Tag Archives: new mom

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.

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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?

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)

 

Things I Wish I Knew When I Was Pregnant (Part 1)

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  1. Labor and delivery is the easy part. Before and during my pregnancy, this was the thing I feared most.  And hey, if you’ve never had a human being come barreling out of your lady parts before, it’s perfectly natural to be horrified at the thought. I must have read three books on the subject, on top of the email newsletters I subscribed to and the classes we took. I’m glad I educated myself, but ultimately, I was induced and ended up having very little control over anything. And you know what? It was fine. Don’t get me wrong; it was no picnic. Contractions hurt. Pushing is exhausting. Your significant other will see your body do things they can’t unsee. But in comparison to the weeks that follow (see #2), my 10-hour labor and delivery experience was relatively easy.

  2. Breastfeeding doesn’t always come naturally. And if we’re being totally honest, it kind of sucks. Yeah, I said it. For starters, it hurts like hell in the beginning, and some babies (I’m lookin’ at you, C.J.) have a difficult time latching at first. Oh, but what about the bonding? You ask. Isn’t it amazing?  Pshhh. Bonding? What part of it was supposed to be bonding, exactly? The crying, the bleeding or the cursing? From the sound of his shrieking, you would think I was trying to torture him, not feed him. For the first eight weeks (a.k.a The Longest Two Months of My Life) the only things I felt toward nursing were extreme stress and anxiety. I actually used to Google, “I hate breastfeeding” and, “My baby hates breastfeeding” just to see if I was the only one. Guess what? I wasn’t. I’m not exaggerating when I say that to begin with, I dreaded every feeding—which by the way, was every two hours. Which leads me to my next point.

  3. Babies eat every two hours. OK, fine. Technically, I knew this to be true. But the reality of this seemingly simple, harmless fact doesn’t really hit you until you’re doing it. Every two hours. Around the clock. Day and night. Your whole life lived in two- to three-hour increments between breastfeeding. One session ends and before you know it, another begins. This ball-and-chain phase doesn’t last forever, but when you’re in it, you wonder if it will ever end. No one told me how hard it was going to be. No one told me that as long you breastfeed your life will revolve around it.

Note: I don’t think everyone has the same challenges C.J. and I had when it comes to
nursing, and I’m happy to report that we eventually found our way (sort of) with nursing.
I could write a book about breastfeeding, which ultimately ended up being one of the
hardest, most soul-sucking, yet rewarding nine months of my life.

  1. After you deliver, you still can’t (really) drink. That glass of wine you’ve been waiting nine months for? Yeah, about that. If you’re nursing, you won’t be able to really enjoy a full glass of wine for weeks.

  2. You will be a ticking, tear-filled time bomb. I don’t cry. Correction: I never used to cry. Before I gave birth, I could count on one hand the number of times Jonathan had seen me cry (excluding TVs and movies).  Now, there’s no telling what might set me off. One day, while getting ready for a work party, Jonathan asked me if I was going to straighten my hair. If it were physically possible for daggers to shoot from my eyes, I swear they would have. “You hate my hair curly!” I exclaimed dramatically, my eyes filling with tears. I sometimes want to shake myself when these episodes take over and tell myself to “get a freaking grip.” But then I think about what I and my various body parts have been through (please refer back to items 1, 2 and 3) and I feel pretty entitled to a good cry.

Stay tuned for Part 2.

The Forgotten Children

Artie and C.J., Seeing Eye to Eye

The crying little bundle in my arms was making Artie anxious.

“It’s OK, buddy,” I said, as he frantically whimpered and jumped up to see what it was.

“Down,” I scolded, gently, but firmly. He followed me throughout the house, stopping when I stopped and rearing up on his little hind legs to try and catch a glimpse. Clyde, though nearly deaf, was curious as to what I was holding and stayed close behind.

“Try sitting on the couch,” Jonathan said.

I settled into the sofa and immediately, both dogs put their paws up on it, begging to be let up and sneak a peek at this mysterious little thing I was carrying around and handling with such care.

“Be sweet,” we said. “This is your baby brother,” we informed them.

Artie was the one we were worried about. We were certain that Clyde would, for the most part, ignore C.J. But Artie? There was no telling how his curiosity and jealousy would manifest themselves.

“Ok,” I said, tired. “I think that’s good for today.”

I turned off the crying baby app, unwrapped the bundle and removed the stuffed lion from inside the blue blanket, setting it down on the coffee table.

“Don’t let them see that it’s a stuffed animal,” Jonathan scolded, grabbing the lion and hiding it.

“They don’t know the difference,” I said, 30-something weeks pregnant and exhausted.

“Of course they do,” he said. “They’ve seen a stuffed animal before,” he said, pointing at their stuffed squeaking duck on the living room floor.

Oh, right. Guess he had a point.

If you’re wondering what the meaning of this absurdity is, let me enlighten you. This was our carefully concocted strategy for getting our beloved furry children used to A) The sound and presence of a crying baby, and B) The loss of our undivided attention.

We were determined to make this an easy, painless transition for them.

You see, I used to be obsessed with my dogs. Like really obsessed with them.

I never even wanted an engagement ring; instead, I wanted Jonathan to propose to me by offering me a puppy. (I ended up getting both — yep, he pretty much wins the Best Husband Ever award.)

When we left them behind for vacations, I’d request photo updates from the sitter several times a day and leave behind typed, detailed notes with emergency phone numbers and instructions to fill their water bowl with filtered water and ice cubes.

I was head over heels for Artie. Every night, we cuddled on the couch and stared deeply into each other’s eyes. True story. It creeped Jonathan out.

At dinner, friends would go on about their kids. “He gets so upset when I’m on the phone, not paying attention to him,” they might say. “He just starts acting out.”

I’d nod. “Oh my god, I know!” I would tell them, totally identifying. “Artie does the SAME thing!”

On the way home, Jonathan would tell me that I should probably stop comparing our dogs to other people’s kids.

“Whatever, they ARE our kids,” I’d say. We even had little steps leading up to our bed.

People warned us things would change when the baby came. “No way,” we thought. How could it? No one loved their dogs more than we did.

CJ and Clyde

Enter C.J.

Dog barks.

“I swear to God, if that dog barks one more time, I’m going to look into getting his voice box removed.”

Yeah. I’d say things have changed, alright.

It sort of happens without you even realizing it. This tiny human demands your body and your attention 24/7 and you don’t even realize there’s a sweet little Yorkie begging for your attention, or a sleepy little peekapoo who’s too old and grumpy to ask, but would love a pat on the head. When I was on maternity leave, there were days I forgot the dogs even existed unless they barked, in which case I became infuriated. There just didn’t seem to be enough energy or love inside me for all of them. Thank God Jonathan still loved them. And fed them. And took them outside.

Now that C.J. is 9 months old, we’ve come out of the fog a bit, and I make more of an effort to show both dogs a little love each night.

But every now and then, there are moments when we can’t believe how things have changed. Just the other night, Jonathan awoke to Clyde whimpering, laying beside his food bowl.

“Oh my god,” Jonathan said. “We are the Worst. Dog Owners. Ever.”

Turned out, we hadn’t filled their food bowls in about 24 hours. I thought he might cry from the guilt. Clyde was his baby, long before I even came along.

Things are slowly working toward Back To Normal. Artie and Clyde are getting used to C.J. We think they may even be starting to love him (either that, or they’re tasting him to see if he would make a good meal).

We hope that soon, when C.J. is running around, playing with them, his unconditional love and energy will make up for the changes they’ve experienced this past year. That they’ll grow to see him as part of our family, rather than a disruption to it.

 

Related Content: Welcoming Furry Friends To Your Home

 

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.

Must-Have Baby Gear for the First 6 Months

My pregnant friends always ask me what I couldn’t live without. Now that the first six months are under our belt (wahoo!), I thought it would be a good time to stop and reflect on what items really made our lives easier. Every mom will have her own answers. But other than the obvious necessities (i.e., diapers, wipes, diaper rash cream, a car seat, stroller and clothes), here’s a list of things I found invaluable during the first six months of motherhood.

1.       Fisher-Price Rock ‘n Play Sleeper

Taking a little snooze in the Rock 'n Play, swaddled in his sleepsack, paci never too far away.

While pregnant, I constantly wondered: Where will we put the baby when we’re not holding him? I know it sounds silly, but it was a real concern of mine. For us, the answer was the Rock ‘n Play. C.J. practically lived in this cozy little hammock-type contraption for the first four months of his life. To this day, it’s where he takes his best and longest naps, so when I really, realllly need him to sleep for more than one hour, that’s where I plop him.

2.       Gerber Prefold Birdseye Cloth Diapers

We use these as burp clothes (I’m far too lazy to use them for their intended purpose). I can’t stress it enough: You just can’t have too many of these. We have them strategically placed throughout the house, from the nursery and living room, to our nightstand and the back porch.

3.       Nursing Pillow

These just made feedings more comfortable for me and C.J. I’m still extremely reliant on it. We also use it to prop him up in sitting position.

4.       Swaddle Sleep Sacks

As soon as C.J. was big enough that these didn’t completely envelope him, we started using them at night for peace of mind (versus a blanket, which could potentially come loose). Once he went all ninja and started breaking out and threatening to roll over while swaddled, we began employing the infamous Double Swaddle Method. That’s right. Double Swaddle. He slept like this until very recently (10-12 hours a night, might I add).

5.       Activity Mat

Must Have Baby Items

Perhaps no other item brings me fonder maternity leave memories than our activity mat. We would spend hours on this every day, working on tummy time, reading books, swatting at the dangling animals (Larry the Lion, Elliot the Elephant, Marvin the Monkey, Zoey the Zebra and Wally the Whale) or just lying there staring at each other. I could never bring myself to throw this away.

 6.       Pacifier

I was one of those clueless, self-righteous souls who swore my kid would never use a pacifier. By week three, I was begging C.J. to take one. They’re a lifesaver on long car rides and out in public, when you don’t want to be the Mom with the Screaming Child. When he’s tired, cranky and fighting sleep, all I have to do is rock him a little and stick a paci in his mouth, and his eyes immediately start to flutter closed.

Note: He was picky with his pacifiers, so be sure to test out a few brands. When you find one he likes, buy 10 of them.

7.       Bouncy Chair

Admittedly, it took me a while to warm to this particular item. I mean, how much baby gear can one family have scattered around the living room? I started using it at around two months, and to this day, it’s my babysitter when I’m getting ready for work in the mornings. It keeps him entertained for up to an hour, and it’s lightweight enough that I can park it just outside the bathroom and keep an eye on him while I shower, do my hair, makeup and get dressed.

8.       Changing Pad Liners

Yes, in addition to changing pad covers. It must be a boy thing, but it seemed like for the first three to four months, every time we changed his diaper, he’d pee the second it came off. We perfected a series of Matrix-style pee-dodging moves that kept us mostly dry, however it seemed like we were stripping and washing our covers after every other diaper change. These just made life a little easier.