August 22, 2017

Postcards from the Back Row

When we first brought the baby home from the hospital and he wasn't sleeping well at night we didn't worry about it much.  We told ourselves, "This is just how newborns are... we just have to get through this part.  It WILL get better."

We told ourselves that for days and then weeks and then months.  It still feels like we are in a permanent state of triage.  I think it's best that we didn't know what we were in for.

Quentin is now 7 months old, and the sleep situation is decidedly not better.  Sometimes I think they might be worse.

Showers and makeup and hobbies and having a tidy-ish house still feel like luxuries.  I'm sitting next to a mountain of unfolded laundry right now writing this while the baby fusses in the swing because it feels important to get this out.

When I was in the fourth grade in Mrs. Vandergrift's class we had a daily task after lunch.  We would sit down at our desks, quietly copy down the new vocabulary word she had written on the chalkboard, copy the definition out of our dictionaries (how I loved that dictionary!), and then use the word in a sentence.

One day I could not see the word written on the chalkboard.  No matter how hard I squinted, I could not see it.  I sat at my desk with my tiny fourth grader heart fluttering in a state of near panic trying to work out what it was.  I watched each of my classmates finish up their copying and sentence composing one by one.  I prayed that someone else (someone much less shy then me) would raise their hand and tell Mrs. Vandergrift that they also could not see the word.  I had never up until that point felt so much panic. I realized everyone else could see the word just fine.  It was just me.  There was something wrong with me.

It turns out there was... I needed glasses.

This is exactly what it feels like to have a child that doesn't sleep.

At first I was part of a brotherhood of other parents of non-sleepers.  But one by one, as their sweet babies finally sleep through the night, I'm still standing here trying desperately to make out the word on the chalkboard.  The one that will tell me exactly how to get this baby to go to sleep.

It's starting to feel lonely out here.

There's a lot of information out there on the best way to get a child to sleep.  OH GOD.  So much information.  I haven't found a lot of information on the emotional toll of this situation.

People have a lot of things that they say to exhausted parents.

"He'll sleep when he's ready."

"Treasure this time you have with him.  Someday he won't want to be held."

"You're doing a great job!"

"Have you tried crying it out?" (YES EVERY DAY... Oh... you meant the baby... not me.)

Their intentions are so so so good (and every encouraging word has meant so much to me), but at some point you realize these are just the things people say to you when they don't know what else to say... like telling the grieving that they "are in my thoughts and prayers"... it's just the thing you say because that is what you say in times like this.

Have you ever repeated a word over and over again until it loses it's meaning?

One thing I know not to do is to google 'sleep'.  The internet is full of Helpful Hannahs who inevitably tell a clearly desperate very tired mother that it sounds like her baby is 'overtired'.


Yeah... no shit, Hannah.  I wouldn't be here asking strangers on the internet how to get my baby to go to sleep  (and stay there) if he weren't.

There are also lots of Not-so-helpful Nancys that like to tell you horrifying things about the statistics showing that lack of sleep is connected to a whole host of behavioral issues in children.

Go swallow a knife, Nancy.

I guess the point of this post (besides needing to unload and unburden) is this... if you, whomever you are, stumbled upon this in a similar state of worry and frustration and tears I just need you to know how NOT alone you are.

They keep telling us it gets better... so I guess it does??  In the meantime, it's okay to be sad and scared and feel like a failure.  But don't do it for too long because you are not failing.  You're not failing because you gave enough of a shit to google 'sleep' AGAIN even though you knew you were entering a minefield of terrible advice from people who have no idea what they are talking about, and you ended up here.

I wish I could tell you what the words on the chalkboard say... but i'm still squinting in the back row, and I'm glad to have some company.

July 27, 2017

Things That Are (Sort of) Getting Me Through

My coffeemaker

The new seasons of Game of Thrones and Insecure

Anonymous comrades on the internet who have also been "in the shit"

But one day there will be less tears (from both of you), and all of the frustration, anger, guilt and resentment will have somehow evaporated. You may not sleep a full night 100%, or even 50% of the time. But the wake-ups will become less a disruptive, if not an accepted part of parenting your growing child.

And you will have found a strength within your spirit that you never knew existed.

Taking a social media break and the associated self-comparison and self-doubt.

Reading good books

Remembering the moment he was born... somehow in the roughest moments remembering the magic of that one can really help.

Asking for help.  This one is a work in progress.

To any other moms that find themselves struggling with the sleep deprivation and feelings of failure and helplessness associated with a "fussy" baby, keep your chin up.  You are definitely not alone out here in the muck and mud of this experience.  Try to do something nice for yourself sometimes and don't feel bad about putting the baby in a safe place and walking away for a few minutes.

April 19, 2017

New Baby Must-Haves

Hi.  It's me, Jess.  Shouting from across the void.

A void filled with piles of unfolded baby clothes, dirty diapers, and those little disposable plastic cap things that go on the ear thermometer.

Also 7 trillion breast pump parts that have to be washed and sterilized all of the goddamn time.

You guys, I'm so tired.  Everyone tells you how tired you'll be, but you just have no way of really understanding just how tired you will be.

And breastfeeding is just a treat, she said sarcastically.

But finding yourself in survival mode for 3 months can really put into perspective what really matters in life... like having a top notch baby swing and baby pajamas that zip from the bottom so you don't have to strip your baby every time you change his diaper.

And, you know, loving something with every fiber of your being.  That shines through the darkness too.

Here are some of the things that have been absolute lifesavers for us... many were gifted to us, but many we discovered on our own as rookie parents with an Amazon Prime account.

First of all, AMAZON PRIME, you guys.  This would be my #1 gift for any new parent.  My god how we have taken advantage of that free shipping.

WASH CLOTHS - I remember after my baby showers thinking 'I have way too many tiny wash cloths'.  I was wrong.  These are handy for everything. Wiping noses. Wiping barfs. Cleaning babies. Cleaning yourself.

BURP CLOTHS - My mom made me tons of flannel burp cloths and I go through about 20 of them a day.  I love them so much. I keep them everywhere and I usually end up with about 5 of them next to his bassinet every morning from carrying them with me from night time feedings. If you don't have a cool mom to make these for you, I've been super impressed with a free one we got from Burt's Bees, but they are a little pricy.  Cloth diapers also work great. Get yourself about 30. Seriously.

WEARABLE BLANKETS - We use Halo SleepSacks.  It's part of our night time routine to put him in one of these, and I think it has helped him understand the transition from awake time to sleep time. We have a warm, sweaty little baby, but these things are light enough that they keep him cozy without making him too hot. We have two of these, plus a fleece one for colder nights.

MUSLIN BLANKETS - Anyone in the business of procreation has heard of the ubiquitous Aden & Anais muslin blankets.  I don't own a single one.  I'm sure they're great, but they seem pretty expensive for a very simply hemmed square of muslin.  My mom made me one that I absolutely love out of a fun piece of muslin she bought online.  Wade also got a great deal on a fantastic 4 layer muslin blanket on Amazon that we love.  It's plain white and just about the coziest thing you can wrap a baby in... SO SOFT.  It's also great for creating a nice backdrop for a photo.

PAJAMAS - Quentin basically lived in pajamas for the first month of his life.  Now I make an effort to put him in some kind of outfit every day (mostly because we got so many cute ones as gifts and I feel guilty not using them), but I would be 100% okay with him just living in soft pajamas.  The two standouts for us have been from Cat & Jack and Burt's Bees.  The Cat & Jack pajamas are from Target and they have a reverse zip which is SO AWESOME.  You unzip the pajamas from the bottom so that you can change a diaper without completely undressing the baby.  They are lightweight, soft and pretty decently made.  They come in a pack of 3 for about $13.  The Burt's Bees pajamas are the Cadillac of pajamas.  They don't have the reverse zip, but they are the softest and most well-made pajamas we have.  We got one as a gift and went out and bought more.  They cost around $12 each... so definitely pricier but also definitely worth every penny.

BOPPY INFANT LOUNGER - I put this infant lounger pillow on my registry impulsively and received it from a friend at my shower.  I had no idea how much I would use this thing.  Quentin has basically lived in this pillow for the past 3 months and he is sadly about to outgrow it.  We use it on the couch so that he can chill with us in the evening.  It's nice having him with us on the couch instead of in his rock n' play or swing.  We can watch TV or eat dinner and still interact with him.  It was also awesome for tummy time early on when he wasn't loving laying on his tummy.  I think it helped position him more comfortably.  It's also great for positioning for impromptu photo shoots!

Please note the ever-present pile of baby laundry in the background

BABYCONNECT APP - This app was recommended to us by my sister in law Kristine.  We use it to keep track of diaper changes and breastfeeding.  There are lots of other ways to use this app, but this is mainly what we have used it for and it has been 100% indispensable.  Every time you go to the pediatrician or lactation clinic they will ask you about the number of wet diapers and nursing sessions or bottles in the past 24 hours.  This makes figuring that out super simple.  I also keep track of his weight for no other purpose than my own entertainment.

WEESCHOOL APP - I heard about this app through Baby Rabies.  There are so many baby development milestone charts on Pinterest, but I think they were making me anxious.  This app displays just the milestones to watch for during the current month you are in age-wise.  It also gives you simple activities to do with your baby to help hit these milestones and other developments down the road.  It's super straightforward and simple.  I love it.

March 5, 2017

Quod Erat Demonstrandum

Introducing Quentin Eliot Davis...

Our QED.

In other words, it's Latin for "I win, idiots."

Quentin was born January 19th, 2017 at 4:04 pm.  I was in labor for almost 12 hours exactly.

You guys... I did it NATURALLY.

I only stress this because I am so inordinately proud of myself for being able to do this.  Having a lived a relatively pain-free life... no surgeries, broken bones, etc., I feel like a pain warrior now.  I feel like a warrior in general.

I feel like this:

I spent a large part of my pregnancy doing Google searches like this:

I was planning on giving birth naturally, but it's kind of hard to plan for something you have no ability to realistically conceptualize.

I just knew I wanted to give it my best shot.

My next post will be the full story of my labor and Quentin's delivery.

It is one of the most spectacular and hardest things I've ever experienced.

Now that I'm finally feeling a little less like a walking disaster of out of control crying, leaking breasts, and unwashed hair, I'm planning to start blogging more consistently.

Mainly as an exercise in maintaining my sanity because you guys this newborn phase is batshit insane.

October 10, 2016

What are Hobbies?

I've got that thing where you're so overwhelmed and stressed that instead of lying awake restless all night you just keep sleeping as if you might be able to sleep through the entire season of your life and wake up when you have less things you need to do.

Kind of like this, but with anxiety.

I'm sure everything will be great once I'm an employed human being, a student, AND the mother of a newborn.  Right?  RIGHT????

October 6, 2016

Rage Against the Zen

I read something several weeks ago that has been rattling around in my brain ever since.

Joanna from A Cup of Jo shared this zen parable from a children's book called Zen Shorts:

Two traveling monks reached a town where there was a young woman waiting to step out of her sedan chair. The rains had made deep puddles and she couldn’t step across without spoiling her silken robes. She stood there, looking very cross and impatient. She was scolding her attendants. They had nowhere to place the packages they held for her, so they couldn’t help her across the puddle.
The younger monk noticed the woman, said nothing, and walked by. The older monk quickly picked her up and put her on his back, transported her across the water, and put her down on the other side. She didn’t thank the older monk; she just shoved him out of the way and departed.
As they continued on their way, the young monk was brooding and preoccupied. After several hours, unable to hold his silence, he spoke out. “That woman back there was very selfish and rude, but you picked her up on your back and carried her! Then, she didn’t even thank you!”
“I set the woman down hours ago,” the older monk replied. “Why are you still carrying her?”

You guys... I'm currently standing at the metaphorical base of this people tower:

Let me introduce you to a few!

There's the guy I watched deliberately throw garbage on the floor at the art museum during the annual Color Party.  Garbage.  On the floor.  In a MUSEUM.

The Color Party was in April.  Still annoyed.

And then there's the old lady who lived in the apartment below me when I was 25ish.  She called the police on my several times because she claimed I was too noisy.  I wasn't.

She's probably dead now.  So I can almost let that one go soon.

A bus driver that almost ran me off of the road last night.

About 50 different co-workers due to 50 different interactions that left me with an internal dialogue that went something like this:

And something about being pregnant, listening to Beyonce's Lemonade album on a loop, and watching the last season of Game of Thrones has dialed up my already hot temper to eleventy. When it comes to fight or flight I am always ready for fight.  I walk down the streets of Old Town willing someone to start some shit with me just so I can have an excuse. 

You guys... this is bad because I am pregnant.  And even when I wasn't pregnant, I wasn't really very tough.  I'm all talk.

So I'm trying to learn to let it go.

Like Tuesday night when I saw this on the front porch of our building:

Instead of having a rage meltdown, I calmly carried it 15 feet, put it in the garbage, and then went about my life.  

Well I did take a photo of it and send it to my husband, but I still count it as a win.

August 23, 2016

Welcome Back, Kotter

Yesterday was my first day as a college student after a 7 year unintentional sabbatical.


My top skills as a student in days past were:
  • Overachieving for a month
  • Stressing myself out because of my inability to prioritize
  • Ghosting all of my classes
  • Showing up for one last class to see if I felt differently about it
  • Withdrawing from all my classes
I was especially good at the withdrawing from all of my classes part. 

I have notebooks, folders, and good pens.  I'm too big to fail, you guys.  Right??

In other news I think I'm starting to feel the baby move.  Maybe???  Honestly, it could just be gas, but I'm choosing to believe that it is a for real baby spinning around in my innards.  

Name update:  still no name.

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