Things I’ve Learned During My First Three Months As A Parent

I’ve made it through the first three months of parenthood, holy shit. The last weeks have been intense. Brutal lows, exhilarating highs. I don’t think I’ve ever learned so much in such a brief stretch of time. A few thoughts:

Take help when offered. Seriously. My dad saw me struggling while he was visiting post Avery’s arrival and he offered to pay for some daytime help for me. I felt anxious about inviting a stranger into my home and almost turned down his offer. WHAT WAS I THINKING? Being able to nap a couple times a week while leaving Avery in someone else’s trained hands (we hired a postpartum doula) has been absolutely amazing.

New parents will likely receive less specific offers of help, e.g. “what can I do?” Keep a list of things people can do for you. Have someone buy you groceries, walk your dog, do laundry, hold the baby while you shower, make you a sandwich, cook you a bunch of something you can freeze…If you are offering help to a new parent, offer to do something specific! Or just drop off food or a gift certificate to a restaurant that delivers.

Yawn? Or scream?

Yawn? Or scream?

It’s impossible understand, pre baby, how different things will be, and in what ways. One example: I went to Costco alone last week while Will watched Avery and it was a blissful escape. I hit horrific traffic en route and welcomed the delay. Lame but true.

Don’t pay much attention to timelines/dates. This was an important lesson for me to learn. I initially clung to any timeline oriented tip I heard, thinking, at six weeks she’ll start getting less fussy! Not so much. Then: At three months everything evens out! Guess what, Avery still has terrible days/nights pretty much weekly. Every newborn is different and from what I can tell, few are super consistent in all of their habits. They also constantly evolve and change. It’s trite, but I try to take things a day at a time. This has helped me avoid feeling like a parenting failure/that there is something wrong with my child.

Naked time

Naked time

It might take a while to feel bonded to your baby. I had heard this before giving birth but I didn’t fully internalize it. Then, when I didn’t necessarily feel an instantaneous all consuming love for Avery, I felt extremely guilty. But seriously, your baby is an unfamiliar being that doesn’t reciprocate your affection: it can take some time to feel strongly connected, and that is normal.

This face though

This face though

Parenting a baby is really fucking hard. This past three months has been one of the hardest periods of my life. And if I hear one more anecdote about so and so’s easy baby who never cries and slept through the night at three weeks old I’m going to throat punch someone.

But it does get easier. Not all at once and not very fast (for me, at least), but it does get easier, and it’s well worth the rough patches.

Avery’s Birth Story

Overall, I was lucky and Avery’s birth went pretty smoothly. (MAYBE IT WAS THE DATES I ATE). By my due date, September 25th, I still wasn’t experiencing any labor symptoms and my OB decided she wanted to induce at 42 weeks as long as the baby and I remained healthy until then. We were doing regular fetal non-stress tests (NSTs) and everything looked just fine so I feel like I could have pushed back and insisted on waiting a little longer. But, I was generally feeling ready (i.e. super antsy and impatient) and the date worked out: my OB was scheduled to work on the date of the induction so if I didn’t go into labor on my own before that, she’d likely be the one to deliver Avery (typical of a lot of OBGYN practices, I would get whichever of the OBs was on the day I gave birth).

At my NST two days before the 42 week mark, I was having contractions, but I couldn’t feel them. I lost some of my mucus plug around then, too, but nothing else was really happening, so we checked into Swedish First Hill at 8pm on October 8th. It was a little anticlimactic as I had been prepared to labor for quite a while at home. I’d assembled coconut water and snacks, made a list of yoga poses to try, and DVRed lots of Jeopardy episodes, thinking that would be a good distraction from contractions. Oh well.

BABY!

BABY!

I was pretty nervous about being induced, having heard lots of stories of inductions dragging on with no progress and ending in C sections due to fetal stress. My OB had warned me that an induction would boost my chances of a C section from about 10% to about 20-30%.

After checking in and taking blood and putting in an IV line and other assorted medical type things, they gave me a round of misoprostol to try and soften my cervix, and encouraged me to try and sleep. The contractions slowly intensified to the point that I could feel them. At some point they gave me a second dose of misoprostol. I still wasn’t dilated past like 1 cm or so but the contractions were strong enough that they didn’t give me any pitocin. They did however give me an Ambien which helped me sleep between the contractions, until about 3 or 4am when they became so intense I could no longer sleep.

Baby w Burrito

Baby w Burrito

Somewhere around 5am I made Will wake up as shit was getting pretty painful and I needed the moral support. The contractions felt like really intense pelvic and lower back cramps/spasms. The most painful thing I’ve ever felt, for sure. Eventually I got into the jacuzzi tub in my room and hung out in there. The tub, counting through the contractions, and trying my best to breathe through them, was was got me through. And a lot of bracing with my arms against the walls of the tub which the very no-nonsense nurse kept admonishing me not to do. My guns were really sore the next day. The staff also gave me a couple doses of fentanyl, which just lets you get into kind of a weird zone in between the contractions that relaxes you a little but doesn’t do that much for the actual pain.

At some point, maybe around 8am or so, my water broke in the tub and at 10ish I decided I couldn’t deal anymore and wanted an epidural. The staff didn’t measure how dilated I was but I guess they could tell it was fine to hook me up with an epidural given the breaking of the water and the intensity of the contractions.

The anesthesiologist took his sweet time getting there and I felt a little desperate by the time he arrived. I then waited out a couple brutal back to back contractions since I didn’t feel like I could hold still through them. Though the epidural needle is indeed huge and scary they numb you before inserting it and besides a tiny pinch from the numbing, I didn’t feel a thing. Within like 20-30 minutes I couldn’t feel anything from the waist down which was amazing. I’m totally pro epidural-it was fantastic and I can’t imagine going through labor without one. I slept and ate Haribo gummy bears (you can only have shit like gummy bears or popsicles post epidural-real food was allowed earlier but I couldn’t bring myself to eat anything. I was actually really nauseous for much of early labor and puked a bunch of times which I did not expect).

By 12pm ish my OB came and checked on me and I was fully dilated and at 2:30 I started pushing. I was able to push really well somehow despite not being able to feel shit. I pushed for an hour (3 pushes with every contraction) and the environment was extremely chill-Will and I were talking to the nurse and doctor about, like, wine tasting, and how we met in college, and other random chit chatty things. Avery hung through labor like a champ, and after an hour, she was born and placed on my chest. Will admirably overcame his fear of blood and cut the cord. I had a couple superficial tears and just needed a couple stitches here and there. Avery was only 7lbs 3oz which I am sure helped with this, and probably all the squats and kegels I did while pregnant didn’t hurt either.

<3 <3 <3

Recovery was pretty smooth though I was definitely sore for a few days. But in all, labor went really well and I feel extremely lucky. Swedish, my OB, and the rest of the staff were fantastic and it was a great experience overall. Way smoother and faster than expected. Life with a newborn? Definitely NOT smoother than expected. More on that later…

Avery Is Here!

Avery Isobel Wyatt is here! She arrived Friday October 9, 2015 at 3:30pm weighing in at 7 lbs 3 oz, measuring 20 inches long. She is pretty adorable and we are crazy about her. We are gradually adapting to life with a newborn, which has brought its ups and downs, but everyone is doing well overall. I’ll post her full birth tale soon.

HI!

HI!

Still Pregnant…and Eating Fudge

I have officially hit 41 weeks and am still pregnant with no real signs of impending labor…pretty typical for a first timer but it’s still a mental struggle. One day at a time! She can’t stay in there much longer than a week or she’s going to be forced out by various medications and doctors.

Kickass new Seahawks library card for future baby/library adventures

Kickass new Seahawks library card for future baby/library adventures

Something productive I did recently was make some delicious peanut butter sea salt fudge. So, so good. I gave a bunch of it away and Will and I ate the rest in about a day because we are horrible pigs.

So good

So good

Recipe is here, from Cup of Jo (I used creamy peanut butter and plain old brown sugar but I do recommend stocking up on some flaky sea salt to fancy these up, I used Maldon and I don’t regret it one bit). So I guess this weekend’s agenda is to walk around a lot and try to get this baby out. Wish me luck.

Fall Fashion Wants

If I wasn’t on somewhat of a shopping hiatus given a) baby stuff costs a crapton of money, b) I’ll probably be wearing leggings and a sweatshirt for the next 6 months, and c) who knows what shape/size the bod will end up after this whole birth ordeal, here is what I would want to buy for fall.

Coat. I want some sort of long camel coat. Works well with my almost all black wardrobe. A few options:

AYR

AYR

Diane von Furstenberg

Diane von Furstenberg

Topshop

Topshop

Boots. OMG I realllllly want these Isabel Marant boots. I’ve been trolling the internet for a cheaper substitute with no luck.

Isabel Marant. WANT.

Isabel Marant. WANT.

Some burgundy boots or booties would also be nice (burgundy is all over the fall fashion mags and I am loving it). I like these. Suede is kind of a dumb idea in Seattle but it’s supposed to be a dry winter, so….

Ivanka Trump

Ivanka Trump

Bag. I’m craving a new handbag, either a tote or bucket bag. Either of these would do nicely since Will refuses to buy me the Balenciaga tote I really want to use as a diaper bag (rude).

Marc by Marc Jacobs

Marc by Marc Jacobs

Rebecca Minkoff

Rebecca Minkoff

Other randoms. I’m finding myself thinking about ponchos a lot. Practical yet bohemian and funky.

Temperley London

Temperley London

Also, I really want to find an amazing pair of high waisted jeans. That will probably be a tiring ordeal warranting a full post of its own later on…stay tuned.

Helpful (And Unhelpful) Pregnancy Tips

Being pregnant can be overwhelming, to put it mildly. There is a shitton of information out there regarding what to eat, drink, do, wear, buy, use, and avoid. It will hurt your brain and stress you out if you let it.

I think, in general, if you don’t do anything blatantly dangerous or unhealthy, e.g. drink a 6 pack of PBR a night, sniff paint fumes, take up amateur lion taming, etc. you can figure out what works and feels right to you, and you and your baby will probably be just fine. Obviously, listen to your chosen medical professional, too.

Having been pregnant for almost 40 weeks now, I do have some observations regarding what worked for me and what didn’t. One thing I have learned is that the pregnancy experience varies widely, so these tips might be totally unhelpful for you.

But, throughout these last nine months I have enjoyed hearing about the pregnancy experiences of other women in as specific detail as possible, even if I ultimately rejected what they had to say. So here are some thoughts on what I have found helpful/unhelpful while preggo.

I stocked up on delicious but healthy beverages for hydration and to make myself feel better about not being able to drink wine. This is a good one.

I stocked up on delicious but healthy beverages for hydration and to make myself feel better about not being able to drink wine. This is a good one.

Worked!
Yoga I took prenatal yoga classes at Seattle Holistic Center, and I really enjoyed them. I found prenatal yoga to be very gentle and non sweat inducing which would usually bore and annoy me but was actually quite soothing and restorative while pregnant. I’m fairly convinced that a lot of the poses help prepare your body for labor, which will be hard to quantify, but believing all the yoga I did will make a difference is probably like 80% of the battle, anyway.

I’m not a share my feelings with strangers and chant mantras kind of person and there is a little bit of this going down in the classes I attend, but I kind of liked it. The spiritual elements helped me connect with and think about my baby in a way I wouldn’t have otherwise.

Chiropractor At about 24 weeks pregnant I started having heinous SI joint pain on one side of my lower back/butt. By the end of each day, I could barely walk. I’m not great with physical impairment and injuries and this really fucked me up mentally- I started to freak out a little bit, imagining that I would be couch bound for months and turn into a sluglike Jabba the Hut type creature who never left the house. I was totally skeptical of chiropractic care, but I was desperate, and saw Dr. Devine until I exhausted my insurance coverage (20 visits total).

Not gonna lie, the chiropractic experience is kind of weird (is this dude cracking my back for five minutes on a creepy table really doing anything?). However, Dr. Devine either cured me or the pain disappeared completely all on it’s own, and the latter seems unlikely to me given how severe the issue was. Highly recommend giving a chiropractor a try if you experience any back/neck/other pain during pregnancy.

Ignoring most food rules OMG, the food rules one hears while pregnant. No lunchmeat! No sushi! No soft cheese! These rules mostly stem from fear of foodborne illness, particularly listeria. Right….if you read the news, like, ever, you know that listeria, salmonella, etc. can come from anywhere. Yes, it is probably wise to avoid shady grocery store sushi and also smart to watch mercury levels of the seafood you consume but you can’t convince me that fresh, high grade, wild caught salmon sashimi from a reputable restaurant is an unhealthy choice for pregnant women.

Not allowed, ate it anyway.

Not allowed, ate it anyway.

Maybe this thrusts me into bad mother territory, but I ate/eat sushi, smoked fish, turkey sandwiches, oysters, and all sorts of soft cheese while pregnant, in moderation, and I have been fine. It may make sense to follow the food rules during the first trimester since the theory is that if you contract food poisoning you may be more likely to miscarriage, but if you eat a spicy tuna roll at 8 months pregnant is your baby going to die? Doubtful.

Did Not Work/Need
Pregnancy pillow I heard many raves about those ginormous pregnancy pillows that cost like $80. I intended to acquire one at some point but never got around to it, and found that making my own nest comprised of multiple regular pillows shoved I already owned worked just fine.

So many pillows!

So many pillows!

Jury Is Out
Dates There are studies (possibly with small sample sizes rendering the results a bit questionable) that show that consuming dates made labor easier for women who did so. I’ve been eating 4-6 dates a day for a couple weeks. I like them on their own or blended into a smoothie. We’ll see how labor goes…if nothing else they are giving me extra fiber and something sweet to eat that isn’t full of refined sugar like all the shit I really want to eat.

Also helpful to me/my raging pregnancy sweet tooth: keeping sweet shit that isn't candy around.

Also helpful to me/my raging pregnancy sweet tooth: keeping sweet shit that isn’t candy around.

Stretch mark oil I slathered on Bio-Oil or Earth Mama Angel Baby Natural Stretch Oil twice a day starting in the second trimester and still don’t have any stretch marks. HOWEVER I also had pretty minimal stretch marks to begin with so I don’t think I’m particularly prone to them, and my bump has remained relatively small. But I don’t think lubing up your skin really well can hurt when it comes to helping it stretch. It just kinda makes sense to me: soft things expand more easily.

Coconut oil is great for dry, itchy pregnancy skin.

Coconut oil is great for dry, itchy pregnancy skin.

Pregnancy tea I’ve been downing 2 or 3 cups of this a day (Traditional Medicinals, Earth Mama Angel Baby, Yogi and probably others make this-I purchase it at Whole Foods or Central Co-Op). Supposedly it helps strengthen your uterus and prep your cervix and stuff. Again, we shall see how labor goes. At the very least it’s keeping me hydrated and giving me something more interesting than water to drink.

Tea

Cool Shit on the Internet

Hey there. Still pregnant! I’m feeling pretty good and fairly comfortable, but a little antsy. Time is crawling a little bit.

Hammer

Just doing shit around the house and taking faux artsy selfies to pass the time. Here are some entertaining internet links for your enjoyment:

1. Celebrities Looking Sad at Disney Parks (New York Magazine) – LOLZ.

2. The More I Learn About Breast Milk, The More Amazed I Am (The Stranger) – Breast milk truly is effing amazing.

3. How To Book The Best Airbnbs, Anywhere (Into the Gloss) – Helpful tips when booking an Airbnb, which is a great way to go when traveling to cities where hotels are ridiculously expensive.

4. 20 Surprising Things About Parenting in Cuba (Cup of Jo) – I’m addicted to this series on Cup of Jo and this post is particularly fascinating.

5. The Sunniest Climate-Change Story You’ve Ever Read (New York Magazine) – Maybe we aren’t totally fucked!

6. 14 Psychological Tricks Everyone Should Know (Esquire UK) – These are helpful, especially at work. Total manipulation but legit because they called it “psychology”!

7. How To Not Get Sick (The New Potato) – Cold and flu season is imminent, yay. Here are some hippie ish tonics of questionable efficacy to help keep that shit away.

Preggo Power Smoothie

I’ve been drinking this lovely creation for breakfast on the regular.

Terrible photo but the Seahawks glass makes up for it.

Terrible photo but the Seahawks glass makes up for it.

Yeah, it’s sort of (very?) hideous to look at. But it is full of ingredients that are supposed to be extra beneficial for pregnancy, and actually tastes pretty good.

Here is the basic recipe, this can definitely be tweaked many ways:

1 cup almond milk (I like Whole Food’s brand organic unsweetened vanilla)
½ cup ish organic plain yogurt (calcium, protein, probiotics)
½-1 frozen banana (potassium, fiber, creamy factor)
1 cup fresh or ½ cup frozen spinach (iron, folic acid)
2 TBSP flaxseed (omega 3s for brain development)
1 TBSP raw cacao powder (tastes like chocolate, lots of minerals, fiber, protein)
2 Medjool dates (supposedly make labor easier, fiber, tastes like hippie candy)

Blend and feel awesome about yourself because this shit is super healthy.

Random Pregnant Stuff

About two and a half weeks left until it’s birthin’ time, holy shit. I haven’t been feeling super awesome so I’m trying to lay low and enjoy being a self-indulgent slug while I still can. Lots of trashy TV and reading and pre natal massages.

Delightful Saturday Morning

Delightful Saturday Morning

Food is also fun when you are pregnant, however, I’ve started getting some really heinous heartburn which is obnoxious and really interferes with my gluttony. However I did still manage to eat bacon for breakfast all three days this weekend. #lifegoals

Vegan Eggnog French Toast. And Bacon...

Vegan Eggnog French Toast. And Bacon…

Armed with Tums, I’ve been trying to cook lots of delicious things while I have time to do so, and trying to venture into restaurants to be served delicious things by other people since I know my dining out habits are going to be curtailed pretty soon. Fun fact: when you can’t booze, dinner bills are way cheaper.

Seattle’s Manolin is a newly discovered favorite. Seafood-focused small plates that are almost too stunning to eat and a really enticing looking cocktail menu (dammit). They don’t take reservations so show up early.

Ceviche Mixto at Manolin.

Ceviche Mixto at Manolin.

Doesn’t that look amazing? Anyway. If you need me I’ll be on the couch binge watching Bachelor in Paradise.

Cool Shit on the Internet

Oh hey. Just over here being 35.5 weeks pregnant, tra la la. I’m experiencing an increasing number of rando aches and pains but am generally doing pretty well.

The exciting evenings of a preggo

The exciting evenings of a preggo

In other news, despite what our retail establishments want you to believe (see: back to school ads, stores stocked with fall clothing, and halloween decor displays, wtf especially to that last one), THERE IS BASICALLY A MONTH OF SUMMER STILL LEFT TO ENJOY.

This cool kid is super psyched about the rest of summer

This cool kid is super psyched about the rest of summer

Hallelujah. I, personally, would rather be completely sick of summer and 100% ready for crispy leaves, blustery weather, and pumpkin spice everything than feel robbed of a true summer, which has definitely happened in previous years here in Seattle. Summer 2015 has been around basically since May and I will gratefully accept that!

Anyway. Here is a roundup of delightful things I found on the interwebs recently:

1. Since we have a month of summer left, you should probably grill some burgers. Here’s how to make a delicious one. Cup of Jo

2. This may out me as a dog obsessed weirdo (as if the above sunglasses photo didn’t already) but I am really into this dog age calculator by breed. Pedigree

3. I’ve read some really annoying advice from “nutrition experts” about limiting fruit intake due to its sugar content, which always struck me as ridiculous. This backs me up. Fruit is good for you, duh. Detoxinista

4. Non celebrities recreating celebrity Instagram shots. Dying over the Kim K on a mountain one. Bustle

5. I want to eat this cheese plate RIGHT NOW. Cupcakes and Cashmere