Friday, July 27, 2012

What We're Doing. And Eating.

Well, I just feel like we are best friends this week with all this hanging out together we've been doing. Don't you? Here's what our little family has been up to the last seven days:

  • Learning new skills to pay the bills:

  • New skill not pictured: yelling. Further proof that we are a mess over this child: we can't get enough of her, even when she is literally yelling at us. Yesterday, Penelope was not having a banner nap day. After waking up early from her third nap, I went in to get her and, while she was stretching, she was looking up at me with a furrowed brow, just yelling away. Then Hugh walked in the room and poked his head over the crib. Wouldn't you know, she broke out in a huge smile and started cooing. I reminded her that I am the one who grew and birthed her (in all her 97th percentile at birth glory) and am now acting as her sole source of sustenance. Isn't it too early to pick a favorite parent? 
  • Oh, you want to see another picture of her cuteness? Twist my arm...

  • Studying. No big surprise, Hugh is a studying machine, up at 5am to get through his material while the rest of us are still asleep. We're very excited for August 24th to come and go around this place.  
  • I'm working on post for next week about new mama style. It could alternately be titled What To Do When You Wake Up and Hate Everything In Your Closet. 
  • In other fashion-related updates (seeing as I am blogging while wearing four-year-old yoga pants and a t-shirt I bought for $1.99 that Hugh calls my "on sale for a reason t-shirt", clearly you are coming here to read about fashion), apparently my feet grew while I was pregnant. Awesomely, I realized this the night before I had to go to work when I started trying on my shoes and they were all too small.
  • Had to order some supplies for daycare. Made myself feel less sad about it by ordering darling girl some new books:

  • Falling asleep with toys in our mouths:
The day we picked Fletcher up from the breeder, she brought him out (and he was so freaking cute) and commented that she had never seen a puppy who loved toys like he did. Three years later and not much has changed.

  • Cooking up a storm. This week, I was kind of a rockstar of making dinner. See evidence below. 

Here's what we're eating:

  • Thin Burgers - I could not bring myself to use 70/30 ground beef. I think I used 85/15, and these were still delicious. If I had one in the fridge, I would be eating a hamburger for breakfast. 

  • Reese's Peanut Butter Brownie Cups - Easy. Tasty. Prep box of brownie mix according to package directions. Divide batter into 12 muffin cups lined with paper liners. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes. Press a mini Reese's cup into each brownie. Bake until brownie cups are cooked through, about 10 more minutes. Makes 12.

  • Bagel topped with cream cheese, lox, red onion, capers, arugula, and a squeeze of lemon - Yum. Also, came home and, while I was toasting a bagel, realized Hugh ate the rest of the lox while I was at work. Cried. Hugh told me it was a little ridiculous to be crying over food when I wasn't pregnant (see: Hugh ate the last cheese danish when I was pregnant and I sat on the floor in the kitchen and cried and then didn't speak to him for six hours.). Realized he was right. 

  • Annie's Frozen Burrito - A working lunch. Hugh would, in particular, like you to note my work phone in this photo. He calls it the world's oldest Blackberry. When I am getting ready for a call, he inevitably makes a joke about needing to manually crank up the phone first.

  • Kale Salad - The other half of this meal was gross. You win some, you throw some in the trash. So I ate Kale Salad for dinner. And had another glass of wine. A balanced meal, if you ask me.

Hope your weekend is full of good food and sassy babies.

Post Script: Tried to write a whole post without using the word cute. Failed. Should have birthed an uglier baby, I guess.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Dear Self.

Three months ago today was Penelope's due date. Obviously, that day came and went and she stayed snug as a bug in my (gigantic) belly. This is how we looked on April 26th:

Three months ago, I was equal parts impatience, anxiety, and excitement those final days. I truly felt like she was never going to get here and I was going to be pregnant for the rest of my life. 

Here's what I'd like to tell my 40-weeks-pregnant self:
  • Relax! She's coming, I promise. In 48 hours, almost to the minute from the time this photo was taken, she'll be out of your (gigantic) belly and into your arms.
  • Your birth plan is going to go to hell in a handbasket. But, turns out, you are pretty good at giving birth, even without your plan. You will surprise yourself and, halfway through pushing you'll be thinking, Holy shit, I am doing this.
  • Your house is not going to go to hell in a handbasket after she is born. I know you are really concerned about that right now. Which is why Hugh found you attempting to dust the blades of the ceiling fan while standing on a chair yesterday.
  • Remember last month when you got a Charlie horse in your calf in the middle of the night that was so bad your calf was sore for three days? And remember how you told yourself that that was probably only a fraction of what labor was going to feel like? You are right. That Charlie horse was approximately 1/1000 of what labor is going to feel like. But you'll survive.
  • All your stress over breastfeeding? You are wasting your time. Turns out you and Penelope are pretty good at that, too. 
  • Go get a pedicure. I know, you just got one yesterday. Get another one. And get a manicure, too. Then go walk around Target for five hours by yourself. Alone time is about to become a precious commodity.
  • You love being a mom more than you even hoped you would. Which is saying a lot, given the crazy high expectations you have right now.
  • Food has never tasted as good as it will one hour after you give birth. You will eat a hamburger, a baked potato, a granola bar, two glasses of apple juice, a salad, a bowl of pineapple, a brownie, and a carton of milk. You will still be hungry.
  • You think you love Hugh right now. Oh, you just wait, my friend. You are going to be February 2005 falling-in-love giddy over that husband of yours all over again in about two days.   
  • Your Momma makes it just in time to see you become a Mama yourself. Right now, you don't realize how important this is. You will get it about ten seconds after you lay eyes on your own daughter for the first time.
  • You're going to cry for a solid two weeks after she's born, for happy reasons and sad reasons and no reasons at all. You will think you are the only person who has ever felt like this, until you call Sarah after one week and she tells you it's totally normal.
  • Oh, what was that you said? You're tired? Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. 
  • This is how we look now:

  • Spoiler alert: she's pretty cute.
  • Oh, and that thing everyone keeps telling you about how you just can't imagine the love you are going to feel? They are correct. You will be changed in an instant. 

The-Carbonara-and-Turkey-Sandwich-Eating, Stomach-Sleeping, Wine-Drinking, Able-to-Go-More-Than-Five-Minutes-Without-Peeing, Looking-At-Her-Own-Toes-While-Standing-Up-Right-Now, Mama-Version of Yourself.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

We Survived.

Whew! Like most things that keep me up at night with worry, I can say that my first day away from Penelope was not as bad as I thought it would be. Of course, I would have rather been with her than not for those twelve hours, but we survived, and, really, the day kind of flew by.

I managed to make it through the day without any major melting down. There were tears when I said goodbye in the morning and near-tears when I was digging through my bag for a pen and pulled out a pacifier in the middle of a meeting, but, considering I'm a big crier when I'm not leaving my firstborn child for the first time, I was pretty proud of myself.

It was nice to have some adult interaction in the middle of the day and to do a little thinking that wasn't about nap schedules and what comes after the looking glass in Penelope's favorite lullaby. And it was nice for Hugh to get a whole day with our girlie all to himself. I realized halfway through the day that, as much as I had thought about Pen all morning, I hadn't worried about her for one second. Good work marrying the world's best dad, Catherine.

I also got to spend my five hours of commuting catching up with some of my very favorite people. Life with a baby doesn't leave you much time for talking on the phone, so it was nice to chat away those hours.

I'm sure it doesn't hurt I knew I only had to be away from her for one day this week or that she was at home with Hugh and not at daycare. We'll see how she and I fare with that experience next week. For now, I'm off to do a lot more of this:

Hope your Wednesday is the peachiest.

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Weekend In Photos (and Also, Words).

Well, that 48 hours between Friday and Monday went by in a quick little blink, didn't it? This is what ours looked like:

Friday started with my standing coffee/milk in bed date with this happy girl:

Hugh got home at lunch time. Penelope was asleep. After he greeted me and the boys, who coming running to the front of the house as soon as they hear his key in the door, he went to "change clothes." Ten seconds later, I heard his voice on the monitor, chatting away with the baby. Apparently Hugh hasn't heard the saying "never wake a sleeping baby." Really though, I get it. I spend about half of each of her naps convincing myself I need to leave her in her crib and let her sleep. 

Waking up.

Family walks. Also, picture my heart almost exploding from the cuteness:

Just imagine another photo of carbonara right here. Because that's what I ate for dinner on Friday. I keep waiting to be sick of it. No dice so far, much to Hugh's dismay. Because he was sick of it approximately two years ago.

Saturday was studying for Hugh, general lazing around reading cookbooks and playing with Pen for me, and eating some requisite summer cheeseburgers:

Sunday was breakfast with our favorite baby:

Followed my general admiring of said baby*:

Followed by a little baking:

Awesome banana bread. Less awesome photo.

Then we took an afternoon road trip that mostly involved us driving and talking, since all of the shops and restaurants we were going to see were closed. Fortunately, we do our best talking in the car, so it was a lovely afternoon with Penelope chiming in from the backseat with her thoughts. Happy and chatty in the car? I think she'll fit in just fine in this little family.

After we put Penelope down for the night and ate dinner, the Sunday blues hit me full force. It's back to Savannah tomorrow. And, while I am very grateful to have a job to go back to, especially one that gives me the flexibility that mine does, my heart is in my throat thinking about being away from my girlie. But, as Hugh keeps reminding me, we are all going to be just fine.

 Fingers crossed. 

*I know you think I am so over the top with the baby love. Honestly, I work hard to tone it down for the blog, and, really, in general to people who are not Hugh or my mom. If you want to know what our weekends really look like, imagine Hugh and I staring at the baby for all of her waking hours, and then spending her sleeping hours discussing how she is the cutest/smartest/snuggliest/funniest/sweetest baby there ever was and how in the world did we get so lucky. That would be more accurate. Ridiculous. But accurate.

Friday, July 20, 2012

What We're Doing. And Eating.

TGIF! Brace yourself for a post that is only fifty percent about my child. Baby steps, my frinternets, baby steps. 

Here's what we're doing at the White Hot household these days:

  • Riding in the stroller like a big girl. I simultaneously love and hate it: 

  • Growing plants. In March, when I was getting close to being the most pregnant a human has ever been in the history of the world, my Mom came to visit and plant my garden for me, because I was not in much of a state to be hauling bags of dirt and bending over pots for hours on end. And also because she is the best Mom ever. I was surprised by all the naysayers who told me over and over again that I wouldn't have time to garden once the baby was here. So, because I am a little bit stubborn, I was determined to keep the garden alive past the end of April even if it was by sheer force of will. Fortunately, my girlie likes hanging out with me while I water, so the garden is still growing strong:
First garden tomato. Nothing better.

  • Watching these two become friends:
 Makes my Mama heart happy.

  • Watching my two favorite people together. When Hugh is giving Pen her nightly bath, I stand outside the door for a few minutes and listen to them; it never fails to make me tear up. I am much, much luckier than I ever deserved to be. Also, this baby owns Hugh, heart and soul:

  • Getting ready to start traveling again for work next week. Also known as The Event Of Which We Do Not Speak. No photos of that, because photos of me pumping and/or crying are probably less than appropriate for the old blog. 

And now, about the eating. Much like it did before this darling girl entered our lives, the cooking inspiration and, more to the point, motivation, ebb and flow around here. If I can get it together to make a meal plan of fast and easy dinners and go to the grocery before Monday morning, we are eating home-cooked meals all week long (note: this has happened for a total of exactly two of the last twelve weeks). 

If not, well, it's every man for himself. Because our super sleeper is down for the night between 6:30 and 7pm every night. And the hour before that is spent bathing/nursing/snuggling/reading to the sweet baby. And, since I am not 75 years old, I refuse to go out to dinner at 4:30pm. Let's be honest, usually I'm still eating my afternoon snack at that time. 

So, our days of eating dinner out two or three times a week are on hold, for now. This means if I don't get to the grocery store, we're eating some combination of takeout/sandwiches/something from the freezer/leftovers/cereal. I know this is just a phase in our lives, and for once, I'm doing a pretty good job of not worrying about it. I'll be back to the kitchen every night again one day.

Here are some standouts that have come out of our kitchen lately:

  • Tomato Sandwiches - Because what else would you do with perfect homegrown tomato?

  • Carbonara - Making up for lost time by eating this once a week.  

  • Lots and lots of pizza. Apparently that was less of a pregnancy thing and more of a pizza is delicious and I want to eat it every day thing.

Well, looking back at these meals, I feel like I should call this post God Bless Breastfeeding and All Its Calorie-Burning Glory.

On that note, I'm off to clean up the kitchen before my favorite baby wakes up and my favorite husband gets home (before 1pm - woo hoo fourth year of med school, we love you!).

Have a happy weekend, my happy friends. Maybe I'll even see you on Monday!

Monday, July 16, 2012


My struggle to get pregnant changed me. It made me a kinder person, armed with a new understanding that you can never fully know what burdens a person may be carrying. And now, with my daughter here, I know that I am different as a mother than I would have been - slower to get frustrated with the lack of sleep or to lament the loss of freedom and quicker to appreciate the tiny details - because I can remember the endless nights of lying in bed wondering if I would ever get to hear a baby crying down the hall. Those months taught me that these phases in life, both the happy parts and the hard parts, are only seasons.

As hard as that season of my life was, I managed to stay in (mostly) good spirits, trucking right along, taking the disappointment in stride. And then there was July. Last July was the lowest point of those seventeen months. I briefly mentioned it here. Below is how I really felt.

August 2, 2011
"Last month was the month I started the newest miracle medicine, so I felt automatically hopeful at the beginning of the cycle. I'd read so much about the importance of being in the best state, both physically and mentally. As my "get yourself pregnant" book says, healthy bodies get pregnant. And relaxation was an important part of that. So I relaxed and took care of myself like it was my job. I took a week off of work with Hugh for a little staycation. I slept ten hours a night. I ate well and drank water and took all my vitamins. I learned yoga stretches and did them daily. I took long walks with Fletcher. I came up with a plan to start deep-breathing exercises every time I felt a surge of anxiety about this cycle, and I did. I deep-breathed my way right through the month. My body has never been so well-oxygenated. I kept telling Hugh and myself that I wasn't going to get too excited, but really, that ship sailed pretty much immediately.

And then, 48 hours after ovulation I started the hormone supplements, which I was supposed to take for twelve days and then take a pregnancy test. Never having taken them before, I didn't really know what to expect or how they would make me feel. Well, now I can tell you how they make you feel. They make you feel pregnant. I was emotional and exhausted and nauseated all the time. I made myself read the list of side effects over and over and over again, trying to remind my brain that all of this could be caused by the medicine. But I was just so hopeful.

I went down the rabbit hole of looking up due dates and timelines. And then, what felt like one thousand years later, it was test day.

I woke up on July 14th in a foul mood, as if I knew somehow deep down that it wasn't the month. I dipped my test, turned it over on the counter, and waited. Three minutes later, I flipped it over, already fearing what I would see. One line. One single line. Again.

And, this month, unlike every other month where I have felt a little blue but then moved on, I lost it. The fear and grief and anxiety and repeated disappointment and worrying and waiting and hoping of the last sixteen months overwhelmed me. I called Hugh at the hospital, which I have done exactly zero times. I cried so hard on the phone, that I started hyperventilating and he suggested he leave his rotation to come home at 11 o'clock in the morning. I cried all day long. I cried while I worked. I cried while I talked to my Mom. I cried while I cancelled my lunch date. I cried when I got back in bed at 1pm with a stack of magazines for distraction. I cried while I tried to cheer myself up by vacuuming. I couldn't believe that it hadn't worked. I literally did everything right. My mind was in the right place. My body was in the right place. My cycle was textbook perfect. And it still didn't work.

I would love to tell you I woke up the next day and felt fine and dandy and positive. But that would be a lie. It took me a full week to recover. My heart felt tender and bruised. I, partially thanks to the crazy surge of hormones, cried for no reason at least twice a day for a full week.

Hugh was, as always, the perfect husband. Letting me cry it out or vent or be mad when I needed to, but somehow knowing when I needed to be loaded up in the car and taken on a drive and told funny stories.

The only thing that made me snap out of it was Hugh telling me again and again, with total assurance, that we would get there. That this wasn't the month, but one month it was going to be. It was going to be our month. I was going to turn that test over and see two pink lines. I was going to get to cry happy tears instead of disappointed ones. We were going to get there. 

I realized in July, more than ever, the importance of choosing wisely. Of choosing someone well-suited for you. Of choosing someone who wants the same things you want. Of choosing someone who really sees you and knows you and loves you deep down from that place that makes them tell you the same thing over and over and over again, until they just will you to believe it's true.

Some people daydream about the nursery or the clothes or the names. I lost myself in thoughts of the joy I knew we would feel when I finally got to tell Hugh we had gotten there.

One by one, every single person I know who has talked about having a child has gotten pregnant. Except me. And the only thing I can do is to keep on going and trying and waiting.

There is no way to go but through it."

I want to hug that heartbroken girl, to tell her to hold on for just a little bit longer, because everything is about to change. To tell her that Hugh is right. To tell her that thirteen days after she writes that, there will finally be two lines instead of one. And next July, instead of mornings filled with hormone supplements and temperature monitoring and negative tests, her mornings will be spent having coffee in bed with her perfect baby. To tell her that the wait is worth it:

So very worth it. 

Time changes everything. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Month Two.

Remember at the end of month one when I said I knew I'd be writing this post in a blink? Well, here we are. In what I'm certain was less than a blink. More like a half blink. Or that half-closed then jerk open thing your eyes do when you are so exhausted but trying not to fall asleep (not that we know anything about that).

I was pretty sure that at the end of last month I had maxed out on love. I would like to go back to that Mama of a one-month-old and laugh. I think my heart grew three sizes during these last thirty days. Let's do it, month two:

Penelope Catherine,

As much as we loved our first four weeks with you, somehow your second month was even better. It brought your first smiles, the discovery of your sweet voice, a longer period of alertness between naps, moving to your crib at night, the start of cloth diapers, and a wonderful little thing we like to call sleeping through the night (and the angels sang and your mama rejoiced).

Around week 5.5, you and I started really hitting our stride. We settled into a (fairly) predictable routine and started getting out of the house more. This is also around the time your grandmother came to visit for a few days. It was good for my mama self-confidence to have her here, telling me I was doing a good job, reminding me that you and I are both new to this being-a-mom and being-a-baby thing, and it's okay that it takes a little time to figure it out. Even a mama needs her momma sometimes. I was hesitant to take you out to run errands, afraid you would meltdown as soon as we walked into the store, but, as your wise grandmother reminded me, the only way to start feeling comfortable with something is to practice, so out and about we went.

She also kept you by herself for a couple of hours so I could run some not baby-friendly errands (see: post office, office of vital records, and the beverage store). This was the first time I left you with anyone but your Dad. The two of you were fine. I was a nervous wreck. Although, I did only call twice to check in and I refrained from instructing her in how to dial 9-1-1 in the event of an emergency during my absence.

This month was a little quieter on the visitor front. Grandmother was here for a few days in the middle of a week. You bring her so much joy. And then Aunt Maria, Uncle John, and cousin Gianna came to visit for a long weekend. It was so sweet to see you and your cousin together and made our hearts happy to introduce you to people who have been so excited about your arrival. Your Dad and I also took you on your first road trip to Savannah to meet your daycare teachers, see Mama's work friends, and have lunch with Aunt Mandy, Uncle Matt, and cousin Charlie. You were a champ in the car both ways, save for the mid-nap wake-up you got when Mama got pulled over halfway there. 

We also made a visit to see my second favorite doctor for a postpartum check-up. The office was so excited to meet you, and you were a little dream baby in your carrier, sleeping away. I had to hold back my tears many times during that visit. There were so many hard and sad and scary moments in that office over the last two years, but in the end we were lucky. Despite the struggle to conceive you and the worry about keeping you in until you were fullterm and the trauma of your delivery, I got to sit in that waiting room with you beside me, healthy, happy, perfect - worth every single second of the previous twenty-five months. You are just a miracle to me. When we were leaving, Dr. McD gave me a hug and congratulated us again on your arrival. My tears finally spilled over then; he will never know the depth of our gratitude and how he changed our life.

At your two month check-up, you weighed 12lbs, 2oz. Obviously, you are still a serious eater. You eat 6 times a day now, for about 15 minutes each time. You have started telling me when you are done nursing by taking a huge mouthful of milk and spitting it onto my shirt while you smile your giant open-mouth grin at me. Changing my shirt five times a day seems to me a small price to pay to see those big smiles of yours.

You continue to be a pretty champion sleeper. I attribute it 50% to your overall baby amazingness and 50% to some hard work on my part getting you into a routine and then preserving that routine with a very special level of compulsiveness. I asked your pediatrician at your two month check-up if you were sleeping too much. He laughed at me. You are sleeping in your crib now for all your naps (unless we're on the go) and at night. You are still being swaddled in the Miracle Blanket (you little Houdini, you) to sleep, and you go down awake and put yourself to sleep.

You typically take four naps a day - two 1.5 - 2 hour naps and two 45+ minute naps. You are awake for longer periods now, but you still max out around 1 - 1.5 hours and let us know you're ready to sleep. This month we implemented a bedtime routine: starting around 5:45, you get a bath with Dad, then you nurse, then we have family reading time, and then it's lights out between 6:30 - 7pm. I sneak back in before bed to feed you one last time between 10 - 10:30pm. You are pretty much asleep through this feeding, but I tried to drop it and you let me know you still needed to eat by waking up at 1:00am for five days in a row. Message received. So, a dream feed before bed it is. You will usually sleep until about 5am, and then one of us sneaks in your room with ninja-like stealth to pop the pacifier back in your mouth, and you will go back to sleep until 6:30 - 7am. All in all, we are a pretty well-rested bunch for the time being. I know this may change at some point, so for now I am just considering myself very lucky. And, I did feel hopeful when your most recent weekly development update had this to say about baby sleep: "Whether your baby is a night owl or a morning lark, a long sleeper or short sleeper, that pattern will probably stay the same throughout childhood." Fingers crossed, little one.

Developmentally, you were on fire this month. It seems like every day you were more alert and more vocal. I would put you down in your pack-and-play with your activity center so I could get something done, but would inevitably end up standing there, watching you and listening to you - growing and changing right before my eyes. You smiled your first smile on May 31st while you were on the changing pad and I was chatting with you. It took me so by surprise that I wasn't positive that you were actually smiling on purpose. I moved out of your line of sight and you stopped. Then I moved back over to you and you immediately broke into a huge smile. I, of course, burst into tears. My heart wasn't ready for that crazy rush of love and pride.

Your personality is coming through more and more. You are just a happy, chatty, silly girl. You spend the majority of your awake time "talking" - to us, to yourself, to your mobile, to Fletcher - in the sweetest little cooing, girly voice I could imagine. I should also mention that it seems I have birthed a bonafide Daddy's girl. Already. I'm not surprised, but I thought I would be number one at least as long as you were breastfed, but, alas. Anytime you hear his voice, you stop whatever your are doing and start looking around frantically until your eyes find him. This also contributes to my daily shirt-changing, as Daddy loves to come and talk to you while you are eating.

As I said last month, this month has been the most wonderful, and perhaps the fastest, of my life. Becoming your Mama has changed in me the happiest, hardest, most wonderful way. I've started using the term happy-sad to describe our life right now. Happy because I am so proud of you and excited for you and so very grateful that you are here and you are ours. Sad because the days feel like they are passing in some kind of light year speed and, as elated as I am to watch you grow, I wish it wasn't happening so quickly. Since I can't change time, I will keeping enjoying my minutes with you and storing these halcyon days in my mind to be recalled down the road.

I am so lucky you are mine.

I love you,

Post Script: The hair? Still totally awesome.

Two Month Stats
Weight: 12lbs, 2oz (85%)
Length: 22 3/8" (50%)
Head Size: 15 5/8" (75%)
Clothing: Depending on the brand, some 3 month, some 3 - 6 month, and a few 0 - 3month dresses.
Diapers: Cloth - 2 middle snaps open; Paper - size 1.
Eating: Nursing 6 times per day, 15 minutes per time.
Things you love this month: Hanging out in your pack-and-play with the activity center, bath time with Dad (complete with a musical education and test driving new hairstyles), chatting with us (particularly when you are on the changing pad or when we're hanging out in bed and having coffee), sucking on your hands/dress/collar, nursing. 
Things you don't love: There isn't much you don't like this month. You are our happy girl.
First smile - May 31
Slept through night - June 10
First night in crib - June 20
First road trip (to SAV) - June 28
Milestones - holding head and chest up during tummy time (5+ minutes), social smiling, cooing (non-stop - lots of goo, gah, oh, and a few squeals).