This is 40 (weeks)

Much like the Judd Apatow movie, This is 40, my pregnancy has been filled with ups and downs and plenty of big life changes. Also like the film, it’s too long.

Nolan was born at 38 weeks and while labor didn’t come as a complete surprise, it was early enough that I hadn’t been sitting around wondering, Was that a contraction? I’m peeing so much, could that be my water breaking? Is this it????

With this pregnancy, everyone told me, “You’ll probably go early.” Even my midwife warned me to be prepared. Well, fast forward to 40 weeks and here I am. Still pregnant. While the second half of October was filled with me keeping my fingers (and legs) crossed hoping I wouldn’t go into labor, now I’m so used to expecting it that I’ve almost forgotten it’s really going to happen. I kind of feel like I’ll just be pregnant forever.

These extra few weeks have added another layer to my pregnancy experience. Something new this time around is that nothing fits. Not even my maternity clothes. It’s like my maternity clothes need their own maternity clothes. The general recommendation when purchasing pregnancy clothes is that you buy them in your pre-pregnancy size. While this looks adorable at six or seven months, 40+ weeks doesn’t look cute in an XS tee-shirt. It’s like I’m a beer-bellied truck driver whose shirts don’t cover the bottom of his gut.

Worse than the shirts are the pants. With the exception of two very thin and sort of obscene pairs of maternity leggings, every pair of pants (and underwear) hurts. Anything that puts even the tiniest bit of pressure on my hips or pelvis is torture.

I have taken great enjoyment in seeing people’s faces when I answer the frequent question, “So when are you due??” The cashiers’ expressions at Home Depot and Target had a mix of horror and disbelief yesterday when I answered them, “Today.”

We prepped Nolan so much that I think he’s starting to wonder if I made this whole baby thing up. Starting a new school was tough for him, so although I’ve been home resting for the last few weeks, we have been telling him that I go to work after I drop him off in the morning. Lately I think he’s starting to doubt me. In the past week he has said things like:

Where’s your blue school bag?

What are you bringing for lunch today?

You’re wearing those pants to work? 

Now that I’ve put this in print, I’m sure I’ll go into labor tonight and wind up skipping my post-40 week testing at the doctor tomorrow. I’ll be relieved, but I will miss my coffee shelf.

coffee shelf

the best time of year to have a baby

Are certain times of the year better than others for having a baby? What about the best time of year to be pregnant? Having now been pregnant at two opposite times of the year, I’ve noticed some definite pros and cons to both.

After having Nolan in late April, I declared that I wanted my next baby to be born in November. Little did I know that three and a half years later, that’s exactly what would be happening. Having a spring baby last time meant I wasn’t pregnant for the hot summer (yay!), but I was losing my pregnancy weight and feeling lumpy and squishy during the summer months. Sheer, clingy tee shirts and jersey dresses were not kind to me when I was dealing with a post-pregnancy pooch. Also, who knew that you can’t use sunscreen on newborns and young infants?? With Nolan being only 2-4 months old during that first summer, we were limited with where we could go and what we could do. Sweltering hot cars weren’t a breeze to deal with either, but on the flip side, it was nice not having to worry about toting my newborn around in the snow and ice.

Being pregnant in the winter was good for cuddling up at home in comfy sweats, but winter maternity clothes aren’t very cute. All in all, I give spring a thumbs down for having a baby.

This time around, my awkward bloated first trimester was late winter/early spring so it wasn’t terrible hiding that. On second thought, all my students figured out I was pregnant weeks before I told them, so maybe I wasn’t hiding it so well…

Summer maternity clothes are much more flattering. Skirts and dresses are comfortable and help keep you cool. With the exception of a good pair of maternity jeans and black pants, I’ve stuck to buying regular bottoms with elastic waistbands.

I’ve been living in these comfy Nike shorts in a few colors. You might be surprised to know that I’m the model in that picture. No, really… [Edit: my mom thought I was serious about this picture being me. She even asked Matt if he took it. So just to be totally clear. That’s not me.]

I bought a bunch of maternity tops and dresses from Old Navy, as well as a few pull-on skirts from the regular women’s department like this one. I was pleasantly surprised by the very cute maternity dresses!

On the other hand, there are bathing suits. Because bathing suit shopping isn’t hard enough, a summer pregnancy means you struggle through that with a giant belly. My only advice there is get two-piece suits. Wrestling a one-piece bathing suit on and off every hour when you have to pee would be torture.

Weather, maternity clothing, post-pregnancy clothing, holidays … what else contributed to your liking or disliking the season you had a baby in?

preparing kid #1 for kid #2

As an only child in my 20s, I had definite ideas about how I envisioned my future family. Most importantly, it involved more than one child (and Matt. Duh). I never really minded being an only child when I was a kid. I had cousins to play with, tons of friends who thought their siblings were sooooo annoying, and I was always very close with my parents. Once I became an adult and I started noticing the relationships my friends now had with their sisters and brothers, that’s when it started bothering me. Seeing my parents and husband’s parents care for aging and ailing parents also reminded me that I don’t have siblings with whom I can share that job. (Thankfully, my parents are two fresh-faced crazy kids themselves, so I don’t have to worry about that for a while. Hi Mom and Dad! Thanks for letting us live in your house!!)

So back to having more than one child. After Nolan was born, I made up my mind: I am DONE. No more kids. I had a difficult delivery, and he wasn’t the easiest baby. By the time his first birthday rolled around, I turned a blind eye to all that and remembered all the reasons I don’t want just one. Fast forward a few years and here we are, expecting baby #2!

Nolan, like most toddlers, tends to be, let’s call it…persistent. He doesn’t forget anything and he loves nothing more than to repeat himself. For that reason and a few others, we decided to wait about 4.5 months before we told him. The conversation was pretty amusing:

Me: Have you noticed that my belly looks kind of big and round?

Nolan: No, I don’t think your belly looks big.

Me: Oh, well it is. What could be in there that’s making it so big?

Nolan: Ummmm… food? Milk? Yogurt?

Needless to say, he never guessed correctly and we just came out and told him.

That was about a month ago and he hasn’t been too curious since then. He sometimes talks about teaching his baby brother to play hockey and baseball. He periodically rubs my belly and says, “There’s a baby in there?” And tonight he told me we should name the baby Moonaganna.  I think the two books we put into the bedtime rotation have helped quell his curiosity.

The first is a classic that I loved as a child, The Berenstain Bears’ New Baby.

I remembered very little about this book other than Brother Bear outgrowing his bed just in time. Upon rereading it, I was surprised to find that (spoiler alert!) Mama Bear delivers the baby alone in her home while Papa and Brother are out building a new bed. I’m still not sure if I feel empowered or degraded by that.

The next book I bought after seeing it recommended on Rebecca Woolf’s blog. It’s Sophie Blackall’s The Baby Tree.

The Baby Tree is narrated by a little boy who finds out his parents are expecting a new baby, and he doesn’t understand where the baby will come from. He asks people in his family and neighborhood and gets all sorts of backwards and roundabout answers until he asks his parents who finally explain it. At first I was worried that the book was too old for Nolan; not in the sense that it’s inappropriate in any way, but I wasn’t sure he would be interested in the story or understand enough of it. Well, I was wrong and he loves it. The illustrations are beautiful and there is even a page after the story with more specific answers to kids’ questions about conceiving and delivering babies.

How did you prepare your children for new siblings? Did you find that they were excited or did the jealousy begin before the baby even arrived?

Baby Gear Part II – Nursing and Feeding

In case you missed Part I in the series, here are my recommendations for nursery furniture.

The First Born, Fred Elwell 1913

Buying gear for nursing and feeding ahead of time is tricky because it’s hard to know, especially for a first time mom, what you and your baby will like. For that reason, I would avoid buying a lot of anything beforehand, or if you do buy it, don’t open it all in case you need to return it. Here are some of the items that worked for our family. Again, I’ve labelled the items as Buy It, Borrow It, or Believe Me, You Don’t Need It.

Bottles – BUY IT 

Bottles are a prime example of a time when babies prefer different types. I registered for Thinkbaby bottles because that’s what the lady in Giggle recommended, but Nolan couldn’t suck from them. There is nothing wrong with that brand, my friend’s baby loves them. The lesson is don’t go crazy opening and sterilizing a bunch of bottles (like I did) until you see what your baby likes.  A quick search on Amazon revealed that Dr. Brown’s seem to be the crowd favorite and they worked for us as well. I used the plastic ones with Nolan, next time around I may try the glass.

Solid Food Supplies – BUY IT sparingly

At around six months, your baby will probably be ready to try solid food. Your pediatrician might say four months and he or she is wrong, but that’s just my (and the American Academy of Pediatrics’) opinion. If you plan on making your child’s baby food, just remember that eating nothing but purees is a pretty brief period so it’s not worth spending a ton of money or kitchen space on babyfood making products. A blender or food processor and cheap vegetable steamer get the job done.

Breastfeeding Supplies

Nursing Pillow – BUY IT and BORROW IT

The two nursing pillow favorites seem to be the Boppy and My Brest Friend. For newborns, the My Brest Friend is great. It is very firm and creates a stable shelf-like surface for your baby to nurse. After a few months however, it becomes unnecessary and it’s kind of a pain to get on and off. It’s also an even bigger pain to remove and replace the cover, which you’ll do fairly often when your baby is spitting up/peeing/poop-sploding on it on a regular basis. The Boppy is great for after the newborn phase and makes a lovely pillow for you. It’s soft and squishy and I still love snuggling with it. My recommendation is buy the Boppy and borrow the My Brest Friend.

My Brest Friend

Boppy

Breast Pump – BUY IT

If you’re breastfeeding and plan on leaving your house without your baby, you will need a breast pump. A good one is expensive but it’s absolutely necessary. Go with a Medela.

Nursing bras and tanks – BUY IT

Depending on how boobalicious you are, you might be able to get away with comfy camisoles most of the time. Before having a baby I thought I’d be worried about exposing a boob in public. Ha! The boob is easy to cover up, it’s your stomach you’ll really want to cover. Camisoles solve that problem because the front comes down to nurse and no belly is exposed. Win-win. Go with one that’s mostly cotton. I had one that was a bunch of synthetic fabrics and it made me want to claw my eyes out. I bought many of my favorite bras and tanks at Target.

Nursing Cover – BELIEVE ME, YOU DON’T NEED IT (sort of)

Use an Aden and Anais blanket instead (tie two ends to make a neckhole). It’s thin and breathable and offers more coverage than a nursing cover.

Other Breast Feeding Stuff – Send your husband and/or mom out to BUY IT when you figure out what you need

You may need nipple shields if your baby has trouble latching, nursing pads for leaking (heads up: that doesn’t last forever!) and other fun (sarcasm) stuff.

The most important thing you’ll need for breastfeeding is SUPPORT!!!

Even though I read a lot ahead of time and spoke with a lactation consultant, once the baby was actually here I felt completely clueless. There was one lactation consultant for all of Winthrop Hospital and she could barely squeeze me in for ten minutes. Nolan wasn’t latching on one side and because her time was so limited, she pretty much just shrugged her shoulders and said, “Ok, well good luck.”

If you have people in your family or close friends who breastfed, they can be invaluable help. Don’t be shy. Boobs are boobs. Prior to giving birth, make contact with a lactation consultant so that you can quickly make an appointment at home if you need it. There are tons of breastfeeding support groups and again, try to gather the information on them before you give birth.

My dear friend Liz gave me this book and it was extremely helpful in the first few months.

Ok, so what am I missing? What feeding items did you find most or least helpful?

Baby Gear Part I – Nursery Furniture

With babies popping up (out?) all over the place, and Nolan officially a toddler, I thought now was a good time to collect my thoughts and put together a list of what has been most useful to me in this first year of motherhood. I labelled each item as, Buy It, Borrow It, or Believe Me, You Don’t Need It. Just to clarify, when I say Borrow It, I literally mean borrow because you are giving it back. Being given something, such as a crib, because the owner really never wants it back, falls under Buy It.

Crib – BUY IT

The most important piece of furniture in your nursery, the crib can also be the hardest to choose. Although you may not even have one baby yet, it’s smart to look a few years down the road to help you decide what kind of crib you’ll want. Many become toddler beds with a removable side rail, some become a double-bed headboard (not so useful if you’re working with a small space and will wind up putting your child in a twin-sized bed), and some are not convertible at all. Consider how many children you want, and how many years they’ll be spaced apart (assuming things go as planned), to make the most practical choice for you. We chose the Sparrow Crib from Oeuf for our house and my parents generously purchased a Jenny Lind-style crib from Amazon (under $200) for their house. Jenny Lind cribs look like the one below and come in a variety of finishes and colors.

This is our crib (in Nolan’s room!)

Our crib converts to a toddler bed like this:

Changing Table – BELIEVE ME, YOU DON’T NEED IT

A changing table is nice for having open storage, but if your kid is anything like mine, the table loses its diaper-changing function when the baby is seven or eight months old. Nolan squirmed, rolled, sat up and climbed so much that we had to start doing all diaper changes on the floor. Instead, buy the changing pad and three (yes, three) inexpensive covers and attach the pad to the top of a sizeable dresser.

Dresser – BUY IT (used)

Dressers are expensive! Like, whoa, what the what, expensive. Go to a thrift store or garage sale and buy a high-quality wooden dresser that has seen better days and paint it. Or if you’re me, balk at exposing your fetus to paint fumes and ask your mom to paint it. Look for drawers that are made of solid wood and not fiberboard since it tends to sag and break over time like everything in my bedroom from Ikea. Painted furniture looks so lovely in a baby’s room. This is Nolan’s dresser that my mom painted. I bought new hardware online.  It’s cute but too small:

Here are some additional ideas for painted dressers:

Bookshelves/Bookcase – BUY IT

Like the dresser, you can buy used shelves and paint them, but there are more affordable options out there if you want new ones. Even though I have sworn off buying furniture from Ikea since my bedroom looks like an Ikea graveyard, I would make an exception for the Expedit shelves for a kid’s room. They kind of look like crap in the store just sitting there empty, but they can be dressed up with baskets and other niceties.

Bassinet – BORROW IT

I loved having a bassinet in our bedroom for Nolan’s first few months. Newborns are heavy sleepers but wake up often for feedings and having a bassinet bedside made for a much easier night. We borrowed one from my sister-in-law and kept the one that came with our stroller in the living room. Depending on your baby’s size, you’ll likely use a bassinet for no longer than four or five months. Since it will be stowed away in your room, don’t get hung up on what it looks like or if it’s your style, etc. Definitely buy a few bassinet sheets for the inevitable middle of the night, “He peed through the diaper!” moments. Those are great.

Glider/Rocker – BUY IT if you want a few kids or think you’ll keep it in your bedroom when your kids are older, otherwise, BORROW IT.

I’m probably not the person to speak to about gliders because I chose the Luca Glider, which is the same one as Rachel Zoe. To be fair, I had it first.  It was (another) generous gift from my parents and I love it and I’m not going to apologize for it. So there. Oh, and I got the matching ottoman. You can certainly find less expensive options at the major baby places. This is the chair in Nolan’s room, next to the changing table I wish I never bought:

Moms and moms-to-be, what nursery furniture do you love/recommend? Where did you find inspiration when creating your nurseries?

Stay tuned for Baby Gear Part II – Nursing/Feeding

Eight Month Update

Last month I said I didn’t think I could get any bigger. I was wrong! On a semi-regular basis people tell me I am not going to make it to my May 9th due date. I’m pretty sure that means I’ll be giving birth in a week or by the end of June.

Pregnancy Awesomeness:

– still barely shaving my legs

– people smile at me and hold doors open more often than they did before

– I get to take my baby everywhere I go but I don’t yet have to change diapers, feed him, etc.

– strangers readily see that I am pregnant and don’t assume I’m just emotionally eating (which I also do)

– food is delicious

Pregnancy Awfulness:

– I have bursitis (inflammation of a joint) in my hip and have not slept more than a few hours each night for the last three weeks

– My stomach is a distraction to my students, particularly the ones in the front row who occasionally see it move. Needless to say it’s been awkward for all involved parties.

– Strangers sometimes stare at me in horror with the, “You’re a teen mom who probably got pregnant after watching that MTV show and now my tax money is paying for your prenatal care” look. I feel like saying to them, “I’m not a teen mom, and even if I was, the last thing I would need is that judgmental look coming from your ugly face.” So there.

– I’m hungry. All the time.

My mom and I spent the day together yesterday and before she left my house she asked to take a few pictures. What ensued was an awkward, contentious, and hilarious “photo shoot.” The conversation basically went like this:

“Ok, tell me when to smile.”

“Don’t smile!”

“Then what should I do?”

“Don’t look at the camera.”

“Where should I look?”

“I don’t know, at the dog, out the window.”

“Ok but what do I do with my face??”

“Just don’t pose! Oh, these are awful pictures. Stop talking so much!”

“Just let me smile!”

“No! Your smile is too damn big.”

“You paid for my braces!”

You get the point. Here are a few:

As you can see Baxter is trying his hardest to adapt to my shrinking lap. I spend most nights relaxing in my new glider (thanks, Mom and Dad!) which we set up in the living room for now. He struggles a bit to get settled but is making do with the space that’s left.

Barreling into 28 Weeks, Stomach First

I know I’m going to look back and laugh at myself, but at this point I think, “How could I possibly get any bigger??”

Now strangers are noticing and approach me with a smile saying, “When are you due?” As of yet I haven’t had the balls to say, “I’m not pregnant!!!”

Progress is happening in the nursery, slowly but surely. We bought bamboo shades at Lowe’s ($17 per window!). They look pretty close to these:

image: lowes.com

We haven’t put them up yet but they look nice lying on the floor. I ordered a rug from Overstock.com last Sunday and it was delivered two days later! Ok, so it was delivered to the abandoned house next door, but it was delivered somewhere just two days later.

image: overstock.com

The crib and changing table will be delivered next week and we’ll try our best to put them together without calling either of our dads in a panic.

Weird pregnancy stuff:

– my leg hair has almost entirely stopped growing (awesome!)

– my ribs feel like they are being ripped open and when I sit down I get the sensation that someone is jabbing his thumb into my back (not awesome)

– my hair has become non-oily enough that I can actually shower before bed and not have to wash my hair by 10 am (awesome!)

– Baxter still has no idea I’m pregnant.  Even when he lays in my lap and gets kicked by the baby, he seems to pay no attention. He’s in for a rude awakening…

– being pregnant is a great reason to get massages. I’m looking forward to one at Nordstrom next week!