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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Emptying my brain before falling asleep

It's 2am, and my brain has officially slowed to a crawl. I'm listening to the rustle of my little one moving around in his crib. I say "rustle," but I really mean "the slightest noise amplified unnaturally by a baby monitor made for worriers like me." Shhhhh....he's still now. Oh blessed sleep.

I should be asleep too, because if history has taught me anything it's that I'll be listening to a crying baby in about three hours. Then we'll have our first cuddle of the day as I consider that I'm such a privileged mommy to have such a wonderful baby boy.

So I should be in la-la land right now, dreaming about poopy diapers or that annoying little song that the Jumperoo plays over and over and over again, punctuated by elephant and monkey sounds. But a tornado watch flashed up on the TV screen a few hours ago, and I immediately went to red alert.

Actually, I first tried to figure out which is worse, a tornado warning or a tornado watch? I always get those confused. Because a warning could mean, "Hey, I'm warning you that a tornado, it's a-coming!" But a watch could mean, "I'm watching a tornado right now! Run for your lives!" And then I thought, "Whatever! I see the word 'tornado' and that can't be good!"

So once my internal red alert was established, I pictured myself hearing the wind pick up and running to Michael's room to swoop him up in a motherly football hold in preparation to fly down to the closet under the stairs, kicking the dog and cats out of my way, and screaming for Garrett to follow me. Because I'm thoughtful like that.

Understandably, that mental state was not conducive to sleep. A panic attack...yes. Slumber...not so much.

I decided to stay awake for a while longer and see how this whole tornado situation panned out. It reminded me of the first few nights that we had Michael home. He was so teeny tiny in the bassinet. More often that not, I slept at the foot of the bed so that I could rest my hand on his chest and make sure he was still breathing.

I remember thinking that I wanted to just stay awake and watch over him, knowing that it was impossible to sustain that level of watchfulness for long. I was so frustrated with the limitations of my humanity. But almost immediately I remembered that God "will neither slumber nor sleep." And it hit home like never before that nothing catches Him by surprise.

Oh boy, was I relieved. I still watch over Michael, and have even sat in the rocking chair in his room a time or two while he slept. But rather than watching and fretting, I watch and ponder. I ponder the turn my life has taken the last few years, the fulfilled dreams of a loving husband and beautiful child, and the knowledge that I can go to my own room to sleep and leave Michael in better hands.

Speaking of sleep, it's now 2:45am and I need to sleep while I can! Here's to hoping that my dreams involve something other than diapers and baby toys.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

10 Baby Gear Products That Helped Me Maintain My Sanity

The combined responsibilities of working at a demanding full-time job, taking care of an adorable 5-month-old baby boy, and maintaining some sort of relationship with my cutie-pie husband has kicked me in the butt. Those first couple of months especially were just a blur of emotions, feedings, diapers, and tears (both the baby’s and mine).

But I did manage to learn a few things along the way. Mostly I learned that I had a lot to learn. I also learned that the right product at the right time could be a lifeline to a new mommy.  So in an effort to help other new moms maintain a semblance of sanity, here’s a handy-dandy list of some of my favorite products.

Just keep in mind that you and I may have different definitions of sanity. If your version of sanity doesn’t include anti-depressants and large amounts of sushi, you may want to take the following advice with a grain of salt.

Also - I’m not giving any brand names (for the most part) because nobody is paying me for the tens of seconds it takes to do a Google search and copy a link.

1.  Swaddle Blanket

P1010006My little one loved to be swaddled. Babies have a startle reflex that causes them to throw out their little arms and legs, and swaddling keeps them from waking up from it (says Pseudo-Dr. Leslie). My baby book had diagrams and instructions for the proper swaddling of a newborn, but there isn’t a book in the world that could teach the intricacies of swaddling to this engineer. The nurses in the hospital were all “look how good I am at swaddling with a plain old blanket,” but I was all “don’t make me do anything complicated when I’m functioning on only ten minutes of sleep and a diet coke.” So this swaddle blanket with Velcro closures was just what I needed.

2. Travel Swaddle Blanket

I never even knew these things existed until my baby shower, but I ended up loving it. We were able to keep baby Michael swaddled in his car seat, and even when we stopped swaddling him we kept using it to keep him warm when we were out and about. Because those trips to and from the pediatrician in August in Houston in an SUV with a broken rear air conditioner get mighty chilly.

3. Swing(s)


If you’re a research maven and bookworm like I am, you’ll come across the line of thinking that you shouldn’t put your baby to sleep in a swing because then it will be difficult to get them to fall asleep in their cribs. I’m sure some very Smart People came up with that thought, and it made a lot of sense when I first read it, but then I realized that those Smart People are able to write books because they’re not sleep-deprived from dealing with a screaming baby. So until those Smart People come to my house to babysit for me, any baby that lives in this house will have 24x7 access to a swing.

We kept the first swing upstairs in our bedroom, making it possible for me to shower and even answer Nature’s call every now and then. Fortunately for me, I didn’t have to answer Nature’s call very often because I didn’t usually see a meal until sometime in the afternoon. It was just too difficult to eat a bowl of cereal or even make toast while holding a newborn.

It was a full six weeks (maybe more), before it occurred to us to get a swing to keep downstairs in the kitchen. Because Smart People don’t live in this house, no matter what those college diplomas say. They don’t teach common sense at the university. But we did eventually figure out that another swing might be a good idea. And it CHANGED OUR LIVES. The air smelled sweeter. The birds sang more sweetly. And Nature put me on speed dial.

4. Formula


Formula isn’t typically listed as baby gear, but I felt that I should include this for all those nursing mothers out there that live by the mantra, “The br**st is best.” I, too, spent the first month of Michael’s life as a Nursing Nazi (“No formula for you!”), until I realized that maybe his constant crying was because he was a wee bit hungry. So we began supplementing with formula and ended up with a very happy baby. I thought that I would feel guilty giving Michael formula, but, honestly, I was so exhausted from the constant feedings that I couldn’t make the formula fast enough. Got milk? That’s great. But a bottle or two (or three or four) of formula a day won’t cause irreparable harm.

5. Boppy


I’m considering writing the Boppy company and suggesting that they create some sort of backpack/harness thingy to use to carry the Boppy because I didn’t go anywhere without it the first couple of months. I used it for nursing, cuddling, bottle feeding, and baby naps. I now occasionally use it to help Michael sit up. Oh, it is a wondrous thing.

6. iPhone

I’m going to go on record as saying that an iPhone is the new must-have item for mommies. Need to know when you last changed/fed the baby? There’s an app for that! Looking for a way to stay awake during midnight feedings? There’s an app for that! Wondering if your husband is on his way home to relieve you from baby duty for a few minutes? There’s an app for that! (I have plans to write a post about my favorite apps, but I’m not making any promises because I’m keeping my distance from things like Obligations and Commitments.)

7. Zippered Footy PJ’s

One of the scariest things that I’ve ever done is pull a tiny T-shirt over my son’s soft-spot-ridden head and around his baby bird neck. Who needs that kind of stress after pushing a watermelon through a pin-hole? We waited until Michael’s umbilical cord stump fell off before putting him in zippered PJ’s, but considering it was almost a month before that happened, the next baby will probably end up being zipped up long before then.

8. Pack & Play Bassinet

It’s a bassinet! No, it’s a changing table! No, it’s a play pen! But wait, it’s all of the above! That’s some serious bang for your buck. Or, in my case, for my brother’s buck since he’s the one that bought it. But you get my drift. (Does anybody say that anymore? Besides thirty-something women that are seriously out of touch with what the young people say these days?) It won’t work for a small bedroom because it’s actually pretty large (large as in “look how big it is”, not large as in “large and in charge” or “livin’ large” or any other out-dated phrase). But if you have the room for it, it may be a better choice than a bassinet that you’ll use for only a couple of months before wrestling it into the attic.

9. Paci Wipes


I love my boy. I really do. But cleaning his paci fifty times a day after he has spit it out (with some force, I might add) is one of the more tedious chores of motherhood. It’s even more frustrating when out and about. I do have those little clip thingies to attach a paci to his clothes or car seat or whatever, but I have a fear that the ribbon keeping the paci from touching the floor will wrap around his sweet wrist and cut off the circulation (because looking for reasons to be anxious has become quite the hobby). The Paci wipes are great because I can just whip them out of the diaper bag and clean off the mute button paci without having to find a faucet.

10. Receiving Blankets

Or, as we like to call them, drop cloths. I just love cuddling with my little one, looking into his big blue eyes while he gives me that gorgeous gummy grin, thinking about what a privileged mommy I am to have such a beautiful/sweet/darling/smart baby boy. But, just as often as not, my beautiful baby boy’s gummy grin becomes the Fount of Many Feedings. So we’ve learned to lay him on a blanket whenever we can. It’s much easier and cheaper to throw a blanket into the wash than to take a comforter to the cleaner’s.


Well, there you have it. You’re probably impressed, irritated, or confused by my many words. If you’re impressed, I can safely say that you’re sleep-deprived. If you’re irritated, you must be one of those Smart People. But if you’re confused…Congratulations, you’re a mommy.

Links Worth Following 12/22/09

  • My husband is in the running to sing the National Anthem at a Houston Texans game! Garrett is Finalist #12. I was so proud of him that he was able to pull this off after being sick. His voice got pretty messed up (a lot of hacking involved) and I was afraid for a while that he wouldn’t be able to go to the audition, but he did it and sounded great!
  • Antique Mommy shares 10.2 Ways To Be A Gracious Guest. I thought this was brilliant. I thought numbers 2 and 9 were especially helpful.
  • Caring for Your Introvert. I LOVED THIS. It’s tongue-in-cheek but hits on a lot of truth. I can’t tell you how many times strangers have said to me, “Smile, it can’t be that bad!” I always want to say, “Nothing is wrong, I was just thinking.” But I’m an introvert and don’t want my response to be misconstrued as an interest in getting into conversation.