Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Currently: December

Christmas has come and gone! And December is almost over. Is anyone sad to see this year come to an end? I certainly am not! I know turning the calendar to 2021 won't make all the problems of 2020 disappear, but at least we have hope that 2021 will be better thanks to the vaccine! Here's what is currently going on in my world!

Reading: 2 books - 60 Million Frenchman Can't be Wrong and Vision in White by Nora Roberts. The first book is a non-fiction book about France - it's written by 2 Canadian journalists who move to France to learn more about how the country works. This is my 'daytime' book. Then at night when I am up for hours feeding/soothing Will, I read Vision in White which is the first book in a series coined the "Bridal Quartet." I was never a 'read multiple books at the same time' kind of person but have found I need something very light and easy for those middle-of-the-night reading sessions! 

Loving: watching Will grow and change. He has already grown out of his newborn clothing due to his length. Paul was in NB size for 2 months so Will is quite the different baby! He's getting to be more alert during the day and his cheeks are getting chubbier! I'm looking forward to longer stretches of sleep, but he's sleeping better than those first 10 days so I'm reminding myself it could be worse.

Feeling: tired! But that is to be expected with a newborn. Napping is tough for me as Will does not want to be put down during the day - and really he'd prefer to be held 24/7 but I can get him to sleep in the snoo at night. It helps to have the perspective of having gone through this before, although Paul slept more and didn't mind being put down in a swing or boppy during the day... 

Thinking: about my fitness plans for 2021. Once I get cleared to exercise at 6 weeks, I'm planning to buy a Beach Body on Demand membership. It's only $99 for a year and you get access to so many different programs. Phil is missing working out, too. He would typically workout at the gym in his office building but that is not happening thanks to Covid. So he might try some of the programs, too. I just hope I can get Will to be cool with being set down for 30 minutes so I can workout during the day. We'll see how that goes - hopefully as he gets older he'll be happy to lay under the baby Einstein gym. Fingers crossed.

Anticipating: getting my vaccine! I am not optimistic about getting it all that soon, but hopefully my mid-year we will be vaccinated? I'm hopeful that our parents will be vaccinated in the first quarter, though!

Struggling: to keep track of what day it is. As a result of this constant state of confusion, I missed the first 'second mama' class last Monday. I knew it started on 12/21 but didn't realize 12/21 came and went - I didn't realize I missed the first class until Sunday night as I was thinking about how the 28th is my dad's birthday and had an 'oh crap!' moment where I realized I missed my first mama class. Gah. I am so mad at myself, but that's life with 2 kids during the holiday season. The class is a zoom class, too, and I have a harder time keeping track of zooms/calls since you aren't going anywhere to attend. Hopefully I did not miss too much by missing the first class.

Grateful: for all the meals we've received from family and friends. My mom stocked our freezer with lots of soups and we've had other friends and family send Grubhub gift certificates and meals. I did zero meal prep before Will was born since I was in so much pain from RA so we are super grateful for all the food we've received. I figured we would not get much for our 2nd child so have been very pleasantly surprised1

Working: on getting rid of maternity and baby stuff as Will grows out of it. I sold some maternity clothes on Facebook and will sell the rest when the pregnancy consignment shop in our area re-opens (they are closed right now due to covid numbers). As Will grows out of things, I'm sending the gender netrual stuff to my little sister who is expecting a baby girl (!!!) in mid-February. The boy stuff is going to the daughter of a former co-worker who is expecting a boy this spring. We received so many hand-me-downs for Paul and Will so I am very happy to pay it forward!

Listening: to very few podcasts these days as I'm not going for walks (too cold for a newborn). I try to listen while doing meal prep but I'm doing less of that these days, too!

Watching: so much tv! But that's newborn life for you! I watched "Emily in Paris" in a matter of days once Phil went back to work. Right before Will was born, we started to watch "Homeland" and are almost done with season 5!!! And now I am watching "Sweet Magnolias" on Netflix during the day when Phil is at work. I'm still reading a ton, but am also giving myself permission to watch more tv than I normally would as I know this phase is very temporary.

for longer stretches of sleep at night! Will is up every 2-2.5 hours, and sometimes he's up an hour after I put him down... But I know it should only get better!

What are you reading, anticipating and grateful for?

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Baby Will's First 2 Weeks

Baby Will is 2 weeks old today! His birth kind of feels like a lifetime ago. The first 7-9 days were incredibly challenging but we seemed to have turned a corner (knock on wood) when it comes to sleep so everyone is feeling much more human! Here's a little recap of his first 2 weeks of life.

Likes: being held my mom alllll the time. During that first week of life or so, he really wanted to be held or fed during the night hours. Since I am breastfeeding, he spends more time on me so I can more easily calm him. He's willing to sleep in his bassinet now - more on that later - so that has made a huge difference in how I feel. He also likes to be held during the day, too, but will tolerate going in his swing or doing tummy time on the floor. He also really likes to be in the lillebaby carrier (it's an Ergo-type carrier). I barely used this with Paul because it just wasn't necessary with one baby - but is getting used EVERY day now! I put him in it around 5 so I have both hands free to help feed Pablo/eat dinner/etc. He mostly wants to be held in a cradle hold or against my chest, but he's starting to like laying on my legs when he's awake. 

Dislikes: diaper changes, sponge baths (umbilical cord hasn't fallen off so he can't take baths yet), being cold. 

Firsts:  We started to do tummy time after his pediatrician appointment last week and he shockingly LOVES it. We just put a toy next to him and sit close so we can talk to him/make sure he doesn't fall asleep.

I don't have a picture of this, but he also had his first trip to the park! It was pretty mild on Saturday so we walked to our local park to burn off some of Pablo's energy. Pablo rode in the stroller and I put Will in the carrier. I need to get a carrier cover for these cold winter months - I should be able to borrow one from a friend. For this walk, I wore my maternity jacket, which I could zip about 3/4 of the way, and then I put a blanket over the top of the carrier to keep him toasty. It worked well and he slept for the whole outing. Here's hoping we have a mild winter so we can spend lots of time outdoors!

Feeding: Breastfeeding is going very well for us - so a complete 180 from my experience with Pablo! We did go in for one lactation consultant visit last week to check the latch as I was having some pain and trouble getting him to latch for night feeds. It was super helpful to get some help from an expert. He seems to be putting on weight, as evidenced by this photo taken about a week apart.He was about 3 oz from birth weight at the LC visit last Thursday, so I just assume he's above birth weight now. We will step on the scale with him at some point to get an idea of what he weighs but I am trying to be less obsessive about how much he weighs than I was with Pablo. Pablo struggled to gain weight so we had so many weight checks and LC visits and my instinct is to know exactly what he weighs every few days - but when I look at pictures like the comparison below, I can see it's really not necessary to track his weight so closely. 

Sleeping: was the biggest challenge in the first weeks. We had a string of nights where we got between 2-4 hours of sleep but then my body wouldn't let me nap during the day, so I felt like an absolute zombie. He slept well in the bassinet at the hospital but similar to Pablo, as soon as we got home, he HATED the flat-bottomed bassinet and would wake up as soon as we put him down. I kept trying for several days and then hit a wall last Wednesday and put him in the swing where he slept for some longer stretches. That is where Pablo slept for the first 3 months of his life, but sleeping in a swing is NOT safe so this time around, I knew we had to do something different. So I talked Phil into buying a Snoo off of Facebook. The Snoo is a bassinet designed by Dr. Harvey Karp, who came up with the "5 S's" that are used to calm babies. I can only think of 4 - shushing, swaying, swaddling and sucking. So this bassiet basically is meant to calm the baby - it will respond to them fussing and increase the motion/white noise. The bassinet has a very secure swaddle that you put the baby in. It's VERY expensive brand new ($1,400!!) so we opted to buy it off of Facebook as the resale value is very high. So we figure we will maybe lose $100 round trip on the buy/sell. I will say we are incredibly fortunate to be able to afford to buy this contraption. But it gives me major peace of mind to know he's sleeping in a safe place. It took a couple of days to get him used to it but now he sleeps in it all night and gives me 2.5-3 hour stretches which is amazing!

We experimented with 'arms up' swaddle to get him used to the Snoo but now he sleeps with his arms down.

Phil says the Snoo is like a "Clockwork Orange" reprogramming device. Ha. I have never seen that movie so don't completely understand the reference, but I can see what he means. It is a strange contraption - it will increase the sound and motion when the baby fusses. I've opted to keep it at the lowest level of 'soothing' - so very gentle motion with increased white noise. There are 5 levels of soothing and the higher levels seem a bit much for a newborn but maybe we will use the higher levels when he's bigger/more sturdy.

Dad:  Phil has had 2 weeks of paternity leave but has done a little bit of work here and there. Tomorrow will be a bit of a more full day for him as he has trading he has to help out with. But he works for a small company so he has to pitch in when needed. And working a bit here and there is not a big deal. He'll get some days off in the coming weeks to make up for doing so work this week/last week. During the day, I don't really need his help. When mom breast feeds, dad is just a bit less helpful! But he is doing 95% of the work when it comes to Paul. He gets him up/dressed/fed, takes him to school, does pick-up, takes showers with Paul, does bedtime, etc etc. I can not lift Paul for 6 weeks due to my C-section incision so his help with Paul is incredibly key! He also brings me snacks and keeps my water filled, etc. So he helps me out as much as he can but his role is all about helping Paul!

Mama: My RA flares have gotten better - I've had some rolling flares but they are not as intense as the ones at the end of pregnancy. I fully expect to start my RA injections tomorrow after my incision check as it looks good to me. My C-section recovery was definitely better/faster this time around. It blows my mind how fast the body can heal. The nurse anesthetist took photos of the c-section which are 3 second 'live videos' so I can see my doctor and her partner VIGOROUSLY pushing on my stomach to get Will out and there is so much tugging and jerking. I mean, it is not a 'gentle' procedure by any stretch of the imagination. So to think they could do all that and cut through all those muscles - and I feel pretty good 2 weeks later? It amazes me. The first 7-8 days were the worst but now I can get in/out of bed and shift around without discomfort. 

My post partum emotions are starting to fade, too. Thank God. I am not an emotional person but post partum makes you cry at the littlest things. Example: I read Paul's bedtime books on our first night home from the hospital. When I started to read "I Love You Goodnight" I started to cry and could not stop! It's a strange feeling to have no control over your emotions. Logically I knew it was ridiculous to cry while reading a book to Paul! And then I kept crying when I came downstairs which was pretty embarrassing with my parents there. I know they - especially my mom - understood it was out of my control but I hate not having control of my emotions! 

Next week I start a virtual "Second Time Mama" class which I am looking forward to. I took a new mom class from the same organization and had an awesome experience. I have a text group with the 7 moms from that class and we text every week and sometimes on a daily basis! Having a tribe of moms is so key so I'm looking forward to meeting more moms. The class is led by an RN/LC so you also get lots of great advice. 

Pablo: All in all, Pablo has done pretty well with the transition. The return to school has been rough - he went back the Monday after Will was born per the recommendation of his pediatrician. She said to get him back on his schedule ASAP and that we are less likely to get covid from him. Returning to school after a gap in care is always tough - it takes about 3 weeks for him to not cry at drop off. :( He is very happy at school but loves being with mom and dad... Add in a new brother/change at home and it's just making it a bit harder. But I know he will adapt and I know he's having fun there and getting the attention he needs! 

He's very excited about his little brother and wants to hold him often. He does pretty good, we are just working on gentle touch which is tough for an almost-3-year-old to understand! 

We are being intentional about spending one-on-one time with him. So dad plays in the basement with him and I baked muffins and play board games with him. He got a couple from my parents for Christmas and loves them!!

There has definitely been some regression behavior, which is to be expected. He's very interested in the pacifier and has said he is the baby... But I know this phase will pass!

So all in all, things are going pretty well - especially now that I'm getting more sleep! 

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Meet William Otto!

William Otto entered this world last Thursday, just after 8am! I've been meaning to sit down and share his arrival but it's been challenging to find a block of time with an empty lap. But here goes!

Birth Story

Planned c-section birth stories feel like less of a 'story' since everything is so planned out and there is no wondering when and how the baby will arrive. But I will say that a planned c-section was way better than an emergecy one done 29 hours after induction/after 17 hours of active labor! My c-section was at 7:30 - I walked down with the nurse, hopped up on the OR table, got my spinal block, and the baby was born 38 minutes later! I lucked out and got the same nurse anesthetist as last time - I did not remember her but she had clearly looked at my medical records and noted that she was there for Paul's birth - which is pretty cool of her to do. She was so incredibly kind - she held my hand until Phil got in there and took lots of photos of the birth. She also took pictures of Paul's c-section delivery. Medical stuff does not gross me out, so it's very cool to see how our boys came into the world! He clocked in at 8 pounds 4 ounces (so 1 ounce shy of a pound bigger than Paul!) and 21.5 inches. He has a big ol' head - just like Paul, too. 

I wasn't able to do skin-to-skin with William because his body temp was too low so they needed to wrap him up.

But he was able to lay on my chest while they stitched me up - I'll take what I can get! 

We went into the recovery room next and got lots of time to cuddle and work on breast feeding. Those who have read this blog for a long time may remember that Paul did not latch/transfer milk well - luckily I am having a completely different experience with William. He breastfed well from the start. We've had some challenges as breastfeeding definitely takes work and there always seem to be hiccups along the way, but all in all it's going well!

Then it was back to our post-partum room where we could rest and soak up some snuggles with our little guy. 

The Name

His name is William Otto, but we will call him Will. Phil came up with the name and I was totally on board with it. Otto is Phil's maternal grandfather's middle name. Phil was very close to this grandpa so it was a great way to honor their special relationship. We called the baby Taco through most of the pregnancy and half the time, that's what we continue to call him! We'll see if that nickname sticks or not!

Delivering during a pandemic

Overall, Covid didn't drastically change my delivery/post-partum hospital experience. I had to get tested 5 days before my c-section (it was negative thank goodness!) and I had to wear a mask during the delivery. We also wore masks whenever a provider came into our room. And you can't have visitors, of course, but my parents were the only people who came when Paul was born - and it was a very brief visit. The nurses said they think the no visitor policy is actually better for moms and dads so they can focus on the baby/establishing breastfeeding/etc without people coming in and out. Phil was also not able to leave the hospital, but I don't know that he would have if he could have, especially since our stay was so short. I definitely had a lot of anxiety about getting covid before delivery and now I will worry about us staying healthy with Paul in daycare, but the delivery itself felt pretty "normal." We won't be having any visitors at home either which is a big change from last time, but we've had people drop off meals and gifts and such so we are still feeling the love.

Big Brother Paul

I was almost more anxious about being away from Paul than I was about having another c-section. Phil and I have each spent nights away from Paul for work but this was our first time away from him together. I had no concerns about my parents watching them. They had 5 kids, this is their 9th grandchild and my mom was a nurse - so clearly they are extremely capable! But Paul is very sensitive to care providers and is very attached to me so I was worried he would struggle with us being away. But he did extremely well and only cried once on Friday night. Apparently he was extremely well-behaved and a great listener. Go figure he was on his best behavior for Papa and Nana!

We pushed hard for a discharge on Saturday, so a 2-night stay, instead of the typical 3-night stay for c-sections. The nurses and doctors were all on board with this as they are trying to get people out of there ASAP due to covid. So we were home by around 11:30 am on Saturday - after a pitstop at Starbucks to pick up a venti peppermint mocha, of course!!

Paul was jumping up and down and screaming with excitement when we pulled up front. He was very excited to meet his baby brother and loves to hold him! 

Our first week at home

Will turned 1 week old today. We are happy but extremely exhausted. While Paul had to be woken to eat every 3 hours as he was so sleepy/not into eating, it's a whole other story with Will. He seems much hungrier. But he is also much fussier - but only during the night, of course. We had several nights of being up every 45 minutes which is brutal. He seems to just want to be held/cuddle and really wants mom. So we feel pretty bleary-eyed and are hoping for some longer stretches of sleep soon so we can start to feel more human. I am glad Phil is home for 2 weeks of paternity leave to help out and he's been doing the vast majority of care for Paul. I can't lift Paul for 6 weeks so he will be doing the bulk of caring for Paul. I try to do what I can that doesn't involve lifting him and try to make sure I spend some time reading to him each day. 


Even with all the exhaustion and lack of sleep, I will still take this over pregnancy. I was so miserable at the end, and even had flares the night before the delivery that I was icing as we prepared to go into the OR. I had some flares post-delivery but the prednisone seems to be taking care of them now and I can go back on my injections after my 2-week incision check. Fingers crossed the incision looks good so I can get back on my miracle drug!

And that's my lengthy birth story post! Thanks for following along with this pregnancy! 

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

What We Read in November

December is here! Hurrah! My C-section is on Thursday and I could not be more ready to be done!! But the end is in sight!! 

I read a ton in November - 14 books. That might be the highest number for 2020 but I am too lazy to confirm this. I think the main reason I read so many books is that I went off social media for the month of November, mostly because I did not want to see posts about the election - even ones I agree with would trigger my anxiety. I needed a clean break and it's been good for me. I'm questioning whether I want/need to go back on but will likely go back on to share the news of the birth of our son and to sell some maternity items. But I'm thinking social media is not a great use of my time, all in all. 

Back to what I read, though! I broke the 14 books out into 3 groups: Hits, Just Ok, and Misses. I won't go into detail on the Just Ok ones. 


- Notes from a Young Black Chef is a book I'd recommend to fans of Top Chef. The author was on the show several seasons ago. It was interesting to read about his experiences working in the food world, especially as a person of color. 

- Party of Two was the latest installment in Jasmine Guillory's romance series. I find these books absolutely delightful. Highly recommend them if you need something light and easy-breezy. 

- All Adults Here gets mixed reviews but I ended up really enjoying it. It's solidly character-driven literary fiction and there are plenty of unlikeable characters, which can bug me. But in this case, there were enough people that I liked to offset the unlikeable ones.

- Beach Read was another romance that I enjoyed. Nothing earth shattering but it was a light, fun read. 

- A Good Time for the Truth is a collection of essays written by BIPOC who live or have lived in Minnesota. It delves into the racism and inequity that Minneapolis is sadly known for. Sometimes us northerners can think we don't have the issues with racism that the south does, but upon closer examination, we have plenty of problems to work through here. 

Just Ok: These books range from pretty good to fine. They aren't books I would highly recommend to others but I enjoyed them. 


- I read Fahrenheit 451 to complete the final category of the Modern Mrs. Darcy reading challenge I did this year. This filled the 'read a classic' category. I think I just have to accept that classics never seem to be a good fit for me. Phil told me he really liked this book but we definitely have different tastes in books. I found this book to be a complete slog and was glad it was only 158 pages. The fact that it was Dystopian/Sci-Fi probably did not help matters as those are genres that I don't tend to enjoy. 

- Suite Francaise was a book that my friend Kyria and I read together. We've been reading a book set in France each month. I used to own this book but got rid of it during a huge book purge before moving in with Phil so when she suggested we read it, I thought it sounded like a good idea. It was definitely a slog and had it not been a buddy read, I would have abandoned it. It's a 2-part book set during WWII. The first part features aristocrats fleeing Paris during the German invasion. The second part features more ordinary people living in a more rural area of France. The people in the first part were SO AWFUL. The people in the second half were less awful but it was still a slog. The unique thing about this book is that the author died in a concentration camp in 1942. This book was published posthumously many years later. It has been very popular but I did not work for me unfortunately...

- Paris By the Book was another book Kyria and I read together. I liked the concept - a woman and her teenage daughter move to Paris and run a book store when her husband goes missing. Did he die? Did he abandon them? There were aspects I liked, but as a parent, I found the father storyline to be very unbelievable so that impacted my reading experience. It was fun to read about areas of the city I am extremely familiar with. I hope to return to France some day but that is a LONG ways off!  

Paul's reads:

He got a new Ranger Rick magazine this month. He loves these so much so I suggested that the grandparents get him a Highlights subscription for Christmas and my parents took us up on that idea. We keep every Ranger Rick and he will go back and look at them again. He has outgrown the 0-3 Ranger Rick subscription so I am hoping my MIL changes the subscription to the next level up. 

In November, I ordered some books about Thanksgiving and Native Americans. His favorite was this book, Fry Bread. It's about a traditional food made by Native Americans and also addresses, in a child-appropriate way, the challenges the Native American population has experienced. 

Our neighbors brought over a bag of books their kids had grown out of. Paul's favorite was this Elmo potty book with songs. Unfortunately it has not encouraged him to use the potty. He is still STRONGLY resisting potty training so we are kind of throwing up our hands for now and hoping his teachers have some luck at school. I know he is intellectually capable of learning to use the potty but he is VERY resistant and there is no talking this stubborn kid into doing something he doesn't want to do...

And that is our reads for November! Did you read anything great this month?