Please go to sleep

I’ve only been a mom for four months, but I can already speak to how exhausting nighttime is as a parent.  Just when you think you have a routine down and a great sleeper on your hands…BOOM!  The night awakenings sneak back in and you tumble back into a string of sleepless nights.  Sure there are exceptions.  Jealousy rears its ugly head when I hear new parents say things like, “my baby starting sleeping through the night at 2 weeks old!”  Those lucky few are catching plenty of Z’s while the rest of us are testing every sleep solution strategy, swaddle blanket, lullaby, and bedtime story on the market.

I know my little guy isn’t the worst sleeper out there.  Since he was about 2 ½ months old my husband and I have enjoyed at least 4 hours straight of sleep during the night.  Often times it’s up to 5 hours.  We wouldn’t trade our new life with our precious baby boy for anything, but we do find ourselves reminiscing about those Saturday morning sleep fests we used to have!

Have you read the not-for-children children’s book, Go The F*** To Sleep?  Perhaps even more hilarious is the audio version read by Samuel L. Jackson.  Yes, it’s vulgar and a little uncomfortable to read, so if you get offended easily you might want to just skip it and stick with Goodnight Moon.  I even admit to feeling tinges of guilt the first time I read it, but then all I could do was laugh at this silly gag book.  It says in an exaggerated way what a lot of sleep deprived parents are thinking during bedtime routines.  For your reading and viewing pleasure, here is a link to the PDF version of Go The F*** To Sleep, and the audio version with Samuel L. Jackson narrating is below .  If you have any thoughts on this book (good and bad), I’d love to hear them!  And remember this is just a gag, and I would never condone saying anything like this to any child!! Enjoy the evening, and have a good night’s sleep for me 🙂

Learning my ABC’s as a new mom

Being a new mom changes everything.  Every ounce of your energy is focused on taking care of your new little bundle of joy.  Amongst all the happiness there are so many questions that arise.  Babies can’t tell you what they are feeling or what they need.  They can’t tap you on the shoulder and say, “Excuse me Mom, but when you have a moment I’ll need a new diaper as I’m feeling rather wet and irritated down there.”  The only way a baby knows to communicate that they need something is by crying.  There were many times in those first few weeks that I would cry right along with my little one because I was so sad that I couldn’t figure out what he needed to prevent him from getting so upset!  But then I learned my ABC’s…All Babies Cry.

I learned the ABC’s in a new moms group I joined at Isis Parenting called Great Beginnings.  It was the best thing I did for my baby and myself.  Great Beginnings is a 6 week class for moms with babies 2 – 6 weeks old.  It got me out of the house with my baby, which is a scary thing as a new mom!  Getting Cole in the car seat and taking him for a ride scared the – you know what – out of me for weeks.  We learned songs that I still sing to Cole.  Greg even started singing the songs to him too!  I made friends with the other moms and we still have play-dates even after the class is over.  Not only did we learn a lot from the class instructor, but we also learned a lot from each other.   We shared our individual experiences as our babies grew along side one another week after week.  Talking to the other moms made me feel normal, which is a self-description I would rarely use during those first few weeks.  I could feel my confidence start to grow as a mom every week.  Here is a picture of the “students” in my Isis class as the instructor read them a story.  Cole is the one ready to roll over on the right hand side 🙂

Little did I know that soon after I learned about the ABC’s I would start being able to distinguish between Cole’s cries.  He still can’t tell me whether he is hungry or tired, but I can usually tell the difference based on his cry.  I learn something new as a mom every day, but the ABC’s were definitely one of the biggies.  It helped me relax…just a little bit.

Newborn photo session with Zemler Wu

A month before Cole was born I won a free newborn photo session with a local photographer, Marie Zemler Wu.  A week after Cole was born, Marie arrived at our condo and set the stage for the photo shoot.  She had blankets, accessories, and even a portable heater to ensure my baby was nice and cozy!   Every detail was meticulously planned and under control…everything except for Cole.  He was having some really bad gas that day, which made it difficult to soothe him into a sleepy state for pictures.  Marie was so patient stayed with us from about 9am – 1pm to make sure she got every possible photograph.  She even encouraged us by saying that a gassy baby can result in some cute smirks to capture on camera!

A week later on our way to Marie’s for the viewing, Greg and I had our doubts about how many photographs we would want to purchase.  After all, the newborn stage is such a short moment in time and he will look different every day!  However, as soon as the slide show began I fell in love with every single picture of my little miracle boy.  I realized I needed to have these photographs that so beautifully captured this short moment in time when my baby was so fresh and new to the world.  He was about to become a sponge, discovering all the functions of his body and the excitement of the world around him.  The newborn photographs represent my baby in his most pure, innocent, vulnerable state.

We purchased a beautiful album, a framed wall piece that holds three photographs, and several additional photographs for ourselves and family members.  All the pictures are beautiful to look at, and a warmth fills me up when I look at them (The framed piece is the centerpiece of our living room!).  I love them even more now, several months later, because I see how quickly he is growing and changing!

I would recommend Zemler Wu Photography to anyone!  And for all you new moms out there, a newborn photo shoot is sooooo worth it 🙂

Bringing baby home

Greg and I went to visit our little boy in the special care unit as soon as we woke up the following morning.  Even though he was a full term baby, Cole was born in the first percentile for size, which resulted in some complications.  We weren’t exactly sure what to expect, but we were brimming over with excitement to see our new son!  They explained to us that Cole had low blood sugar, which is common in small babies.  The nurses assured us that Cole would be okay, which put us at ease and helped us see past the IV and the little bandages on his feet from where they had to prick his heals to draw blood for testing.  A lot of the time that we spent in the hospital is blurry since both Greg and I were exhausted with worry and anticipation.  Every day we would pray that the doctor would give us good news, and let us bring our little boy home.

Cole also got jaundice while he was in the hospital, and the treatment for it meant that he had to stay in this special bed with blue lights all the time except for 30 minute feeding times.

Greg and I did not miss one feeding.  And when we were not with Cole, Rocco the Raccoon kept him company.  Finally, we received the green light that we could leave the hospital.  Cole graduated from special care and it was time to bring our baby home!

Greg drove below the speed limit all the way home.  One positive that we took away from being at the hospital a few extra days is that the nurses taught us a lot!  We figured we were pros from all the knowledge we attained in special care.  But as we walked through the door to our condo we found ourselves wondering, “What do we do now?”

Our bedroom became the “safe place” for our new little family.  We borrowed a bassinet from friends for Cole to sleep in, and had all the supplies we needed were within reach.  As bedtime approached the first night home with our baby, Greg volunteered to change Cole’s diaper.  The careful changing took place at the edge of our bed as I started to doze off.  Suddenly I was awoken by an explosive sound coming from my little Cole and saw poop soaring in the air and hitting our closet doors 3 feet away from the bed.  Greg and I cracked up laughing  as we started to clean up.  Our belly laughs cleanse us of all the stress that weighed us down during our stay at the hospital.  Cole’s explosive poop made us feel like a normal new mom and dad.  We learned two things that first night with our newborn.  Changing tables exist for a reason, and we really had no idea what we were doing.

But our hearts swelled with love for each other and our little boy.  And that’s all that really mattered.

Cole’s Birth Story

To all my devoted readers: I’m sorry for the temporary delay in posting!  Having a new baby has been an amazing adventure so far, but has left me with little time to write.  However, I do want to continue sharing my stories of motherhood and my little adventures with baby Cole.  At long last, here is his birth story.  A lot of details are missing, which I’m sure for those of you who have given birth can understand. The whole experience is truly indescribable and a lot of it is blurry already.  Enjoy and more to come!

On week 38 of my pregnancy our doctor strongly recommended an induction.  Ultra sounds showed that Cole was estimating to be in the first percentile in size for his gestational age.  They explained the risks in not having an induction, and also the risks in having an induction.  Greg and I weighed our options and agreed to an induction since Cole did not seem to be thriving in my belly anymore and we feared for his safety.  It was time for him to enter the world!

The induction was scheduled for the following morning, but in the meantime I didn’t think it would hurt to try and push things along a bit.  Greg and I dined at PF Chang’s and ordered some spicy foods.  I drank Raspberry Red Leaf tea.  I walked and walked and walked some more.  You name it, I probably tried it.  I had already been having contractions for several weeks, and by 3:30AM on the morning of my induction, the contractions were coming every 6 – 7 minutes.  I was confident that at least my body had started the dilation process which would improve my chances of a successful induction.  Around 4AM that morning I couldn’t sleep so I decided to make butterscotch cookies for the nurses.  At 9:30AM Greg and I received the call to head to the hospital.  It was time to have our baby!

Greg and I got settled into the labor and delivery room and I changed into my birthing skirt.  Yes, there is such a thing as a birthing skirt, and yes, I bought it.  I thought I’d be more comfortable in my own clothes than in a hospital gown.  My mantra of the day was: “I’m not sick, I’m having a baby!” We had made some playlists and brought speakers, so Greg’s first order of business was to set the mood.  I was truly nervous about having Pitocin administered to jump start my labor, so I was trying my best to control every detail I could to make the best of my birthing experience.

My team for the day (besides the hospital nurses) was Greg, my mom, and my doula, Ilanit.  All of them played special and individual roles for me and I’m so thankful for their unwavering support during this experience.  Ilanit’s calm energy helped me stay focused on remaining relaxed and reminded me of helpful techniques to cope with each contraction.  My mom was a gentle spirit in the room cheering me on as loudly or as softly as I needed her to be.  Greg was my rock.  Every time I looked in his eyes I saw the little baby that would soon be in our arms.

It was a long, intense labor, but I’ll share a few details about the experience.  Because I did not receive an epidural I was able to walk up and down and up and down (and up and down) the hall all day.  During contractions I would lean against the wall or lean against whomever was walking with me (usually Ilanit).  Thanks to the hypnobirthing class I took I was able to listen to music and relax enough to take a nap when I was around 3 centimeters dilated.  Once I was 5 centimeters dilated (truly active labor) they were able to take me off of the Pitocin.  At this point the contractions were coming very hard and very fast.  It took from 11:30AM to 9PM for me to get to 5 centimeters.  My lowest point of the day was realizing how long it took to get this far, and trying to cope with the idea that it could take just as long to dilate the next 5 centimeters!  But I brushed off the fear and kept telling myself that each contraction was “one less” and got me closer to seeing my baby.  Soon it became too difficult to walk the halls, so looked for comfortable positions in the hospital bed.  My mom performed Reiki on me by putting pressure on points on my ankle which is supposed to help labor progress.  Soon afterwards I became nauseous and vomited, which I was actually excited about because this is characteristic of the “transition phase” in labor before it’s time to push.

And then after only 1 ½ hours from the time they told me I was 5 centimeters dilated, I felt the desire to push.  I told the nurse, but she didn’t believe me (boy do I have stories about her).  So I turned to Greg and yelled, “get the doctor this baby is coming!!”  The doctor came in and gave me the green light that it was time to push.   It was a long hour of pushing, and at one point the doctor wanted to extract my baby out with a vacuum tool that they have, but I assured her I could do it on my own.  And then baby Cole was born.  They couldn’t give him to me right away because the cord was wrapped around his neck and he wasn’t breathing right away.  Greg was with him the whole time the doctors examined him, and eventually after what seemed like an hour, but was probably only a few minutes, I held my baby boy for the first time.  The first thing I said out loud (with a mouth full of saltines that my mom was feeding me) was, “He looks like me!”

I fell in love the moment I saw my little 5 pound, 5 ounce miracle.  Every step it took to get to that moment was worth it a hundred times over.  When we looked at each other for the first time it was like we already knew one another.  My baby was safe, and the fun was about to begin…after I got some sleep!