Friday, May 25, 2012

Inside the Diaper Bag

 My recent post about diaper bags got me thinking about what we put in our diaper bags and our purses.  It reminded me of that scene in The Breakfast Club when Ally Sheedydumps out her purse.  “Because you never know when you have to jam.”  I love the "always be prepared" Girl Scout motto and how can a girl be prepared without a bag?  I remember meeting a guy, years ago, who always had tampons in his backpack just in case someone needed them.  I would never think to ask a guy for tampons but he was always prepared for anything.  It is amazing to think of all the things we think we need to take with us when we leave the house.  So what do I usually have in my purse or diaper bag?

The obvious things like my wallet, prescription sunglasses which have a gigantic case, a pack of tissues, cell phone (because I often do not have pockets), 3 reusable shopping bags, and a camera.  

In case of a hunger emergency, I have a protein bar which has been knocking around in the bottom of my bag for months, not very appetizing.  Desperate times do require desperate measures and thankfully we have yet to reach that point.   

I keep ginger mints on hand to freshen breath and fight nausea and tums for heartburn.  

I keep a few disposable nipple pads in my purse but I really do not need them any more as I am beyond the leaky boob days even though I am still nursing.  

Sunblock is a necessity when you are as white as I am so I have a tube of baby sunblock and a sunblock stick in my purse.  If it works for my baby we can all use it but what works for us usually isn't good for babies so it is easier to keep baby friendly sunblock in my bag instead of a few different kinds.  

My big fat coupon folder has coupons of course but also a little notebook and a pen.  I only have this in my bag if I plan to go shopping because it takes up too much real estate.  

The most important thing in my purse is my chapstick.  I must have chapstick within reach at all times.  I got tired of searching for that small tube in my big purse.  My solution was a small pouch in which I keep a Burt’s bee’s chapstick, one of their lip shimmers, and a lip gloss.  

Taking up the most space is my cloth diaper bag which always has hand sanitizer, a changing pad, a bag of biodegradable rose scented plastic bags, a GroVia all in one, a cloth wipe, disposable wipes, and then I add a few diapers or snap in inserts.

The second massive real estate suck is a plastic ziplock bag which holds pacifier wipes (Orion has never used a pacifier but it comes in handy for dropped toys), a bib, burp cloth, nursing cover, a clean shirt and pants for baby.  These items do not get much use these days (but I could have used them yesterday when I was getting the baby out of the car to go into the supermarket and he spit up water all over his car seat).   These items will soon be living in the car.  After all, my car is really just a gigantic purse on wheels.  I already keep emergency diapers in the car and will add this emergency pack to that bag.  I have been keeping the diapers (with the changing pad from my JJ Cole diaper bag) in a Nordstrom plastic bag but maybe it is time to put it all in a real bag.

Often, I do not feel like carrying anything when I leave the house.  For a quick trip I just can’t be bothered to bring along reinforcements.    I usually regret it because I do not have my chapstick and usually forget my cell phone.  Chapstick does NOT keep well in the car.  Too often I have reached for my car chapstick only to apply a hot melty mess to my lips.  Yuck!  But still, I leave the house with nothing but my husband and my baby.  Amazingly, my baby, my lips, and I all survive.  I rely on my husband to have his wallet and the car keys.  Luckily he has never let me down.  So what's in your purse/diaper bag?     

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

DYRN: Diaper Bags

Do you really need a diaper bag?  Well, yes and no.  Most women love handbags and hardly need an excuse to buy a new one.  There are a million different diaper bags on the market but I have yet to find one that is life changing.  In Orion’s first year, I used 3 different diaper bags.  Each had its ups and downs and I plan to keep them all to use in the event of future babies. 

Please pay no mind to the bad cell phone pictures or crappy couch.
The first diaper bag we bought at Ikea.  I thought it was perfect for me and my husband to use because of the gender neutral black and white print.  This bag is mostly a changing pad with a few pockets with room for diapers, wipes, camera, cell phone,a few other sundries and it came with an attachable insulated bottle bag.  It was perfect for the early days because we weren't spending too much time out of the house.  It is also great for when my husband and I leave the house together and I want to carry a real purse.  He can carry the minimalist diaper bag.  It is light and can't really be filled to be too heavy so the messenger style does not cause any back issues.
Orion wants to use the changing pad!
Then when we were heading out to Michigan I began thinking it might be good to have a diaper bag which will hold a bunch of stuff so I could walk out of the house with just one day for the day.  Orion was 6 months at this point.  I bought this JJ Cole 180 diaper bag.  The print was a bit more feminine but it didn't bother my husband.  It came with a removable changing pad, which I love and a pacifier pod which I never used.  It is also full of pockets including a section for diapers and wipes and then a section for everything else.  I do believe that the bigger the bag, the more stuff you will stuff into the bag.  This bag filled up pretty quickly and felt suddenly small.  Also, the messenger style really isn't good for your back.  Carrying this bag leaden with stuff can wreak havoc on your back and posture.  It did come with hanging tabs so you can hang it from your stroller with the weight evenly distributed.

Since this bag came with a changing pad that can hold a few diapers and wipes I got to thinking that any bag could be a diaper bag.  We also started using cloth diapers when we were out and about and not just at home.  Going out with cloth diapers requires a different kind of diaper bag.  You need to have a wet bag to hold the dirty diapers and a dry bag to hold the clean diapers.  I got one of these bags
Open to largest size
Cloth diapers can be pretty bulky so I wanted this bag to fit inside a bigger bag.  I wanted the biggest bag I could find.  I found this Betsy Johnson bag for a great price and couldn’t pass it up.  My husband liked it more than the plain black option I brought home.  He has never minded being left holding the bag and I do love seeing him holding my purse.  I have stuffed this bag with an emergency change of clothes, burp cloth, bid, nursing cover, diaper bag, and a million other things.  Having such a big bag can get heavy and unruly but this bag is adjustable so I can make it smaller if I decide to travel light.  
Closed to smallest size
With the availability of diaper changing pads which can hold wipes and a few diapers, any bag can be a diaper bag.  Same goes with the wet/dry bags for cloth diapers.  They will hold diapers, wipes, hand sanitizer, and even a pack of plastic bags for those crazy messy diapers. But let’s face it, I am a handbag whore and I just bought a new bag yesterday.  It is a giant jute tote perfect for the beach, farmer’s market, or using as a diaper bag!  I love pink and orange together and I love goldfish so this bag was made for me!

You really don’t need to spend a lot of money on a diaper bag.  I know that Petuina Picklebottom bag is so very cute but I have never been comfortable spending over a $100 on a bag.  I was even uncomfortable spending the $50 on the JJ Cole bag.  Remember I am cheap and doubt that will ever change.  But maybe if I spent the $100 some odd bucks on a PPB diaper bag I wouldn't have had any interest in any other diaper bag.  I don't know, maybe it really is the be all end all of diaper bags?  Or maybe the answer is a $999 Gucci diaper bag, I will never discover the answer.  

Bottom line, you really do not need a dedicated diaper bag because you can spend as little as $12 on a changing pad station and turn any bag into a diaper bag.  If you want to save some money, you can find used diaper bags for sale on craigslist or at thrift stores.  You can also feel free to buy yourself a nice diaper bag to congratulate yourself on carrying a baby for 9 months and giving birth.  Either way, happy shopping!     

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Caption This!

                                            "What is behind door #1?"

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

How I spent my Mother's Day

This past Sunday, my husband woke up wicked early (5 am maybe, I was, like, sleeping) and took care of the dogs.  It is usually our dogs making a fuss in the morning and not the baby waking us up.  Patrick fed the dogs, let them out, and then Orion wanted in on the action.  So, Patrick took care of the baby.  I could occasionally hear the baby crawling down our hardwood floor hallway, smack, smack, smak.  But then Patrick would redirect the baby.  Around 7, I let Patrick know that my boobs were open for business and to let in my hungry baby.  Orion crawled down the hall and opened the bedroom door and was so very happy to see me.  His face said Happy Mother’s Day! 

I nursed up the baby and when he had his fill, we went into the living room.  I left him to play while I did some computer stuff.  All of this is really boring but the great thing is that I felt like I could do whatever I wanted and not feel bad about it.  Patrick knew he was on primary baby care today so I could do as I pleased.  Patrick was also on breakfast duty and I requested Martha Stewart’s Apple Dutch baby.  I love it and so did Orion!

The morning was very laid back and we did not have a schedule for the day ahead.  I hung out in my jammies which really isn’t anything new or unusual.  Maybe it was around 11, when I realized what I really wanted.  I made a list of errands for Patrick to do with the baby.  They left and I had the house to myself!  Well, the dogs were still there but I think they were happy to have the baby out of the house.

I was so happy to be home alone that I did a little dance.  I turned on Pandora and made a station for The Killers.  Patrick hates this band so I could listen loudly and not drive him crazy.  Then I pulled out the sewing machine and a fan.  These things plug into the wall and fascinate the baby.  It is really hard, almost impossible, to use these things with the baby crawling around.  We lack a baby jail and tend to let him be a free range baby.  I got to sewing on my brand new Singer 160 which was my Mother’s Day present.

I am new to sewing, so I was just practicing by making little washcloths.  I attempted to do an applique t shirt but totally messed up.  I also had a bit of an accident with the ironing board and some fusible interfacing. That reminds me, I need to buy a new ironing board cover.  I played and experimented with the sewing machine.  Then things started going a little wonky and I had to walk away from the machine and it was lunchtime.

I have a thing for iceberg lettuce and mayonnaise.  Something magical happens when these are combined with bread, especially big bad white bread.  I was very excited to make a sandwich on an onion bun with mustard, cheddar cheese, lettuce, and mayo in that order from top to bottom.  It was simple, delicious, and indulgent.  Patrick does not share my enjoyment of iceberg lettuce.  Last time I asked for lettuce he brought home one of those hippie heads of butter bid lettuce that still had its roots.  My sandwich was so good, I made another and did not hesitate to use up the last onion bun.  It ate it standing in the kitchen looking out the window watching my dogs run amok in the backyard.

Once again, the details of what I did during those baby free hours are pretty boring.  I stayed in my jammies.  Wrote out some cards, did some interneting, and attempted to dismantle Orion’s 1st birthday scrapbook but couldn’t get the posts apart. The exciting thing was that I was able to do all these things without tripping over my baby.  I was going to get a manicure and a pedicure but I couldn’t even be bothered.  That would meant I would have to get dressed and leave the house.  I’ll save that for another day as a mommy getaway.

I went through a box of old photos that we got when we were cleaning out my dad’s apartment last year.  There were so many pictures of my mom and even a whole envelope of her that said “Susan various aspects” in my dad’s handwriting.  There was also an envelope that said “Charlotte’s first haircut” in my mother’s handwriting.  I love to see their handwriting as it was something that you easily take for granted during a person’s life but once they are gone becomes so precious.  I was able to spend some alone time thinking about my mom and crying without worrying about anyone seeing my tears.

I was starting to worry about my husband and baby as I had not heard back from Patrick regarding my last text message.  My mind always jumps to horrible conclusions. Considering my history that can’t be surprising.  Also, I think something happens to me when I go for more than 3 hours without my baby.  I get a little anxious, maybe it is oxytocin withdraw even though I am no longer nursing Orion every 3 hours.  I called Patrick and he was on the last stop of his chore list and would be home soon.  Most of their time out was spent with the baby sleeping and Patrick reading the Game of Thrones books which he is obsessed with.  I hope Orion is such a voracious reader because his daddy has read 4 books in the past month.  I have managed to read one book as far this year because someone is demanding so much of my time.

They got home after 3:30 and I soon realized that I would have to finally put on some clothes to make our 5:15 dinner reservation.  I wanted to take more than the usually 10 minutes I spend to get ready and may have spent a whole 20 minutes, oh so fancy.  I even put on makeup and the even more unusual foundation.  When it comes to my doing my hair I am pretty clueless so I resort to the side ponytail because it is easy and I think it is funny.  It's like a ponytail but it is fancy cause it is on the side!  I was also very excited to leave the house without a diaper bag or purse of any kind.  My red dress had 2 pockets, one for my lipstick and one for my phone.  I was good to go. 

We had a wonderful dinner at Liberty Tavern in Clarendon.  They were nice enough to give us a 4 top even though the reservation was for 2.  We needed all that extra room for all the food we ordered.  It was so delicious! There homemade bread is crazy good and the butter is crunchy and delicious.  I love salted butter and I wouldn’t be surprised if they made the butter in house.  They make a lot of their own cheeses and charcuterie.  The first time we ate here a few years ago we fell in love with the grilled octopus and want to eat it every time we visit.        

We started with the grilled octopus which was served with asparagus, mushroom, watermelon radish, and pickled ramp vinaigrette.  We also shared and ordered of the housemade capellaci which was stuffed with lamb neck, smoked whipped chevre, chard and mint with morel mushroom-goat milk froth.  For my entrée I got the veal strip and shortrib with grilled asparagus, goat milk yogurt and violet mustard gel, potato-white asparagus puree, pea tendrils.  Patrick got the smorgasbord for two which had lamb rillette, crispy scrapple, lamb sausage and duck prosciutto and was served with pickled spring vegetables, spiced “mint jelly”, comb honey, and flatbread.  We were very happy with everything we ate.  The scrapple was the best I have ever eaten and being from Philly I have eaten more than my fair share of scrapple.  Patrick used to make all his out of town guests try scrapple during their visit.

Everything was so delicious and I love Liberty Tavern because they use local and humane meats.  You would think I had no room in my belly but I reserved my second belly for dessert.  I am so glad I did.  I had a pistachio brownie served with salted caramel ice cream, a caramelized marshmallow and drizzled with chocolate and caramel then sprinkled with pistachios topped with a chocolate shortbread moon and a shortbread star.  I ate every single bite and every bit of food that was put in front of me.  Well, I sadly did not eat the entire bread basket and wish we had been given the last few slices in a doggie bag.

Orion was a very good boy during dinner.  He got to eat some yogurt, some banana, and some of the yummy housemade bread.  He did get fussy towards the end as we had been there for about an hour and a half.  Our waitress did say that Orion was in the lead for best baby in the room.  He was totally flirting with her so the competition may have been rigged.  We had such a wonderful dining experience that it totally made up for the disappointment of my birthday dinner.  Orion cried a bit on the way home but then was asleep. 

When we got home, Patrick gifted me with a card, 3 Wild Ophelia’s chocolate bars, and a box of Orion brand choco-pies which are like moon pies.  I would not have gotten these gifts if Orion had not fallen asleep earlier in the day while Patrick was wearing him in Nordstrom.  There is a World Market next door and Patrick spent some time walking around trying to keep the baby asleep.  This is another reason why I suggest kicking your husband out on Mother’s Day with the kids as it will enable him to take care of any last minute shopping.

I may not have had a fancy exciting Mother’s Day but what I did have was a wonderful day filled with love.  I am sorry that some people do not like Mother’s Day or so-called Hallmark holidays.  I think these days are just wonderful excuses to take time for each other and express your love.  There is no set in stone way to do it and you can make the day whatever you want.  You can create new traditions, memories, and keepsakes.  Personally, I love cards and my husband always writes sweet notes in the cards he gives me.  I save them and love looking back on them and reading their tender messages.

I also plan to use Mother’s Day as a day to talk with my kids about my mother once they get older.  It will be a day where I am free to reminisce and cry if I feel the need to without hiding my tears from my family.  The only way to keep someone’s memory alive is to share stories about them.  Mother’s Day is also a great day to talk about all the other women in your life who have mothered you and influenced the person you have become.  I was lucky to have a great mother but also her mother was a wonderful and caring woman who had 9 kids.  I also have many aunts who have been very caring and loving over the years.  I am thankful for all the strong women who have touched my life.  I hope they all had a Happy Mother’s Day and know how much they are loved!    

Sunday, May 13, 2012

My Mother

My mom was an amazing woman who left us too soon at the age of 60.  This October will mark 7 years since her death from metastatic breast cancer.  With each passing years, her absence has gotten easier to cope with.  I have gotten used to her not being around but that doesn’t mean that I do not want my mother on a daily basis.  If I think about it too hard, I can cry as if she just left us yesterday.  Mother’s Day is hard for this reason because her absence is inescapable.  Being a mom myself doesn’t really make the day easier on me because I feel like something is missing.   

My mother worked as a nurse.  She worked in emergency rooms, nursing homes, and as a visiting nurse. As a visiting nurse for many years, she traveled into some really rough parts of Philadelphia.  I can remember her telling me about drug dealers watching her car while she went in to check on a patient.  They knew why she was there and her patient, most likely, had watched that drug dealer grow up.  No matter where my mom went, she could easily talk to anyone she met.  She had a natural gift for storytelling and a great sense of humor.  I can remember the sound of her voice and her laugh, this is a sound my son will never hear.

There are so many questions I would ask my mother if I could.  Questions you can’t even fathom until you are actually raising kids of your own.  I wonder if she ever had mastitis, how did she wean us, or put us to sleep, when did I start to get teeth, and when did I start to walk?  Losing my father 6 weeks after having Orion, means these answers really are lost.  I miss them both so much and see being a parentless parent as my biggest challenge as a mother.  The ability to call my parents and ask questions, or just to vent and hear stories of how I was when I was that age, not to mention my child is denied the opportunity to spend time with his grandparents.  With their death, I have lost part of my personal history and my son has lost part of his future.

When my father and I visited my brother in Okinawa in the spring of 2010 we got the chance to meet my brother’s wife and their 2 kids.  I am so glad we got to spend that time together.  My father was very excited to be a grandfather and I was happy to be an aunt.  I remember we were in a store and my nephew was throwing a tantrum because he wanted these red shoes.  My brother picked him up, put him over his shoulder, and marched him out of the store.  My dad was laughing and crying because he could hear my mom saying that payback was a bitch.  If only she had lived to witness this scene.

One of my earliest childhood memories is going to Ireland when I was four.  At the time, my mom had a patient named Mary.  Mary was paralyzed on one side of her body.  Her dying wish was to go home to Ireland.  My mother asked her employers if she could help Mary fulfill this wish.  They said no, so she quit her job and took my brother, myself, my father, and Mary to Ireland.  I remember the sunsets and wild horses, the ocean, and the experience of being so far from home for the first time.  When I look back now, I’m amazed at my mother’s determination and compassion to help Mary complete her dying wish.

My mother lived her life on her own terms.  Her sense of humor and style was uniquely her own.  This was appreciated by all she met.  She loved to shop, and had a knack for finding fabulous pieces in unexpected places.  I am proud to be my mother’s daughter.  I feel very lucky to have had the parents I had because they supported me, trusted me, and loved me.  Raising children without them will be difficult but I trust in the job they did instilling such good values in me that I do believe I will do a great job raising my child without them.  

Happy Mother's Day Mom!  We all miss you so very much.

This picture was taken on my wedding, 6 days before my mother died.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Is being a mom a job?

With Mother’s Day coming up there has been a lot of talk about how being a mom is the hardest job a woman can have.  But is being a mom really a job?  Is being a wife a job or is being a daughter or an aunt a job? When I asked my husband if he thought being a mom was a job he laughed and said that he thought it was hard work but not a job. To call it a job makes it sound like you get paid, vacation time, a 401k and health insurance.

Being a mom is a role and a relationship.    To call it a job sounds like it is unsatisfying.  I have had many jobs and I had them for the money not for the love of the job.  If you love your job, I imagine you consider it your career.  I have not heard of being a mom referred to as a career.   I do read a lot of blogs but not all of them so maybe someone has.

Why isn’t being a father considered the hardest job a man can have?  Maybe we need to focus more on just being a parent.  There are plenty of stay-at-home dads in this modern day and age.  Just turn on the TV and watch Up All Night.  After a baby is weaned from the breast, I think each parental role is equally important.  Yet we put so much emphasis on being a mom.  Maybe that is why there are so many dead beat dads?  Maybe they do not see the validity in being a father and think that mom can do it all. 

The other day someone asked what I do and I pointed to my 1 year old son and said that I take care of that guy.  I do not have a job, I have a life.  I am a full time mom/stay at home mom (but I don’t stay home).  I do this blog thing but I don’t make money at it so I wouldn't call it a job.  I am a writer and I have been writing actively sine I was 9 years old.  I am more than a mom, I am a wife, a daughter, an aunt, a neighbor, a friend, a person.  These aren't jobs and I think to call motherhood a job is to cheapen the role of motherhood.  (Is it just me or when you hear the word job do you think blow or hand? I hope that doesn't makes me sound like a prostitute)

Mother’s Day can be very hard for some people, including myself.  My mom died 6 and a half years ago.  I miss her everyday but even more so around Mother’s Day.  I also think about the women who struggle with infertility and it breaks my heart.  Mother’s Day must be hard for them because they have yet to achieve that role of being a mom which they desire so very much.  I imagine Mother’s Day is hard for those women who choose to not have kids.  I think not having kids is a very valid life choice but society often assumes that if you are a female of a certain age than you must have kids.  Not every woman wants to be a mom and it is much better if these women stick to their guns and don’t have children.  There are plenty of babies born to mothers who gave birth for all the wrong reasons.  Mother’s Day must be really hard on all the children who have been given up by their moms but also hard on the women who gave up those children.

Even though I deal with the loss of my mother, I do like the concept of Mother’s Day.  I do think it is important to take a day to celebrate moms.  Last Mother’s Day I had been a mom for all of 10 days and was still recovering from my Cesarean.  But I did have a very lovely day even though I did not feel like a mom.  Sometimes I still don’t feel like a mom because I feel like the same person I was 2 years ago or even 20 years ago (even though I have changed).  Even though I spend every day taking care of my baby and think that I am a good mom and have been told that I am by others.  The day before Orion’s birthday, we had pictures taken at JC Penny and some included Patrick’s mom and step-dad.  The photographer said something along the lines of mom wipe the drool off baby’s chin and it took me a moment to react.  Was she talking to me?  Oh, yes, right, I am Orion’s mom!  Maybe I will feel more like a mom when Orion starts calling me mom? 

Mother’s Day does not have to be a huge fancy production.  There does not have to be expensive brunches, Champagne, and diamonds.  It should be something thoughtful and easy on mom.  I used Mother’s Day as an excuse to get something I really wanted, a sewing machine which I bought close to 2 months ago.  Tomorrow, I hope to sleep in, get a manicure and a pedicure, and spend a few hours without my baby.  I rarely get alone time and would love an opportunity to just sit alone and do nothing for a bit.  I also spent $10 on a worthy cause to save the lives of mothers.  

This Mother’s Day stop and take a look at the person you are raising and supporting.  Think about what example you are setting, what values you are instilling, and what kind of person you hope they will turn out to be.  Think about all the people struggling to become mothers.  Think of those who have lost their mom due to death or abandonment.  For just $10 you can save the lives of 3 women and prevent their children from being orphaned.  Please check these links and make a donation:

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Ma's tit is OUCHY!

After nursing for one year and one week, I got mastitis.  Mastitis is a bacterial infection of the breast tissue and usually occurs in the first few months of nursing.  It can be caused by poor latch, not emptying the breast, or from cracked nipples.  I had none of these.  Was it from trying on non-nursing bras on Saturday?  Nursing Orion in the changing room of Nordstrom then wiping off my boob with my t shirt and trying on more bras?  Was it because i wanted a bra just for myself to look and feel good?

I do not know why or how I got mastitis but I do know that it sucked.  My right breast hurt so badly!  It felt like I was just starting out breast feeding when you wake up for a long sleep (3 whole hours!) and your boobs have been replaced by rocks but way more painful.  Just the movement from walking made them ache and of course Orion loves to punch me in the tit.

On top of having a painful breast, my whole body was sore.  I was also wicked exhausted.  Just taking care of Orion’s basic needs like changing his diaper was really difficult.  I also had zero patience and after struggling to get a cloth diaper on a squirmy baby, I gave up and used disposables for the rest of the day.  After a week spent recovering from Orion’s first birthday, I was looking forward to a normal week.  But at least I didn’t get sick for his birthday.

To top it all off, Orion developed a cold because misery loves company.  All we wanted to do was eat and sleep but Orion wouldn’t let me sleep because he wanted to sleep on me.  He started to get sick around the same time as me but they were unrelated illnesses.  He had a cough, runny nose (clear), and felt warm.  I did not give him anything and he seems to have gotten better every day.  Luckily, he has never been sick and in need of medication.  This is his 3 cold ever and he just needs to work through it.

I started to get sick on Sunday after our morning nurse/nap.  Orion nurses to sleep and will fall asleep on the boob and I just let the nipple fall out when it may.  After he woke up, we went to the farmer’s market and I wore him facing in on my chest and quickly realized that was not a good idea.  We ran some other errands and my husband wore him or carried him.  Even the seatbelt across my chest was causing discomfort.  When we got home around 3, I turned to my trusty friend Google.  I Googled mastitis and diagnosed myself with mastitis but the fear of inflammatory breast cancer was in the back of my over active brain.

Monday I went to the doctor and she checked me out.  The redness on my breast had gone down a bit, but it was still warm to the touch, hard, and sore.  Plus, my flu like symptoms were ever present.  I got antibiotics and took them without much thinking.  The doctor told me to pump and dump for the first 48 hours even though the medication was safe for breast feeding to clear out the breast. I couldn't understand why I should pump and dump.  I find pumping more painful and the only time by boob felt any better was when it was being nursed on.  I even called the lactation consultant at my pediatrician's office who couldn't understand it either.  She asked if the doctor had asked me to express any milk and if my milk was discolored. No and I hope not!  So I kept nursing and after the baby went to bed Monday I pumped for 12 minutes even though I was exhausted and my milk was plain old milk colored!

(The lactation consultant was very funny and asked if I had another doctor and if mine had ever breastfed before.  She was also very proud that I have been nursing for over a year.  I do love my pediatrician's office!)

I am not usually quick to medicate myself but I was afraid that the mastitis may return or cause my M.S. to flare.  I also wanted to feel better as quickly as possible so I could take care of my baby and myself.  When I got home, I used a heating pad on the infected area but I still had a baby to chase after.  Orion was very interested in the heating pad and cord.  My husband would be late coming home from work Monday and Tuesday.  Tuesday, I was feeling better.  My breast wasn’t as painful but I was still tired and sore.  This was the day of never ending hunger for me and baby boy.  Wednesday, I felt almost human but Orion was having a major case of the fussy pants.  He seemed less congested but he did not want to eat or sleep.

Today, Thursday, things seem back to normal but maybe it is too soon to call it.  I am so glad the weekend is here but my husband who was supposed to be off on Friday and Saturday will have to work, much to my disappointment.  And Sunday is Mother’s day, which should already be a day of spoiling mom and not spoiling mom because she has been sick while taking care of a sick baby.  But I will take what I can get.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

1st year reflections

Orion recently turned one year old.  I cannot believe how fast the first year flew by!  I would like to take some time to reflect on his first year on earth.

I am very proud that I have been able to breast feed without issues.  Yes there has been some biting and soreness but I know I have given my baby the very best food.  I love looking down at his happy face while he is sucking down the good stuff and seeing my milk pool in the corners of his mouth. 

I am proud that we have made all of Orion’s food and it really wasn’t that hard and did not require special kitchen gadgets.  We did not make his rice cereal, oatmeal, yogurt, or organic cereal puffs but everything else.  I wish we could grow a banana tree in our backyard because he eats one a day! 

We did not sleep train but he sleeps great!  I am very lucky that I have been home because he used to wake up a few times at night.  Sleep exhaustion really sucks but it will pass.  Then when you get used to a full night’s sleep, it will all go out the window but sleep will return! 

Take Pictures!  I felt like I was taking a million photos those first few months but when I actually uploaded them and looked at them, they were all pretty bad.  I also regret not getting the baby photo in the hospital.  We also missed out on a few fun photo opportunities like laying out Dad’s suit or work clothes on the bed then laying baby under the clothes so it looks like baby is wearing the outfit.  This is impossible to do once babies are mobile.

Work on the baby book as you go along as it will be easier to manage instead of sorting through a year’s worth of photos.  I take a lot of pictures and am pretty good at uploading them and printing them out.  You do not need to make a fancy scrapbook but having photos you can touch, frame, and show off without an electrical device is a wonderful thing.

I am amazed by how much my baby makes me laugh and smile.  We are pretty laid back people and I think that has, thankfully, rubbed off on my baby.  When I get frustrated or am so exhausted, he will usually do something to make me laugh as if he knows what I need.

I really did not know that I had such capacity for love.  How could I love someone so much who deprives me of sleep, is very selfish and demanding and pees, poops, and vomits on me?  It helps that he is so friggin' cute!

I knew my husband would be a great father but I had my doubts on being any good at motherhood.  I also felt lost without my mother and more so when my dad passed away when Orion was just 6 weeks old.  I really love being Orion's mom and think the 3 of us make a great team.  Outsides sources have even confirmed that I am doing a good job but only time will tell.

I am not a baby mind reader but I do know what my baby needs without sign language.  How do I know?  I just know.  Babies do not have a lot of needs.  Wet diaper, hungry, sleepy, or they just want to snuggle, those are really the big needs for the first year.  If nothing I do seems to work, I usually blame gas or teething.  If the fussing won't stop, I will just walk outside.  For whatever reason being outside seems to have a calming effect, as does music.

I did not expect to be more emotional after the baby than when I was pregnant.  If I see anything about moms, babies, or pregnancy I usually get choked up.  I was never that chick flick type of girl but I think my insides have been replaced with pink marshmallow fluff.

I learned newborn clothes and 0-3 months are way different a little too late in the game. Newborn (NB) size is good for 5-8 pounds or so.  All the 0-3 month clothing just hung off Orion until he was about a month or so old.

Babies will grind their teeth and it will sound horrible but it is perfectly normal.  This happened when Orion was over 11 months old.  He was just seeing what his body can do and thankfully it did not last long.
Babies will shake their heads and it is perfectly normal.  It is not a muscle spam or tic, they are just learning there body and have an immature nervous system.

One big bonus of breastfeeding is that breastfed babies poop less.  This is great but totally freaks you out when you are not expecting it.  We called our pediatrician frantically around 6 weeks because Orion had not pooped in days.  We were told this was normal but if he goes for 10 days to call back.

There were some things that I did not know about being pregnant and the first year that I had to learn “on the job”.  This might get a bit graphic.

You are actually pregnant for 10 months, not 9.  You are pregnant for 40 weeks but could have the baby anywhere between 38-42 weeks.  Of course some pregnancies are shorter, some are longer.

Eat before you go into the hospital!  I was scheduled for an induction and that day they kept pushing up the time.  Originally, I was to go into the hospital around 10:30 pm, after a few calls, they wanted me in at 6 pm.  I forgot to eat and didn't know dinner would not be served.  I wasn't able to eat for over 36 hours but it felt like a week!  After having a Cesarean, you are not allowed to eat until you fart.   

After you have your baby, you will be bleeding for days even weeks.  You will be changing the baby’s diaper as well as your own.  You cannot use tampons during this period and I found long, thin, super absorbency pads to work the best as you have to change them frequently.

During pregnancy, I did not know I would be leaving snail trails in my underwear.  Yeah, no one tells you that shit.

There is a bloody show which is different from your water breaking.  Your body has made a mucus plug (which has been streaking those panties) which may or may not fall out before your water breaks.  Turns out, fewer than 15% of women will have their water break naturally.  It isn’t like the movies with a big splash and a mad dash to the hospital. 

I am sure I will come up with a few other things.  Every time I publish a post I think of a few things that I forgot or should have mentioned.  I will try to remember to mention them as they come up.  I do hope the above things help and do not scare you off of pregnancy!  Having Orion is defiantly the best thing I have ever done!  I wonder what we ever did without him.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Orion Turns 1!

I started thinking about Orion’s 1st birthday party about 5 month before his actual birthday. Seeing what some people do to celebrate the 1st birthday is a bit overwhelming. I wanted to celebrate but I did not want to go overboard. When I was in college living in South Philadelphia, I was napping on the couch and was woken up by Backstreet Boys blasting. Someone was having a 1st birthday block party. I know some people have huge lavish parties with gift bags and bouncy castles but that is not our style. I wanted something low key and I am just not that crafty. Please know I am not dissing how anyone wants to celebrate a first birthday. Growing up our birthday party was fun and simple. We always had a piñata, family, friends, food, and my mom made a pound cake with chocolate frosting. I don’t remember there being themes but I did ask for a boy/girl dance party when I was turning 9. When did it become mandatory for children’s birthday parties to have a theme? Isn’t birthday a theme? I saw some great theme suggestions online but then started to get so overwhelmed I had to walk away.

In the end, decided on a Muppet theme because I love the Muppets and this might be my only chance to pick a theme. I am sure he will have opinions of his own come his 2nd birthday. I am very lucky that my husband had off from work for 2 weeks before Orion’s birthday because he was switching jobs. I doubt we would have been able to get everything done without my husband home cooking and cleaning. There were still things we forgot to do and forgot to put out for our guests. I am sorry they missed out on the Strawberry open face pie but it did not go to waste!

Since The Muppets new movie, I was hoping for a slew of new merchandise but had a hard time finding anything. It would have been easier to go with a Sesame Street them but I was sticking to my guns. I had picked up some Muppet fabric a few months ago to use for something else which came in handy as tablecloths. I went online and ordered some Muppet plates, which was a big splurge at about $0.60 a plate. Then I got plates, cups, forks, and napkins at a party store and at the dollar store. I did not want everything to be too matchy matchy so I bought some green and blue cups and different napkins. I didn’t even use 75% of what I bought so I am already for the next party.

What is a birthday without cake?  I had spent some time going around to local bakeries to see if anyone could make my cake dreams come true without much luck. Then I realized that I could make cupcakes and have control over what they looked like for a fraction of the cost of professional cupcakes. I ordered some cupcake toppers from Etsy to add a professional touch to my homemade treats. This was a wonderful investment because fondant ain’t cheap and making them would have been too time consuming. They were really well done and the customer service was great. I personally do not like the taste of fondant but I saw these as purely decorative but guests could eat them if they felt so inclined. I really want to preserve them in a frame to gaze upon for eternity!

I found a great website with wonderful Muppet party tips and printable downloads. I love printable downloads and I am thankful that I have such a great photo printer! I printed out a bunch of things to use as decoration and spent a lot of time with scissors in the claws I once called hands. I made the Kermit eyes using 4 pairs of cardboard 3-D glasses from the party store. These were so much fun and I got pictures of all my guests (except one) wearing these glasses. I love the idea of a photo booth and using props.

We are very food focused in my house so it was very important that we had great food to offer. Since most of our guests were driving hours to celebrate with us, I wanted to make sure I had something delicious to offer them that wasn’t available at their local supermarket. Patrick made wonderful meatballs (“Swedish Chef Meatballs”) and a fabulous pâte. He spent most of a day elbow deep in meat! But all our guests were impressed with the results and my Aunts were clamoring for more. We also had a nice cheese plate, fresh cut fruit (arranged into a rainbow), pigs in a blanket (“Pigs in Space Blankets” not fancy and from the freezer section), and a chick pea salad (“Gar-Gonzo” salad which was quick and easy to whip together). I also made Strawberry Rhubarb Lemonade and Peach syrup which could be added to iced tea or cocktails.

I invited 40 of our closest friends and family and was relieved that only 12 could make it. A few blogs I had read suggested keeping the guest list short and intimate which is good advice. Even though there were only 12 guests, I did not get a chance to really talk to anyone. I was too busy hosting a party, taking care of my baby, snapping photos, and then I was putting food into my gob as I had not eaten since 5 am. Having a short guest list also allowed everyone time to interact with the birthday boy without overwhelming him. Another item I read was to keep the party short and stay within that time frame. Our party was scheduled to run from 2-5. As some of our guests were making the 3 hour drive from Philly, they were allowed to come whenever they wanted and most of them got here an hour early. I spent the hour before party time nursing Orion and letting him nap on me. I wanted to make sure he was happy and fully rested for the party. It was killing me to hear my Aunts voices and not be able to run out and greet them and my 90 year old grandfather. My efforts paid off as Orion was such a good boy during the party and had tons of fun without ever shedding a single tear.

We were surprised when everyone (except 2 of our guest who had made the 2 hour drive up and were allowed to stay as long as they wanted) left at exactly the same time. By 5, Orion was ready for a nap but not before crawling out of his room to said good bye to his Great Grandfather, too cute! I was able to put Orion down in his crib for a nap and actually catch up with these dear friends who we hadn’t seen in a while. It felt so good to just sit and chat after running around since 4:30am.

The whole party flew by way too fast! I really wanted more time to chat with my guests. It kinda reminded me of my wedding. You get to say “Hi” and “Bye” but not much else. Orion had a great time and even though he won’t remember it, we got great pictures which he can enjoy when he grows up. I am already working on his scrapbook. His 1st year scrapbook is about 6 inches thick! I came from a family of photographers and what separates me from them is that I actually put them into albums. When my parents passed away we found drawers and boxes overflowing with pictures. I think it is easier to upload, print, and put in books as you go along. I cannot stress the value of photos as most of my childhood memories are linked to photos.

The day before the party, we got portraits taken at JC Penny. We went to JC Penny because they always have a great deal. We got 7 portrait sheets for only 25$! Since my in-laws were already in town, we had them in a few of the pictures with Orion. The pictures came out great! I am really glad that we got some nice shots of him with his grandparent. I plan to get portraits done twice a year, his birthday and Christmas. Once he is in school, the school picture will replace his birthday portrait.

Orion had a very happy birthday and I am so glad we could share the day with our closest friends and family. It was a lot of work but totally worth it! It was not perfect or worthy of Pinterest but it was our very special day. I missed my parents like crazy but having my mother’s sisters and father there made it a very special day.  Happy Birthday Orion!!