) and at least she’s cute. Would I do it again? Ask me in a year.

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The rarest creature of all, a sleeping newborn

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03.13 I remember

Yesterday was the anniversary of my parents’ deaths; they died on the same day four years apart. One was expected, the other was not, but both hurt just the same.

When my last parent died, we hadn’t been on good terms due to some choices I’d made and how he reacted to them and also the influence of my stepmother. We hadn’t seen each other in three years or spoken to each other except for maybe two emails. When he died, I was a junior in college and sort of just fell apart so much so that I took a leave of absence from my Corps of Cadets, didn’t go to my Army ROTC Spring FTX. This was kind of a big deal because your entire junior year is spent prepping for an evaluation camp held between your junior and senior year which evaluates your potential and is a huge portion of determining your branch and future assignment. It’s like the Army ROTC equivalent of a thesis defense, screw it up and you’ll pay for it for years.

Everything Army was particularly difficult for me to get through because every class, every PT session reminded me of him. I was painfully haunted that he’d never see me graduate or commission, get married, and that he’d never even get the chance for us to have a better relationship. Every mile I ran hurt. Every time I put on my uniform I ached inside. I also wasn’t a particularly nice person to be around, either. I remember one day another student was complaining that the salad bar was out of something and I ripped her a new one because how could anyone be so stupid to complain about that when there were so many worse things she could be missing? To all who knew me then, I’m still really sorry for how I lashed out at the people around me who only wanted to help. As painful as it was, running was my self-imposed treatment for my grief. My dad was a runner which made it worse, but also helped me feel like I was still connected.

It’s been ten years since he died and fourteen since my mother died. In a few years, I’ll have lived as long without a mother as I did with her. That loss was a lot more painful while pregnant as I tried to envision how on earth I was going to be a mother when I didn’t have one and was pretty sure I had no maternal instincts (I still maintain I don’t, but I took every class offered by the hospital and the post).

As I mentioned before, I was kind of an emotional wreck that whole spring. I was offered the opportunity to not go to the Army evaluation camp that summer. I probably should have taken it but my main motivation was that I didn’t want to repeat my MSIII year. Unsurprisingly, I did poorly because I just didn’t care about any of it still. It all seemed like a enormous waste of time and effort when there were so many other things, real things, that Actually Mattered instead of exercising Vietnam-era tactics and being evaluated on them.

I’m glad I did go, though. If I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have met my husband, I don’t know what I would have commissioned as, but I know my path would have been different. I don’t think I’d be here now, in this house with my dogs and cat and sleeping baby snuggled against me. I used to be so angry but now I’m just sad that my daughter won’t know them, and I’m sad for my dad that we never got the chance to have a better relationship before he died. I am thankful that he got me into running and that my mother, who had skills that Martha Stewart would envy, left me with an appreciation for crafts, cooking, and a deep love for dogs.

One Month Postpartum

A month ago I was super pregnant and mentally prepared to still be pregnant halfway into March. Instead, little girl is a whole month old and my life is completely different now.

Although she isn’t sleeping through the night I like to think that my years of Army training have prepared me to function on little or poor quality of sleep. I did lose 30 pounds in the week after delivery which was pretty cool and I’ve lost another five since then. I haven’t been cleared for strenuous physical activity but I have been doing walks around the neighborhood with the dogs and stroller. I also joined a postpartum yoga class on post which of been a lot of fun even though I seem to spend a lot of the time either breast-feeding or trying to call me fussy baby. In a few weeks she’ll be old enough that I can leave her in childcare at the YMCA and then it will be a little bit easier to get my workout in.

She’s grown a whole pound and some change in a month and is a little taller than the height/weight ratio but she’s gaining both pretty evenly so I wonder if she got the tall genes that I didn’t get. It’s also a little humbling to think that had she cooked longer this is how big she might have been full term.

I’m still holding off signing up for races until I’ve been cleared and have a base again, but I DID sign up for the 2018 Peachtree Road Race again. This year I was quick enough to get an Atlanta Track Club membership and a guaranteed entry.