From today! Whuff helps Nuno optimize his Settlers of Catan strategy. Sadly, even with Whuff’s expert assistance, Nuno lost anyway. To be fair, so did I. Nuno’s friend Mario beat us soundly, despite this being his first time playing. Clearly a combination of beginner’s luck and an unfair advantage of simply being way smarter than both (or all three) of us put together.
Uh, so, this photo is actually from Sunday… and there isn’t one from yesterday… or today yet. We’re so falling behind!
The reason for our failing to update is that we’re up in Vermont getting ready for the BIG WEDDING! on Saturday. Yes, Nuno and I are already legally married, but we didn’t have an actual wedding – unless you count a ten minute ceremony in a lawyer’s office above a Dunkin’ Donuts (NO LIE) for which I didn’t even get an entire afternoon, let alone an entire DAY, off of work for a “wedding” – which I don’t. We’d started planning this wedding last year before Paulo was even a Proto-Whuff and the need to get our legal ducks in a row became quite pressing when I needed to get on Nuno’s health insurance to be able to do afford such luxuries as “birth.” So. Anyway. Now we’re having the wedding. As previously planned.
This wedding is right out of a Coen Brothers’ movie, I swear to Dog. We only have 30 guests, but half of them are my parents. Ok, not quite, but I have five parents. And they’ll all be there. Yes. Five. Mom, stepdad, dad, stepmom, and former stepdad. And then Nuno’s parents as well. And y’know, twenty three other people. Many of whom are engineers. Some of whom may or may not be wearing Hawaiian shirts. The Whuff will be the only one attending in a tuxedo.
I’ll do my best to keep updating throughout the week, but the plotline may or may not allow for internet access. There are even carpet pissers, though in this case it’s three unruly Pekingese and not a guy named Woo.
There was no Whuff photo yesterday as SOMEONE was a lazy pants and didn’t take any photos during the day and then SOMEONE ELSE went to sleep at 8:30 and proceeded to SLEEP THROUGH THE NIGHT.
This will probably never, ever happen again. Ever. He’ll probably wake up three times to eat when he’s 45. At least then, he can get his *own* snacks.
This meant he was nice and well-rested for playgroup this morning where he got to wear his Comically Too Large Hat. This was the smallest, least obnoxious baby boy hat I could find in a brick-n-mortar store. I’ve been searching online for weeks to try and find a hat that is both #1) cute and #2) under $20. I don’t particularly enjoy paying more than that for any baby item since he outgrows things so fast. This week, I swear he’s suddenly outgrown EVERYTHING he owns. I’m putting away so many things for Future Second Baby and it’s very bittersweet to think of how he’s not teeny weeny anymore.
And then I remember that he’s also not inconsolably upset about life if he’s awake for longer than 20 minutes and it’s really a pretty big improvement.
Uh, anyhow, the point of my story was that I found a great hat (blue with a floral print – Whuff is comfortable enough in his masculinity to rock the florals) on Zulily for $15 including shipping and I am a happy camper. A mama friend referred me back when I was preggo and I’ve gotten a few really cute things from them for cheep. If you’re interested, you should click here so I get some referral monies with which I can buy more hats.
One of the advantages of living with an electrical engineer is that any and all electronics can be modified to suit your needs. Observe: when we brought Paulo home, it was quickly discovered that he enjoyed a gentle rocking motion. Nuno’s solution to this? Devise a sort of pulley with a motor and a piece of string to rock the car seat.
Baby’s first mod. You can see Whuff’s wee head peeking out just a bit. Yes, I let him put the baby in this contraption. No, I’m not sure why. I was more than a little sleep deprived.
This was abandoned as quickly as it was constructed (let me point out for the record: it did indeed work. It pulled the seat forward and then let it drop back) for two reasons: #1) the motion was very, VERY subtle and while it could keep The Whuff asleep, it wasn’t enough to actually put him to sleep. For that you still needed to rock the seat manually, or y’know, HOLD him. #2) It made a pretty heinous noise that didn’t really bother the baby, but certainly bothered his parents.
I pointed out that a swing would do exactly the same thing, but better. Nuno was a bit miffed that someone had already thought of this. Yes, he’s new to the world of babies and their many contrivances. So, we got the swing. The swing did indeed soothe the baby to sleep at times when mama’s arms are TIRED, YO. The only downside? It eats batteries. The batteries on that thing lasted literally a week. And let’s be clear: while we were relying on it to get him to nap now and then, he was still sleeping with me at night and was held more hours of the day than I can really count. That’s some pretty short-ass battery life right there.
So, Nuno asked me if I wanted to modify the swing to be plugged in. And I said “DEAR G-D YES.” Not only do I want to give the earth a hug and really hate throwing away batteries because they’ve got all those chemicals and make baby seals cry (don’t ask me HOW, but I’m sure baby seals are involved), but more importantly, I did not want to face that horrible moment when the batteries ran out and we didn’t have any more batteries and nothing would soothe the baby and OH THE HORROR.
The swing, modified. I did have to talk Nuno into removing that red light that you see since at night, it was WAYYYYY too bright. My temporary solution, as I’m no engineer, was to throw a blanket over it. Hey, we all troubleshoot in our own way.
I know that looks pretty ad-hoc, and indeed it is, but I care not. It WORKS. The only disadvantage is that the way it’s set up means that the swing can’t currently be moved, but whatever.
Then came the bouncy seat. I have an embarrassing number of photos of Whuff in the bouncy seat and again, I promise you he doesn’t spend ALL day in it, it’s just one of those places where he’s particularly adorable and also doing a modicum of HOLDING STILL. When he’s more free range, this kid is dancing up a storm and all my photos come out blurry because he’s PAULO FLATLEY, LORD OF THE DANCE. Anyhow. Parental guilt for seeming like one of those parents whose kids are in the bouncy seat all day long and then their heads get all flat aside. The bouncy seat. Is awesome. And can be moved.
Now, our apartment is tiny so this just means being moved from the table to Nuno’s desk to – ok, while I’m admitting embarrassing parenting methods – the kitchen counter. The base is small and plenty sturdy, so it’s perfectly safe to have him on top of a table and he really prefers this to being on the floor as he likes being at eye-level with us to chit chat. And “bouncy” is really a misnomer for the seat. It doesn’t move, it just vibrates. I kinda wish I had one for me.
The bouncy seat’s modification to plug-in power is in process as its portability has proved invaluable and so this time, things have to be done a little more carefully to have a plug that can be moved around. However, that’s not to say that it hasn’t already been optimized. (And truly, it’s better on batteries than the swing was.) I’m not just talking about the binky-string optimization (which has since been taken down when Whuff got his arm caught [non-perilously, just enough to really make him mad] on it), but more electronic futzing.
He did indeed make sure the cord wasn’t long enough to go near his neck, but the elbow. Oh, the elbow.
There was one flaw with the bouncy seat that needed immediate fixing. In order to conserve battery power, the seat would turn off and stop vibrating after a certain period of time. I’m not sure what the interval was, but I knew every time it turned off since someone was no longer content to sit in it – requiring me to turn it off and then back on again. Not a pain for me, except if he had been asleep and this had woken him up. So, I asked Nuno if he could fix it – and fix it he did. Obviously, we do need to rig it up to plug in now since it’s no longer conserving batteries. Nuno’s ordering the parts and after we get back from Vermont, will be optimizing it.
Ah yes, have I mentioned that we’re going to Vermont for a week to have a wedding ceremony? No? Oh, well, now I did. We’re legally married, but didn’t have an actual wedding and now we’re having one on June 4th. More about that at some other time.
This does bring us to our next optimization: my breast pump.
I don’t use it often, but I’m going to have to when I go to pick up my dad and a friend from the airport. I don’t want to bring the Whuff with me as I don’t know if there are going to be delays or whatnot. Also: three adults and a baby in a Honda Fit is a tight squeeze. So, he’ll be staying with my mama and I’ll be the airport shuttle service. Now, the airport is a little less than two hours away, meaning if all goes well this will take about five hours round trip. That’s five hours without nursing.
Today I did a “dry run” (HAAAAAAAA. Yeah, “dry” is NOT what happened.) to see if I could go five hours. I nursed Paulo at 6:30 and he fell dead asleep afterwards. After some soul-searching about waking him up, I decided against it on the grounds that he wouldn’t be hungry yet and gave him over to Nuno at 8 for my nap (I nap from 8-12 and he hangs out with dad and gets a bottle), figuring I’d get up at 12 and nurse. I woke up at 11 from the pain of my dripping boobs. Clearly, anything longer than a four hour break is going to require me pumping.
Which is where the optimization comes in. My teeny wee pump (as the times when I have to use it are few and far between) is a plug-in. I’ve looked for a battery powered pump and only found really expensive ones or manual pumps. Neither is what I want. So, I need to find a way to either plug my pump into my car or have it battery powered to be able to pump on my airport run so that my boobs don’t totally explode. Nuno is happy to oblige in his love for optimizing things, so we’re off to Radio Shack tonight to find parts.
Yes, in addition to teaching and doing his own research, Nuno can put “breast pump optimization” on his resume. I know any parent would certainly be impressed.
ED: In our trip to Radio Shack to get parts for this project, I discovered you can just buy a household item adapter pluggy thing for the car. Nuno was both thrilled with the simplicity and slightly deflated that his skillz would not be put to use this time. I guess some people manage these things *without* electrical engineers.
Living with an engineer means that sometimes, you wake up to find that your son’s binky has been optimized. I’ll admit that it’s rather cunning, but there are a few flaws… namely, that string is so enticing that The Whuff grabs it and thus pulls the bink right out of his mouth. There are a few bugs to work out.
In optimization related news, the parts came for Nuno to make the bouncy seat plug into the wall so we can rid ourselves of batteries. I must admit, thus far the seat is really great at battery conservation, but not only do we want to give the earth a hug – we also want to avoid that horrible, horrible moment when the batteries die and there aren’t any more in the house because SOMEONE (that would be me) keeps forgetting to pick up batteries. Seriously, every day this month I’ve forgotten. It’s amazing.
The Whuff is twelve weeks old now. Twelve weeks! The first twelve weeks are known by some as the “fourth trimester” and for good reason – the newborn phase is very much like having an outside fetus who doesn’t so much interact with the world as squawk at it. Fourth trimester is ending and the Whuff is such a real baby now, it’s unreal. He’s starting to reach for things on purpose rather than sort of randomly punching that giraffe in the face. He talks. Oh my, how he talks. If I look at him – or even if I don’t – while I’m holding him, he smiles and coos and babbles and yes, that was my heart that just melted and puddled all over the floor. I’ll clean it up later, I promise.
And now, twelve weeks later, I’m starting to process my birth experience. After Paulo was born, our doula told me if I wanted to get in touch with her in a few months if I needed to process, to feel free to call. I thought this was very sweet of her, but couldn’t fathom why I would need to talk months after the fact.
Now I understand. It took me twelve weeks to have enough distance from the birth to really truly come to terms with the fact that, healthy baby aside, it sucked.
I know this isn’t what I’m “supposed” to say or how I’m “supposed” to feel. The narrative of putting your birth story online is that “everything that happened was worth it!” And yes, having Paulo born healthy was the end goal and we achieved that. I even managed not to have a c-section after 47 hours of labor and 5 hours of pushing! (Seriously, if you haven’t read our birth story – linked up at the top there – it’s EPIC.) So, in that sense, it was “worth it,” absolutely.
But that truly doesn’t take away from the fact that it was awful.
Forty seven hours of contractions every three minutes. Words don’t do justice for how exhausting that was. There’s a picture of me right after he was born and I can’t even bear to look at it. I can’t confront that girl who had every last ounce of her drained. Even Paulo was exhausted – the photos of him on the warmer don’t show your pink, screaming newborn. They show this little wee baby who is pale and so wiped out he can’t even really stay awake. It was so hard for both of us, the journey of bringing him into the world.
At the same time, I have conflicting feelings about the process. I feel guilty for having the epidural, even though there was no question that I needed it and would have surely had a c-section without one. A hundred years ago, rather than a vacuum extractor, I would have ended up with one of those horrible forceps births where any amount of damage might have been inflicted upon me or the Whuff. I received excellent care in the hospital and had an amazing support system, there’s no doubt about that.
But I feel really conflicted about needing that care in the first place. No one wants to have the experience of being told that an epidural is your only option. I would have rather have had it be a choice. I’m so, so grateful that I didn’t get to a point where a c-section was my only option, but that doesn’t detract from my wishing that things had gone more smoothly.
I guess all this rambling is to say that while everything went right – I did everything I could, I received the care that I needed, and my support system was everything I could have asked for, and we ended with a vaginal birth and a healthy baby – that I wish it had gone better. I wish for both of us that we’d had an easier time of it and truly hope that the next time, I can do a few things differently. Ideally, I didn’t want an epidural as I wanted to be able to feel what I was doing when I was pushing. And truly, the pushing was the hardest part of the whole thing and while I am so grateful for the pain relief and being able to let Paulo passively descend, it would have been “easier” in a lot of ways to be able to feel things like where I was supposed to be pushing rather than figuring it out by trial and error and trying my best to replicate what I was told was “it.” (It’s really, really hard when someone tells you “THAT’S IT!” to do it again when you can’t feel what “IT” is!)
I just wanted to put this out there. I know a lot of people have read my post about our experiences breastfeeding and how they wish more women would hear the message that supplementing is ok. So, I wanted to open up the door to discussion that sometimes, you’re not ok with your birth story. And, y’know, that’s ok too.
(Total digression: I’ve always gotten a little misty at Kate Bush’s “This Woman’s Work” and I made the STUPID MISTAKE of listening to it yesterday – for the first time after having given birth. Oh. My. Gourd. Crying like a baby with a skinned knee. “I know you have a lot of strength left” is nearly verbatim what my doula was telling me at the end when I was literally crying that I couldn’t do it – and truly, I didn’t think that I could. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to hear that song again without losing it. Which is why I’m not even linking to it, because then I’d listen to it, and then the tears and… yeah, the whole downward spiral.)
He’s such a funny size. He is now officially Too Long for all of his 0-3mo. sleepers, which are 23″. He’s about 23 1/2.” However, the weight guideline is up to 12 lbs. and he’s a mere 10. So his jammies were plenty baggy, but pinching a bit in the toes. Today it got to the point where it seriously pissed him off, so they’re being sent off to his three week old Soul Brother in Kansas City. Tomorrow, it’s off to Target to buy comically large sleepers. Seriously, he’s got one that’s size 3-6mos and he’s wearing it now and it’s like a baby in a blue cotton footed flour sack.
I’m choosing to view the buying of MOAR BABBY SWAG! as the upside to this whole “growing up” thing. My Whuffle’s not a newborn anymore! He’s like this real BABY now. Wow.
Nesting is a common “symptom” of mid to late pregnancy. In order to prepare for the onslaught of ZOMG NEW HUMAN! your hormones turn up your sensitivity to mess and your desire for organization to 11. Well, not mine. Mine maybe got the nesting impulse up to a 6 – 7, tops. Oh, I prepared Whuff’s diaper bag as soon as I got it and did loads of laundry and folded onesies and put them away…
… but I never got the urge to do things like “Clean ALL THE THINGS*.” I almost wished that I had, I would have lived in a cleaner apartment.
It’s not that I’m a total slob. But I’ve never been accused of being a neat freak either. I live in the grey area where messes bug me a little, but they have to get beyond a certain threshold for me to y’know, DO something about them. That threshold, I’ve found, is lower than Nuno’s desire to bleach all surfaces and higher than that of my ex who declared that he “preferred” clutter. (Who does that? I mean, really. WHO DOES THAT?) Oh, I have piles. But they’re organized piles. Mostly. My clothes are put away… by the time it’s time to put in another load of laundry… usually. My kitchen is clean enough to eat off of, which is kind of the point of kitchens. (I’m actually far fussier about dishes than Nuno is, but that’s partly because I’ve worked in food service.) The bathroom? Gets cleaned before it starts to smell funny or become its own ecosystem.
For the first time in my life, messes are actually starting to actually bother me. As in, there are dust bunnies under one of the chairs in my living room and I’m honestly wondering if these few moments when the Whuff is sleeping wouldn’t be better spent with the Dustbuster.
Did you hear me, internet? I’m contemplating putting down the computer for a cleaning product. I don’t know who I am anymore.
I blame the hormones. Clearly, it’s not that I’m spending more time at home. It’s not possible to spend more time at home than I did the last two months of pregnancy. I had a chest cold and it was the dead of winter, I was home 28 hours a day. That’s right, I was so pregnant that my bulky belly created four extra hours in which to be home. And then stayed home in them. Pregnancy hormones weren’t enough to overcome inertia and apathy. But the post-partum nursing hormones? WATCH OUT DUSTBUNNIES, I’VE GOT YOUR NUMBER.
I’m finding that I’m much more productive in the fifteen minute bursts of time and energy that I have – perhaps because I don’t know if or when they’ll ever happen again. I tidy the living room. I clean the bathroom. I do my best to keep one step ahead of the laundry, but there is no one step ahead. There is just constant ongoing laundry. It’s not a process with a beginning and an end anymore, it’s like a perpetual motion washing machine. Thankfully, and I never thought I would say this and certainly never anticipated prefacing it with “thankfully,” Nuno has taken over the cooking.
Before we get too far ahead of ourselves, some of his experiments have been utter disasters. Because he experiments. With things that were just fine the way they were. His optimizations in the realm of “homemade” pizza have been quite tasty, so long as we stay away from onions and stick with the pre-made crusts. Pancakes have been equally tasty so long as they are indeed pancakes and not… I don’t even know how to describe it, but pancakes they were not. Pancake balls is as close as I can come. Because the pancake needed improving.** ANYHOW. I’m grateful that I’m not the one having to do any of the cooking as while I am competent at doing so, I view cooking not as a fun process, but as a time consuming evil that’s required for putting food in my face. I’m quite happy to let someone else do it, provided they hold the onions.
Nuno cooks food that humans occasionally want to eat. I clean the bathroom before receiving calls from FEMA. It’s true what they say. Parenthood really does change you.
* Another phrase stolen from Hyperbole and a Half. Which I reference in my online ramblings almost as much as I reference the Big Lebowski in everyday conversation. Which is to say, a lot.
** No, no it didn’t.