"The time has come," the Walrus said,
"To talk of many things:
Of shoes-and ships-and sealing-wax-
Of cabbages-and kings-
And why the sea is boiling hot-
And whether pigs have wings."

- The Walrus and the Carpenter by Lewis Carrol
(From Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, 1872)

Sunday, February 27, 2011

And Baby Makes Three

I have to say, I don't know how single Moms do it. The way your life changes after having a child is profound - both philosophically, but also just the basic every day stuff. Like taking a shower. Or going to the bathroom. It's hard enough to find time the time and opportunity for me to simply brush my teeth every day and I have a generous, supportive husband.  Hats off to you, girls.

But speaking of husbands...

Have I mentioned how awesome mine is lately?

Having a baby changes a marriage. I think a lot of couples can struggle with that change. And while things between Scott and I are definitely different - I feel like we're in this super amazing place. This actually came as a surprise to me because we've always had a very healthy, supportive relationship. But, man. Though I thought I had a firm grasp on what it might take to raise a baby, I really had no idea. And I could not ask for a better partner through all of it. Particularly as I recovered (and continue to recover) from my surgery. Hell, DURING my surgery. This is a guy who can't watch "Grey's Anatomy" on TV because the blood and guts of the medical show makes him all noodley and grossed out. But he sat right next to me and held my hand as doctors poked around in my insides. That's love, folks. Always my true counterpart, Scott is what I cannot always be. Patient when I am exasperated. Gentle when I am angry. Rational when I have lost my mind. And funny. Always funny. Because sometimes, all you can do is laugh.

There are certainly moments when I wish we had more time for one another. I miss those lazy days together where the only items on the agenda were eat, snuggle, sleep (and the occasional trip to the bathroom). Now it's diaper changes, feedings, and trips to Target or the grocery store. Most of the errands now fall to Scott. As does the cooking, schlepping, garbage duties and laundry. Domestic bliss, no? Like I said, having a baby changes things.

Over the past two days, the hubs and I have been playing a game of Scrabble on our smartphones. I don't know why, but I think this is so special. Tender almost. A stolen moment. To know that he's trying to come up with a word to beat my double word score of BERLIN for 54 points while in the grocery store as I contemplate my next move while rocking a cranky Abbey in my arms. We're still connected. Always and forever just us two - with baby making three.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Supply and Demand

Since I am a marketer, I'm very comfortable with the notion of supply and demand.  In business terms, I know how it can impact pricing, market competition, brand prestige.  But I am struggling with the concept on a personal level these days.

And this is where I must insert a disclaimer.  This blog is about breastfeeding.  I've put off writing on the subject for as long as I could mostly because I'm sort of uncomfortable with "letting it hang out" so to speak.  But after a lot of thought, I've come to the realization that you can't really have a blog about the ups and downs of being a new mom without talking about breastfeeding at some point.  And talking about breastfeeding means talking about boobs.  That's right.  BEWWBBSS.  So, if this subject makes you uncomfortable, or squirmy, or if you don't think you can look me in the eye again after reading it, I suggest you stop reading now.


Point of no return.

Right here.

Last chance.

Don't say I didn't warn you.

Okay, then.  I'll start by saying I'm a fan of breastfeeding.  Abbey took to nursing right away, and though we struggled a bit in the beginning with positioning (a C-section makes finding a comfortable position for mom and baby a little trying) and latch, Abbey is a pro, and I do enjoy nursing.  It's a special connection.  A lovely bond.  It's also pretty awesome that I can make everything that my baby needs nutritionally and give it to her.  Nature is cool that way. 

While breastfeeding is one of the most natural things in the world to do, pumping...not so much.  Within hours of Abbey being born, my nurses in the hospital had me on the pump.  The first time I pumped was in front of my husband.  Awkward.  Yep, that's the word that pretty much sums it up.  It's not exactly the sultry picture one would like to impress upon their spouse.  But we both got over it pretty quickly.  Immediately, however, I became obsessed with my supply.  I sent my mother-in-law off to find herbal supplements - contraband in the hospital to be sure - that are known to help boost supply and bring the milk in.  I pumped several times a day while in the hospital - sometimes producing, sometimes not.  But I stuck with it.  I took my fenugreek.  Returning home, I drank that Guinness.  I believe that all of these measure helped me to build a healthy supply of breast milk.  I started stock-piling early.  I was so impressed with myself.  I would hold up the storage containers full of milk, showing them to Scott.  "Look what I can do!" 

Then, I got lazy.  Not lazy.  Tired.  All that pumping and nursing is hard work.  It makes me hungry.  And THIRSTY.  And sleepy.  And dammit, a nursing mom once in a while needs a freakin' break.  So I stopped pumping and nursed exclusively one day proclaiming that tomorrow, I would pump.  But I didn't.  I kept putting it off.  For weeks.  Until I realized that the end of my maternity leave was looming, the Nanny was starting work, and the baby needed some milk.  So, I started pumping every night before bed - just once a day - which would yield just two ounces.  It wasn't a lot, but it added up, and so far, it's been enough.  Abbey was getting enough milk through nursing, we had extra on hand for the nanny.  If I missed a nursing session, I'd pump instead.  All of this working to keep my supply up - abundant. 

But now that I'm back to work, it's all become so much more challenging.  Now I see why so many moms stop breastfeeding at this point.  It's tricky.  Originally, I naievely thought, "okay, Abbey eats every 2 - 2.5 hours.  So, I will pump every 2 - 2.5 hours."  Sounds reasonable, no?  No.  Because a work day just doesn't work that way.  Meetings go long.  People intrude on your office.  Phone calls pop up.  My first day back, I went into the office for four hours - plus a 45 minute commute both ways.  I should have pumped three times - I only got two in.  And I was really, really trying.  I also had to pump in front of my assistant since we share a workspace, and I'm pretty sure I horrified her even though I asked her repeatedly if she was uncomfortable with the idea and did my best to cover up as much as I could.  I just didn't have a choice - there was no where else to go.  Awkward doesn't begin to describe.  Luckily, for the time being, I'll only be in the office once a week at the most.  Probably even less.  It'll be easier at home, right?

Not necessarily.  Not wanting to nurse at every feeding (at 20 minutes a feeding, that would add up in Nanny pay), I decided to try nursing every other feeding, and let the nanny bottle feed when not nursing.  When Abbey gets a bottle, I'll pump.  We'll stick to schedule, I'll get some nursing time in (I do love it), and all will be well, right?  Not realistic.  Because nursing leads to rocking, or diaper changes, or just not wanting to let your baby go.  The hand off is tough.  And the schedule just didn't gel.  The pumping wasn't as fruitful, and all of the interruptions made it hard to keep on track with work. 

Breast milk is all about supply and demand.  You have to get it out of the boobs before your body will make more.  That means lots of nursing or pumping.  The less you do either of these, the less you produce.  That's when I begin to get anxious and panic and questions swirl in my head.  Questions like, What if I can't pump enough?  What if all the bottle feeding causes early weaning?  What if we have to supplement with formula?  What if I can't get enough time in to pump and my supply decreases?  What if, what if, what if?  And how.  How the hell am I going to make this work? 

And the answer:  I don't know.  As I write this, I'm pumping.  I'm taking multitasking to a new level.  I've got about three ounces, and I'm shooting for five.  That, plus what I have in the fridge will get us through the day with enough milk for the Nanny's bottle feedings without having to tap into the stock pile in the freezer - maybe a little extra.  I'm back on the herbs, and the Guinness, and I feel a bit like a cow at the moment.  Everything I've read suggests that you should breast feed your baby for a year.  I'm giving it my best shot.  But it ain't easy. 

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

I Cried, It Sucked, Moving On.

Yesterday, I woke up to sweet baby chirpings at 5:30 am.  Earlier than normal.  That was okay.  I sprung out of bed, swept Abbey up into my arms, and nursed her with tears streaming down my face.

I went back to work yesterday.

After I nursed Abbey, I held her, rocking together for the longest time.  I was glad to have an extra stolen moment with her.  My husband caught me crying in the nursery with her - not wanting to put her down.  Every time I tried, my heart ached and I held her for just a little bit longer.  And then the sun came up, and my time ran out.

I have to be clear here.  I don't hate my job.  I'm not lazy.  I enjoy working.  I just enjoy being a Mom more.  And the biggest thing is that I don't want to miss anything.  In the three short months that Abbey has been in our lives, she has grown and changed so much.  Every day something new happens.  Every single day.  I don't want to miss a second of it. 

How my heart ached yesterday.

I do have to say, however, that I worked more efficiently yesterday than I have in...well, probably ever.  I told myself I'd be in and out of the office in four hours and I was.  I got a lot done in that short amount of time.  Everything on my to-do list and a little extra.  So, that's a win.

I also have to say that I am really, really grateful that I work for an organization that "gets" how important this early time is with a baby.  I got 12 weeks off.  I get to work from home almost exclusively for another 12.  Then, I have to commute to work just two days a week permanently thereafter.  Oh woe is me, right?  It's a good set-up.  I'm glad for that.  I'm also glad to have an at-home Nanny.  I can swoop in and get all the baby snuggles I want when I need them, and have someone else deal with that poopy diaper.  Plus, yesterday, she did laundry, unloaded the dishwasher, and tidied Abbey's room.  All of which frees up a little bit more quality time for me to have with Abbey.  And that's the only cure for a sad, working mother.

There is no perfect solution to the "Mommy Wars" as they are called.  The battle between working and staying home.  This is as close to perfect as I could get.  But even so, finding balance and muddling through all the mixed feelings will be a challenge, for sure.

Monday, February 14, 2011

There and Back Again

Getting on the plane.
I'll start this blog with a blanket apology to all of my friends in the Washington, DC Metro area.

I'm sorry.

Rumors are true, I was in town this past weekend.  I was in stealth mode and aside from family, I didn't see anyone.  There was just no way to pack it all in.  But I still love you.  All of you.  I do.

Moving on.

Uncle Jim, Cousin Molly & Abbey
Abbey and I took our first trip together to one of my favorite cities ever - and a very special place for her father and I given it's where we met, fell in love, and got married.  We traveled to Washington, DC to meet Uncle Jim, Aunt Val, and cousins Kelsey, Nathaniel and Molly.  We were also celebrating my big brother's milestone 40th birthday.  It was a special trip all around.

One thing was certainly missing.  At the last minute, a pile of work was dumped on Scott and he found himself in a difficult situation and unable to come with us.  We were sad.  I was angry.  Not angry so much at the hubs - not his fault, and he felt horrible - but angry with his employer.  But I quickly got over it when I remembered how rarely this kind of thing happens, and how comfortable we live thanks to said employer.  We'll let this one slide.  But it does suck all around that Abbey's Daddy missed her first trip.  Huge bummer.

Fortunately for Mommy (brave, brave Mommy) Abigail was the *perfect* baby all weekend.  She did not cry on the plane.  She did not cry in the car.  She did not cry near or far.  In fact the only real tears came at the end of brunch on our last day in town, and that was out of shear exhaustion and lasted all of maybe two minutes.  Thank you, sweet daughter, for behaving yourself.

...is she becoming a Caps Fan?
This trip also restored my faith in humanity.  Even though I made every effort to pack exceptionally light.  And I mean Exceptionally.  Babies still come with a lot of gear.  We had a backpack containing everything for the two of us (clothes, 2 oz toiletries since we didn't check bags, baby blankets, toys, breast pump accessories, and a lot of diapers), plus Abbey's diaper bag, 20 ounces of breast milk, a stroller and a car seat.  Getting it all through security on my own was tricky.  But both coming and going, there were kind fellow travelers - probably parents who had been there - who helped me along.  In particular, the folks at Denver's airport were so kind, offering a warm smile and a pat on the shoulder while saying, "take your time, dear.  It's not a race."  Thank you.  Seriously.

But mostly, the four star helper on this trip came in the form of an angelic flight attendant from Ireland.  How I wish I knew your name.  She hooked us up.  Extra pillows.  Free snacks for a nursing mom.  Two huge bottles of water (dude breast feeding on a plane makes one thirstier than the Sahara).  She held Abbey and walked her up and down the aisle so I could use the bathroom in peace.  She carried the diaper bag.  She set up the stroller when we arrived in DC.  She was wonderful.  So, United Airlines - whoever this flight attendant is who was on the plane from Denver to DC leaving Friday at 11.30 am.  She's a keeper. 

On the plane coming home.
By far the best part of the trip, however, was spending some quality time with the family.  Abbey's cousin Molly is deeply in love with baby Abigail.  Aunt Val was a trooper and watched Abbey for an afternoon while my brother and I enjoyed ourselves at a Caps game.  I rode in his Porsche.  Definitely a highlight.  We were out and about, the schedule was jostled, but Abbey just rolled with it, with bright wide eyes taking it all in.  And on the trip home, we both crashed out together on the plane.  While I'm not exactly eager to do it again anytime soon, the whirlwind trip was certainly a memorable success.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Mary Poppins

Our nanny is like a younger, modern version of Mary Poppins.

Okay, maybe I exaggerate.

But she's frickin' awesome.

This was our first week of letting someone else care for our baby.  I'm not going to lie, it was rough in the beginning.  More for me than for Abbey.  Abbey is fine.  But it's difficult to watch someone else care for your baby.  I was a wee mess of anxiety there for a while - full of worries.  Would she take a bottle?  Would she eat enough?  Will she cry the whole time?  Will she nap?  Will the dogs behave themselves?  Will the nanny be attentive? 

I'm happy to report it all went well.

There were some bumps along the way the first day.  Abbey wasn't thrilled to be with the nanny when she knew I was around.  She wasn't eager to take a bottle.  She wasn't eating a ton.  (Nothing will send me off to a neurotic spree like thinking my baby isn't getting enough to eat - how I OBSESS about this kid and how much she's eating and whether it's enough.)  But day two was awesome.  I mean AWE.SOME.  No crying! A nice long nap! Plenty of eating!  Tummy time!  Activities!  Singing!  Books! CLEAN BOTTLES AND COUNTERTOPS!

Yay.  And Whew.  Abbey was a champ - she had a great day.

I had a pretty good one, too.  I was only away from Abbey for a few hours at a time, and while it was nice to have a taste of freedom, I missed my girl every minute.  I also felt a little bit guilty to be shopping at Nordstrom Rack instead of being with her.  The ugly truth is I felt more like myself for the first time in months.  Well, the new version of myself.  Because everything has changed.  I'm glad for that.  I never thought that something would pry me from a sales rack so easily.

At the end of the day, after the nanny went home, we enjoyed a wonderful, tear-free night with our little one.  I made dinner for the first time in months, giving my husband a needed break after working all week.  He got to watch the hockey game uninterrupted.  I got to watch my DVR recording of "Grey's Anatomy" while Abbey napped in my arms.  We then enjoyed a restful 9 hours of sleeping baby overnight, and happy smiles this morning.  We all got a break from one another yesterday.  My worries have pretty much evaporated.

Thank you, Mary Poppins.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Better Than CATS

It was a rough morning this morning.

I woke up cranky.  Now that Abbey is sleeping through the night, I feel even more tired.  How is that possible?  I'm getting 7-8 hours of sleep a night, so boo hoo, right?  I think I must be needing some catch-up rest.  I didn't sleep well during the final weeks of my pregnancy and haven't slept well since.  Four months of not a lot of sleep adds up!  I go to bed at night, close my eyes, and next thing I know it's 5am and Abbey is chirping for breakfast.

So glad she's a good sleeper.

Usually, I leap out of bed quickly - happy to see my daughter again.  This first nursing of the day is often my favorite time with her.  She smiles up at me when I pick her up from her crib.  She holds my hand while nursing.  It's all pretty sweet and tender.

But this morning, I just wasn't feeling it.  I wanted to sleep more.  I was having a very good dream.  The bed was so warm and comfy.  But motherhood called.

Luckily, I thought to myself, I can chill after she goes back to sleep.  The second favorite part of my mornings now immediately follow that 5am feeding.  Abbey goes back to sleep for 2-3 hours, I watch The Today Show in bed with coffee, grab a shower, and make the bed.  It's my own personal routine.  It's also the only real "me time" that I get all day.  I love it.  I need it.  I count on having it every morning.  It helps keep me together.

But this morning, Abbey wasn't feeling it.

We nursed, as normal, had a diaper change, and she was giving me all the cues that she was ready to go back to sleep.  Unfortunately, every time she drifted off and I put her back in her crib, she woke up.  Fussier and crankier each time.  I tried all my tricks.  The swaddle.  The bouncy walk around the room.  The "sshhh".  Rocking in the chair.  Singing.  Different rocking positions.  Swaying.  No luck.  I grew more and more frustrated as my "me time" was waning.  I heard Scott get up and head to the shower, so I knew it was after 6am.  Then I heard him get out of the shower.  Then, the dogs needed to be let out.  All the while the sun was gently rising and the room was getting lighter.  Before I knew it, my "me time" had vanished and it was already time for Abbey's next feeding. 

I would feel like a bad mother for even admitting this, except I also know all parents have been there.  At one point, I just had to leave her whining alone in her crib, go into our bedroom and close the door.  Just to have a break.  It's not like she was screaming and inconsolable.  She just wanted to be held and sleep only in my arms.  But I didn't want that.  I wanted that brief amount of time that I need to get myself in a good place to take on the day.  So, I left her crying so I could make the bed.  Sad, isn't it?  That's what I would opt to do instead of soothing my crying child.  But she was safe in her crib, and I needed to step away.  A few minutes later, I returned to her room, she had calmed herself down a bit, I picked her up and we started over. 

I nursed her for a while, and then held her looking at her.  She was no longer sleepy, but all smiles.  I smiled back and bounced her on my lap.

And that's when it happened.

She got the biggest grin, opened her mouth wide, and laughed.

She laughed.

For the first time.  A sweet little giggle.  Looking right at me with a big, gummy grin and bright, shiny eyes.  My day had just taken a turn for the better.

Abbey laughed, I cried, and it was better than CATS.