Pregnancy Week 14: The Mystery of Hobby Dobby and the crush of mom guilt

This week, The Husband was off work, which was wonderful in most respects but had some unfortunate…side effects. More on that in a minute.

First things first, The Toddler has been repeating the same phrase over and over again, in every setting and situation. He’s picking up words left and right, and guessing at what he’s saying always feels like a big victory.

We CANNOT figure this one out, though. In the bathtub, in the car, wandering around in the yard, pushing his trains around the track, sitting at the table… there are zero context clues. What he’s been saying is, as close as we can discern, “Hobby dobby.”

“Hobby dobby, hobby dobby, hobby dobby.”

Sometimes it sound a little like, “Hoppy doppy,” and sometimes he starts with “Dobby.”

Anyone who can tell me what this translates to, I will mail you a gently used grocery cart cover for a baby.

Okay, so onto the week we had.

I haven’t been as tired as I was, but it was still a tremendous relief to have The Husband home the past week to help chase The Toddler around. I got to sneak in a nap or two and to finish a big, boring cleaning-the-basement project that’s been looming over my head for awhile.

The problem with The Dad being home is that it threw us all into a little bit of a vicious cycle: I’ve been too tired to consistently engage in fun mom time lately. If this isn’t a contributing factor, it certainly hasn’t helped the fact that The Toddler is OBSESSED with his dad. Which is great. I love watching them play, I love that they got to spend lots of time together, and I loved getting to kick back and put my feet up a little bit.

What I haven’t loved, what has gotten awfully old this week, is that The Toddler straight up loathes me. Every time his dad leaves the room, he says, “Dad? Dad!” Putting him down for a nap or for bed has been like wrestling a wolverine who is holding a serious grudge against me. Today The Dad took a shower and the only way we could keep The Toddler from going nuclear was to let him in the bathroom so he could run back and forth choosing shirts for his dad to wear and throwing them in the shower.

So, yeah, some of it’s hormones, and some of it’s hurt feelings that my son thinks I’m lame, and the rest of it is guilt that I am a lame mom lately. I had myself a good cry today on the floor of my bedroom surrounded by half folded laundry.

Boo, hoo.

We did have a little overnight trip to The Husband’s and my alma mater. It was fun except that, while we packed every conceivable item The Toddler could ever need, we forgot our own clothes and toiletries.

In summary, Week 14 has been primarily dominated by lingering fatigue, heaps of Mom guilt, forgetfulness and occasional naps. Oh, and heartburn. The heartburn has started again.

I also put on my first legit maternity shirt this week. This bump is still mostly ice cream, I think, but it’s definitely there.

week14
Toes watch 2017 has officially commenced. (Yes, I need to sweep my floor. Always.)
Pregnancy Week 14: The Mystery of Hobby Dobby and the crush of mom guilt

The Great Slowdown: making peace with the pace of life as a parent

The great slowdown: making peace with the pace of life as a parent

I’ve been doing a lot of walking around a very hilly trail with The Toddler in his stroller. This is the route I used to run in high school cross country practice. Though I was never a very fast runner, retracing my steps behind a stroller  (especially on the uphills), has been a pretty apt metaphor for my life as a mom compared to my pre-baby days: Kids are wonderful, but there’s no denying they slow you down.

I love being a mom, and I love my kid. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have gotten back in line to jump on this roller coaster a second time. Even though I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything, I have been finding myself wishing for more time.

Yes, it would be cool to be able to go out to brunch with friends more or to catch up on a little self care. (The great thing about my horrifying overgrown hair style is how my long, long bangs cover up my unruly, unpruned eyebrows.) It’s not even the indulgences I’m really missing right now, though. What I really want is more time to get shit done.

I want to be a better blogger–write more often, more relevant and helpful information for pregnant and new moms, and give this site the serious facelift it sorely needs. I want to spend more time socializing the goats (there’s a sentence I never thought I’d type. They’re still a bit skittish, and I know they’d keep warming up if I could spend more time raking their pen and scratching their heads.) I want to learn how to code, cultivate more freelancing opportunities, log my business expenses. I want to finish clearing shit out of my garage that is destined for Goodwill and/or the trash sometime before winter hits so one or both of us could park our cars in it. I want to revamp my Etsy shop and add more items. I want to be a better friend and reach out to people I’m thinking of more often.

I have a list 100 miles long of all the things I wish I could be doing, and sure, I had a list before I was a mom, too, but there is an undeniable slowdown built into parenting very young children that I can’t find my way around, and it’s hard not to feel a little defeated.

Theoretically, I could surrender some sleep to tackle more of my list, but it’s really not feasible with pregnancy fatigue and would only make the days harder to get through.

It would just be nice to go to bed every once in awhile with the satisfaction of having accomplished anything beyond emptying the dishwasher that day.

I know the solution is to prioritize what’s really important to me and learn to accept the fact that my goals must either be bite-sized or very long-term for the foreseeable future.

One way or another, I have to make peace with the pace of life as a parent of young children. While the basement bathroom remains unrenovated and my desire to take a creative writing class languishes, I am taking immeasurable joy from holding my son’s hand as we walk around our pond looking for frogs. I don’t want to let go of my list forever, or let my own identity diminish to nothing but motherhood. But stressing out about what I’m not doing is only going to cloud my view of the really wonderful and fleeting moments I am getting to experience. The good news is the same as the bad news: These deliciously, agonizingly intense years of early parenthood won’t last forever.

The knowledge that it’s probably going to get harder–that I will look back on the days of having just one child with fondness as I slowly drown in dirty laundry–is pressing on me today.

Fellow parents, how do you cope with the limitations on your time and energy as they relate to your goals as human beings?

Also, approximately how much harder is life with two children than one? (Please lie.)

The Great Slowdown: making peace with the pace of life as a parent

Pregnancy Week 12: Time Flies

Today wraps up the last day of my first trimester (I think… it’s not always clear when one ends and the next begins, but I’m counting it.) The theme this week has been the breakneck pace at which life moves.

I’ve already mentioned how much quicker it feels like this pregnancy is going. In some ways I’m much, much busier, but in other ways I have fewer distractions because I’m alone with my thoughts so much more than I used to be when I was surrounded by colleagues and projects all day. Or maybe it feels like it’s going quicker because I already have someone on the outside reminding me daily just how fleeting babyhood is.

I woke whimpering from a dream one night this week. I know it’s usually boring to hear about other people’s dreams, but I think this one pretty perfectly sums up how I’m feeling right now:

In the dream, I was standing and holding The Toddler in my arms, telling him how big he was getting.

I whispered in his ear, “Someday, you’re going to be so tall you’ll be able to hug me like this with your feet on the ground.” He giggled with the delight, that heart-shatteringly sweet giggle that toddlers have.

With this, I released him to put him down, only to find that in that moment he had grown tall enough to hug me with his feet on the ground. In an instant he had become a full grown man, and I looked down at my hands, wrinkled and older, and up into his face. I had somehow missed all the moments in between.

He was beautiful and smiling but I began to cry in confusion and sadness and woke up gasping for breath.

Blame it on pregnancy hormones, but this dream has stuck with me all week, feeling like a lump in my throat. It’s been a trying week in many ways (I’ll spare you the detailed complaints about sleep for the thousandth time, but it’s making me wonder 18-month sleep regression? and Google “Dealing with breastfeeding aversion in pregnancy” and throw silent tantrums), but that dream has been reminding me to take a breath and try to, if not remember forever, at least be fully present for the sweet moments we have.

The Toddler is picking up new words every day and wearing them around like a new pair of shoes: Mama, Dada, Lou (our dog), big, bye, hello, nest, car, truck, bubbles, bottle, cheese. (Along with a slew of animal- and vehicle-related onomatopoeia.)

He is climbing into our rocking chair and looking at books by himself, helping put kitchen towels and clean spoons away. Choosing (and lifting!) big bags of cat food and putting them in our basket at the pet store. Watching frogs in the pond and offering clover to the chickens. Listening for distant planes and seeking them out in the sky. Turning everything into a train and lining it up on invisible tracks. Watching the pair of house finches outside our kitchen door feed their babies and pointing, “A nest!” He is curious and exuberant and nurturing and wild and so, so big.

I know I will love our second baby with my whole heart just like I love him, and I cannot wait for them to meet each other, but I also feel like I need to hold onto every second I have in the next six months while it’s just us. I don’t want to lose focus and find when I step back that I’ve somehow missed out on this short, precious time.

Today is also my seventh wedding anniversary. I won’t get too mushy here (I think I’ve probably used up my weekly allotment above), but I must say I feel pretty damned lucky to have found the person who wraps me in his arms when I wake up from a nightmare, jumps into every new adventure with both feet, is absolutely worthy of his son’s hero worship, and lets me talk him into scrapping our semi-fancy anniversary dinner plans to get burritos in our old neighborhood because it’s all I can think about eating.

Pregnancy Week 12: Time Flies

I stepped in it.

Let’s just get into it. It’s spring here on the “farm,” and despite all very filtered (in more ways than one) #farmlife Instagram posts, things can get a little nuts and aren’t always beautiful.

Today was the morning after The Toddler decided he prefers to sleep if I’m lying on the floor next to his crib touching him. And today was also Day 3 of my desperate attempt to back myself off the way-too-much coffee habit I’ve found myself underneath again. So I was already at a disadvantage when naptime finally hit. I’d been kinda disengaged from everything all morning–going through the motions, slowly.

By 7 a.m., I had gotten the goats out with The Toddler on my back (and he is getting heavy!), and I kept him up there to feed and water the chicks and throw in a load of laundry. We puttered around the house all morning, me halfheartedly vacuuming and making my bed to try to feel somewhat productive because I just didn’t have the energy to invent or execute an errand to run. I played with The Toddler here and there, but definitely wasn’t particularly fun today. I also barely acknowledged my poor dog or the cats.

It was one of those “I can’t even” mornings. I thought about climbing into bed for a quick snooze once The Toddler went down. I loaded up my laptop and answered a few work emails before I heard the cats meowing at the back door to be let in.

The cats rushed past my legs, and there in front of the door was a little black creature. At first I thought it was a dead mole — not uncommon. But it looked weird: hairless, not mole-shaped, and definitely breathing. I sighed, shut the door and sent my husband a message. He suggested I mercy kill whatever it was, and as sorry as I felt for myself for having to squash a half-alive rodent, I agreed. So I grabbed an empty bread bag and a handful of tissues and braced myself to buck up and do a mercy kill.

When I opened the door again, though, I realized what I was seeing: A newborn baby rabbit.

Shit. I’m going to have to mercy kill a BABY, I thought, almost indulging in a little cry, as I lifted it with a tissued hand.

But then it rolled over, showing off a fat pink belly with just a couple little scratches, and nuzzled my hand. My maternal skinlessness was activated.

Long story short, it’s in a shoebox with a heating pad and the Internet research I’ve done up to this point has revealed the following information:

  1. It is illegal to try to rehabilitate injured wild animals in Ohio without a permit. (Sounds insane, but makes sense, I guess — wouldn’t want crazy animal lovers “rescuing” perfectly healthy babies/injured coyotes or whatever as an excuse to keep them as pets.)
  2. Baby rabbits are really, really, really hard to keep alive. One major reason is because they won’t get the right gut bacteria to survive without their mother’s milk (wahhhhh #breastfeeding), and one way to remedy this is to feed it a little rabbit poop from a healthy rabbit. I don’t exactly have the resources to fulfill this need.
  3. My cat knows exactly where the rabbit is. He also knows where its nest was, though he won’t tell me. I know this because he also tore apart one of the baby’s siblings all over my sidewalk, driving home the point that nature is a cold, cold son of a gun.

I left a message with a permitted rehab person and hope that either he calls me back and I can hand off the little bun to someone who knows what they’re doing, or that it will die at least peacefully and warm without too much suffering. (I am doing my best to feed it with kitten formula and wipe its tiny butt to get it to poop. I’m not going to starve it while I wait for a callback or fate.)

The Husband eventually made it home and I told him all about the bunny, and its dead sibling, and the subsequent live snake the cat left at the door today (sigh), and how just minutes before he had gotten home, our poor neglected dog ran away to my parents’ house while I walked her and gave the goats a hay refill. I figured that was enough craziness for the day.

So I was cutting the tip off a kitten bottle nipple with a razor blade while The Husband got The Toddler’s pajamas on, preparing to feed the bunny, when he yelled, “Reanna, you have to go outside right now! Cudi is on the roof of the hut!”

The “hut” is a temporary rain shelter, tarp over wire. We bought it when there was still snow on the ground last month and we needed something quick, but it’s a dog kennel. It is not meant to hold a goat’s weight (and honestly was pretty tall? Like, not something I expected them to be able to scale???)

I ran out the front door in my socks, razor blade still in hand because I was afraid of dropping it in the house. I set the blade on the porch and pulled my socks off as I ran to the goat pen, shouting, “Kid Cudi, no!!” as sternly as I could. He was unmoved, if seemingly a little annoyed that he was starting to sink.

It quickly became clear I was going to have to wade into the wet straw, mud and goat shit and get him down. Another opportunity to buck up and deal with #farmlife, I thought with mixed dismay and amusement, as I grabbed the fence to unlatch it…

…forgetting I was barefoot, standing in wet mud, grabbing a powered electric fence.

The Husband’s squeals of laughter weren’t cruel, but they were distracting.

I shook off my near electrocution and pressed in, trying to avoid obvious piles of goat pellets as I made my way to the goat on the roof. He sunk one side of the roof before hopping off. I sighed with relief and turned to leave. Heard from the window as I approached the fence, “He’s doing it again!”

Back through the goat shit, quick as I could, in time to watch him sink the whole roof. He managed to get out without help or injury, but I had to circle the hut and pull off the tarp because he obviously wanted to get right back up.

So that’s how I found myself nursing The Toddler before bed with probably a little goat shit on my feet.

Guess that’s what happens when you jump into hobby farming with both feet.

I stepped in it.

The kids are all right

On Saturday, The Husband and I left The Toddler with Grandma and drove an hour and a half into the heart of Amish country to pick up three young Nigerian Dwarf goats we found online. Their owner was selling them as almost year-old wethers (the name for neutered male goats), as she has milk goats and her herd was getting too big.

We ended up cramming the poor guys into a dog crate in the back of my Subaru hatchback because we need to do some repair work to the cool but temperamental old yellow 1972 Ford F250 we co-own with our friends. The ride home was a quiet but tense one, The Husband gripping the steering wheel and doing his best to keep the turns smooth and slow on the winding back roads, carefully passing Amish families in buggies while the goats stumbled around in an increasing puddle of urine in their crate. Not an ideal way to start the relationship, I’m sure, but they were exceedingly patient with us.

They arrived at our house and we corralled them into an area we have cordoned off with portable electric fencing very near our house. This is one of the big garden beds my grandparents used to manage, but which has over the past decade or two become utterly overrun with poison ivy, wild roses, blackberry bushes and feral garlic (from the time my grandmother threw some old, sprouting garlic cloves out her window. Advice: Do not do this. All last spring and summer the overwhelming scent of garlic wafted through our windows.)

Anyway, to answer a few questions we’ve been getting:

  • The goats’ main purpose is to help us manage this overgrowth (they prefer “browse” or “forage” to pasture–they like reaching above their heads to eat, more like deer than cattle. So the brambles and vines and saplings are prime eating for them.) They will also serve as pets. Also, their poop makes great fertilizer. Also, they’re pretty cute.
  • We have no interest at present in running a dairy. Nigerian Dwarf goats are bred for milk, but you have to breed goats about annually to keep the milk flowing, and breeding goats brings an overwhelming element to the adventure that we’re not willing to entertain right now: stinky, aggressive bucks (non-neutered males), helping with deliveries and keeping kids alive in the dead of winter, when they’re usually born, twice-daily milking and figuring out what to do with all those extra goats.
  • We haven’t picked new names for them. They’re still pretty leery of us (they were quite friendly toward their former owner, but being a year old and only with us for a few days so far, they’re taking their time warming up to us). So we’re keeping their old names for now in hopes that a little consistency in that regard helps open the lines of communication. I’m not going to get into what the currently are, because it’s kind of a longer story than you’d think, but we’ll let you know when we settle on new ones.
  • The Toddler adores them. He can see them out his bedroom window, and they have been added to the good night tour each night along with the chicks.
  • The Dog, poor Louise, got a nose full of the (honestly potentially not strong enough, it feels only slightly worse than getting a static shock from socks on a rug) electric fence when she first encountered the goats, and holds me personally responsible. She’s avoided eye contact with me since Saturday.

Here are some photos for your enjoyment… I hope as the goats get more used to us, there will be better shots, but I can’t get very close right now (and if I am, I have a spoonful of molasses in one hand and a lead in the other, which doesn’t make for easy photography.)

Nigerian dwarf
One of the guys before we brought him home. (Behind him is one of the bucks from the herd, saying his goodbyes.)
Nigerian dwarf goats
The boys stayed shoulder to shoulder the whole first day they arrived, but did nibble on some forage.
Nigerian dwarves exploring
This photo is from today. They like to stand on that falling down fence, and here they are nibbling some wild roses. Get it, guys!
Tucking in for the night
This is where they sleep in the barn at night. Check out my Instagram @arkayokay to watch a video of them basically sprinting to the barn on leads as I try to mimic the “praise voice” their former owner used (embarrassing).
20170326_194730
The apparent leader of the herd in his favorite spot. They started to let me get a little closer today so long as I sat still.

In chick news, the girls are getting bigger and bolder and feathering out nicely. I bring them a treat each day (either hard boiled eggs… yep, the original chick feed, as weird as it sounds, or smashed chick peas, or raisins or freeze dried meal worms, but eggs are their No. 1 jam) and they hop into my hand and go nuts. A couple of them have even been testing out the mini perches we put in their brood box. So cute!

They also survived an attempted massacre by my cat while we were out picking up the goats. Fortunately, everyone was accounted for soon after we got home. We have reinforced the boxes to keep that from happening again (I hope.)

In parenting news, The Toddler is 15 months old now. He’s absolutely a toddler, exploring everything, throwing tantrums, picking up more and more words (his current favorite word is “gouda.” Ha!) and being equal parts heart-explodingly sweet and unbelievably challenging. I am addicted to his hugs.

This week, The Husband is on spring break from school so we’re finally working on a gentle approach to night weaning. (Yeah, I know a lot of moms figure this one out 6 or 10 months in or whatever, but we’ve been lazy and he’s been down to one quick nurse a night unless he’s sick or teething.) Anyway, every night the husband is “on duty” no matter what for an increasingly longer amount of time. Usually if I send him in, The Toddler screams and points at the door for me until we cave, but he’s going to have to take comfort with his dad for longer and longer period of time until he figures out we can’t all get 3 a.m. milkshakes every night.

Speaking of 3 a.m. milkshakes, The Toddler’s dwindling need to nurse, coupled with my persistent attachment to frozen yogurt and string cheese and buttery toast, means I’m starting to gain back a little of the baby weight that fell off so easily from breastfeeding. So today starts a conscious effort to pay attention to my appetite and get some exercise. I went running outside for the first time in eons. It felt like I was running with a backpack full of bowling balls, but I got through it and it felt good to break a sweat. Here’s hoping my saying it on the Internet will help me stick to it.

Time for a very desperately needed shower! Until next time.

The kids are all right

How to have a successful photoshoot with an energetic, persistent baby

I have no idea.

Happy Halloween , everyone!

I’m still buried in work and coming out of an especially rough month of colds, teething and general gloom, so that’s it for now. If The Baby cooperates for this nap I’m currently attempting, there’s a whiskey and cider with my name on it. I’ll be toasting to–Please, God–an easier, happier November. #motherhoodishard

How to have a successful photoshoot with an energetic, persistent baby

Nine unexpected necessities for the first nine months of motherhood

9-monthsThe Baby is now nine months old.

Give or take a few days, he’s been on the outside for as long as he was on the inside.

That. Is. Crazy.

I’m starting to realize that sooner or later, he’s going to have to get a new pseudonym. (Suggestions welcome.) When I hold him and look in the mirror, I see myself hefting a toddler, not the compact, seven-pound newborn I inexplicably expected to exist in stasis forever and ever.

I could reflect endlessly on the breakneck passage of time with a child, but it’s been a long time since I’ve contributed anything in the way of potentially useful advice to the Internet of moms (not like there’s a dearth, but whatever).

So instead of trying to compose a poignant way to say, “Holy shit, my baby is getting older by the second and I can’t fathom how quickly time has flown let alone conceive of the tomorrows that lie ahead of us,” I’ve composed a quick listicle (does anyone else think that word sounds filthy?) for new moms and moms-to-be about, what else, “baby essentials no one tells you you’ll need.” (Again with the clickbait. But for real this time, I hope this is helpful to someone.)

These aren’t necessarily things you’ll add to any baby registry, but their value is real. At least in my experience.

Nine unexpected necessities that have gotten me through the first nine months of motherhood

1. A screen dimmer app for my phone

I keep talking about how I’m trying to be more present and less glued to my phone around my baby. That does not apply while I’m nursing The Baby to sleep for the third time in a day. (YES, I STILL DO THIS. I KNOW. MOVE ALONG.) I don’t get a whole lot of time to consume media, so if bedtime is the time I get to scroll through Reddit or Facebook or whatever, so be it. But that blinding bright light on my phone may as well be the search light on a helicopter. The screen dimmer has become one of my most-used apps.

2. A frozen pizza a week

I hit a sweet spot somewhere in the 4-6 months range where The Baby was immobile but self-sufficient enough to hang out without too much fussing in a bouncer or carrier for enough time that I could get a reasonably easy home cooked dinner on the table. Now, though, there’s always a night or two where things have gone completely nuts by 4:30 and there’s no way I’m going to manage to cook anything because the sink is overflowing with dishes and there are 60 pages of a magazine ripped to confetti all over the kitchen floor. On these nights, The Baby gets a smattering of healthy leftovers along with an apple, some cheese, whatever, and once he goes to bed, The Husband and I get to relive the good old days with a frozen pizza. Once I started to accept this and put one in the grocery cart each week rather than deluding myself that I’d make a mega batch of homemade pizza dough to freeze, proactively thaw and top with organic vegetables, things got easier.

3. Peanut butter

I promise, this whole list isn’t  going to be about food. (The first item was a phone app, if you recall). But I am still so hungry all. the. time. And peanut butter has been the fastest way to get calories into my tummy so I can crank out the milk. We’re very picky about our peanut butter in the TLMB household (Must be the natural you-stir kind. No hydrogenated oils and no palm oil. Must be crunchy.) and I’ve found Target’s Market Pantry brand is the least expensive that I have easy access to. Which is great, because we go through at least a jar a week.

4. A running group text with no-judgment mom friends

I think I’ve mentioned a couple times before that three of my IRL friends and I made a pregnancy pact got pregnant around the same time. We’ve had a group text running since we all were pregnant where we’ve been able to complain, ask for advice, share random baby product reviews, celebrate and commiserate without worry of judgment. We can also text at all hours of the night or day knowing that our fellow new moms are probably awake or will soon be. I may be a habitual Internet over-sharer, but there are some things even I can’t bring myself to say here (or…*shudder*…share to a parenting group on Facebook. Which sometimes seems like putting yourself in front of a firing squad.)

5. A fairly regular date night

While there are certainly pros and cons to living across the street from my parents, one undeniable pro is I have pretty consistent access to a babysitter. (Thanks, parents!) At the end of the work week, The Husband and I are desperate to drive around the corner to our disappointing exurb happy  hour spot to share a beer and strategize the next several steps in our endless home improvement journey. We’ve gotten really efficient at snapping out of our tired funk to make each other laugh and to have the deeper conversations we don’t get when there’s a baby in the mix. Reconnecting, even for just 45 minutes while somebody else feeds The Baby dinner and gives him a bath, has been vitally important for my sanity (and The Husband’s too, I hope.)

6. A uniform

I knew going into the SAHM gig that if I stayed in my pajamas all day I’d languish. So every morning I wake up and put on my go-to uniform: jeans or shorts and  a v-neck T-shirt. I bought a stack of shirts from my local discount big box store (rhymes with Schmarget), but for fall I think I’ll be hitting up my favorite consignment store. Either way, having a handful  of easy but not too sloppy go-to outfits that can be mixed and matched has made it really easy to get dressed in the morning, and because it really is just 5 shirts and 3-4 bottoms, when I wear them out or get them hopelessly stained with breastmilk, I can guiltlessly turn them into cleaning rags and go out and spend another $50-$75 on the next season’s uniform. I know this probably sounds really boring/depressing to more fashionable readers, but I’ve always been really lazy about clothes, we’re on a tight budget, and this is keeping me happily out of sweatpants and my ninth grade cross country T-shirt (yes, I still have it/wear it.)

7. A side gig

I’ve mentioned a few times before that writing is important to me. We could scrape by for a little while longer without my extra income, but having a side gig has been beneficial in a  number of ways: It lets me exercise my creativity and skills; it helps pay for groceries and Amazon prime purchases; and it makes me feel good to contribute financially to the family (reminder disclaimer: being a SAH parent is a full-time job and if that’s “all” you do, it’s plenty, and you should value it and feel valued by your working-outside-the-home partner!)

I’ve always liked working, and I wanted to have it both ways, and this is how I’ve managed to satisfy both sides. While having a looming deadline while I’m trying to clean up a poop blowout spend quality time with The Baby can be stressful, it’s really nice to hand him off to The Husband, shut the door and get to work when I need to. As one of my group text mom friends said about her experience going back to work full time, “it helps with the whole ‘motherhood’s complete annihilation of your sense of self’ thing.”

8. A daily photo/milestone tracker

They say, “Babies don’t keep,” and holy hell, that’s true. It’s hard to savor every moment as I’m frantic about trying to find ways to preserve memories of these moments. For me, having an app like Tinybeans (that I back up regularly just in case!) has been really helpful. I can track milestones, his growth, and daily photos/videos. So on those days I’m so exhausted I don’t know how I’m going to carry on with mothering, and then he goes to bed and I find myself missing him, I can scroll through the days gone by and marvel at the amazing little person he has been and is becoming.

9. An amazing co-parent

The Husband has been an amazing partner the last nine months (and the nine months that preceded it, and a handful of years before that, too.) Not only has he been incredibly supportive to me as I figure out this motherhood thing, he has made an impressively smooth transition into the weird, wild world of fatherhood. I can’t imagine having taken on motherhood without him by my side.

Fellow new moms: What are some things that have gotten you through motherhood?

Nine unexpected necessities for the first nine months of motherhood