Monday, July 30, 2012

5 things I didn't expect about the "4th Trimester"

So there's two varying opinions about "the fourth trimester," otherwise known as the first 3 months of your baby's life.  It's called the 4th trimester because, in a lot of ways, your baby is still just sorta continuing exactly what he/she was doing in the womb - getting rest, getting nutrition, and growing.  Thank the Lord, however, that He allows us to actually deliver after 9 months instead of 12.  I don't think I could have handled 3 more months of Baby O inside me, nor could my pelvis have survived her birth at her current size!

Anyway, the two opinions are:
a) Stay home.  Rest.  Get to know your baby and yourselves as parents.  Take it easy.  Don't have a lot of visitors.
b) Go out.  Strap the baby on in a carrier and take her with you.  Pretend nothing's changed.  She doesn't have a schedule anyway and she'll sleep wherever you are.

Overall, while Ben and I did some of column A, we mostly did column B.  We went to church when baby O was only 5 days old.  We have gone out to restaurants, taken the train/bus, had friends over weekly for community group, and even gone on a weekend trip to Indiana in a 4 seater plane!  While I thought I was prepared for the "4th trimester," there are a few things I didn't expect...

1) How quickly my husband became a father.  Sure, I knew Ben would be a great dad.  I knew he'd love Baby O, think she was adorable, and even learn to change diapers.  I just didn't expect him to become a father instantly.  I won't even say "over night," cause it didn't take a full 24 hours.  On day 1 of her life, he was putting her needs first, changing diapers, and swaddling her like a champ... seriously, as if he'd been doing it his whole life!  I continue to be amazed by the ease with which he's taken on this new role and how little teaching he requires.  I'm truly blessed.

2) Wetness.  Everywhere.  Sure... babies are wet.  They have wet diapers, they spit up... but during the 4th trimester, it was not baby O who was such a mess.  She was little and predictable.  My wetness was outstanding.  This may be too much information for some of you who know me personally, but I sweat differently than I used to.  I leaked before, during and after breast feeding sessions.  My pelvic floor muscles weren't yet back to normal and I could have unpredictable accidents anywhere and everywhere... without notice.  I thought I'd be chasing after O and her messes, but I could barely keep up with my own!  So mothers-to-be, consider yourselves warned!

3) How well we would all sleep.  It's controversial, but Ben and I easily fell into the idea of co-sleeping.  He was convinced during pregnancy that O would never ever ever sleep in our bed.  So I quietly got a bassinet and agreed to talk about it later.  But on night 1 home from the hospital, in our groggy fatigue, co-sleeping is what made sense.  So we did it.  And it continued... sure, some nights she starts the night in the bassinet so that we have a bit of time and space to ourselves, but 100% of the time, she ends up in our bed.  And I have to say, I love it.  We all sleep REALLY well.  Ben sleeps, I sleep, O sleeps.  I can't believe how many times people make jokes about whether or not we're sleeping.  And the truth is, I can practically sleep through middle of the night feeds and we all sleep great, thank-you-very-much!

4) Limited Conversation. No one ever asks me about anything but parenthood.  Okay, I'll take it back, sometimes they ask about parenthood and working.  But it's as if I didn't exist more than 3 months ago, so any topic of conversation from before the last three months (aka, pre O) has disappeared from anyone's minds when I walk in a room.  And in some ways, I totally understand it.  And in others, I miss what life was about pre-baby.

5) How hard leaving O at daycare would be.  I've always thought that I'd go back to work after having kids.  It worked for my mom, it worked for my sister, it would work for me.  My career is important to me and I love my job.  Why wouldn't I go back?  But before the first week, I had the horrifying experience of my "Daycare Visit Day."  This is the day that I brought in O's sheets and clothes, diapers, health care documents, etc and got to meet the teachers, etc.  Almost instantly when the Daycare Director left us in the room with the teachers and the babies, I started to cry.  It was so weird, because cognitively, I got that it was a good thing.  But wow, my hormones were just not having it!  I only had 3 meltdowns in the first hour and a half visit (half of which I spent outside while O was inside with the teachers).  I say "only" 'cause I think that's actually pretty good! I figured it's better to embrace the emotions, tell myself that they're okay, own them, and move on.

Hey Moms, what were your surprises about those first 3 months of life?  

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

3 months old!!!

Baby O is officially 3 months old!  I should be writing down developmental milestones more frequently if I want to know for sure what is happening when... so forgive me if some of these things were included on my 2 month list.  But wow, she's changing so much!  She's a completely different little girl than she was a month or two ago.

Baby O smiles all the time, especially when you make funny faces at her.  Her vocalizations are really varied.  Sometimes she makes a little raspberry noise, other times high pitched squeals and other times low sweet giggles.  She loves looking at things.  Her world is really getting much wider-- since about 10 weeks, she looks at things completely across the room.  She looks at mobiles and things hanging from the ceiling.  And when she sees something new and unfamiliar, she stops everything and just stares!

In the last couple weeks, she's gotten really good with her hands (relatively).  She is opening her fist more often and when she does, she grabs for whatever she can reach.  Once it's in her hand, she puts it straight in her mouth!  I suppose that means I have to be careful what we put near her (Ben gave her a package of smarties... cute picture, but a bit scary).

She rolled over for the first time on 7/13/12!  She did it 3 times in a row.  Ben saw the first one and we both were there for the 2nd and 3rd.  I think she knew I'd want to prove it wasn't just a fluke.  All three times it was from stomach to back.  And then she promptly hasn't done it again... no matter how much I encourage her.  And in the last couple days, she's really hated tummy time at all, probably due to her little congested cold.

Ah, the cold.  Baby's first cold.  The dry cough started BEFORE daycare thank-you-very-much, but just after starting back to work on the 17th, she got a congested cough on the 18th.. and here we are a week later and it's still going.  *sigh*  The two things I've heard about colds are a) babies are supposed to get 5ish in the first year, so we're right on track AND b) if she gets all the germs now, she'll be super healthy and not miss a day of kindergarten.  So I suppose it's not the end of the world. :-)

Alright, you've done enough reading... you've earned your pictures...

With love, from Boston...

Sunday, July 8, 2012

8 weeks to a Less Cluttered Home week 1

For about a year now (maybe more?) I've been following Stephanie over at Keeper of the Home.  I really enjoy her blogging style and her stories about her family.  This summer I'm taking a challenge with her called 8 Weeks to a Less Cluttered Home.  I won't reiterate the whole idea here ('cause that would be plagiarism!)  But please go to her site and read about it.  It's a truly inspired idea.  I "liked" her site on facebook so that I get the daily updates about what I should be de-cluttering.  I'm a few days behind her schedule, but have started in the kitchen and am working my way through.

I think this is an important task to be doing right now for a few reasons.  First, I have only a week and a half left of my maternity leave... it feels a little like impending doom, thinking about adding 20 hours a week of work into what feels like an already busy schedule.  Secondly, though, I know that we need to make space for new things that will be added to our lives over the next months and years as we collect things for Baby O.  But third, if I expect to be minimalist with Baby O, then I have to be minimalist with my own life and belongings.

I'm amazed at what we still have in the cabinets and drawers that are either a) totally unused on a weekly basis or b) still doubles from combining households over 2 years ago!  Once I get a drawer empty, cleaned, and refilled with only the stuff I plan on keeping, it looks so darn snazzy!

I plan on sending all the stuff to Goodwill.  If I were really motivated, I'd try to sell it all on craigslist.  But I just don't think I'll take the time/energy for that.  And hopefully it will get a good home with someone new if I send it to Goodwill.  However, if you live in the Boston area and know a better place to donate things to (I am a bit worried about this), please message me!

My Progress Thus Far:
Challenge #1: Kitchen drawers - 17+ items including egg timer, two can openers, 3 large spoons/spatulas, 3 plastic spatulas, bottle opener, alcohol pour spouts, cheese knives, a mis-matched spoon, and several other tiny items
Challenge #2: Kitchen cupboards: eating dishes and storage containers - only 9 items including 3 plastic tuperware containers (we've stopped microwaving plastic, so we never use them), soft sided travel cooler, a glass pitcher, two mis-matched wine glasses, a kleen kanteen, a travel mug.
Challenge #3: Kitchen cupboards: cooking items and small appliances - only 9 items 3 loaf pans, muffin tin, cookie sheet, hand-held electric mixer, a plastic bowl w/lid, my half broken crock pot (though I need to replace this soon!!!), an extra bread basket
Challenge #4: Kitchen drawers (junk/misc drawers) - ah... maybe this is why I had so many in challenge one. The thing is, we only have one more drawer in our kitchen that I didn't sweep on #1. But I just swept it out about a month ago because it was driving me nuts. And I easily threw out 10 items. So we'll consider that done.
Challenge #5: Kitchen Linens - I only put 6 dish rags in the pile.  But we don't really have that many to begin with.  And I don't wash them that often.  So I got nervous getting rid of more than that.

I know I'm supposed to have 10 items in each category.  But I figure I might organize differently than the designer of the challenge does... so maybe that's why I have a ton in challenge 1 and am struggling to find the 10th items in challenge 2 and 3???  Or maybe I'm just still a pack-rat at heart and I should pair down further... hm...

The final success of the day is that when Ben saw the pile, there's only ONE item he made me take back out and keep.  Not bad, eh?

Friday, July 6, 2012

Montessori at 2 Months

While engaged, I fell in love with the blog  The author, Sarah, seemed to really resonate with me... and as I read more and more, I found out that we had lots in common including having worked for Teach for America!  So I was thrilled, post wedding, to find out that she had a second blog called which chronicles her post-wedding life including her attempts (and successes!) at getting pregnant and raising children.  It was via Sarah that I started investigating Montessori ways of raising children.  Now I'm excited to follow her attempts at starting a Montessori school in Austin, TX.  

Anyway, I'm not sure what formal education will look like for Baby O going forward, but Montessori principles of raising my child in my home really make a lot of sense to me.  Montessori encourages parents to promote independence, encourages following the child's lead, and really highlights putting the child in an environment that is intentional and prepared for the child's developmental stage.  So what does that mean for Baby O when she's just a couple months old and not "doing much" yet?

Well, the earliest Montessori materials are mobiles that baby is supposed to look at and engage with.  But I'll be honest, thus far, Baby O is uninterested in a) laying on her back or b) being left alone.  So while I had grand ideas about mobiles, I haven't spent much time pursuing them.

However, now that she's beginning to engage more with her body, hands, feet, etc, I'm excited to introduce some simple Montessori toys.  For itty bitties like Baby O, Montessori educators encourage fluffy toys, cloth books, rattles, and soft balls that help babies learn to grasp and use their hands.  They discourage flashy/fancy toys that children are "just watching" rather than engaging with.  After doing some searching, I decided to buy Baby O a set of infant materials from Beginning Montessori.  When they arrived last week, I was officially in love!

I purchased 5 items: a Bell Rattle, Grasping Beads, and an Interlocking Disc, Ball Cylinder, and a Bell Cylinder.

You can find descriptions of how each toy is meant to work and what skills it helps develop at Beginning Montessori's etsy page, here.

Thus far, the only toy I've introduced to Baby O is the bell rattle.  It fits PERFECTLY in her tiny hand (though it's a bit of an effort to get it in there some times, since she still has a strong grasping reflex).  I'm not sure, yet, that she realizes anything is actually in her hand.  And she does have to be monitored closely while she holds it, because every time I look up, the little bell is in her mouth.  Which doesn't seem like a great idea.  But the goal isn't to have something that she can play with independently, the goal is to teach her that when she moves her arms/hands, things happen!  Music is created and there's something to look at!

(side note: this is the last time she wore a size 0-3 onesie.  We sold those all early this week and she's now officially wearing size 3 months!)

Someone asked me recently what type of toys or items that I'd want as gifts for Baby O through this year's holiday season.  I found this great list at for ages birth through 18 months:

- soft toys
- things with bright contrasting colors
- rattles (wooden or silver)
- mobiles (that catch children’s attention/ reflective)
- squeaky toys
- music boxes
- balls (of various sizes and textures)
- knock down toys
- blocks
- bath and pouring toys
- simple wooden musical instruments
- push or pull toys
- spinning top
- drop boxes
- stacking toys
- rings and bases
- board books