30 + 2

I keep thinking I'm 30, but today I turn 32. So far the thirties just feel like this one general decade of age. The thirties have been pretty good to me, so far. Every now and then my birthday overlaps (or almost overlaps) with Father's Day, which is always a little sad for me. It's been nearly 14 years since my father passed away, even though it doesn't always feel that long ago. Almost half my life has gone by, and along with it, so many milestones I wish I could have shared with him: college graduation, law school graduation, becoming a lawyer, getting married, having a first child... but even so, I'm so thankful that I had a father who loved me and believed in me. I attribute most of the values I hold dear today to his good work as a parent.

Random list of things I've learned on my 31st year:
  • Being a parent is harder than you can ever imagine, though it's totally worth it. 
  • Having a child changes a lot of relationships (mostly for the better!): the meaning of family first is very different. 
  • All moms are champions but moms who nurse are special champions- it is such a commitment and such hard work!
  • It's still hard for me to ask for help and to ask for grace. I need lots of grace and have been blessed with lots of it despite having discovered some of my worst this past year.
  • I'm in a pretty good place for being my age. :)
  • I was way late on the Modern Family bandwagon but it is an awesome show!
  • I will not being able to do everything just the way I want it, and that's okay.


The Cloth Diapering Life Part I

I hope the fact that I am writing about cloth diapering doesn't mean that I've officially become boring. One of these days I'll have time to think about things outside of work and baby! But in the meantime, this might be helpful if you are considering going cloth!

We got a variety of cloth diapers to try. I'll be honest though, the first two weeks we had so much going on (Jude had to get surgery on an eye cyst), and we were so exhausted, we used the Pampers Swaddlers that someone had given us. We also were having a hard time tracking if she'd peed or not since it'd always happen with a giant wet poop, so the blue line on the swaddlers really gave me peace of mind when I was still working on breastfeeding.

Anyway, once we got our feet on the ground, I've gotten in a good rotation of washing every other day and drying them on the drying rack. Here's the breakdown on diapers, in order of use (Newborn for Part I, One Size for Part II):

Little Joey's: Newborn all-in-ones. We only had two of these, because they were pricey (got them from our registry).

  • Pros: Like the snap down to protect the umbilical cord. Really good fit for when J was a skinny little newborn- never leaked, very absorbent, and she didn't seem to be swimming in them. All in one, so no need to take apart for washing.
  • Cons: Since we don't use the dryer for the diapers, these always took the longest (in the winter) to dry. Also, if you don't use liners, poop is pretty hard to get completely out of the seams. As much as I loved these for the fit and absorbency, J grew out of these in about a month, so not sure more would have been worth the price.

Bumgenius Newborn All-in-One: We had 3 of these- also a little pricey but really nice for the early days.

  • Pros: Obviously sized for your bitty new baby, plus the hook and loop closures and all in one package makes it just as easy as disposable diapers. They don't quite have the low front like the Little Joey's for the umbilical cord and I still folded it down a little, but really wasn't a problem. These dried faster than the Joey's. Really made life easy at the beginning. 
  • Cons: Pretty pricey, and J outgrew these way before she was 12 pounds- even before she was 11 pounds, because she's long. 

Kawaii Little Green Baby Bamboo: Newborn sized pocket diapers. I bought 9 of these during a flash sale (they were $5 a piece).

  • Pros: These are a good size for skinny newborns, and much less bulky. The regular price of $7.75 makes them very afforadable, plus they can be worn up to 22 pounds. The velcro is nice (non-scratchy) and makes these very similar to disposables.
  • Cons: The bamboo generally takes a bit longer to line dry, and the laundry tabs are wearing out so now the velcro comes loose in the washer and sticks to other stuff. They also just don't seem as well constructed- I'm constantly cutting off stray threads from the velcro pieces, though to be fair, it's not that they are falling apart or anything. We do tend to get leaks around the thigh area the most from these, less now that J has much chunkier thighs. It takes a few tries to fasten the velcro in a way that seems to properly secure around the leg area. 
Kawaii Pure and Natural (0-15 months): I think these are my overall favorite newborn pocket diapers. I have 3 and I just ordered 6 more.

  • Pros: They are super affordable ($6.99 regular, but look for sale days!). The sizing makes it less bulky (vs. Bumgenuis or the one size Kawaii daipers) and you can still get use out of them for the first year. We were able to start using these pretty early on in the newborn days. The pockets dry much faster than the bamboo, and the diaper is very absorbent.
  • Cons: I guess the only downside is that baby will outgrow these before she outgrows diapers, but they are so affordable in comparison, I think they are worth it.

To be continued!


Something's gotta give

Where I'm at in list form:

  • Went back to work after 6 weeks. Note to self: really should try to take 8 weeks minimum if I ever decide to have another child. 
  • Last week I got a breast infection. It did not feel good. 
  • I found the best tip ever for pumping: refrigerate the pump parts between pumps and reduce washing! I can't tell you the number of times I've washed pieces in the middle of the night and wanted to just throw them on the ground and go to bed.
  • After work yesterday, Jude decided she needed to eat for 2 hours straight.
  • Last night, I woke up with some weird form of acid reflux where it felt like I dry-swallowed a horse pill and it was just sitting in the bottom of my throat. 
  • Yesterday I reflected on my day when I finally got to bed and realized I spent exactly 30 minutes relaxing/doing something non-essential.
  • Today I caught myself standing in the work kitchen eating the leftover veggie tray from last week's office potluck and a bag of croutons. 
  • I feel guilty for feeling bad.
Snuggling with my baby girl still makes me remember it's all worth it, but oh my am I exhausted. Some days, I just feel defeated.

To new moms out there everywhere, hang in there if you know what I'm talking about. To not-so-new moms out there, hats off to you.


The Other Side: Parenthood

Here we are on the other side of pregnancy: meet Jude. Of course as her mother, I think she's the cutest. She decided to start her arrival shortly after her tired parents went to bed early February, so it was an overnight labor. Labor is really like nothing else I've ever experienced, and it went relatively smoothly and at 10 am the next morning our lives changed forever. It's cliche but it's true.

The past two and a half months have melted together and rapidly run its course. Six weeks of maternity leave left me feeling like I had barely gotten the hang of things: I've learned quickly that being a new parent can really give your self-confidence a shake. Prior to Jude, I felt in pretty good control of my life and competent. None of the classes, baby books, or Googling helped make me feel like I knew what I was doing when suddenly I was in charge of this tiny, wonderful, little person. Nothing prepared me for feeling like I have lost half of my brain from being sleep deprived. Nothing prepared me for how much work and how constraining nursing is. Nothing prepared me for the feeling of having two jobs- my career and my child. Is this how all new moms feel or am I just less capable of transitioning and handling things than I thought? 

I'm so exhausted. I have so much to be thankful for- a healthy, happy, baby girl who has the most adorable coos and smiles, among the many, but I feel so drained. It's no joke when people say the first few months are hard. So hard. Some days I feel pretty good about things going smoothly, other days it seems like one event out of place and plan will set a chain of little mishaps. I'm too type A to not feel thrown off, but I know I will have to learn to stand it.

But that's just today, this moment. I am on antibiotics and achy all over. I'll check in on a better day and maybe I'll tell you how cloth diapering is going (it's totally doable and worth it!). 


End of January Brain Dump

It's official, baby J, per her grandmother's wishes, will be born in the Year of the Horse. She's also held out for her dad to argue his big hearing this week, so I'm thinking, let's get this show on the road! The doctor seemed to think baby J was going to make her appearance this week, but who could blame her for wanting to stay in with this week's subzero temperatures? Anyway, we're on countdown, which is surprisingly exhausting. We have managed to watch a lot of movies/shows:
  • Marvel's The Avengers- Wow. I was just looking for some mindless entertainment, but I couldn't even muster any enthusiasm for this movie. Loose and silly plot, all around bland.
  • Sunshine- A team of futuristic scientist/astronauts are sent on a mission to throw a nuke on the dying Sun to recharge it and save the Earth from extinction. Sounds like an interesting plot, right? Well, Danny Boyle took an interesting idea that could have explored some major character evolution and acceptance of death and sacrifice for the greater good... but without ruining it for you, let's suffice it to say after one too many calamities, the plot twist devolved the movie into a total joke.
  • American Hustle- great cast, very entertaining, but almost too formulaic con-artist movie. 
  • Five Days- HBO miniseries from 2007 that explores 5 24-hour periods in the case of a missing woman. For the genre, really well done. No ridiculous twist but a straightforward examination of people during this type of crisis, including a pretty good handling of some race issues on the side. 
  • True Detective- new HBO series. Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson are throughly entertaining and again, for the genre, which I generally am pretty skeptical about, I am really enjoying this show! 
  • Girls- (HBO) All I can say is, losing its charm. Rapidly. 
  • The Age of Innocence- Well done, true to the book, but only bearable if you are in the mood for rich people problems (in the 1870's). Also, random amusement from the excess of hideous tulle wrapped around fancy dresses? I was skeptical about the casting of Michelle Pfieffer as Countess Olenska, but in the end, she did it pretty well. Still not who I had envisioned.

Out of abundance of caution, we've been carpooling to work all week, so I've had a lot of time to observe the drive into Cincinnati and across the river from the passenger side seat. It's amazing how you can see things you never notice if you just shift your perspective a little (and also when you don't have to focus on the road). It was gloomy and gray this morning, but as we crossed the Roebling Bridge, I still was struck by how pretty our city is. Since we've been back, Cincinnati has continued to garner recognition nationally: one of 2014's most affordable cities to live in, subject of a photographer's admiration and surprise (check out these gorgeous photos), and the top starter of Twitter trends. Not that we don't have our issues, but what city doesn't?

In other news, it's been a season of loss for our extended family and other friends. One of the toughest (though all losses are tough), was baby Connor. Connor had CHARGE syndrome, but spent 15 months of his amazing life defying the odds, making people happy, and living so well. His passing came suddenly, and his wonderful parents have been an inspiration. There are no words to express the many emotions that come knowing that this incredible couple has gone through so much, but I hope to honor them and Connor by remembering to live and not just survive, and to love and practice gratitude. Read more about Connor here and on his Facebook page.

This will probably be the last post of this pregnancy- wish me luck!