Two months into motherhood

2 months

Every parent says this about time, but it’s hard to believe two months have passed since The Baby transformed from a very squirmy and heartburn-inducing idea to a very squirmy and happy-tears inducing real live person.

In some ways it feels as though all that happened yesterday, and in other ways it’s hard to remember life before him, and it feels as though he has always been here.

Two months into motherhood, here are 20 things I’ve learned:

  1. There will always be laundry to do, but the sound of the washer and dryer running make for excellent white noise, especially in late afternoon when the baby is fussiest.
  2. If you moved a lot during pregnancy, the baby will expect the same level of motion to fall asleep once he’s out. Though I credit the 4-miles a day walk to work and back with my surprisingly short for a first-timer labor.
  3. Crying, asleep or quietly alert, your baby will seem out of place in anyone’s arms but yours, even if you welcome guests and can’t wait for your grandmother to meet the baby. It’s okay to insist on taking your baby back if you miss him. He’s only this small once, and it’s your body he knows. Put yourself and the baby first. Your relatives will get over it.
  4. Don’t change your baby’s clothes unless they’re dirty or there has been a temperature change and he’s going to be hot or cold if you don’t. It’s only a matter of time before he takes a seam-splitting dump our your nursing pads fail or you accidentally drop mushy soup carrots on his onesie while you’re both eating lunch. (See #1)
  5. Cloth diapers are possible and not that hard, at least for an exclusively breastfed baby born to people with easy access to a washer and dryer. Unless, of course, your baby cries in a wet diaper as though it were filled with fire ants. You can keep experimenting and be gentle with yourself if anything gets too rough (this applies to far more than cloth diapers.)
  6. I read this elsewhere, so I can’t take credit for it, but it’s very true — things seem to get easier in two-week increments. My six-week-old baby was a fussy guy who ONLY napped in a baby wrap. My eight-week-old baby fell asleep ON HIS OWN a few times this week and is smiling pretty much constantly.
  7. Similarly, babies change their minds about things as they grow, so keep trying things every once in awhile even if they didn’t work before. Won’t take a pacifier? Put it away and try again, or try a different brand. Did you drop $150 on a bouncer/swing combo in hopes your baby would let you put him down for 2 minutes so you could pee but he screamed like it also was filled with fire ants? Maybe try again in a few weeks.
  8. Go ahead and embrace that weird parental pride in things you have no control over (my baby has a great–though thinning–head of hair, a super strong neck and has been rolling over since 7 weeks. Booyah.) but don’t be smug. (Booyah retracted.) All babies are different and develop at their own pace. And if your friend’s baby is outpacing yours on the growth charts and capable of sleeping on his own, don’t be jealous.
  9. Watching your child get vaccinations will make you feel like a conniving asshole. If sawing off my own arm could keep my kid from getting tetanus, I would have gladly done it instead of watching the look on his face go from contentment to shock and betrayal to inconsolable agony while the nurse poked him. (He’s fine. I’m fine. But dear lord, that was rough.)
  10. It’s weird how breastfeeding isn’t weird once you’re doing it. I fully expected to be a little grossed out or hyper-embarrassed by the whole thing (not going to lie, though I have always supported the idea of breastfeeding, I have also always felt faintly grossed out/embarrassed seeing others doing it.) But it’s really amazing and I’m grateful it worked out for us.
  11. Breastfeeding is super tough to get right at first. Or it was for me. This came as a surprise. While I was determined to keep at it as long as I could, there isn’t much to look forward to when your two-week-old is fussing to be fed and trying to latch on through the fists in front of his mouth and when he finally sort of does, you’re hissing “fuckfuckfuckfuckfuck” and stomping your foot from the pain and you know you didn’t get the latch right and you have to get him to let go so you can try again. Get help from a good lactation consultant and envision a time in a few weeks when it is truly 100% painless, even if you can’t believe it’s possible. It is.
  12. The first date night away from baby will be hard but is so worth it, as long as you trust your babysitter (in our case, my parents) and keep it short/don’t go far (your boobs won’t let you, if you’re breastfeeding.) Also, you WILL get pretty buzzed off one beer, so keep a good stock of pumped milk for someone else to feed the baby until you’re sober!
  13. Long, hot showers when your partner gets home from work and takes the baby are like little tropical vacations that can almost make you forget that you didn’t get to take that nap you were so desperate for.
  14. The best gift you can give yourself as new parents is Amazon Prime. (Maybe not the best gift, but that two-day free shipping when you can’t leave the house can make you feel a lot less trapped.)
  15. You will be completely unable to bear the thought of misfortune befalling any babies anywhere. I’ve been listening to audiobooks of the Harry Potter series and full-on sobbed imagining the depths to which one-year-old Harry was unloved and neglected by his aunt and uncle. Real life issues affecting real babies, like poverty, abuse, etc. will also hit you a thousand times harder than they did before.
  16. Being a new parent takes courage. I was terrified to drive around with the baby in the car knowing I couldn’t reach him to console him, and I couldn’t imagine taking him into a store and dealing with a meltdown. It’s still not super easy, but the more I do it the easier it gets.
  17. It is *really really important* to let dads figure things out. If he’s not doing something actually dangerous, and isn’t asking for your help, let him work it out. It’s his kid too, and he deserves every opportunity to bond and feel like a capable parent (see #16.) Your way isn’t the only right way. Repeat this to yourself as often as necessary, and apply #13, if you can’t stop yourself.
  18. Trust your instincts and do what feels right. For us, right now, that means cosleeping. Yes, I know that flies in the face of current public health campaigns, but we’ve done our research and have done our best to do it safely (pillows and blankets clear, baby close to me on his back, no alcohol/drugs) and are happy with this arrangement. The Baby wouldn’t sleep at all if I put him down for the first few weeks, and I literally was fighting falling asleep upright on the couch with him in my arms through the first few nights (NOT safe).
  19. If you make yourself three dozen lactation cookies and try to freeze two dozen to slow yourself down from eating them, know that they DO work and freezing them may not stop you from eating them by the handful. Oh, and this is the most delicious cookie recipe, lactation or otherwise, in the known universe.
  20. The first week back from the hospital you’ll continue to lose weight effortlessly. This will cease, especially if you are eating handfuls of cookie dough. Don’t worry about it.

Wishing all moms-to-be and new moms the wisdom and energy to power through the first two months! If I can do it, you can do it.

Coming up (fair warning): My birth story, in three parts.

Two months into motherhood

False start

dogfartsThe husband and I, having spent more than four years utterly content not to be parents, had a long and serious discussion in the basement of a brewery one afternoon in October about changing our minds. Though we had always thought we’d eventually have kids, it wasn’t until this day we had seriously broached the subject. We both feared how parenthood might drive a wedge between us, as so many couples find. We wondered how we could afford children, and how it would affect both our careers.

But in the end, we knew we wanted to be parents eventually, and as I approached my 29th birthday I argued that if there ever were a sweet spot, it was around this time — the most favorable combination of energy, health and finances that we could hope to have all at the same time. And we trusted that we’d be able to make it through the rocky parts together.

So in November of 2014, we started, “Not not trying” to conceive, if you catch my meaning.

In early December, I went away for a work trip came back with a terrible cold, so I took the Monday before my 29th birthday off and stayed home sick. I realized that I might be a day or two overdue for my period (which would not be weird, considering I had just gone off birth control), but I was feeling a little strange beyond just having a cold, so I walked to the drug store to buy a pregnancy test.

To my shock, and soon to my delight, it was positive.

I waited on pins and needles for The Husband to come home. I was going to do something cute and announcement-y to tell him the news, but I was too anxious and just blurted it out. He wasn’t upset but I think the speed with which we had gotten me in the family way took him aback.

Because I’m a neurotic planner and obsessive daydreamer, I almost immediately calculated my due date: August 24, 2015. I called to schedule an appointment with the OB/GYN my friend had recommended — I would see him in about a month, since I was only four weeks along.

I started to deal with the early pregnancy symptoms, like getting up 200 times at night to pee, and sore boobs, and fatigue like none I had ever felt before. It felt surreal and wonderful and exciting, even if it was uncomfortable.

Because of our social habits, we told a few of our closest friends, since we knew they’d suspect anyway as soon as I said, “I’ll just stick with water, thanks.”

We spent Christmas with both our families, and though a small part of me was desperate to announce the news, we both agreed it was better to wait until I had at least gone to the doctor. So I pretended to have a few cocktails and tried to seem alert.

On New Year’s Day, we joined some friends for a meal at a Chinese restaurant (a long-standing family tradition of mine, the history of which I won’t get into right now.)

The most important part of this tradition is the reading of your fortune, after you’ve finished eating the cookie. It’s our family superstition that your New Year’s fortune predicts how your whole year will go. Mine said, “Pleasant experiences make life delightful. Painful experiences lead to growth.”

Can you guess where this is going?

I got home and noticed I was spotting. I also felt a little crampy. I began frantically searching Google and trying to reassure myself that it was something called “implantation bleeding.”

We went out for dinner later that night with a friend, still working hard to convince ourselves everything was fine. We came home and I went to bed, tried to sleep. I got up to pee a few hours later and discovered I was bleeding more heavily. I returned to bed, choked out, “It’s happening,” and cried into The Husband’s shoulder until I fell back asleep.

The next morning, we walked over to the doctor’s office I was supposed to see in a few weeks to ask if they could see me. The receptionist told me with a regretful look that I would have to go to the emergency room.

It seemed silly to go to the hospital for what physically just felt like a heavy period and what otherwise was clearly a foregone conclusion: I may have been pregnant for a few weeks, but I wasn’t anymore.

But just in case there was something that could be done, or any complications, we went.

After an initial urine test and internal exam, we waited for what felt like many hours to get an ultrasound. The  technician was a kind woman who told me she had three children and had also had three miscarriages. While she was preparing the ultrasound equipment, she told me she wasn’t allowed to interpret anything, and I asked her if it was difficult to keep a poker face when she knew what was happening. She told me she just tried to make small talk and keep it positive. Once the wand was in place and her gaze were fixed on the monitor, despite her best efforts I could see the light go out of her eyes a little bit. It was the last shred of hope I held onto and it was gone.

I waited, vulnerable and pantsless sitting on a big absorbent paper pad in a hospital gown, waiting for the ER doctor to confirm what I already knew. I didn’t want to sob in front of him, so I instructed The Husband to take on the persona of tough-love coach — to tell me to buck up, and try to be funny. I knew any sympathy right now would break me down. That morning before we had gone to the hospital, my dog walked into the living room, sat down and ripped a huge, noisy fart. It had made me burst out laughing even as I was preparing to go to the hospital. I replayed that ridiculous scene in my head as the ER doctor confirmed I was miscarrying.

“Dog farts. Dog farts. Dog farts.” I thought, as he explained what would happen in the coming days.

“Dog farts.” I thought, as the nurse pointed to the printed word “miscarriage” rather than saying it aloud on my after visit summary.

“Dogfartsdogfartsdogfarts” I thought as I took my prescription for heavy-duty painkillers and walked out of the hospital.

I held it together long enough for The Husband to pay for parking and then sobbed all the way to the pharmacy.

* * * * *

I know that miscarriages are incredibly common, and I’m grateful for movements like the #ihadamiscarriage campaign (started by Dr. Jessica Zucker) that are making it okay to talk about this more.

I also know that as miscarriages go, mine was pretty easy. I was only about 7 weeks along. I didn’t have to have any procedures or deliver a recognizable fetus or un-announce my pregnancy to all but a handful of people. I was back at work two days later and had an office door I could close if I needed to cry.

But even the easiest miscarriage felt like a body blow. It was the worst thing that had ever happened to me. It took away the shell of naivete and invincibility I had felt, and although the ER doctor first and my OB subsequently gently explained that it was extremely likely I would get pregnant again with ease, my miscarriage planted seeds of doubt and worry and made  me know that my body was fallible and that hope can sometimes lead to unimaginable disappointment.

I felt emptied out in so many ways and desperate to conceive again, as though if I got pregnant again fast enough I could forget what had happened.

Just as my doctor told me I would, I found myself holding a positive pregnancy test just three months later. But I will always carry with me the sadness surrounding that few weeks during which I first fell in love with the idea of motherhood and then grieved the baby who wouldn’t be.


False start

6 things to add to your minimalist baby registry

ShowerThere are infinity gear guides for new parents out there. (My go-to resource is Lucie’s List, but I also had success in the example registries at Babylist. This is only like my third post so no, neither of these are paid advertisements. I just used them and liked them. I should say nothing on this post is sponsored, just good stuff IMHO.)

In Last Mommy Blog fashion, let me add yet another slew of advice about what you should register for.

As building a baby registry can be daunting, gear guides can be helpful in keeping you from going completely nuts.

But the honest truth is, getting baby gear is like packing for an international vacation without knowing where you’re going. Some new parents will be headed to the tropics, and will rave about how helpful it was to have a snorkel and flip flops. The parents who take their advice will be disappointed in these items’ lack of utility when they find themselves in the Alps.

However, there are a few things you’ll need regardless of where you’re going: Passport, underwear, an adventurous spirit.

I tend toward minimalism, and didn’t have a million things on my registry. (We still got a TON of stuff from our very generous friends and family, but I don’t have a lot of space to stash stuff and have liked being able to buy stuff as I discover a need for it after baby’s arrival. I also try to be a responsible consumer and feel a little itchy about getting a pile of plastic shit I will not need in the near future/possibly ever.)

For what it’s worth, here are six pieces of baby gear I found essential (for my winter, breastfed, loves-to-be-held-all-the-time, baby boy):

Baby wrap

If you’ve ready any of the literature on the “Fourth Trimester,” it makes an awful lot of sense that new babies like to sleep and just generally be snuggled up close to you – they’re accustomed to being snug in a uterus. So if you like using your hands to do things such as eat cookies, send text messages, or anything beyond holding a sleeping baby, I would suggest getting a baby carrier of some sort.

As a bit of a minimalist, I also like the idea of baby carriers for outings because they mean you don’t have to cart around a stroller or lug the infant car seat around a store (those things are HEAVY!)

The Moby-type wraps seemed daunting, like you need a merit badge in knot-tying to secure them. So I registered for the Baby K’Tan, which claims to take the guesswork out of manipulating 30 feet of material but functions the same way.

I like the Baby K’Tan well enough. I ordered one for my husband (alas, they are not shareable between parents unless both parents happen to wear the same shirt size), and we both wear the baby around as he sleeps. But when I needed my hands free last week and my K’Tan happened to be in the laundry, I reluctantly pulled out the *Sleepy Wrap that was given to me by a dear friend and veteran mom who is an expert Craigslist-trawler for baby items.

*Looks like Sleepy Wrap became Boba Wrap in 2011, so this is a vintage item. But I think they’re identical.

Lo and behold, it wasn’t hard to figure out how to wrap this thing at all, and the feel and stretch of the material is way better than the Baby K’Tan. I feel like I’m nearly crushing my baby maneuvering him into the K’Tan, and there’s no way I could successfully  breastfeed in it – I’ve tried. (I guess it could be a size thing, but I followed the company’s sizing guide, so…) The Sleepy Wrap still feels secure and supportive (as long as you tie it tight enough), but it’s more forgiving. And it’s one size fits all, so it’s more cost effective. I’ve seen the Baby K’Tan Breeze, which is made of mesh. That might be stretchier and certainly would help with the heat factor. I’d probably buy that one instead, if I had to do it over again.

A friend of mine has a ring sling that seems to be a great option, too, but I can’t justify spending $80 to experiment when I’m pretty happy with what I’ve got.

In short, I would suggest getting some sort of cloth baby carrier. They’re a relatively inexpensive and worthwhile investment in my experience.

Breast pump

Some day I’ll delve into my history with selling breast pumps as a childless 22-year-old recent college graduate. Suffice it to say, I knew I was going to need one if I ever wanted to work/hire a babysitter/leave the baby with my husband. Fortunately, insurance covered mine, which is great, because I had a rocky start with breastfeeding and about a week and a half into motherhood I had to spend about 36 hours exclusively pumping and feeding the baby with a syringe and my finger while I healed up a little bit. (More on early breastfeeding adventures soon, you lucky dogs.) Having a pump at hand right away allowed me to work through the kinks so I could keep going.

Even if you’re not sure how you’re going to feed your baby in the long run, if you can get a double electric breast pump through insurance or a generous benefactor, go for it. It could be the rescue you need in the first few weeks, the key to long-term success if you’re going back to work, and remember: breast milk is way cheaper than formula.

I should add that there’s a bunch of other breastfeeding-related paraphernalia you’re going to want, but I felt sort of weird registering for nipple cream (especially since we had a co-ed shower) and it was pretty cheap/easy to Amazon Prime to myself.

Snap-up pajamas

Dressing a newborn is frankly terrifying. The body suits you have to pull over their soft little skulls are better attempted after a few weeks when the baby seems a little sturdier and you feel a little more confident, in my opinion. I bought a couple thermal jammies from Old Navy to serve as The Baby’s home-from-the-hospital outfit and really liked them (though their newborn/0-3 months size cutoff is weird at 7 lbs, and The Baby is about to grow out of the 0-3 month size at 8 1/2 weeks). Zippered pajamas are fine, too, but I like the snaps because you don’t have to expose the baby’s tummy to change a diaper.

Also, I didn’t bother getting many newborn clothes because they say a lot of babies are born too big to ever wear newborn clothes, but be warned: 0-3 month sizes are ENORMOUS on a 7-pound newborn. Don’t bother with expensive/fancy/complicated newborn clothes in case you can’t use them, but it’s worthwhile to get 5-6 cheap sleeper sets, because if your baby is less than 8-8.5 lbs at birth, you’re going to need them for at least the first couple of weeks.

You don’t really have to register for much in the way of baby clothes, if your friends and family are anything like mine they will pile them on you (take hand-me-downs! Take them all!)

Fisher Price Rock ‘n Play

This was a garage sale find from my mom, and I was grateful to get it. This item has gotten rave reviews all over the place, and I will add to it. It’s small and portable enough to drag from room to room, it’s easier than any swing to get a tiny baby in and out of, and it holds a swaddled baby quite nicely. I will reiterate what Lucie’s List says about babies sleeping in this thing: If you’re worried, talk to your pediatrician.

Black and White Board Book

It’s weird to think newborns can see just 8″-12″ at birth, and can’t see color for a long time after that. While he seems to slowly be warming up to listening/looking at pictures in the many wonderful children’s books we got at our baby shower (inscribed with greetings, instead of cards – great idea!), our baby’s current obsession is a simple, black & white board book. I can prop it up next to him in his crib while I’m picking out his clothes or taking a bathroom break, and he is riveted by the high contrast pictures.

Zutano Booties

I think all infant pants should come with attached feet. Easy to lose baby socks and baby shoes for kids who can’t even pick their own heads up make no sense to me. But alas, I am not in charge of baby clothes manufacture. So if you’re going to dress your baby in anything but the aforementioned, beloved, snap-up/zip-up sleepers, you’re going to need to keep their feet warm with something that will actually stay on. My friend and fellow new mom recommended these Zutano booties to me, and even though they’re a  little expensive for a tiny pair of shoes, they stay on amazingly well. Just make sure you get the 6 month size. My not-freakishly-huge baby just about outgrew the 0-3 month size at 6 weeks or so, and because they snap on, it’s okay if they’re a little big at first.

And here’s a quick bonus list of things I’ve done just fine without, at least for the first two months:

  • Wipe warmer
  • Bottle warmer
  • Separate changing table (use a dresser and a changing pad)
  • Adult-looking clothes for newborn babies (he sleeps 20 hours a day, let him wear pajamas)
  • White noise machine (I bought a $4 mini-fan)
  • Crib mobile (My baby so far has spent a total of 35 minutes in the crib, and that board book has been plenty of entertainment)
  • Stroller (We have one, and I’m sure I’ll love it someday, but it’s winter and no one shovels their sidewalks in my neighborhood so it’s useless right now)
  • Flashy, noisy toys (little ones can very easily be overstimulated.My kid’s current favorite toy is my face. BTW, I love this post about hacking an activity playmat to make it less like the Vegas strip. )

What’s on your must have/don’t bother list? Let me know in the comments or Tweet at me @arkayokay.

6 things to add to your minimalist baby registry

But first, introductions.

family-photoI guess now would be the appropriate time to introduce myself. My name is Reanna, I’m 30 years old, I live in Cleveland, Ohio, and this is my third attempt at a blog. (I tend to scratch the blogging itch every couple of years and then give it up when I run out of ideas. I think there may be enough novelty in parenting to keep me going a little longer than my previous half-baked ideas, though. *Fingers crossed.*)

I have been married for 5 years. My husband and I took our sweet time starting a family, much to the crescendoing frustration of my mom, for all the usual reasons millennials wait to start a family: we were having too much fun just being married, we were reluctant to give up the easy lifestyle of childlessness, and, of course, our student loan debt looms like a specter over every life decision we make. I’ll save the details about what changed our minds for another post.

My son was born on Christmas Day 2015. (Future post teaser #2: My birth story.) He is awesome and sweet and funny and can often be found napping in a baby carrier with his head against my chest. (Future post teaser #3: This baby carrier is one of the essential things every mom should register for, IMHO.)

While complete anonymity would give me the freedom to write with wild abandon about every embarrassing, potentially offensive detail of parenthood, writing under my own name feels more authentic. But because I’m keeping my son’s gorgeous mug off the Internet (My rationale behind being antisocial in this manner, future post teaser #4), and my husband may not want to be the star of this saga either, they get pseudonyms: Turner and Hooch.

Just kidding. I don’t have enough cognitive power right now to think of anything both clever and appropriate, so for now they will live as The Dad (or The Husband, depending on context) and The Baby.

Hmm… what else should you know about me?

I tweet occasionally at @arkayokay

I am the proud founder of what started as a beer-drinking-and-crafting club but has since morphed into a weird pregnancy pact. (Future post teaser #5!)

And I can pick up just about anything with my toes, a skill I’ve honed in the past 8 weeks.

That’s a good start, I’d say.

Until next time,


Did you read this post? Are you my mother? What’s the most impressive thing you’ve ever picked up with your toes? Let me know in the comments or Tweet at me.

But first, introductions.

The Last Mommy Blog

I have an idea! I’ll make a heart with my hands on my belly… bet no one’s thought of that before!

I’ve heard people say that new parents feel like they’re the first people to ever have a baby. Speaking as someone typing around the warm lump of a 7-week-old baby asleep in a wrap, the wonder and newness and all-consuming self-absorption of pregnancy and early parenthood does make me feel like I’m seeing color for the first time. No amount of Googling, or friends explaining, or my own mother recounting the early days with me, gave me even the faintest shimmer of this new reality.

So I can say with a fair degree of confidence that adding my voice to the infinite cacophony of Mommy Blogs won’t effectively prepare any women who are themselves poised at the precipice of their own unimaginable new life. But while I can’t (and don’t aspire to) fully prepare anyone for motherhood, I do think my perspective can keep someone company late at night while they’re Googling something embarrassing in Incognito Mode about pregnancy bodily fluids, or while they’re trapped on the couch underneath a voracious newborn with only a cell phone for company.

The name “The Last Mommy Blog” comes from my acknowledgement that there are thousands, if not hundreds of thousands (millions? whatever – a ton) of  mommy blogs out there, and I am surely, by many accounts, late to the game. But every motherhood experience is different. And because seeing color for the first time (but with your whole heart and soul) is worth recounting, even if billions of people before you have had a very similar epiphany.

That, and I’m on maternity leave and I need a creative outlet because the SHHHHH SHHHH SHHHHHH of white noise I produce to get my baby to sleep is becoming my internal monologue and I don’t want to lose my edge.

The Last Mommy Blog