Saturday, June 2, 2012

Celebrity and societal post-pregnancy weight loss pressures

Heads-up: This is a non-Austin blog post. Instead, after having stumbled upon this article criticizing the media for attacking celebrities and their post-pregnancy bodies, I feel compelled to share my experience.

Brief summary: 
"The increasingly common expectation for new moms to prioritize slipping back into skinny jeans over child-rearing is ridiculous, and the window of time in which they have to do it is getting smaller and smaller."

The article talks about how amazing it was for Beyonce to drop 60 lbs in five months but that it's unfortunate  how her newly firm abs are bigger news than her baby is. It also mentions that Jessica Simpson is jumping on the Weight Watchers bandwagon (for a reported $3 million!!). The author acknowledges that while Simpson has been scrutinized for her figure for years, the endorsement is such a smart move since she can get paid for the very thing that gets her so much publicity.

Having recently gone through these motions myself (minus the celebrity scrutiny part of course) I have a few comments:

1. I do not pity celebrities for anything (positive or negative) that comes with being famous. They know what they got themselves into--and they make a crap ton of money which should make up for dealing with the negativity. If they don't want the publicity, don' t be famous. Having said that, I still think there are better ways to publicize celebrity. If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say it at all.0

2. Lets be honest--most of these celebrities have live-in nannies and other assistants to raise those kids. Even if a woman's body naturally bounced back after pregnancy (and she didn't feel the need to spend more time working out over bonding with the child), I doubt the celebrity is the one who would actually be raising the child. 

3. I haven't talked about this publicly (just with family), but given the negative nature of the article and society's stereotypical view on women, I feel compelled to share this part of my story. 

I was very nervous about what pregnancy would do to my body. The last time I LOST weight was 14 years ago when I had major back surgery (you would have lost your appetite too if you were stuck with hospital  food for two weeks). I didn't even lose weight two years ago while training for a half marathon. And who has time to exercise while taking care of a newborn... unless you're a rich celebrity who can afford to pay someone while you work out?! 

Yes, I was scared about the weight. I was terrified about the delivery. But none of these factors were stronger than the desire to start a family.

I only gained 35 pounds during pregnancy. I say "only" because I know people that gained 60. And it's completely out of your control. I do feel lucky that mine was on the lower end. But the bottom line is that either way your body changes. Clothes fit differently. And I've never felt less feminine in my entire life than I did after pregnancy. 

I lived in hoodies and warm up pants with drawstring waistbands for at least six weeks. Getting "dressed up" meant I put on the maternity jeans and a loose/comfortable top. When I finally made myself start wearing pre-pregnancy pants again, I cried every time I got dressed. Like I said--the clothes just fit differently. And of course the waistband was snug. I felt disgusting. 

 So here's the point:

It's been nine months since I had Austin and I'm 20 lbs UNDER pre-pregnancy weight. Damn proud of that. Since I borrowed my mother-in-law's old Weight Watchers stuff in January I've learned about portion control and the benefits of more fruits and veggies. I have not done much working out at all except for occasional walks with Austin in the stroller. No joke. 

I'll be damned if I'm going out to buy a whole new wardrobe after I just spent 9 months in a completely different wardrobe (which by the way is now packed away in my basement until we decide to take the "baby #2 plunge." I feel amazing. And best of all I feel like I am in a better place to teach my child about how to take care of his body.

The author's closing words: "I’d rather believe that all the agony and energy spent suffering over post-baby weight gain could be channeled into something positive. Like caring for that new miracle. And feeling pretty kickass for having had created it."

Having a baby whips you into a routine like nothing else. For me, it was the perfect time to adjust bad habits and learn better ones. And there is no better motivation than a mini YOU, with his whole life ahead of him, to force you to take care of yourself so you can ultimately take care of him. 

I do feel kickass for having created my little miracle in Austin, and you better believe I'm going to do it again one day. It's not "agony" if you do it for the right reasons. 

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The crawlin' is stallin' ...

I've been putting off this blog post until we had a bonafide crawler among us, but I don't want to wait any longer. There's so much other great news to share!

Baby Austin is SO close to crawling. He's sitting without support and he can go from laying down to sitting all by himself. Imagine the look on our faces when we went to get him after a nap and he was SITTING in his crib. Sheer terror. That's what our faces projected! It's the sitting to crawling that sometimes trips him up (he can't quite get over one of his bent legs), but when he gets to all fours you can see the determination in his eyes. Sometimes I'll be watching him with crazy anticipation--thinking "is this going to be it?" in my head while I anxiously wait for his legs or arms to nudge forward. He sees my expression and thinks something is wrong! So I clap it off and he's back to his smiling, determined self. If he sees you clap, he knows all is well.

So far he can prop himself up on all fours, key into a toy across the floor, add a slight wiggle and usually one limb will move before he gently melts into the floor. Occasionally he might face plant, but most times his legs just give out. Before long, he's up and at it again and the cycle continues.

Because he can't crawl to the nearest toy, Austin loves to reach for the next best thing. This includes my hair and earrings (OUCH!). Even when he's on the changing table, he'll swing his legs up, reach for his feet and stick them in his mouth. Yes, you read that correctly. Socks on, socks off... it doesn't matter. Sometimes he'll make a "yuck" face after he tastes said feet (usually the "yuck" face accompanies the bare feet). So he's pretty flexible.

The general mobility that he's developed--in what seems like an overnight sensation--is exciting and scary at the same time. A few months back, we could leave him in the middle of the living room on a blanket to run and make a quick bottle, but now, we come back with the bottle and he's log rolled all the way across the room and nearly into the wall. Sometimes he will log roll in a circle--this of course is achieved by a mix of the straight log roll and his hoisting himself up into a crawling position. When he comes out of the crawling position he lands at an angle, thus creating more of a circle. 

The downfall of Austin's new-found mobility? Changing his diaper. This somewhat simple task that once took a mere two minutes has become a 15-minute wrestling match, and I usually lose. He flips over almost as soon as his head hits the pad (or he tries eating his feet) so my job in even taking off the old diaper is quite the challenge. I will not even try to explain what it's like to get the new one on. And if we have to change clothes in the same sitting? Next to impossible. If Jim is home, I usually call him for backup. He'll entertain the kiddo while I take care of business. HA!

He is definitely gaining strength standing too. This is no doubt a success of the Baby Einstein "saucer" and "jump-a-roo" apparatus that occupy most of our living room :) We are still stabilizing him under his arms, but his legs are tough. I believe we've previously referred to them as "linebacker thighs!" Standing on the changing table is actually one of the tricks I try to use to calm him down. He seems to like staring at the giraffe painting on the wall and even tries to grab it. 

On the eating front, we've moved into stage two solid foods and two different grains! Oatmeal and fruit in the morning with multi-grain and vegetables in the evening. He's still taking bottles of course, but my goodness how the solid foods help bring down the grocery bill from 100% formula. We've also introduced Gerber puffs and it didn't take long before he figured out how to feed them to himself. It's funny to watch Austin react to adults eating too--he could have just finished a feeding, but watching others eat with their own utensils and cups is like torture! My personal favorite is when he tries to steel my coffee in the morning and I say, "Sorry babe, you have to wait 15 more years until you can drink this!"

Before we go, there are a few exciting milestones to mention.

1. Last month on Austin's 8-month milestone, I realized it had been exactly 34 weeks and 6 days since he was born. That's exactly how long he waited before showing up on August 29th. And by "waited" I do imply sarcasm :) So naturally, we had to create a bit of photo fun.


The image on the left was taken 8/24/11 (five days before Austin's birthday). It's the last--well, the biggest--pregnancy photo I have. The image on the right was taken 4/29/12. I didn't think of this until now, but he's not even the same weight as what I gained during pregnancy. And to be honest, my back hurts worse now than it did then! Wow. But I'm not complaining. I would be complaining, however, if my cheeks and feet were still that swollen. I think it's funny how he automatically grabbed his feet when I held him for the picture on the right--it's similar to how he was camped out in the belly. So crazy to see the before and after like this!

2. Tuesday is the 9-month milestone! We have another doctor's visit and probably more shots that afternoon. Thanks to Uncle Benn who tried to take some formal 9-month photos of Austin this weekend. Unfortunately nap time became more of a priority than smiling. We'll have to try again ;)

That's all for now. We WILL have a crawler by the next blog post!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Let the Babyproofing Begin!

The Draher household has been invaded. Just a few short weeks ago, it was Mom, Dad and an immoble, bottle-clutching baby. Now, like an overnight phenomena with no warning whatsoever, we've got a vegetable-chomping, arm- and leg-flexing monster on our hands!

Believe me when I say "monster" I simply mean I'm terrified of this new unexpected territory he's entering. I've been telling Jim that we really need to get into shape so we can chase this kid around the house--and it needs to happen sooner than later.

Each morning when Austin wakes up, he's in a new spot in the crib. The paths that used to take him all night to navigate across the mattress now take mere minutes. He figured out how to use his adorable chunky legs to propel him forward and backward. Couple that motion with arms that have figured out little baby push-ups, and you get the recipe for disaster: CRAWLING!

Don't get me wrong, I'm excited to watch Austin's progression, but of course it's sad to think of how fast everything happens. Now when he's laying in my lap, he won't sit still--he wants so badly to sit up every chance he gets. When he's on the changing table, he wastes little time before trying to roll over. Needless to say, putting on a new diaper or fresh clothes has become quite the chore!

The days of just holding him in our arms and staring into his eyes with pride are long gone. Our focus on the sensitive moments has moved into a stage of safety and caution. This is when it really gets interesting.

Meanwhile, on the personality side of things, the kid just can't stop smiling! He smiles in the morning when we first wake up, he smiles when we come home from work, and he even smiles when we drop him off for babysitting at cousin Kristin's house. The truth is he's a big flirt. Always smiling at the ladies. There have been a few times recently when he started crying around people he hadn't seen in a while (partly because Jim or I walked away to grab something) but all in all, he's such a pleasant baby. And I can't say enough about the laughing. You can make a face, a silly noise, do a dance or start tickling him and he'll give you a little giggle. Then there's this song Jim sings to him--I don't know if it's the rhythm, or the bouncy motion he adds, but Austin just thinks it's hilarious.

Thanks to the gorgeous weather recently, we've made it a habit to venture out in the stroller. One day, our neighbors across the street were outside, so we completed Austin's stolling wardrobe with the Indians ball cap and baby sunglasses they bought for him. I'm not saying he enjoyed the accessories, but how could I resist?! Take a peek:


Every time I see him in the car seat, all I can think is how we had to stuff blankets around him for padding when we first brought him home from the hospital. And now he's on his way to outgrowing it! Speaking of growing, I definitely notice that his hair has gotten longer. Still has his random bald spot in the back (where his head hits the mattress), but it's getting longer on the top. We'll have a solid mohawk in no time :)

To showcase all this change and growth, I filled up a 12-month frame (a gift from AU friend Christine Humphrey) with head shots taken close to the 29th of each month. Of course we know he's changed, but when you see the images right next to each other, it's quite shocking. His face has thinned out, but his legs must have absorbed all the weight. They are pretty pudgy baby legs--just like they should be! In fact, people say, "You've got nice legs" to Austin all the time. Cracks me up. Needless to say, I can't wait to fill up the rest of the frame.

The last thing I want to share is that since our last post, I spent my first night away from the baby. And when I say night, I mean OVERNIGHT night. My husband has been very sweet in offering me "break nights" along the way (although that usually means he takes the kiddo over to his Mom's house and she takes care of the kiddo while he plays poker or watches a movie with his Dad, LOL) where I can have a few--quiet--hours to myself for shopping, scrapbooking or just vegging out in front of the TV. But this time, I couldn't resist attending a friend's bachelorette party in Columbus. I felt selfish at times, but I do admit I had a great time! The only downfall, although expected, was that I stayed up waaaaay past my bed time. The latest in a LONG time! But at home, Jim stuck to the script. The baby went to sleep at his normal time, and maybe got up once during the night. He was even napping when I returned home the next day.

Everything went fine, but it was still a big deal to me. In many ways, I felt like I alienated my little bear cub! But the lesson to be learned is that life goes on, and parents (both new and veteran) need to take a break every once in a while. And all the Grandparents say they want to keep the babe overnight, so who knows--maybe we'll do this again soon!

Till next time, bye from Austintown :)


Monday, February 27, 2012

Baby's First Ear Infection :(

It's been quite a month in the Draher household. What felt like an eternity during the toughest days now seems to have flown up in the whirlwind that has been February.

We started the month with Austin's first Superbowl party! It's weird to think that at this party last year we announced to Jim's family that we were expecting, and that now we have our own little munchkin dressed up in sporty clothes and sitting on our lap while we laugh at the commercials. The following week, however, was one of the toughest weeks since Austin was born.

One night after taking his last bottle and having been asleep for a while, Austin woke up vomiting. It was all over the crib. And his sleeper. Everywhere. It's an awful feeling. But as soon as we got him cleaned up and dry again, he went back to his smiling self. It was quite inspiring. Until it happened again first thing the next morning, and the rest of that day. Luckily my mom was babysitting that day. She was a trooper. I picked up some Pedialyte at the store over lunch, and Jim took Austin to the doctor's later in the afternoon. Vomiting slowed down over the next few days, but diarrhea was pretty constant. Austin also picked up a heavy cough and sniffles Sunday. Did I mention he wouldn't sleep in his crib all week? Jim and I literally rotated shifts with him on the couch--we surrounded ourselves with pillows and held him all night long. Finally decided to go back to the doctor Wednesday because he was not progressing, and that's of course when we found out about DOUBLE ear infections. Ouch. That would explain why he wasn't sleeping in his crib - likely had major ear pain every time he laid down.

It only took three doses of the antibiotic to see a definite change in Austin's demeanor. That poor lethargic baby had bounced back to his smiling, giggling self. I'm not going to lie, it was a very tough week and a half on all of us. Aside from not being able to do much for a crying kiddo who can't communicate, Jim and I both caught the cough, sniffles and congestion. Finally, the fogginess that was in my ears feels like it's clearing up today.

Now that the illnesses have ended, we can look forward to Austin's half birthday on Wednesday! He's a half leap baby! I don't even know what that means, but it sounds pretty comical so we'll go with it. Seriously though, six months already?! I knew it would fly by, but now that it's actually here, I really don't know where the time went. I should add, rather excitedly, that we do still have six month sized clothes in Austin's dresser. Based on the fact that he started wearing that size by 2-3 months old, we were afraid he'd be in 24 month sized clothes by now! So that is truly exciting. He definitely lost weight when he was sick (confirmed at the doctor's), so we'll have to see where he is again tomorrow at his six-month appointment. Great timing with this appointment--it's the first of his last four appointments that was scheduled more than a month in advance--because we need to get his ears re-checked now that the antibiotic is gone. Unfortunately, he's getting shots again--certainly the worst part of going to the doctor. The best part? Watching his excitement when he hears and feels the crinkly paper on the table. Honest to goodness. It's so funny. Much like a fascination with bubble wrap. The sound just cracks him up.

Speaking of Austin cracking up, I have to share one last story before I run. Saturday when my Mom came over to babysit, she said she liked his sleeper. This particular sleeper, I explained, was a gift from a college friend, Jenny (hi Jenny!), when I met her and another friend (Bethel) for dinner in late August. So I'm saying this as I'm picking Austin up out of the swing. I oddly remember that we met on a Wednesday, quickly did the math and said out loud in front of him, "Oh yeah, that was the 24th and [insert eye roll here] SOMEONE was born five days later." Without missing a beat, he cocked his head back and just started laughing at me! Mom and I look at each other and couldn't do anything but laugh ourselves. That little booger is running the show.

On that note, I need to go paint my nails while I have some time to myself (and time for them to dry!). Wish us luck tomorrow at the six month appointment :)

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Hang on, here come the emotions

SO much has evolved since my last post in November. The most obvious of all being Austin's age and weight! The babe is now five months old, at at his last doctor's appointment on 12/27, he was pushing 17 pounds! That's a mere couple of ounces less than his 11-month old cousin Justin! Sometimes that thought makes me feel like a bad mom--like I have overfed my baby or something, but we were just following doctor's orders with the high-calorie premie formula. And come on, you know a chubby baby is the cutest thing EVER. It's just so weird to think that my little early bird is now in the 80th percentile on a full-term baby chart. And he's in the 60th for length and head circumference.  Unbelievable. Oh, and he's wearing 9-month sized clothes. That last one really makes me sad!

The good news is that we are finally rid of that high-calorie formula :) and have moved onto the regular infant variety. The week we changed was quite a trip. Austin has never been more fussy or spit up more than he did that week. Of course, us nervous parents went through everything in the book--at different points we thought he had a fever, was just gassy, or possibly teething. Eventually we realized that it was just taking him some time to get used to the new stuff. We're glad that is over. This past weekend we introduced rice cereal. It's still mostly liquidy, and he takes it through a bottle. Will be interesting to see how the spoon-fed version goes. That's when the real fun begins, right?!

My favorite changes by far are those in Austin's expressions, awareness and responses. In the early weeks, we could tell he knew Mom or Dad was nearby because his eyes followed our voices. That itself was so touching. But now, he smiles nearly every time his eyes meet mine! And he talks to me! Well, baby-talk "talks" to me. Usually when he's on the changing table, he'll make faces and noises in response to getting his diaper changed or getting redressed. So I make faces and noises back at him, and then we go back and forth with our own little language. It's quite entertaining. I will admit that I usually have tears in my eyes by the end of each "conversation." I suppose I still can't believe I have a child. Or that the child communicates in his own way! He just melts my heart. I pray that I am not that Mom that tears up at every last achievement (especially those that come at an age when he doesn't want to be embarrassed by me). Last weekend Austin rolled over for the first time, and I screamed instead of crying! Now he is wiggling all over the place. Even rolling in his crib. It's crazy. Here's a video Jim took (this was like roll #3 or 4).

As far as the smiling goes--he's so happy first thing in the morning. I don't know who he got that from, because it wasn't me or Jim! Now we're working on getting him to laugh more regularly, too. He had a few minor giggles around the holidays, then finally on New Year's Day, he laughed for our six-year-old cousin Lauren for about 15 seconds straight. And since then, Jim and I have been trying to impersonate her so Austin would laugh for us again. If you need a good laugh, come watch that. We're borderline ridiculous, but determined to hear it some more. This past week, when I said "I love you." with complete sincerity, he smiled and laughed at me like I was telling jokes. That cracked me up too. There are also really tender moments--like at night when I'm cradling him to get him to fall asleep--where he'll stare into my eyes and coo ever so quietly. That's by far the best part of this gig.

Speaking of gigs, I started my new job the week after Thanksgiving! Man am I lucky. Right now I work Monday, Wednesday and Friday 8-5; that gives me Tuesdays and Thursdays at home with Austin, and keeps me active in the land of marketing and advertising. I can't say enough great things about this company. Aside from the fact that my commute is now shorter than it was just to get to the highway to drive to Ashland, I have a wonderful office, challenging but highly interesting clients, and co-workers who just "get it." I've already gotten to work on three website development projects, and there are four or five more in the pipeline. Web work was one of the big things I wanted to learn more about, and here I am just two months in and already learning (and enjoying) so much.

The days I'm at work, we are so lucky to have family members watching the baby. Kristin, Jim's cousin, and my Mom have been such huge helps (and mentors!). It's neat to see their take on his routine and habits after they've spent a full day with him, and their insight has been helpful.

And now, purposely buried many paragraphs into this entry is the one admission most parents might hate me for: Austin has been sleeping through the night (anywhere from 8 to even 12 hours straight!) for just over two months now. This is not a joke. In fact, I have gotten more sleep with a four-month-old baby across the hall than I EVER have before. Seriously. In high school and college, and even post-marriage/pre-baby, I was always the last to go to bed for some reason. I'm a "sleep when you're dead" kind of thinker, I guess. But this kid is turning me into a more relaxed, and yes even punctual (in most cases!), human being.

The truth is that I have never been happier in my life than I am right now. I used to get so worked up just thinking about how I could make it all work--baby, career, romance, me time ... stressing about how my work stress and ridiculous commute might affect Austin's development ... worrying about which doctor would be on call the day Austin decided to make his grand entrance ... dwelling on the fact that my baby was stuck in the NICU. But now I think back in shock and awe at how everything has fallen into place.

Naturally, nothing happened the way I expected--it turned out better. I had no morning sickness whatsoever. I didn't experience caffeine withdraw one bit (if you know me well, you should be surprised by this too!). Of course I didn't expect Austin to show up so early. And although I have wondered if the constant commute influenced his early arrival, I truly believe everything happened for a reason. Then, when it came to finding a job more suited to my new family, you can only imagine the relief I felt to find something so close to home AND so fulfilling.

Yes--I now think of even the NICU experience as some sort of hidden blessing that helped us ready ourselves for this life-changing experience. Not that I didn't have faith in us becoming new parents, I'm just very thankful for that time with those nurses, getting to watch and learn while Austin too "learned" how to eat.

All things considered, no one should be this lucky.

I know many of my close friends and family members have heard me say these things on more than one occasion, but I seriously think about them all the time. Still shaking my head in disbelief. So much in disbelief in fact, that I started this post almost two weeks ago, sitting in my living room, past my bedtime, just sinking these thoughts into the keyboard when I was overcome with emotions. I still wanted to talk about how much fun it was to have Austin around for the holidays, but I couldn't get over the unbelievable, simple joy described above. I went to bed with the intention of finishing the post the next day, but every time I sat down to type, I still found tears in my eyes.

A couple of people have already said, "enjoy it now, because your second kid will be awful." Meaning, he/she will fuss constantly, not sleep through the night until age 2, etc., etc. And to them I say, the odds would agree with you. But, the experiences with Austin have taught me what I think I'd need to get through the "2nd kid shenanigans." Besides, we have plenty of time before we even begin to think about another baby. Plenty. Did you hear me Grandmas? I said Plenty.

Ok, I think it's time to lighten this up. Let's talk Christmas! I have never been so excited about the holidays as I was this year. Usually Jim is singing carols by November 1. The combo of that and black Friday hype just annoys the crap out of me. So much so that he usually calls me Scrooge when we get in the car and I don't let him listen to certain stations. Whatever. This year was different. Of course I was excited to give and receive gifts with all of our families, but just carting the kiddo around to family gatherings with us, and opening presents for him was really cool. Some toys, like the really neat toy drum and other instruments my Aunt Patsy and Uncle Jim bought him, won't be able to be played with for some time, but it was a great feeling to get excited for him. And, to know that by Christmas next year, he'll likely be running around and ripping open his own presents!


We also squeezed in an impromptu 3-month/holiday photo shoot with Uncle Benn and Aunt Emily. Benn was snapping the shots behind a really nice still camera (usually he's the videographer), and Emily was our art director! It was great fun, and wouldn't have been complete without a few wardrobe changes. Austin was pretty worn out with all the excitement, so we didn't get any overly-excited facial expressions, but I know that won't be the case come 6-month time. Thank you to the Aunt and Uncle team for great fun, and many great shots--including the one below and the two "Santa's helper" shots above.

It's hard to believe that tomorrow Austin will be 5 months old already! Other big milestones this week include 1/31 - the day we found out we were pregnant last year, and 2/1, my Godson/Nephew Justin's first birthday!! This is the Justin that Austin has already outgrown. HAHA. He's taller than Austin but still lighter.

In other baby news, I want to say a big "Congrats!" to one of my oldest friends, Erin and her husband Kevin who welcomed their son, Max, on 12/26. I couldn't believe how light Max was when I first held him! And he was still heavier than Austin was at birth. He is beyond precious, and I couldn't be happier for the three of them.

And finally, I want to share what should be the end of our nursery decorating story. One hefty post-holiday nursery-cleaning spree gave us the time we needed to tidy up Austin's room and decorate the rest of the walls. Thanks again to my Dad for making the adorable wooden AJD letters and giraffe, and to cousins Bob & Regan for the festive animal/safari rug. We love this room, and Austin even loves staring at everything to take in the colors and see what's all there. I know we will enjoy it for years to come.

That's about all for now. I'm hoping that Austin isn't crawling by the time I write again. YIKES!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Holy growth spurt!

My little pumpkin isn't so little anymore! At his two-month appointment with our pediatrician Dr. Casper (on Halloween no less), we discovered that this one-time preemie is now in the 70th percentile for weight measuring in at 12 pounds, 2 ounces. And this on a regular birth chart--not a preemie chart! I can't believe how quickly he's growing. That was two weeks ago. By now he's probably up to 13. I guess that's what happens when you're a high-calorie preemie formula. He'll be on this formula until the end of December, so he could be huge by Christmas!

As you can imagine, we are still going through the clothes quickly. It's almost like I have become attached to certain outfits--wanting to save them until the person who bought them comes to visit, or for a get together, but before you know it they are too small! It's a bit depressing actually. But with each piece Austin outgrows, I can add to the stockpile of clothes to save for baby #2. And no Grandmas--that is not happening tomorrow or in the near future!

The last few weeks have certainly been eventful. We celebrated a great aunt and three cousins' birthdays, so Austin was able to meet more family at these gatherings, as well as revisit with those who had already met him. Most of our relatives were fighting in line to get to hold him next. At my nephew Mitchell's birthday, my sister Stephanie had to hide from her 10-year old daughter Morgan because Morgan wanted to steal Austin. And their neighbor Susan literally snatched the burp cloth from my shoulder right after I put it on as her way of getting to hold the baby next. It was quite entertaining, and let's be honest--too many people wanting to hold your baby is a nice problem to have. And when some of those people are just babies themselves, it's too cute for words.

Thanksgiving was a fun day too. In fact, Austin finally got to wear the outfit I've been most excited to put him in. It says "Mommy's Little Turkey" on the shirt front, with "Gobble" on each of the feet. On the butt, there was a colorful turkey :)  It was precious! By the end of the evening, we had changed him into a Christmas onesie with fleece pants. This one read "What Santa doesn't bring for Christmas Grandma will." Likely true!

In addition to first holidays, we also survived our first baby headcold. The bug reached Jim about three weeks ago, then I was coughing and had a sore throat, and then finally we could hear the stuffiness in Austin's little nose. If he was feeling nearly as crappy as we felt, then he must be one of he most mild-mannered kids ever. Even after we get in his face and literally suck the snot out of his nose with this ginormous green bulb syringe from the hospital, he is as pleasant as can be. It's so weird. I keep saying he sounds like a pug dog with the stuffed up nose sound effects.

Speaking of animals, I told you last time that we were taking our 16-year old cat, Jordan, to the vet for a check-up. Unfortunately, he did not come home with us. After about a year of multiple pills and special food, he was still losing weight, and still had high blood pressure, hyperthyroidism, a heart murmur and kidney disease. This cat that once weighed over 20 lbs in his glory days was now down to about 10. I knew I had to make one of the hardest decisions of my life. It was very tough, but we elected to put him down. It felt like forever sitting in this small room, just Jim, me and the cat, waiting for the doctor to come back. I asked him if people do this--or was I just being cruel? There were other foods and pills we could try, but I just couldn't fathom putting him through more treatment attempts. The doctor was somewhat consoling when he explained that he doesn't do "convenience euthanasias." Apparently people will go to the vet saying that they've moved into a non-pet property, or they had a baby and don't want the pet, etc. and expect the doctor to euthanise the animal. I knew something was up with Jordan when after the baby came home he wasn't eating well, but it was more than the baby... everything had built up over a long time. The relieving part about it all was that usually when we go to the vet, the cat is meowing in fear every 2 seconds (literally--this is not an exaggeration). One time he even pooped in the car! But he's always on the defensive. This time, he was extremely relaxed, purring and even cuddling up next to me when we were waiting for the doctor. I believe he was ready to go, and his demeanor was his way of telling me it was ok. Jim and I were both sobbing by the time we left the vet office. And that night when I woke up to feed Austin, I remember my vision being a bit foggy because my eyes were still swollen from crying. I had been through so much with that cat! This was certainly a tough day. Maybe in a few years we'll get a new pet to start new memories with. Or as Jim said in the car on the way home, "You know, we may be doing this again in another 20 years when Austin's pet is on the way out." I say for now let's enjoy the baby--he keeps us plenty busy :)

Other updates ... Hmmmm ... well, the Couch-to-5K is going slower than I need it to go, but with the busy schedule lately and the new 5 p.m. darkness, it's tough to get out and run 3x a week. I've finished the first three weeks, but am about a week behind schedule. I remember how much I enjoyed running outdoors this time of year--the cold weather is somehow inspirational (likely in the sense that if you stop, you'll freeze!), and holiday decorations were already popping up like two weeks ago. It was gorgeous to watch the leaves fall, but it seems like people had started putting their Christmas trees up much earlier this year. It's too soon for me if it's before Thanksgiving. Sometimes I guess I just feel like Thanksgiving gets cheated out of it's time. Let's not jump the gun folks. I mean, seriously, how would you feel if Valentine's day stuff was in stores before Christmas?!

Like working out, I am still far from getting my sea legs back in terms of alcohol tolerance. I may have thought certain mixed drinks would have affected me, but one glass of wine? And now my latest casualty, a Sr. Pancho's margarita. We were thrilled to get out of the house for a dinner date with a few college friends at this mexican restaurant in Orrville. Apparently the margaritas were on special that night, so I decided to try one. It was only 12 oz. You'd think I could handle 12 ounces, right?! After about 1/4 of the glass I could already feel it. But after finishing the glass I was laughing so hard I was crying. And nothing was even funny! I just felt like my head was spinning, and looked at Jim and started laughing. There was no explanation for what was happening. Then I turned to the rest of the table and apologized (while still laughing and crying), and pretty much buried my head in my hands until I could contain myself. It was slightly embarassing, so I'm thankful it was in the company of good friends and not complete strangers. Since that outing, we also got to go out to dinner and to a bar to hear some of Jim's work colleagues play in a band. I'm happy to report that I had a full draft beer without any affect :)

The last big update to share is that I start an exciting new job on Monday! I will be a Project Manager for Grabowski & Co.  working Monday, Wednesday and Friday all day. This gig is very much like what I did at Malone Advertising with the Johnson & Johnson account, but it's close to home and part-time. I couldn't be more excited. I still get to be with the kiddo on Tuesdays and Thursdays so it's perfect.  

Ok wait, I lied. Two more exciting updates. Austin has slept through the night three nights in a row! Seriously, he went eight or more hours each night. I am amazed. He is such a good baby. And he is super smiley and giggling now. It's adorable how much his face lights up when he smiles. Adorable. I could just stare at him all day long.

Let the Christmas season begin... I can't wait to share every minute of it with our new bundle of joy!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Changes in Mom & Baby

It was really eager to go back to the hospital recently to drop off a tray of baked goods and a thank you card for the NICU staff. Picture this: first-time Mom lugging her "compact" stroller out of the trunk; strapping her six-week-old in his car seat to the stroller, then trying to balance a big plastic tray of baked goods in her left hand while pushing the stroller with her right hand. All the while carrying a diaper bag and purse. I trekked from the parking lot up to the main entrance where a group of elderly folks lined the walkway and gawked at the goodies and my little man before one gentleman grabbed the door for us. If I thought I was a multi-tasking guru before, I’m an Olympian now. Although I probably looked more like a circus clown than an athlete.

In some way, this thank you was my closure for the whole experience. And like I said before, I hope I never have to see these people again (unless we happen to run into them at the grocery store; just not on the 4th floor at Aultman). Naturally, none of our favorite nurses or doctors was there when we stopped by, but some of them had shifts that night.  

AJ and I ventured out again the following day for my six-week post-partum checkup. I have to tell you that this was a bit of a frustrating excursion. AJ ate at a perfect time that morning and then fell asleep before we got in the car. This meant he would likely be out (quiet) for the projected appointment at 10. They ask you to be 15 minutes early, and because AJ was so good we were there at 9:45 on the nose. Unfortunately, we weren't called back until after 10:30 and didn’t see the doctor until about 10:45. He was quiet the entire time we were in the waiting room, but started getting fussy when we were in the exam room. Then, with hilarious timing (can you see how this is starting to be a trend with him?), he pooped right as the doctor walked in and was admiring him. And I mean POOPED. You could have heard it down the hall! I left the diaper bag in the car because I didn't think I'd need it. Think again. Typical first-time parent mistake ;) Everything worked out, it was just frustrating to do everything they ask you to do and still have to wait forever … with a newborn nonetheless. While I thought these “mishaps” would be embarrassing, this is what every kid (and Mom) goes through right? And honestly, every time we’ve had an appointment somewhere he seems to have the perfect body clock that allows us plenty of time before and after. So I can’t complain. I just better knock on wood—his two-month appointment at the Pediatrician’s is just a week away!

Never thought I’d say this, but the most exciting part of my checkup was getting weighed. I hadn’t been on a scale since the day before Austin was born. I hit the 33 lb mark that day. To my amazement, I had managed to lose all but 10 of these pounds. I’m not sure what the average weight loss is after giving birth, but I was pretty happy with this. Since we’ve been home, the clothes don’t exactly fit like they did before, and I’ve been spending most of my time in pajamas or warm-up pants and a hoodie. Needless to say, it’s been hard to feel pretty at times. Of course it wasn’t going to be easy, but I had to start somewhere. Now I am working on cutting out pop and sweets and managing portions so I can try to get rid of these 10 or more.

I also started the couch-to-5K training plan mentioned in my last post. I’ve got to tell you—while it felt good to get back out there, I couldn’t help but laugh at the thought of having completed the Indy half-marathon in May 2010. This body did 13.1 miles? HA. The first three outings require a rotation of 60 seconds jogging and 90 seconds walking for a total of 20 minutes. While you would expect each set of 60 to become easier, they actually made me more winded. I felt some mild chest pain and a bit of a stomach cramp with each rotation. The funniest part of this whole ordeal? Discovering that gravity is selective. When I was pregnant, that belly was HIGH. Don’t you think a 6.5 lb, 5-week preemie would have dropped before his arrival?! It was definitely a haul around work and the house with that belly, but it felt like nothing compared to what I was trying to cart around the streets of North Canton for 60 measly seconds! Long story short, I’m feeling quite out of shape. But with the help of an upbeat playlist on my ipod (including everything from Justin Timberlake to Broadway hits to Brad Paisley) and memories of the enormous emotion I felt while circling the 2.5 mile Indy 500 track and crossing the finish line, I completed the first two sessions in no time. They really do go by quickly, but I know it will take some time to build up my mileage again. And that’s ok.

Me, Emily, Benn, Kristin, Daniel and Mike after the Indy 1/2 Marathon
Me crossing the finish line!
Another pastime I need to slowly work back into is drinking wine. Seriously. I enthusiastically uncorked the bottle of Riesling from our dear friend Megan and woke up with a headache that lasted the entire next day. It wasn’t until after lunch that I realized it was likely from the wine, and quite comically, was my first post-pregnancy hangover! That’s what you get for ignoring your wine glasses for 10 months. I want to finish that bottle, but maybe I’ll wait until a weekend when Jim is on night duty with the kiddo and I can sleep in ;)

Speaking of weekends, we were really excited to get back to the theatre and have a date night! Although I have to admit I was yawning in the first act. It’s hard to believe I designed props for a show in April when I was 15-20 weeks along, and now I could barely stay awake! This was no fault of the production—called “Shakespeare in Hollywood,” as it was hilarious. I just hadn’t been out that “late” in so long! Jim even called his parents, the babysitters, to check in at intermission. And we were more than eager to show off cell phone or wallet pics of the little guy to our theatre friends all night. Yep, we are THOSE people now. And it cracks me up.

The highlight of the last week was definitely Ashland’s Homecoming. Dressed in his purple and yellow Tuffy the Eagle sleeper and cap, Austin made his first “out of belly” appearance on campus and got to meet lots of our college friends and some of my co-workers. He may have stolen the show. Especially after making quite a large poo when our friend Kevin was holding him! It was certainly an odd experience to be walking into a campus restroom looking for a changing table. This was there the whole time I’ve worked at AU, but not something I ever noticed until now. Funny how that works, isn’t it?!

Ashland University Homecoming - October 15, 2011

Speaking of Ashland, It's been a bittersweet couple of days after I announced that I would not be returning to work. This was a very tough decision for our family, but right now, I just can't fathom making the hour commute each way, especially when I usually work more than eight hours each day. I really loved my job (and my Mac laptop!!), but I have an even more important job now. And there are exciting opportunities much closer to home for me to explore in the coming weeks. Jim helped me clean out my office Sunday but I'll be back on campus to go to lunch with my former colleagues one last time. Many of them want to meet Austin, so he'll be along for the ride too. Employed or not, I still hold a special place in my heart for AU. I spent four fabulous undergrad years there and met my hubby and some amazing friends. That will never go away.

Well, today Austin is eight weeks old, and we are officially out of newborn sized clothes and diapers! All 0-3 and even some 3-6 month clothing has been washed and is ready to wear. It's been surprising how well some of this stuff fits already - rather, how quickly babies grow out of things. And I’m happy to report (knock on wood) that I think he really understands the difference between night and day, and even more exciting, his nighttime feedings are becoming smaller in ounces and shorter in time. He’s not as hungry—which means he’s sleeping longer unless he needs a diaper change. He also seems to have fallen asleep for us faster than in recent weeks. That’s not true for our daytime rituals though—he’s a spoiled little monkey that always seems to need Mommy to hold him. It means I don’t get as much done around the house, but I can’t say no to him!

Before I go, I had to share a photo of Austin with his youngest cousin, Joel, born June 3. They technically met for the first time last weekend, although, they were next to each other a few times in their mommies’ bellies before that. Can’t wait to see them grow up together. Next on the “meet the cousins” list is my Godson, Justin, born Feb. 1. So excited Austin has cousins close in age on both sides of the family.

Austin's first meeting with his cousin, Joel

Next time I’ll have updates on Austin’s two-month pediatrician appointment on Halloween (with a frightening four shots!), plus stories from family parties Halloween weekend and possible news on our cat Jordan, who hasn’t been loving the new kid on the block. Since Austin has been home, Jordan has been really lethargic and is puking more and more. If you remember a few years ago, he had separation anxiety when Jim went back to work in August, and we think a similar anxiety thing is happening now. Plus he’s on multiple (expensive) pills, special kidney food, and is pushing 17 or 18 years old. I just don’t know if he can stick it out; and the kid isn’t going anywhere, so we may need to make a tough decision if you know what I mean. Vet appointment is tomorrow afternoon.  

Until then, adios from Austintown!