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Monday, December 15, 2014

One month in: What to expect when you're expecting...

You know that book What to Expect When You're Expecting? It's like 700 pages long. The first and only page should read "we really cannot tell you what to expect, because it's likely nothing will go as you planned." Seriously.

No matter how many books we read, blogs we followed or moms we talked to, truly nothing prepared us for the reality of having a baby. We're one month (and a couple days) into this adventure, which on its own is hard to believe, and we are just starting to feel a tiny bit settled into life with baby. It is a wonderful, rewarding, scary, uncertain and sometimes terrible adventure that we wouldn't trade for anything in the world.
Attempting to take newborn photos. Believe it or not, this was the best shot of the three of us.
Please don' take this post as complaining, because we know we're lucky to have Ella. But we think not enough people are honest about how hard all of this is. And if we're anything, we're honest. And oversharers.

Here are a few things we thought we knew, but really didn't know at all.

1. We thought we wouldn't want any help. We felt strongly that we ought to bond as a little family unit. Well, two or three overnights with a newborn who isn't eating enough changed our minds pretty quickly on that one! We are now in "accept all help, any help" mode. And a big thank you to all of you who have held our baby while we cried. I mean slept. No, I mean cried.

2. We thought she'd sleep more. And therefore we'd sleep more. This particular baby just doesn't sleep that much. At first it was because she wasn't eating enough, but we fixed that. Now it's because she has a cold. But even in between, she's really awake a lot, especially in the middle of the night. Who would have thought??

3. We're in this together. Well, of course we are, but in reality, we hardly see each other. We split up the night into two shifts, with each of us on "baby duty" for 4 or 5 hours each night. That means one of us is in the living room with the baby (who is awake, of course) while the other sleeps in the bedroom, then we switch. Then Meg goes to work and Kate stays home with the baby. Then Meg comes home and tends the baby while Kate takes a nap. You see where this is going. We miss each other. We are so grateful that we started this journey with a strong relationship. I honestly don't know how people in rocky relationships survive the first month.

This pretty much sums up our relationship for the first month of Ella's life.
4. We'll instantly adore our baby. Don't get me wrong, we LOVE Ella. And some of the time we even LIKE her. But there are moments when we are not her biggest fan. When she's screaming at 2am, for instance, or when she poops on her clothes..blanket..your clothes..her feet..the rug.. I think we were both under the impression that some kind of magic baby spell was going to come over us that would make us not mind never sleeping, never leaving the house, and never taking a shower. Ok, we take the occasional shower, with one hand reaching around the curtain and bouncing Ella in her chair between lathers. Nobody feel either of our legs anytime soon because shaving is out of the question. As a good friend of ours (and fellow newborn mom) asked "Was there a moment, maybe 10 days in, when the joy wore off and you wondered...what did we get ourselves into?" In short, yes.

Don't let all this get you thinking we're not overjoyed to have our lovely little Ella. We are. We feel very lucky that our pregnancy journey was relatively uneventful and that she is healthy and mostly/sometimes happy. We're so grateful for all the love and support our friends and families have shown us and how welcoming they are of Ella. We are overflowing with adorable baby booties and handmade headbands and tiny dresses. We love it. We have a lot going for us. But that doesn't mean it isn't hard. People seem ashamed to admit that so here we are, breaking the ice.

PS: We promise we'll have funny gifs next time, when hopefully we'll be better rested!

Monday, December 1, 2014

We Have a Baby, or, Is That a Nipple in My Hair?

Sorry for the radio silence, but as we may have mentioned, WE HAVE A BABY! We can hardly believe it, even though we are completely consume with keeping her alive every single minute of every single day. Anyway, we thought we'd give you an overview of our first two weeks as parents. Don't let it deter you from having your own little stinker, because even after a really hard 14 days, we still love her more than anything.

We used to be cool (ok, maybe not).  We used to host dinner parties and go see plays.  We used to be able to hold a conversation. Today it's a victory if we can put a noun and a verb together.  As I sit here at 2am holding 8lbs of a tiny human who can barely lift her head, I find myself assessing how much poop she has had today.  What did it look like?  And, come to think of it, why does it look like she shotgunned deli mustard and sesame seeds?  When did I sleep last?  Or my favorite of Meg's deep thoughts: What are the ethics of holding a baby while you pee?

What the first 2 weeks feel like
No one talks about the first 2 weeks of having a newborn.  I don't know whether parents that have come before us see it as a rite of passage that we must encounter on our own or they've blocked it out of their memory like a horrible nightmare.  The first two weeks of having a baby are hard, y'all. I'm sure the next two weeks will be too...and the next and the next...but damn, those first two will get to you.

I'm going to say some things that may not be everyone's cup of tea, but I'm running on a 5 hour old cup of coffee and a power bar, so deal with it.

One of the hardest things I've ever encountered.  When the baby is first born she lives off her reserves
Ella's reaction to being fed formula
and then looks to you (ie: your boob) for colostrum.  This is what our body creates before the milk comes in.  I'm going to keep this portion brief- after many days of tag teaming holding our banshee-like screaming daughter for hour at a time I pumped and learned my body wasn't producing enough milk and she was starving.  We quickly grabbed the can of formula and a bottle and she inhaled it, giving us more than 1.5 hours of sleep for the first time since she was born.  I know it is told that we, as breastfeeding women, should push through this time as our milk *will* come in, but you know what?  I didn't.  And my daughter was happier.  My wife was happier.  And I didn't have a nervous breakdown.  

This topic is twofold.  When the postpartum nurse said that I am chock full of hormones and would cry (a lot) for no reason, she wasn't kidding.  I cried full on "the dog dies in this movie" tears because I put my underwear on backwards.  But I also cried at the sound of my own daughter's cries.  I don't know how it is scientifically put, but there is a place in every birth mom's mind that is wrecked by the sound of their child crying.  

And then that leads me to Ella's crying.  As Meg likes to remind me, babies cry.  It's their way of communicating.  I think the first hell week we had has traumatized me.  Every time she cries my whole body cringes and I have a mini emotional meltdown inside. I fear she will never STOP crying. Knock on far, she has always stopped crying.  Her crying is rational.  Me and my raging hormones are not.

You will get none. Until the grandparents swoop in and hold your screaming baby so you can sleep (in the same bed, even!) for one sweet, sweet hour. 

You will forget to brush your teeth, take out your contacts, eat, bathe and leave your house.  It will get easier day to day, particularly if you have an amazing partner to relieve you and/or kindly tell you that your breath smells like one of the characters from "The Walking Dead."  

Trying to get anything done on
Mommy Brain
They say to sleep when the baby sleeps. Well, that's great if you have a housekeeper and personal chef. If you don't, the minute the baby is asleep you will want to take care of all the things around the house that make it look like a tornado hit a diaper factory. You will wash a dish and then start some laundry and then remember you were washing a dish.  What's that smell?  Oh right you started cooking something... and now the house is on fire.

Baby Jeggings
In between the cries and the poop and leaky breasts, tiny baby clothes will make things ok.  Tiny socks, onesies with giraffes on them, knit hats.  And the outfits.  You will change the outfits three times a day due to formula overflow or diaper blowouts, but you will also change them because this is now your primary source of entertainment.  You will then take 8,000 pictures, post them on Facebook and break the internet- or at least overwhelm your friends to the point they may start blocking you.  Sorry team, but to those that stuck with us thus far thanks for playing.

At the end of the day- still not sure what hour that is as we don't know when the day ends or begins anymore- she's the best thing to happen to us.  And even at 2am, covered in formula, not sure when you had your last shower and crying at the Swiffer comercial with the cute old couple because hormones you look down at that face and think, "I'll keep her."