Category Archives: Baby

Bracing.

Whew. I am beat from almost full timing it this week with work. It’s my last week before officially going on maternity leave, which, for a freelancer, basically means being unemployed for 1-2 months. No FMLA for this one-woman operation, unfortch. If only the government knew just how important catching those comma splices is.

Between that and finishing the nursery and making a 63 item honey-do list for Clayton, there hasn’t been much time to just sit and process how my life is about to be upended. In a fabulous way, of course, but upended nonetheless.

I like babies. I tend to get along with them just fine. When my best friend had her little nugget six months ago, I completely fell in love and taking care of him felt strangely natural. That was incredibly reassuring.

What has been weighing on my mind lately is what happens when I don’t have a baby anymore. Not like, surrogate-style giving up my kid, but when that little bundle of unintelligible coos and wiggles becomes a child solely dependent on her parents for her wellbeing. I am pretty certain there is no more important or more overwhelming prospect I will face in this life.

I am a mother.

I’m not sure I even know how to define that for myself, much less jump into embodying that role for an actual human being any second. And the icing? It’s a girl. I have so many doubts and fears about my ability to relate to and raise a fully contributing female member of society.

What if she wants to be called a princess for 3 years straight and wear nothing but tiaras and tutus?

What if she has absolutely no interest in athletics?

What if reading bores her?

What if I can’t even bribe her into a healthy interest in dinosaurs?

What if being outside is icky?

What if our personalities are utterly incompatible throughout her formative years?

The craziest part is that worrying about such struggles with my baby girl is tragically sad to me because

I already love her so much.

Beyond ensuring her health and safety, I am desperate to simply know her. To understand her. To create a world in which she can be exactly who she is, tiaras and all. To facilitate a relationship with each other that we both cling to in every season of life. 

And maybe that is enough. Maybe that is all this little girl needs from me, her Mama, to become the absolute best version of herself.

Actually, that sounds like a pretty perfect definition of a mother to me.

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Gratuitous pictures of my abdomen

It’s hard to walk a baby outta your uterus with tropical storms rolling through every day at 3 p.m.

In the meantime, here are a few of my favorite shots from that one time I conned my bff to take pictures of me. For free. For like three hours. While our husbands watched golf and took care of a 5 month old.

These make it look like sitting Indian-style on an unsteady ottoman was an easy feat. I assure you, at 37 weeks, it was not. I have several pulled muscles in areas that I am too embarrassed to mention to my doctor. Perhaps that is why the pros recommend taking maternity pictures at seven months. Not nine months and counting. Woopsies. They really should cover rules like that on my leading resource for trusted medical information, “16 and pregnant.”

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The bump in all its glory. And chubby sausage fingers at no extra cost.

This week will be spent forgetting that the doctor said I was not dilated at all and remembering her recommendation to walk. Without a transcript to check, you’ll just have to take my word for it that she said to walk and not stop until I look down and see a baby. It’s my one shot to get this show going, and I intend to follow directions.

Any day now, folks. But first, someone with a Ph. D. and Nobel Prize come install our car seat.

I’ve dropped my baby.

It looks like we are seriously, 100%, actually going to have a baby ‘round here. You may have realized that back when I announced I was pregnant or when I whined about the first trimester, but I don’t think it sunk into Mama’s brain until yesterday. We had our 36 week appointment. After our first appointment around 9 weeks, the exams were simple: walk in, lie back, listen for heartbeat over stomach, see you in four weeks. But yesterday, the gown and stirrups reappeared for a more thorough check-up of the peanut.

I’m so glad I can look back at my pregnancy and fondly recount to Addison that one time the doctor was checking on her and all of a sudden said, “Oops. Gross!” Mama has never felt more confident or attractive. The doctor dropped one of her “tools” straight out of my hooha and into her lap. I’m so sorry that my pregnant anatomy disgusts you, Dr. Dropsies. I’m not a huge fan of your scaly man hands, but you don’t see me throwing out tactless epithets in the exam room, do you?  

When the nurse tried to prep for a re-do, they were out of whatever sharp, pointy torture device they needed. So she opened the door and went to retrieve another one. With my knees still pointed up to the ceiling and my dress pulled up over my chin. I understand that the medical team may adopt the “you’ve seen one woman’s ladybits, you’ve seen them all” mentality, but I’d really prefer that my ladybits not be that one. And I don’t believe patients innocently walking through the hallway necessarily want to stumble onto that makeshift Cinemax set.

When things got back to normal—as normal as metal objects and latex gloves poking around your uterus can be—the doctor checked on the position of the baby. “Her head has dropped a little,” she noted. At the time, her comment breezed right past me and I got down to business asking the 14 questions saved on my phone about labor and delivery and breaking water and all that otherworldly mess.

About four minutes into the drive home, it hit me. There is a head. That the doctor just felt. That is most likely attached to an entire little baby. In my body. THERE IS A BABY IN MY BODY.

I explained this to Clayton when he called about dinner plans, but he seemed to have known that these past nine months have confirmed the whole “baby in body” thing already. At least for him. He was more worried about the grocery list. Men.

So there you have it. There really is a little baby on the way, and she is getting herself locked, loaded and into position for her debut. I don’t think this means anything concrete about how soon (or not soon) we may get to meet her, but it’s stop-you-in-your-tracks thrilling to realize that we definitely ARE going to meet her one of these days.

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Showered Up

Yesterday was my baby shower. It doesn’t even feel real enough to say that, but here it is, 6 weeks before the bambino is scheduled to arrive and the practical thing to do is let everyone I know and love buy me stuff. And so I did. Because I’m selfless like that.

These events are almost overwhelming, especially when you add in an oversized dose of hormones chugging away on three hours of sleep. The people that I care about the most in the world all made time to spend an afternoon celebrating the Noa nugget and sharing the excitement of this life-altering moment. The whole day was overflowing with love, and I could not be more comforted by the thought that Addison will come into the world wrapped in that love and support.

Not to mention we walked out of there with a truckload of awesome loot. I feel so much better about the prospect of being responsible for a tiny human now that we have something to put her in, something to transport her from one place to another, something to bathe her with, something to treat her gas and hiccups and rashes with and something that will trap her pee and poop until her father changes her. Plus lots of other stuff that will just make my life easier.

Thank you to everyone who attended the shower and to everyone who couldn’t but sent their love from far away. And a big grateful belly bump and high five to my fantastic hostesses, Leah and Dorian, who didn’t let me do a single thing to help. Seriously, Dorian wouldn’t even let me stand up to get water at the shower. It was absolutely perfect.

I guess all that’s left to do now is have a baby find a rocker, finish the nursery art, pack a hospital bag, find a pediatrician, pre-register at the hospital, wash all baby clothes and utensils, pick coming home outfits for me and the chickadee, update the registry for our couples shower, assemble the stroller and carrier, clean out the closets, organize the garage, compare insurance policies, get more intimidated by my Bradley method book, write a birth plan, finish work projects and send thank you cards.

Holy crap.

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Some whining for good measure: 31 weeks

I want a beer. And a glass of wine. Maybe half a pitcher of sangria.

And then I want to bend over and put on my shoes without gasping for air and needing a nap afterwards.

You may have guessed that pregnancy has become a tad uncomfortable. Nothing major, thankfully. I do realize how incredibly blessed I am to have had such a healthy seven months.

But still.

Sleeping is nearly impossible unless it’s the middle of the day and I’ve fallen into just the right arrangement in between the couch cushions that relieves the pressure on my back. I have a new little friend that greets me at night. We call him GERD, and he slides up and down my esophagus with an acidic ferocity, laughing and laughing at how I can’t recline beyond 90 degrees without choking on his fiery venom. We’re good buds, he and I.

Everything is completely manageable, but the thought of what could be waiting for me in the next 9 weeks is a little intimidating. I feel like I’ve been pregnant for a couple of years now, yet still have two whole months left. Poor, poor prego me.

On the happy side of the bump, we picked a name: Addison Brooke. Tell me you love it. Or don’t. We’ve gotten both reactions.

Addison is a mover and a shaker. She flips and flops throughout the day, and she seems to be getting stronger and stronger. Giving us a little glimpse into her teenage years, she doesn’t cooperate with us when I try to let Clayton or anyone else feel her kicking around in there. Stubborn little lady. (I kind of love that about her.)

All of my appointments have gone really well, indicating a totally healthy peanut. We decided not to get a 4D ultrasound just in case the pictures weren’t all that flattering. And then I’d have 12 weeks to worry about having an ugly, smushy faced baby. You know, a really legitimate cause for concern. That means we don’t have any more photo shoots scheduled, if everything continues to go well. The suspense of not having any idea what she looks like is so fun. I was hit with a rush of expectation this week, and it was the first time I felt that maternal anticipation to meet her. It was entirely overwhelming and I thought I physically would not be able to wait 9 more weeks. It was pretty awesome. 

Also, I will cut you for donuts.

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Peace through sadness

Dear Addison,

Before I even meet you out in the world, I wanted to tell you a story. It makes me sad that you’ll never get to meet the goofy guy that first taught your Dad and me what it means to be responsible for another life. His name was Bryson, and we adopted him when he was a baby, just like you. He was only about eight pounds then, but it didn’t take him very long to grow bigger. And bigger. And then a little bigger. He became a tall, lanky puppy that developed into a tall, lanky dog.

Your dad and I had so many adventures with Bryson. He was around for almost all of the important milestones throughout the beginning of our marriage, before we even thought about bringing you into our family. He moved with us about a dozen times, across town and then all the way to Virginia and back, plus lots of weekend trips in between when we’d let him sleep all by himself on the extra bed in the hotel rooms. He could really fill out a queen size bed.

Bryson was so sweet and loving most of the time. Whenever your Dad would leave for work in the morning, the door hadn’t even closed before Bryson would jump up on the bed with me and sleep until I woke up. So many times I rolled over in a panic thinking that Dad had slept in, but it was just Bryson snoring away. He loved to play fetch with his rope or tennis ball. And he didn’t really love swimming in the pool (like I hope you will), but he still managed to fall in a few times. Your Dad and I couldn’t help but laugh at him when he would do silly things like that. He loved meeting other dogs and playing for hours when he got the chance. I hope that you make friends just as easily; you’ll have to get that from your Dad.

I hate to tell you this part, but I have to. For a year or so before we found out about you, Bryson was not always nice to everyone. He didn’t like strangers. Now, I don’t really like strangers all that much, either, but it’s important that dogs are nice to strangers even if they don’t want them around. Bryson never learned how to tolerate or ignore those strangers, and he was mean to them. Sometimes he even thought our friends were strangers, and was mean to them, too. Your Dad and I didn’t like having a dog that was mean to other people. We wanted so badly for Bryson to show everyone how good he could be. We tried a bunch of things to help him understand that people, even strangers, aren’t dangerous. But none of it worked.

When we found out about you, baby girl, everything changed. Even though we loved Bryson so, so much, we loved you more. A lot more. We loved you with our whole hearts and then some. And because of that love, we wanted to protect you from anything that could hurt you or scare you. We didn’t know how Bryson would feel about you, or how he would feel about other people (a lot of strangers) coming to meet you. And of course we were going to have to show you off to everyone! So we had to make a decision about Bryson. And it was the hardest thing we’ve ever had to do.

It wasn’t hard to know that you came first, sweet Addison. That was never the question. The hard part was saying our good-byes to Bryson. We were so used to having him in our lives and our home, wherever that was, for so many years. We watched him grow and mature, find his own personality and discover the world, just like we’ll do with you.

I wanted you to know about Bryson because he taught us lots of lessons that will help us when we finally bring you home with us. He taught us that we can be stern without screaming. He taught us that pulling harder against the leash will just make some people want the squirrel even more. He taught me about 2 a.m. potty breaks, and that I can sort of function with them in my regular routine. He taught us not to be afraid of poop. He taught us that even though some things might be scary to us, sometimes we have to sit back and trust that you’ll know what to do without us.

And the most important lesson was learning how to truly be parents, about what it means to sacrifice something that you might love to pieces for the sake of the life you’ve been entrusted with. This was the very beginning of a life that wasn’t about me and your Dad anymore. We know that we did the right thing by letting Bryson go, even though it was the toughest choice we could have made. But please know–and always remember–we don’t feel guilty about doing what’s best for you. We hope to do that every single day for the rest of our lives.

From My Whole Heart,
Mama

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Craigslist: Helping New Parents Abandon Reason Since 1995

Preparing for a baby will leave you in all kinds of situations you never imagined. Take our search for a dresser/changing table, for instance. Under normal circumstances, Clayton and I might have greater self-preserving instincts. Like, when we have to lock the car doors and speed away from the gas station a block away from our destination because we are being approached by the man with a grocery cart full of aluminum cans…that would typically present a red flag for us. And maybe we would u-turn ourselves out of that neighborhood and find solace in a panhandler-less Circle K.

But not this time. This time, I’d been searching for a dresser for our well punctuated baby for weeks and finally found a good deal on Craigslist on what appeared to be the perfect fit. So we wound our way farther away from safety and into a part of town that could probably give you an addiction and/or Hepatitis from touching the sidewalk. I honestly don’t think I’m exaggerating.

We missed the street three times, and each time contemplated just scrapping the trip in favor of not getting car jacked. But then the vision of $400 price tags for wood laminate dressers flashed in our minds, and we headed back into the darkness. Except that it wasn’t dark yet or I would have ended this mission immediately. By the time we found the house, I had already committed to not stepping a foot outside of the car. Clayton had committed to carrying the cash in his jersey shorts pocket and not having his wallet anywhere on his person. And we’d both committed to silently praying to get out of there alive from the moment we saw the man with the can-cart at the gas station.

Once we parked on the side of the “road” (slightly widened sidewalk?), we were greeted by the incessant, charming barking of a Rottweiler that didn’t seem to be joking around. The chain length fence seemed awfully short at that point. Clayton took the route behind the three cars parked in the driveway, opting to not walk along the fence. I opted to continue praying. And check for the tenth time that my window was up as far as physically possible in the case of stray gunfire or Rottie teeth.

The door to the house opened, and then closed, and then opened again. Clayton went in. As soon as Clayton left my sight, I regretted this whole mess. I would have called Pottery Barn Kids that second and placed an order for any overpriced dresser they had to get him out of that house. I fought with tragic scenarios and escape routes and guilty tears (and maybe one little daydream about where the new changing table would go in the nursery) before he reappeared. Sans blood or stab wound, that I could see. And then I saw our beautiful, glistening espresso-colored dresser with changing table attachment and all was right in the world. Also, he was being assisted by an overweight middle aged woman with glasses who just didn’t fit the profile of my previous fears.

I even ventured outside of the car to offer an obligatory gesture of helping. I was outside long enough to make a few awkward jokes and offend the woman, and then I hopped back to my post in the passenger seat. We exited feeling somewhat victorious but mostly just plain lucky that our stupidity and frugality didn’t have more homicidal consequences. But that dresser sure does look pretty in its new home.

Phoebe or Phoebo?

At the beginning of my pregnancy, Clayton and I weren’t sure if we would find out the baby’s sex. When people would ask, I would flaunt our courageous decision like some kind of medal. Man, we are so brave for having a baby with complete pre-natal medical care, in a hospital surrounded by specialists and in the middle class of a first world country without knowing the gender!

But that lasted about a week. Until the appointment where the possibility of knowing was upon us, and there was no more bravery to be found. I wanted to know, and I wanted to know bad.

In an effort to maternalize myself and to compete with the growing “Throw a Party for My Baby’s Genitals” trend, I got a little ambitious. I found a recipe for cake ball-stuffed chocolate chip cookies that could have either blue or pink cake in the middle. I went for it. And by “it,” I mean to Wal-Mart for every single ingredient, including the pie pans and hand mixer, because this gal doesn’t do much baking.

Our appointment was last Friday afternoon, and I was not going to have enough time to teach myself how to bake between then and our dinner plans with my family. So I started the night before, and even though I’m still eating cake balls for breakfast, it was exhilarating to start the process without knowing what the end result would be.

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Once we knew the million dollar answer, I covered the winning cake balls in chocolate and baked them into giant cookies.

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And then it was show time. I already have to apologize to my little nugget for how it’s finally announced on the first video. Sorry, kid, your mom is sarcastic and the pre-natal vitamins don’t seem to be changing that. Also, please make sure you hear my dad’s comment.

The Big Reveal, Part 1 (YouTube link)

Clayton’s mom just happened to be passing through town and stayed with us that Saturday night, so we got to tell her in person. She was a big fan of the belly rubbing.

The Big Reveal, Part 2 (YouTube link)

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So there you have it. I’m pretty confident that our little genius will be able to give Mama spa pedicures and shampoo/cut/highlights in about two years. So much to look forward to!

Love Language: Carbs

I just love a good “you won’t believe how disgustingly sick I was” story. There was commiserating aplenty on Facebook after my last post. It makes me feel like I’m in fabulous company and less of a horrible sarcastic mother-to-be.

Since I’ve been feeling pretty good lately and we’re still shacking up with my ‘rents, we decided on a fancy night out for Valentine’s Day. I don’t think it’s a fake holiday and I am an unashamed advocate for getting gifts for any reason under the sun. So tearing through tissue paper on a random Tuesday night in the middle of a parking lot was just fine with me.

For our “no gift” Valentine’s, Clayton understood that chocolate no longer falls under the “gift” category and has instead taken up residence in the “necessity” category. Good boy. Apparently, a bickering Edward and Jacob and vampire/human honeymoon appear in the same category because I also came home with Breaking Dawn: Part 1.

I got a little crafty and stole this idea from Peanut Butter Fingers. I tailored it a bit for our pending situation and embroidered what Clayton affectionately called “a snowman baby.”

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Yes, the “I do” and “we grew” portions are basically the exact same section of the map, but I did not have this gift in mind when we planned our marriage or decided to procreate. Also, I hope you never need to buy an old school map because they do not exist anymore. I went to five different stores looking for those bad boys and wound up being ogled as I waited in line at a truck stop off the interstate a few exits past my safety zone. Lesson learned. Store bought presents from here on out.

Dinner was a-mah-zing (one of my fave Pennyisms). We ate at Bon Appétit, where we had our wedding reception almost four years ago. Clayton may or may not have said it was five years ago to get seated sooner. And what do you know? Everyone was right – they have delicious food. I wasn’t sure because my nerves were still so wacked out during my reception I couldn’t eat. Definitely did not have that problem on V Day.

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Yep, my bottom four shirt buttons are open on purpose. Ain’t no shame.

Reasons Why I May Resent My Baby, or First Trimester Blues

1. The smell of coffee makes me want to vomit.

2. I feel more guilty if I eat junk food.

3. I could not properly celebrate FSU’s lackluster victory over UF. With beer or cartwheels.

4. All I have the energy to do is sleep.

5. My clothes are tighter five weeks before “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” says they should be.

6. The smell of…everything makes me want to vomit.

7. I almost sobbed halfway through checking out at the grocery store when I realized I was in the express lane and had a full cart. I seriously had to blink back the tears.

8. My husband makes fun of my burping.

9. I am on the verge of paying an assistant an exorbitant salary to remove any trace of chicken, cooked or uncooked, from my sight, smell and general vicinity.

10. No more running. Which translates to no more runner’s high.Which translates to endless grumpy pants.

11. I can’t brush my teeth without dry heaving. Despite all the unsolicited advice and pregnancy recaps from friends and strangers alike, no one seems to be able to relate to this one.

12. Clayton and I had to pull over on the second day of our trek to Florida because I was having a “I-am-so-tired-I-can’t-go-on-living” meltdown. A Yoohoo, bag of M & M’s and three-minute cat nap at a gas station helped dramatically. (So did swapping out “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” audio book for some seriously awful pop music.)

13. Our life savings has been transferred to Planet Smoothie in daily $4 increments.

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Thankfully, I’m well past the trying times of the first trimester and most of that list. Except the occasional teeth brushing incident (seriously, what is the deal with that?) and chicken is still blacklisted.

So far, Mama likes the second trimester burst of energy and appetite. And even though you will probably skip right on over them, much like I would if it was your bambino, here are a few snapshots of Señor/Señorita Coffee Bean. It has a distinguishable head, body, spine and limbs now, which is light years beyond what we saw at our first photo shoot. And we are kind of stoked.

Silly Baby Noa, dry heaving notwithstanding, I can’t quit you.

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