School’s Out For Summer!

Friday was my last day of work for the school year, which, weekend not withstanding, means today is the first official day of summer vacation.

Ahhhh….

Of course, though our neighborhood does have a community pool, I don’t exactly envision myself spending the next two months relaxing by or in it. Wading around the kiddie pool trying to keep my toddler from falling and smashing her head into the concrete edge of said kiddie pool? Maybe that’s a bit more realistic.

(I jest. The kiddie pool is actually pretty sweet, and Babycakes totally loves it.)

In any case, it’s been quite a whirlwind of a year. Starting a new teaching job, putting Babycakes in daycare, taking Babycakes out of daycare and into Gramma-care, moving to our permanent home, releasing two novels (remember that Better Than Chocolate and When In Rome are both available for Kindle, and Better Than Chocolate is now in print!), and of course surviving my first year teaching fourth grade.

So what does the summer hold? Some training for work. Getting ready to change schools and grade levels. Writing Sweet Somethings Book #3, of course (and hopefully Book #4 as well). And a trip back to my old stomping grounds in July to visit friends and family.

And my first book signing! Details on that for those local to my old stomping grounds will be forthcoming once everything is completely finalized. Stay tuned to my Facebook page for the event announcement.

And the best is spending lots of time with Babycakes, who is now almost 2 and entering the “I won’t eat anything in the fruit or vegetable groups except carrots and asparagus and maybe some apple if you’re lucky” stage.

She also wants soup every day for lunch.

If it’s not one thing, it’s another, right? ūüôā

The Bittersweet Moments We Cherish

Today is Infant and Pregnancy Loss Remembrance Day, and this year, as last year, is a bittersweet day of remembrance for me.

Those of you who’ve followed my blog over the past few years know our story, but for those who don’t, here it is.

The hubs and I started trying for a baby in June of 2010, but never saw the “two pink lines” we hoped for until a full year had passed.

Joy is an understatement of what we felt.

We shared with a select few friends and family members, and started making our plans for a nursery, for names, for baby furniture, and everything else that goes with it.

Then, it ended.

On August 4, 2011, my early missed miscarriage was confirmed by an ultrasound. My body had not recognized that our baby had died in utero, so we opted to have a D&C procedure. I remember asking my husband the night before if we should request another ultrasound, just to be sure. But in the end, we knew it would be useless and would just confirm what we already  knew.

Our prayed for, hoped for baby was now an angel.

It took several months for me to even begin feeling like myself again, but so much had changed. I was a mother, but I would never be able to hold my first baby. I would never know the color of that baby’s eyes or hair, or hear that baby’s laughs or cries. I would never watch that baby learn to roll, crawl, stand, and walk, and never pace the floors at night when that baby couldn’t sleep for teething, sickness, or because it was Tuesday.

We went on to undergo round after round of fertility treatments, but to no avail. We were losing hope, and each year when March 4th rolled around – the date our first angel would have been born, would have celebrated a birthday – my heart broke all over again. On the outside, few people knew how much we were hurting, but the truth of our loss was always there – in the panted and recarpeted bedroom that should have been the nursery, in the one early ultrasound picture that, once upon a time, confirmed for me that our baby had a heartbeat, and was now hidden away to prevent further pain.

In March 2013, two pink lines again appeared. We dared to be joyful again, but it wasn’t to last. In fact, it lasted only a week before the numbers from my blood draws confirmed it.

This second baby was also an angel.

In some ways, this second pregnancy was less real, because I never reached the point of feeling exhausted or nauseous, as I had during my first pregnancy. We started talking about our options. We decided to apply to begin the process to adopt. At the same time, we continued a few rounds of fertility treatments, both medical and homeopathic, as well as tests to try and determine why I couldn’t get pregnant, or if I did, why I couldn’t hold the pregnancy.

There were no answers. Just empty arms.

We’d finally given up on having a biological child. We were accepted into a home study program for domestic infant adoption, and were a week away from beginning.

And then…

Two pink lines.

We were actually at my in-laws for Thanksgiving when we learned of our third pregnancy. I was terrified, certain this one, too, would end in miscarriage. My doctor put me on a medical regimen to prevent miscarriage, which included the use of progesterone supplements, hormone shots, baby aspirin, and injections of a blood thinner. My lower abdomen was a patchwork of bruises from the daily injections, but it was also a reminder that we were doing all we could to hold onto this baby.

Nausea set in. It wasn’t just morning sickness. It was all-day sickness. If I was awake, I was on the verge of puking. I was exhausted. My sense of smell went crazy, and I could barely eat for weeks, let alone cook anything for myself or my husband. We didn’t travel at Christmas to visit family like we normally did, for fear of being too far from my doctor. I had ultrasounds and blood draws every two weeks, and my doctor promised that, if it made me feel better, I could have ultrasounds done in between just to see my baby.

We made it to the end of the first trimester. The “morning” sickness ebbed away. My belly began to become a bump.

I felt the flutters, then the little kicks, that told us Babycakes was there.

Alive.

Growing.

Safe.

I never let go of the fear of losing her, even to the very moment she was born by c-section, following 12 hours of labor, on August 14, 2014. In the back of my mind, shadowing my entire pregnancy, was the knowledge that I’d hoped twice before, and lost twice before.

Even as I labored at the hospital to bring Babycakes into the world, I thought of my angel babies.

The first, who would have been a two-and-almost-a-half year old toddler, overjoyed at the prospect of a baby sister.

And the second, whose brief time with me imprinted on my heart but is even more bittersweet because, without that loss, there would be no Babycakes.

The first time I held Babycakes, the first time I nursed her, I felt the aching, missing weight of the two babies I never got to hold, and never will in this lifetime.

The first time Babycakes cried out in the night, I remembered the two babies whose cries I never got to hear or comfort.

The first time Babycakes looked at me and recognized me, smiled at me, laughed at me, I heard the voices of the babies whose voices I will never hear and whose smiles I will never see.

Babycakes has been the most amazing, unexpected blessing. She is a gift, a miracle, a joy we never thought we’d knew. At times I feel guilty when she has to be left to cry in her crib because I have to use the bathroom, or I feel like I’m being ungrateful when my frustration over her lack of uninterrupted night sleep has me drained, frustrated, and failing as a parent. I end up holding her and crying as she nurses back to oblivion, whispering how sorry I am for not being perfect, and feeling in my heart that I will always be trying to make up, with her, for the things I will never get to do with my two angel babies.

I still cry for my angel babies, the first who would be three and a half, the other not quite two years old.¬†I hope someday I’ll be able to explain to Babycakes about them, how someday we will all be together again.

I still wish for them.

I hope they know how much I still love them.

In Which I Lament My Toddler’s Sleep Patterns, Beg for Advice, & Giveaway a Kindle Book

I’m going to apologize ahead of time for the length of today’s post, but if you’re willing to listen to me whine a little, please read to the bottom. I have an incentive for anyone who’ll help me out and share any wisdom you have when it comes to tackling toddler sleep.

If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, you know that I’ve been a little obsessed with Babycakes’s sleep patterns.

Okay, a lot obsessed.

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I’ve read many books and websites that all supposedly contain the key, the magic formula, to perfect night sleep (naps are a different beast which I admit I have passed on to her daycare teachers to battle – and luckily they have had surprising success). We have implemented many routines and tried many strategies to help her fall asleep on her own, stay asleep, and/or go back to sleep on her own if she wakes in the night.

Here’s my conclusion:¬†It’s all bollocks.

There is no magic formula. There really isn’t even a consensus as to what a magic formula might look like because NOT ONE PERSON ON THE FACE OF THIS PLANET KNOWS HOW TO GET BABIES TO SLEEP CONSISTENTLY.

There, I said it.

Here’s the thing. The hubs and I worked for literally months to get Babycakes to fall asleep on her own at bedtime. We have had a solid bedtime routine in place since she was like three months old. I gradually shifted the final steps around so she went from nursing to comatose to nursing to really sleepy, to putting her down awake enough that she fussed a few minutes after I left the room. Then we did the big leap of putting nursing BEFORE books and the goodnight songs, and she got to the point in short order where I could lay her down while singing the final verse of her goodnight song, she’d look at me, roll on her side, and I’d walk out of the room. The first couple weeks, it took 5-10 minutes of fussing before she’d fall asleep (and on the occasional night when it took longer, the hubs went in and worked his Daddy magic to get her down). Every now and then, she’d have a crap nap day and would fall asleep while nursing, but it didn’t seem to do any damage to bedtime overall.

But beyond that, we could never get consistent with her nighttime sleep habits. Sometimes she’d go like a week or more when she’d sleep from bedtime (which has been between 7 and 7:30 for a long, long time) until 4 or 5am, at which point she’d nurse and go back to sleep for a couple hours. And then she all of a sudden would start a stretch of waking every two hours and sometimes having a cryfest in the middle of the night for two hours straight. We were sort of on survival mode for a while, but I wasn’t back to work so at least I wasn’t blerging my way through the day.

Aaaand then I went back to work and we started daycare and the onslaught of Constant Sickness.

Between the ridiculously slow and apparently painful teething, the separation anxiety (my mom’s theory) of going from “always home with Mommy” to “with Not-Mommy all day” in the span of a week, constant colds and post-nasal drip that have resulted in numerous puke-in-her-sleep episodes that we don’t discover until 3am when I go in and get hit with the smell of vomit, and last week’s double ear infection (from said constant congestion), survival mode hit Critical Mass.

It became a game of “Let’s just do anything to get her back to sleep.”

Sadly, many of the habits we’d broken (namely nursing to sleep) have become crutches to eek out just a couple more hours. Our lofty plans to night wean have been put on the back burner until such a time as we can get her healthy enough to not need the extra soothing and/or she sleeps a consistent enough stretch that we can rest up for the certain nightly battles of a strong-willed 13 month old who quite clearly indicated to me this morning, through baby sign language and baby babble, that she wanted “more nursing” when the hubs brought her to our room at 5:45.

(You can tell how wiped out I am because I just wrote, like, four paragraphs that are actually crazy long run-on sentences. And I kinda don’t care.)

In some respects, I think we’re content to function in survival mode for another month, at which point my mother will have retired and moved to Charlotte to live with us. We will then be able to pull Babycakes out of full-time daycare, which should do wonders for her overall health. I will probably relax, which should help Babycakes relax, and maybe we’ll all start sleeping better. But most of all, my mom is a veteran mom, and among other things, she is planning on making a solid, consistent, long afternoon nap that Babycakes falls asleep for on her own a reality. In turn, that should help night sleep.

Or so all those “experts” tell me.

But survival mode – which basically means we go to bed at 9:00 every night like we did when Babycakes was a newborn, we bargain with each other in the middle of the night over who gets to try and put her back down when she wakes at 2:00, and I guzzle Coke through the day like it’s my job – will only get us so far. Because a couple other weird problems have surfaced in the past few¬†weeks.

We don’t know if it’s the fact that four or five teeth are imminently about to erupt, if it’s because of the double ear infection, one of the dreaded “sleep regressions” that you basically have to suffer through every other month, if she’s waking at the wrong point in a sleep cycle, or what. But two things are happening.

First, her morning wake time has gotten stupid early. Like “you should only be getting up this early for the day if you’re catching a flight to Disney World” early. Sometimes it’s before 5am. It’s ridiculous, especially since she doesn’t get a nap at daycare until after 11:00 (despite needing one at 8 or 9). What use to be her “snooze button feed” is now “I’m up for the day.”

Second, she’s not waking happy. For the most part¬†since we moved her to her own room, she’d wake up happy and we’d hear her babbling to her loveys. She’d play for up to 45 minutes before starting to complain. Now, all of a sudden, she wakes up crying like she’s been abandoned. The hubs thinks she’s starting to be scared of the dark, but she’s always had a dim nightlight in her room, so she’s never even slept in a pitch-dark room.

We’re stumped. Nothing we’ve tried is getting her back to sleep at that point. All that helps anything is bringing her to our bed (which use to be a weekend morning treat to play after she woke at 7:30 or 8) and letting her nurse for 45 minutes or more.

I’m asking – no, BEGGING – for advice and help from the veteran moms out there. How do I get Babycakes to sleep longer in the morning again? How to we get her to wake up happy? And for the love of all that is holy, HOW do we even start planning to night wean?

Fair warning – we are not cry-it-out parents. Do not tell us to just turn off the monitor and let her cry herself back to sleep. We’ve tried that a few times and it does not work. She will cry at the top of her lungs for an hour or more until I go in and let her nurse. I can’t take it. I lie awake knowing she’s in there crying her eyes out, and I’m laying there crying MY eyes out in turn. Plus, given the post-nasal drip, her sensitive gag reflex, and the aforementioned puke parties, CIO¬†is not a road I wish to trod.

CIO aside, I will open-mindedly listen to any and all advice anyone may have. In fact, I am so willing to take and try anything, and so desperate for more than 3 consecutive hours of sleep in a single night, that I will give one commenter the Kindle book of their choice.

That’s right.

Leave me a comment with your advice, and on Wednesday, September 30th (that’s one week from today), one commenter will be selected through a random integer generator, and I will giveaway to that person any Kindle book you want from Amazon.

And GO!

That Sleep Training Thing Again

It seems like only yesterday we were bringing Babycakes home from the hospital – and now she’s just days away from being 10 months old.

She also still has not reached the “sleeping through the night” milestone.

I’m aware that, for many babies, it is developmentally appropriate to wake 1-3 times a night well into their second year or beyond. But the hubs and I are tired.

Babycakes is tired.

We’re starting to run on fumes.

The hubs and I had sort of agreed that we weren’t going to force sleep training on Babycakes. At least, we weren’t going to make her Cry-It-Out or even do controlled crying, or that thing where you stand there and watch your baby cry and fuss and reach for you while you just keep telling her it’s “time for sleepies” (which is what her pediatrician said to do).

That last option really just seems incredibly mean.

I’m standing right here. I hear and see you desperately trying to get me to pick you up, and I know as soon as I do, you’ll stop crying and settle down. But that creates dependency, you see, and I don’t want to have to move into your college dorm room with you to help you fall asleep when you wake up in the middle of the night.

Bollocks.

To be fair, it’s been a long time since Babycakes has nursed into complete oblivion, and it’s a rare thing for her to be totally asleep when either of us lay her down, whether after nursing or rocking/bouncing. How do we know this? Probably 99% of the time when we lay her down – on her back, even though she’s capable of rolling, crawling, sitting up, standing up, etc. and ends up on her tummy a couple times a week anyway – she rolls onto her side and props her feet up on the crib rails. So whatever we’ve been doing seems to be working. She’s getting to sleep without crying herself to sleep, and most of the time we’re just getting her calm enough to allow her to finish falling asleep on her own.

That’s the point, right?

Of course, if we even wanted to try sleep training, there’s no good time. All the “expert” advice says not to do so during the following situations:

  • When traveling or about to travel
  • When baby is sick (horrible cold right at 6 months)
  • When baby is teething (She’s been since 2.5 months and we only have two teeth to show for it. Teething is sort of a constant state of being, so….)
  • During the holidays (yeah, there went Christmas, which included travel)
  • During a move (Did I mention we just moved to Charlotte? We moved to Charlotte.)
  • During a time of transition to new childcare/mom’s return to work (so all of August will be out if I go back to teaching)

See what I mean?

I guess we’ve sort of developed our own sleep training method. Babycakes is (usually) well-rested, and definitely thriving.

One of the things I’ve tried to do for a number of months is get her attached to a lovey.

In fact, she has four.

The Sleep Entourage: Lambie, Purple Pingu, Bear, and Giraffe

The Sleep Entourage:
Lambie, Purple Pingu, Bear, and Giraffe

I was so desperate to get her attached to these loveys that we invested in a second Lambie and a Spare Bear, there are three different colored Pingus, and that pink Giraffe is the younger sister of the yellow Giraffe my mom gave Babycakes for Christmas (it lights up and plays music if you press the tummy).

These four friends, along with her Classic Pooh mobile that was over her crib until she started pulling herself up about a month ago, have been with her pretty much constantly during sleep times since she was four months old.

I know.¬†No stuffed animals in the crib. But before she was mobile enough to do anything dangerous, Lambie and Bear were lashed to the rails, and Pingu and Giraffe are so round, one little bat of her hand would send them flying. She had plenty of opportunities to play with the second set, so by the time she was yanking Lambie and Bear so hard the ties were coming loose, I knew she’d be okay to have them unlashed.

(We also used a blanket securely tucked under the mattress. I know. More rule breaking. Maybe we’ll be better about the rules with Hypothetical Baby #2.)

In my motherly opinion, having the sleep entourage has prevented a lot of unwarranted crying. Why do I know this? Because since we moved her to her own room, we’d often hear her talking to her loveys when she woke in the morning. She also plays happily with them when she wakes from most naps. So it was worth breaking (or at least bending) the rules a little bit.

Of course, the funny thing is that the item she actually attached to, that she fiddles with and gets sleepy when she rubs it on her face?

The frigging cloth diapers I use as burp cloths.

It’s probably because I’ve used them since she was born, so she associates them with nursing and Mommy.

So while we have a small fortune in Sleep Entourage members, both primary and secondary, if I filled her crib with extra burp clothes, she’d probably be just as happy.

Reflections on Mother’s Day

To someone living outside my perspective, today, my first Mother’s Day, didn’t proceed in any unusual or special manner. In fact, in a lot of ways, it proceeded just like a normal Sunday.

And yet all those normal moments are so special because, at long last, I am a mother.

My day started before sunrise. Babycakes has been sleeping a lot better overall, though we’ve had several disrupted nights as she’s actively cutting teeth. Last night, she woke up twice needing to nurse, the second time around 5:00 am. She was awake again at 6:00, at which point the hubs brought her to our room so I could nurse her a little more (she really didn’t finish the first time) while laying in bed. Of course, being snuggly and warm resulted in her finally falling back to sleep.

So there I lay, tummy to tummy with my beautiful daughter, my husband curled against me on the other side. Not sleeping because of my hyper vigilance any time we bring Babycakes to bed in the early morning like that, but feeling completely blessed because, in that quiet pre-dawn time, I was literally surrounded by the peaceful warmth and breathing of the two people I love most in the world.

Somehow, Babycakes managed to get crying hard enough to revisit part of her breakfast while the hubs was getting her dressed for church (fortunately while down to her diaper). And I felt the sweetness of being needed in that desperate, deep baby-sigh of relief when she saw me walk back into the room, her beautiful, long-lashed eyes following mine as I murmured quietly to her, got her cleaned up, and dressed.

We did go out for a late lunch, and there I was able to enjoy the dimpled smiles as Babycakes took everything in, waving to strangers and making friends with another baby sitting nearby. The peals of laughter as we played peekaboo with our napkins.

Even though the nursing gymnastics in the car before we headed back home meant a failed feed and a rather fussy baby, the way Babycakes curled against me when we got home and nursed until nearly asleep for an early evening nap made up for it. Her little warm hand pressed against my shoulder. Her knees tucked up against my side. Her feet daintily crossed at the ankles, as she’s done while nursing since the day she was born.

The splashes and giggles during bath time while I sang “Rubber Ducky” and “Under the Sea.”

The way the hubs got her riled up during the pre-bed playtime, even knowing it would take a little extra effort to bring her down from the high.

When it was time to go upstairs and get ready for bed, she pulled herself up to standing by tugging on my pants, then reaching with her chubby arms for me to pick her up.

More nursing gymnastics that settled to the tunes of “London Bridge is Falling Down” and “For the Beauty of the Earth”, as they do every nap and bedtime, cuing her to drift toward dreamland in the soft glow of her crystal nightlight.

A last sip of water as she rested her heavy head against my shoulder, then turned to wrap her arms around my neck with a sigh.

Up to turn off the crystal nightlight.

Retrieving the musical giraffe and turning it on just before laying her in her crib.

Watching her lay her hand beside the glowing tummy of the giraffe as it started cycling through the seven or eight tunes it plays three times before turning off.

Little tired eyelids going blink, blink, blink.

And my day ends watching her watch the yellow light of the giraffe slowly fade to darkness as the music plays on, tonight with no final glance in my direction to see if I’m still there.

Then there is nothing but her soft breathing, the whir of the white noise machine, and the slight creak in the floor as I lean over to adjust her blanket before tiptoeing out and closing the door.

She will probably wake at least once in the night and need us. She may go readily back to sleep for the hubs, or she may need me to nurse her back down. But even those middle of the night times, as frustrating as they can be and as tired as I sometimes feel, are just part of the sweetness of being a mother.

Every moment so normal and mundane. And yet every moment worth treasuring.

Remembering What I’m Doing Here

This past week has been something of a comedy of errors around here. Babycakes has been suffering through her very first cold (at least we made it six months without any illnesses at all), which has included a fever and such bad post-nasal drip that she’s gagged and thrown up four times and has had a terrible time sleeping, even after we elevated the head of her crib mattress.

Whether it’s due to my own lack of sleep or just first-time mom with baby’s first cold jitters, I’ve been having a series of mom-fails that have included gagging my child with Tylenol (that was the first puke-fest), jamming a nasal aspirator too far into her nose (because she decided to flail at a most inopportune time), dripping saline drops into her eye because she does not want to have them put into her nose (again, flail), and, perhaps the worst, sitting her on the bathroom floor so I could get her ready for her bath, only to have her faceplant on said bathroom floor.

INcredibles Baby

And like the saying goes, when it rains, it pours. Among all the other life stuff going on, I’ve heard back from both of the editors I submitted the chick lit romance to back in December. One asked me to revise and resubmit, and the other is interested outright.

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Sometimes, in the midst of being a stay at home mom, I forget to think about myself and the goals I have for my writing career. My family, the hubs especially, is so supportive. But finding time to devote to writing is often the biggest challenge. I know it’s important to find that time somehow, and now that Babycakes is older, it is getting easier.

But it’s times like this, as with that nap transition/sleep regression crap we went through a few weeks ago, that I get so wrapped up in seeing to her needs, I forget to prioritize myself.

Or anything else, for that matter.

It’s only ridiculous luck that I heard back from both editors within a couple weeks of Babycakes getting sick and needing extra attention.

But I need to remember what I’m doing here.

Being on maternity leave has not made me stop being a teacher.

It has not changed the fact that I am on my way to being a published author.

Somehow, I can and will find a way to balance everything. It’ll be hard, and some days I’ll probably want to run screaming into the night.

But I can do this.

10 Things You Realize By the Time Baby is Six Months Old

It’s hard to believe that Babycakes is six months old on Saturday. I mean, where did the time go? Six months ago and some change ago, she was just this wiggly little Someone in my not-so-little baby bump, and now she’s an actual¬†person! Watching her grow and learn and change has been amazing, and I can’t wait to see what the next six months brings.

Some curious and interesting things have happened to me (and my husband, really) since entering this state called Parenthood. I doubt every new mom has experienced everything on this list, but in my house, these are some pretty standard realizations.

  1. Giving a baby manicure is only slightly easier than neurosurgery.¬†If you’ve never tried to trim a baby’s fingernails, you really can’t empathize with the difficulty level the task entails. I’m sure someday, Babycakes will love¬†having me fuss with her nails and will probably ask her father to give them a coat of bright pink polish, but right now, any attempt to trim even one fingernail is like expecting someone to perform the most delicate brain surgery with naught but a pair of tiny scissors. I’ve talked to other moms about this. Babies generally don’t like having their hands held perfectly still while you attempt to cut something from them with a pair of razor sharp scissors. A lot of people recommend attempting this while baby is sleeping, but I’ve never had success at this (poor angle, bad light, etc.). The times I’ve actually managed to trim Babycakes’s nails were during long pre-nap nursing sessions when she’s beyond relaxed. It’s probably like when people sip daiquiris during their pedicures or something. So far I haven’t nicked her, but I’m sure the day will come because she won’t always be nursing. And baby pedicures? It’s a week long process because I can only ever manage about two toes a day.
  2. Almost all adult conversations eventually work their way around to discussing poopy diapers. Yeah, sorry that’s kind of a gross but¬†sad fact. But it happens, especially when the conversation participants are other parents. My husband and I discuss our daughter’s dirty diapers so often, especially since she’s started solids, I’ve come up with an acronym: the FACCs (frequency, amount, color, consistency).
  3. Pregnancy and labor eventually do unexpected things to your postpartum body. I’m not talking about the belly pooch or the hormonal fluctuations. I’m talking about the weird things that happen to parts of your body that have nothing to do with pregnancy or labor, or at least don’t come to mind when you think of pregnancy and labor. Every mom will have a different list of these. But for me, here’s the rundown. During pregnancy, I had periodic flare-ups of my bilateral rotator cuff tendinitis, which after giving birth got so bad that just about every nursing position resulted in physical torture as I silently prayed Babycakes would unlatch herself before my arms completely popped out of the sockets, leading me to need physical therapy (again) and the acquisition of a TENS unit to use at home. Similarly, the extra thirty pounds I carried around during the last weeks of pregnancy wreaked havoc on my knees, especially the right which I tweaked pretty bad during an exercise session a couple years ago. The pain returned several weeks after Babycakes was born, to the point where I had to use the TENS unit on them despite it being purchased for my shoulders. And lastly, perhaps the most unexpected thing was unbearable pain in my tailbone. Turns out back labor (which I had for 12 hours) can bruise your tailbone, and hours of sitting to nurse were ridiculously painful until I purchased one of those special cushions that have a space cut out to relieve pressure on your coccyx. Also, for no apparent reason, I’m also no longer lactose intolerant.
  4. The definition of “me time” changes drastically.¬†Before becoming a parent, alone time involved reading a book for hours, watching romantic comedies, and treating myself to a mani-pedi-massage package at a local day spa. Now, “me time” involves going to the grocery store by myself or, at the simplest, taking a shower while the baby sleeps. For a while when Babycakes was between 3 and 4 months old, the most relaxing thing I did was go to my physical therapy session (see above), where I could lay down for a while in a dim room, listen to music, have heating pads wrapped around my aching joints or over my stiff back, and then get something of a massage as part of the therapy treatment. Lots of times, I’d stop and get a cup of hot chocolate and a donut from the Tim Horton’s I’d pass on the way there. Now that I’m not going to PT anymore, I kind of miss that hour of time when I could just lay down without worrying about somebody crying over the monitor. I also miss having hot chocolate and a donut two to three days a week, but it’s probably better for me in the long run.
  5. Physical hygiene tasks happen at warp speed, if they happen at all.¬†Before having a baby, I would take long showers followed by a somewhat prolonged moisturizing routine. After having a baby, I shower so fast it’s questionable whether I even get wet. Even brushing my teeth is rushed, which probably isn’t good. I usually forget to put moisturizer on my face, and I’ve joined the ranks of moms who can’t remember if they brushed their hair that morning. And sadly, even after weeks of not being physically able to do so, I tend not to shave my legs unless a) we have to go somewhere that requires us to look sort of dressed up, or b) I realize I can see the hair and it’s approaching a quarter inch in length.
  6. Mom hands. As a kid, I remember my mom complaining about how dry her hands would get and how she’d get painful splits in the skin around her fingernails. I never understood exactly why that was. I just knew that my mom’s hands were ridiculously comforting. They were cool when I was to hot, and warm when I was too cold. But mom hands are a thing that happens. I think it’s because you wash your hands so much more often, not to mention doing baby dishes that can’t go in the dishwasher and giving baby a bath. No matter how much lotion I use throughout the day, my hands are a mess. Like, dry to the point of cracked and bleeding knuckles. This has happened to me in the past during the winter, but winter skin and mom hands combined? Sometimes the lotion actually burns. I only hope the curious but awesome temperature anomaly is happening, which I believe is the result of biofeedback.
  7. Phantom crying is a thing.¬†I’m constantly hearing Babycakes crying when she’s not. It’s even happened during the handful of times I’ve been home alone while the hubs took her for a walk when the weather was nice. The sink in our bathroom has some sort of weird frequency it gives off that sounds exactly like a baby crying over a monitor and through a closed door. Freaks me out. I also sometimes hear the little musical giraffe Babycakes sleeps with, even if it’s not playing.
  8. Obsession over some aspect of baby’s well being is also a thing. For me, as I’ve mentioned, it’s the sleep thing, particularly the nap thing. For some moms, it’s the feeding thing. Or a temperature thing. Or the FACCs (see #2) of baby’s dirty diapers. The people around us eventually learn to just smile and nod when we get going.
  9. Oversensitiveness about noise will make all sleep times an exercise in your slow motion and/or ninja skills.¬†I know, and every other mom knows, that you can’t shut out all noise during the day, no matter what you do to try and make nap time as similar to night time as possible. It’s even recommended that, while you don’t want to blast music at top volume, you shouldn’t try to mute the daily activities you tend to while baby naps. And I’m sure, like most new parents, I underestimate my baby’s capacity to sleep through noise. But even so, I’m ridiculously oversensitive about every noise that anyone makes in my house during naps, probably because the odds of Babycakes getting in a solid nap are kind of crappy most days. Inevitably, no matter how hard I try not to clang pans when preparing dinner or ban the flushing of all second-floor toilets at night, somebody at some point is going to make a loud noise during a sleep time. The hubs and I, however, have become quite proficient at miming stuff to each other and watching T.V. with next to no sound.
  10. There’s a Mom Uniform. I’ve always been a proponent of yoga pants (or in the winter, fuzzy pants, because where I live it gets dang cold from December through February) for comfort. And they’ve really come a long way. I remember once standing in a sporting goods store, looking at some yoga pants in a bootcut style, and wondering if anybody at work would notice if I wore them rather than my usual dress pants. But now that I’m a mom, I’ve joined the ranks of everybody who throws on yoga pants, an easy-access-for-nursing top, and a hoodie for day to day wear. If I’m wearing jeans, it means I’m not only leaving the house, I’m going somewhere “special”.

So, moms of the world – what have you realized since your baby was born?