Milkin’ It

It’s great that our culture has become more supportive of breastfeeding. Breastfeeding has a LOT of benefits. And I’m going to spend the majority of the rest of this post whining about how hard I’m working to protecting breast milk as my baby’s exclusive food source for as long as I can, so I’m up on the good milk. But before I start whining I have to say right up front, I don’t condone the cultish devotion to “Breast is Best” that gets crammed down the throats of too many moms. It’s excessive and to the point that children have actually died and moms have committed suicide in the most extreme cases and so vastly many more have had their physical and emotional well-being jeopardized by guilt and fear and shame surrounding the use of formula. Formula is a miracle. It saves babies lives and can help moderate or ameliorate a whole host of other bad outcomes. I will not be party to a culture that shames parents for feeding their babies. Breast milk, formula, a mix, it’s all part of a larger tool kit.   Most of the studies that the Breastfeeding Mafia cite to shame moms into exclusive breastfeeding can’t even demonstrate correlation let alone causation once you control for things like income, health, and education level of the mother. So let’s just calm down a little bit and let individuals weigh the pros and cons and come to the right choice for their families shall we?

That said, breastfeeding exclusively is the right (albeit it incredibly hard) choice for me and my baby… at least right now. Given my history of steroid-induced gestational diabetes and some of our other particular health situations, I’m firmly committed to extending breastfeeding for as long as we can make it work for specific medical risk mitigation.

But man, the hardest part of my work/life imbalance is pumping. It’s even harder than being away from the boys that I love for hours and hours. Pumping sucks for me.

I’m one of the lucky ones. I know that.  I have a great job with incredible flexibility. I got paid maternity leave (12 weeks including the two of my vacation that I used to get there). My office building has dedicated pumping rooms, many of which are equipped with hospital grade pumps. I have a great boss who is supportive of family life and an awesome team that will step up and in for each other to meet needs. I am paid well, so my family can afford the healthcare and childcare and extras that make 2 parents working 4 jobs and having two kids possible. So yeah, I’m very lucky. And even with all that it’s HARD.

My job is meeting driven. It’s not uncommon for me to be in back to back meetings my whole work day, or mega meetings that last 4 hours or 9 hours or whatever. Every day I have to aggressively manage my pumping schedule. It can be different for every woman, but I’ve found that to keep my supply high enough and avoid engorgement I have to hit a sweet spot where I pump every 2-3 hours. So that means I need to pump or feed 3 times during my workday. 3x a day I am having to excuse myself from meetings, or call into meetings that I am down the hall from, or I am having to turn down team lunches, or minimize travel commitments, or apologize because I can’t stay after hours yet again.  And again, because I’m lucky my coworkers are understanding and generally supportive. But I feel like an asshole. I feel so guilty for disrupting the flow of a discussion because I have to go because my breasts are going to explode. I feel like I’m always the one having to ask for the time, and it makes me worry that they’ll start to think I’m not working as hard, or worry I’m not a team player, or that I’m not on my game, so I put extra pressure on myself to shine anywhere else I can. I feel worse if I can’t make a pumping session work and I worry that missing this one is going to be the one that tanks my supply, and too add insult to injury it’s physically painful, and embarrassing when it causes leaking.

I FIGHT to protect those 30 minute blocks so I can pump between meetings on good days and in the all day meetings it means I’m pumping instead of getting a water, or pumping instead of going to the bathroom, sometimes it means I’m pumping instead of eating lunch because the 15 minute breaks that are enough for everyone aren’t even half the time I need.  And remember those dedicated pumping rooms? They are nearly impossible to come by because most of the women who use them need them at roughly the same times. There are 4 in my building, but they aren’t reservable and you don’t know if one is open unless you physically check it. At least 3 sessions a week, I have to try all four before I can find an open one, that alone takes about 12 minutes. And they all have hard chairs, and some are toilet-less stalls inside women’s bathrooms that smell and sound like bathrooms, and they aren’t not well climate controlled, etc. So I hate them, but even though I hate them I’m still so grateful they exist.

And those hospital grade pumps? Amazing! They speed things up and are far less annoying than my individual pump, but they aren’t in every room so I have to carry my pump around just in case. Which means to almost every meeting I have to haul my work bag with laptop, my pump, and my cooler (because I don’t have access to a fridge). And because I often have to carry them around all day, I constantly get asked if I’m leaving. No, I’m not leaving I’m just a bag lady who may or may not be dripping breast milk all through the building.

And for this first month back, I’ve been even luckier. Because if my schedule allows, my sweet parents will pick me up at work and bring me to my baby at lunch so I can nurse instead of pumping and then they drop me back off  and make sure I get food to cram into my mouth while I rush back out the door to make it to a 1pm meeting. I get that time with Charlie which is amazing, but logistically a nightmare. Even though I love seeing him I wouldn’t put myself through it if nursing weren’t so much more efficient for my supply. And with my folks going back to Florida, I’ll be having to figure out how to manage that. Do I try to feed Charlie in my car outside his daycare at lunch? Do I rely just on the pump and hope my supply can stay up if I add an extra session back in the middle of the night? I’m already eating into the precious I sleep desperately need need to wake my beautifully sleeping child 1-2x per night to nurse. No easy answers.

I’m really struggling to stay upbeat about it. It is a constant source of stress that drains my energy. And if it sucks this much for me and I know how lucky I am, how are the less lucky and unlucky people swinging it? Do they even have choices?

If you’ll forgive a bad pun, thanks for letting me get this off my chest. For the time being, I’m choosing to keep fighting for breastfeeding, and I’m grateful to have the choice even if I need to complain a little bit about it sometimes.

 

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While we were out…

So in the 17 months since I last managed to update this blog a lot of life has happened:

  • We celebrated our second wedding Anniversary
  • We went to Vegas for a bachelor party and our first getaway since becoming parents
  • We celebrated the wedding of a couple of our besties where I (Mary) served as Best Man
  • Magnus turned one and we threw an epic Circus Birthday
  • I had a chemical pregnancy or very early miscarriage or whatever uncomfortable terminology you prefer
  • We went to Florida and Disneyworld for my 32nd birthday
  • We went back to Florida sans Magnus to celebrate another bestie wedding that Aaron officiated
  • Magnus learned to walk
  • We went to Virginia and Aaron served as best man for his best friend’s wedding
  • I got Lyme Disease
  • Aaron completed his first half-marathon
  • I had sinus surgery
  • I got pregnant
  • Aaron took a new job prosecuting in Southern Indiana
  • I got Hyperemesis Gravidarum
  • We spent two weeks traveling Europe as a family
  • Aaron got accepted to the Air Force JAG core
  • We found out we were having another boy!
  • My parents accepted an offer to sell their house (which was our current home)
  • We threw our annual Fondue February party
  • I got a promotion at work
  • I officiated a wedding of some very dear friends
  • I got put on house arrest by my OB to try to manage my severe Asthma and couldn’t leave the house for 3 months
  • Aaron turned 30
  • The Air Force medical clearance process took an unreasonable 5 months and kept us in super limbo
  • I got steroid-induced Gestational Diabetes
  • We turned down the Air Force
  • We celebrated our third Wedding Anniversary
  • We bought new house
  • We moved in to a lovely house that was very much a shrine to 1996 when I was 35 weeks pregnant
  • We rushed to move and unpack essentials before Charlie arrived
  • I had an emergency-ish C-section at 37 weeks
  • Charlie was born (yeah, that’s sorta the same thing as above, but I deserve a line item here and so does he)
  • We did a whole lot of home projects
  • Magnus turned 2
  • We renovated our kitchen in 2.5 weeks for ~$6K
  • We threw a party to celebrate our new house and new baby
  • We went to Florida
  • I went back to work
  • More home projects
  • etc

It’s been a whirlwind. And yes, too many of those were medical issues for me. Luckily I’m doing SO MUCH better now and Charlie has made our little family so much happier. While things are plenty busy around here with 2 kids and 4 jobs etc,  I’ve majorly missed making this time to share over here, so I’m giving it another try. Here we go!

We’ll share some posts in the coming weeks catching up on the past and then turn and eye to some present projects and future plans, because things are still non-stop over here.

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A Birth Story: Magnus Leo Allard

Happy Mother’s Day! Seems like a good day to share the story of how I became a mama to one perfect little ball of mischief and love.

Magnus was due July 24th. It’s completely silly, but in my heart, I really wanted him to hold out for his due date because it would make his astrological sign match his middle name, Leo, and I thought that would be cute. But that wasn’t to be.

My pregnancy was pretty healthy, at least for someone with a history of severe asthma, but an infection in late May triggered some pre-term labor contractions in my third trimester. My doctor recommended I take it VERY easy, and would put me on modified bed rest when they cranked back up at various points through the rest of my pregnancy. I mostly listened. But I’d also agreed to do set dressing for our local theater group’s production of Willy Wonka so late in June I put in a couple of long days with too much time bending over and crawling around on my knees arranging a river of chocolate and securing giant lollipops to a bridge, by the end of the second day I did not feel right. I tried over the next week to be really, really gentle with myself but I’m not sure I ever felt great pregnant after that. I didn’t immediately suspect anything because who expects to feel great when 36 weeks pregnant? Also, I was kinda busy trying to organize a move.

Yeah you heard me, we were moving in the ninth month of my pregnancy. After a previously failed attempt at a sale and purchase the year before we thought we’d stay put going into the pregnancy. But then we got robbed, which lead to quotes for major remodeling, and eventually lead to the decision to try selling again. This time, we found a buyer and we were closing 9 days before Magnus was due. Because of our crazy timeline, we decided to move our bedroom early so that if he happened to make an early debut we would have a port in the storm. Thank God for that.

So that first week of July a lot of my mental energy was spent trying to orchestrate a move where I couldn’t really move anything. We’d planned to spend a big part of the holiday (July 4th) weekend packing and moving things, but by Thursday afternoon on what I didn’t know them would be my last day of work I felt awful and actually had to go home a little early. I took a nap and woke up with a swollen face, crazy headache and a racing heart. I remember from my prenatal reading that headaches could be a symptom of blood-pressure issues so I borrowed my dad’s at-home blood pressure cuff and took a reading.  It was high. Not like go straight to the ER high, but higher than I’d ever seen for me. Since it was after hours on a holiday week, rather than my doctor, I called the birthing center. They told me to take tylenol, drink lots of water, lay on my side, and take my pressure again in an hour. If it didn’t go down, they wanted me to come in. But it went down, so Friday morning, Aaron and our friends went ahead with our moving plans as scheduled.  But by that evening, it was back up even higher and it wasn’t as responsive to rest. They ordered me in and I spent the next few days playing preeclampsia and c-section chicken. (Side note: even though I only met some of the criteria for preclampisa when I first went in, I was POSITIVE something was up and I’m glad I listened to my body and my intuition and went back after being released or else things would have gotten much worse out of the watchful eyes of the doctors and nurses who took care of us).

I hadn’t slept a full night since around the 20 week mark of my pregnancy (which incidentally may have been the cause or earliest indicator of my pre-e according to some journal articles I read) so Sunday night, which was unbeknownst to me at the time, my last childless night,  the doctor on-call, ordered me to stay and loaded me up with sleeping pills. I thought I wouldn’t sleep in the hospital bed, especially since we’d decided it was best for Aaron to go home, but I got a glorious full night of sleep for the first and last time in months.

We were excited for my doctor to see me Monday morning, as he’d be back in after the holiday and finally get some answers on what was going on and how much longer pregnancy would continue. I got up early to shower, shave my legs, and color my hair in the hospital bathroom. Yes, I know, it was a little insane. But I was already overdue for a root touch-up and didn’t want all my new baby and mama photos ruined for me by only seeing my grays and I rightly predicted it might be a fair bit before I’d be able to do those things again.  Freshly cleaned and colored, we waited all morning for the doctor.

After a few hours, I was getting impatient and hungry! I was about to send out a search party for an OB for a cheeseburger, when in walked two nurses to prep me for the C-section I didn’t know for sure that I was having! Apparently my doctor had reviewed my stats and made the call first thing in the morning that my baby needed to be delivered that day as I officially met all the diagnostic criteria for preeclampsia and it seemed to be getting worse rather quickly, but the message didn’t get delivered.  He came in a little bit later and did another pelvic exam to double-check that I still wasn’t well positioned to be induced since my cervix was still unfavorable,  my baby’s head was measuring very big (42 weeks at 36 weeks), and my pelvic inlet had been charitably described as “not-impressive.” We agreed the C-section was the right call. My surgery was set for 1:00pm.

With a couple of hours before go time, I sent Aaron home to have lunch and finish a small electrical project he’d been working on for our new bedroom. Yes, the day of our first child’s birth I had my husband switching out light sockets. But they were loose, and loose sockets are a fire hazard and I worried if they weren’t done pre-baby it would be months!

As I waited for Aaron to get back and surgery drew nearer, my fears emerged. I’d spent that whole weekend sure something was wrong and insisting my baby needed to be out to be safe, but once I knew for sure it was happening that afternoon, I felt a little bit terrified. All of the sudden I was changing into a hospital gown and wiping down with weird sterilizing cloths. I wanted time to slow down.

Aaron donned his gear and walked me down the hallway to the operating room holding my hand. I remember uttering silent prayers for the safe entrance of my little baby boy. I found myself whispering to him in those last minutes in my belly how much I loved him, how excited I was to meet him and how honored I was to be his mom. Telling him he was exactly what the world needed and that we were ready for him.

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Aaron was positively radiating joy and excitement. I’d seen his little kid on Christmas morning face before, in fact it was this capacity for wonder that made me fall in love with him, but on that day it was all the more. I thought in that moment with him that it was the most I’d ever loved anyone. They weren’t going to let Aaron stay with me while they administered the spinal block so he went back to wait and I entered the operating room.

waitingformags The hospital staff was gathered around to introduce themselves to me and the room glowed with bright white-blue light. It felt incredibly surreal. One of the nurses made conversation with me as I squatted over the table and the anesthesiologist prepped me. She had the kindest smile and bright blue eyes and as I chatted with her and told her our baby name and what I knew of our boy so far, she made me feel so safe. Her kindness was an incredible blessing. Getting the block was uncomfortable, but unremarkable. I remember getting help moving from the squat up on the table, to down flat on table as I was quickly losing feeling in my legs. Several people remarked at how calm I seemed as I was cracking jokes about Magnus’s head size and preeclampsia sparing my lady parts. I told them I knew I was in good hands and I wasn’t afraid.

Then I lost feeling in the lower half of my body. Which really isn’t a great way to describe it, because I didn’t lose all feeling, just normal feeling, what it actually felt like is that half of me was suddenly 4x heavier and my butt and legs were full of that pins and needles you feel when your foot falls asleep. I desperately wanted to move them, but I couldn’t and it freaked me out a little. I was complaining about it when I broke out in a terrible sweat and a rush of extreme nausea hit so violent I was certain I was going to pass out and/or vomit. The anesthesiologist added something to my dosing for that, and the wave of awful crashed right as Aaron was ushered in. I was so relieved he was there. He took my hand and as the worst of the nausea faded, I complained about how funny my ass felt.

My doctor came in and the surgical field was set. He asked if we were ready to meet our baby. We were! I felt the pressure and tugging I knew to expect from reading c-section stories all weekend just in case. The doctor asked Aaron if he felt up to taking a look. Aaron being 6’4 and not at all squeamish, stood up and easily peered over the blind. I remember feeling left out, so I asked Aaron to tell me if he could see Magnus. Before he could answer, the doctor asked if me if I wanted to hear about him or see him for myself? Of course, I wanted to see this tiny little person I was already in love with, so he lifted him up over the field.

It was only for a second, but I remember thinking he didn’t look like I expected. As I did, some of the goo that he was covered with dripped off of him and landed right on my mouth! Talk about baptism by fire! Less than a minute into motherhood and already the gross had started. I couldn’t even wipe it off. My arms were still strapped down, and I couldn’t speak because what was on my mouth would fall into my mouth. No one noticed as they whisked the baby over to examine him. Aaron went with him, like we’d planned, and anyone not attending to the baby was busy helping the doctor close me up, all except for the anesthesiologist. Mercifully, after what felt like a lifetime but was probably less than 30 seconds, he noticed and wiped me off.

I heard Magnus wail and my heart sang. I called over inquiring about his Apgar score. My doctor, who knew me too well, laughed and told me when they cry like that you don’t have to worry about the number (it was 8). They finished closing me up, unhooked and unstrapped me

Aaron had Magnus swaddled and cradled in his arms when they brought him over to me. He looked red and swollen and totally adorable. I asked for him immediately. Looking back and forth between his face and Aaron’s and realizing that no matter what else happened, we were finally the family we were always meant to be. My heart had burst wide open. I got to hold him as they wheeled us back to my room, beaming and crying the whole way at the sheer magic of this little creature we’d brought into the world. As we passed our families waiting in the lobby, the feeling got even stronger. Just minutes old and already so loved. He was here!

Magnus Leo Allard was born at 37 weeks and 3 days on July 6th, 2016 at 1:50pm. He was 8lbs 8oz, 20.5 inches long with a head full of hair that no one had expected.

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FAQs about Our Experiences thus far with Multi-generational Living

Q: Wait, You really moved in with your parents voluntarily? /Side-eye

A: Yes! While this decision certainly has financial upside, for us it was a choice and not out of grave necessity.  I don’t think there is anything wrong with family helping family when times get hard, but there are other valid (IMO) reasons for wanting to do this. I think the “modern” conception that we are supposed to go it alone from generation to generation is sad.  Family life is hard for almost everyone, even with unlimited financial resources there aren’t unlimited hours in a day and many hands make work light. Plus for us, we really weren’t sure where to go next, so it was a great opportunity to test out an idea we’ve been increasingly interested in.

Q: How are things going?

A: Things are going very well. Both families are cooking more meals at home, laughing more, and having more fun that we did when living separately. So far at least, the benefit seem to greatly outweigh any burdens.

Q: What did you do with all of your stuff?

A: We sold some (Craigslist, friends, etc), gave lots away, and crammed the rest into my parents house. There is a lot of our stuff along the sides of both garages, that is just waiting to be dealt with, but oh well!

Q: What did your parents do with their stuff?

A: They did an amazing job of clearing most of their stuff out of the main floor of the home by some things upstairs to fill vacant spaces, getting rid of LOTS of junk, giving some family treasures to extended family members, and moving some treasures down to their Florida cottage. I think it was hard on them at the time mostly because it happened on a very compressed schedule, but the hope is that it will eventually  make it much easier for them to move when they downsize.

Q: So are things totally crazy?

A: They were. Totally nuts. For at least a month. But little by little we all worked to get things put mostly back together. Between when Magnus was about 2 weeks old to about 6 weeks old I spent almost all of his nap times unpacking and finding homes for things. Aaron would spend a little time after work most nights moving heavy things into place, my dad made daily runs to donate stuff for weeks and weeks and my mom was a workhorse! She took the Florida Room which was sort of the holding space and totally impassable and in a few days of hard work had it looking like a usable room again. Okay so we still sometimes don’t know where a seldom used kitchen implement is, and I haven’t yet found the box that has the thank-you-notes-I-started-writing-in-the-spring-and-haven’t-finished-yet-cause-I’m-a-terrible person, by day to day we’re getting by comfortably.

Q: Do you miss your house?

A: Surprisingly, not really. I thought it would be harder for me cause I’m so into houses and stuff, and I poured myself into our old house, and because I am a homebody, but in actuality, I LOVE so much about our new living situation. I do miss entertaining which I could theoretically do more of, but I still don’t quite feel settled enough to throw a party or invite big groups of people in. But after four months, I feel more sure than ever that it was the exact right choice for us.

Q: What’s the best part of living in one house with your parents?

A: While the help we’ve received with the baby has been truly extraordinary, the BEST best part has come from being together. Watching my parents get to know their grandson, enjoying more family dinners, and having company during my maternity leave after Aaron had to go back to work, it’s been so wonderful. Call us crazy, but we really, really like to be together.

Q: So it isn’t free rent or babysitting or laundry or insert assumed or actual perk here?

A: Nope. Honestly. While I will never be able to properly express my gratitude to my parents for keeping Magnus this fall to ease my transition back to work before he starts daycare, and my mom has been a saint to help with (read, do almost all of) our laundry while I recovered after the birth,  and it’s amazing to get to save some money, the best part is actually in being together.

Aaron and I do sometimes worry about the benefits being too lopsided, so we’re constantly looking for ways to contribute more. We’ve gotten the family cooking more which is good for us all. We’ve taken over the utilities, and try to cover as many of the groceries, incidentals and maintenance costs as my parents will let us. I know Aaron and I are both looking forward to rolling up our sleeves more in the coming months to help my parents freshen the house for it’s eventual sale, but Aaron has already finished an unfinished storage closet that adds value for us now for storage and in the future for resale.

Q: How’s Aaron doing living with his in-laws?

A: I’ll try not to speak for him, but just on what I’ve observed, I think he’s pretty happy too. It was a little bit rough for everyone at the beginning when things were in chaos, but Aaron is unique in his ability to make things work. He did an excellent job balancing meeting his needs and establishing our (Aaron, Mary, Magnus) family’s rhythms all while folding himself in with my (my parents and their kids) family’s ways of living.

Q: Do you have any privacy?

A: Meh? Kinda? Mostly enough. Both Aaron and I, and my parents will each retreat into our respective bedrooms from time to time.  We’ve also each taken separate trips and evenings out, so it works out pretty well. I’d analogize it to most any roommate situation, except you have even less pressure to shield them from the ugly moments. And personally, the indignities of pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding, have dramatically decreased my need for privacy anyway.

Q: What’s the worst part?

A: Moving. Moving was the worst part, by a lot. It was not fun. It was very stressful and almost everyone was upset at some point in the process. But on any sort of ongoing basis, I’d say probably not having quite the right set-up rather than anything about actually living together.

Also my parent’s house wasn’t really designed for multi-gen living (or at least not our ideal of it) so we have a few storage and use issues from time to time. Sharing a kitchen is probably the hardest, but it helps that most home cooked meals are joint.

Q: How has your thinking for the next house you buy changed?

A: We will put a lot more value on a one story floorplan. Adding a baby to the family while living on the main floor of my parents house has let us realize how lovely it is to have basically everything we need on a single story. We also put even greater value on bathroom space, storage space, and kitchen design because we’re lacking enough of all in our current setup. We’re interested in multi-gen living in a future space also, so we keep our eyes out for suitable spaces.

Q: How long do you intend to stay there?

A: ? We don’t really know. A year? Two? Ish? So far it’s going really well and we still aren’t quite sure what we want to come next. It depends on when my parents are ready to put their house on the market, what’s going on with our family’s work/life balance, and when the right thing comes along. We think we’d like to be moving in to a new place before Baby #2 would arrive, but we don’t plan to start trying until next summer so that gives us a pretty decent window. In some ways I wouldn’t be surprised to fall in love with a house and make a move relatively quickly, but we’re certainly in no rush and I think it’s more likely we’ll stay put through 2016.

 

Q: Would you recommend it?

A: Not to answer like a lawyer, but it depends. Are you super close your family? Is your spouse? Are most of the parties pretty flexible? If I’m honest, I’m probably the least flexible person in our arrangement. My parents and my husband have all given me incredible latitude here, and that’s probably a big part of why I’m happy with it. It means more compromise that I am used to, but not more than I can handle. It’s humbling to move into someone else’s space after controlling your own for several years, especially for someone like me who built up large parts of my identity around the home I created. It’s also incredibly rewarding. If you’re interested I’d recommend trying to go in with common and clear expectations.

Q: Are you glad you did it?

A: Yes! So many times over. It isn’t all rainbows and unicorns but it is exactly what we needed. It has given us enormous support for this transition to parenthood and frees us up to take a good hard look at what the next, right, housing-fit is for our family. In the last few weeks my company announced large layoffs which will likely have a big impact on our local housing market. Had we waited until after the baby was born, our house might have been that much harder to sell. The relief that I feel knowing that we are free to make the choices that are best for our family is huge.

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Happy Halloween!

Hope your holiday is full of fun.

image Da do0! From Audrey, Seymour, Orin and Audrey 2

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5 weeks, 5 weddings #withababy

This fall we had a bounty of wedded bliss to celebrate between friends and family members. So much so that now if it’s Saturday and we’re not at a wedding or reception, the baby is probably very confused. In fact, after five weekends in a row of celebrating weddings, he probably thought that’s just what we do on Saturdays.

Magnus has been a real trooper about it. For the most part he’s charmed the pants off most of the wedding crowds while napping, smiling, and even hitting the dance floor. His behavior has been so angelic at these events that he has contributed to our delusion that ewe might actually know what we’re doing with this baby. It’s fun.  And since we’ve had so much practice of late, I thought I’d share what works for us in hitting the wedding circuit with a baby.

Here are my tips for taking infants to weddings:

  1. Arrive early to get a good seat near the back in case you need to make a speedy exit. Babies are wily little creatures.
  2. Have food ready and available. I was sure to breastfeed Magnus right before each ceremony, because a full Magnus is a happy Magnus, but even still we’d have a bottle prepped. And since quiet is called for during ceremonies, he got to eat at the first sign of wanting to instead of after taking the time to double-check all the cues. But it worked! No crying during wedding ceremonies from our little guy.
  3. Soak up the opportunities to dress your baby in ridiculous outfits. If there is ever a “good reason” to buy too many baby bow ties, surely this is it, or if you’re my particular brand of crazy, to plan color coordinated outfits for the whole family.
  4. Bring backup outfits. PLURAL. You never know for sure where a blowout will strike, but odds are it will happen in a public, formal setting, like say a rather loud emission as a bride made her way down the aisle. Ooops!
  5. Take as many pictures as you can. We did better at this at some events than others, but we’re learning the more pictures taken, the better the chances of something usable. But really, what’s the point of ridiculous baby ensembles if you don’t have photographic proof of them? And they really do grow up so fast!
  6. Accept help. Sleepy babies are heavy, pass them back and forth if need be between parents. Dead arm is no way to start your evening. Also there will be people at these events that want to help you. If you’re confident you aren’t risking crazy germ exposures, let them hold the baby while you dance with your partner. Let them hold the doors for you. Let them help you carry the extra plate back from the buffet. If you’re lucky enough to have baby’s grandparents in attendance, and they’re kind enough to take baby home early, say yes please and thank you!
  7. Know your limits and your baby’s. It’s okay not to stay until they kick you out, your friends will understand. Also know your limits on wedding boozing. 4am feeds with a hangover are a lot less fun for everyone. Also when baby is done, let him be done. It’s not the right time for a battle of wills, sure maybe you will eventually calm your tiny terrorist, but don’t be a hero. If baby gets too cranky, clear out, you can win that battle in the privacy of your car or hotel room.

After sharing this I realize, these are really my tips for going anywhere with a baby.

And for your viewing pleasure here are some pictures of our family at these blessed events:

Magnus waving a ribbon wand after Anna & Joey's gorgeous wedding!

Magnus waving a ribbon wand after Anna & Joey’s gorgeous wedding!

Mommy and Magnus shaking tail feathers on the dance floor at Alyssa & Matt's amazing wedding!

Mommy and Magnus shaking tail feathers on the dance floor at Alyssa & Matt’s amazing wedding!

Practicing being a very fancy baby

Practicing being a very fancy baby to celebrate Heidi and Barry

Someone signaling his approaching bedtime after partying hard in celebration of Katie and Brennan

Someone signaling his approaching bedtime after partying hard in celebration of Katie and Brennan

 

Family selfie at Megan and Daniel's glorious day!

Family selfie at Megan and Daniel’s glorious day!

I’m so looking forward to our last wedding celebration of the fall this coming weekend. We’ll be heading south for a family reception in Georgia for my lovely cousin and her new husband. I’m so excited to celebrate them, see my extended family and introduce them to our little guy!

Posted in Family Style Tagged with: , , ,

Showered with Love, And Books!

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So you know how I said I’d be rewinding? This is some of that, it’s older but too cute not to share. WAY back in late May, baby sister assisted by some of my very best friends, threw a little baby shower for me and Magnus. It was wonderful!

They opted for a storybook theme that ran from the invitations, to the food, to the decor! Get ready to pin, because there are some very steal-worthy ideas here. My cousin (and friend!) Mariel opened up her lovely home to the small group, comprised of girlfriends from high school, college, law school, and beyond. And with food and drink assists from my friends Allie and Emily, it was quite the fete!

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The spread!

 

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Peter Rabbit Veggie Cups

 

Very Hungry Caterpillar Cupcakes!

Very Hungry Caterpillar Cupcakes!

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Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs

 

Green Eggs and Ham!

Green Eggs and Ham!

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The Stinky Cheese Man Cheese Plate

 

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If You Give a Mouse a Cookie – Cookies & Milk

 

Blueberries for Sal = Scrumptious Blueberry Macaroons

Blueberries for Sal – Scrumptious Blueberry Macaroons

How cute is this book sign?

How cute is this book sign? Bad pic, but we had it on display in the nursery pre-move

In addition to the delicious and adorable story book foods, the girls decorated onesies for Baby A.
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The afternoon was full of laughter (and maybe a few tears… but in fairness I was very pregnant and very sentimental so some of the messages to Baby A in the books really got to me!). I especially enjoyed the horrified looks on the non-mama’s faces when I opened some much-needed nursing aids and they learned what those products would be used for and the laughter that prompted from the mamas in the group!

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Darling Diaper Cakes!

Darling Diaper Cakes!

Baby and I, surrounded by the party planners!

Baby and I, surrounded by the party planners!

My brother’s girlfriend Ashley made me the MOST hilarious baby gift I’ve ever seen, a swaddling blanket that will make Baby A a baby burrito!

Practicing burrito swaddling on Totle

Practicing burrito swaddling on Totle

And even a few further flung friends managed to pitch in to help shower us with love. My darling friend and fabulous-florist Ryan had the most stunning floral arrangements made and delivered. My dear friend Ashley floored Aaron and I with her generosity by sending us the Pack N’ Play we’d registered for!

The invitations in keeping with the storybook theme came with a special request: “Just one more thing, we hope isn’t too hard, please bring a book instead of card.”
And as a result, we’ve gotten to start building a little library for our little guy that we are started enjoying even before he arrived!

Totle and I reading to the baby in utero.

Totle and I reading to the baby in utero.

The book nook in the old nursery

The book nook in the old nursery

Posted in Family Style, On the Menu Tagged with: , , , , ,

Mastering a New Master – Mini Move and Design Plan

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We wanted to wait for the official closing for the big move (out of prudence), but given the very real possibility that my early labor could turn into active labor at really any point, we opted to move our bedroom early.

The thinking there was that in doing so, no matter when Magnus made his grand debut, we’d have one room ready to go for us coming home from the hospital. I’d also read a good tip for any move is to pick one room to set up first before tackling others, so that you have a port in the storm that is a sea of moving boxes. This was a good decision for us, since as you know now he showed up three weeks early! It also made sense because we planned for him to be bunking in our bedroom the first several weeks anyway (STILL IS).

 

The old Master, but apparently on laundry day missing the grey duvet

Our master in the old house was only okay. And because no two rooms are identical, and our bedroom is  higher value real estate to us in a shared housing situation, I wasn’t comfortable just transporting our current setup straight into the new room, things needed to be remixed. For starters the room we moved out of was on the smaller side for a master (14′ x 13′) with alcoves that make the space a little harder to lay out, and several elements needed to be addressed: 

  • The tiny little nightstands that didn’t meet our storage needs leaving the tops perpetually cluttered
  • The leather headboard we’ve been using we’d purchased for song at auction (I think we have $50 in it) and wasn’t playing nicely with our low-profile box springs (it left a gap that pillows fell through nightly)
  • The rug situation, because we’d agreed to include the rug in our current bedroom in the sale of our house.
  • We need more drawer storage to offset what we’ll lose in our hallway built-in (that’s where Aaron had been keeping his casual clothes).
  • I needed to find space in our new living situation for the adorable coral x-benches we’d gotten as wedding presents from my cousin Mariel
  • I also wanted to use our West Elm Green Glass Jug Lamps
  • Aaron wanted a darker color on the walls to promote a sleep cocoon and black out drapes for the windows
  • I was ready to let go of the vanity setup since I found I did my makeup sitting on the bed every day anway
  • I was sick of our old bedding (not pictured, charcoal grey), and with a darker wall color it would look dreadful

So while on bedrest, awaiting the arrival of our little lion, I started cooking up a plan.

I knew I needed to find a way to tie together emerald green, coral, and a dark wall color. I also needed to find a home for a gorgeous oriental rug that came to me originally belonged to my late Uncle John and then my Grandmother. It had lived in the dining room at our old house, and it is was too precious (and pretty) not to have a great home in our new setup.

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I bounced around ideas in my head and trolled Pinterest for inspiration but then it came to me, put the two together! The coral benches would pick up the coraly tones in the rug and the emerald could enhance the sagey green, plus I already knew the rug could hold its own with a dark wall color.

So I started playing around with a mock-ups to get to the right solution.

I leaned immediately toward a deep blue or navy, after all I already knew I loved navy walls with the rug and I know my mom is a fan of navy (it’s still her house), but I wanted to be sure so I tried out a few options in photoshop (charcoal – too grey, black -fought the rug, emerald – too taste specific for resale and didn’t work with the lamps) but quickly confirmed that Navy was the way to go.

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Mock-up

We picked Naval by Sherwin Williams and hired a local contractor who had done some work for us at the old house to get it painted since we had our hands full packing and I was too pregnant to paint. While we were add it we had him take all the trim from Ivory to White, and that alone made a HUGE difference in how the room felt.

I knew with Navy walls we’d need to bring in lighter elements or the room would feel like a cave. Enter white nightstands and primarily white bedding. Plus I just love how crisp a room feels with white bedding!

We decided on new bedding from Pottery Barn and ordered the  Morgan 400-Thread-Count Duvet & Sham, in Desert Rose and the Shelby Geo Duvet Cover. Why two duvets? We’ve found one key to a happy marriage is that we each have our own comforter so no is accused of hogging the covers! I’ve never spent anywhere near $400 on bedding before, but I had a good coupon code and it was exactly what the space called for, so I splurged.
We found the headboard for 75% off at our auction website and while over in Cincinatti picked up two Hemnes three drawer dressers from IKEA. Now both of these items required a little work because the headboard had a small defect near the side wing that needed to be stitched (thanks sister friend!) and the dressers had to be built, but we were making progress.

We mounted the Z Gallerie Pierre Mirror that had hung over our mantel in the old house over our bed, moved in the furniture, set up an awesome Pack ‘N Play from our dear friends the Hoppers in one corner and called it a bedroom while we waited on Baby.

Well actually that’s not quite true, I was insistent that the outlets in the room all needed to be swapped out because not only were they icky bisque (dated and clashed with the freshly painted trim) but all the outlets were loose (everything would come unplugged when you tried to use it) which is a fire hazard. And with all the other moving tasks, it didn’t quite get done before I landed myself in the hospital with preeclampsia, so I MIGHT have begged Aaron to go to the house the morning of my c-section (prior to the procedure) to switch out the outlets. And because he loves me and is smart enough not to argue with a crying pregnant lady, he obliged.

It took several weeks to get any art hung or anything else unpacked or decorated, but at least we had our beds set-up when we brought our lil guy home for the first time!

Back soon with the “after” photos!

Posted in Home Sweet Home Tagged with: ,

Moving Out, While Largely Unable to Move

HA! This post was written a few days before Mr. Magnus arrived in early July, I’ll go ahead and post it now without edits and still an update on the end.

So if you missed the announcement in our last post, we’re under contract to sell our house! This is great news, as we wanted to sell our house to make room for more flexibility in our lifestyle. We still have a closing to get through, but we’ve cleared all the major hurdles and are hopeful that it’s smooth sailing from here on out.

So yay! We’re moving. But I’m nine months pregnant and have been on and off bed-rest over the last two months trying to prevent a preterm arrival of our little man, Magnus Leo, which makes moving and really all things infinitely harder. I know some women are either lucky (or tanks) and can keep working full-speed right up until delivery but that just hasn’t been my experience. After an infection in early May kicked off pre-term labor, things had been pretty well under control most of June, right up until last weekend I pushed myself too a little too hard physically trying to get sets ready for Willy Wonka, and whamo – contractions were back with a vengeance. I thought I was pacing, I stayed hydrated, I sought seated tasks, I let people help, but baby was not having it. So I had to listen to my doctors, my body, and my baby and slow things way back down. Obviously I wasn’t going to be doing any heavy lifting anyway, but this development is going to make the task of moving even harder as it limits my ability to make trips up and down the stairs, pack, bend over, generally exist, etc.

Lucky for me, my husband is a beast. Like could almost be a one-man moving company. Years of experience with manual labor and his last year of active weight-training have made many jobs that I’d expect to need three men for, solo work for my hulk of a husband. This helps a lot. We looked at hiring professional help for the whole enterprise, but given that we aren’t planning a one for one move, there is still a lot of leg-work required on our end organizing and once we do that, it doesn’t seem to make as much sense to spend big bucks if we have to do hard work anyway.

So Aaron is the muscle, and I’m trying to pull my weight, despite not being able to carry any weight, by making super-detailed plans and designing strategies to chunk the activity into smaller bites so we have a prayer of getting it done around/before baby.

I’ve started by making a master spreadsheet of all of our furniture and major case goods and labeling it as use, sell, or store. To do this I had to have a plan for where our stuff could fit in at my parents house. They’ve been super flexible about making room for us and our stuff and my mom and I were able to talk through using my favorite free floor planning software (floorplanner.com) where everything should go.

Once stuff was designated “use”, I added another column to indicate what room at my parents’ house it would move to. Where it was sell, I added an asking price, so I’d have that all ready to go to list stuff on craigslist and/or price it for a garage sale.

Moving List

Aaron and my parents got the ball rolling last week by clearing out what will be our new bedroom at their house, and we’re now in full-scale moving mode. It isn’t exactly easy or stress-free, but if we can get the bulk of it done before baby, it’ll be worth it!

Update: We sailed through our closing and offically sold the house. We had to be out two days before Magnus’s due date aka, twoish weeks after he was actually born. It was insanity. Things are STILL in boxes. I still think the spreadsheets were a good call, it would have been better if more people had read them, or if we’d had really any other timing situation. Kudos to Aaron, my parents and our dear friends Allie & Ross for getting us through it!

Posted in Family Style, Home Sweet Home, Recipes for Success Tagged with: ,

And we’re back.. + 1 new baby – 1 old house

Ok, unintentional 3 month blog break. Let’s blame the care and feeding of one tiny lil baby shall we? Want to play quickie catch-up before I rewind and delve into some of the details?

It’s been the best three months of my life, with some of its most grueling moment sprinkled in along the way.

How so you ask? Well…the week I had an unplanned C-section was also the week we moved out of our house…. and in with my parents.  The Holmes and Rahe stress scale awards us major points (more points is worse here) for cramming all those into one year let alone one week. It was a doozy but SO worth it.

Things are going really well on all fronts.

And our tiny baby bean is not so tiny anymore!

Birthday Boy, freshly hatched.

Birthday Boy, freshly hatched.

One Month!

One Month!

Two months!

Two months!

3 months old!

Three months old!

 

But there’s lots more than baby to catch you up on (and much more about him) so we’ll be posting again very soon and on the regular!

Posted in Family Style Tagged with: , ,

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