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Overseas with a Baby

Deutschland 2017

We did the seemingly impossible. We took an 8-hour transatlantic flight and spent a week in Europe with a crawling, active, chatty 13-month-old.

And it was fine!

It was more than fine, it was fun. I spent a lot of time in the weeks and months leading up to the trip worrying about whether or not this was the Worst Idea Ever. I’d heard plenty of horror stories about babies/toddlers who’d spent the entire flight screaming or needing to be walked up and down the aisle of the plane. I’d worried about sickness and jetlag and whether or not it’d all just be too overwhelming.

What I learned is I should trust my baby. And also, everything is more fun with a laughing, giggling, wide-eyed little girl.

There were hard bits. I couldn’t sleep on the flight over, even though we had a whole row to ourselves and got to put the carseat between us. Lady Jr conked for a good 3, 4 hours, but there were other babies who had a harder time and, well, airplane seats just aren’t very comfortable.

Coffee saw me through until we could nap at the Air BnB, but it was touch-and-go. But after that nap, well, life was a lot better.

That first night was hard on us all because of the time change. Lady Jr slept for a few hours and then kept waking and crying every few minutes. Eventually, I just got up with her at 11pm and we watched German-dubbed X-Files until past 1am – which would’ve been 7pm our time, aka her bedtime. She went right to sleep after that. She pulled the same routine a day later and by then we’d figured out it was her Circadian rhythm and just went with it.

Naps were almost all on the go, in the ergo carrier, and that worked just fine.

We stayed in Air BnBs for this trip, which I’d A++ recommend. It was great having a kitchen and lots of room for her to crawl around and play. Also great: both had a place for her to sleep. Not so great: both were outside the cities we were visiting, so we ended up doing a fair amount of driving. Lady Jr is not a fan of cars and sometimes we were out for a while, so this was not ideal. Next time, I’ll try harder to find a place to stay *in* the city, even if it means finding novel places for Lady Jr to sleep.

Why did we visit Europe in late November of all times?? For the Christmas markets, of course! šŸ˜€ My mother and I had been talking about visiting Germany and their markets together for years and yeas, and I realized that if we didn’t go now, we’d have to wait a few more years and I was worried about how much older my mother would be. Also because of Thanksgiving, I could actually take a whole week off and not miss much work. Hence the timing.

We visited Darmstadt and Aachen, since their Christmas markets opened early enough. I’d never been to either, so that was fun. Aachen is gorgeous and located on the edge of a rolling, wonderful national park and now I want to live there.

I drank all the Gluhwein and sniffed all the things and ate all the baked goods. Dr Lady got to see her first Weihnachtsmarkt. Lady Jr charmed everyone.

Also: dude they’re not kidding around with baby changing rooms in Germany. When they’re there, they’re fancy and nice and clean. One even had warming lamps for newborns. So good. ;.;

Anyway, have some pictures.

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Lady Jr playing peek-a-boo at the first Air BnB.

 

 

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Darmstadt countryside.

 

 

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Lady Jr learned how to pull up on the trip and is now unstoppable.

 

 

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We went for a walk by the Rhein. 

 

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HAM

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Lady Jr was enamored with a toy in the second air BnB and also kept pushing a step stool around and around and around the house.

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The countryside outside of Aachen.

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A cute little town we discovered nestled in the hills.

 

 

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Mmm, Apfel strudel.

 

 

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*Weihnachtsmarkt intensifies*

 

 

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Deutschland 2017
And then it snowed as we were leaving.

 

 

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Aachen Weihnachtsmarkt.

 

 

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Everything is Just Fine.

 

 

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Gluhweing – the Reason for the Season.

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One Year Post-Partum: What I Wish I’d Known

Our Lady Jr will be turning one next week(!!). So of course I’m thinking a lot about the last year. I have a lot to say and I’ll try to spread it out over several coherent posts.

This time last year I was 100% done being pregnant and convinced I’d be pregnant forever. I knew I’d be a week late, but thankfully I’d been prepared for labor to start since about 36 weeks. So when I actually went into labor on my due date, I was prepared.

…well, ish. Can anyone really be prepared for labor? For kids? That’s at least one thing I did right in those final weeks: to have no expectations. But even attempting to avoid expectations, you have expectations.

I realize now that I’d expected to have a long, late labor, that I’d have a difficult baby (in one way or another), that I’d be exhausted all the time, that I’d go for short walks, that I’d just sit around most of the time in the first few weeks, that I’d also be able to do things like go grocery shopping right away, that I’d have PPD, that I’d be back to my regular lifting/running by six weeks, that I’d be able to keep life-ing like usual, just minus the dayjob.

Oof. Yeah, not so much. So let’s just go with what I wish I’d known:

1) There’s a reason why a lot of ladies fear fast labors, and it’s not just because of the distance to the hospital. While I appreciated the shortened window of pain, the speed of it terrified me and gave me no time to absorb the fact that I was legit having a baby before the baby was had. I’m still grappling with some what-ifs from that time, TBH.

2) Putting any pressure on your bits post labor, including (especially) sitting, is painful AF. Leaning forward, getting up from sitting, basically any sort of movement was a lesson in pain and physics for about 2 weeks. I should’ve started using witch hazel and frozen pads sooner, but for some reason I just didn’t think about it.

3) PP recovery is no joke & just because I had a short labor, I wasn’t magically spared. I went to the grocery store 4 days post labor and nearly fainted. When they say take it easy, they legit mean stay in bed as long as possible. Do not do the dishes. Do not do the laundry. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.

4) Colic =/ difficult baby. I wish I had known this sooner so that I would’ve sought more solutions instead of just accepting It Is What It Is. Beause…

5) Dairy intolerance does not necessarily mean lactose intolerance. It can mean casein, which means that even yogurt and hard cheese can be problematic. I didn’t realize this, so I avoided lactose, but still ate hard cheeses etc. It wasn’t until I cut out dairy 100% that Lady Jr stopped screaming and started sleeping longer, quite literally over the span of 24 hours.

6) Bouncers/rock n plays are lifesavers for colicky babies.

7) Sleep begets sleep and that’s true for mommy, too. I had a very hard time sleeping those first few months, even when given the time to sleep.

8) I’m running and lifting again now, but it took a good six, seven months before I was able to do anything like I used to. This is normal.

9) Honestly, I should’ve just expected to chill and try to sleep whenever I could for the first six months. After that, life began to get a bit easier.

10) It gets better. Don’t listen to those blog posts from moms with teens who’re telling new moms it doesn’t get easier. They’re assholes. You will sleep again. You won’t always cry from exhaustion when your baby smiles at you. They either had charming little sleeping newborns or they don’t remember what it’s like to have a 102 degree fever and be dragging yourself from room to room so you can pump for your 3 month old in daycare who was up all last night (and will be up all that night) only to have to stop and puke for the third time because you can’t keep liquids down and then have to spend all weekend caring for that 3 month old who is not happy because they can sense you’re not happy and you haven’t eaten or slept in 3 days… yeah.

11) Sleep is so incredibly important. I wish I’d been kinder to myself when I was so sleep-deprived.

12) The lows are really fucking low but the HIGHS are incredibly high.

13) It is 100% worth it.

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Leaps & Bounds

Quick & dirty because I am supposed to be at work:

1) Somebody has TEETH. No, not me. Lady Jr’s naps were shittier than usual last week and Sunday morning Dr Lady noticed that what she’d thought were those little white cysts had grown and were unusually sharp. As of the last time I was able to peer into Lady Jr’s mouth, two bottom teeth had broken through her gums, forming a little ridge like mountains. And she is NOT happy.

Thank goodness she can have ibuprofen now, because the tylenol is no longer cutting it. Of course, teething coupled with several days of very late night and very loud fireworks (wtf is wrong with you, Michigan??) have made us all crotchety as fuck. Poor baby was up for 2 hours sobbing and pulling at her ear last night, and after we finally got her down it was just loud booming firework after firework until 12.30. I officially hate this holiday.

2) But in less cranky news: Lady Jr has consonants! As of Saturday she’s started going “mwa mwa mwa” and “dadada” and, occasionally and to Dr Lady’s absolute delight, “BWAH!” It’s kind of really freaking adorable.

3) Lady Jr is very haphazardly army crawling. She would reach with one arm and push herself up on her toes and kind of topple forward, but now she’s coordinating that into two, even three topples and is making movement forward. She fixates on computers and phones, probably because, aside from her, that’s what her mommies pay the most attention to. ^^()

4) We’re up to three meals a day and she demolishes pretty much anything and everything. She’s now eating a meal at daycare and I am pleased as punch at how impressed the daycare ladies are with her and her eating. She may be behind on everything else (or at least it feels like it sometimes), but at least she eats. One daycare worker tried to cut up her chicken for her, but Lady Jr grabbed it and shoved it into her mouth before she could and then it was gone.

5) Probably because of all the solid food, she has chunked up and definitely gone through a growth spurt. Yet she’s still the runt at daycare. Her 9 month appt is next week and I am super curious to see how big she is now.

Have some baby pics:

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I cut & dyed my hair last week, so figured it was time for some updated author photos. Of course, what do you do with a baby during pics? I held her through all of them, although not always as prominently as here. This was just one of my favorites:
july-18

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17 Weeks

february-16

Lady Jr will be officially Four Months Old this coming Saturday. I both can’t even and can even. It is a strange feeling

Let’s see… what’s new this week:

1. She is increasingly fighting any and all sleep. We were able to hold her until her eyes started to flutter, then put her down and leave. Now, if we do that, she immediately starts fussing. I have to hold her for 20min before I can put her down without any crying, but then she’s up again 10min later and we have to do it again.

While I don’t mind holding her for the occasional nap during the day, this has begun happening at night, too. We have had several nights where she wakes, I feed her, I put her down – and then, even with her eyes closed, she starts crying. Pick her up, hold her, quiet her, put her down – same thing. It’s not gas, it’s not hunger, it’s not a diaper, there are no symptoms of teething. If we let her fuss, it just gets worse. So we soothe and settle and cry and repeat until she finally stays down without a peep. Only for her to wake again 20, 30min later.

But it’s sporadic, too. Sometimes she’ll go 3 hours just fine, which is the only reason I haven’t gone mad with sleep dep yet. I can’t figure out what’s different. She gets her naps during the day, we avoid letting her stay awake too long, we have a bedtime routine and time we follow religiously. But her sleep has been shit for over three weeks and now it’s getting worse instead of better.

We’re trying to be stubborn about putting her down drowsy, even when it means constantly having to go in and soothe her, but it doesn’t seem to be helping. Everything I read is contradictory, too. She doesn’t seem ready for CIO, and neither am I, so it looks like we’ll just keep doing what we’re doing until one of us breaks. As long as I get the occasional 3 hour chunk of sleep, I can function. And coffee. Lots of coffee.

 

2) She’s gotten so good at grasping things! She now grabs and pulls things to her when they’re within reach, which means we gotta start being more careful about what’s in reach. This includes hair, hats, toys, diapers – anything.

 

3) Tummy time is slowly becoming less excruciating for everyone involved. They must be working on it at daycare because early last week I got her to lay on her tummy for 2min without fussing, but not really lifting her head, but on Friday I put her on her tummy and she immediately pushed to her elbows and lifted her head. She still doesn’t particularly care for it, but there’s progress.

 

4) She’s getting more and more responsive to facial expressions. She has started smiling when we smile at her, which is one of the best feelings.

 

All in all, she’s getting stronger and becoming more and more of her own, tiny person. I love her and her cuddles and her smiles and sometimes it’s still really hard (see: when she won’t sleep more than 20min at a time) but I know this, too, shall pass.

 

As for me, I really need to figure out a way to exercise while exhausted and taking care of a baby. My diet has steadily improved now that my parents are gone (no more pumpkin pie on the counter or daily KFC makes a big difference). I can run or lift weights on Wed/Thurs/Fri when baby is at daycare, but I really need to be doing something every day. I know my body will never be what it was, but I’ll feel better about myself if I’m at least a little stronger, a little healthier, and – yes – able to fit into most of my skirts come summer.

The problem, so far, is that whatever free time I have – i.e. when baby’s sleeping – I spend writing. I have a book due July 1st and knowing my writing process, fourĀ and a half months, while doable, is also not much time at all. I have to hit word count every. single. day. otherwise I risk missing my deadline. It’s a little stressful. And it also means that instead of using my free time to lift or run or otherwise do self care, I’m working. But what else can I do?

This, too, shall pass.

So I’ll just keep looking forward to spring and warmer weather and being able to take baby out to the garage with me or go for a run with her. In the meantime, the aching solitude of being stuck at home alone with a baby will just have to be, and I’ll just have to deal with it by embracing this time devoid of distractions in which I can justĀ beĀ with my baby.

 

More pics because the world is dark and scary and it needs more cute baby photos:

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Edited to add:Ā Lady Jr just rolled from belly to back! Twice!! Woo!

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Daycares, Oof

We visited our first daycare yesterday. Yes, at 38+ weeks. I know we’re a little on the late side of things, but it’s just been so hard to think that far ahead, plus settling in after the Move and getting all the things done wot are 100% necessary right now.

We actually started looking at the beginning of September, but when our first choice turned out to have a 1.5 year waitlist, we… got a little discouraged.

But Lady Jr will be here, and soon, and although I’ll be working from home when I return, and part time at that, I know I won’t be able to focus with such a cute infant nearby. Plus, I’m a big proponent of early interaction with other human beings and of getting help raising a kid (I am pro-villages). Depending on waitlists, we might do in-home care for a short while, but I definitely want that socialization by the time she’s six months. Plus, I need socialization and I might be hoping I’ll meet some other moms through the daycare.

Anyway, all that’s to say: wow. Daycare. Walking in, I finally realized that we’ll be the parents. We’ll have to think about pre-school someday and then real school. There will be parent teacher associations and baked goods and homework and omg I’m not ready for that.

Thankfully, we don’t have to be ready for that yet, but wow. I’m only just coming to terms that there’s going to be a major change in our lives in the coming days weeks.

I also realized I don’t know jack about daycare. I did a little bit of research to figure out what I should ask, what I should look for beforehand and still went in feeling like I just radiated newb.

But I came out feeling pretty good about this one. They’re reasonably priced (inasmuch as daycare can be reasonable without subsidies), they have a lot of other part-timers, they seemed clean and in control, they’re very close, they have books about bugs (A++ in Dr Lady’s book), they’re literally across the street from a hospital (woo!), and they had a diverse group of kids and adults.

That said, since I fully admit to knowing nothing about daycare, I want to look at a few more just to be sure. So we have another appointment on Monday and hopefully a third soon. Then we’ll make a decision about who’s gonna take care of Lady Jr for part of the week, which seems like a bigger decision than it feels.

Any advice is welcome, although it seems a large part of it is just seeing who we “click” with and feel good about. Also who we can visit together as an openly same-sex couple and not get any weirdness. And doesn’t cost more than I make in a week, oof.

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3 Hour Glucose Test

tl;dr – it’s awful

Longer version: Even though I’ve cut my caffeine way back, going without my morning cuppa was difficult. Not eating, meh. I used to do intermittent fasts before TTC, so that wasn’t as big a deal.

But oh gosh, 100g of pure sugar on an empty stomach? That was awful. It was like chugging orange syrup. At first I was like, yeah, gross, but I got this, and then the nausea hit and I was no longer 100% sure I had it. I made the mistake of drinking some water, which made it even worse, but my strong stomach won out in the end and I didn’t throw up. Woohoo.

After that first hour, I started feeling more normal again, and then it was just a waiting game. Three hours and four blood draws later and I have two sore hands and an assurance that I will never have to take that test again.

Find out tomorrow morning.

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House Hunting

Well, that was a week.

We saw 21 houses in two days, narrowed it down to three, and finally offered on one yesterday. They accepted our offer late last night, while we were flying home.

Assuming the house inspection goes all right and Murphy’s Law doesn’t take affect, we’ll be closing right around the time we arrive in Michigan.

I’m a little woozy and hungover from it all. I would definitely not advise trying to find and offer on a house in three days, but if that’s your only option, it is doable. And for the third time in our home-hunting lives (well, apartments before this one), our plane tickets have been worth the expense because we picked a house that wasn’t in our top 5.

We also learned a lot from looking at all those houses. I can more confidently pick out a house on Zillow based on photos and description alone than before. But then, it really depends on the area/market/etc. Our experience house hunting in MI was vastly different from experiences I’ve read/heard about house hunting in Denver, Georgia, and even here in Arizona. You just gotta know what’s going on and how that affects prices.

For example, for us it meant:
a) Yes, overall houses are super cheap
b) But there’s a reason some are even cheaper than others, and
c) That market is still in the beginning of recovering from the foreclosure crisis

Meaning lots and lots of empty, abandoned houses. Lots of otherwise good houses in semi-empty neighborhoods. Lots of houses with pretty skin – i.e. new paneling, new paint, new windows – but really bad bones. Since the market is already pretty cheap, it just doesn’t make financial sense for someone to put a lot of money into repairing a house when that won’t translate to much of an increase in value. So you get slap-dash cosmetic repairs that look great in photos but don’t make the place safer.

All that is to say that after the first few really bad houses, we were able to just poke our heads inside and decide pretty quickly. Our priorities shifted from a cool kitchen and good looks to solid structure. And then when we finally found the One, we both knew it.

Yeah, but what about the house??

Well, it’s in our price range, which means it’s not super fancy. It was a rental, so it’s a bit of a blank slate, but it’s in really great shape. Two bedrooms, clean basement, big open kitchen, nice yard, in a great neighborhood, and close to Dr Lady’s new job. Honestly, not as Cool or Exciting as some of the other houses, but we won’t have to do anything to it and it’ll be a lot easier to sell when we move on.

Now comes the fun part of hoping there are no delays and everything comes together right when we get there.

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