Gear Post: Baby Number Two

Pinterest Board

Now that I’ve had the baby for a few months, let’s talk gear. There’s a TON of stuff on the market, and everyone you ask has a different opinion on what’s crucial and what’s crap. (The reason for this: every baby’s different! There’s no way to know for sure what will work for your baby until you try! Ugh.)

Rory’s kind of a high-maintenance baby in a way that Ellison wasn’t – he wanted to be held, while she wants to be entertained. Here’s the stuff that’s been awesome for her:

  • Cradle ‘N Swing: Rory believes babies should always be in motion. This swing saved my sanity.
  • Teethers: I like the Comotomo one, and the Winkel is hands-down Rory’s favorite because it’s easiest to grab.
  • International Playthings Flash Beat Drum: The only electronic baby toy I actually like. Ellison had one. (He still jumps up and dances when the songs come on.)
  • Kidsme Food Feeder: She can gnaw to her heart’s content without swallowing any chunks.
  • Bumbo: She’s pretty much figured out how to get out of it now but for a while it was great.
  • She’s not attached to a lovie the way some babies are, but she really likes this one.
  • If your baby drools even half as much as my babies do, you will need drool bibs.
  • I got this wipes thing on accident thinking it was a wipes warmer (hello, fourth trimester sleep deprivation, how are you?) but it turned out to be kind of useful. More useful, though, are these changing pad liners, which make it so I don’t have to wash the changing pad cover nearly as often.
  • I am deeply in love with the Puj bath. Used it a ton when Rory was a newborn.
  • I got a Mei Tai because the Ergo was hurting my back (and also because we didn’t have the infant insert). LOVE it. Matt can’t wear it but loves the Ergo.
  • If your little is too little for high chairs but wants to sit in one anyway, this Leachco strap will make your day. Keep in mind it’s a little too short for a standard restaurant high chair, so buy a piece of Velcro to extend it and you will be very happy.

I’ve started a Pinterest board that I’ll add to as Rory grows so you can follow along with the current gear recs.

Muscle Amnesia

Oh the things you forget.

First up: babies? Messy. There’s cradle cap and baby acne and spit up and everything to do with diapers – not to mention whatever things exist in neck folds (seriously, don’t look in there). You think you remember diapers, at least, and how many of them can require changing in the space of, say, one hour. You are wrong.

Sleep dep: harsh. Again, you think you remember, and you think you can maybe do better this time. You are mistaken on both counts. (Fun fact: posting on Facebook about how tired you are at roughly three days post-partum does not elicit the expected sympathetic noises from other moms, but rather a stream of one-ups rendered even more bewildering by the fact that you are so tired you actually literally can’t see straight.)

It takes time for the belly to disappear. I mean, you knew this, but for some reason you also expect to fit into your pre-preg jeans at 2 weeks pp, which: no.

Nursing: hurts. You remember this. What you don’t remember is that, in the first few weeks, when the baby latches it feels EXACTLY like she is clamping down with a mouthful of needles.

The other thing you have forgotten, maybe: it’s totally worth it.

smiley

Really, you guys?

I’m taking some time off to have a baby. I am self-employed, and even if I weren’t, maternity leave is kind of a thing. I made sure to give all my clients plenty of advance notice so that I could wrap up any ongoing projects and they could work out alternate solutions for any problems/updates/edits that may come up while I’m unavailable. Reactions to this have been…interesting:

“…when you get back from your vacation…”
“I know you’re going to be hanging out with your baby, but can you just take this one project at the end of August?” (Note: my due date is August 26.)
“Okay, but you haven’t had the baby yet – why aren’t you taking any new work?”
“Oh of course, you’re going to spend some time doing the mommy thing – but you’ll still be able to do little updates to my site, right?”
“I understand you’re going on sabbatical, but…”

Call me unreasonable, but I am sort of baffled by this. It’s not a “vacation.” I am not taking an extended break to work on my French. I’m going to be giving birth, recovering from giving birth, and caring for a newborn. Even if I have some downtime (in between extended bouts of breastfeeding and the minutiae of parenting a baby and a seven year old) I’ll be severely sleep-deprived. All of which is why I am taking some time off from work.

(I’d assumed that by calling it “maternity leave,” I wouldn’t have to explain any of that.)

I love my day job, and I’m looking forward to jumping back into it when I’m ready. In the US there are no laws or benefits that allow self-employed and freelance folks to go on maternity leave, and I feel lucky to be in a position where I can take time off to recover from childbirth and care for my new baby. I don’t think any of that means I’m suffering from a lack of commitment to my work or a sudden attack of A Woman’s Place Is In The Kitchen. I think it means I’m being realistic, knowing my limits, and choosing the best course of action for my business as well as my family.

And I love that, too.

Bumpity bump

The Bump at 20 weeks

So there are a ton of celebrities who are pregnant right now,* which leads to one of my least-favorite tabliodisms: The Bump. Firstly, ‘bump’? Really? I guess it has more zing than “pregnant belly” but it sounds like some sort of accessory. Which is exactly how it’s treated by the media, which seems to think that The Bump is something akin to a really gaudy engagement ring or a new tattoo. A celebrity is “hiding her bump in a thick winter coat” or “showing it off in a fitted maternity dress.” Just…really? It’s part of her body, dude (the media doesn’t mind if I call it dude, right?).

As I am currently sporting a Bump all my own, I can unquestionably say that it is impossible to leave that thing at home. When it’s cold, I wear a jacket over it, which I suppose does serve double-duty by hiding it from potential paparazzi. When it’s warm, The Bump is more visible, and I guess that could be construed as showing it off, though I am not entirely sure what choice I have. Personally I wouldn’t say I was showing it off unless I had festooned it in garlands or painted it neon or something, but YMMV.

I feel bad for celebrities, is what I’m saying. Except for the part where they have more money and (generally) better hair than I do.

*Yes, I know, there are always pregnant celebrities, and indeed pregnant non-celebrities, but I always notice them more when I am also pregnant because obviously they are copying me. What.

So this happened.

positive

So, I’m up the duff. Bun in the oven. Etc. (Only one bun; the two tests are for OCD purposes only.)

That’s right, we’re having another baby! Here are the deets:

  • I’m due at the end of August
  • Not nearly as pukey as last time
  • Kid = VERY excited

 

Just put ’em in a box and be done with it

Yesterday in my feed reader I saw these articles one after the other:

1) 5 Places NOT to Take a Toddler (Rants from Mommyland)
2) Less Outdoor Playtime for Preschool Girls (NYT’s Motherlode)

Go ahead and read them both. I’ll wait.

Right, so you’ve got one article – which I almost think has be a joke – saying that you should never bring your child ANYWHERE EVER. Seriously, she lists the pediatrician’s office and the library as places that should remain child-free. I can almost understand the library argument IF she were referring to the adult section, but no, this is the kid’s section she’s talking about. And the ped’s office? I ASSUME she means siblings here, and what, you’re supposed to get a babysitter every time you need to bring your other kid for a checkup?

Then you’ve got the other article, which is all YOU ARE RUINING YOUR GIRLCHILDREN BY KEEPING THEM INDOORS (I’m paraphrasing). Apparently the parents of boys are 16% more likely to take their children outside daily. O…kay. This is my favorite bit:

This is a statistic that comes with plenty of caveats. More than 80 percent of the children were in some type of nonparental childcare arrangement, and may have gone outside daily as a part of that arrangement. There was no information available as to the season during which parents responded to the question (one that many people would answer very differently in August than in February).

Yes: don’t trust this statistic, but LET’S TOTALLY TRUST THIS STATISTIC. Because “sometimes kids don’t play outside” doesn’t sound as link-baity as “girls are withering away to nothing while boys run amok in the streets.” (Again: paraphrased.)

The two articles side-by-side, though, pretty much exemplify everything you’re told as a new parent. Don’t bring your kid anywhere that they could bother anyone, but don’t keep them in the house, either. If they make any ruckus in public you’re creating a nuisance, but if you don’t bring them out into the world you’re coddling them. NO MATTER WHAT CHOICE YOU MAKE, IT’S THE WRONG ONE.

Here’s what I think: use your judgment. Bring your kid to the library, YES PLEASE, but don’t drag them through the reference stacks with you. Teach your child to use a quiet voice even in the children’s section, but seriously, anyone who is annoyed by the sound of children’s voices in the children’s section is a dick. (That doesn’t mean your precious snowflake should be shrieking and bopping the other kids with board books; again, judgment. Use it.)

And kids should play outside, YES, but let’s dial back the panic stats, okay? Parents don’t need to hear all the ways that they’re MAYBE POSSIBLY failing their kids. Encourage your children to run around, whether you bring them outside that day or not. Look, I just solved your problem. YOU’RE WELCOME.

The Six-Year-Old Teenager and Other Stories

Is this thing on?

So I know you’ll all be shocked, but parenting a 6 year old is HARD. Here I thought that as soon as he started school it’d be all smooth sailing, but he has all these opinions and ideas and stuff. Also energy. My kid will literally run around in circles, for fun. We make jokes about hamster wheels. (They are only partly jokes.)

The kid is a teenager in disguise. He tells us, quite seriously and often, that he knows more than we do and that he’s always right. We explain things, and he dismisses our words out of hand (“You’re wrong. I know.”). There are many, many episodes that involve storming off to his room.

And then he comes and snuggles up and argues about who loves who more, and we wonder how we could ever have thought he was anything other than a very little boy.

mama and ellison Those are my days: hair-pulling frustration followed by heart-bursting affection. Was this what I expected when I was so desperate to be a parent? I barely even remember what it was like to not have a kid. How much free time I must have had! How much sleep I must have gotten! Except I do remember being terribly busy and terribly tired, so there goes that theory.

I do know that I thought it would be easier. Or maybe not easier: more intuitive. Like, for example, the way I know he’s sick by the smell of his breath. That’s something that just happens, without my having to try. Whereas when my hyperactive, physical, reading-averse kid tells me things like “sometimes I just get excited and then I don’t know how to stop,” I honestly don’t know what to do, and I feel like I should. I should just know. I should be able to adjust my parenting style to fit my kid’s learning style, and instead we both just get frustrated and upset. (A really good mom would look at this as an opportunity for personal growth. A challenge, in the best way.) (I am not a really good mom.)

A long time ago I worried that he hadn’t learned to clap. Other kids could clap, but not my kid. Was he clap-deficient? Had I failed to properly teach him how to smack his hands together in a rhythmic fashion? Would he forever lag behind his applauding peers?

He claps just fine now, of course. Surely that can’t be a metaphor.*

*Or is it a simile? I can never remember.