Baby gear can be ridiculous to figure out. Recently a friend of mine was expecting her first and I went to walk with her through the baby store to talk about what to get for her registry. It took us THREE HOURS, y’all.
Bump Club and Beyond’s big event, Gearapalooza, is making a stop in Boston this year. (They also have upcoming stops in California.) Unlike a regular expo, Gearapalooza is bringing in The Baby Guy (aka Jamie) to give his expert advice on the art of registry-building. And it is truly an art.
I admit, I kind of felt like a psycho when I spent a few months researching strollers. But the first year with a baby is rough and you need the best tools you can to make it through.
The Boston Gearapalooza is taking place at the Wellesley Magic Beans store (if you’re new to the baby world, yo
u’ll get to know Boston’s favorite toy store quite well in the years to come…) on Tuesday September 17th at 6 pm.
Tickets are $50. (I know you’re thinking that sounds crazy. BUT it includes a gift bag with $150 worth of stuff.) Or you can go for the platinum ticket for $100, which is actually less crazy and more awesome because it includes the $150 gift bag AND a $130-value Beco Baby Carrier. Significant other tickets (no gift bag) are $25.
Plus there will be loads of giveaways (over $10,000 worth of stuff!) AND there will be food AND I will be there so we can totally hang out and I’ll tell you all about my Cybex Callisto Stroller and how much I love it.
And if you’re not the pre-natal yoga type and don’t have other pregnant friends this would be a great place to meet some!
You had a whole bunch of pairs, maybe you did lots of colors or maybe you stuck to black or those scratchy lacy things. Maybe you liked boyshorts. Maybe you liked thongs. But remember how cute and sexy you always felt in those? Good times.
Have you looked in your underwear drawer lately?
I won’t lie, the last time I bought cute underwear was for my honeymoon. 5 years ago.
Then we were trying to live cheaply and I started buying the bargain packs at Target. And then I started having kids and I bought a size or two up. These days my underwear drawer is not anything too impressive. It is kind of sad. Full of cheap underwear that’s worn down to practically nothing in colors and patterns that aren’t exactly screaming young and fun and sexy.
But there’s a predicament. I don’t want to buy cute underwear because, well, because…
YOU KNOW WHY.
Babies, y’all. Babies mess with you.
Let’s just get all these words out of the way right now. Incontinence, discharge, periods, all kinds of other delightful things.
Phew. Feels good to get that out there.
Seriously, though, if you’re like me you don’t have much of a reason to invest in the cute underwear because you don’t want to ruin it. And because sometimes, well, you have to change your underwear unexpectedly during the day. Or you’re walking around with a pantyliner.
This baby thing. It’s rough on you.
I am going somewhere with this, of course. I got a cute new pair of undies in the mail from Dear Kate. Undies for ladies who need cute undies that can handle our, well, our stuff. As Dear Kates founder Julie Sygiel is quoted as saying in New York Magazine, “People say ‘I laughed so hard, I peed my pants,’ but I never knew it was real.”
At first I was kinda hesitant. Because who wants to be the one wearing moisture-wicking panties? Who wants to be in that category? But I am stuck in that category so I gave it a go.
I even asked for a pair of bikinis because it’s been so long since lately I’ve tended for the granny-style high-rise kind and I could really use a little esteem boost.
They were comfy. Definitely a step above the cotton, which are soft and all, but these were a nice stretchy and silky fabric. And as for the “leak protection,” I give them a thumbs up. On the inside they have extra layers of special absorbing material that can hold up to 3 teaspoons of liquid. (I am tempted to be like the tampon commercials and pour blue liquid on them but I will spare you all that. Also: I promise not to talk about feeling “not so fresh.”)
This is good timing for me because (okay, let’s just stop with the hemming and hawing, I’m gonna just be straight) not only has my period just come back after 18 months of pregnancy and breastfeeding, but I’m still going with the breastfeeding so I have all the hormonal weirdness to go along with it, too. I could use these every single day because I never know what’s going on down there.
I don’t know why a piece of clothing no one sees can have such an impact on how you feel, but it does. And I feel much nicer knowing I won’t have to change halfway through the day and that I’m wearing something cute and I don’t have to put on any extra protection.
Other stuff I love: not only do your undies stay dry, they’re also leak-resistant. They’re lined with a black fabric so you won’t have to sit there soaking your undies in cold water in the sink. They’re MACHINE WASHABLE. (Dry flat is no big deal for me, I’m just so thrilled they’re not hand wash.) They come in a variety of shapes, from high-rise style to hipster to bikini to thong. Yes, you can get a thong version for you crazies who like that kind of thing. They’re stretchy so they’re perfect for pregnancy (though I still recommend going a size up if your bum tends to grow the way mine does).
Oh, and if you’re one of those weird… exercising types, they’re great for the gym to keep things from getting all… swampy. (You’re welcome, Lexi.)
I don’t know if you noticed but I kinda love these undies. And if you want to try some, I have a discount code for you!!
And should the opportunity strike for someone to see you in your mom-undies, they’ll be so impressed at how cute and sexy you are.
Thanks to Dear Kates for giving me a pair to review. Any time you guys want to send me more, that would be awesome. I was not obligated to blog this. They’re super fun to follow on Facebook, too.
I posted last time about my big Saturday at a blog conference. It was quite the busy day, but the weekend wasn’t over. On Sunday was Charlene’s big Gender Reveal party. A great idea for a second baby. Charlene got an ultrasound and told the tech to keep the gender secret. The tech wrote the gender down and Charlene brought it to a bakery where they’d make special cupcakes with either pink or blue filling. Even Charlene didn’t know what it would be! Such a fun idea for a baby shower for baby #2.
I guessed girl, since Charlene has a boy about Graham’s age and this way our babies would match. Also because she has a torpedo belly, which means girl in my book.
Now when I’m going to an all-day blog conference with a baby in tow, I don’t spend much time on my outfit. I have exactly one pair of jeans that fit. I have some v-neck tops that make for easier feeding. End of story.
But for a party? I had to go to my closet. And what I found there was very, very sad.
Maternity dresses made me look pregnant. I already have the post-baby belly, but I don’t want it to look like a pre-baby belly. My selection of tops is limited since my nursing bras are not made to be hidden well. Nothing too tight, nothing too loose, and not much to work with. What was a girl to do?
After trying on literally everything, I settled on a cardigan (unbuttoned), a ruffly maternity tank I bought for work, and a skirt with an elastic waistband. (Thank you for the elastic, Old Navy!!!)
Since I had only limited control of my clothes, I decided that I would at least look cute from the neck up. I showered. I put on makeup. (For the conference, I only did absolute bare minimum.) And I pulled out a new hairstyle:
The sock bun, passed down to me by my mother. (Or rather, my mother’s pinterest board.) (The Bug just walked by the screen while I had this picture up and said, “Mommy!” Not exactly, kid, but thanks.)
This was my first effort with the sock bun and as I am hairdo challenged I was worried, but it worked like a champ. I got it on the first try. My hair was a little curly and wet, but it still did the trick.
Can you tell I’m happy to be out of the house? I may not be the height of style but I felt good and that’s the most important thing, right?
In the spirit of the evening, I wore a pink cardigan and blue earrings. Charlene had pink and blue necklaces out so we could wear our votes.
It was great to see more of my blogging friends. And I was surprised at how much suspense was in the air as we waited for the big surprise.
And I was right! Girl!
It was a special night. And not just because we got to share Charlene’s good news and hang with friends. I also got to finally meet one of my blogging idols: Melanie, The Coupon Goddess. It’s thanks to Melanie that I started couponing, got a binder, etc. I’m not as good at it as she is, of course. I’ve read her blog faithfully and have always been bummed that we haven’t been to any of the same events so far.
It was a good deal for both of us. I got to meet Melanie and Melanie got to meet Tessa. (Tessa seemed pretty happy about the deal, too.)
I also FINALLY got a chance to see Cindy, the woman behind the scenes at Isis Parenting, who I’ve worked with for months via email and Twitter. Technically this was not the first time we met.
That was February, 2011, at my very first blogger event with the Boston Parent Bloggers. So many of them are now my friends even though I was super shy and barely spoke to anyone that first night. Cindy and I are RIGHT BY EACH OTHER in the picture (she’s on the far left in the back row, I am in the pink sweater just in front of her) so clearly our relationship was meant to be, right?
I look at this picture and smile. A year ago my life was so different. Graham was just diagnosed. I was out of work. I didn’t know anyone in Boston. Now Graham is doing amazing, I am happily home with two (!!) kids and I have friends. And the friends part is basically all thanks to this blog. Oh, blog, I do love you.
Thanks to Rebecca Deaton Photography for the beautiful pictures. A big thanks to the great sponsors of Charlene’s party: Magic Beans, Punchbowl, Tiny Love, Spa Week, Sage Spoonfuls, Happy Baby, Goldenview Ultrasound, GUND, MAM, Peapod, and Treat Cupcake Bar. You can get all the info on them from Charlene’s post.
I’ve been planning to write about recovery from childbirth for a while. I started a draft before Tessa was born. But I’ve had to start over several times now because I don’t exactly know how to approach it.
My two recoveries were vastly different. After Graham my body was completely outside my control. I was miserable and in pain for weeks. I worried I’d never get back to normal. This time, after Tessa, I felt pretty normal after just a week and things continue to go well.
I don’t want to scare people too much by talking about my recovery from Graham. I don’t want to paint too pretty a picture by focusing on my second experience. So I’m kind of flummoxed about how to go about it.
But I’m going to do it anyway. Pregnancy has its fair share of unpleasant surprises, and postpartum recovery is more intense and even less talked about. (Although if you really want to know, get your mom girlfriends a few drinks and they’ll probably tell you more than you ever wanted to know. Motherhood WTF and Honest Mom know what I’m talking about, don’t you ladies?)
Ideally, when they take you up to your recovery room, a nurse should tell you all this stuff. But they don’t. At least they never have for me. So I’ll do it for you. I’m nice like that.
When I went in for my 6-week postpartum checkup after Graham was born, they gave me a form to fill out with a list of problems on it so I could circle what I was experiencing. I wish someone had given me that form 6 weeks earlier, so that’s what I’m going to try and pass on to you.
Since my experience is limited (in particular to vaginal deliveries) I’d love to get feedback and comments from those of you who are willing to share. Let’s make it a little easier for the newbies.
The First 24 Hours
I won’t lie, they’re the worst. After the meds wear off the pain starts to kick in. Somehow the fact that you’ve just pushed a baby out of your body doesn’t entitle you to the hardcore pain meds. When your nurse comes with Motrin you’ll probably want to throttle her until she gives you the good stuff. (I had to convince a nurse I was in enough pain to merit an oxycodone.)
To help you out there’s the mesh underwear, followed by a giant maxi pad, which is them topped off with a big old ice pack. The ice pack feels great for the first couple minutes. Until you have to move or sit.
You will have to move. You’ll want to just lay there, but you have to move. Your butt will eventually go numb, no matter how you adjust your hospital bed. And then your nurses will make you pee. I still don’t understand exactly why they make you pee, but they do. And no one will rest until you pee.
This is worse than it sounds. Because you may not be ABLE to pee. Your body may not actually remember how to do it. With Recovery #1 I sat in that bathroom with two nurses for what seemed like eternity while I tried to get my brain to reconnect to my bladder. (Trick: have someone turn on the bathroom faucet. I know it’s a lame cliche, but it’s very effective.)
Even if your bladder is still in working order (yay Recovery #2) it’s still not the most comfortable thing. Everything is swollen and sore. You’ll get a handy dandy squirt bottle to wash yourself with and you can only use toilet paper for the softest of pats.
Another tip: have your partner fill the squirt bottle for you. Cuz once you start the water running… you know. You may feel like you’ve exposed all of yourself to your partner before, but this is definitely something of a game changer. Asking your husband to help you get ready to pee is probably not what you envisioned when you took your wedding vows. But it’s way better if they’re there to do it.
And While We’re Talking About Pee….
Yeah, you should probably be prepared for this one. And it’s not like it’s totally out of the blue. We’ve all heard of women who have “issues” with sneezing or laughing after they have kids.
What I wasn’t ready for was how long it took in Recovery #1 for my bladder to start working again. It was ROUGH. I wasn’t prepared to lose control on a daily basis. And then I’d break down in sobs every time it happened.
This was the biggest thing I worried about. It took a long time to get better. But you know what? I was back to 100% within a couple months. Despite those weeks of thinking I’d be stuck in adult diapers for the rest of my life, it all healed. I can even sneeze and laugh pee-free. (If you are in the no-feeling-in-your-bladder situation, I recommend hourly bathroom trips. It helps.)
And All the Weeping
I didn’t just cry about peeing myself. I cried about everything.
When everyone was sitting around watching Planet Earth I had to leave the room when a baby elephant wandered away from its herd. Because THE BABY ELEPHANT! HE WILL DIE ALONE!!
I came into Recovery #2 expecting similar hormonal awesomeness but I’ve been strangely disappointed to have pretty much the full use of my normal emotions. There have been a few hiccups here and there, and I’m more prone to tears than usual, but it’s not so bad.
I have no idea why my hormones were so much less active this time. Tessa’s delivery was much less traumatic so I get that my physical healing has been easier, but I have no idea why the hormones have laid off. But let me just say, Thank you, Hormones, I did not miss you.
Revenge of the Period
So your period’s been gone for 9 months. But now you will get plenty to make up for it.
First, there’s the uterine cramps. They’re bad enough on their own, and they’re plenty worse when the nurses start kneading your belly. They also kick in when you breastfeed. They fade after a while, but that first week they’re pretty intense.
Second, there’s the blood, or to use the medical term “lochia.” You’ll want to take some of those giant maxi pads home with you until you’ve stocked up on a box at the store. You’ll need them for a few weeks.
And Finally… The Poodge
Don’t be surprised if you leave the hospital looking 6 months pregnant.
And don’t be surprised if you haven’t lost much weight. (I’d only lost 10 pounds when I came home from the hospital. I looked at my scale and cried, “SERIOUSLY??”)
You may hear that breastfeeding will help you lose weight. So far it’s helping me, but I’ve heard from plenty of women who found it no help whatsoever.
I’m 3 weeks out and I look about 4 months pregnant still. And I’m okay with it. I expected it. I comfort myself by knowing that at least I get to wear a shirt over it as it isn’t cute and tight like a baby belly. Instead it is lumpy and saggy and covered with creepy stretch marks.
With Graham it took me 18 months to lose my baby weight. (I gained about 32 pounds during his pregnancy.) So far I’m on a better track with Tessa, but I still don’t expect to lose the remaining 15 pounds to get back down to my pre-baby weight until 2013.
Don’t put stress on yourself about losing the baby weight. It’ll happen when it happens.
For now, find pants you’re comfortable with. Get a belt, even if you’ve never worn one before. The jelly belly isn’t nearly so good at holding up your pants as your old one.
Okay, moms, now it’s time for you to chime in with your experiences. What am I leaving out? What are your experience with recovery from a c-section? Tell us about your postpartum recovery.
I have so many things to say and sorting it all into separate posts is going to be a big project. But I thought I’d start by keeping it simple with Tessa’s birth story. I’m planning a later post that will delve into the awesomeness that was live-tweeting my labor, but for now let’s stick to the facts, Jack.
On Monday night I felt a little weird. Which I didn’t take as a sign of impending labor in any way. On the contrary, I knew this was my body messing with me. I had an OB appointment bright and early Tuesday morning and I have this tendency to see everything as a hopeful sign right before I go to the doctor. Then I go in and get disappointed and hate life.
But I woke up on Tuesday at 2 a.m. with contractions. Not the first time, but they were the more painful ones so I couldn’t get back to sleep. After about a half hour or so without letting up I thought I’d start timing. They were strange ones, starting with about a minute of cramp-like pain, then moving to back pain, then giving me a little break but not a painless one. After timing for an hour they appeared to be 3 and a half minutes apart. I checked my pregnancy book and saw that this was actually pretty fast. I woke up Eric to take over timing and make sure I wasn’t a crazy person.
Because the contractions themselves were so weird I had no idea if they were real. I knew real contractions shouldn’t have the pain inbetween, but I also knew real contractions radiated front to back so once Eric’s numbers matched mine we called the OB and were told to come on in.
Thus commenced a half hour of frantic packing followed by a drive to the hospital and a check in at L&D to see if I’d be admitted. This entire time I had basically one topic of discussion: If they send me home, it’s going to get ugly. I was frantic not to get sent home and the nurses and doctors probably got a bit weirded out with how preoccupied I was.
The monitors showed contractions, and the spacing was about what I’d measured at home. Then the doctor checked me (OOOOOWWWWWW) and said I was a 2. Instead of thinking, “Yay, I’m dilating!” my response was, “Oh crap, a 2 is not very dilated, they are going to send me home.” But they sent me to a room where Eric assured me that at this point they were NOT going to send me home. I was officially having this baby.
We finally got settled in. I got permission to eat a snack before things got going and Eric ran down to Au Bon Pain to get me a raspberry cheese croissant. (This was a big improvement over our last hospital, where the only 24 hour place for food was McDonald’s.) It was about 6 a.m. by the time we got into our labor room. I felt pretty darn confident at that point that I would be having my long-hoped-for Valentine’s Day baby.
(The Valentine’s Day as a Birthday subject has been one I’ve discussed with many others, including many of you. While many pointed out cons, I have always been heavily pro. But Tessa can’t complain. It’s not like I picked the day.)
Of course, at 6 a.m. this feels like a no-brainer. There are 18 hours left in the day and I was already 4 hours into labor. Graham had only a 10-hour labor and second babies are always faster, right?
Well except for the fact that Graham was an induction… that changes things. And as the hours ticked away I realized gradually that a Valentine’s baby was not a sure thing.
My first nurse would only be there for another hour. E suggested I get my IV before she left because I’d have another shot with a new person if she didn’t work out. It was a good plan. Because she really wanted to get a vein on the side of my arm. She tried very very hard. And she did not get it. And OOOOOWWWWWWW.
This meant we had to wait for our next nurse and most likely resign myself to an IV in my hand. I hate IV’s in my hand. But I also hate having someone dig around in my arm. (This was the first time I’d ever needed that. My hand and elbow have killer veins, but apparently my arm does not.) My new nurse tracked down some lidocaine and gave me the hand IV. It was, as with my previous childbirth, to be one of the single most terrible parts of the process.
At this point I was up and around and stayed a bit mobile. Everyone was falling over themselves to give me an epidural but I wasn’t in nearly enough pain to feel like I needed one. So I hung out until around 10 a.m. when the OB came back to check me. Except she didn’t check me. Because I was far too happy to have dilated further and the contractions weren’t as close together as before. Instead we decided to start pitocin and I figured I’d be getting my epidural pretty quick once that happened.
Except I didn’t. You know how I’ve been complaining about my Braxton-Hicks contractions for a good 6 weeks? And how painful they were? Yeah, I basically had 6 weeks of labor. Because I was pretty nonplussed by my contractions. I went for 2 hours of pitocin before I decided to go ahead and get the epidural. I still wasn’t dying or anything, but I knew the pain would steadily increase and I’d already had 10 hours of labor.
My epidural was rather exciting. I got it from Dr. Camann, the Director of Obstetric Anesthesia. Because we are big pals now. It happened to be a day the marketing folks were making a video about the maternity ward for expecting mothers and so I agreed to let them film my epidural. (I assume this was mostly video of Dr. Camann and my spine. I doubt any future moms would be impressed by my floppy ponytail.) It went great and it was exactly what I’d hoped. I could still feel below the waist and I had my handy button to use as needed to up my dose.
The pitocin was doing its job, my contractions were back to regular and I was excited to get checked again to see how dilated I was. (Especially cuz it wouldn’t hurt. Sweet.) But at 1:45 I was still a 2. A TWO. I had almost forgiven my cervix for its stubbornness, but apparently it hadn’t changed. At 3 pm I was only a 3 and they broke my water.
And at 6:30 I was only a 6. And getting frustrated. We were past 16 hours of labor. I wasn’t mad or in pain, I was mostly bored and tired. I’d hit the button about once every 90 minutes since getting the epidural and while the nurse stayed with me after I got checked, I thought to myself that I should hit it again when she left. I could feel an increase in pain (from about a 2 to a 3 or 4) and it couldn’t hurt to bring it down a bit.
Then she left, I hit the button, and the next couple contractions got stronger. And then, suddenly, I was in 7 to 8 territory pain-wise. The worst thing was that between the contractions there was still a lot of pain. It takes about 15 minutes for the meds from the button to kick in. I was waiting but I couldn’t really take it more. Anesthesia came in just cuz (seriously, they were in at least once an hour to see if I was comfy, it was amazing) and I told them what was happening. I got some extra meds added and just had to wait for my button and new meds to kick in.
And that’s when the pain got to 9 or 10 territory. Where I felt my lungs being compressed and just wept uncontrollably because it hurt. All the pain meds was in place, but my body moved a little too fast to let everything catch up. Anesthesia came in again to check on me and I told him that I was also feeling pressure. This was smart because it meant they gave me meds that shouldn’t interfere too much with pushing. When I had Graham I had some extra meds right before pushing but didn’t know I was so close so I was totally out of it and a bit loopy when pushing time came.
The nurse came back in and kinda freaked. I’d been very very chill all through my labor. Never complaining about pain or asking for anything, just going with the flow. Hanging out, waiting for stuff to happen. And all of a sudden I was a weepy mess with anesthesiologists tending to me, assuring her that I was having pressure and maybe we should talk to the doctor.
The doctor came back in and got ready to check me. I was feeling okay now, the pain was down and I was back in control of myself. As she put on her glove and got ready to feel how dilated I was I saw the look on her face. Her face said, “I see a baby’s head.” So yeah, I went from a 6 to a head in about an hour.
Everyone got ready and we started pushing. My first couple contractions were frustrating. I didn’t feel like I was pushing well, I was still a little bit freaked out from my rough hour. Plus my contractions were only a minute or so apart so I wasn’t getting real breaks. My body seemed to sense this and my next contraction, if it came, didn’t get on the radar so I had a few minutes to breathe. Then we got down to business.
A few pushes later the doctor asked me if I wanted to feel the baby’s head. She seemed surprised when I said no. I would be feeling her head soon enough. And I felt rather certain it would be somehow traumatizing to feel a baby’s head where I was supposed to feel only myself.
Then her head was out and she was already making noise. I really wanted her to come out slowly and easily, as Graham came out way fast and nearly destroyed my body. Tessa was perfect and a moment later she was there on my chest, all purple and covered in goop.
She was born at 8:08 pm, 7 lbs and 9 oz, 19″ after 18 hours of labor and 20 minutes of pushing. All in all, I feel really good about the whole experience. So far people have been a little concerned about that whole “18 hours” part but I really didn’t mind it. It wasn’t like I spent 18 hours in excruciating pain. Even that one rough hour isn’t something I look back on with horror. To the contrary now I feel like I have a pretty decent idea of what I missed by getting the epidural and I have to say I’m comfortable with my choice.
All in all, I got pretty much exactly what I wanted out of my birth experience. I managed my pain well and even got to feel a little tough. I was able to relax. I had great doctors and nurses. I had minimal tearing and no complications. And I got my best Valentine’s Day ever.