Seven months in: A sonic boom of development

The Baby celebrated turning seven months old yesterday by perfecting his brand-new skill of pulling himself to stand in his play yard (read: baby jail) and taking his first standing up dump. (Sorry, grown up The Baby. Sometimes you have to overshare. You’re welcome I don’t use your name.)

In the same vein as my other milestone posts, here’s a quick stream of consciousness list about this particular moment in our lives.

Seven things about seven months

Seven things about seven months

  1. The past two or three weeks have been the developmental equivalent of a bullet train. The Baby has gone from sitting up and scooting a little to full on crawling, getting to sit up on his own and then pulling himself to standing whenever he can. He also has four teeth now.
  2. This burst of development means I’m locked in a babyproofing arms race. He’s no longer content for very long to hang out in one (safe) place and play with toys, so much of my time is spent following him around the house while he conducts and ever more alarming complimentary babyproofing audit of his surroundings.With the speed and fervor of a predator on the hunt, he crawls from the top of the basement stairs (baby-gated) to the cord of a lamp (now stashed behind a piece of furniture) to a fistful of dog hair (forever a losing battle) to the bedroom wastebasket (just generally dump-able and full of trash). We’ve taken swapped out most of the outlet covers with these, and now that our house is no longer an active construction site I’m getting caught up on general decluttering and keeping the floor cleanish, but this upcoming weekend will be spent strapping all our furniture to the walls and likely banishing our never-used TV to the basement since it’s an extreme tipping hazard.
  3. Because that’s not exhausting enough, he’s paired it with the two filthiest words in parenting: sleep regression. I’ve done minimal research on sleep regression (some sources deny its existence/link to particular times in a baby’s life?) but I guarantee it’s happening right now. While I used to be able to put him down drowsy for naps, he now must be fully out before I lay him in his crib or I have to start over again. Naps that were stretching to 1.5-2 hours at a time without interruption have gone back to the dreaded 50-minutes-then-come-rock-me-back-to-sleep variety, every single time. I have avoided nursing him to sleep at bedtime for months and months now, but he is insistent about it now. And, very worst of all, he is now waking up at 4 a.m. – not for a quick snack and to go back to sleep, but to nurse nonstop except for yelps and flailing and general disruption until we finally get out of bed at 6 a.m. Please, sleep gods, don’t let this last too long.
  4. The babbling, oh the babbling! The baby’s favorite sound to make is MUH-MUH-MUH-MUH-MUH-MUH-MUH, that every so often truly sounds like he’s calling out for me. I know from hearing him say it as he rolls a truck across the floor or watch his mobile that he’s not really saying, “Mama,” but it’s a really endearing look into the future I can look forward to with a talking baby. His dad continues to read this book to him all the time, but I think I’m winning.
  5. Eating is starting to look more like eating. We’ve been at the baby led weaning thing for just over a month now. The amount of food stuffed between his legs and seat or scattered across the floor or smeared into his hair, while still abundant, is starting to be slightly less than the amount of food we put in front of him. I have actually witnessed him chewing and swallowing food at just about every meal. I’m sure having four teeth helps a little bit. Even though it is truly a godawful mess, I’m really glad we went the BLW route. He gets to experience food through all his senses, which is probably pretty helpful for his raging development. He gets agency and independence to make decisions for himself. And it’s really fun to watch and share a meal with him. It also has forced us to eat way healthier and way more vegetables than we otherwise would.
  6. Books – you can also look at them! The Baby’s approach to storytime has typically involved trying to get the book into his mouth, period. Aside from a couple favorite board books, he just wasn’t interested in hearing stories or looking at pictures. I ended up steering clear of all our non-board books because he’d just try to rip out the pages. It still depends on his mood, but more often than not at bedtime he will look at the pages while we read to him and even tries to turn the pages (on board books) without trying to rip the book out of our hands to shove it in his mouth. Here’s hoping he’ll become a voracious reader in the regular sense as he keeps growing.
  7. I watched my first movie since becoming a mom. It seems absurd that it took me seven months to watch a movie, but there it is. The Husband and I have started watching an episode of TV on Hulu now and again once The Baby goes down, but Saturday night was our first time sitting next to each other on the couch (actually, our poor neglected dog lay in between us) and watching a full length movie. Yes, it involved rocking the baby back to sleep twice, but we did it. We even had popcorn and beer. It was like a vacation.

There you have it! My baby is torpedoing toward toddlerhood and I’m just trying to keep up.

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Seven months in: A sonic boom of development

Emerging from the mom fog

Cleaning out our barn
Just a small taste of the great big mess we’re working through in the barn.

The TLMB household has knocked it out of the park over the last week. We spent the long holiday weekend welcoming our incredibly generous friends to our “farm” to help us clear space in our barn to make way for a couple of pet goats we hope to acquire in the next few weeks, who in turn will (I hope) help us with our burgeoning poison ivy and brambles problem.

The Husband and I also finished painting and putting hardwood floors down in our hallway and The Baby’s room, making great headway in the battle against the shag carpet.

We also painted and installed mounted shelves in our pantry, which is now a dazzlingly ordinary, organized space that makes me swoon with satisfaction. I’m a simple girl. Being able to see all our dry goods and baking pans makes me feel like I’m in control of my life.

We re-upped our lapsed membership to Northeast Ohio’s most expansive CSA, since our dreams of having an abundantly producing garden have withered and floundered like the neglected tomato plants and never-sprouted carrots that we put in too late and water too infrequently. Next year, we’ll be armpits deep in homegrown produce. In the meantime, Fresh Fork has been a much-needed source for locally grown veggies and other goodies, and I’ve gotten back into cooking in a decent way.

I’ve picked up a couple new clients for freelancing and am undertaking some intellectually stimulating and creatively fulfilling projects.

While I’ve been consumed with motherhood for the past six months, the past couple of weeks have made me feel more like a whole person than I have since The Baby arrived. Sure, I still wear a rotating uniform of stretched-out V-necks, shush The Baby to sleep four times a day and eat like I’m training for sumo, but I also used a miter saw and drank a bunch of cheap beer with my  friends and did research so I could write coherently about a subject other than breastfeeding.

While the fog of motherhood obscures the less important things in my life, it’s been nice to feel it lifting a little. It may be temporary or it may be because The Baby is getting a little bigger and I’m getting the hang of things a little more. Whatever the reason, it’s nice to feel a little of my old self shining again.

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Emerging from the mom fog

Weeknight Meal Weds: Black Bean Burgers

Weeknight meal for new moms: black bean burgersFinally, the return of my extremely popular not-really-recipes food series for haggard new parents. I hope you all weren’t starving in the meantime!

Kind of a good-news/bad-news situation here.

The bad news: This is varsity-level effort for new parents. Something I’d recommend you work on during a Sunday afternoon while you have some extra help with the baby. (What can I say? I never thought the day would arrive, but it does start to get easier to cook when your baby can crawl under the couch entertain himself on the floor for awhile.)

The good news: Make a batch of these, pop them in the freezer and you can have several easy weeknight meals. The other good news: They’re super healthy and really tasty. The other other good news: This is a baby led weaning-friendly recipe.

The other bad news: This is a great example of what I refer to as “improv cooking” which means I didn’t measure anything and used leftovers in the recipe, so… good luck. Be creative. You’ll be fine. I adapted my recipe from the Pioneer Woman who clearly pays closer attention to her cooking than I do (and has stronger forearms and/or forks).

Black Bean Burgers (Good Enough for Baby)

Ingredients

  • About 1.5 cups of cooked black beans (If you’re feeding this to your baby, cook the beans yourself so you know there’s no added sodium, as babies can’t have salt and canned beans are super salty.)
  • 3-4 slices of bread (check the sodium content in your bread, too)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 small onion
  • About a half cup of leftover mashed potatoes (optional)
  • 1 small beet
  • Dried herbs of your choice – I used oregano and thyme
  • Chili powder
  • Garlic powder or chopped fresh garlic
  • Kosher salt (just for your portions)

If you’re eating the burgers tonight, you’ll also need

  • Washed baby spinach
  • Cheddar cheese
  • Hamburger buns
  • Mustard, ketchup, etc.

Instructions

Black beans

Drain your cooked black beans. Don’t rinse them. (If you’re using canned beans, remember this probably isn’t a good BLW meal, because of salt.)

mash black beans

Mash them up in a bowl so they’re still chunky but smashed enough to stick together well. The Pioneer Woman used a fork but I guess my arms aren’t strong enough for that.

DIY breadcrumbs

Meanwhile, toast some bread. I used four pieces of whole wheat bread, but three of them were butts. Making your own bread crumbs is another good way to control salt, but if you can find low sodium breadcrumbs (and I’m leaving it entirely in your hands to do your BLW/sodium research), skip this step. (If you don’t like the state of my toaster oven, you should see my office hahahaha someone please come clean my house.)

breadcrumb grind

Let your toast cool off a few minutes so it doesn’t steam up, then grind it up in a food processor/bullet/etc.

black bean burger mix

Add to your black beans: The breadcrumbs, the herbs and garlic, a half teaspoon or so of chili powder (The Baby seems to like a little spice, but I didn’t go nuts on this recipe), the egg, a shredded small beet and a shredded small onion, and if you have it, some leftover mashed potatoes. (Mine had sauteed onion, zucchini and peas in it from some zucchini boats I made the night before. Salt reminder goes here.)

mixed black bean burger

Mix well and let sit for a bit. (The beets make it look like bloody red meat a little, don’t they?)

salt and blw

If you’re giving some to baby, pull out a portion to leave unsalted, then add kosher salt to yours.

burgers sizzling

Heat a cast iron skillet and add a little canola oil (I also used some butter – aim for unsalted, said the broken record.) I’m getting used to a new stove (backdoor brag) so I got the pan a little too hot. Don’t be like me. Cook your burgers thoroughly on both sides. If you’re planning to freeze any, turn the heat down so they’re good and cooked but not super browned.

black bean burgers dressed

To serve, melt some cheese on your burger, then put it on a bun (or two pieces of bread if you’re improv cooking and don’t believe in grocery lists). Add mustard and baby spinach and enjoy.

baby's black bean burger

Here’s The Baby’s portion. The cheese helped hold it together a little, and because I was cautious about how much salt was in the burger itself (and he didn’t have anything else with salt in it that day) I didn’t feel nervous giving him any.

freeze black bean burgers

I froze the leftover portions first on a cookie sheet then wrapped them up and put them in a freezer bag. I’ll just turn the pan on nice and low and cook them from frozen the next time we eat them.

Bon apetit, my dear mamas. I know this is a more time-consuming recipe, so if you can’t pull it together, may I offer an alternative *recipe from my earlier days:

3 string cheeses, eaten on the couch while nursing. Three heaping tablespoons of frozen yogurt, eaten in front of the refrigerator. No more than two high fiber cereal bars, eaten in front of the computer while the baby naps. One very well-earned bottle of your favorite IPA.

*Not suitable for BLW.

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Weeknight Meal Weds: Black Bean Burgers

Breastfeeding: The early days can suck

Breastfeeding: The early daysIt’s hard to believe I’ve been breastfeeding for six months. Soon this phase will be just happy memory. (I’ll gladly stick it out for at least a full year but don’t intend to keep going with a kindergartner.) Anyway, before the  memories of the earliest days of this strange and wonderful experience get any foggier in my head, it’s time to talk about my initiation into breastfeeding.

It didn’t start when I had The Baby, though. I need to back up to 2008, first. I was fresh out of college with a journalism degree and had moved to a small city in South Carolina (following The Boyfriend, eventually to be known as The Husband) just at the peak of the economic collapse that made an already bleak job outlook almost comical. So when I got a job offer managing a women’s resource center at the local hospital system, I threw down my Books-A-Million apron (sorrynotsorry) and marched headlong into a field in which I had no business serving as any sort of resource.

I had to prescreen childbirth videos to purchase for the childbirth education classes.

I had to learn the functions and merits of every model of Medela breast pumps and explain to outraged women why they shouldn’t use their sister’s old pump.

I got to know the kindly older nurses who were certified lactation consultants, who taught breastfeeding classes and who helped new moms figure out how to get the hang of breastfeeding. (Lee, Faye, Elizabeth… if there is a heaven, I want those three greeting me at the gates. Seriously, they were saints.)

One time, when no one was available to teach a booked breastfeeding class at the last minute, I had the out-of-body-what-the-shit-am-I-doing moment of seeing myself standing at the front of a room full of extremely pregnant women and their partners, holding a doll up to my own chest and explaining the various holds I had observed the nurses explaining, but that I had never actually seen in action, let alone performed. The not at all convinced faces staring back to me confirmed that a childless 22-year-old with a fresh journalism degree and the stink of desperation is not the spirit guide you want for your journey into motherhood.

Somehow though, I smugly thought of myself as an expert as I approached my own impending date with breastfeeding destiny. Armed with the reassurances of those LCs so many years ago, their warm southern accents engraved in my memory, I practically felt like I had done this before.

The Baby arrived and latched on right away, fervently nursing for a solid hour in the delivery room until we had to convince him to take a break. So I felt affirmed: I, breastfeeding expert, was in for smooth sailing.

Then the no-nonsense midwestern nurses packed us into our Subaru and waved goodbye, and my real adventure began.

Or as I like to refer to it, Hell Month. (How I wish I could call it Hell Week.)

My OB didn’t make it to the delivery, but he did call me when I got home to see how I was feeling. He ended the call with, “Whatever you do, just don’t get mastitis. It feels like you have the flu but worse and you’ll wish you were dead.”

Noted. (Spoiler: He also told me, whatever I do, not to go into labor on Christmas Day. I am an unintentional contrarian, I guess.)

It took my milk a couple days to come in and when it did JESUS CHRIST. Let’s just say I couldn’t see my toes again for a few days.

Latching on became an impossible game of target practice. The Baby would open his mouth wide but wave his little hands in front of it. Getting the latch wrong felt like sticking a high-suction vacuum tube lined with sandpaper to my nipple. Getting it right honestly didn’t feel much better after awhile, because the cracking and bleeding had set in and any contact brought a great deal of pain.

The worst of this hit leading up to a weekend and I couldn’t make an appointment with a lactation consultant until the following Monday. In the meantime, The Husband would hand me the baby and I would start sobbing just from the anticipation of having to feed him. I ended up pumping and feeding him with a medicine dropper for a day or so to give myself time to heal. My nipples were in such bad shape I had to dump out the first half-ounce or so of milk because it was tinged pink with blood.

This weekend was also when I got my first plugged duct, which felt like a horrible bruise on top of a tumor. I read that scrubbing it in a hot shower worked, so I did that. I did that so aggressively that I gave myself a serious friction burn from the washcloth. Plugged duct gone, but skin also gone. (Take it from me tip: Use a bar of soap to coax a plugged duct.)

When I went to the lactation consultant, she helped me work on my latch (which frankly, I was doing right during the day, but every night I would backslide because The Baby would only sleep latched on and next to me, and I was too exhausted to sit up in bed with the light on to diligently monitor his position.) She also took a look at the horrible aftermath of my plugged-ductectomy and said it looked extra red, and that I should watch out for mastitis. I assured her it didn’t hurt anymore and was probably just red because I’m an idiot.

Then I woke up the next morning convulsing with chills, with a 102-degree fever and a weakness that made the aftermath of childbirth feel like child’s play. My OB’s words came back to me: “It feels like you have the flu but worse and you’ll wish you were dead.”

I got some antibiotics and was feeling better by the next day. Latching was slowly starting to get easier and my nipples were starting to heal. I still had to stomp my foot and say FUUUUCK out loud when The Baby started his feeds, but the pain faded after the first minute.

Then I started getting paranoid about getting thrush from the antibiotics, so after feeds I would dunk my boobs in cups of warm saline solution. I also spent half a year’s salary on those Lansinoh Soothies gel pads, which are unbelievably expensive but worth every cent.

I got mastitis one more time – The night before The Husband was due to go back to work, I woke at 3 a.m. with a throbbing pain in my left breast and immediately the chills set in. I felt too guilty to interrupt The Husband’s sleep to ask him for help (stupid), but ended up waking him up two hours later because my chills were shaking the bed. I unplugged this duct without shredding my skin and nursed and laid in bed and felt better that afternoon, but it was once again awful.

Finally, finally, as The Baby got bigger, feeding him got easier.

Quitting never occurred to me as an option for some reason, but I can see why some women do, and don’t blame them one bit. At least I had a GREAT supply, and plenty of time to work on it and lots of help. If I had been in agony and my baby wasn’t getting enough milk, or I had to go back to work far sooner… Ugh. It can be really daunting.

I’m so grateful that breastfeeding worked out for me, despite a rocky start. It is such an awesome bonding experience, it’s free (except for having to keep up with my ravenous appetite) and it’s super, super good for him.

So that’s my stumbling, fumbling entry into breastfeeding. If you’re reading this, feeding your new baby, good luck to you. You can do it. I believe in you! It gets easier, and then it gets awesome.

(And if you decide you can’t or don’t want to do it anymore, you can do that too! Fed is best, as they say.)

How did your early days with breastfeeding go? Share in the comments!

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Breastfeeding: The early days can suck

First Father’s Day Card from The Baby

DIY Father's Day Card from the BabyI’ve been meaning to share this craft since last weekend, but life got in the way again. It was The Husband’s birthday last weekend, and The Baby and I decided to make him a birthday card. I love how it turned out, and it was easy and fun to make, so I thought I’d share it with the wider momosphere in time for Father’s Day.

The Baby has been a kicking machine since he can-canned his way out into this world. He’s one of those babies who prefers to stand assisted on your lap than to sit. As I’ve mentioned before, his nickname is Kickpuncher because of all his flailing.

This craft actually first emerged on Mother’s Day, when I woke up early in the morning and tried it out on a pair of canvas totes for both of The Baby’s grandmothers. My tactics got a little more refined for this birthday card, but the essential formula is:

paint + kicking baby feet + surface = awesome abstract art

DIY First Father’s Day Card from the Baby

Materials

  • Watercolor paper
  • Non-toxic paints
  • Masking tape
  • Sponge brush or other paint mixing tool
  • A big piece of cardboard or wide, shallow box
  • A large container to use as a palette – even big paper plates work
  • Dish tub or other baby-sized bucket
  • Old towels and old wash cloth
  • Baby soap
  • Blank card and envelope
  • A helper or a place to put baby where he can’t reach his feet
  • Mod Podge

Instructions

Take some time to prep. This is best done outdoors or on a floor you can wash up quickly (obviously, avoid carpeting.) Put on some old clothes, strip The Baby down to his diaper and let him play nearby while you set up.

Lay out the cardboard or box and tape a few pieces of watercolor paper to it. You can also use the masking tape to mask off some parts of the paper to make a decoration.

20160527_112822
Tape your paper to the cardboard.

Fill the dish tub/baby tub with warm water and add a few squirts of baby soap.

Pick your paints. I used acrylic because it’s what I had on hand and it says on the bottle it’s non-toxic, but do your own research. Tempera paint is probably better. I like to hold up two paints and let The Baby pick his favorite. I squirt out some of this color onto my palette (I used big paper plates for the Mother’s Day craft and that worked really well; I couldn’t find them so I used bread pans for this one. The Baby has monster feet so this was kind of tough.) Anyway, for the Father’s Day card, I cut in some white to whatever color he chose, but only with about half the paint, to give it some variation. The picture below is just the tinted paint, but in the other half of the pan I squirted just the red, so he’d basically get a foot with each color. You can also do two similar colors (red and orange, say) in one go.

paint palette
Paint palette with The Baby’s first color selection, mixed in with a little white paint.

Pick baby up and hold him over the palette and let his feet press into the paint. Then pick him back up and hold him over the paper. If your baby isn’t squirmy, maybe you’ll get some neat footprints. But as I said, my baby is part Tazmanian devil and I wasn’t expecting or intending to get footprints, just fun colorful smears.

Once you’ve gotten a few good smears of your first color, dunk baby’s feet in the dish tub and give them a decent wipe-off with the wash cloth, pat dry. (Don’t worry about getting them immaculate; as you’re going to repeat the first several steps again.)

This is where it’s nice to have a helper to hold the baby, while you reset your paints. The goal is to keep baby from reaching his lower half, where there could be paint, at any time during this activity.

I did a total of three colors (with the white tint each time), as selected by The Baby. I let them dry for just a few minutes, basically the time it took me to clean baby’s feet and get new paint ready.

Baby footprints painting
A blurry photo of the finished painting. The Baby is an athlete and an artist!

Once you’re done, give your baby an actual bath. (Full disclosure: The Baby had green toenails for a few days afterward… whoops.) Also, the underside of your baby’s diaper will probably be a beautiful piece of art all its own, but resist the urge to keep it.

Once your baby’s artwork is dry, you can cut it to fit the front of your blank greeting card. (I suppose you could paint directly onto the card, but the watercolor paper doesn’t wrinkle when it gets wet, so it looks nicer.) I used Mod Podge to glue the painting onto the card and then put a coat of Mod Podge over the top of the painting too, to give it a little sheen.

Finished Father's Day card
Here’s the finished card. I cut and glued The Baby’s painting to a blank craft-paper greeting card.

There you have it! Easy, colorful Father’s Day card. I still have the other half of the painting that I plan to cut into strips and glue onto other, smaller cards I have, to use as thank-you notes. The next time I do it I think I’ll mask off the center of the card so I have a blank strip to write “Happy Birthday.”

It’s clear that The Baby has a blast when we do this, feeling the slippery paint on his feet, seeing the cause-and-effect of his kicking, and getting to splash around in the tub. And I like to think I’m instilling in him an early sense of generosity and the importance of appreciating others. I know he’s too young to really understand what we’re doing, but I figure if I start early, he’ll absorb the lesson more thoroughly as he grows.

Join the conversation: Have you enlisted your baby to help with any gifts or craft projects? How are you planning to celebrate your partner’s first Father’s Day?

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First Father’s Day Card from The Baby

Podcasts for moms and moms-to-be

Listen up! A podcast playlist for new moms and moms-to-beI’ve been an insatiable podcast consumer for a pretty long time. It all started when The Husband (back then The Boyfriend/The Fiance) and I had many 10-hour drives to Ohio from South Carolina to visit family. We would load up our iPod with Stuff You Should Know,The Adam Carolla Show and Doug Loves Movies. It made the time pass a little easier and was far better than trying to find a new radio station every few hours.

Peak podcast consumption for me hit when we moved to Cleveland and I started walking to work every morning. I had 45 minutes of uninterrupted me-time every morning and again every afternoon, and I chose to spend it absorbed in other people’s voices and as the *world’s easiest kidnapping target.

Obsessive person that I am, I started hunting for pregnancy related podcasts the nanosecond after The Husband and I started thinking about maybe thinking about talking about having a baby. Because pregnancy is short and parenthood is long, there weren’t that many to pick from. If anyone wants to start a pregnancy podcast with me, get in touch. I’m calling it Farting in the Elevator.

Until that gem debuts, though, here is a list of podcasts – series and episodes – on impending parenthood that I enjoyed enough to **risk life and limb to listen to on my way to and from work ***each day for two years.

*As part of my job I regularly read crime synopses that started with women being abducted off the street by men offering rides before having HORRIBLE HORRIBLE things done to them. Detectives warned me not to wear earbuds (and also to carry around a big can of wasp spray because it makes excellent pepper spray… um, thanks for the tip?) I tried to remember to only keep one earbud in so I could hear for any danger while I was walking.

**One day while I was about four months pregnant, a guy in a white truck pulled over while I was walking on a not-very-busy street and asked me TWICE if he could give me a ride somewhere and didn’t leave until I made it look like I was calling the police. I am a FULL fledged idiot because (again, even though I worked in a criminal-justice related job) I didn’t actually call the police on him until hours later, but let this be a warning to you, pregnant dummies: If you’re going to walk around with earbuds in, leave one out so you can be aware of your surroundings, and keep that big can of wasp spray handy.

***I mixed these up with regular-people podcast because while I was losing sight of my feet and could barely remember my name some days, I was still a whole person, not just a reckless (see above) baby incubator.

Podcasts for pregnant women and new moms – what to listen to and what to skip

Ratings out of five stars

Give these a listen

One earbud only.

One Bad Mother (series)

This is a motherhood podcast on the Maximum Fun network, and it is the most tolerable, relatable parenting podcast I’ve been able to find. Hosts Biz and Theresa share parenting failures and successes, have very real conversations about the tough parts of parenthood, discuss feminism and identity and all the stuff you worry you’ll lose on the other side of that 36-hour labor, and have a phone number you can call if you want to leave an ugly-crying message. They also have pretty interesting guests on the show. My only beef is that they could be better interviewers – their questions (especially Biz’s) tend to be more like “Let me ask you this question so I can then tell you a story about my life.” But if you’re okay with swearing and don’t want to hear somebody lie about how much they have their shit together, this is a great podcast.

My rating: 4.5 stars

The Longest Shortest Time (series)

This show’s tagline is “the parenting show for everyone,” but I am here to say that its host, Hillary Frank, is decidedly not for everyone. I really liked this podcast while I was super early in my pregnancy, but by the time I got caught up on episodes, I was sick to death of Hillary. Something about her just doesn’t jive with me. She says “um” way too much, I specifically dislike the friends she brings on her show to tell stories (the “I Have News” family. Ugh.) And yet, in other ways it is a really worthwhile show. There have been some great guests and amazing stories (I particularly recommend The Parents’ Guide to Doing It, Building a Better Boobie Trap and Pediatricians, They’re Just Like Us). And while I don’t necessarily recommend listening to her episodes on childbirth injuries before you give birth (because she had a really traumatic birth injury and why scare yourself?) it is certainly worthwhile for anyone struggling to recover from childbirth. Basically, I think I would love this podcast if Hillary were a producer and let somebody else do the talking. But that’s just me. Try it out.

My rating: 3 stars

Pea in the Podcast (series)

The production value on this one isn’t great, and I get the feeling it hasn’t been updated in  awhile, but even so I enjoyed the short week-by-week podcasts and the more in depth topical episodes. This falls into the hyper educational, not particularly entertaining category of podcasts, but if you’re not into reading pregnancy books, this is a great alternative. Host Bonnie Petrie is informative without sounding preachy, and the series is a fun way to tick off the weeks as you go along.

My rating: 4 stars

Mom and Dad are Fighting (series)

Slates’ Allison Benedikt and Dan Kois host this parenting podcast, which I really like but which is probably best suited for parents of slightly older kids – you may not find a whole lot to relate to if you’re expecting or trying to figure out how to swaddle your newborn. (I remember continually rebuffing or filing away any advice I got about actual parenting when I was pregnant, by the way… I kept thinking, “I’m pregnant, not a ‘mom!’ I don’t need to know anything about babies! Talk to me about leaky boobs and cute nursery designs.” Utter nonsense, but I also didn’t call the police when I was almost kidnapped. So what do I know.) Anyway… there is very little dad representation in the parenting podcast world. (I found and listened to an episode or two of this one… might be good, especially if you love British accents as much as I do, but I am not the intended audience.) I like that this covers both, and they always have great guests. One downside is you get limited content if you’re not paying for Slate+.

My rating: 4 stars in general, 3 stars for extremely new parents

23 weeks, 6 days (update) (episode)

If you’re feeling fragile or emotional, maybe hold off on this one, but this is a great episode of one of the greatest podcasts ever, Radiolab. It’s about a couple whose daughter came early–by some accounts way too early to survive–and the harrowing decisions and thought processes behind those decisions. It’s about the miracles of medicine and the ethical dilemmas that these advances create. I won’t give too much away, but because I’m addressing a crowd that likely cries during most commercials, I feel it’s important to tell you that this one has a happy ending.

My rating: 5 stars

Milk Wanted (episode)

Reply All is a newer podcast (about the Internet, but about so much more! I love it!) and in this episode, Phia Bennin covers the wild world of breast milk — those who need it, those who want to give it away, and all the complexities of exchanging this liquid gold. Listen while you pump!

My rating: 5 stars

Mother, Mommy, Mama, Mom (episode)

The Moth, the great storytelling radio show and podcast, is another solid favorite of mine. This one features, obviously, stories about motherhood. Including a story by everyone’s all time favorite human being, Molly Ringwald. Enjoy!

My rating: 5 stars

Sawbones: Our Birth Story (episode)

Sawbones is a quirky Maximum Fun podcast that covers weird medical history stuff. I avoided it forever because I’m pretty squeamish, but it’s fairly entertaining overall and I like the dynamic between Dr. Sydnee McEvoy and her husband Justin, who has obviously embraced the role of ignorant buffoon. Sometimes they go a little too far with that schtick, and like all the greatest couples are probably having more fun with each other than everyone else around them, but that’s part of what I like about it. They recently had a baby girl, and their birth story is a good one. Not good as in, “exactly how we expected it to be,” but as in, “We hit some speedbumps along the way but came out on the other side with a healthy baby.” It’s interesting to hear a family medicine doctor talk about her role as a patient. I know most pregnant women see the prospect of an unplanned C-section as something to fear and dread; this will put you in the frame of mind to be more okay with it if it happens.

My rating: 4 stars

Don’t bother

Do what you want. You’ve been warned.

Preggie Pals (series)

UGHHHHHH………… From the shrill children that the hosts undoubtedly think sound adorable as they read the podcast’s disclaimers to the stilted and unnatural “conversations” in each episode… as much as I wanted to hear about the topics covered in Preggie Pals, I more wanted to drive to their studio and burn it to the ground to protect the rest of the world from ever having to listen to them again. I’m sure there’s an audience out there for them (there’s a whole library of podcasts produced through New Mommy Media, somehow), but that audience is NOT. ME.

My rating: Zero stars. Zero.

The Cathedral (episode)

Want to hear a devastating story about a child’s terminal illness and how his parents cope with that terminal illness in a beautiful and just as devastating way? Didn’t think so. I love, love, love Reply All. I really regretted hearing this story.

My rating: 1 star, if you’re brave

Bad Baby (episode)

This is an episode of This American Life that you’ll want to pass over for now if you’re approaching first-time parenthood. Two words: “Demon child.” I’ll leave it at that.

My rating: 4.5 stars for interesting, minus 3 stars for trauma: .5 stars

 Okay, mamas – what am I missing? I could always use another podcast to listen to!

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Podcasts for moms and moms-to-be

Parenting with your best friend

Happy Cuatro de Mayo, everyone!

What, you don’t celebrate Cuatro de Mayo?

Of course you don’t. Because it’s my holiday. Mine and The Husband’s.

It’s the anniversary of our first date in 2007, and we’ve been celebrating it instead of Valentine’s Day ever since. (I highly recommend this if you’re sick of Valentine’s Day. Replace it with a significant date of your own and celebrate that instead.)

tbt-the early days
Here’s a picture from about a month into dating. We were so young!

We met at Ohio University my freshman year, but it wasn’t until late in my junior year that the stars aligned and we started dating. Our first “date” was, as most things are at OU, a happy hour followed by a long night of shuffling up and down Court Street with friends. But we found ourselves holding hands the third or fourth bar in, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Nine years covers a lot of ground. We’ve certainly had the opportunity to play out much of our wedding vows — better and worse, in sickness and in health… We probably won’t ever be rich, and we were never really poor, but we lived through the Great Recession together on rice and beans, and we just made a few bucks on a house, allowing me to stay at home with The Baby for a little while, so I’m  not complaining.

Parenting, of course, is an entirely new frontier in this relationship, and that uncharted territory was something that really scared us away from having kids any sooner than we did. All the horror stories of fighting and affairs and messy divorces after having children made us wonder how becoming parents would change us — not just individually, but Us, us. We wondered if the glue was strong enough.

Four months in, here’s how parenting has changed us: We spend more time apart.

This has been difficult, because we really like each other.

From grocery shopping to visiting each other’s families to just hanging out when we have free time, we’ve always been (probably obnoxiously) attached to each other. Now that we have a baby, this isn’t so easy. We no longer go to bed at the same time. It’s usually The Baby and me doing the week’s grocery shopping. And if we’re visiting friends or family, one of us (often me, since The Baby is still breastfeeding and I’m lazy about pumping) has to get the baby to nap. So even though there are more of us in the family now, I am finding that solitude is a part of new motherhood that takes some adjusting to, and I’m sure The Dad feels the same way on his new, longer commutes or as he does chores alone as I put the baby to bed.

And yet, when we do have time together, with or without the baby, it’s still time with my best friend.

I was reminded of this yesterday when the three of us were lying on the nursery floor, The Husband and I playing a new game we made up called Mad Lib Story Time: One of us narrates the story but leaves blank spaces for the other to fill in with utter nonsense.

[I’m sure this won’t be funny in writing, but to give you a sense of how to play…

Me, holding lion rattle: This is a lion. His name is…

TH: Andy

Me: He works at a…

TH: Dairy store.

Me. Dairy store? Like a store that just sells dairy? Is it retail?

TH: It is a fill-your-own dairy store.

Me: All day long at the Dairy Store, Andy…

TH: Makes sure the bottles are filled to the very top.

Me: Andy’s favorite kind of milk is…

TH: Five percent.

You get the idea. Go be ridiculous with your baby.]

The Husband had me laughing so hard I had tears streaming down my face.

Minus the baby, this is just about exactly how our friendship started so many years ago – uncontrollable laughter and an indescribable connection.

I know it’s still really early days in our lives of parenthood, but I’m no longer worried that the glue of our relationship will be weakened by it. Because for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, covered in spit up and drowning in laughter, we’ve got a good thing going.

 

Parenting with your best friend