Thoughts on a Friday

I’ve been battling a tension headache all week. It comes and goes and it’s only on my right side. It stretches from my temple, down across my ear and into my neck and shoulder. It’s made this week a little colored in fatigue and aches.

think it’s related to how I carry the dumpling. Or really, how I do everything else while I carry him. I’m right-handed, so I carry him with my left and do everything with my right. I’m guessing that I compensate for his weight or something with my right side.

ANYWAY – this is all truly fascinating talk, but I can’t help it. It’s flaring up again and makes it hard to focus.


Anyone else out there feel the need to purge their house of clutter right now? Spring Summer cleaning anyone? No? Just me then? Ok.

Figures. I spent all winter cooped up with a newborn and then all spring trying to figure out how to juggle work/baby/fitness/life/etc. I was a little busy, is what I’m saying. Now, though, it feels like I find a new, random project to tackle every day.

For instance, there’s a storage box full of old T-shirts of mine. Once upon a time, I deemed these shirts memorabilia worthy and refused to donate them. Ten years though does a lot to what I’d label as memorable now. So I want to go through it again – pare down what I’m keeping and donate the rest. Get rid of the storage box (which is in the office, by the way) and find a different place to store the rest. Now ask me how long that storage box has been sitting in my office? A couple of years maybe? A long time, is my point and I’ve never felt inclined to even open it and now, suddenly, it must be sorted!

So yeah, I’ve got that going on right now.


Did I ever tell you guys that we put a deposit down on a Tesla Model 3? Like two years ago? Because we did. I’m still not quite sure how I convinced Luffy to go for it. (Actually, that was a lie, it was the tax deductions. That’s how I got him to agree, that adorable nerd. He’s mine ladies, back off.)

Anyway, my gearhead of a coworker has been all excited this week because they are finally moving the first units into production. He wanted to know if I’d heard about my place in line yet. What about options? Timeline? Delivery date? ANYTHING WOMAN, give me some tidbit of info.

Alas, I couldn’t do anything for him; he’s more informed than I am. I’ve been deleting most emails from Tesla (most of them are trying to sell me on their much more expensive models and I laugh because, oh boy Tesla, you clearly overestimate my bank account). I was happy to hear that they’ve started production though. Perhaps I’ll get my car late this year or early next. Which is sort of amazing, given Late 2017 seemed ages away when we originally put down the deposit.


I officially ran out of time, sorry guys. It’s time to pick my dumpling up! Have a good weekend!

Books and more books

I need suggestions. New books to read. I’m in a rut.

Does that ever happen to you? The problem is that I’ve recently started three or four, but none of them have really held my attention, so I’ve just gone back to re-read some of my favorites. Which is wonderful! They’re my favorites for a reason, but I also want to read something fresh.

I’ve recently discovered the fallacy of the free books on Kindle. As a friend of mine says, there’s a reason they’re free. Wah wah. I have yet to find a free book that’s really captured my attention. Either the writing is terrible and choppy or the characters are bland or the story is crawling at a snail’s pace. I do enjoy my Kindle a lot, I just haven’t found a lot of great books through their Kindle promotions. Guess I’ll have to pony up a few bucks for some new books.

Of course, if I ask for recommendations from the other members of my household, Luffy is likely to recommend that latest business biography (how John Smith built his company from the ground up) and the dumpling is likely to recommend the latest Sandra Boynton book (his current favorite is Are You a Cow? but he’s a big fan of Doggies too). Excellent recommendations, but not really my cup of tea.

I just finished re-reading Fangirl, by Rainbow Rowell; it’s one of my favorites. I actually have the sort of (kind of?) sequel, Carry On, Simon, on hold at the library right now, but it won’t be available for a few weeks. The latest Kindle book I put down was The Girl in the Ice, by Robert Bryndza. I just couldn’t get into it. The story seems interesting, but the main character is a drag and oddly antagonistic (which I suppose is to make her “more interesting” but it just makes me uncomfortable). It has a ton of great reviews on Goodreads, but eh, just not seeing it.


So I just got lost in Goodreads recommendations – sorry about that. I mean, I know you don’t know that I did, since this isn’t real-time or anything, but I still feel bad about it, like I’ve been ignoring you. We’re taking a quick trip to my hometown this weekend, so I’m looking for books to read. (Ha! Like I’m really going to have time to read anything between wrangling my seven-month-old (!!!!!!!) and chatting with my mom. A girl can dream!)

Revenge of the detectors

So, remember that story I told a couple of weeks ago? All about my debacle with the smoke detectors? I didn’t tell you guys, but the next morning I purchased brand new batteries for every single unit in our house because I remained highly suspicious about the whole incident. I replaced the batteries, vacuumed each unit (the Googles are quick to remind me that dust in the units can cause malfunctions), re-installed all of those torn-down detectors and waited.

Sure enough, about 4pm, the unit in my office started chirping again. CHIRPCHIRPCHIRP – it chimed yelled at me. I finally realized that the unit was indeed malfunctioning and would need to be replaced. I, once again, climbed atop our ladder and pulled the unit off the ceiling – mostly just happy that this shit was taking place during daylight hours. I added purchase new smoke detector to my to-do list and carried on with life.

Fast forward two weeks: the dumpling was on a wonderful streak of only getting up once in the middle of the night to nurse (we’ve since gone back to two times – le sigh). He had gotten up at 1:30 and I had no problems returning him to his crib and getting back into bed myself. A couple hours later I was dragged out of sleep by – you guessed it – CHIRPCHIRPCHIRP. 

OH MY F(@*&$# LORD

I was up in an instant, racing through the house trying to figure out which unit was responsible for waking me. Of course, I couldn’t tell since the stupid thing only chirped three times – that telltale pattern now for a malfunctioning unit. I decided that I was having none of that shit and pulled three more units down (which now meant that we only had two units left). Luckily, because of the hell I went through last time, I wasted no time this time. (Plus, I already knew they all had fresh batteries, so no point in trying that out again.) I envied Luffy, as I climbed back into bed, as he was fast asleep and mentally added purchase new smoke detectors to my to-do list.

The next morning I ordered six shiny new smoke detectors for our house with plans to replace every single one of them.

You know, that’s one of the fun parts about owning a home – all of those glamorous little purchases. We dropped nearly $200 for the six new smoke detectors and it’s not like I can take people on a tour of the home and be like – if I may direct your attention to the ceiling above you. That, ladies and gentlemen, is a handsome new smoke AND carbon monoxide detector, installed just a few days ago and with fresh batteries to boot! Please. Please. Hold your applause until you’ve seen all six!  No? That doesn’t go over well with friends? Oh fine.

So that’s what we did this weekend – replace every single smoke detector in our home with a brand new unit. Except for the one in our bedroom. As previously discussed, that’s unreachable with our current ladder. We have to go rent a bigger ladder to replace that unit. That’s on this weekend’s agenda. I know – I KNOW – such an exciting life I lead.

Mom Brain

When I was pregnant, along with the barrage of information I was bombarded with about my pregnancy, I was also told what my post-pregnancy life would look like. Diaper changes. Bodily fluids. Wine. Sleep and the lack thereof. My body and how it would deteriorate. And my brain. And how it would deteriorate.

Casual sites are founts of knowledge about “mom brain” – how mothers get dumber after having a baby. Not only could I kiss my abs goodbye, it seemed I could kiss my brain goodbye as well. While I tried not to dwell on it, I was a touch concerned nonetheless. You see, I have always considered myself to be smart. As a recent graduate, I drew pride from my high GPA. Now that I’ve been in the workforce for several years, I pride myself on my attention to detail and my ability to get things done quickly and accurately. If I were to believe the memes and the clickbait articles, I could expect all of that to disappear after pregnancy. I tried not to think about it.

October came and I gave birth to a child. My brain didn’t feel like my own immediately afterwards; I was anxious and overwhelmed. Perfectly understandable, I told myself. After all, I had been through a major life event and was trying to find my new center while caring for an extremely needy being.

January came and I returned to the workforce, to my male colleagues. I celebrated remembering how to label a balance sheet and congratulated myself on being able to uphold a conversation with adults again. I tried to catch-up on missed information and assimilate myself into the workflow as quickly as possible, brushing off the whole “mom brain” thing.

And then I started to forget things. My pump parts. An email that needed a follow-up. A project that I started two weeks ago. Things that, I thought to myself, I would have remembered pre-baby. I’ve always been one to write things down, so I took up that habit again. I thought back to those clickbait articles, but brushed off the thought. I attributed the issue to the fact that I just had so much more to remember now – daycare bag, milk, baby, myself, pump parts, work bag, milk cooler – every single day. If anything, my brain was working more, not less.

Writing things down helped with my memory, but then I started to find other problems. I felt like I was a step behind my colleagues. I wasn’t keeping up with the conversation. Questions regarding my work floated over my head in a way they never had before.

What if….. I thought.

After a couple of months, and Luffy’s prodding, I decided to do more thorough research into mom brain. I’m glad to report that, of course, the memes were sensationalized. I found that changes during pregnancy are real; researchers have found decreased gray matter in the brains of once-pregnant women. However, the changes in gray matter have more to do with making sure my brain gives me positive feedback (to the extreme degree) for taking care of my child. The changes make sure I’m hyper-attuned to my infant. So not dumber, just different. My new brain devotes more space to infant care than my pre-pregnant brain, but that’s about it.

Whew.

The Things No One Tells You Before You Have Your First Baby

To be perfectly fair, I might not have listened anyway.

Looking back, there’s a lot that goes on after having your first child that I was completely unprepared for. I had no idea and, as I sat back and watched it unfold, I wondered why no one told me. In the interest of fairness to expecting parents though, I feel compelled to jot down a few things that no one tells you:

[Quick disclaimer though – this post may make it seem like I have it all figured out, check we’re all good on that, but I don’t…. I’m still learning. But that’s part of the fun of parenting right? Just when you think you have them all figured out, they go and throw you a curve ball.]

About the baby:

  • Newborns are really hard. Seriously. Have you ever had something that needed you for everything? Literally everything? It’s exhausting and monotonous and the worst part is, you can’t really prepare yourself for it. Yeah, sure, I knew a newborn would need to eat all the time and would wake up to eat around the clock. But it’s one thing to know that and quite another to do that.
  • The evenings will most likely be the worst part of your day. Pre-baby, evenings were about relaxing or taking care of a small chore or two. You could ease out of the stress of the day and wind down until bedtime, when you would slip between your sheets and head off to dreamland for seven hours or so. With a newborn though, there’s no “easing out of the stress of the day” because your day isn’t over and it will never be “over” in the way that it used to be. Evening is just a time to gear up towards night and the crap shoot of newborn sleep. The feeling of dread that washed over me around 6:30 or 7pm every evening took a long time to fade.
  • If you’re anything like me, having a newborn will feel a lot like pregnancy – always wishing you (now your baby) was just a little further along. When the dumpling was just days old, I remember telling Luffy that I was looking forward to him being past the newborn phase and on to more exciting things like sitting and crawling.
  • Your baby might not be very cute (cue gasp!). Why is it that newborns look alarmingly similar to old men? Is it the grumpy appearance or the lack of hair? Perhaps the wrinkles? Not sure. All I can tell you is that when I look back at early pictures of the dumpling, he doesn’t look like himself to me. He looks like a newborn.
  • You know that phrase I love you but I don’t really like you right now? That might be very applicable to your relationship with you newborn. Oh sure, I loved the dumpling, but there were times (numerous times) when I didn’t really like him all that much. That’s what happens when something takes-takes-takes but never gives.

Honestly, the realest piece of advice I have, that no one seems to mention, is that you just might not like having a newborn. And that’s ok. Apparently, it’s common parent knowledge that every age and stage comes with things you like and things you don’t. There will be ages you adore and stages that you can’t wait for them to outgrow. And that’s ok. Not liking the newborn stage does not mean that you’re a terrible parent and doomed to a horrible relationship with your child – which is how it feels when you’re looking down at a screaming six-week-old at 3 in the morning. Like I said, newborns are hard. You’re sleep deprived, you’re adjusting to a radically different life, you’re recovering from child-birth, you feel social pressure from a million different places, all while being needed around the clock. There are women (and men!) out there who do like the newborn stage, but you don’t have to be one of them. And that’s ok.

About your body:

So we’ve all heard that you won’t sleep. And that it could feel like your vagina’s going to fall out the bottom. And that you will still look six-months pregnant for a while. And that you could bleed for what feels like forever. But there are other things…

  • Your hormones will plummet a few days after birth and you will not feel like yourself AT ALL. I don’t consider myself a hormonal person. I never really had mood swings, either during my periods or during pregnancy. The only mood swings I really experienced were during my fertility treatment days. So when I heard about a hormone crash, I didn’t really think it applied to me… Whooo boy, was I wrong. I found myself anxious, so very very anxious. Just the sound of the baby crying would send me into a doom spiral. I could hardly sleep because I was worried that the baby would cry and then the baby would cry and I’d be like I KNEW IT. It was bad. The dumpling felt like a ticking time bomb to me, always counting down. Just know that it evens out and, eventually, it will go away completely.
  • All that hormonal craziness I mentioned above, it can take a long time to go away and you will blame lots things on it for a while. My hair is still (five months post-partum) shedding at an alarming rate and every weird thing that my body does I’m like I dunno, maybe it’s the hormones??? 
  • You haven’t had to worry about birth control for a very long time and you will suddenly be quite concerned with birth control. How effective is it? What’s the failure rate? What’s the real, non-laboratory-setting failure rate? What do you MEAN there’s still a 0.5% chance of conception??? All of these become very important questions. Even if you struggled with infertility because wouldn’t that just be my luck.
  • Your stomach will feel weird. Beyond the saggier skin that needs some time to shrink back, your stomach will feel oddly sensitive and yet not sensitive. My theory on this is that while you were pregnant, the nerve endings got farther apart right? Because your belly expanded but you didn’t get any new nerve endings. The expansion happened relatively slowly so you got used to the sensory input from the belly. And now it (the belly) is gone. So the skin shrinks back and the nerve endings get closer together again except this change happens more abruptly (and without all of the other aches and pains of pregnancy to distract you). I’m not really sure. All I know is that when I touch my stomach, it still feels supremely odd.

The last piece about this, which sort of wraps up everything: I wasn’t prepared for how needed I would become. (This is partly due to my choices, as I chose to breastfeed for as long as possible, so this particular item might not be the same for others.) When I was pregnant, Luffy and I talked about how we would do this together. Parenting is a team sport – and it is! – it’s just not really an equal 50/50 split. At least not in the beginning. When you’re the only one who can feed the baby (and that baby eats every 2-3 hours, around the clock), there’s a lot resting on your shoulders. Some women thrive on this (probably the same ones who really like the newborn phase). It was certainly a shock to me. Before the dumpling arrived, I’d say I was needed. I like to take care of Luffy and Jas – make sure they are attended to. But I could always tell Luffy to fend for himself if I didn’t feel like cooking that day and, let’s be honest, Jas is a cat so she doesn’t need much. When it comes to a newborn though, there’s no shirking your responsibilities for a day. No sick days. No procrastinating. No oh, I’ll do that later. Even now, there’s still so much resting on me. We nurse twice a night typically. I  pump four times a day, for at least twenty minutes each time. I’m still struggling with this needed-ness, if we’re being honest.


So all of these things that don’t get mentioned, is it to keep up the illusion that parenting a newborn is wonderful? Perhaps. Could it be that, while most things felt so looming and insurmountable at the time, they pass relatively quickly? Possible.

I think though, it’s because all of the trials and tribulations quickly become worth it. The round-the-clock nursing won’t feel so terrible when your baby starts pausing to smile up at you before continuing to nurse. The first time he laughs. The first time she rolls and looks at you with surprise. The look of awe or disgust she gives you when she tries a new food. The adorable quirks he picks up along the way (the dumpling learned – from someone or somewhere???? – how to blow bubbles it’s apparently called a lip trill and it’s so freaking adorable).

It sounds trite, I know it does, especially when you’re knee-deep in newborn territory, but it’s true. It will be worth it, but it may just not be Day One. And that’s ok.

A challenge

Me to myself when I look over recent blog posts…. hmmmm… you know, I haven’t talked about anything non-baby-related in…. a while. And, tbh, that was a weird post that really didn’t turn out how I had it in my mind. So let’s see if I can come up with something non-baby-related to talk about… it’s time… now, what to write, what to write?


You guys probably know I’m an accountant. I feel sure I’ve mentioned it before. I used to be an auditor, working for one of the Big Four accounting firms. With that in mind, I can absolutely fathom the mortification that the partners at PWC must be feeling over this flub:

Ouch.

I really don’t know who to blame/pity the most. I mean, if it were me handing the envelope to the presenters, I’d be checking that envelope a half dozen times to make sure it was the correct one. So, no bueno for the PWC partner handing over those envelopes. (And it is a partner, by the way, not some lowly staff 1). On the other hand, the presenters looked at a card that didn’t line up with the category they were presenting and announced it anyway. If I were presenting, I probably would have made some light joke but asked for the envelope to be checked before announcing the pinnacle of the awards to the wrong group. So, no bueno for the presenters either, even though they technically weren’t at fault (unlike the Steve Harvey fiasco).


Speaking of award shows, I’m not really into them. I know several people who LOVE the Oscars and go all out, hosting black tie parties and fun watch parties. Meh. Just not my cup of tea. However, I stumbled across this incredible opening performance from the insanely talented Neil Patrick Harris and I just… holy moly.

I could watch this a hundred more times.


So that’s about all I have for today. One last thing though: if you’re ever bored and looking at some time to kill, go look up the “feud” between Jimmy Kimmel and Matt Damon. Hilarious.

On Nursing and Pumping

I have a confession for you guys: breastfeeding is wonderful for us.

I had so many worries during pregnancy about breastfeeding because you hear of so many horror stories (bleeding nipples! low supply! no supply! thrush! mastitis! poor latch! lip tie! tongue tie! I COULD GO ON). My standard quip to anyone’s inquiries on if I was going to breastfeed was always that that was my plan and I’d see how it went.

And then baby boy came along and I thought my fears were being realized. He wasn’t so patient at the breast and would sometimes scream and cry and give up before my milk would ever let down. We had to use a nipple shield for one breast because he just didn’t seem to like that side. I was really nervous about our one and only lactation consultation because I thought we’d get there and nothing would happen – he’d just refuse to nurse – and the LC would send me off with some failure to nurse diagnosis of shame (note – that’s not a thing, that’s only a thing in Belle’s neurotic mind).

Of course, all of this “trouble” happened in the first couple of weeks. We just needed some time to practice nursing, that’s all. Little boy quickly realized my milk would let down soon and got a little more patient. We weaned off of the nipple shield within the first two weeks or so. Ever since then, we’ve been trucking along beautifully.

I’m so grateful for the nursing relationship that we’ve enjoyed so far. It truly has been wonderful and while the middle-of-the-night feedings are certainly draining (when you’re the only one who can feed the baby), there’s part of me that enjoys those dark quiet moments with my son. I know I’ll miss them when they’re gone.

So nursing – yay!

But pumping, you guys. Ugh.

Pumping is not so fun. And I’m one of the lucky ones who has a pretty great set up.

At work, I utilize our only conference room without windows (it’s literally the only place in our office without windows). My boss had the building put a lock on the door for privacy. I have no restrictions on pumping “breaks” (I usually take my computer into the room with me). My coworker even brought in a mini fridge for my exclusive use. And remember – I’m only at the office for two days a week! The rest of the time I’m working from home which means I have complete freedom to pump.

And yet, I still put it off. I still find the pumping breaks intrusive to my day. I’m constantly at odds with pushing the sessions back, but not too far back lest I throw off my entire schedule. And just this morning I got thrown another loop. The dumpling’s daycare teachers suggested increasing his bottle sizes. He’s gulping down the 4oz bottles he gets right now and it’s increasingly clear that he’s still hungry afterwards. My problem is that I produce just enough to cover the three 4oz bottles he consumes while he’s at daycare. Upping those bottles to 5oz means that I don’t currently produce enough, so I’m pumping every hour on the hour today, trying to increase my output.

I blame part of the problem on the fact that I can now specifically measure how much milk the dumpling gets and how much milk I can pump (notice – not produce, I produce enough milk for him just fine while he’s nursing). Being able to measure things just adds a whole layer of complexity and worrying though. Especially on days when I don’t pump enough to meet his needs as it’s so much clearer now. I can no longer say, man! He’s eating so frequently today – growth spurt! Now it’s more like so he had his usual 12 ounces at daycare and I only managed to pump 10.5 ounces… guess I’m pumping before bed tonight. Because that’s the other thing – technically if I don’t produce enough during my daytime pumping sessions, I could always add extra pumpings at night, either before I go to bed or in the middle of the night between his nursing sessions. It all depends on how much I value my sleep and sanity versus how much I really want to make sure he continues to get breast milk. And cue mom guilt, because it’s always just around the corner.

And – oh look at the time! – it’s time to pump again.