Tag Archives: life

Here We Go

In honor of my baby turning 1 (how do I have a 1-year-old?), I’m re-sharing my first blog post.

the-delivery-room

I cried when I found out I was pregnant. Not an “I’m so overcome with joy” cry. More like an “Oh dear God, what have we done” cry.

My husband was alarmed by my initial reaction.

“You know this is what we were trying to do, right?” he asked, hugging me.

Of course I knew. I just wasn’t prepared. So not prepared, that I had poured myself a glass of red wine just before sneaking off to take the test. Ha! Who does that? A girl in denial, that’s who. (Mental note for future post: Address notion that 30-something-year-old mom still refers to herself as a girl).

Of course, deep down, I kind of knew it would be positive, otherwise, why take the test to begin with, right? But as they say (and by “they” I mean everyone on the planet with kids), you’re never really ready.

That night, (after pouring my untouched glass of wine down the kitchen sink) we watched A Nightmare on Elm Street (did I mention it was Halloween?), but I barely paid attention to the movie that used to scare the daylights out of me as a kid. Freddy Krueger seemed like a sweet little purring kitty cat compared to the idea of a little human that would be solely reliant on us.

Thankfully, the panic subsided fairly quickly and gave way to an insomnia-inducing combination of nervous excitement and neurotic nesting.

By 12 weeks, I was bursting at the seams to share the news.

At 14 weeks, we found out we were having a boy (to which my husband responded with a fist pump, a la The Breakfast Club.

By 20 weeks, I was gone; utterly and completely head over heels for this little creature practicing somersaults in my belly.

Our due date was July 10, but C.J. was born two weeks early, coaxed out by 9 hours of pitocin, followed by 53 minutes of twitchy, anxious encouragement from a very stressed-out father-to-be.

Up until that point, I had been nervous about holding him. I’d never held a newborn before and was terrified I’d drop him. But the second they handed me that 5-pound, 6-ounce bundle, I finally understood what everyone meant when they said, “It’ll come naturally.” The three of us sat in that hospital bed, our new little family unit, blissfully happy. In that moment, everything felt insanely right in the world, and all my fear and anxiety was drowned out by this fierce, new crazy kind of love.

We’ve got this, we thought as they settled us into our cozy little Mother Room. We’ve soooo got this.

Then the nurses left. And we were all alone. Just the three of us. Our new little family unit. C.J. cried. Jonathan and I looked at each other. Then we looked at C.J.

Ummm  … nurse?

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Things I Wish I Knew When I Was Pregnant (Part Deux)

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1. Kiss whatever’s left of your modesty goodbye. The night I was admitted for my induction, every time I got out of bed, I’d hold my hospital gown closed in the back so the nurses wouldn’t see my butt. Ha! Isn’t that adorable? Less than 24 hours later, it was lady-part central up in that delivery room and I couldn’t have cared less if the pope himself had walked in.

You see, in the movies and on TV, women are always covered up when they’re giving birth, and the baby daddy is beside her, holding her hand, completely and blissfully unexposed to what’s going down beneath the sheet. In my very limited experience, this common depiction of childbirth is a load of crap. We had planned for Jonathan to stay far, far away from “that area” during the actual pushing part. He was to remain above my shoulders at all times. It was going to go something like this: I grit my teeth and push while squeezing Jonathan’s hand and cursing him for “doing this to me” (cue laugh track). Baby comes out. Proud daddy cuts cord. End scene.

My doctor and nurse had an entirely different plan.

“You’re going to hold her leg up like this,” they instructed him.

I’m sorry, what’s that now? Who’s holding what and my leg is going where?

53 minutes later, Jonathan may or may not have been scarred for life. The jury is still out.

2. You are not Heidi Klum. Duh. Why am I dragging Heidi into this? Many of you might remember that Heidi famously strutted down the catwalk just five weeks after giving birth. To her FOURTH child. At age 36. THIS IS NOT NORMAL. 

Now, I wasn’t planning on walking the runway in front of a national audience. However, I was positive that by the time my maternity leave was over, I would be back into my pre-pregnancy clothes. Sadly, I was mistaken. It didn’t help that I was so ravenous from breastfeeding that I routinely stuffed my face with graham crackers and once ate an entire sleeve full of Oreo cookies in under five minutes (true story). It took me a good eight months to squeeze back into my old jeans, and if we’re being totally honest, there are still a couple of pairs I don’t dare to wear (oh, super-duper skinny Seven jeans, I WILL conquer you someday soon).

This isn’t the case for everyone. My dear friend (who shall remain nameless to avoid incurring the wrath of women across the land) was back down to pre-pregnancy weight by her six-week follow-up visit.

I’m officially down to my pre-prego weight, but things just don’t fit the same. Well, they fit, but it ain’t pretty.

3. Mommy brain is a real thing. I used to roll my eyes at this notion of mommy brain. I thought it was a myth. An excuse created by The Mommy Club to forgive forgetfulness, habitual tardiness and general brain farts. But, people, let me tell you. That ish is real. Truth be told, I suffered from an undiagnosed variation of mommy brain before I even had kids. I’ve always had a tendency to misplace things (Jonathan has found my cell phone in the fridge more than once) and I’m always late (to be fair, I am Puerto Rican). But ever since C.J. screamed his way into the world, my random acts of idiocracy have reached new levels of WTF.

I’ve shared several memorable “momnesia” moments with you before (see Pajama Thursday and This Morning Is Bananas), but lucky for you, I suffer from daily episodes, so here are a few fresh ones. Just this past Monday morning, I came thisclose to getting on the 5-mile-long bridge to work before I realized C.J. was still in the backseat. I had completely forgotten about the whole “dropping my baby off at daycare” thing. Oops.

Last week, I was minding my own business, checking email at the kitchen counter when I noticed the room was suddenly filling with smoke. Turns out, I’d left oil heating on the stove for just a tad too long. Also, in addition to mismatched socks, mismatched earrings are inadvertently kind of “my thing” now.

4. Time will seem to fly even faster. And before you know it, your baby will be two months away from turning 1. (Refer to Things I Wish I Knew When I Was Pregnant Part 1, item #5)

 

Pajama Thursday

Every Friday, our daycare sends home a peppy little newsletter informing us of next week’s theme and activities. For example, March 2 was Dr. Seuss’ birthday, so Read Across America with Dr. Seuss kicked off that Monday, and Wednesday, Cat in the Hat paid the classroom a special visit. (According to C.J.’s daily infant report, he REALLY enjoyed Cat’s visit — I only wish I could have been there to see it).

I keep this newsletter on our fridge. Sometimes I read it, sometimes I don’t. One evening, while perusing the fridge for an after-work snack, I happened to take a peek at it and noticed that the following day was Pajama Day. I immediately got excited because A) Dressing a baby doesn’t get much easier than P.J.’s and B) Honestly — is there anything cuter than baby in a footed onesie? (Sidebar: Two years ago, I would have said, “why, yes” and pointed at my dogs.)

I had just the jams for this occasion: a brand-spankin’ new, bright blue number with lime green buttons, footsies and an adorable little turtle on the front. I de-tagged it, washed it and the next morning, we were ready to roll.

“I wish I could wear pajamas today, too,” I whispered to C.J. as I carried him from the car to his school. He flapped his arms and responded with his happy pterodactyl shriek. Seeing other kids amble up to the building with their parents, I deduced that Pajama Day was not a school-wide initiative. Lucky infants! I thought.

There were only two other kids in C.J.’s class so far. L, who was, as usual, red-faced and screaming, and J, who as usual crawled right up to C.J. and swatted his face. Neither of them was in pajamas.

Guess their parents didn’t read the newsletter, I thought smugly. I was impressed with myself; it’s not every day I’m so on top of my game. I got to work and IM’d Jonathan to give him my usual unsolicited report of how drop-off went.

 Me:  That little stinker was so cute in his little turtle jammies.

Jonathan:  I know.

Me:  L and J were in there, but neither of them was wearing jammie jams. Oh well.

Jonathan:  You definitely got the day right?

Me:  Yeah, it was today. I don’t really care either way. Rainy Friday. He’s cozy. Still stylin.’

Jonathan:  Yeah, except it’s Thursday.

Me:  OH [word I can’t say on my blog or I’ll get fired]!

Jonathan:  Oh well—he still looks cute—but you are losing it.

I felt like a complete moron as several realizations hit me all at once.

I wasn’t sure which was more troubling: the fact that my child was likely the only one in the entire school wearing his pajamas, the fact that it wasn’t Friday or the fact that now his teachers — not just my husband — know I’ve lost my mind.

I had tried so hard to keep the crazy confined to my house. No one has to know that sometimes I absentmindedly toss dirty clothes into the trash can instead of the hamper. Or that once in a while, I run around the house frantically searching for my cell phone only to realize minutes later that I’m on it. Or that just a few weeks ago, I unloaded groceries and stored a box of trash bags in the fridge. Or that every so often, I yell at my husband for moving my phone charger, then later on, I find it in my laptop bag.

I contemplated calling the school and explaining myself, but I thought that might make me seem even more crazy.

So I did what any normal, sane human being would do. I laughed so hard I cried.

Overheard in Our House

– A conversation between me and Jonathan hours before leaving C.J. with a sitter for the first time.

Me: I feel weird having a pizza delivery person go to the house with just the sitter there. What if he’s a psycho?

Jonathan: Dial it back, cuckoo.

Me: I don’t think that’s that crazy. Cute girl, all alone, babysitting, ordering pizza. That is a perfect recipe for a scary movie.

 Jonathan: Erika — would you not order pizza if you were by yourself?

 Me: Yeah, I would.  

Jonathan: What’s the difference? That’s nutty. I don’t think this is a, “Hello, Sydney” situation.

Me: The difference is, I’m a mama bear, and she is not.

Jonathan: This kid is going to need therapy. Should I just go to the movies with the babysitter and let you watch C.J.?

My Achy Breaky Heart

I opened the door. The sound of babies crying flooded my ears.

Crap, I thought.

My heart sank an inch. I had been fine until this moment.

Babies cry, I thought to myself. It’s practically their job.

I propelled myself further into the large, cheerful-looking room. For a moment, I stood quietly on the Kelly green rug, looking around, clutching C.J., keeping his face close enough to mine that I could feel his breath against my cheek.

Scanning the room, I recognized two other children from C.J.’s old classroom. They must have just moved up too, I thought. Both of them were crying, tears streaming down their little red faces.

My heart inched its way down a little deeper.

Babies in not-so-high chairs were lined up in a row along the front of the class. In front of them, Teacher #1 walked around with a bag of sandwich bread, placing torn-up little pieces on trays in front of them. It reminded me of someone feeding ducks in a pond. Off to the right, Teacher #2 was attempting to feed one of C.J.’s old classmates pureed baby food that looked like pears. I don’t remember what Teacher #3 was doing. Changing a diaper? Looking at papers on a clipboard?

I stood there expectantly. Am I supposed to say something first, or are they? I wondered.

“Hi,” I said, weakly. “This is C.J.”

“Oh,” they all said, sort of in unison.

“Hi, C.J.,” someone said.

“Look at those eyes,” Teacher #2 said, looking at C.J.

I stood there, waiting. For what, I don’t know.

In his old classroom, one or both teachers would rush to greet us, scooping C.J. up in their arms and talking sweetly to him. But this was not his old classroom, and no one was rushing to my baby’s side.

“When did he eat last?” Teacher #2 asked.

“7 a.m.,” I told her.

Teacher #3 came over. I think she introduced herself to me, but I can’t remember. She was not smiling as she reached for the diaper bag slung over my shoulder and put his bottles in the fridge. I asked a few more questions about naps and told them he’s been having a hard time sleeping during the day at school.

“That’s common,” they assured me.

I was still standing in the same spot, still waiting for the warmth his previous teachers had shown us. But they didn’t ask me a single question about my son. And not one of these women — these women I was leaving my child with almost every day for the next five months — made any move to come greet my child, make him smile, make me think they cared, make me feel at ease.

I felt a little bit silly. “Should I put him down somewhere,” I finally asked.

Teacher #2 sort of shrugged. “You can put him on the mat there,” she said.

The floor?  I thought to myself.

It’s not that I’m anti-floor — he spends plenty of time there at home. But to bring him in on his first day in a new class and set him down on the floor and leave? It just didn’t feel right. Unsure of what to do, I put him down, hesitantly. He propped himself up on his little hands and looked up. His lower lip puckered out, quivered.

C.J. began to cry. And still, no one came to hold my baby.

This. This was when my heart hit rock bottom.

I tried to play it cool and gave him a minute. When he didn’t calm down, I knelt down beside him and rubbed his back. I scooped him back up, gave him a kiss and set him back down, this time propped up against some soft, colorful blocks. He looked around, no longer crying. I let the teachers know I was going to grab his pacifier from the car, an excuse to distance myself from the situation for a moment.

I fought back tears on my way out. This wasn’t C.J.’s first day at daycare — only his first day in a new classroom. I hadn’t expected it to be difficult. Was it supposed to be? Was I expecting too much of these teachers? Had his previous teachers set the bar too high? Was I experiencing Mommy-melodrama? More than likely, it was a combination of all four. But I couldn’t help but think that on his first day in a new class, C.J. should have been welcomed a bit differently.

I gathered myself, grabbed a pacifier and walked back in, relieved to find Teacher #2 sitting in a chair, holding C.J.

My heart crept back up a quarter of an inch. As I washed off his pacifier, the school’s director walked in to see how it was going for the new kids in the classroom. Another quarter inch up it went.

I knew I had to leave. And I knew he’d be OK. I got in my car and let myself cry for a minute, hoping that when I picked him up later that afternoon, I’d find him smiling or in someone’s arms so that my heart might make its way back up to its rightful spot.

The Cutest DIY Baby Shower Invitations Ever

The Cutest DIY Baby Shower Invitations Ever

For the record, I am not a Do-It-Yourselfer. Martha Stewart would be appalled at my uncraftiness. For me, shopping at Michael’s is like wandering aimlessly through a foreign country. But I couldn’t resist making these Celebrate the Peanut shower invitations for the elephant-themed baby shower I’m co-hosting.

The mom-to-be has wanted a baby for a long time, and now, finally, she is just weeks away from giving birth to C.J.’s future bestie. There are seven of us hosting the shower, and we want it to be perfect — an amazing, slightly over-the-top shower to celebrate a long-overdue pregnancy.

Naturally, I turned to Pinterest — you know so I could browse thousands of far-fetched ideas I knew I would never in a million years undertake. (Thank you, endless hours of nursing and pumping for affording me the time.) But then I saw it. The most adorable baby shower invitation I have ever seen.

Celebrate the Peanut Baby Shower Invitation

Celebrate the Peanut

I know! How could I resist!? It seemed positively meant to be. I was so inspired that I dug deep (really deep) and channeled my inner DIY-er. Martha would be proud.

I can almost guarantee that at some point, you, dear reader, will take part in the planning of a baby shower. If I can do this, so can you. Here’s how I did it.

Step 1: Find boxes. Shopping! This part, I could handle.

I purchased these treat boxes with windows. They are a nice compact size for mailing, but most importantly, you can see the “Celebrate the Peanut” punch line.

Step 2: Buy crinkle paper, ribbon and of course, peanuts in the shell. More shopping! So far, so good.

Step 3: Make the invitation.

I work for a digital ad agency and am surrounded by graphic designers. Done and done. (If you don’t have direct access to an awesome designer, check out sites like Shutterfly, Vistaprint or find trifold business cards. Just be sure it’ll fit inside whatever box you choose. Try calling customer service so you can give them your exact specs.)

Step 4: Assemble the boxes.

Oy.

This part took me a while. Thankfully, I only had to assemble 21, but finding the right crinkle-paper-to-peanut ratio really is an art, as is tying the ribbon into a neat little bow. Wine helps

Step 5: Mail them.

The first place I took them to quoted me $10 apiece and I nearly fainted. Thankfully, the second place (good old, USPS) charged me just $2.25 for each one (I bought yellow mailing envelopes with bubble wrap at the dollar store and printed out my own navy blue address labels, complete with elephants on them).

The process above seems fairly simple, but it took me a good week and a half to complete all five tasks.

I couldn’t WAIT for my friend to get it in the mail. I felt like a kid waiting for Santa Clause. I mailed them on a Monday morning. Tuesday night, her name popped up on my phone. I played it cool.

“Hey, what’s up?” I answered, all nonchalant like.

“Um, are you trying to win an award for the Most Awesome Invitation Ever?” she asked.

Why, yes. Yes, I am. Cue silent happy dance and eye-rolling husband.

Minutes later, a text from a fellow shower co-host rolls in: “My parents are gushing over the invitation. You rocked it!”

I read the text aloud in a sing-songy voice for all to hear. Happy dance becomes even more obnoxious. Husband goes into full-on Ignore Crazy Wife mode; reaches for beer.

Wait until he sees the favors.