Monday, March 17, 2014

The Days.

49 days of Squishy, the world's most amazing baby EVER. Aaron and I manage to laugh everyday, and while we bicker a fair amount (that might mean a lot) but so far we get over it pretty quickly.

My favorite thing to do with her is to take a bath. I hopped in one day last week and have bathed her like that ever since. She responds really well to lounging in the bath chair and being scrubbed down, but seems to really love it when I float her around, dunk her little bum in, and splash water over her stomach. She whines when she's ready for a warm towel wrap and cuddling. She lets me do what I want, and then makes it known she has a say.

And there are the moments as a family when Aaron and I can barely stand it. The other day he had Bright Eyes playing in his bathroom, and listened to "First Day of My Life" a few times and I could hear it as we nursed and cuddled. I started crying around the middle of listen two of the song, as the lyric "I'm so glad I didn't die before I met you" came out through the door. Aaron rolled in, and we all made a sweet memory together, as a family.

Then I explained to him something I'm not sure he had ever considered before: Without him, I wouldn't have anything I have now. I wouldn't have our little family at all. Not the puppy, not the baby, not the husband. This is the family built out of injury. What we have is maybe because of what happened in September 2011. I have to thank the worst day of my life for giving me the best days of my life. I'm not grateful for Aaron's losses, but...

When I figure that out, I'll let you know. It's a give and take on a daily basis. Acceptance is not the same as moving on. I don't think "moving on" is necessarily what happens. 918 days later... but I don't count so much anymore. Not since I began counting baby. 49 days. I wish I'd figured it out sooner.

At least I figured it out now.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Next Part.

Last spring, before I knew how much and how everything was going to change, I met with Shoulder2Shoulder to discuss shooting a short documentary. Shorts are around 15 minutes, meaning that your story needs to make an impact and follow through. At the time, it was going to be aimed at the wounded and military community. We met with and selected a director, an NYU Tisch school grad who had already established herself with her thesis short. She usually worked with narrative, but after our coffee "date" became inspired to shoot our journey, and I am so glad it worked out. Above all else, I gained a very dear friend from the experience.

So it is with glee, excitement, and a little anxiousness that I am so very thrilled to announce that The Next Part will be debuting at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival. When we began shooting, we had no idea where it was going to go, or even what story we were going to tell. We didn't even know I was pregnant.

So if you fancy us, please follow the The Next Part facebook page and check out the website for the film.

Monday, March 3, 2014


The DC area is on its 532nd snow day of this winter, but we've been on an extended vacation since Aaron's last surgery in November. Retirement followed, with the holidays behind it, and then baby came end of January. So while it's been busy, we've really had nowhere to be (save for the hospital on my due date, that is). So what do we do all day?

Well, we get organized. We hold and feed and cuddle and stare at our baby. We cook. We clean a little. Nap. Stare at baby some more. I read things on babies, breastfeeding, and the news. Take pictures. Snack.

And I know this isn't a real life, and we have to start doing things here soon. School, appointments, stuff. Aaron has a better reason for taking this time than I do, considering he worked for 10 years before being in recovery for over two. He's worked harder than anyone else I know, and now he gets to enjoy his family for a bit.

But it's been hard on all of us.

And we're doing something we never even dreamed of, because when you lose a lot you don't dare hope for too many normal things.

One day, we'll be a little bit more like everyone else with jobs and school, at least things that we'll do during business hours, and we'll try to do all the chores after five and on the weekends. But for now, we are going to take this little break. We're going to cuddle like it's the end of the world. We'll let this new little human get to know us. Take pictures of a puppy sniffing a crying baby.

It doesn't have to be so difficult anymore. A lot less is going to hurt. It might not always be this way, so we'll revel in it now. Just a little bit longer.

 A few weeks ago we tried a headband.
 Chilling on daddy's nub.
 From October 2011 to Valentine's 2014. Not even two and a half years apart. Just... unbelievable.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Baby Things.

So, thirty or so days in, and I feel like maybe we're getting the hang of this a little bit. We're starting to see some regularity in a few things, and I feel brave enough to introduce some scheduled activities a few days a week. We were going to start every-other-night baths tonight, but our little Squishy girl has had a very upset stomach today and I am not going to subject her to something else new. Thank Zues for gripe water and the ability to hold and cuddle her as much as she desires. She smells a little, so hopefully tomorrow is better and I can clean her. We gave her some thawed milk today, and I wonder what was in it. We'll try again from that batch in a few days, and if this happens again I will throw it out. Poor girl (and me, for having to throw out milk).
We have also found a few regular items in our baby stash. So, as a new mom, I feel compelled to write about it since it is probably the most interesting thing in my life at the moment. Introducing our baby favorites!

Tommee Tippee Bottles: Ya'll, I bought and registered for Avent and Dr. Brown's but got a very good Tommee Tippee coupon from Target. I wish I had not bought Dr. Brown's because unless you have a gassy baby, there isn't any reason to take on those bottles. I am currently giving away my box of 5 Dr. Brown's. The Avent are great, by the way. Aaron and I both like them a lot, but since Avent has its own pump and storage system, there aren't adapters out there. Also, the bottles don't have storage lids, but disposable storage seals which doesn't appeal to me at all. I like the Avent nipples best and the bottles are quite sturdy, but Tommee Tippee has been just as great. Also, the Tommee Tippee are smaller than Avent but hold just as much ( 4/5 oz and 9 oz). The bottles do have lids and pump adapters, which was the deciding factor for going forward. With good deals, coupons, and gift cards I ordered lids (6 to pack) and pump adapters, along with some extra nipples and larger bottles. Aaron didn't like that I ordered blue along with pink, but I am determined that blue does not mean "boy." I really liked the "prince" bottle design, but I can't gender neutralize the word "prince" like I can the color blue. Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature bottles are made in China, but are BPA free. I do not wash them in the dishwaser but with Babyganics bottle soap. I allow the bottles and pump parts to soak so there isn't a need for a ton of scrubbing, if any.

Pampers Swaddlers Sensitive: I have bought several different brands of diapers. The first were Babyganics organic, which are waxy and stiff. I swear they were first too big then became too small. I regret trying these diapers and returned the unopened packs. Then I tried Honest Company diapers, which are super cute and not so waxy and stiff, but still not a great fit. I love the wipes though, and am currently awaiting an Essentials bundle to try some other products. I put the monthly delivery on hold for now, but maybe they'll work in the future. I think the mission and quality of diaper is great, but nothing has worked as well as Pampers Swaddlers. I did learn that no diaper will ever fit as well as a newborn diaper, because the margin of weight is the smallest. The size ones go from 8 pounds to 14, which is a lot of time for a diaper to be a bit big and a bit small, but they still fit better than anything else. I tried some Target size 1 diapers and I think they run bigger than the Swaddlers, so I have benched the pack until she's 10 pounds or so. I would really like to get her into an organic diaper or Target, but if it they don't fit I won't force it. So until then, I'll be entering Pampers Rewards numbers into the site. We are done trying to save money on diapers because trying them is expensive! Baby Gear Lab is like the Consumer Reports of baby stuff and had the best diaper review, by the way.

Swaddler wraps: OMG, these are the best. I also have used the zipper newborn "pod" in the these early weeks, which helped with diaper changes (the bottom zips as well as the top, so we could unzip the bottom and leave her arms wrapped). She responds really well to being wrapped up in these, especially for a late night nursing session. I already have a few in the next size, but don't rush it: they are huge. So finally something that baby will use for awhile. I came across some info on a lactivist site about how swaddling isn't comforting but basically wrapping the babe into submission, but I am not sold enough to stop making baby burritos just yet. She self-soothes when we wrap her in a blanket, though (sucks on her hands), which I really like her doing since she did it her first day in this world. However, we've gotten a little heavy with the pacifier use, so she's fine wrapped tightly with as long as there is a paci in her mouth to start. She does spit it out before sleep, though. I don't know how I feel about pacifier use yet, and how long we'll allow it: a year? Two years? Should it have been never? Argh. But for now, I'm a parent who wraps her kid and gives her a dummy to suck on to soothe her. Everyone is happy.

Even though TriCare Standard/Extra approved a pump to be covered by insurance (Medela Pump in Style Advanced), we are currently renting a Medela Symphony from the hospital for about $2.50/day. The hospital pump pulls ounces more milk from me than my portable, which has been important since my supply shrunk a little lately. I am very lucky that I can pump and still feed her whenever needed, so I want to stash as much as I can to help get me through the summer when we'll be traveling a lot and I won't have the Symphony anymore. If you're going to be at home for any length of time and are able to breast feed and pump, I really suggest forgoing buying a pump and instead renting one. These things retail for over two thousand dollars, so it's not like anyone other than Michelle Duggard would benefit from buying one over renting. Also, if you rent and don't get a pump, it might be covered by insurance, as well.

Our little Squishy has been doing quite well these days, save for today. Aaron and I make a pretty good team even if we don't get along all of the time. We work together on a feeding schedule and trying to stay on top of the housework. One of us needs to start doing things outside of the house more often, though. We are around each other quite a bit! He went to the grocery store today; I went and got some pants that fit, which don't have an elastic top. What a novel idea. And on that note, I'm off. Hope you're all doing fabulous!

Monday, February 17, 2014

21 Days Of Baby.

We're 3 weeks out from surgery and birth, and so far it hasn't been too bad! I started feeling much better after 2 weeks, and now my incision site just burns a little. We've had a ton of amazing help, from my in-laws to my mom and some friends and even a newborn sitter. We've been able to stay about water with the house and not completely lose our minds.

Aaron is doing an incredible job as a new dad. I think he's adjusted better than I have. He takes the late night feeding and I do the early morning. He dozes a lot during the day whereas I have to actually go to the bed to sleep for an hour. Right now, Aaron's got the baby sleeping in his arms. We know we have to start putting her down more, but for now she's little and new and all the love in the world isn't going to hurt her. We'll focus on sleeping habits and schedule in a few more weeks. For now, we enjoy.

As far as baby girl is concerned, she's a mover and shaker. Diaper changes are usually a battle of legs kicking and torso twisting. You'd think we were torturing her. She eats a lot already, and thankfully I've been able to keep up and pump some extra for night feedings and the fridge. If I really committed to it, I think I could feed her all day and pump a day's worth, but ugh- I'm pretty wore out as it is! I'll address it later. Right now I'm just so thankful I've been able to nurse. That said, I'm no "lactivist." To each their own, and just because a mother doesn't nurse doesn't make her any less of a parent. Fed babies are healthy babies and that's the end of that.

As far as recovery, I feel about 90%. It took nearly two weeks for me to feel good enough to drive, which I wasn't supposed to do until the doctor cleared me at that point, anyway. During those first two weeks, I made a few trips out for supplies. It is only the past several days that I feel that I could put on real clothes and get out for a little bit each day, even just to walk around the block or pick up milk (the grocery store is literally right next door). I've piddled around the house so laundry and dirt don't back up, and some days are better than others. I'm still wearing my pregnancy jeans, but I look pretty normal, I guess. My body is not the same and just because I'm "tiny" doesn't mean this is what I want to look like for the foreseeable future. I can't wait to be cleared to exercise. It'll be good for me to be able to go jog a bit and lift some weights.

I 100% believe that I have not totally lost my mind because I respected my surgery and have allowed myself to recover from it. That said, I've been privileged enough to have support around to make sure I didn't have to do anything I wasn't supposed to do. But let me say it again- a Cesarean is not an easy way out, nor would I even suggest it as an equal alternative to vaginal childbirth. I am still glad I had it scheduled, but it's a guaranteed very rough following 10 days to 2 weeks. I will not be cleared for "normal life" until 5-6 weeks. I can feel my incision if I make a sudden move or just walk more than usual. While the whole journey the past 21 days has been better than anything I could have expected, we've still had challenges. I can't imagine doing it alone or with little support. God bless those women.

Well, our little Squishy is up again and she probably wants to eat again. It's a regular thing.