Birthday Celebrations… Like the Old Days

Yesterday was my husband’s 28th birthday, and his first as a father. And what a wonderful father he is.

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We celebrated with his family last weekend, so we had done the whole cake/candles thing (and there was no way I could top his cousin’s delicious cakes), so this weekend we just aimed to relax and have fun.

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But rather than have a date night alone, we went out with a few friends while a sitter took care of the baby at home. We had put him to bed already (which really frees us up for the evening), so we were able to relax and enjoy ourselves.

We’ve gone out alone a few times, but it was refreshing to go out sans baby with our childless friends. The conversation steered clear of the kid, and I, for one, felt almost back to my pre-pregnancy self that night.

I say it all the time — I love being a parent! But it’s always nice to get away for just a couple of hours. Having a baby is really all-consuming, in both good ways and … inconvenient and stressful ways.

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Anyway, happy belated birthday to my husband. I love you more every day.

(Almost) Crying Over Spoiled Milk

Tuesday morning, I woke up in a panic.

I realized that the day before, I had come home from picking up the baby at daycare, set my bags down, and went upstairs… without putting away my precious, precious cargo (other than the baby): two full 5-ounce bottles of freshly expressed milk.

I lay in bed on Tuesday morning, eyes wide, panicking. All that work for nothing — that’s 30-40 minutes’ worth of pumping and enough milk for one full day of daycare. But by this point, it was too late; the ice pack would surely be melted, the milk warm and spoiled.

Whoever said “Don’t cry over spilled milk” didn’t have to pump that milk from her own body.

BUT! When I went downstairs and opened the freezer, this is what I found:

frozen expressed breastmilk

All my worry was for naught, because I have an amazing husband who had the forethought to put the bottles in the freezer on my behalf when I got home on Monday while I was upstairs caring for the baby.

I sighed with relief. Close call.

And another big THANK YOU to my wonderful husband.

Luckily this time the story ended well, but it kills me every time I have to pour out spoiled milk. It doesn’t happen often, but sometimes I’ll have an extra ounce or two in the refrigerator that eventually goes bad before it ever gets to the freezer. It’s such a precious commodity — I can only produce so much at a time — I absolutely hate to let it go to waste. Have you ever had to toss out breastmilk?

The Olympics as a Parent

As I expected, I haven’t been watching the Olympics in London consistently, despite the fact that I was so fired up after the opening ceremonies. but I have been catching bits and pieces of the delayed broadcast on NBC, and I’ve enjoyed watching these incredible athletes in action. Gabby Douglas’s gold medal last night was particularly inspiring. And the many world records I’ve seen swimmers beat are always exciting. Then there are the heartbreaking defeats and mistakes that remind us that these are, after all, people — often very young ones who are still children in many ways.

And more than ever before, I’ve noticed how involved many of the athletes’ parents are. Maybe it’s like this every Games, or maybe I’m noticing it more because I’m a parent myself now. But I’m loving seeing these incredibly supportive parents cheering on their precious children. Some are coaches themselves, some have allowed their children to leave their homes to pursue better training… But I am sure that all of them have sacrificed something to help their children succeed. And I can only imagine how it must feel to sit on the sidelines as your child achieves a gold medal — overwhelming joy, I’m sure, to see your child’s dreams come true in a moment. And it must be so difficult for those parents who watch as their children fail. Surely their hearts break as they helplessly watch as their children react to a bad routine or poor score, blaming themselves or crying with anger and disappointment.

I have not yet watched J in a play or on a court, but on some level I think I can understand how these parents must feel. Every day, I feel like I love my son more (if that’s even possible). I want nothing more than his health and happiness. I can only imagine how I will feel after so many years have gone by.

Retro Post: Finding Out We Were Pregnant

Retro Posts: The baby is now a few months old, but there are several subjects that I want to be sure to record in this little blog. I’ll be posting ‘retro posts’ like this to make sure everything is covered.

We found out we were pregnant on May 2, 2011. The following is transcribed from my journal entry dated May 7, 2011.

“Five days ago, I found out that I am pregnant. I was pretty stunned… which explains (kind of) why I’m a little tardy in recording my thoughts. Here’s what happened:

“It had been a normal Monday. I teleworked but wasn’t feeling very well. I ate saltines & cheddar for lunch, but I figured it was probably cabin fever — I just needed to get out of the house. When D got home, we decided to go to dinner at a local pizza restaurant. I was feeling fine until suddenly, halfway through my slice of cheese and after a small Greek salad, I felt really awful. We picked up my car from our friends’ house (it was there after weekend festivities) and headed home. I asked D to stop at the grocery store for a couple of things, though — among them, pregnancy tests. I stopped taking birth control at the end of February, so I figured, ‘better safe than sorry.’

“As soon as D got home, I tried taking a test, but it didn’t seem to work, so I left it on the counter with the intention of trying again later when I needed to pee. [I figured I just hadn’t gotten enough pee on the stick.] D and I spent the evening playing a video game (Little Big Planet, for the record), and he got up to go to the bathroom after about an hour. The next thing I hear — ‘Sweetie…?!’ He emerged, test in hand — it was positive! I took another… definitely not a fluke. [D still gloats that he’s one of the few men who got to tell his wife she’s pregnant.]

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“We were both stunned. We had talked about having kids in the (somewhat) near future, but we certainly hadn’t been trying (though we weren’t doing much to prevent it, either). I immediately called my parents and sister and D called his — everyone was absolutely thrilled.”

Side note: My mom still talks about how when I called her that first night, I just kept saying, “I don’t know what to do. What do I do?” I was seriously speechless and shocked. It took a few days to process it all…

“The next morning, I called the doctor and they drew my blood to confirm the pregnancy and to see how far along I was. After two days (my mom and I were going crazy), I heard from the doctor’s assistant — I was 8 weeks along. [This was actually incorrect — keep reading.] After work, we called grandparents, then told our close friends. No one else knows yet — still keeping things quiet until the first trimester is over. [Ha!]”

Here’s another journal entry, about my first prenatal exams. As I mentioned above, the original fetal age that they gave me was incorrect, as they found out…

“Wednesday, May 11 [9 days after that first pregnancy test, for those of you keeping track], Momma came up to go with me to my first ‘exam’ … though it was really just an ultrasound with a nurse practitioner. Nevertheless, it was pretty incredible — I got to hear the baby’s heartbeat for the first time! D tried to get there but was unable (and really bummed he missed it), but at least my mom was there to share it with me.

“The ultrasound ended up bringing more questions than answers, though. My last period was March 8 (I had been on b.c.), putting me at 9 weeks, technically. But the fetus was measured at just 1.11 cm & 130 bpm, both of which would be normal for 7.5 weeks — not 9! We set up another ultrasound for 2 weeks later to make sure things were on track and that I simply ovulated later than expected. They drew my blood (again — 2nd time [and certainly not the last]) and I got a call on Tuesday that the doctor wanted to see me Wednesday instead (moved up my appointment by a week). D was bummed again that he wouldn’t be able to be there, but the doctor let me record the ultrasound/heartbeat on my phone for him.

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“Good news — the baby grew as expected this week — now 1.5 cm with heartbeat in the 170s! Amazing what can happen in a week… and she gave me an official due date: 12/28/11 [the baby ended up being 4 days early].

“Turns out I must have ovulated late after all — the doctor put me at 8 weeks on the dot this time.

“We had planned to wait until after the first trimester to go public, but now that I had a due date, I wanted to tell people! I posted the latest sonogram on Facebook and Twitter and was congratulated by tons of friends. 🙂 This baby is already very loved!

“As for symptoms, I’m having more good days than bad. I count myself very lucky! I’m not able to eat a ton at once, and I get tired super early (most nights)… and there are days that I feel nauseated from morning to night… but overall, very manageable!”

My symptoms early on were few, but I did experience a little nausea (but only got sick once — 5/10, at work. ugh!) and craved steak like crazy for the first few weeks, which is (or was) unusual for me. (My pregnancy cravings for sweets and meats have stuck… maybe they’ll disappear when I stop breastfeeding?) I was also extremely tired during the first trimester. I would be in bed by 9 (D insists it was 7) or earlier every night, and sitting on the couch usually turned into sleeping on the couch very quickly.

I am so grateful to have gotten pregnant so easily and also to have had such an easy pregnancy, including a quick and easy delivery.  I didn’t know it at the time, but J is the greatest thing that has ever happened to me!

Young Me/Old Me

Now that I’ve written my requisite feel-good post about the Olympics, I’m feeling compelled to write something a little more down-to-earth and self-centered.

I went shopping today at a trendy little boutique nearby. I have a 50% off coupon — how could I resist? I was excited to get a couple of shirts or accessories or maybe even a new pair of jeans. But I found myself uncomfortable, so I want to write about my experience to try to figure out why I felt the way I did.

I’m feeling better about my body these days — I’m 6 pounds from my goal weight and 10 pounds from my pre-pregnancy weight (but I was really too skinny). And I’m loving finally having something ‘up top’! I was always flat-chested, but can’t complain about a C cup! For those of you who wonder what my secret to weight loss is, I’m sorry to disappoint, but I’ve been doing nothing but breastfeeding and eating twice as much as I normally would. (I’m very nervous about what will happen when I stop breastfeeding, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it…)

So why do I find shopping for clothes to be so not fun?

Well, for one thing, my body has changed a lot. I may not be very far from my goal weight, but I’ve got plenty of pooch left in my tummy. My hips definitely widened a bit, as well. And the boobs? They change the way everything fits. Sometimes for the better, but not always. I’m finding myself having to buy clothes a size larger than I used to. (Cry me a river, I know.)

When it comes right down to it, it’s just that the things I usually find “cute” are not designed for my post-baby body. Even after 7 months, I’m having to adjust. I usually end up in jeans and t-shirts because at least I can pull that off.

Okay, so I was frustrated by the fact that nothing was fitting the way I expected.

Add to that the fact that there was a young girl in there shopping with her mom for sorority rush dresses.

Normally, I don’t even pay attention to other customers. But for some reason, when I heard her explain to the clerk that she was looking for a dress for pref night, I just felt old.

It’s only been 9 years since I went off to college myself. And just a year or so ago, I was still connected to some of my college friends and even knew some of the students (albeit by association). And really, 9 years is not that long.

But the last 7 months have made college suddenly seem like ages ago. I was in such a different time in my life then — worried about classes and classmates and professors. And beyond that… my life before the baby was born was just so different from what it is now. And it feels like I’m so far removed from that life.

This is not a complaint, though! I would not trade my life now for anything. It sounds cliche, but I mean it.

I felt uncomfortable shopping today because I suddenly felt out of place in the store. Like a 27 year old mom (yeah, see? I’m not that old!) doesn’t belong in a trendy boutique where college girls shop. I know it’s not true, but I still felt suddenly ancient, underdressed, and frumpy… like I didn’t belong.

I don’t know what the purpose of this post is, other than to write all this down. None of these feelings are new, exactly. I’m just still trying to figure out where I fit now that I’m a mom and a woman still in her twenties. I feel both very old and very young at the same time. And sometimes I feel a little lost in the social sphere because of that.

I think (read: know) I need to make some more mommy friends in the area, but it’s just so hard to meet people. (It’s not exactly like I can randomly approach a couple with a baby at a restaurant and ask if they want to hang out. Though I have suggested to D that we do this on multiple occasions.)

Not sure how to end this post, but do any other moms out there feel this way? Or have suggestions on how to meet other moms? Or where to shop? Or how to deal?