Wednesday, October 22, 2014

We Lost the War Before the First Battle Was Fought

Cheerful and trying to roll over in her first morning outfit.
Shortly before she ruined it and had to be redressed.

My baby is kiiiiiiind of my worst nightmare.

She's totally a morning person. 

Normally, my alarm goes off at 5:30 and I drag myself out of bed and sort of mumble and mutter and groan through the same things at the same time every day. Today, because I am a masochist, I actually turned my alarm off and went back to sleep until Jason's alarm sounded a half-hour later, which meant that not only was I woken out of a wonderful doze into the harsh reality of life, when I basically just threw myself dramatically off the nice warm bed into the cold cold air of our bedroom I had lost a half-hour's worth of my somewhat carefully timed hour-and-a-half morning routine.

Jason, normally a morning person himself, slept horribly last night and it took all his effort to get up, too. Audra popped awake with a gurgle and a few fussy hungry faces and once fed, she is just full of smiles and wiggles and happiness and seize-the-day optimism.

Meanwhile, I'm trying to decide if I remember how to make coffee or if I'm so tired I've forgotten how to do those things I need to do to live.

One of the cats decided they didn't like their food all that much and left a gross vomit-y present for us (why do we have cats again?), so Jason cleaned that up. One of the fire alarms was out of battery power and chirping at us. The baby needed fed, the pets needed fed we needed fed and all of this was just too much at 6 AM.

I fed the animals and made breakfast while Jason fed the baby and cleaned up gross and dealt with the fire alarm. I let the dog out to run in the yard (this is important) and we went about our grumpy morning business.

While Jason ate, I made sure Audra's diaper was changed and put her into a cute outfit for the day.

Cute outfit number two. She made it the whole day in this one.

Then I entertained her while Jason changed, in preparation for getting her ready to go.

She promptly leaked spit up all over her outfit, necessitating a last-minute outfit change. It's fine. We got her into her carseat in her new outfit and were only a minute or so late for our usual timeline.

This is the time where you'll remember I had earlier let the dog outside, and then had not mentioned him again. Jason asked if I'd heard from Indy in a while. I shrugged, because sometimes he doesn't come right back in in the morning. No big deal.

With the baby strapped into her carseat, Jason went outside to get in his truck and leave for work...

and notices the gate to the yard is open, and the dog is nowhere to be seen.

We called to him, I shook the cookie bag, and then Jason saw him - across the street, determinedly marking the bushes in our neighbors' yard while their gigantic white mountain dogs bark their fuzzy heads off.

Jason was able to essentially herd him back into the yard and I got him back in the house and then I blinked at the clock and tried to remember what I was supposed to do next.

Right. Brush my teeth. And hair. Wait, am I still wearing pajama pants?

Somehow, we made it to our respective workplaces.

I drank a very large cup of coffee today.

It wasn't enough.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Because Of Course I Got Sick

This photo is just to trick you into reading my whiny post about being ill.

I went back to work last week, with much angst and general sadness.

Turns out, Audra just loves being with my friend Sarah all day, and Sarah's fantastic mothering skills translate into a baby who's exactly as happy there as she is here. Sometimes, probably happier. Which is both cool and vaguely distressing.

Right. So.

Last Tuesday, I go to work and on my way get a text from my coworker telling me he's sick and he's taking the day off, he'll see me Wednesday. In my head, I think, good, he'll get it out of his system. I'd hate for the baby to get sick.

Well, he didn't get it out of his system. He was back on Wednesday still feeling pretty grody. He powered through, and by this week is feeling pretty much entirely better.

The good news is, the baby didn't get sick.

But Jason and I did!

Saturday afternoon I started to really feel a tickle in my throat, bugging me enough to drink even more water than normal. By Sunday I woke up with a full fledged sore throat and the general inability to do anything other than mumble to myself about how gross I felt. We were moving slow like glaciers all day; an attempt to meet up with Jason's family for lunch "around noon" on Sunday ended up with us arriving to watch a movie with them about an hour later (although delicious pizza was still available. nom.)

Sunday Jason had started to notice he wasn't feeling well either.

Monday I was a pile of misery, and unfortunately Audra chose this weekend to hit her next growth spurt and was a clingy fussbucket. No naps were forthcoming for this new mother; I was too busy holding and rocking and feeding and soothing and cajoling and singing and holding some more. Exactly once during the day, she napped for more than twenty minutes. I took a gloriously steamy shower that made me feel better for exactly the amount of time I spent in the shower, and then I felt like the walking dead again afterward.

I drank endless cups of tea, repeatedly pouring new hot water in as each grew too cool to be much help before I could finish it. I whined. Jason felt grody at work. He came home and I whined at him, and there were tea mugs all over the house and we went to bed like forty minutes early, as soon as the baby was asleep.

I slept like a rock, and felt like I barely slept at all.

I got up today and went into work, and I can't breathe out of my whole face because the whole face... just, the whole thing feels full of awful. There are gremlins in my sinuses and someone gave them water after midnight, basically.

I've had two cups of tea and about three cups of cafe au lait from a local coffee place in the town I work in. Jason and I are going through Kleenex at an incredible rate. Despite said coffee and tea I am exhausted and can barely keep my eyes open. We are coughing and sniffling and sneezing and drinking even more tea.

 Ha! Look! You're still reading! The cute baby photo bribe worked!

Audra, however, is cheerful and bright and smiley and bouncy and just wants us to hold her and talk to her while she coos at us and play with her and have lots of energetic fun!

All we want to do is lie very still and wait for all the horror in our sinuses to leave.

My only solace is that if the baby gets sick, I've already told my coworker that I'm bringing her to work with me and he can deal with taking care of her all day.

Also I get to kick him in the shins. He agreed to this.

This is my consolation.

This is what I cling to, to get me through this plague.

If the baby gets sick, I will have my revenge. 

My weak, flailing revenge.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

5 Things - The Tea Leaves, Christmas Dreams, and Foxy Things Edition

1. So, subscription boxes are all over the internet now. Everyone's probably heard about Stitch Fix, Gwynnie Bee, and the other clothing-centric boxes. You pay a certain amount per month and get sent a box of clothes, based on a questionnaire you fill out giving your interests, sizes, style - that sort of thing.

And those are all well and good, but I guarantee there's no one who is going to pick out stuff I like with any consistency, because I am an inconsistent and fickle person. And they would probably choose too many neutrals and my love of colors borders on the clownish.

So those definitely don't work for me. I just skim any blog post talking about them and move on.

But this post by Kaelah Bee? Well, that caught my eye.

Tea Box Express is a new subscription box being started up based around tea. For your monthly payment, you get a different tea each month and a set of accoutrements based around a certain "theme". For example, the theme for October was bees - so all the things in the box were bee-themed.

I gave some thought as to whether I could afford to sign up for it, although I'm nominally planning a Year of Stop Trying to Figure Out If I Can Afford Things - where I have this idea I'm going to live more frugally. I have it all planned out! I have great intentions towards saving more effectively!

But I am so weak.

(who are we kidding, though - if I just stopped buying Starbucks I'd be able to afford it just fine.)

Who doesn't need more tea? I need more tea. We all need more tea.

But... coffee.


This is a dilemma.

2. I am unapologetically baby-clothes shopping still.

Okay, it's mostly daydreaming - Do we need baby clothes? Not really. But after my impulse-sale-shopping on Carter's website one night, I've ended up with a series of onesies I really love and am putting Audra in nonstop.

I've gained a terrible sense of power, and have a child who isn't old enough yet to be pouty about getting clothing for Christmas.

We're about to pull the 3 - 6 month stuff out, as she's rapidly outgrowing 0 - 3 (which is kind of a heartbreak in and of itself, isn't it? She'll never be that small again.) and it's got me staring, rapt, at line after line of baby clothing on Target, Old Navy, and... Gap.

Gap has a lot I love for babies this fall/winter. The dress above is... it's calling me. I'm trying to plan out some kind of family photo shoot, and this gives me an all-too-convenient excuse for trying to find something spot-on perfect for Audra to wear. I've found a dress, and navy leggings, and wee little shoes... The world is full of adorable baby clothes.

So I stare.

And click.

And stare.

... and click.

3. Wheeled and Free is a blog I just picked up recently - it's a couple (and their dogs) who have decided to sell all the stuff tying them down, take off in an RV, and see the country. I'm the kind of person who is always inexorably tied to the landscape I'm living in; I'm not much for longer-term travel because I love coming home to the mountains or the flatlands (depending on where I am).

Matt and Kate, though, decided to do things in a little more vagabond.

I've been following along as they packed everything up and started up their trip, with their first destination being, oddly enough, Alabama.

What's actually kind of surprised me is how much I enjoyed reading their RV Remodel posts. I'm actually not very into the whole DIY/Remodelling trend, so I didn't think I would like those posts and initially skimmed them, but have gone back over them since when I realized I was kind of fascinated.

The idea of living in such close quarters is pretty fascinating, and I'm looking forward to seeing where they go.

You should follow along too. Because I said so.

I'm a mother and I get to say that now.

4. This article from The Daily Beast that a friend of mine shared on facebook, called "Why Are America's Post Partum Practices So Rough on New Mothers".

They really are.

I was exceptionally lucky; I was not injured all that much. I did not have to have a C-section that would have made my recovery take longer. While I do feel like hospitals shove you out before you're really ready to try this whole 'parenting' thing out on your own, we were reasonably ready and I think for us the forty-eight hours was the best choice.

This could, of course, be affected by the part where we had been living in the hospital since Sunday night at that point, even though the baby decided not to show herself 'til Tuesday evening.

I did not go home to a house devoid of help. I had Jason with me for six weeks - which I would argue was the best piece of fortune. We took shifts right off the bat so each of us could have at least half the sleep we needed.Having a partner available nonstop for that long is pretty rare in the American workplace. Although his time off wasn't paid (granted, neither was mine), we had both been working to save enough to make it possible for us to take the hit of losing both incomes for that long. We were both working jobs willing to give us that much time off, no questions asked once the doctor faxed the forms in. We'd been fortunate enough to live near family who could be called on, to have friends willing to clean our house so that we came home able to do nothing but take care of the baby and the animals.

I was able to take almost ten weeks off, in the end, between being put on bedrest and then the eight weeks after Audra's birth.

But my "exceptionally lucky" would be your average Canadian woman's "exceptionally unfortunate". They would look at my eight weeks, and then at their full, at least partially compensated calendar year, and shake their heads. In America, we treat the aftermath of pregnancy as a niggling discomfort, something a True Woman can just shrug off and move away from. We say "Well, you chose to have kids, you should have known" while not actually educating women on all the things that are going to happen afterward. We treat it as an annoyance that we are forced, occasionally, to uncomfortably acknowledge but which we would prefer to ignore or avoid. Women are shamed for wanting time off from work. Comments are made about them "taking a vacation". They face a reduced chance of a good yearly review, as being seen as less than "committed", because the American concept of work/life balance is primarily to work its employees into the ground and then wonder why they're too tired to stand.

This is definitely true when it comes to the time after having a baby.

A woman nursing in public can rapidly find herself a pariah, but we simultaneously roll our eyes at women who aren't up and out of the house within just a couple of weeks. That nursing mother is name-called and shamed and harassed while we simultaneously push "breast is best", leaving her very little options beyond becoming an unwilling face of public breastfeeding or isolating herself inside her home - even knowing that isolation is one of the key triggers to post-partum depression.

Like I said - I got very, very lucky... or, at least, I was very lucky to have the options I did in the place I live in. But even my 'lucky' is a very definite 'we can and should do better than this.'

5. Um. Why do I not own these already?


That is all.


Thursday, October 9, 2014

Ain't No Measles Gonna Be In My House

My baby had her first set of vaccinations today. I would normally type 'Audra', and just use her name like a grown-up, but today is one of those days where I just want to say 'my baby my baby my baby' over and over again.

We went into the doctor's office and got her weighed in - 11 lbs, 12 ounces. It puts her pretty square in the middle, just a little over - she's in the 62nd percentile. She's 24 inches long, so she's 92nd percentile there; she's apparently a pretty long baby, although I don't feel like that way looking at her. Her head is also in the 92nd percentile.

My baby has a big head.

The doctor and I chatted for a few minutes, and then he stepped out to grab a nurse to do the actual vaccinations.

"Can you be in the room for that?" He asked.

I blinked at him, opened my mouth to answer, and began to tear up. "I, um, I'm kind of scared of needles even when it's me," I replied, my voice already starting to quiver. I sniffled.

"I'll just grab a nurse and tell her to bring someone with her to help," He said, and left Audra and I in the room together.

As though she knew she needed to twist my heart just that much more, she was in an exceptionally good mood right from the start. This is her lying on the exam table in the doctor's office while I talked to her. We sang a couple of songs. She just wriggled around, smiling and happy and breaking me in fifteen pieces while I waited for the nurse to come back with needles.

Sharp, stabby needles.

To use on my baby.

The worst part is, when the (happy, friendly, perfect) nurse came in and I went to leave the office, Audra watched me walk out. She's too young for it to mean anything really to her yet, but having her eyes on me while I went out into the hall was just too much. Just too too too much.

This was surprisingly hard for me to do, even knowing it's just a few little needle pinpricks - even knowing how important it is she gets these. Even with the knowledge that making sure she gets her vaccinations is one of the Top Ten Important Things I can do to ensure her safety as best I can.

Let's talk about how it feels to listen to your baby scream.

This is how it feels.

As soon as the nurse opened the door I was in there snatching up my crying baby like she'd been abandoned on the side of the road for four days. She was bawling, but started to settle as soon as I had her. She went from full-on tears to just fussing in just a couple of seconds, which was pretty nice and made me feel a little bit less like a hideous ogre for not being able to be in there with her.

There really is something to this "my baby knows I'm her mom" thing. It's very comforting, when they settle easier in your arms than in a stranger's. You feel like maybe you haven't completely screwed up yet.

We took a few minutes to calm down, the both of us - although when I say that I mostly mean me. Okay, I entirely mean me because she was pretty calm, although also not happy and smiley anymore, within a minute or so.

When we made it to the car, though, I'd had a fresh bout of guilt and needed a couple of minutes.

We did this (a lot), and she drank an ounce, and then she watched me with a very clear expression on her face. It was an expression that said to me, "I'm the one they stabbed in the leg today, why are you so upset?"

Well, baby, because I am overdramatic and feel everything in huge swells of hyperbolic emotion instead of in reasonable shades of gray like normal people.

I packed her into her carseat and started driving to her sitter's house to drop her off before I had to turn around and go to work.

She was asleep in about sixty seconds.

I had to run through a Starbucks to get something to steady my nerves. I'm still not steady. I hate needles. By the end of my pregnancy I'd been stuck with them so many times I hardly batted an eyelash, but all that hatred and nervousness I previously felt for my own skin is there for my daughter times about five million.

Which meant staring at the vaccination schedule they gave me and realizing how many times I'm going to stand in the hall or hold her down and listen to her make that horrible sound.

I am not steady in the nerves at all.

Oh, sweetie.

This is going to suck so bad, and we are both going to cry a lot, but you know what's not going to happen?

You're not gonna die of polio.