Pregnancy Week 23: Braxton Hicks, and why I hate the mall

I’m late again for my weekly update, but I have plenty of excuses!

  1. I am in the  middle of potty training The Toddler. I’m not going to talk any more about it until we’re successfully on the other side, so reserve your horror stories, advice, dismay, etc. because it’s not up for discussion, other than for me to mention I have been watching my kid like a hawk.
  2. I have a miserable cold. How I got it is a mystery, because every illness I’ve had since The Toddler was born came directly from his sloppy sneezes into my immune system, but he’s (*knocks on wood*) fine.
  3. I enrolled in an online creative writing course through my local library (you guys, do you have any idea how many free resources are available through your library? It’s miraculous) so my writing time lately has been devoted to trying to stretch my creative muscles and work on avoiding cliches, run-on sentences and passive verbs. (Don’t expect to see this effort here, on my blog, because of #1 and #2 and I just don’t have the energy for it.)

Now that I’ve wasted 200 words on explaining why I’m a day late despite no one caring, let’s talk about Pregnancy Week 23!

Pregnancy Week 23

Baby size: Papaya, large mango, Barbie doll, box of Kraft macaroni & cheese, can of WD-40. Or somewhere around 8″ crown to rump/11″ total and a little over a pound.

Symptoms: Heartburn, of course. Also this week I started noticing periodic tension in my abdomen that must mark the beginning of Braxton-Hicks contractions, which I didn’t experience the first time around (except for one day late in my pregnancy when I had to literally run home from work to make it to our breastfeeding class on time). It seems BH are more common in subsequent pregnancies, and they have become a regular feature in mine. I’ve been trying to chug water when I notice them and give myself a break when I can, but toddler mom, blah blah.

Baby #2 is also kicking more frequently and with more force. I felt a little nostalgic lying in bed one night this week with The Husband’s hand on my belly, catching the feeling of kicks as he drifted off to sleep. I remember him doing that with The Toddler and felt such tenderness thinking about how he’ll fall in love with this baby just like he did before. I wonder if he’s more excited this time around (maybe rather than nervous) since he knows what is to come. I guess I should ask.

Speaking of childbirth, my other main symptom this week has been growing anxiety about having everything (anything?) ready by the time Baby #2 arrives. We haven’t touched our plans to rearrange the bedrooms, we have literally zero boy names that we can agree on (and don’t know the sex of the baby, so we need a shortlist for both), and I can’t help but think I should count how many weekends we have left before the due date. And then maybe sign The Toddler’s grandparents up for a few long-term babysitting gigs so we can get anything done.

Speaking of that, we’re headed to a wedding next weekend sans-Toddler. I’m looking forward to potentially sleeping in (or at least just watching TV in the hotel room). I frantically drove out to the mall yesterday with the realization that I needed to purchase a maternity dress for the occasion, and My. God.

Malls are terrible, I’m glad they’re dying, it’s incomprehensible to me that the one I visited was filled with people, and the whole experience filled me with a judgy, frustrated befuddlement. There were two puppy-mill purveying pet stores and still a place to physically buy CDs, but there were maybe six wedding guest-appropriate dresses for pregnant women in the entirety of that sprawling monument to bougie suburban consumerism.

Only H&M and Motherhood Maternity had any maternity clothes. H&M had a small section, and of the three dresses I tried on, only one came close to working but was too long. I wish I could find the one online that had a floral print with ladybugs and a pair of boob-bisecting ruffles that made me look like I was cosplaying as a pregnant eight-year-old 90’s-era Sunday school student, but you’ll just have to use your imagination.

Motherhood Maternity, as usual, was a laughable combination of headache-inducing prints, unforgivably cheap construction and insulting prices. I walked out with a form-fitting black dress made of the same polyester you’d find if you bought a ballet leotard at Walgreens, and something I never thought I’d own… a pair of what amounts to pregnancy Spanx.

pregnancy shapewear
Meow.

Not feeling great about my MM purchase, I stopped at a nearby Kohl’s, bought two more dresses without trying them on, consoled myself with a Halloween-themed Cadbury egg at the checkout (now that I own pregnancy Spanx, why not?) and went home, feeling defeated.

Obviously, I should have just shopped online. But the three hours to myself were, admittedly, pretty nice.

Pregnancy Week 23: Braxton Hicks, and why I hate the mall

Pregnancy Week 22: Morse code mom-guilt

Pregnancy Week 22 has come and gone. According to people whose job it is to identify things that might be the size of a fetus at any given time, 22-week-old Baby #2 is about the size of a sack of six supermarket bagels (yummmm), an ear of corn (which is not at all the same size as a big bag of bagels, am I right?) a spaghetti squash, or a standard hatchet head (what?). In more literal terms, about 7 inches crown to rump (or a foot long head to toe) and finally hitting the one-pound mark.

Symptoms-wise, I don’t have much to add that I haven’t already said before (or that I’m willing to permanently attach to my Google-able Internet identity… all I will say that certain digestive and circulatory issues have arisen that are less than pleasant and that are quite common among pregnant women, according to What to Expect and the Internet at large. Shall we move on without further comment or speculation?)

The baby is kicking up a storm this week, though it seems to still be more of an internal sensation than one people can feel with a hand on my belly. The Husband felt two or three of the dozen successive kicks I felt as we were going to bed the other night. The Toddler even claimed to have felt a kick at one point this week, though he’ll say “Yes!” to just about anything.

While every kick was a novel thrill the first time around, with this second baby I feel a sense of guilt along with excitement every time I sense movement. Because I am definitely not as focused on this pregnancy as I was before. The Toddler demands so much of my attention, that while I see my belly in the mirror and try to eat well and exercise when I can, I feel like I’m only halfway in tune to this baby. So the kicks feel like a, “Hey! I’m still here! Take a second and think about how crazy and amazing that is!”

Pregnancy Week 22

Other things those kicks seem to be saying to me, with increasing insistence as the pregnancy progresses:

“You don’t have a SINGLE boy’s name picked out that you’d be okay with calling me? What if I’m a boy? Shouldn’t you get on that?”

“Um, where will I be sleeping when I get here?”

“I feel WIRED!!! Are you really drinking coffee? You didn’t drink coffee the first time around. I’m going to come out CRAZY.”

“Remember all those green leafy vegetables you ate with my brother? Idk if a prenatal vitamin is going to make up for the fact you’ve eaten frozen yogurt ice cream sandwiches for lunch every day this week. Also, don’t blame that muffin top on me.”

Is this how it usually is with second babies?

Oh also, I had a really fun pregnancy nightmare that had me crying so loudly in my sleep that my husband had to shake me awake. I dreamed I went for a routine brain scan (as one does when pregnant?) and the doctor told me I have a giant tumor that will kill me within six months, and that it also spread to the baby’s brain, making the baby incapable of surviving outside my womb, so I’d have to terminate. Ugh.

On a lighter note to end, we did end up getting a minivan: It’s a 2014 Honda Odyssey with a ton of miles on it, but it’s also loaded… backup camera, built-in vacuum cleaner, bluetooth, heated seats, remote start… we figured if we were going full dork, we might as well enjoy some luxury. I gotta say, it’s not the worst thing ever.

Pregnancy Week 22: Morse code mom-guilt

Pregnancy Week 21: Losing my cool (in more ways than one)

Week 21, everybody!

Baby is the size of: A baby bok choi, a carrot, a head of endive, a baseball hat, or a “least weasel,” depending on who you ask. Or about 10 1/2 inches long and 12 ounces.

I’ve been feeling plenty of kicks this week. They’re mostly way down in my pelvis because I no longer have any abs to speak of to hold my uterus aloft, so I haven’t been able to offer The Husband quite as many opportunities to feel the kicks as I did the first time around. These low kicks have also been making bathroom trips pretty suspenseful if I ever drink more than a teaspoonful of liquid.

Other symptoms: Heartburn, heartburn, heartburn. You know that feeling when you get water up your nose at the pool? I feel that low-key almost all the time. You’d think it would stop me from eating so much, but nope. I apparently favor being full all the time over sleeping more than six hours a night. My current lazy pregnancy craving that I try to justify as healthy is plain yogurt with mini chocolate chips and whole almonds.

I had an appointment with my midwife this week and forgot all but one question I had. I also went grocery shopping and bought almost nothing we needed, and cannot remember the rest of the things I’ve forgotten this week and hoped to list to illustrate how bad my memory is. Suffice it to say I have a serious case of mom brain.

Quite a bit of this can be attributed, however, not to my fetus but to my 20-month old, who is hellbent on giving up naps and went four days in a row without one.

Four days. In a row.

I came as close as I ever have to a nervous breakdown on Tuesday, and found myself stomping my feet and yelling in the dark of the pantry, having a full-blown tantrum because The Toddler wouldn’t sleep, and I was so, so tired. And of course, there’s nothing more guilt-inducing than completely losing your cool at an angel-faced baby who just wants to “pway!!!” in his words. So I spent a good chunk of Tuesday afternoon wallowing in terrible feelings.

Finally, on Wednesday, I figured out that I could get him calmed down if I put him in the Boba carrier and rocked him to music. He’s just so amped up on playing and reading and talking and exploring that slowing down for a nap feels like torture to him. I get it–I can’t go to sleep just because someone tells me to, but holy shit, I need a break during the day.

Anyway, so for now at least, naps are fixed, and I am working really hard on being patient with my increasingly opinionated toddler.

Tomorrow, The Husband and I are heading out to test drive a minivan and probably buy it. I am not at all pumped about this dorky progression in our lives, but my little Subaru hatchback can barely accommodate one rear-facing carseat and a stroller.

Unfortunately, living on a farm means we can’t walk to anything, so if I ever want to leave the house with both my children, we’re going to need a bigger ride. I know I conceded 99% of any coolness I ever possessed long ago, but this really feels like the end of days for my non-mom identity. Somebody please tell me it will be okay.

I am consoled by the fact that buying a minivan is at least one thing we can check off the seemingly endless list of Things That Must Be Done Before Baby 2 Arrives.

Pregnancy Week 21-

Pregnancy Week 21: Losing my cool (in more ways than one)

Week 10: Older, Wiser Baby Registry

We’re halfway through Week 10 of pregnancy with Baby No. 2. I have no exciting updates to tell you about my symptoms. I’m still exhausted, still nauseous. Maybe more than the weeks before, so it’s my hope I’m at peak yuck and will be feeling better soon. The food aversions I had during my pregnancy with The Toddler hadn’t cropped up much this time around, but lately they have returned. I managed to put a frozen pizza in the oven for the family before retreating to my bed as soon as The Husband came home, and then ended up eating feta cheese on Flipside crackers. In bed. For dinner. Because pizza, and basically anything except Flipside crackers and feta, sounded absolutely repulsive.

Enough about my appetite, though. I went to a baby shower for my college roommate over the weekend, and it got me thinking about what I’d register for if I did it all over again. So instead of directly inundating my roommate (and several other friends) with unsolicited advice about what they should get, I thought I’d make a shortlist of things I’d get if I were a first-timer, and they can choose to read or ignore as they wish.

*My blog is too smalltime to make any money. I’m not getting anything out of recommending these.

**For real, fam & friends: This is a list of suggestions/cool things that have come out just in the last two years to help out other expectant parents. Some of this is stuff I already have, and some is just a better version of something I already have. Don’t take this as an unsubtle request!

Without further ado:

Lotus Everywhere Travel CribLotus Everywhere Travel Crib ($189)

Forget your tricky, cumbersome travel cribs of yore. This is super easy to set up, with a cushy mattress, a backpack-style carry case, and a zippered side panel so you don’t have to figure out how to lower a sleeping or nearly sleeping baby all the way to the floor through the top. I used this a few times at a friend’s house for naps and have wanted one ever since. My only wish is that it had a silent zipper. I think we’re going to get one (our hand-me-down Pack ‘N Play tore) along with the bassinet attachments for the new kid.

Mason Bottle set ($20)

We registered for glass bottles the first time around, and ended up with plastic. Which is fine, but while Dr. Bronner’s may be touted for being anti-colic or whatever, having FIVE pieces of a bottle to wash and reassemble every time is less. than. ideal. I saw an ad for this on Instagram, which converts your basic 4 oz. or 8 oz. mason jar into a bottle, and WANT! We use mason jars for food storage, drinking glasses, etc. so this is a natural next step in our collection. I like the silicone sleeves to help prevent breakage, too.

Milkies Milk-Saver ($27.95)

Breastfeeding was the mystery of mysteries before The Baby arrived. It was the apex of the unknown that surrounds new parenthood. I didn’t know how to do it, or how it would feel, or what I’d need, so I didn’t get much before The Baby arrived. (And what I did get was gifted to me by friends who knew better.) One thing that would have really come in handy, especially those first weeks when my supply was out of control and we were still working out the latch, was a way to catch any extra. These handy little nursing covers collect that leaked milk so it doesn’t go to waste.

Lalabu Soothe Shirt ($75)

Babywearing was clutch for me from the very beginning. Intimidated at first by the complicated baby wraps, I got a Baby K’Tan for both me and The Husband (two of them, because they’re sized to the wearer.) They were pretty easy to use, but I ended up finding my stretchy wrap to be more comfortable as The Baby got bigger, and the K’Tan ended up being a short-lived, though very helpful, piece of baby gear. If I did it again, I’d get us a set of these, instead. I’m definitely not spending the money when what we have now will suit us fine, but if you’re building your registry and don’t already have a newborn babywearing solution, I think this is pretty sweet!

Zutano Booties ($20-ish)

I might have already included these on a long-ago registry recommendation, but they’re so good. It’s really hard to keep things on baby feet. This is the exception. They snap snugly around the ankle, are super warm and super cute. I bought a size big so they’d last a little longer (and because The Baby has giant feet.)

That’s all I can think of right now, and I gotta shower before The Toddler wakes up from his nap. One more quick recommendation for soon-to-be moms: The Birth Hour podcast. I’ve started listening to it to reacquaint myself with the thought of childbirth, and more than I could have imagined it has taught me some really helpful things about preparing for labor and childbirth. I’m focusing on the low-intervention/unmedicated stories, because that’s what I’m aiming for, but this features everything from scheduled C-Sections and epidurals to some more unusual circumstances. (Obvious caveat: Only listen to what you’re prepared to hear. There are stories about loss and emergencies and such.)

I’m a little turned off by the fact that a lot of the storytellers are also “sponsors” of the episodes (people with Etsy shops for baby headbands, birth centers themselves, etc.) and the host isn’t the most compelling interviewer, but the moms themselves are usually really good storytellers, and so far this is the best I’ve come across in terms of pregnancy/childbirth-related podcasting content. It definitely has value for anyone with a due date in the future, and I’m glad I found it despite these minor complaints.

May your (baby) shower be as relaxing and invigorating as the shower I’m about to take.

Cheers,

R

Edited to add: Backpack-style diaper bag, because it’s really fun when your shoulder bag swings around and bashes your kid while you’re getting him out of his carseat.

Week 10: Older, Wiser Baby Registry

Road Trip Tips for Baby

Baby's first road trip

This past weekend we took a quick road trip through Columbus and to Cincinnati to visit some of The Husband’s family. Managing a single road trip does not make me a traveling-with-baby expert, but we were way more successful than I could have imagined, so I thought I’d share some tips for any new parents prepping for their own excursions.

Packing

Start with a good list. I love a list, and packing is no exception. Mentally go through a regular day with your baby and write down everything you’ll need, from diapering, to feeding, to naps and sleep; then consider any activities you are planning during the trip (for me, that was maybe using the hotel pool and going to the zoo) and list anything you’ll want for that (sunscreen, hat, swim diaper, etc.) If you are a parent and you are reading this, you know to plan for disasters, so it almost goes without saying you should bring a few extra changes of clothes/a few more diapers than you think you need.

Here are a few things I packed that came in handy:

General

  • Neatly folded plastic grocery bags for holding dirty diapers, soiled clothes, etc. I also brought a few zip-top sandwich sized storage bags for holding pacifiers, doling out small portions of baby puffs, etc.
  • Baby carrier. You guys, baby wearing is so handy for travel. We brought our stroller but it ended up staying in the car the whole time. I impulse bought a soft structured carrier the day before we left but I have zero regrets.

Feeding

  • Boobs. Because I’m SAHM-ing and extremely lazy about pumping, I brought zero bottles and only the milk I carried. A bottle could likely have come in handy at some point, but honestly, probably not enough to make up for the having to wash everything.  Obviously you will have to adapt to your situation.
  • Easy, mess-free snack. I knew we were going to be dining out a lot and I wouldn’t have a whole lot of control over sodium levels, etc., I bought a canister of Baby Puffs to keep The Baby occupied at the table if we were short on options for him.
  • Silicone placemat and a bib. Our hotel had a breakfast buffet with fruit and other BLW-friendly items, so we wanted to take advantage of it without being the worst hotel guests ever. This helped contain the mess (a little.)
  • All-purpose cleaning wipes and baby wipes. In addition to baby wipes for diapering, I kept a stash along with all-purpose cleaning wipes to clean The Baby and the table, respectively.

Sleeping/napping

  • This is totally dependent on how your baby sleeps, but I brought a sleep sack and both Wubbanubs. The Baby uses them only when he is going down to sleep but I would have lost my mind if we hadn’t brought them. I also brought a very small fan to help with white noise if our hotel A/C wasn’t loud enough to do the trick. We carried our cosleeping habit to the hotel so didn’t bother with a Pack and Play or anything. I’ll talk about our nap setup later.

Toys and entertainment

  • We brought The Baby’s favorite book for bedtime, and I fished a few toys out of the box that he doesn’t usually play with (I try to rotate them to keep him from getting overwhelmed and/or bored with the same toys all the time.) I also strung several canning rings onto a plastic toy link to make a fun, noisy rattle that I wouldn’t mind losing. Because we’re trying to go with the whole low-tech baby thing, I did not set up any baby TV on my phone for the trip.

Plan your bags well. I used our large diaper bag as the “suitcase”/staging bag, filling it with all the diapers we’d need for the weekend, The Baby’s clothes, burp cloths, bibs, and blanket. I put all his clothes in one gallon size zip-top bag, the bibs and burp cloths in another, bath toys and baby shampoo in another, and used each pocket in the bag for other “groups” of items. Sunscreen and bug repellant in one, wipes in another, etc. I used a separate, small backpack to hold all the food-related stuff, as well as a mini diaper clutch with just enough diapering supplies for each leg of the trip. My point is, try to start off extremely organized. It made it easy to grab stuff in the car and kept me from feeling weighed down like a pack mule.

Don’t forget your own comfort. Comfy shoes, plenty of nursing bras, snacks for the ride and hotel room, and a pile of books. The one amazing thing for me was getting to read a little while The Baby napped because I was too far away from my dirty laundry and unfinished DIY projects to try to tackle them while he slept. It was, in short bursts, almost vacation-like.

Driving and time management

Plan around naps. We tried to time each of our departures around The Baby’s usual nap times to give him a chance to sleep in the car. It usually worked out great. I also chose to sit next to him in the back during the second leg of each trip to serve as entertainment (and occasionally lean over his carseat to nurse him, yep) to keep him from flying off the handle.

Break the trip up. We weren’t going far, but stopping in Columbus for a few hours (and then in Oxford on the way back up) gave The Baby a chance to stretch out, hang out somewhere other than the car, and burn off some energy.

Take your time and be flexible. We decided throughout the trip that while we wanted to have fun and see everyone, we weren’t going to try to stick to any overtaxing schedules. We tried to make sure The Baby at least had an excellent first nap each day, so if his second nap was spent being lugged around in a carrier at the zoo, he’d at least have started off well.

Home base

While it’s easy to crash anywhere when it’s just you/your significant other, I think it’s totally worth it to save up/find deals to get a hotel room that can serve as a good home base. Call me a control freak (I am), but when you’re away from home it’s really nice to be able to manage your surroundings to make your baby (and yourself) as comfortable as possible, and sometimes that’s just not possible if you have a fold out couch in someone else’s house.

I intentionally found a hotel that had mini-suites and decided to cash in some credit card points to offset the extra cost. We stayed in a king studio suite, and while there wasn’t a separate room for The Baby to sleep in, there was plenty of floor space for him to crawl around, and The Husband and I did have a separate sitting area to lounge in while he slept. There was also a mini-fridge and an extra sink, which came in handy for washing our placemat, etc. after breakfast. It was just nice to have the extra space.

Basically, we just did our best to stick to the home routine. I put The Baby in the middle of the bed with pillows blocking each edge (but nowhere near him… gotta love a California king bed), and we just kept an eye on him from across the room while he napped. At night, we did our usual bathtime, story time routine, and it worked out great. The blackout curtains were clutch and made me realize the really-dark-but-not-actually-blackout curtains in The Baby’s room are not quite cutting it.

While we had to be quiet and left the room fairly dim during The Baby’s sleep, I packed a picnic for our first night in the hotel (cheese and charcuterie, plus prosecco) and we actually had a pretty romantic cocktail hour in our half of the room.

Those are my tips for a successful road trip with baby. What are your go-to moves?

(By the way, I know I linked to a lot of products in this post, but none of this is sponsored. It’s just what I love/used on this particular trip.)

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Road Trip Tips for Baby

My First Mother’s Day Wish List

TLMB's extremely specific Mother's Day 2016 Gift GuideOne thing about The Husband and me is that we’re pretty terrible at gifts.

Well, let me rephrase that:

We both generally don’t care much about gifts and tend to prefer spending our money on experiences together, or going shopping and picking out exactly what we want and buying it and there’s your present. Sure, it eliminates much of the surprise but it also cuts back on the number of disappointing, never-used gifts we buy each other out of guilt at the last minute (sorry again about the cheap ice cream maker and Bonsai tree, 29-year-old Husband.)

However, I was 38 weeks pregnant and (unbeknownst to me at the time) five days away from popping out (not how it actually works) a baby on my 30th birthday, and admittedly I was pretty cranky that all we did was go have lobster bisque during happy hour at a nice restaurant, take a walk around the park and tuck me into bed at 8 p.m. Even though it’s all I was physically capable of doing, I warned The Husband not to spend much money because A BABY IS COMING and he wrote me a very sweet note in my card.

I mostly blame being super pregnant for my birthday crankiness. I’m only human.

And now I’m a human who MADE ANOTHER HUMAN, so it’s time to celebrate my first Mother’s Day! Woohoo!

Here is a list of very heavy hints in case anyone in my life is looking for a gift idea.

The Last Mommy Blog’s 2016 Extremely Specific Mother’s Day Gift Guide

BUY ME STUFF!!! Tangible gifts:

Teething/breastfeeding necklace

My baby is teething and also becoming distracted AF when he nurses, so something other than my delicate upper chest/lower neck skin for his little razor claws to clutch on to would be tremendous. I particularly like this silicone and oak necklace from GettingSewCrafty on Etsy.

Silicone teething necklace via GettingSewCrafty on etsy.
Silicone teething necklace via GettingSewCrafty on Etsy.

Pretty, delicate jewelry, because sometimes I want something just for me

Not everything has to be about the baby. Only like, 95 percent. I don’t own much jewelry (and now that I’m home all day, don’t wear much), but something like the little bee necklace below (also from Etsy, this time via ACharmedImpression) would be sweet.

Little gold bee necklace via ACharmedImpression on Etsy
Little gold bee necklace via ACharmedImpression on Etsy.

Intangibles and experiences

A gift certificate to Clothes Mentor

I’ve been trying really hard for the past few years to avoid buying new clothes unless they’re manufactured ethically. Which mostly means buying clothes at consignment stores/thrift stores, because unfortunately I cannot afford brand new clothes that are  manufactured ethically.But I feel like a superhero when I find good clothes at consignment stores.

I discovered Clothes Mentor while I was pregnant and being utterly dumbfounded by all the insanely priced, shoddily made maternity wear I found at most retail stores. I went to Clothes Mentor and basically cleared their small maternity section twice.

And now that I’m post-postpartum, and the same-ish size but a bit of a different shape, I could use a few new pieces to spice up my (increasingly spit-up stained) wardrobe.

A massage, from The Husband

When I was pregnant, I craved massages (obviously?). I got two prenatal massages over the course of that time from professional massage therapists, and both times felt like I had been tentatively patted down by former TSA agents. I think people are afraid they’re going to send you into preterm labor if they massage too firmly. Then, about a month ago, I finally cashed in the massage gift certificate my parents had given me for my birthday. This time, I felt like I needed a stick to bite as she rolled my neck muscles around under my skin. I had bruises the next day.

I know I could have piped up any of those three times and let the therapist know what I wanted, but here’s what I’ve finally learned about myself: I’m not very assertive, and I don’t like practicing this important skill while a stranger lotions up to rub my naked back. So instead, how about my best friend/life partner does it, and I’ll have no trouble letting you know what I want. Bonus: Free gift

A trip to a bar

We’re starting to get used to the take-your-baby-to-a-Mexican-restaurant routine, so we’re getting out sometimes, but it’s still somewhat frowned upon to practice baby-wearing while sidled up to a bar. I know because I’ve tried. I  met The Husband at our former neighborhood brewery and sat at the bar with The Baby sleeping on me (at like, pre-happy hour, around 4:30) and some of the patrons gave me stink eye. Or, to circle back, they frowned upon me.

So I want to sit at a bar and enjoy one drink with no baby on my person. And then not too long after I want to hurry home to give that baby a squeeze because I will have missed him.

Picnic me

Pack a picnic (lots of fancy cheese, please) and take us somewhere pretty where we can loll around on a blanket, eat and watch the clouds go by. Maybe the baby can even nap on said blanket and we could read and catch up on each other’s lives and hopes and dreams. Or just talk about The Baby’s poop and sleep habits and gargantuan feet some more.

No thank you:

  • Jewelry that says “mom” on it. I know what I am. No need to be so literal.
  • A long, fancy date night. The Baby is still figuring out bedtime and I don’t want to be out so long that I might have to pump.
  • Clothes picked out by someone else. I have no idea what my body is doing still. Better let me try it on.

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My First Mother’s Day Wish List

My gender neutral, not color neutral nursery

The Husband and I decided to keep our first baby’s sex a surprise. For one thing, we like surprises, and for another thing, it bought us some time before the entire world started pushing its gender stereotypes on our little (what turned out to be a) guy. No “Daddy’s Little Princess” or “Big Man” onesies, etc. This, of course, drove some people totally crazy, but I don’t care.

When we started trying to figure out our nursery, I ventured over to Pinterest to search for gender-neutral baby ideas. There are, of course, tons of awesome nurseries showcased all across the Internet. One thing I found was that often times, gender neutral also meant neutral-neutral: grey, beige, white, etc.

I love neutral colors, but I wanted something a little brighter for our babe-to-be. I also tend toward eclectic decor (and admittedly a lot of hand-me-downs, cheap Target stuff and finds from our local Habitat for Humanity ReStore. Find one of these in your community – they are so awesome!)

Pinterest completely overwhelmed me with ideas (though you can check out my nursery pinspiration board here.) Finally, I got the idea to use this vintage opera poster that my mother-in-law had picked up at a thrift store and gifted to us a few years ago as the basis for the nursery’s color scheme.

Puss in Boots vintage opera poster
The inspiration for our nursery: colorful, vintage, eclectic and gender neutral without being neutral-neutral.

[Soapbox second:] Yes, you won’t be the first person to notice there is a “scary” looking demon-creature on this poster. But guess what? The Baby LOVES staring at the poster while he gets his diaper changed, and as we don’t point to the creature and say, “This is something you should be scared of!” he probably won’t be scared of it. And maybe it will be a lesson for him that just because something isn’t beautiful doesn’t make it evil. [/soapbox second]

Anyway, we decided to paint the walls a light blue to mimic the background of the poster. Yes, The Baby could have been a girl, but I am a girl and I like blue and again with the pressure of gender conformity!!!

We scored two cool dressers at ReStore, one a perfect little wooden chest of drawers with cutouts for handles and the other a low, wide dresser to serve as our changing table. The latter was painted two shades of butt-ugly green, but The Husband meticulously painted it a yellow also pulled from the Puss in Boots poster. There was a big sale going on at ReStore the day we went, and we got both dressers for a total of $65.

I found a rug at my favorite online source for rugs, on sale I think for $99, Rugs USA. (Not a paid advertisement, I’ve just gotten some great deals there!)

Rug from Rugs USA
The rug from Rugs USA.

I’ve always loved the classic beauty of a Jenny Lind crib, and went with white. I registered for it, just to keep track of what I wanted, and before I could order it, I found it delivered to my doorstep as a gift my very dear best childhood friend.

Inspired by a friend who made awesome dropcloth curtains for her apartment, I bought a bunch of dropcloths that were on sale when we were buying paint and made curtains and a matching crib skirt.

We finished it off with an inexpensive rocking chair I found on Overstock for about $200. It’s not a plush upholstered chair, but I have two jerk cats who scratch up every piece of furniture we buy so I didn’t want to put too much money into it. This chair actually walks backward across the room whenever I rock in it, so I wouldn’t glowingly endorse it, but it’s pretty comfortable for what you pay, and if I ever get around to sticking some non-skid pads to the bottom of it, it will probably quit scooting so badly.

We accessorized with, of course, the poster (VERY securely hung… I know it looks a little scary hanging over the changing table but I pulled on it while super pregnant and it didn’t budge), a cool wooden duck I found at a thrift store, a framed set of six vintage postage stamps I found in the back of a desk drawer (another ReStore find) and a “Cleveland Born” print also from my BFF.

I knitted a very simple block color blanket to match the colors in the room, bought some pretty neutral Burt’s Bees jersey knit crib sheets, and there you have it – nursery complete.

I think we spent just about $600 for everything. Not bad, eh?

Here are some photos of the nursery (in our old house). Of course, everything but the paint came with us to the new house, so once we get around to painting, it will be home sweet home again for our little guy.

How did we do? Let me know what you think at @arkayokay.

Don’t forget to follow me on Pinterest for more nursery and baby ideas.

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My gender neutral, not color neutral nursery