Like a mom.

Tonight is one of the first times I’ve truly felt like a mom.

It’s weird to say, because now I know, that even though in the past I doubted my maternal instinct, that it was always in there.  Very soon after Baby Liam made his debut, I felt right.  Sore and swollen, but right.

Tonight, I took a nap with Liam.  Austin was working from home in the afternoon, and went on dad duty while I snuck in a quick workout at the Y.  The run felt good, but I was a preoccupied with making sure everyone got out the door in the morning.  I ran by the grocery, and picked up some bread, some oatmeal, and some beer.  When I walked in, Liam turned his head to see me.  He was getting hungry, and he wasn’t particularly happy about it.  I dropped everything, wrestled myself out of my sports bra, and sat to nurse him while Austin reheated some dinner I’d made the night before, while simulataneous throwing more veggies on for my dinner.  I ate the veggies with one hand while I snuggled Liam in the crook of the other.  Austin started a bath while I started tummy time on my yoga mat.  Liam spit up all over the yoga mat.  Tummy time was not our favorite portion this evening.  Or really any evening for that matter.  Liam ate again, and promptly fell asleep. We ditched the idea of the evening bath, prayed for forgiveness from the water gods, and drained the now-cold water from the tub.  I fished the last few wipes from the bottom of the plastic container, and instead of a bath, it was a bird bath kind of night.  Austin cooed at Liam while we did a little baby massage, and wrangled him into a contraption that seems to have helped him sleep a little more soundly throughout the night.  He ate again (little man is growing), and fell asleep.  This time, it was actually bedtime, and the night felt like it was just beginning.  I collected diapers that were too-small to ship to a friend.  I put diapers, clean clothes, and wipes in the baby bag.  I washed bottles and parts to the pump, only to sit down a short time later and milk them up again.  I washed some clothes that had been spit-up on.  I charged my iPad, since I will camp in the pump room at work a few times tomorrow. Today was a big spit-up day.  I packed my breakfast, some higher-fiber oatmeal.  Because fiber is the jam. I balanced my lunch.  Lots of green things to a bit of pasta.  I brewed some tea while stuffing my manual pump into a ziplock with some paper towels.  And I tossed the tea back before jumping into the shower and falling into bed.

I feel like I’ve lived 89 lives.  I feel like a mom?

What I’m doing…

I’m still not in great shape after the election results.  I’ve already been struggling hard with anxiety about returning to work, with new motherhood, and on top of that, I’m not feeling particularly great about our president elect or his ability to make sound choices.

However, continuing to be a pop culture specialist (I’m not sure I’m super proud of my endless/useless knowledge of all things pop), I’ve continued to find enjoyment in many many things.  I kinda talked about some of that here, but since I’ve started to ease back into working out and listening to podcasts and watching some dvred things that have long been neglected, I’ve picked a few gems that you may find interesting.

Listen to this (music).  These girls have been having the best year ever.  The Knowles’.  Beyoncé released her visual album, Lemonade in April of 2016, just in time for her tour.  Solange released A Seat at the Table at the end of September, which was gorgeously, flawlessly, and impressively well-done.  Give these a listen.

If you’re ready for Christmas music, Pentatonix’ new Christmas album, A Pentatonix Christmas, is incredible.  The group has changed the scope of a cappella, and this album is no exception.  I’m actually really really bummed that I didn’t get the chance to see them when they were here on tour, but I was super pregnant, and I didn’t think I could stand in the pit area for the entire show like I’d done for Gavin DeGraw’s show a few month’s earlier.  You’ve probably already heard their version of Hallelujah, and Up on the Housetop is pretty dope as well.

I kind of think Pandora is pretty much over due to Spotify slaying (they’re doing podcasts now, so you don’t have to go elsewhere for anything if you don’t want to), however, Pandora pushed their Thumbprint Radio Station, a station featuring everything you’ve ever given the thumbs-up.  Pretty genius, and really fun. Hip Hop BBQ is also perfect for background while you work.

Spotify’s Daily Mix is a mix that’s made just for you according to what you’ve listened to.  I have two mixes, one that’s a lot of pop, and another that’s just Latin music.

Watch this.  Unfortunately, since Baby Liam’s been here, my days of actually getting to watch anything when it actually airs are pretty much over.  But that’s why they invented TiVo, so I’ve been able to cherrypick some of fall’s best.

Issa Rae’s Insecure on HBO is awesome.  If you followed her YouTube series,  Awkward Black Girl, you’ll love some of the references to that.  Issa is still freestyling, still awkward, still hysterical, and still struggling with all of the things that we struggle with.  Highlights include ‘Broken Pussy,’ Molly asking Jidenna to leave clothes at her place (what!?), and Issa’s gang-banging neighbor.

Sarah Jessica Parker’s Divorce on HBO is genius.  I’m a big fan of SJP anyways, but she’s done it again with Divorce.  It’s smart, it’s real, and it’s funny.  I hate that the episodes are only 3o minutes, but it coincides really well with how long it takes me to nurse the baby in the morning.

RHOA is back.  Nene is not.  But Sheree is, and so far, she has not disappointed.  Cynthia and Peter are getting a divorce (should have never gotten married), Kenya and Sheree are in a race to finish each of their respective compounds, Andy let Porsha keep a peach despite multiple physical altercations with cast members, Kenya is still insane, Phaedra is funny, and Kandi’s son is adorable.

Listen to this (podcasts).

Psychobabble Podcast with Tyler Oakley.  This weekly show is a quick one.  It usually hovers around half an hour, and is a half-hour of pop culture review.  Tyler actually promoted his book, Binge, pretty heavily through the podcasts, which I really enjoyed as well.

In the Dark.  This podcast is kind of Serial-style, and follows the investigation that took place after Jacob Wetterling’s disappearance 27 years ago.  Reporter Madeleine Baran takes you through the investigation, but is not, imho, as skilled of a storyteller is Serial’s Sarah Koenig.  But if you’re into true crime, this is for you.  One note – this podcast gets pretty graphic and times, and some of the details of the abductions and the murder really are disturbing, and not for you you listen to while your kids are around.

The Read.  This one has been a favorite of mine for a few years.  Hosts Crissles and Kid Fury take on black pop culture, black excellence, as well as serious issues facing the black community.  Kid Fury used to vlog, so it was cool to see him make this transition.  These guys are really also a lot of fun to follow and interact with on Twitter.

What are listening to/watching/reading lately?

 

WTF, and things I do to feel better.

First off, hi…hello!  I’m writing exactly the way I told you I do in my last post.  Liam is sleeping on his back the way he is supposed to, in some ridiculous-looking contraption that makes him look like the Michelin man.  It’s supposed to magically help him sleep, and since I’m trying to nudge his bedtime back from 11:30pm, to something a little earlier so I can get some things done and maybe manage a shower before one in the morning, especially once I go back to work, we’re trying it.  Which is another tormented post for another day, but let’s stick to one thing here.

An aside: to be clear, Liam sleeps really well, but like his mom and dad, he goes to bed much too late for a baby, and then I look over and it’s 1, and I’m pumping, and useless for a good bit of the day because I’m kind of tired, and I’d like to get better about that.  I should have gotten better about that before I even got pregnant.

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Ok, so…WTF.

2016 has given me the most beautiful, wonderful moment of my life, the birth of my son, and has at the same time, almost beaten the faith in humanity out of me, which all came to a head when somehow, as a country, we decided that DONALD TRUMP WOULD MAKE A GOOD PRESIDENT OF OUR UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.  Let me be absolutely clear, when I say that I believe in my heart of hearts that the States, though not free of issue, is one of the greatest nations in the world, and I believe in us.  I so do.  No matter where we go, where we end up in the world, I believe that there is good in this country, and there is a reason we’re here.  But I’m a black woman, born to immigrant parents.  I married a white man.  I live in the south.  I studied social work, and work for a non-profit, which has afforded me the opportunity to work with the public exclusively for the last three years.  And from my perspective, the approximate 50% of us who voted in this election (seriously?!) got it wrong.  We got it wrong.  We got it wrong.  And I so badly want for he-who-shall-not-be-named (for the moment, because I haven’t quite come to terms with this yet) to prove me wrong, I am open to be proven wrong, I don’t want anything but the best for my gay friends, my poor friends, my Muslim friends, my Mexican friends, my women friends, my overweight friends, my immigrant friends, and my black friends, but simply going off of some of the the things I studied during this particularly-vicious election, I’m not sure that I will be.  And I’m afraid, I’m petrified of what the Trump effect means for all of the aforementioned groups, as well as my interracial family.  Forget about me.  But I want my son to always be safe.  I want him to be okay always.

Honestly, I woke up in despair after a night of fitful sleep on Tuesday.  I went to bed around one in the morning, when things weren’t looking good, and woke up to the news that Donald Trump had won the election.  I felt gutted.  Here are a few things I did to make me feel a tad better.  I hope maybe one of these may help if you’re similarly feeling like the world has ended.

  1. I listened to good/live music.  Thankfully, I was raised in a household where I got exposure to some of the best artists in the world.  I also have a palate for incredibly bubbly pop music.  That combo is amazing when you’re feeling awful.  So in addition to listening to Stevie Wonder’s live album from 1970, I listened to ‘Love Yourself’.
  2. I’ve always been really really imaginative, so I thought about my future.  Not the one where the United States looks like Pride Rock did after Scar took things over, but the one where I write for a living maybe.  The one where I have like a million kids.  The one where my student loans are paid off (very very soon).  The one where I get to correspond about pop culture all the time.  The one where I get to do some public speaking about health and wellness.  That made me feel better.
  3. I researched jogging strollers.  Doesn’t have to be strollers.  Just whatever you’re into.  Poke around the internet about that.
  4. I read some stuff that really smart, good people wrote.  On both sides.  Rational people.  I read some of that, and remembered that a good majority of people are rational, and can think things through, step by step.  So I did some reading.
  5. I paid some bills.  I hate to see that money go, but damn, it feels good to be up-to-date on stuff.
  6. I talked to my sister and one of my best friends of the phone.  It’s harder for me to sit on the phone for any length of time these days, but it feels nice to chat and make plans with my homegirls, biological or not.
  7. I started making some plans for midterms.  

No more moping.  No more tears.

What did you do the morning after election night? (Even if it was as boring as sucking down a coffee, I’d love to hear🙂 )

 

My first postpartum run.

You know how I write now?  I hunch over in my bed, Liam in plain view in his pack-n-play, usually after I get him to bed for the last time, close to midnight.  I like it.  I wonder what writing and being creative might look like once we sort of get on a better schedule.  But since he was born, this seems to be the time that I can get anything done for me that I’d like to get done.  Which honestly usually means texting my friends, having a glass of wine followed by a crap-ton of water, trying to shower, and doing nothing else that I’ve meant to do all day.  Oops.  I’ll figure it out one of these days, right?

So I’ve been running for a few years now, and though I’m like super duper passionate about being active in general, running is something, that though I don’t do it fast or particularly well, seems like a natural state of being for me.  So it kind of broke my heart into a million pieces when, in the middle of my pregnancy, I developed some major pubic bone pain (I affectionately referred to it as vagina bone pain), which rendered me pretty unable to run.  I was in the pool, I lifted weights, and I did everything else to get my heart rate up to bring my baby boy into the world in the best way I could, but running was really painful.  So I looked forward to getting back into it at some point after I had Liam.

I was (am) under no false assumptions, and I was (am) not willing to hurt myself for the sake of saying that I ran three days after I gave birth.  Plus there was no way physically that I could have done that because I was in a haze of nausea, sweat, exhaustion, and nursing my swollen bits back to health.  PLUS I WAS TENDING TO MY CHILD. Which, let me tell ya, changing diapers and nursing, especially in the beginning, is this neverending pattern, and you look up, and the day is over again for weeks.  So I walked, slowly at first, and then a little faster.  And then, one day last week, the baby happened to be asleep around the time when Austin came home from work, and I just felt like I might be okay to try running again.  My boobs were empty enough, so I strapped one a good bra, put a supportive tank over it, and left Austin with Liam for a few minutes.  And duh, I was already wearing my uniform, a pair of Lululemon tights I alternate throughout most of my pregnancy, a nursing tank, and a pair of Brooks from their heritage collection so cute, that people think I actually may have some semblance of style.  Which…I’m trying, ok?

Okay, so anyways, I felt like I wanted to try, and that I could try, so I went out.  It was slow, and I felt sort of bouncy, but it didn’t hurt, and it came back to me just like (ugh cliché time) riding a bike, or typing a password into your gmail, or getting into your house when you’ve been drinking a ton and you shouldn’t remember how to get in, or what your alarm passcode is, but you manage, and even plug your phone in before you go to bed.  I did a little over a mile, and I sweated probably about as much as I did the day I had Liam, but I did it!

When I was done, I literally felt on top of the world.  I really questioned at some points whether I’d ever run again, just based on the amount of pain I was having, and I think the answer is going to be absolutely yes, if I’m smart about it.  Obviously, I’m not running a marathon next week, or even next month.  But I’m getting to run for fitness again, and will run a trail again, and build up to where I’m able to bust out miles and miles for funsies with friends.  And that’s a really really exciting feeling.  I don’t have running FOMO anymore!

That said, God willing, I’m going to try another short slow one this weekend if I can get Liam Neeson to hang out with dad for a few minutes.

What are you up to this weekend?

 

Cleared!

So, yesterday, I had my 6-week postpartum appointment.

First off, whoa, that means that Liam was born six weeks ago, which I really can’t imagine, and that means that I have six weeks to get my shit together (mostly emotionally) before I go back to work.

About a week-and-a-half to two weeks after I gave birth to baby Liam, the practice I delivered with called me to check in, and to schedule my six-week appointment.

So when you go for your six-week appointment, that means a few things.  For one, the receptionists and nurses really really hope that you brought your baby so they can see him and say hello.  Which I did.  And only seems fair because they are the kindest people, check you in for the better part of 8ish months, and when I was in labor and they saw me hunched over in the parking lot breathing heavily just over a month ago, the really nice women who always sits on the right pulled my chart and had them rush me back so I wouldn’t have to wait.  For two, they bring you in to sort of gauge where you are mentally, which I think is a newer thing since my mom said her and all her friends sort of just suffered with the blues with no one to check in on them.  And for three (for third?), they bring you in to physically look at your stuff, assess where you are as far as healing (for me, I had stitches), and with postpartum bleeding, and at that point, they can tell you if you’re good to go as far as sex and exercise, or whether you need medication, further evaluation, or if you need a little longer to heal.

Because this was an appointment for me and not for they baby, like pretty much all of my other appointments have been, I decided that I wasn’t sure if I could handle the appointment on my own.  Since there was a distinct possibility that I’d be laying on a table in the stirrups, I figured that unless Liam was fully cooperative (and newborns aren’t always, folks), that it could be a little hard to wrangle him without being really distracting to the doctor and that nurses, so Austin scooted over to the doctor’s office and fed him some expressed gold while they worked me up.  I was able to see a few of the nurses, Heather and Ashley especially, who hooked me up to the “seismograph” the day before and the day of my delivery, and they were really sweet, and really excited to see me.  After I was worked up, Dr. K, of my delivery-room fame came into check me out, and it was so cool to see her.  Last time I saw her was, to the day, the day she calmly delivered Liam, and then sort of disappeared until the next morning, when she was about to be off for the day.

So, Dr. K checked me out, asked questions, talked about family planning for our future (definitely more babies, but not anytime soon), and cleared me to work out and resume all activities!  Up to this point, I’ve been walking, doing yoga, and ran my first postpartum mile  once, but had not yet been to any classes, or done anything that would be considered “high-impact”.

What all that means for me personally, is that I’m kinda back in the game, but not trying to hurt myself.  I’m going to work a day at Fleet Feet, and see how I do without him, and make sure he’s okay without me.  I’m going to do some higher-impact workouts, but adjust as necessary, and really focus on core and glute strength, since I truly feel like for me to run any sort of distance uninjured, that these two things are the key.  And I’m going to ease into writing more, cleaning a little more around the house, and getting things ready for the holidays and for me to return to work at the beginning of December.

Okay, so now that I’ve blahed, what are you up to on this fallish Saturday? 

 

Matthew

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At the beginning of the last update, I urged you all to keep Haiti, and all of the folks in the path of hurricane Matthew in your thoughts and prayers.  Unfortunately, Haiti was hit pretty hard, and I feel kind of at a loss with what to do to help from here, especially since many organizations have done a good bit of fundraising,  but it seems that Haiti continues to flounder.  I have worked with one organization in particular, Mercy Corps, and I’m planning on making a call to them tomorrow to find out what is being done on the ground to help the Haitian people.  I will keep you guys posted.

*******

Last Saturday, we woke up in Raleigh to a nasty gray sky.  We’d been keeping an eye on Matthew reports, and I’d texted family in Florida about the storm (all good), and we were planning on some rain.  I got a text from a friend – she wanted to come over to visit and for drinks, and I started getting Liam ready for a visitor.  I fed him, pumped a little bit for his night time feedings, and starting checking outside.  It was raining like crazy, but we sort of expected that. But as the rain started coming down harder and harder, my friend texted and said she’d tried to go out to do an errand, and that it was raining too hard, and that she’d had to turn back.  Not good.

We got another text – one of the main roads through the area where we live had been flooded down the middle, and was closed off.  At this point, we still weren’t super alarmed.  I finished pumping, and put a ton of milk in the freezer, and Austin was piddling around the house, straightening up, and just doing some of our normal Saturday stuff.

Around 1:30 or 2pm, we lost power after a few flickers, and the last time, it didn’t come back.  I nursed Liam, we napped, and did some staring out the window at the pines being battered by the wind, and still, it never came back.  We started losing daylight, and the rain started quieting.  By this time, it’d gotten colder, and Austin snuck in a shower with the hot water we had left, and we made plans to go to dinner.  We didn’t really anticipate the power being out for the rest of the night, but thankfully, Austin prepares for anything, and we had light, and water, and nonperishables to snack on before and after we braved the streets to find a place with power and food.  By this time, the rain had stopped falling, and we could navigate around some of the flooded streets to find food, and we crossed our fingers that lights would be back by the time we got home.  They weren’t.

At this point, I started to get a little worried.  Remember, I’d pumped a good amount around lunch, before the lights went out, and stuck it in the freezer.  We hand’t opened the freezer, but I also had his nighttime bottle in the fridge, which Austin usually gave him, and without electricity, I had no way to really shower (the hot water we had was all that was left in the tank) and no way to heat Liam’s bottle.  So I nursed him Saturday night, and we decided that we wouldn’t open the fridge or freezer except to shove some ice we’d found at a gas station in there to keep things cold.

When I woke up on Sunday, the air in the house was really still, and it was a little chilly.  I realized the power had not come back, and texted my mom that if she was okay with it, I wanted to come down with the baby.  She had not seen him in about two weeks, and we needed electricity and hot water. I planned to only stay a day, so we decided to leave Austin at home so he could prepare for work on Monday morning, and I kind of figured I would be back on Monday evening sometime.  Austin snapped a pic of us just before we left…

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…and we grabbed coffee at the McDonald’s (remember, we had no electricity) before I headed down 40 to my parents’. Full disclosure, I felt awful leaving Austin behind, especially to clean up the mess the wind had made in the yard, but I was a little excited at the thought of showering in my mom’s shower with all the hot water. I mean, I was absolutely gross, and I know my mom really wanted to see Liam.

So we arrived Sunday afternoon, and it was so nice because my parents got a chance to hang out with Liam, then my sister showed up, and then another sister showed up with her husband to hang out with us.  Austin called that evening and told me power still hadn’t come back, and the estimates from the power company were looking a little bleak.  My mother seemed overjoyed, but I really hadn’t packed enough for us, and I started making a mental list of things I would need to get together if we needed to stick around for a few days.

Liam slept in the Rock ‘n’ Play (thank you Graco, for this amazing invention), and we got an amazing night of sleep, with climate control, and a working coffee machine in the house. Still, Monday morning the power at home was out, and I made plans to take Liam to see a school mom who lives in Matthews, to go to Target to pick up a few essentials, and to shower in my mom’s fancy shower that I’d been dreaming of since I got there.

Monday night, no power, and Tuesday, no power.  Austin was getting sad not seeing Liam, but my parents were having a blast. On Tuesday morning, I woke up and Liam was not in the swing right by the couch where I was napping, and when I went to find him, my mom had him, rocking and singing songs by the white noise machine.

When all was said and done, we didn’t get power back until some time on Tuesday afternoon, and because I didn’t care to drive by myself with the baby in the dark, we waited until Wednesday to head in.

I was ready to see Austin when I got back, but I was sad to leave my parents. My dad was so cute with Liam, and my mom, with four kids, was a whiz at singing the songs and walking, and helping me bathe him to get him right to sleep. We finally made it back to Raleigh in time for some lunch with a friend, and we stuck around this time with all of our new crap in tow that we managed to collect while at home.

That was our first big adventure away from home, and the baby did awesome.  I think I did okay too.

I hope you all fared okay throughout the hurricane, and for those of you still dealing with flooding and damage, we are thinking of you, and working hard on our end to get you the resources you need!

Field trips and something random.

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Hey hey hey!

So before anything else, if you’re reading from anywhere in the southeast, or from my island of Haiti (fun fact: I am a delightful mix, 50/50 of Haitian and Trinidadian), I hope you’ve managed to stay safe.  Please keep Haiti in your thoughts.  Haiti doesn’t need this in the least, but the storm has managed to cause some major fatalities and wipe out crops according to major news sources.  Please check on any relatives you may have on the island.  Social media is an excellent tool at times like this!

*******

I promised a little something at least once a week while I’m still recovering.  I’m officially four weeks out from when Liam was born, and by the time you read this, he will be one month old.  One month since I met the little guy.  It’s really hard to believe, and since we’ve come home, I can’t say we’ve fallen into very much of a schedule, except that he likes to go to bed by 1 am, and he’s been that way pretty much since he was born.

Before I went out on maternity leave (I’m taking a full 12 weeks, not sure if I’ve mentioned that, but I’ve gotten that question a fair bit), I wondered what I might do all day.  I didn’t think maternity leave would be a vacation, but I wondered if I might have some free time to write letters to grandparents, catch up on emails, in addition to getting to know baby Liam and things, but my time has been allocated a little differently than I thought.

What we do during our day.  

Keep in mind, we are still figuring one another out.  This will change I’m sure.  IMG_0096.JPGSo we start our day around 5:45-6:00am.  That’s kind of when he does his first big day nursing session, and when the first light hits.  Usually while I nurse him, I’ll watch some Hulu, eat a quick protein bar, try and drink some water because I’m usually thirsty asf, and depending on how he’s feeling, we’ll either go back to sleep for a second, OR he may want some snuggles until he eats again around 8:30 or 8:45.  He’s been doing this thing lately where he kind of wants to hang out with me, see dad off to work, and poop a few times.  (I’m being so serious, I’ve never met a human being who can poop more.  Apparently breast milk goes through the little ones quickly, so that’s why they’re ready to eat an hour and a half to two hours after they’ve started to eat the last time.)  So after this, usually I can get him to sleep, and I can sleep again for just a pinch.  He may fuss, and again, a few diapers usually are in there.  I’ll try to get in the shower and put on some fresh clothes, because it makes me feel somewhat attractive to wash ick off of me.  I’ve managed to shave a few times (big deal at this time!), and by the time I get some fresh clothes on, it’s usually time to nurse again.  I’m usually starving at this point, but every other day or so, I plan a field trip for me and the babe, whether it’s something we need to research or pick up, and I try to tack a quick lunch somewhere onto that so that we can get out and see some grownups.  The favorite the past few times has been Whole Foods, but we managed to squeeze in BOGO sushi with a friend yesterday which was a big deal.  By the time we get home from our field trip – say we went to the paper store for a wedding present, then to the baby store for some nipple cream, then to Whole Foods, it’s usually almost dinner time, and usually baby Liam likes to fuss for a little while before he starts to get sleepy, and snoozes until pops gets home from the gym.  Nurse somewhere in there.  Usually, we throw something quick together for dinner (which has been made infinitely easier by the kindness of family, friends, and Y folks who’ve dropped off salads and casseroles), and we head out for a walk around the neighborhood so I can get some steps, and Austin can get a little cardio in, especially on a day where he’s skipped it at the gym.  I’ll nurse him one more time, and usually this is the last time for the evening, around 10:30pm.  I pump after this feeding to store just a teeny bit of milk for the following night, and we make up a bottle for Austin to do the final feeding around 12 or 12:30am.  Sometimes, while Austin’s doing that, I’ll do some yoga down on the ground right next to the bed, and focus on some really, really, gentle stuff, and I always finish up with some pelvic floor work.

It’s crazy.  I just wrote this massive paragraph detailing what we do.  We do so much, and yet, sometimes at the end of the day it feels like we’ve done so little.  You’d think I would actually get something done, but most days, I feel like I barely have time to brush my teeth!  The field trips are good because it give me a reason to put a clean shirt on and pull my hair back into an acceptable top knot, but it’s so weird to not put on a dress and go to a meeting.  Right now, this is our normal, and it’s so interesting how hard and how natural it’s seemed at the same time.

Okay, now that I’ve rambled on and on and on…

Tell me something random! 

-I found a 48-oz bottle of kombucha for consumption on our field trip yesterday.  I may save the bottle for if I ever get around to making my own home brew.  It seems kind of tricky, but another instructor at the Y does it, and I’m thinking about asking her to see her lab.  Maybe I’ll make that one of my next field trips?

-I finished Breaking Bad again.  I maintain that it is one of the very best shows I have ever seen in my  life.  Todd is the most bizarre character I think a writer has ever created.  I may write a post just to discuss BB here in a few weeks.

-I am always, always hungry, which is apparently a thing when you breastfeed.  I am desperately shoving anything in my mouth that’s high in fat and protein, and guzzling liquids.  But it’s CONSTANT!

The First Three Weeks

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Hello!

If you follow me on social media, you may be sick by now of the pics of my adorable child.  I’m here to tell you that I feel that I’ve exercised a really fantastic amount of restraint as far as posting pictures of Liam.  If you feel that I haven’t posted quite enough, you’re in luck. Here’s a photo of me and my son – I’ve actually not really made an appearance in my own social media for some time.  Not really on purpose, but quite honestly, I haven’t been looking my best.  I literally have not worn a stitch of makeup probably since the day before he was born.  Not because I’m doing an Alicia Keys thing, but really because I have had enough time to shower, and that’s really been it – I haven’t had time for a ton else other than making sure that I do what I can to keep baby Liam clothed and fed.

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I’m wearing my mom uniform, which is that pair of Lululemon tights that Austin bought me like 6 months into the pregnancy because I begged, and an Athleta shirt, loose enough for me to yank up while I’m nursing him. Key.

I’m easing back into blogging more regularly – I love to write and get a chance to exercise my creative side, and now I’m updating at least once a week, and we’ll get back to three, and then maybe four or so by the time I have the time and I’m feeling comfortable to do that.

The First Three Weeks

I think a lot of people are curious about what happens when a new child comes into the home, and we aren’t really super open about it.  We get home from wherever we delivered, and sort of shut ourselves in, only to emerge a few months later, and the time in between is a big mystery.  I actually am going to reference Kourtney Kardashian again (if you’ll remember, I referenced her as that first stage of labor), in that I remember her literally, after the birth of her second child in a season of ‘Miami’, shutting herself in her hotel room whilst wearing these kaftan things, not really wearing deodorant, and her sister making fun of her for being smelly.  There’s a lot of accuracy in that.

Physical

Physically, I feel good now at three weeks postpartum.  The first week, the first few days, extending out to week two, are physically really difficult.  I gave birth vaginally and tore, so that means stitches, a lot of blood loss (totally normal), and for me, a general feeling of being really physically weak.  For the first two days or so, I had a lot of trouble getting up and down to go to the bathroom, and Austin had to help me shower by day two because I felt so gross, but the  nurses didn’t want me to fall out in the shower.  That feeling slowly improved.  As far as exercise, I haven’t had my six-week appointment where I’ll (hopefully) be cleared, so exercise is limited to walking, and I did some gentle yoga last night.  I’m not someone who could bust out like 6 miles two weeks pp, and I’m fine with that.

As far as breastfeeding, I think it’s going pretty well, and when I have questions, I am able to ask friends kind of what’s up, and I have a breastfeeding support group I am planning to attend at WakeMed, just to see what’s up, and who I can lean on for a little bit of additional support.

Mental

I think this is one of the hardest parts of bringing baby home.  I was super antsy toward the end of our time at the hospital (which was absolutely lovely) and ready to go home, but nothing really prepares you for coming home with a new little person.  I can’t tell you that I really remember what that first afternoon was like at all, and really what we did, or when we went to bed because I must have been really really tired.  I think he woke up a few times to nurse, maybe around 3 in the morning, and again around 6:30, and so on, until my sister came to relieve me that next day.  You’re tired.  I was so tired.  I’m still so tired.  But I don’t think anything quite beats the tired and shock of that first day or two home.  We’ve had a few nights where Liam wants to fuss and fuss for two hours between like 10pm and 12am, but he usually calms before 1, and I’m able to get a few hours of sleep before he nurses again in time for me to lay down quickly before daylight.

What’s really hard mentally, is the tears the first few days, and not baby tears.  For me, and for some women I’ve heard, it’s totally normal that due to a combination of hormones, exhaustion, and some of the baby blues, that you cry on and off, for sometimes no reason at all.  I cried when he cried sometimes.  I cried when my husband went back to work a few days later.  I cried when my sister left the second weekend he was here because I didn’t want her to go (she was a really big help).  And I cried that day after she left for a long time in the afternoon.  I’m not sure really why.  And I felt insane.

Three weeks out, I’m feeling better, and more balanced.  Someone told me that 12 days pp is kind of when the tears, the exhaustion, and the frustration come to a head (and that there will be more days like the one where I’m crying because I don’t get my sister’s company anymore), but that I may be past the first breakdown (of quite a few) of parenthood that I’ve gotten through.

Overall

So overall, I’m feeling much better.  My memories of his birth are really hazy, and every time my mom reminds me of something or shows me a video, I’m surprised because I have no recollection of things.  I miss my time with Liam and Austin in the hospital because that first night was so special, and showed me what kind of man my husband is.  I mean, I knew he was something really special from one of the first times I spent time with him, but he’s blown me away.  Fussytime gets hard because babies don’t talk, and sometimes you’re playing the “what do you need” game.  I’m still figuring Liam out, and he seems to be studying me with his beautiful dark eyes and his furrowed brow.  We went out downtown to pick up lunch together, and he just studied my face for a while and seemed really irritated that he was being awakened for something as trivial as lunch for me.  Now that I’m more mobile, I’m interested to see how I feel, if and when I physically start to feel stronger, and when I’ll feel like my life doesn’t revolve around the 40 minutes I get alone to shower and straighten up after he goes to sleep early in the morning.

Now that I’ve rambled on and on and on about what I’ve been up to these past few weeks…what are you up to?

Liam Carter

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I have to write this down, if for nothing else, I’m really starting to forget some of the details of Wednesday, September 7th.  These things get a little long, so feel free to close this out and come back later – I can split the story of my son’s entrance into the world into parts, because the day is kind of split into parts anyways.

So spoiler alert:  at 40 weeks and 4ish days, I delivered our son.  As you could probably guess from the tone of my Labor Day post, I was over being pregnant.  I was uncomfortable, and until the very end, I was going to the bathroom at least once an hour.  Plus, I was running out of patience for the questions and the fat comments I was getting from men.  Thanks a lot guys.

The Day Before

So, the Tuesday before I went in and was not feeling great.  I had my doctor’s appointment at 8:15am, and since I hadn’t really progressed, the doctor said that we really needed to schedule an induction for the following week, after I’d hit 41 weeks.  The doctor was cool, and allowed me to pepper her with some questions about why that would be necessary, and she asked that we put something on the calendar.  She probably could tell that putting an induction on the calendar was making me panic, and she assured me that a lot of moms wouldn’t have to even go that far.  I left that day kind of disappointed, and texted some friends, who were really awesome and just sort of held my hand while I did the anxiety spin.  I worked for about half the day from home, texted my boss that I wasn’t feeling so hot to check in, and then went to the mall to do a mani/pedi, and walk to the bookstore.

Wednesday

So, I was sleeping pretty normally for where I was in the pregnancy.  I was up and down to go to the bathroom all night.  Around 3:45am though, I kind of realized I was having a contraction – sort of this deep grip around my middle that would ease up.  Austin wasn’t sleeping super well so I nudged him.

C: Babe.

A: Huh?

C: Contractionnes.

A: Really?

I told him to chill, go back to sleep because I may need him later, and I laid in bed until about 5, timing them (they were kind of sporadic, but coming 10 and 12 minutes apart, and then one would come randomly 5 minutes in), until I got sick of being up and scrolling through Facebook, and I went out to the living room.  I sent a few emails for work, watched some music videos, texted my brother about whether we thought that French Montana was all there (we vote no), watched Beyonce’s VMA performance (fantastic once again), and sort of contemplated going into work that morning because I’m not sure I entirely was getting what was happening.  Austin was up and getting ready for work, and prevented me from getting in the shower and told me I wasn’t going to work, and that he could drop anything off at the office if I needed it.  We decided that he wasn’t going to work, but that he would go to his staff meeting via videochat.

Can I tell you something about this stage of labor?  It’s what I’d like to call the Kourtney Kardashian phase.  You’re calm.  You’re getting stuff done.  I showered.  I shaved my legs.  I put on a maxi dress.  I cleaned the bedroom (something that dear Austin had been begging me to do for a long time).  I did loads and loads of laundry.  I ate some egg and avocado toast, remembering that I needed to eat.  I sent Austin out to get me a huge smoothie for lunch.  I honestly thought that if this was labor, that I could definitely do this, and I could consider doing it a multitude of of times.

Phase Two

Stuff really started getting nasty at this point.  The contractions started to come a bit faster, and there were barbs on the end of them.  I started to have to pause my work when they hit, and at that point, I called the doctor’s office.

Note here: there is one nurse at the practice where I am who is SO nasty.  I’m not sure she realizes how she comes off, but I interacted with her just once before.  So when I called the office and they transferred me over, first no  one picked up, which fine, there are other people in this world besides me, but I did roll my eyes at that.  And when I called back, I got this nurse who just was not pleasant.  When I described to her that I was moving into a not-fun phase of labor, she sort of suggested that I hadn’t had enough water, and that my uterus may have just been irritable.  I felt like I almost had to convince her I was genuinely having a baby at some point in the near future.  And I get it.  She has probably dealt with a million panicking moms, but I do not like the suggestion that I’m just some crazy, histrionic woman too dumb to recognize that she’s in labor.

So, we went into the office for a labor check.  When we got there, I was having to pause for contractions, and I was getting really really uncomfortable.  The PA and an intern, I think, came in to check me, and I was about 2 cm dilated.  She said she could feel and see his head when she took a peek with the speculum, and she mentioned that my water was bulging, but not broken.  I think she really wanted to break it, and I was like no girl, and she seemed to get that telepathically, I was not feeling that at all.  They stuck me on what Austin called the “seismograph” or the thingie that measures the baby’s heartrate, his movement, and the level of contraction we were having.  The contractions were rocking and rolling at this point, which the machine was telling us.  When I got off the machine finally, the nurses advocated for me to get another check, and I was at a 3.  They sent me home, and told me to come in after dinner.  This is when stuff super super super started ramping up…

Phase Three. 

Phase three.  Otherwise known as, the phase where you’re convinced you’re going to die imminently.

So, we went back home, and my parents were there when I got there.  My mom has done this a lot.  Four times.  And I think she looked at me, and knew that I wouldn’t be at the house for long at all.  So I labored on the couch, and would roll over onto the floor on hands and knees as necessary.

I laid on the floor in the bedroom for a while, and asked my mom a few times if this seemed normal.  She reassured me that it was completely normal, and let me squeeze her hand and yell as the contractions came.  She and Austin threw a few of my last things into my bag, and Austin literally picked me up off the floor so that we could go to the hospital.  Things started getting a little hazy here, so I have to write this down so I won’t forget.

Kia Soul Labor

Austin loaded me into the car, my mom climbed into the backseat, and we started to the hospital.  Laboring in the car, as someone warned me before, is HELL.  It is the closest you will ever in your life come to hell.  I am telling you, try and make it so your ride to where you need to go, whether you’re delivering in a birth center or at the hospital, is short.  My ride was only like 15-20 minutes, and it was hell on earth.  I begged Austin to take the turns slowly, and I think I told him and my mom that I was dying a few times.  But my mom was great – telling me that this was normal, and that soon, we would meet the baby. Hell.  Hell.  Hell on earth.  Hell. Fun fact, at one point, my mom, who knew what the deal was, leaned over Austin’s shoulder and asked if we should call the ambulance.  I kind of knew that meant I might be close, but I was in so much pain, and in denial, and Austin assured her that he would get us there.

Hospital – it gets good here.  It’s 6pm at this point.  

We got up to patient registration (thank you God that I’d sent my form in so they had me in the system), and a wheelchair materialized.  We got to the desk, and through my haze, I was able to give the woman my name, my practice, and the name of the doctor on call.  They hustled me up to triage, where I met Clare, this awesome nurse who let me hold her shoulder while the contractions came.  I let her know immediately that I needed pain relief, so that she might want to call whomever she felt could help with that.  She looked a little stunned at the fact that I’d requested it so quickly, but her response was really kind, even though for the life of me, I can’t remember it.  She helped me into a hospital gown and took my shoes off, and I sort of got into the bed, which was nice for just a sec.  Dr. Kalinowski came in a second later.  At which point I apologized to her for being so sweaty.  I told her I’d showered that morning, but that labor had rendered me pretty sweaty.  I don’t know where that came from.

C: Dr. Kalinowski, I am not comfortable.

I’m sure she was like duh, you friggin idiot internally, but she was kind, and she got to checking me.

Dr. K: Cheri, you’re gonna laugh at this…

I’m thinking, “what is remotely funny right now?  If I am still 3 cm, I am going to hurt someone.”

Dr. K: You’re 9 cm.

My eyes bugged out of my head.  If you’re not familiar, 10 cm is showtime.  Somehow, between the office visit and my short trip home, I’d progressed really quickly, and at the end of our conversation, I was closer to 9.75.  And I was still in triage.

So I’m not dumb.  I knew that meant a probably absolutely no on pain meds, but I still begged Dr. K for them.  She didn’t outright call me a dumbass like she should have, but she explained that that wasn’t going to happen, very gently, and that I was probably going to want to start pushing soon.

Since I needed to get out of triage, someone swept all of my stuff up, and we were hustling down the hall to labor and delivery.  I made sure to have a contraction or two on the way, and screamed out, while the poor nurses probably were thinking that I was terrifying all of the women in earlier stages of labor who didn’t know how fun it was going to get for them.  V v fun.

The one part I thought was kind of annoying was that I had to get my big pregnant laboring self from my triage bed onto my labor bed. I wasn’t really mobile at that point.  Kourtney was gone.  Somehow I got onto that bed with some help, and I flopped down on it.  I got some monitors strapped on for the seismograph, and Dr. K materialized shortly.  I got the feeling that it was about to go down.  The contractions were coming in waves.  Literally, I could feel their buildup, and then the crash, and there was almost no rest time.  Dr. K told me to get rest between contractions, and I had a good chuckle at that.  Again, I felt like it was time to do the thing, but my water still wasn’t broken.  Before, I’d been really opposed to having anyone break my water, especially early on, because I didn’t want it broken, and for nothing to happen for 24 hours, and for me to end up on the operating table if I could avoid it.  But I was close to the end, vaguely felt like my body was pre-push, if not pushy, and my mom wouldn’t let anything happen to me that she felt was inappropriate.  Dr. K broke my water, I felt the gush, and I think everything started to go from 0-90.

It felt like time to push.

So I think I pushed a few times, and in the quick lull between contractions, when someone asked how I was I asked the following upon realizing that the clock was in plain view over the doctor’s shoulder.

“Can someone please move the friggin clock off the wall? I can’t deal with that right now.”

Austin covered it up.  It was taunting me, the same way the clock at the gym does sometimes.

So with each contraction, I would push, work with the contraction to get the baby out.  He seemed like he was sort of moving, but I think once we got close, he decided he really didn’t like being squeezed, and with each contraction and push, his heart rate started dropping.  My mom saw it on the monitors, and a second later, Dr. K let me know that we needed to really work hard on the next few pushes to get him out because at one point, the low heart rate triggered this alarm that didn’t sound alarmy, but I recognized that more people, nurses, were coming into the room.  We changed positions.  I got on hands and knees.  I got on my side.  And screamed that I was not comfortable, and that I needed to be in sit-up position to deliver him.  The team, my mom, and Austin got me back into position, and they were holding my legs.  We needed to get him out.  A few more contractions, and a little more pushing, and suddenly, the room filled with people, and these really serious lights came up.  I’m not clear, not because it wasn’t communicated to me, but because I’m really hazy at this point, on whether someone informed me that things were getting a little dangerous for the baby, but everyone was really calm, while urging that the baby had to come out within the next few pushes.  I was given an oxygen mask for little man.

So ultimately, we made the decision to allow the doctor to use the assistance of a vacuum, and I resolved mentally that the baby was coming out in the next few moments, even if it killed me.  I wanted him out safely and healthy, and nothing in the world else mattered.  My mom and Austin were being amazing and encouraging me, and in the next contraction or so, I sat up, bore down, and pushed with all my might.  My mom was screaming encouragement, Austin was screaming encouragement, the nurses were supporting the doctor, the doctor was counting, and all of a sudden, at 7:04pm, baby Liam was here, and immediately on my chest at 7lbs 7oz, 20.5 inches, on 9/7.  Lots and lots of 7s.

And that, on the day after I’d scheduled an induction, is how Liam Carter decided he was coming into the world.  liam-carter