Friday, August 27, 2010

10 Things I'll Do Differently

Recently, somebody posed the following question on a message board online: What will you do differently with your next baby, based on what you've learned from the first?

I thought this was a great question. As I think back to the first few months and the decisions we made, a few things come to mind that I would like to try differently next time around.

1. I'd like to give a better effort at breastfeeding. I definitely would not say that I "gave up" on breastfeeding. However, I think I could have sought out more help when I needed it. The truth of the matter is, I was exhausted and overwhelmed. When the going got tough, the tough got formula. Next time, I would like to educate myself better beforehand so I can give it a better shot.

2. If breastfeeding doesn't work out, I will NOT beat myself up over it for a month like I did with Aubrey. Damn La Leche League!

3. I will start a bedtime routine sooner. Once we finally stuck to a bedtime routine, Aubrey fell into a great schedule. Wish I had done that months ago!

4. I will have dinners prepared and frozen for the first week we are home with the new baby. I wish I had listened to this advice when I was pregnant with Aubrey...we spent a fortune on take-out!

5. This one is delivery related: I will get the epidural RIGHT AWAY instead of trying to tough it out. All that did was waste time--I was in so much pain that I wouldn't dilate. Once I got the epidural and was relaxed, I went from 4cm to the birth in 4 hours.

6. I will not read baby books and treat them like they are the Bible. Every time I ask my pediatrician about "something I read" she yells at me and tells me to stop reading the books!

7. When my mom offers (well, I hope she still offers...) to spend the night to help with the baby, I will say YES instead of feeling guilty and pretending we didn't really need a good night's rest.

8. I will hire someone to clean my house for the first few months. So worth it.

9. With baby #2, I will be much more out and about than I was with Aubrey. I barely left the house with her for the first 6 weeks. In my defense, it was "Swine flu" season and we had a 3 foot blizzard every other week.

10. When I'm pregnant with baby #2, I will have no delusions about what life will be like with another baby. With Aubrey I had visions of baking Christmas cookies while she napped all day. HA. That didn't even come close to happening. I will be much more mentally prepared in knowing that babies turn your world upside down, and nothing is predictable. All I know for sure is that life will get crazier (but better!) and we will have a new baby to fall in love with all over again.

Anyone else out there have something that you'll do differently next time? I'm sure I'm forgetting many, many things :)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Outings with Aubrey

Lately I've been taking Aubrey to places where she can interact with other babies and toddlers. We've gone to a playgroup, the park, a kids' session at the library, the animal farm, a music class at Gymboree (thanks for the suggestion, Corinne!), and Ocean in Motion (it's like a big playroom for kids).

I LOVE going to these places with Aubrey. Not only do we get to play together, but she gets to observe and interact with other little ones (and I get the opportunity to meet and socialize with other moms!). I have to tell you, time goes much faster when you and your baby are out interacting with other moms and babies than it does when you are playing with the same 8 toys over and over again on your family room floor. And most of these places are way more baby friendly than my family room and its many bookshelves and power outlets. As much as I love to give Aubrey the opportunity to "explore" the house, that girl has got to calm down with ripping up my magazines and throwing the dog food across the kitchen floor.

But most importantly, I love going to these places because Aubrey really enjoys playing with the other babies. Well, I guess she doesn't really play with other babies. It's more like they crawl over each other to get to what they want. But she certainly loves watching the "older" kids (you know, the walking ones) run around and play. She can sit and watch a 2 year old play for 15 minutes. I wish I could train her to watch me for 15 minutes at home while I put on my makeup or make lunch (or sleep...)! This is the ONE thing I miss about working--Aubrey getting to play with other kids during the day, and the opportunity to learn from them.

This is just the start of fun outings with my baby girl, and I can't wait for more to come.

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Bond Between Moms

I was waiting in Sears to pick up Aubrey's pics, and there was another new mom waiting behind me. The only person who was working in the portrait studio was busy taking pics, so this other mom and I had some time to talk. Her daughter was 3 months old and sleeping. Aubrey of course, was wide awake and trying to crawl into the photo session that was occuring in the portrait studio.

It's funny how when two new moms meet each other, they feel like they can instantly confide in the other. Like, they know that the other will understand exactly how they feel, and they don't need to sugarcoat or feel badly about feeling overwhelmed. This other mom looked at me after a moment of small talk and said, "Can I tell you something? I am just so happy I survived the first three months. I think I can make it through anything now. I had no idea that a 7 pound baby would require two adults' complete, undivided attention 24/7"

I just nodded my head, and told her I knew exactly how she felt. I told her about how when I was pregnant I thought I would be watching Christmas movies and baking cookies while my newborn napped all day...yeah right!!! Clearly, my delusions of motherhood were quickly proven false.

I could sense during our conversation that she wanted-and needed-some reassurance that things would get easier. Luckily, things have been easier lately so I was able to tell her what she needed to hear-hang in there, your life will begin to feel pretty normal again quite soon! She was relieved to hear that, and then she continued to express her fears about going back to work. Of course, that opened up a whole other can of worms!

It's really important for women to support each other as moms. We all have SO much to offer one another-whether it's a piece of tried and true advice or just a non-judging ear. A lot of moms feel like they are the only ones going through something when in reality, it's something that almost all moms feel or experience. It doesn't matter what your race, religion, age, or wallet size is--we can all relate to each other because we are all moms, and we should be there for each other. That is why blogging is great-we can all share our stories and feel comfort in knowing that we are supported and are not alone. This must be why I keep coming back!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Dare I Say It? Are Things Getting...Easier?

An interesting thing has been happening over the last few weeks. As Aubrey is becoming more independent and her personality is blossoming by the day, things are becoming (dare I say it!)...easier.

Let me list some of the perks that come with this new stage we're in...

-Now that the novelty of crawling has worn off, Aubrey can sit in the same place and entertain herself without crawling off and getting into trouble within 4 seconds. This means when I make a sandwich, I can actually take 3 minutes to eat it without having to chase a runaway baby!

-And while she loves playing with Mommy (actually, it seems like she could care less, but I like to pretend she enjoys it), she really has been quite content to play on her own while I watch The View fold laundry.

- When we go out places, I can put Aubrey in the shopping cart now and she loves it. She loves looking at everything in the store and chatting with the other customers. Another bonus? Now that she's awake for long periods at a time, I don't have to worry about rushing around so we can get home for naptime.

-As Aubrey is getting older, she is enjoying more activities. I can take her to farms, parks, and infant/toddler play places and she actually enjoys them and has fun. No more relying on Target as my sole source of entertainment!

-To add to my ease, she is also finally on a great schedule. So much easier to plan my days when I know when she’ll be awake!

-Big plus: We've nailed the bedtime routine and Aubrey consistently goes to bed at a nice, reasonable time of 7:30. There’s now plenty of time for me and Justin to turn off our brains and recharge (aka watching hours of mindless television).

Yes, things are becoming more routine, more predictable, and more enjoyable. I am loving this stage. I love that she has such a great personality and that she is able to start enjoying the things we do together. There are still days when I want to run for the hills, but overall, I feel like motherhood is finally becoming what I thought it would be when I was pregnant...FUN! I can only hope that she holds off for a couple more months before she starts walking. I still need another month or two to refill my energy (and patience) reserves!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Music to My Ears

Over the last eight months, Aubrey has preferred moving to talking. She's been so busy getting around, that she hasn't spent much time working on her babbling. I've been waiting and waiting to hear her make some distinguishing consonant sounds, and finally the last couple of weeks have brought music to my ears!

Aubrey is now babbling away. Her faves are buh-buh-buh, and when she's angry or upset, she says muh-muh-muuuuuuuuuuuuuuh (she's practicing for when she yells at me in the future). The funny part is how she says the same sound over and over, yet she uses inflection as if she's speaking in sentences. I have to tell you, they are the most beautiful sentences I've ever heard! When we're in the car and I hear her "talking", I turn down the radio and listen to her having her little conversations. Last night I even dreamt that she was talking to me in real sentences.

I am just so excited to hear Aubrey start the beginnings of talking. Partly because it's such a huge milestone, but also because I can't wait to actually hear her little voice and KNOW what she wants and how she is feeling. Now I know all you moms that already have kids are probably thinking, "Once she talks, you'll be wishing she wasn't!" But I don't care. Of all of her milestones so far, nothing has made me smile more than hearing her trying to talk to me :)


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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Surprise #136 of Becoming a Mom

Surprise #136 of becoming a mom: Catching up with friends on the phone has to become a planned event.

Unlike the pre-baby days, I can't just pick up the phone and call a friend at my leisure. I usually don't have enough time during her naps to accomplish all of my "To do" list and make a call that's not rushed (you know how long those conversations with a girl friend can go on for!). So when it comes to calling back friends, I usually do it when I am taking a long drive and I know there won't be any interruptions.

Before I go on, let me clarify what I mean by interruptions. By interruptions, I mean events that usually happen when I'm on the phone at home that would require me to get off the phone mid conversation. The normal interruptions would be things like the baby waking up from a nap and needing a bottle, a diaper explosion, or the baby deciding she wants to chew an electrical cord.

Yesterday, Aubrey and I were going to drive up and have lunch with my husband during his lunch break. My husband works an hour away, so I knew I had a good block of time to call back one of my friends, no interruptions.

So once I was on my way,I called my friend and told her I had plenty of time to talk. In my defense, I did warn her that if she heard what sounded like ear screeching music playing in the background, that was Aubrey. Sure enough, as soon as I drove onto the Jersey Turnpike, the music began.

Of course, my friend's initial response was, "Do you want me to let you go?" I explained that there was no reason for me to go unless the crying bothered her. You see, the baby had just been fed, her diaper had just been changed, her Orajel was on, and she had her favorite toys with her. If she was crying, it was because she knew Mommy was 3 feet away and not playing with her. So my response to my friend was, "My only option to get her to stop crying is to pull over on the Turnpike, take her out of carseat, and play with her. And that is not happening."

The truth is, when I am driving and Aubrey is crying it drives me CRAZY. I can't stand hearing her cry and not being able to help her. It breaks my heart and I get super tense and anxious about the situation. Talking with my friend today during Aubrey's episode helped me to stay sane.

And sure enough, as soon as we got to my husband's office and I pulled Aubrey out of her car seat, she was happy as can be, smiling and laughing. I was pretty drained after that car ride, and I was hoping after the long ride and lunch with Daddy that Aubrey would be drained too. While the phone call on the ride up was a nice distraction from the crying, I don't think I could have endured that for the whole ride home as well!

Luckily for me (and Aubrey!), she was passed out within one minute of leaving my husband's office. But just in case, I had my phone ready.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Naptime for Mommy

So I'm a little late on taking the advice, "Sleep when the baby sleeps". I never did this when Aubrey was a newborn. I was too busy and shell shocked to sleep. But now that Aubrey is almost 8 months old, I have learned that napping when she naps is a survival skill on some days.

When I was working, I could never take a nap. If I only got 5 hours of sleep one night, that's all I was going to get. However now that I'm home with Aubrey, I usually take a nap as soon as she goes down in the morning. I feel like such a wimp, but she has really been exhausting me lately with her crawling and climbing! I figure I might as well enjoy this luxury while I only have one baby. I imagine once you have more than one, it's not so convenient (or possible!) to take naps anymore.

On that note, my bed is calling.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Grass is Always Greener on the Other Side

Having seen both sides of the fence as both a full-time working mom and a stay at home mom, I've learned that there is no happy winner. BOTH types of moms feel guilt, anxiety, and wish for more at times.

After talking with many working moms and stay at home moms, I've noticed that each tends to crave some of the perks that the other one has. It just goes to show you, the grass is always greener on the other side!

Here are some of the most common things that I have heard from other moms and that I have experienced myself, as both a working mom and a stay at home mom.

SAHM (stay at home mom): I wish I had a half- hour drive to work each morning to just drink my coffee and sit in silence.
WM (working mom): I wish I could sit in my pjs at 8am and play with my baby while I have my coffee.

SAHM: I wish I could wear a nice dress and heels once in awhile instead of mom clothes every day.
WM: I wish I could wear sweats to work; I'm too tired to dress this nicely every day!

SAHM: I miss adult conversation.
WM: I miss hearing my baby babble.

SAHM: I would love to do something for ME each day, something that makes me feel like more than just "Mom".
WM: I would love to have more time with my baby each day, something to make me feel more like I'm a "Mom".

SAHM: I wish I had more money to spend.
WM: I wish I had more time to enjoy the money I'm working for.

SAHM: Sometimes the days drag on and on when it's just me and the baby.
WM: My evenings with the baby go way too quickly.

SAHM: There are days when I wish I was working.
WM: There are days when I wish I could be home with my baby.

I'm not saying all SAHMs and WMs feel like this, or that they feel like this all the time. My point is, ALL moms have days when they may wish to be on the other side. Having done both, I can tell you that they are equally hard, just for different reasons.

The hardest parts of being a working mom (for me) were being so incredibly busy after I got home from work and not being able to spend nearly as much time was I wanted to with my baby.

As far as being a stay at home mom, the hardest parts for me are missing the adult interaction everyday and getting to do something each day that was separate from being "Mom".

There is no perfect answer. It's just the way life is--you have to take the good with the bad, no matter what situation you find yourself in. And the fact is, there is no perfect situation. The important thing is that we all are trying our very hardest to be the best moms and women we can be!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

You know are settling into the role of Mommy when...

So you've had your baby and you're now a new mom. It often takes awhile to settle into this new role. But after the days, weeks, and months pass, you begin to see some signs that you are in fact, settling into the role of Mommy. Here is my list of just some of things that make me feel like I am indeed settling into this new role.

You know are settling into the role of Mommy when...

1.) You know longer roll your eyes at the woman with the screaming toddler in the grocery store. Instead you fearfully think, "That will be ME in two years!"

2.) You sing your baby's favorite songs while walking down the aisle in a store, and not for a second think that other people may be irritated by this.

3.) You suddenly realize that you eat most of your meals in under 5 minutes, even when the baby is not around. It has become habit to scarf down your food before your presence is needed!

4.) You no longer think, "Hmm, that cell phone might be dirty. Maybe I should take it away from her and give her a 'baby toy'." Instead, you think to yourself, "If she's quiet and happy, I don't care!"

5.) Staying up til 10:30pm is a "late" night.

6.) Instead of wanting to go out on the town when you have a babysitter, you and your husband would prefer just to stay at home, sit on the couch, and do NOTHING!

7.) Your nice outfit is now anything that you wouldn't wear to bed. Unless you ironed it. Ironed sweatpants with a fitted tee definitely counts as a nice outfit.

8.) You wonder how the hell you spent all that free time you had before you had a baby. What on earth did we do with ourselves?!

9.) You spend half your day on the floor playing with blocks and rattles. The other half is spent on the floor chasing around the baby.

10.) Free time is filled with fun activities like doing laundry, emptying the dishwasher, and balancing your checkbook.

11.) You drive the long way home (and sometimes circle the neighborhood a few times) because the baby is finally peacefully sleeping in the car seat.

12.) You get spit on, puked on, pooped on, and peed on and you don't even bat an eye.

13.) Suddenly the cry it out method doesn't seem like child cruelty. It seems necessary!

14.) When other moms dump their unsolicited advice and opinions on you, you've learned to just politely nod your head and say "Uh, huh, okay we'll try that!" and then think to yourself "Not in a 100 years lady!"

15.) You begin to frequent drive thrus to avoid the hassle of taking a baby in and out of the car seat...even if it's just for a coffee or a soda.

I could probably go on forever. Meet me back here in another year. I'm sure I'll have 50 more things to add to the list!