Leveling Up: My first week solo with two kids

This is going to be a barely-coherent stream of thought because for the first time in a week both my kids are asleep and I am awake! It’s my first full week as a stay-at-home mom of two (hallelujah for 3 weeks of paternity leave!) and I feel like I just leveled up at a video game I had only begun to master.

The difficulty has increased, I’m constantly juggling, and I can feel the background music speeding up to match the frenetic pace of this new arrangement. (The background music is Laurie Berkner’s “We Are the Dinosaurs,” FYI.) To make sense of my days, I have found myself mapping out on a post-it note approximately how I’m going to spend each hour (mostly so I don’t surrender to my anxiety at 8 a.m. and let The Toddler watch 8 straight hours of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie).

Many of those hours are spent building “flatbed trucks” out of Mega Blocks with one hand while I nurse The Baby. Because he requires holding so much, I actually am finding myself more attentive to The Toddler during these times because it’s not like I can do the dishes or fold laundry while I nurse. I can build a carwash and collaborate on an elaborate plot involving two flatbed trucks driving through over and over again, though.

This assuages my guilt very slightly when I’ve spent 20 minutes trying to get The Baby to nap in his bassinet in my bedroom only to notice it’s very quiet, and when I go out to the kitchen find The Toddler buckled into his chair at the kitchen table in front of a mountain of raisins, which he has managed to procure from the pantry and serve himself like a two-year-old Kevin McAllister who is just trying to make the best of his abandonment. (<—longest run-on-sentence in the history of the world, but there’s no turning back! There’s just no time for editing!!!)

I’ve been really lucky this past couple of weeks to have the support of my local MOMS club–these women have taken turns bringing hot meals every other day for the past week and a half! Many of these meals contain desserts! And they’ve been my sole source of vegetables!

I’m blown away by their generosity and consideration, especially because they all have their own wild broods to deal with. I can’t wait to pay it forward, because it’s been so very helpful (and because I am so very uncomfortable asking for or accepting help, and I’ll feel less like a freeloader if I can feed some future new moms.)

Let’s see… what else can I say about this first week and change? I can’t tell if this baby is more laid back than his older brother was, or if I’m just less prone to anxiety and more accustomed to what I can expect from a baby this time around, but this time definitely feels easier. It’s way harder to handle a two-year-old than a newborn, in my experience so far.

I can’t think of anything else to say by way of updates (other than The Baby is four weeks old today and holy shit that went fast.) Instead, here’s a list of the “birth affirmations” I made up for The Husband to repeat back to me that really helped me get through the hard parts. I knew I wasn’t going to have the time or inclination to decorate my labor space or keep my eyes open to read any pretty decorated signs, so instead I wrote them out on index cards and had him yell them to me over my loud moaning. (I even put helpful tips for what situations/stages of labor they’d work best for on the back.)

Pinterest and the Internet at large are rife with birth affirmations (and I think Hynpobirthing is a big source of these?) But for my particular makeup, some of these were eye-roll inducingly hokey, or put thoughts in my head I didn’t really want to invite.

(You know that thing where if you say, “Don’t think about a polar bear,” all you can imagine is a polar bear? I submit that if you repeat back to yourself, “I am not afraid,” or “My baby will fit,” you might just trigger thoughts like, “Yes I fucking am afraid,” or “Holy shit maybe my baby won’t fit?”)

Anyway, here’s a list of birth affirmations designed for your birth partner/doula/etc. to read back to you. Some are taken straight from Pinterest, some are helpful reminders from books I read, and a couple, honestly, are cheesy mantras from high school cross country. (See if you can guess). My labor was so fast he didn’t get through the whole pile, but I starred the ones I did hear that I found particularly comforting/motivating.

Maybe in 25 years when I have time to myself again I’ll make them into lovely printables free for download.

relax your jaw

  • Each surge brings the baby closer.
  • You are a badass.
  • Surrender.
  • This is a wave. You can ride it out.
  • The pride lasts longer than the pain.
  • You’ve got this.
  • You are prepared. You are strong. You are capable.
  • Women all over the world are birthing with you right now.
  • *You have done this before. You can do this again. I believe in you.
  • Your body knows what it’s doing.
  • Why don’t we wait through this contraction and see how you feel? (Repeat as necessary – in case I start talking epidural).
  • *Melt around the pain.
  • Our baby is doing this work with you. Work together.
  • I’m here. You’re not alone.
  • *Relax your jaw. (This should just be my general life mantra. I may get this tattooed on my wrist.)
  • When you feel like you can’t do it, it means you’re close. You can do it.
  • Don’t rush pushing. Let your body stretch.
  • *You’re not hitting the wall. You’re crashing through it, and our baby is on the other side.
  • Don’t forget: There’s a baby at the end of all this.
  • *Your contractions are strong because you are strong.
  • *Stay low. (If I’m screaming/starting to lose control – remind me to put that energy into laboring and stick to deep/low noises if I need to make noise.)
  • Your contractions can’t be stronger than you because they are you.
  • Don’t fight against this. Let your body open.
  • Breathe in for strength. Breathe out and let go.
  • You can do anything for a minute.

All right, I’m going to take the remaining moments I have of this rare double-naptime (which, might I add, I got only because I took the boys on a meandering hourlong drive that coincidentally took us past our nearest prison) and maybe go brush my teeth for the first time today.

Leveling Up: My first week solo with two kids

And Baby Makes Four: A Birth Story

No more whining about about still being pregnant, Internet–Baby 2 has arrived!

I’m going to dive right into the birth story. Here goes:

We spent Tuesday trying to keep busy (and warm), knowing The Husband would have to return to work the next day if baby still hadn’t come.

The Toddler had been understandably descending into cabin fever (it’s been sooooo cold here in Northeast Ohio), so we decided to take him to a nearby indoor playground to burn off some energy. The Husband and I took turns crawling through tubes and chasing behind him as he did his best to outrun us among the approximately 3,000 other manic children whose parents sought refuge with us. (Yes, I hoped that my bumbling around on playground equipment might help move things along.) I also scheduled a last-minute haircut during The Toddler’s nap.

The Husband handled bedtime, and since he had been so diligently handling the care and feeding of our goats and chickens every morning and night through the past several increasingly frigid weeks, I decided to suit up and do the night chores. I hauled warm water out to the barn, refilled the hay feeder, gave each goat a good back scratch and locked up for the night. Then took out our kitchen trash and dragged the cans out to the street for garbage day.

The full moon shone across our snowy yard during all of this, and reminded me that Baby 1 had been born during a full moon.

We went to bed a little after 9:00. I was just drifting off to the sound of The Husband’s light snores a half hour later when I felt a gush of fluid.

No way, I thought to myself as I rushed to the bathroom. My water hadn’t broken until just before I pushed with Baby 1, and I hadn’t felt so much as a tickle of a contraction tonight. But the clear puddle collecting on the bathroom floor confirmed it: It was go time.

The first thing I did as I waited for contractions to begin was rush to the basement and move a load of wet clothes to the dryer so they wouldn’t stew while we were in the hospital. About 15 minutes later, after maybe one light contraction, I stirred The Husband from sleep and let him know I was calling the midwife, but to try to go back to sleep until I was further along.

As I expected, she told me to call back when my contractions were five minutes apart, or in 12 hours, whichever came first.

I called my mom to give her a heads-up that she should be ready to come over the next time I called, then hopped in the shower. By the time I was dressed again (and again… I soaked through a pair of Depends and my sweatpants), contractions were three minutes apart and picking up in intensity. So I roused The Husband and told him to get ready, called my mom back and got back on the phone with the midwife to tell her we were on our way.

We roused The Toddler for one last potty break and gave him a hug in his sleep, and then we were off. It was 11:10 p.m., 0 degrees outside, and I was sitting on an old towel as The Husband drove us to the hospital.

We checked in at the ER and stood waiting in the lobby (with a towel wadded between my legs) for a nurse to retrieve us. I had a few contractions on the walk to the maternity ward, and the nurse said she’d skip over triage and take us right to the Holistic Birthing Center. (Incidentally, we lucked out getting there when we did, as three other laboring moms arrived right around the same time.) Before I was allowed in the labor tub, I had to be monitored on the bed for 20 minutes. Which was rough.

As soon as I was allowed, I stripped down to a nursing bra and hopped in the labor tub, which was about two feet deep and big enough to stretch my legs out. It was just as nice as I’d hoped. Contractions were still painful, but the water made me buoyant and made shifting positions far easier. I ended up mostly kneeling with my head resting on my arms on the side of the tub while The Husband leaned in and talked me through some of the affirmations I printed out for him.

Things picked up really quickly from there. I got in the tub probably around 12:25 and was told I should take breaks every hour so I didn’t get overheated.

Because there were so many women simultaneously giving birth, the nurse and midwife weren’t around much during this time. The nurse came in periodically to monitor the baby’s heartbeat on the doppler, but aside from that, The Husband and I were alone.

I got out after about 40 minutes to pee, then got back in, but felt like I had to go again soon after and was having a hard time catching enough of a break to maneuver out of the tub and get to the bathroom before another contraction hit. There were two spans of contractions after my first bathroom break that peaked four times each without a break. I was well into primal mode, moaning loud and low through each contraction. When I finally managed to get back out of the tub to pee again, I knew I wasn’t getting back in (the birthing center doesn’t allow pushing/delivery in the tub.)

The Husband paged the nurse and let her know he thought I was getting close to pushing (based on what he remembered from the first time around.) I tried to get in the shower for a minute, but knew I needed to hunker down in a stable position and felt panicky and out of control standing up any longer. I hung my arms around The Husband’s neck and endured a few upright contractions before hustling over to the bed.

I kneeled on the bed with my head and arms draped over the raised top. Looking back, this was definitely transition. I had been doing a pretty good job of relaxing all my muscles through each contraction up until this point, but no amount of moaning or “melting around the pain” was doing it for me anymore. All my concentration was going into not panicking.

This was also the point The Husband endured a little abuse from me. He kept repeating, “stay low” (one of my mantras to help me remember to not scream). I first mumbled “Don’t tell me what to do” into his shoulder. When he repeated it again, I said, “Shut up shut up shut up!!!”

The midwife came in to check me. She first thought I was at a 9 with a lip and offered to stretch it out over the baby’s head. I flatly refused this and told her I’d wait. Things were happening quick enough and I didn’t see a need to speed it up. She checked a second time, but then on further review decided I was actually closer to a 7 and rushed back out to deliver another baby. The nurse stayed with me and hooked me back up to the fetal monitor. They were a little concerned about the baby’s heart rate (it was pushing into the 170s, apparently a bit high.)

Very soon after, I started to feel an involuntary urge to push. I grunted, “Pushing!” into the husband’s shoulder and the nurse paged the midwife back. I was still on all fours on the bed. I could feel my uterus involuntarily convulsing. I don’t remember this feeling from the first time around, but it was just as I’ve heard other people describe, like “throwing up, but down.” The midwife asked me if I could move to my side for pushing and I whimpered, “I can’t, I can’t move.” She told me the baby’s head was going to tear me if I didn’t shift. With great difficulty, I leaned over to kneel on my right side. I clamped onto The Husband’s shoulders and the nurse held my left leg. I remember seeing my belly writhing and contorting into the strangest shapes as the baby made its way out.

I pushed through maybe four contractions – about 10 minutes. The baby was out quick, and screaming on the first breath. The midwife told us to look down and see for ourselves what we had. I was too contorted to sneak a peek, but The Husband announced it was another boy. As quickly as I could, I maneuvered to my back and pulled him up onto my chest.

20180106_085111

Because he’d had such a quick passage through the birth canal, Baby 2 had a lot of mucus stuck in his lungs and was working to cry it out. The pediatric nurse ended up having to take him to the warming table to suction him out. I felt one last urge to push and the placenta came out. The midwife showed it to me (I hadn’t gotten to see it last time and was curious.) I started to shiver involuntarily. The Husband helped me out of my wet nursing bra and into a dry hospital gown while the nurse cleaned me up.

Finally, after some suctioning, Baby 2 calmed down enough to nurse. We spent about an hour at that before he fell asleep. We wrapped him up and put him in the bassinet, and not long after, The Husband and I fell asleep, too.

So that’s the quick and barely edited version of my birth story. Baby 2 was born after five hours of intense labor at 40 weeks, 3 days. He was 8 lbs, 3 oz and 20 inches long. As expected, he had a full head of hair. Right now he’s snoozing next to me while The Toddler continues to descend into Winter Madness. We’re all exhausted, and we’re all happy.

And Baby Makes Four: A Birth Story

Pregnancy Week 39: The Longest Nights

For some reason inexplicable beyond the need for self-preservation, I believed with my whole heart that Baby 2 would be born at exactly the same gestation as Baby 1: 39 weeks, one day. As in, yesterday.

Well, two days ago, I guess, because it’s 1 a.m. and I have late pregnancy rage insomnia and am typing this over a steaming cup of tea while I myself fume.

Pregnancy Week 39

I know, I know. The healthiest babies are born after 39 weeks. It’s good the baby is still baking. Not only is it better for his or her health, but it also gives me more time to prepare: To spend time with The Toddler, to wrap up loose ends with my freelancing work, to mentally test the baby names we think we might have settled on, to update the birth announcement mailing list and work on my as-yet unfinished knitted baby blanket. Or if I’m being honest, more time to hide in the pantry and eat secret candy bars.

And I’m sure going into the future, my kids will appreciate not sharing a birthday (though I hoped if they at least both had Christmas birthdays, they could commiserate together.) It was, despite my disappointment over not being in labor, very nice to be able to spend Christmas Day relaxing and seeing The Toddler open his gifts.

Every night, in a hopeful fit of nesting that feels increasingly naive and futile, I thoroughly clean the kitchen and run through as much laundry as I can find, just in case tonight is The Night. I want to leave some semblance of order behind in case my parents have to swoop in and take over toddler care. And then, every night, by 8 p.m., I fall into an exhausted sleep, convincing myself I had better be as rested as possible in case things get moving.

I went to the midwife appointment this morning that I was sure I wouldn’t have made it to. I was once again so irritated by the hyper-cheerful nurse that I nearly burst into frustrated tears when she asked me how I was feeling. The midwife checked the baby’s heart rate and sent me on my way, reminding me (read: stressing me out) that my baby “might be” posterior and to try Spinning Babies just in case.

On my way out I scheduled another follow-up appointment for next Thursday, and the nurse told me, “No offense, but we hope we don’t see you next week.”

With deep earnestness, I replied, “I don’t want to see you, either!” She laughed heartily, and I left in a poorly concealed huff. That poor woman. I’m sure she’s lovely when it’s not all her fault I’m still pregnant.

The high was 13 degrees today, so during The Toddler’s nap I went to the rec center and did a quick power-walk to try to ease the baby out. I felt like a parade float caught in a wind storm, swerving around my elderly walking companions. The exercise made my lower back scream and my ankles ache. I got myself stuck on the floor later this evening trying to stretch out my “psoas” muscles as per the Spinning Babies website and had to have The Husband push my knees toward my chest so I could roll over while I grew increasingly hysterical at the the absurdity of it all.

Now that I’m well beyond the artificial sphere of control I manufactured for myself with the dead-certain belief Baby 2 would be out by now, I am feeling resigned. Maybe not quite at peace, but heading in that direction. The baby will decide when it’s time. And in the meantime, I will try to balance my late-pregnancy fury with a sincere attempt at being present in these fleeting moments (even if they don’t feel fleeting.)

Out the window now, the half moon, like a slice of blood orange tonight, has sunken below the trees. This is a desolate hour to be awake.

These long winter nights don’t need any help feeling endless, but waiting for baby certainly makes them seem eternal.

Pregnancy Week 39: The Longest Nights

Pregnancy Week 38: Maybe, Baby? (Spoiler: Nope.)

There’s nothing I like more than putting undue, arbitrary pressure on myself.

During my pregnancy with Baby #1, I set the pointless goal of having a baby before I turned 30. I was 38 1/2 weeks pregnant when my 30th birthday came and went without so much as a twinge of a contraction, and I spent the whole day sulking. Five days later, having been run through ringer of childbirth and sitting stunned and bleeding on the other side, I wondered what my rush had been.

(Yes, of course, I was over the moon to have my baby in my arms, but really, there was no hurry. I literally had/have the rest of my life to be a mother.)

This time around, especially as we serendipitously conceived on the exact same day as the last time, my goal for having the baby was no later than exactly the same as last time: Christmas Day. That means I have three more days.

What’s that, you say? Every pregnancy is different? Every baby arrives at his or her own time?

No one asked you.

Of course, my labors will be identical, down to the timing.

It’s been really difficult not to compare the two pregnancies. Even though I know dilation means zilch in the labor-prediction game, I’ve had a few checks and am, by my accounts, running behind where I was with Baby 1. Even though I feel like a fois gras goose choking down six mega-sized medjool dates every day.

Instead of acknowledging that A: I’m not overdue, B: Every pregnancy truly is different, C: I know what’s on the other side of labor, and it’s not going to be easier than pregnancy, and D: I’m mourning the one-on-one time with The Toddler even as I itch to be in labor, I am finding ways to blame myself for not having had the baby yet, as though I have any control over it whatsoever.

Even as I typed the last phrase of that endless sentence, here’s the internal monologue that piped in: “Of course you have control over it. You’re not getting nearly as much exercise as you did the first time around. Eat some [insert old wives’ tale food here–spicy food, pineapple cores, whatever…]”

I know this is irrational. I know that the timing of a birth is not even remotely a reflection on one’s personal fortitude, punctuality or virtue. I know this.

And yet. On Tuesday morning I woke up at 2 a.m. feeling crampy. I was having lots of not painful, but consistent, contractions, and for the first time decided to start timing them. An hour later, after six or so contractions, I woke up The Husband to inform him we may be heading toward baby time. Things remained steady through the morning, so we went to my scheduled midwife appointment, having to ask my mom to stay home from work to watch The Toddler. Everyone was excited in spite of themselves. I had my doubts, but was looking forward to some indication that labor might be on its way.

The midwife, whom I hadn’t met with before, was dismissive and vague. The nurse had me undress for a cervical check when I described my symptoms, and the midwife came in seemingly baffled that I’d asked to be checked (It wasn’t my idea, lady!) She didn’t even acknowledge the question of whether I was in labor, more than to tell me to come back in a week.

I’m sure it didn’t help that I was exhausted from being up all night, but she made me feel stupid (especially as a second-timer) for thinking I might be in early labor. I felt bad inconveniencing my mom and The Husband, getting everyone’s hopes up, and have been questioning my ability to tell what’s happening with my body ever since. I’ve also had stress dreams every night about the baby being “sunny side up” as the midwife suggested it may be, and if I’m not upright or leaning forward on an exercise ball, I feel like I’m sabotaging my chances of a good labor.

Sorry, this post has devolved into the paranoid ramblings of a very tired, very hormonal and very pregnant woman. I know I should be patient. I know I have no reason to be in any hurry. My toddler reminded me of this when he fell asleep in my arms for his nap today, both hot palms pressed against my cheeks as we sang, “You Are My Sunshine” to each other. It was heavenly, and I know I will be torn in two missing it while I’m holding a new baby, just as loved, whenever he or she decides to arrive.

And yet, there was still that mean thought whispering in the back of my head as I relished this fleeting time: You’re leaning back too far in the chair. The baby is going to be facing the wrong way. Get up and get on the exercise ball. Do. Not. Be. Present. In. The. Moment.

Ugh.

Pregnancy Week 38: Maybe, Baby? (Spoiler: Nope.)

Pregnancy Week 37: Would You Rather…

I’m well into my 38th week of pregnancy and losing momentum on keeping up with these weekly posts. No worries here, though. Sooner rather than later, it’ll be a wrap on this pregnancy and I’ll be a zombified shell of my already zombified self whose priorities will be miles away from blogging.

In the meantime, here’s a taste of what Week 37 was like.

I’m continuing to gain mass somehow, even though I’m full all the time. Every meal feels like the last few forced bites of Thanksgiving dinner, but I’ve found plenty of reasons to stress eat nonetheless. Stepping on the scale at my midwife appointment each week feels like kneeling at the guillotine (even though I haven’t really gotten any shit for it. It’s just baffling to see the numbers continue to climb).

My hips hurt and I can’t roll over in bed without my knees glued together unless I want to hear and feel the unsettling popping of SPD. I cling to the dreaded Snoogle every night like a life raft, drooling and snoring and waffling over whether to get up to pee again.

I’ve been having tons of Braxton Hicks still, sometimes through the night despite drinking lots of water and changing positions and all that. This remains an unsettling pattern, because I had none the last time around and the onset of labor was obvious. I’m a little worried I’m either going to not notice when labor starts because of the BH, or spend lots of time driving back and forth the 45 minutes to the hospital for false alarms.

Anyway, the big theme of Week 37, now that I’m officially safe to go into labor at any point, was playing the miserable late-pregnancy game, “Would You Rather?” As in:

  • Would you rather wrestle yourself and your two-year-old into snow gear to go outside and play, or go into labor?
  • Would you rather find something other than sweatpants to wear to the store and risk having your bare belly hang out for the world to see, or go into labor?
  • Would you rather crawl under the porch to refill the chickens’ water, or go into labor?
  • Would you rather water the Christmas tree, or go into labor?
snowangel
Nothing I did in my first pregnancy, including pushing the baby out, prepared me for wrestling my firstborn into a snowsuit while 37 weeks pregnant with my second.

You get the idea. Labor sounds better than just about anything involving me existing in this giant, cumbersome, uncomfortable body anymore. Obviously, this is nature’s way of making what is an intense and painful experience seem enticing.  Yes, I know this is a frying pan-fire situation. I’ve done this before. I know what I’m in for (for the most part). And still, I’m ready to be done.

The Husband has had to pick up a lot of my slack, including most of the goat and chicken care and all night time potty checks with The Toddler. I try to ease my guilt by reminding myself I’ll be nursing a new baby 24/7 in no time, and no matter how much we work to split the workload, I’m going to bear the unique burdens of new motherhood again very soon. It’s what we signed up for. So I’ll try to put my feet up in the meantime when he insists.

Pregnancy Week 37: Would You Rather…

Pregnancy Week 36: Easy tears (and an easy Christmas craft)

I’m officially 37 weeks now. Which means, in addition to the baby being basically fully cooked and safe to come out, I am officially eligible to labor in the tub at the birthing center, if I want. Hooray!

But let’s talk about Week 36.

The primary features of Week 36 this time around:

  • Braxton Hicks contractions
  • Lightning crotch
  • Hairtrigger crying reflex
  • Stress eating, and the subsequent return of heartburn

Pregnancy-wise, it wasn’t too rough of a week. I think I’ve finally completed the midwife circuit at the practice I go to, and I’m now on a weekly appointment schedule. At the 36 week appointment, I got the Group B strep test (presumed negative, as I didn’t get a phone call), so I won’t have to get antibiotics during labor.

Life-wise, it wasn’t an especially pleasant week. I’m still swamped with freelancing work (which is a good thing! And a fun project! But not the greatest timing on my part), had to spend two daycare mornings dealing with minor but inconvenient car issues, and The Toddler is once again going through a weird developmental phase (please, God, let this just be a phase) where he is refusing to nap and regressing with his potty-training habits. The Husband, too, was stretched thin, and worked late three nights last week, so while he did his best I felt like I was flying solo through a lot of turbulence.

The Toddler napped one. time. last week. And has had about four costume changes a day, thanks to his refusal to tell me when he needs to go. On the bright side, no naps means he is crashing for bed by 6 p.m. But then again, so am I.

All of which made that freelancing work pretty tricky to tackle, and all preparation for his family birthday party on Saturday had to wait until Saturday morning, which meant by 2:30 on Saturday afternoon I was just frantically running around the house, tears streaming down my face, as I tried to put everything together at the  last minute. I’ve got to stop being enormously pregnant during the holidays.

Fortunately, The Toddler’s grandparents and aunts and uncles were (at least outwardly) unbothered by our mediocre food offerings and only wanted to shower the Toddler in gifts and affection. He had a blast, and is enjoying the infusion of new toys. (And my mom gets to live to see another Christmas, despite her gift of a thousand-decibel tractor toy with no off switch, because she watched him Saturday morning so we could pull everything together.)

I don’t have any additional pregnancy wisdom or whining to throw your way this week, so here are a few shots of the quick-and-dirty advent calendar I put together for The Toddler. Obviously, it’s way too late for this to be useful for this year, but maybe it will come in handy next year if you feel obligated to make something homemade but want to keep it super simple (like, say, if you’re enormously pregnant.)

 

Super-simple Toddler Advent Calendar

Materials

  • 1/2 yard green felt
  • A way to affix the felt to your wall (maybe Command strips/velcro? I’m lucky to have a brick hearth that holds the felt all on its own)
  • Several yards of cotton string (I used craft baker’s twine)
  • 25 buttons
  • Yarn or ticker cotton string the length of your mantle
  • Multicolored cardstock
  • Hole punch
  • 2″-ish circle template (I traced the inside of a roll of masking tape)
  • 25 clothespins
  • Metallic Sharpie
  • 25 stickers (optional)

Directions

  1. Cut out a triangle shape from the felt. (Mine is about 30″-36″ tall and 18″ wide at the base).
  2. Sew 25 buttons onto the felt to give your toddler a way to hang up the ornaments.
  3. Hang the felt tree on the wall with Command velcro strips/brick.
  4. Cut out 25 circles from the cardstock. Number them 1-25.
  5. Punch holes in the circles and tie a loop of string to each.
  6. String up the yarn/string on your mantle and evenly space the 25 clothespins out.
  7. Pin each ornament up on the mantle, clipping a sticker behind each. (For older kids, you could also write something on the back of each ornament — an activity they get to do that day, a special memory you have with them, a riddle, whatever.)
  8. You’re done! Just help your little one take down an ornament each day and hang it on a button on the tree. I like to use the empty clothespins to hold Christmas cards as they come in.
Pregnancy Week 36: Easy tears (and an easy Christmas craft)

Pregnancy Week 33: Preparing and procrastinating for baby’s arrival

The latent sense of not feeling prepared for the baby at the end of this pregnancy is becoming more of a constant buzz in my consciousness as I find myself at the end of my 33rd week of pregnancy. Assuming I go into labor around the same time I did with my first, I have just five more weeks to get my shit together, and my to-do list looms long and neglected while life keeps getting in the way.

At 33 weeks, the baby is somewhere in the 17-19 inch range and anywhere between 4 and 6 pounds, and the estimations from here on out look to be pretty sketchy at best, as babies start to really diverge as they approach their final birth weight/length. Judging by the movements I’ve been feeling lately, the baby is mostly feet. One weird progression I read in my weekly updates is that, while awake, baby is keeping his or her eyes open in utero. I wonder what it looks like in there.

As for me, well…

I think this about sums it up.

I’m humongous. I can’t stop eating, but also, heartburn. I can’t breathe. It takes me 30 seconds to roll over in bed and a full minute to get up off the floor. My back hurts if I’m on my feet too long (oh, and also if I’m sitting too long). I’ve been super emotional–crying over very silly things, or for no reason at all. My abdominal muscles hurt from being stretched. I’ve had a few dizzy spells. I’m getting to the stage where only really long maternity shirts cover my huge, huge belly. My huge, huge belly that my toddler thinks is a trampoline.

And while I’m starting to look forward to not being pregnant anymore, this past week with The Toddler has also reminded me that I’ll be trading in immobility and indigestion for mind-numbing sleep deprivation.

While I’ve been using it as a blanket excuse for every behavioral hiccup for the past five months or so, The Toddler is finally, truly sprouting two-year molars, and that has manifested in really rotten sleep. He’s pretty miserable, and his parents are pooped. I think it’s affecting his dad more than me, because in the middle of the night, I am the last person The Toddler wants to see. So I get to go back to bed while The Dad tries to soothe him. It’s a good thing we put a twin bed in his room.

Though the teething hasn’t been particularly fun this week, we have pressed on in one important way toward preparing our household for the baby: The Toddler has started going to daycare (though we’re calling it “school”) a few mornings a week. I’ve been both meaning to do this forever and putting it off, first because my freelance work has been so feast-or-famine, and then because I wanted to feel he was fully through potty training before I threw off his routine.

So when my freelance work picked up this week, it ended up being the perfect catalyst for getting him out of the house a few mornings a week. (And, conveniently, the perfect excuse for further baby-prep procrastination.)

The Toddler has been struggling with drop-offs a little, but otherwise has a great time. And so has his mom! I’ve gotten a bunch of work done–mostly the paid version, but this morning I spent most of daycare time blowing leaves that have piled up on our front sidewalk and then did some shopping.

I picked up some stuff for my hospital bag (future post to come–after my next midwife appointment this week I plan to finalize my checklist to share with you) and for those special breastfeeding-time play kits to keep The Toddler occupied. That, too, will be a future post.

In the meantime, here’s hoping those teeth pop so The Husband and I can catch up on some sleep and tackle more of our to-do list.

Pregnancy Week 33: Preparing and procrastinating for baby’s arrival