Thursday, October 30, 2014

30 days, 30 blog posts #NaBloPoMo

I'm biting the bullet and participating in NaBloPoMo this year (both because I like a challenge and because I'm a masochist).

It's a fancy way of saying I'm going to write a blog post every day for the thirty days of November.

Sounds easy, right?

Well, we'll see. I have visions of me getting up for a feeding at 11:56pm and remembering I didn't post for that day and trying to juggle feeding a baby, rocking, and posting on my phone with one hand.

I'll be posting them on Facebook. But maybe not every day. I don't know, I don't want you to get sick of me.

Or of mundane posts about dust bunnies and dirty diapers.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

no longer a Target virgin

I waited as long as possible before introducing Max to utopia Target, and the store officially has its newest, smallest, cutest guest.

Max, keeping a low profile. 
Never let them see your excitement.

Max was bundled, we had our list in hand (which consisted mostly of formula!) and we started what would be the first of MANY trips to the bullseye together.

I had something to return (of course) so we hit up the customer service line as soon as we walked in.

As we were waiting, a woman approached me.

Aaand, here we go.

She was middle aged, disheveled, and dressed in knee-high patterned rain boots, khaki shorts and see-through rain slicker (it was sunny out, btw) and sweatshirt with a picture of a cat on it, and her hair was standing on end. Honestly, she looked like she took a wrong turn and missed the exit for the OTHER big box store.

She peered into the cart at a peacefully sleeping Max.

"Cute baby," she said, staring at me.

"Thank you," I replied because, well, that's what you say, even to weirdos.

"I'll give you five dollars for him."

Excuse me?

Did this woman just offer to buy my baby?

And is five dollars the going rate for babies these days?
(If so, we just did everything totally WRONG)

Normally I would turn on the 'tude, but this woman was creepy.

"Haha, well, he's not for sale." Understatement.

She continued to stare at me. "I bet he kept you up all night crying."

Actually, he didn't.

"No, he's a good boy."

"Oh he's a good by, huh? Just wait." She bore her spooky eyes into mine, as if casting a spell of sleepless nights upon us.

"NEXT!" the cashier called out.

I pushed ahead to the service desk, and the weirdo found someone else to harass.

Now, can we spend twice as much as we should and buy a million things we don't need in peace, please?

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Is it still called multi-tasking if you're only doing one thing?

I'm on maternity leave.

It's kinda crazy. And it still sounds weird when I say it.

So what the hell have I been doing?

When people found out we were having a baby, they asked me if I thought I'd like maternity leave, or if I'd be bored and miss work.

Honestly, I had no idea what to expect. But I can assure you, that I don't miss work (sorry, guys!). 
Hey, they probably don't miss me, either!

So far my leave has been rather calm. Mostly because Maxwell is only a few weeks old, and he's still sleeping a lot. The first few weeks of maternity leave should be called "What you can get done in 3 hours". Because that's what I do each day – accomplish everything I can while Max naps.

(You know that saying, 'Nap when the baby naps'? Well, it's a crock of shit. If I nap when Maxwell naps I will have spent 20 hours of my day sleeping and getting zero done. I would like to rewrite that adage to: 'Multi-task your ass off when the baby is napping or you'll hate yourself'.)

I have a running 'to do' list that I keep close by. Each day something new gets added. On this list are things like, 'Organize hall closet', 'Change over Fall clothes' and 'Send Max's birth certificate into insurance company'. Some tasks are bigger than others, some require only 5 minutes of my time.

But each day, I have one goal: tackle ONE THING on this list.

Depending on how our night was, I could cross something off by 10am. On those days, I substitute other household things like laundry, dishes, or what has become the bane of my existence: washing and refilling bottles.

Bath time is still a two-person job. And Max is NOT a fan.
NOTE: this pic was taken thirty seconds before Max pooped in his towel on Rob's lap.
As if to say, "I shit on bath time, folks."

Being a Type A personality, this has been quite the adjustment. I'm used to being busy from the minute I wake up to the minute I go to sleep at night. Not that taking care of Max doesn't keep me busy, but the old me would have a zillion things to do WHILE taking care of him.

Pre-Max, even on the weekends I would get up and get to the grocery store by 7:30am (who wastes time lying in bed when you could be at the grocery store before anyone else?), come home and throw a load of laundry in, run errands, make lunch for the workers in our yard that day, cook for the week, do more laundry…and it would only be 3pm.

Multi-tasking has taken on a whole new meaning.

Aside from eating, sleeping and pooping, Max has tummy time, story time, and play time. When he's fussy, I dance around with him and sing to him. So far, he's really into my rendition of Beyoncé's "All the Single Ladies" and Phillip Phillips' "Home". And my "Itsy Bitsy Spider" isn't too shabby, either.

Wednesday's giraffe-themed story time.

The other awesome thing about having this time at home? I get to cook again! (And we don't eat dinner at 9:30pm every night!)

Rob comes home for lunch every day, so I get lunch ready each day. And every night, I cook us a fabulous meal. 

 Max's first meatloaf night!

 Grilled NY Strip with rosemary mushrooms and blue cheese risotto.

 Now THAT'S a roast chicken.
Ina Garten's recipe is the best!

 Oh, THIS old lunch? Just burrata with prosciutto and pesto. No biggie.

My in-laws homemade tortelli with a brown butter 
and roasted butternut squash sauce.

So if you're wondering how the leave is going? It's awesome. Not only do I get to bond with Maxwell, and watch him learn and grow, I get to do things I love to do…even blogging.

But what I love most is staring at this face all day long:

Of course, once my little munchkin decides all this sleeping isn't for him, the whole game will change.

Until then, bring on morning talk shows and the Food Network!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Part 4: The long road home

One of my favorite scenes from the movie Knocked Up was when Katherine Heigl screams at Seth Rogan for not reading the baby books to prepare him for the birth of their child. Of course – being a movie – when it's crunch time she realizes that he HAS read the books and he's committed to being a good father to their baby.

Well, this isn't the movies.

And I didn't read the baby books.

But it turns out I didn't need to.

Because a 2-day road trip with a 3-day old across 10 states is the crash course in parenting everyone who is expecting should experience.

Wednesday, October 8, 1:30pm

Adios, hospital!

We're on the road! 

Precious cargo on board!

Following behind us in their own SUV are our parents - this IS our family vacation – road trip style – after all.

Bless his heart, Max falls asleep the minute we hit the highway.

Our parents had grabbed sandwiches and waters from the hospital cafeteria before we left. Somehow – in dividing up the lunches – there was a mix up and no one had the right sandwiches in their respective cars.

So our first stop was a gas station in South Carolina, where we ate our sandwiches on the side of the road like vagabonds. 

100% embarrassed by our roadside eating, I stay in the car and keep Max company.

Max – thankfully – slept through the entire embarrassing episode.


Man, South Carolina is a BIG state to drive across.

Max sleeps through all 746 "South of the Border" signs.

Diaper change! I had purchased a soft, flat dog bed and packed it in my suitcase. We put that on the back seat, then put Maxwell on top to change his diaper. 

There was NO WAY I was taking him into a dirty rest stop to change his diaper.

And this contraption worked just fine.


We're almost at our pit stop for the night, but Max is hungry and needs to be changed.

Halifax, NC is as good a place as any.

My father-in-law sneaks some beef jerky and my dad gets chicken sandwiches from Burger King.

Rob and I don't eat, making that just lunch for us today. It seems we are on the ultimate weight loss plan without even trying. The pounds are just going to fall off of us!


See ya, North Carolina! Hello, Virginia!

We FINALLY arrive at our halfway point for the night: Petersburg, Virginia.

"Oooh! A baby!" the hotel lady squeals. "I have to come around and see the baby!"

She comes out from behind her desk and bends over the car seat. Max, unaware he's on display, remains sleeping.

"He's so cute! How old?" she asks.

"Three days."

(cue her look of shock and horror)

"Three days???!!!" she looks at me like I'm a criminal, her brain working hard to figure out if we're on the run with a stolen baby.

In the elevator I say to Rob, "I'm pretty sure that lady is calling child services right now."


Laundry time…in the sink. Our little Max has been peeing through every outfit we put him in so far on this road trip. The problem is, he was circumcised this morning, and the nurse told us 'don't touch it!' (and honestly, we didn't want to.  I couldn't even look at it, let alone touch it!) 

So we haven't been able to point Max Jr south when diapering him. So he's just been peeing up and out of his diaper.

Not knowing what size he was going to be, I packed both newborn and 0-3 months sized clothing. And because I needed more than just a cute 'going home from the hospital' outfit, I threw a ton of stuff in the suitcase.


Max – having just slept through 3 states – is wide awake. And screaming with hunger.

Our neighbors must love us.


Not having the comforts of home – which includes the wonderful bedside sleeper that's assembled and waiting for our little boy – we settle Max into his car seat for the night. (hey, it worked for the last 10 hours, right??)

Aaaand….I'm wide awake. I guess that half hour of sleep I got in the night before was all I needed for the rest of the week.


I tuck a blanket tightly around Max's legs and tuck it into the car seat (blasphemy! but it's cold and I don't have any more clothes for him!) and watch him sleep. 

My eyes pop open (even though I'm not sleeping) at every one of his moans, squeaks, and deep sighs to make sure he's not suffocating.

Sleep is over-rated anyway.


The Grandparents do a morning visit in our room and I create a outfit for Max for the day out of what's clean/dry/semi-fitting.


On the road again!

Adios, Virginia.

Look, Max! The Washington Monument!


Lunch break at the McDonald's across the street from Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland.

In desperation at the last diaper change stop, I double-diapered Max. And what do you know, my technique worked! His clothes are dry! 

I revel in my first triumphant Mom Moment.

I savor my cheeseburger and fries (which are both cold by the time I get to eat them…welcome to motherhood!) knowing it may be my last meal of the day.


I have never been so happy to be on the New Jersey Turnpike in my life. As crappy as it is, it's familiar territory and I'm confident that if GPS shit the bed, we could get ourselves home from here. 

Plus, we have those large rest stops right on the highway, so I no longer have to worry that we're getting off the interstate in the middle of a bad neighborhood to feed Max.

Guess what? Max's outfit is wet!

Eff it. He rides the rest of the way home in a t-shirt and diaper.


The city on the 95N sign finally says New Haven!

Max takes his first trip over the George Washington Bridge. (He's not impressed)

Text to my mother-in-law: "Follow us to our house and then my mom can hop in the car with you guys to go home."

Her text back: "We already decided that's the plan. The drinks are on you guys!"


Welcome home, Max!

Max coming inside for the first time!

Cheers to Maxwell James!
(and a successful drive home!)

Max's first meal in his room. It's good to be home.

Our trip in numbers:

895: number of miles traveled

27: number of pokes I gave Max to check his breathing

7: number of outfits Max peed through

3: number of meals Rob and I ate in 48 hours

2: number of minutes Max cried in the car

0: number of naps yours truly took in the car

Let the fun begin!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Part 3: Three Long Days

Sunday, October 5, 9:15pm

We’re in the nursery watching Baby M have his first bath and check-up to make sure all of his parts are working when we hear the commotion coming off the elevators.

The Clampetts (aka: the grandparents) have arrived!

It’s been a long 6-year journey not for only Rob and me, but for our parents as well. They’ve watched their friends become grandparents, dodged many “Any grandchildren yet?” questions and have been in on this process since day one. 

Finally, finally, finally Rob and I can happily tell them: your grandchild is here. And he’s perfect.

The grandparents, proudly wearing their "It's a BOY" stickers


Our brand new bundle of joy is about to start his first adventure: the Special Care Nursery. They've been watching his breathing and it appears very labored. 

"He's 'singing'," the nurse tells us. "Or we call it 'grunting'. It just means he's working extra hard to breath."

The little guy probably had some fluid leftover in his lungs. This could be because of two reasons: 
1. He was 3 weeks early 
2. He had a ‘quick trip’ through the birth canal (um, ew).

“We’re going to get him set up,” the nice nurse tells us. “Come by in an hour and ring the bell and you can see him.”

We both stand there helplessly watching her wheel our son away. He's only been here in the world for a few hours and they were already taking him away from us.

Monday, October 6, 12:30am

On what is quickly becoming the longest day of our lives – and quite possibly the most hours I’ve been awake consecutively – we ring the bell for the NICU. We’re buzzed in and instructed to wash up before entering. Because these teeny tiny patients are so sensitive and susceptible to germs, everyone must wash their hands for three full minutes before entering. Have you ever washed your hands for 3 full minutes? It’s an eternity. 
Have you ever washed your hands for 3 minutes anticipating seeing your little newborn baby? It’s an eternity times a million.

The NICU is filled with little incubators covered in quilts keeping the smallest babies you’ve ever seen warm and safe. There are machines everywhere, beeping and whooshing and clicking. And there, in the corner, is our sweet boy: wearing only a diaper and lying spread eagle under a heat lamp. I would laugh at his pose if he wasn't covered in wires, didn't have a breathing tube taped to his face and the littlest IV I’ve ever seen in my life.

 “You have the biggest baby in the NICU!” one of the nurses cheerfully tells us.

But he just looks so…little. And helpless.

Do we look exhausted, or what? Oy.

We’re allowed to visit as much as we like. By the next afternoon, he’s off of his oxygen and the nurses start to reduce the baby’s fluids and we get to feed him for the first time from a small bottle. Monday night, we’re allowed to change his diaper and feed him even more. The next morning he’s off of his IV. The grandparents scrub in and visit him two at a time. Not exactly how we imagined them seeing him for the first time up close. They weren't even allowed to hold him, just watch him in his little bin.

So. Freaking. Small.

Our sweet boy stayed in the NICU for only 36 hours before getting a clean bill of health and being released to the Well Baby Nursery.

And those 36 hours were the longest of our lives.

Monday, October 6, 10am

Baby M is officially named Maxwell James and makes his debut on social media!

Tuesday, October 7, 2:30pm

A nurse wheels Maxwell into our room. Thank god! Up until this point, Rob and I had just been sleeping in a hospital room for no reason; Rob on the pull-out bed and me on the Craftmatic hospital bed. 

It was such a strange experience, that I kept calling our room our 'hotel room'. Every time we'd leave the room, I'd ask Rob if he had the key. He had to keep reminding me that we were in a hospital and there were no locks on the door. And somehow, even with the knowledge that anyone could come into our room at any point even while I was in bed, I was able to sleep.

I have to say, for brand new parents, we had gotten two awesome nights sleep.

Tuesday, October 7, 9pm

Our parents have gone back to their hotel, the nurses have left, and it’s just us and Maxwell and our first night together.

“What do we do next?” I ask Rob, over a sleeping Maxwell.

We haven’t had anything to eat most of the day, so Rob heads down to the food court to get us some dinner. Only in the south is there a Chick Fil-A inside the hospital.

I force myself to eat through the nerves that have taken over my stomach. I can’t believe the nurses just left the baby with us. How do they know we’re qualified to take care of him? I haven’t even mastered the swaddle yet! 

Everything was still so surreal. The last two days felt like we were just visiting a baby in the hospital…now we’re responsible for one.

It’s cool to sleep with the lights on, right?

 My first swaddle attempt. Max is saying, "Ma, really?"

Wednesday, October 8, 7am

Our first night in numbers:

11: the decibel and strength of Max’s cries at 3am (on a loudness scale of 1-10)

27: the total number of minutes I slept all night (not bad for a first night, no?)

314: the number of times I got up to check and make sure Maxwell was breathing

65: the number of times I “accidentally” poked Max to make him move to verify he was still alive

654: the number of times I whisper-asked Rob if he thought Maxwell was breathing

4,739: the number of times I questioned my abilities as a mother

Wednesday, October 8, 10am

Nurse: “You’re being discharged today!”


But Max just got out of the NICU!

But he’s only 3 days old!

But we only had one night of practice!

But he’s so small!

But we’re not ready!

But I still can’t swaddle!

When hospitals make the decision to discharge you it’s no joke.

I believe their exact words were, “You are free to go. Take your time and let us know when you’re ready to leave and we'll walk you out.”

What they meant was, 'You have to leave. Now. I will SAY ‘take your time’ but what I really mean is: Scram. I’ll call and come by every 20 minutes to ‘gently’ check on you to see if you’re ready. But you need to be ready. We’re done with you now.'

Rob and my parents headed downstairs to pull the cars around and I walked with the nurse wheeling Maxwell in his plastic bassinet to the nurse’s station where they would cut off the anti-baby-theft alarm tag on his foot before sending us on our way.

The nurses at the station congratulated me and wished me well. I put on my best ‘I totally got this’ face and smiled.

One of the nurses looked me up and down suspiciously.

“He’s YOUR baby?”

Me, “Yes. Well, I obviously didn’t give birth to him, but yes, he’s my baby.”

I let those words wash over me. He’s my baby.

“Well, I was gonna say: damn, girl, you look GOOD. That’s how you do it!”

And with that, we walked out into the warm Augusta day to start our life together as a family.

Strapping Maxwell into his car seat for his long journey home!

Next up: the road trip home!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Part 2: One Very Special Delivery

Sunday, October 5

It was warm and sunny in Augusta as we made our way towards the hospital. 

"We're having a baby today," I say to Rob, then reach over and squeeze his hand.

I can't remember exactly what I was feeling. 

Excitement for the day ahead. 

Relief that we made it to Georgia before his arrival.

Anxiety that everything would go well.

But most of all, everything felt surreal. It's hard to explain. It was almost like we were going to visit a friend who was having a baby. It didn't even occur to me that after our visit we were taking that baby home with us. That he would be OURS.

Our parents were due to arrive on later flights into Augusta at 8pm.

The Women's Hospital was quiet when we arrived. I guess there aren't many babies who want to make an entrance into the world on a Sunday (day of rest and all that). 

"Lordy, Lordy!" the woman behind the desk at the nurses'  station hollered when she say us. "Y'all made it! Y'all made it! Woo hoo!"

And that was when we realized that we were a big deal. Well, a big deal in the Women's Hospital in Augusta, Georgia, anyway.

"Nancy, they're here!" she shouted over to another nurse walking by.

"We've all been waiting for you to get here!" Nancy smiles at us.

You have? Us? Do they have the right people?

"She's right this way," another nurse ushers us towards a room. "We've been waiting for you so we can get things moving!"

The warming unit is all set up and waiting for Baby M to make his arrival!

Our surrogate smiled when we walked in, probably relieved that she could start to get our little creature out of her body.

"Let's jack up that pitocin now that the parents are here," our nurse said. "And get this show on the road."

Now that we were getting this 'show on the road', I started to panic that we weren't quite ready for this show to begin. Or end.


Still 4 centimeters.

Rob and I head outside to our rental car with our surrogate's husband to install our car seat, that they have so kindly been keeping at their house for this very day.

Nothing like installing the car seat for the first time into a rental car!


Still waiting!

Because the hospital was so empty, our nurse set Rob and I up in the delivery room next door to our surrogate.

"After the baby is born, we'll walk him next door to this room and I'll do everything I need to do to him in here with you. That will give your surrogate some privacy and allow you guys to be a family for the first time and to bond with the baby," she tells us.

Only in the south, where people are nice and accommodating, does this happen. I tried to imagine Yale Hospital saying, "Hey, we're going to give you this room for free to use and do everything we can to be nice to you and give you the best experience possible." 

And they would realize that they were from north of the Mason Dixon line and take everything back.

Our "delivery room" for the day.


7 centimeters!

Our parents are just getting ready to board their flight from Atlanta to Augusta.

We see our doctor coming down the hall. He's finally here!

"How much longer?" I ask him.

"Oh, I'd say about 15 minutes or so."


Any chance 'or so' is code for 3 more hours???

Wait! I want to scream.

We're not ready yet!

It is then that we realize that our parents aren't going to make it to the hospital before our baby's birth. We decide not to tell them, so they don't worry about it for the entire flight over. 

When they ask for an update instead we say: "Things are moving along!".

 The latest in post-birth 'skin to skin' fashion: the double Johnny coat.
Don't be jealous.

The very last picture ever taken of just the two of us.
I'm pretty sure we're both thinking, 
"Do we have time for one last quick beer before this show???"


Have you every been in a delivery room? Well, I hadn't. Everything I knew about delivery rooms I learned from the movies.

Screaming women in labor. Husbands being told it was all their fault. Mayhem. Bright lights. And incompetent doctor and a jokester nurse.

Funny thing…it's not like that at all.

The room wasn't that big, but the cast of characters was assembled:

  • The doctor (probably the second most important person in the room) who was suited up in what resembled a Hazmat suit (including booties that went up to his knees – what exactly was he going to be stepping in???). It seemed his primary role was to stand back and observe our surrogate's nether regions and say things like, "That's it" and "Good job" and "Keep it up".
  • Our nurse (whom it seemed had the most vocal role in the room), who SWORE she was going to deliver this baby before her shift ended at 7pm. Her primary goal was the count. "10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. PUSH! Great! Do it again! 10, 9…"
  • A second nurse who watched the monitors. Every once in a while giving updates and maybe handing something over. Monitor watching and staying out of the way seemed to be her forte. Oh, and making sure the incubator was warm.
  • Our surrogate, who was being quite the trooper.
  • Our surrogate's husband, who stepped in as birth coach/hand holder/motivator.
  • Rob, who stood north of the action near our surrogate's head, holding the umbilical cord cutters and providing blockage for his lovely wife.
  • Me, the lovely wife, who was plastered up against Rob, arm wrapped around his, head facing the back wall continually asking "What's going on now???" and "Can you see him???"
The room was very calm and very quiet. In fact, I think I heard chatter about the weather in between pushes, and I think our surrogate was laughing at jokes. But I still didn't look. I just couldn't.


One big push and Baby M made his way into the world.

I think I looked because I could have sworn I saw the doctor holding him up and thinking, "Did she just give birth to a toddler???" because he was so round and plump.

I heard things like, "Big boy!" and "Rob, come around here – watch your step – and cut the cord". (I believe Rob described the experience of cutting the cord as "weird" and "squishy".)

I remember being asked to come around the incubator to see our son, squirming and squawking as the nurses cleaned him off. I stared at him in awe. 

You are mine, I kept thinking. You are mine.

Shortly after the birth we were whisked next door, to start our life as a new family.

Our very first family photo


My cell phone rings.

"We just landed," my mother in law said. "We're here!"

"You're not the only one who's here," I tell her, smiling.

And as if on cue, Baby M lets out a howl to say hello to his grandparents.


to be continued...