Sunday, September 28, 2014

Week 4 - A Reese By Any Other Name

This week our topic challenge is to tell the story behind our babies' names. My little pumpkin is named Reese Raymond (last name omitted). I wish I had a fun story to share but, really, Justin and I agreed on the name pretty early - about 16 weeks into the pregnancy when we first found out we were having a boy. We both had an abundance of girl names we liked but very few boy names. I always assumed I would have girls (no idea why - maybe because my mom had two daughters so that's all I knew growing up). So we had to brainstorm a little.

We were driving to LA for a wedding and I threw Reese out there. I'm pretty sure it wasn't the first time we discussed that name but now that we knew it was a boy we were taking things more seriously and actually considered it.

We both loved it. We drove for awhile and discussed other names but kept coming back to Reese.  By the end of the drive, we'd settled on it.

I had a few requirements for names. First, I wanted to pick a name that is easily pronounced. Growing up, both my first and last names were horrifically butchered constantly. Not only did the mispronunciations sound awful but as a shy kid, it drew a lot of attention to me that I could have done without. I constantly had to correct people (or not correct them and just be called something that wasn't my name) or answer questions about my name story/history (mostly my last name - my first name isn't that uncommon).  I didn't want my kid to have that issue so I was determined to pick a name that is easily pronounced.

Reese. It sounds almost exactly how it's spelled. We considered the alternate spelling of Rhys instead WHICH I LOVE but we were too afraid he would be called "Rice." He is almost 11 months old and we haven't had any mispronunciations yet so I think we did a pretty good job. Woohoo!

While I didn't want a difficult name, my second requirement was that I didn't want a name that was too common either.

I struggled with how common of a name we picked. According to the Social Security Administration, Reese ranks 549th in the most common boy names. That's stomach-able. BUT! For girls, Reese is about the 128th most popular. Not horrible but I was hoping for something a bit more rare than that. Justin and I talked a lot about it and ultimately decided that we needed to pick a name WE liked and not worry so much about how common it is. And if we picked a name that absolutely no one else had, it would probably be bizarre and ugly anyway. So, Reese survived the second prong.

Finally, and this sort of goes with the second, the name needed to be a little unique and distinct since our last name is verrrry common.

I really like the way Reese sounds with our last name. It has just enough flavor to offset the commonality of it.

Reese's middle name, Raymond, was a lot more straightforward. Raymond is Justin's first name but his parents have never called him that or any variation of it. It's also Justin's dad's first name and he went by Ray. Justin's mom told me she'd like Raymond to be worked in the name somehow. So we settled on it as the middle name.

Just before Reese was born, I started backtracking and wanted to change the middle name to Justin so Reese would have the same initials as his dad and they would share the same middle name. Justin talked me out of it though. I'm glad he did because Ray passed away this last July and it meant the world to Justin that his dad knew that Reese was named after him.

Reese was actually due on Ray's birthday, November 2nd, which was another reason we liked Raymond for a middle name. He surprised us though and came two days early on Halloween! I loved this because Reese's Peanut Butter Cups have and probably always will be my favorite candy so it's like I got the ultimate Reese's treat that Halloween. And yes, we call him Peanut Butter Cup. :)

That's it! My little Reese Raymond.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Week 3 - Travel With Baby: Experiences and Tips

I don't have much experience in this area. From the few trips we've taken, the greatest piece of advice I have for traveling with a baby is this:

DON'T. Just… don't.

Ok, so that's not always practical.  Life presents several situations that require us to travel. We've taken a few day trips here and there - once to Salinas for Christmas, again for my Grandma's funeral, a couple times to my parents' place in Pine Grove, and once to San Francisco to a Giants Game (Reese's first!). We took one overnight trip to Tahoe for my sister's wedding and a 5 day trip to Las Vegas when Justin's father passed away this last summer. That's about it in Reese's 10 months of life so far.

All these trips have been STRESSFUL. Some of that's probably just a product of my personality and my baby's personality.

I always overpack and then I can't find what I'm looking for at the moment. Babies need so much. Clothes, food, diapers, wipes, bibs, medicine, toys, stroller, etc. Every inch of the car is jam packed with Reese's personal effects.

But it just seems like no matter how much I pack, write out lists, schedules, etc, I always forget something. And it's always something important. Because everything is important with babies.

Staying overnight somewhere new with a baby is challenging at best. Babies thrive on routine and familiarity. New places mean many new sights and sounds. Baby's routine is completely thrown off. Mama's routine is completely thrown off. It's a recipe for disaster.

I seriously almost snapped in Vegas trying to meet all of Reese's needs, monitor him constantly, keep him quiet enough not to disturb other hotel occupants, and be strong for Justin as he watched his father slip away. I didn't have a break from the baby for 5 days and I was incredibly sleep deprived.  No one offered to help out even once. And by no one I mean Justin and Justin's mom. I don't fault them for this.  They were dealing with a huge loss that I can't even imagine. But 5 days straight with baby and no break… that's how moms snap.

Now that I've written this out, I realize that the reason my experiences of traveling with baby haven't been positive is probably that most of our trips have been compulsory in that they were trips we were (at least morally) obligated to take. The only trip we've really chosen to go on for no other reason other than to just spend time together is our day trip to the Giants game. And OH MY GOODNESS, did we have fun. It was a little stressful here and there but for the most part, everything worked out very well.

So maybe my takeaway from this is that Justin and I, now that our lives have calmed down a little, should plan a trip with Reese that we WANT to take. Maybe after that I'd have some good tips or at least positive experiences to share.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Week 2 - My Halloween Pumpkin

I made it to Week 2! In the eleventh hour, of course. But I'm here. How shocked are you, Meghan? :)

The topic for Week 2 is to write our birth stories - my pick. I realized I'd never memorialized it and I really want to before I forget anymore of it. So here goes…

The date is October 29th, 2013. A Tuesday. I am 39 weeks and 3 days pregnant.

I have been off work since October 4th and I am having the time of my life! Everything for the baby is ready to go. All furniture is assembled and in place. All clothes are washed and in the nursery. All I do is whatever I want to do - shop, sleep, bake, putter around the house, have coffee with friends, etc. I still attend law classes two nights a week but not going to work feels like a vacation. I am golden.

Back to October 29th. Justin and I have a nice day together - we go have our carseat installed, have breakfast, and kind of take things easy. Later that night, we drive from our home in Elk Grove to Fair Oaks to check on some friends' house that are out of town. We get home kinda late - maybe 9 or 10 pm - and I am exhausted. I lay there for hours, playing on my phone, trying to fall asleep but I am super uncomfortable. I have had a little trouble finding a comfortable sleeping position for the later months of pregnancy but, overall, it hasn't been too bad. Tonight, however, I'm not going to be able to sleep at all. I have a gripping pain in my abdomen. It starts in my back, swirls all around to my front, and makes my whole belly tight. It seems to come and go so I just wait thinking maybe the baby is just active and it'll pass. Baby looooves to jump around when Mama's trying to sleep.

It's now about 1:00 am on October 30th. Justin is asleep next to me but he wakes up on one of my 20 trips to the bathroom. The pain is getting more intense and at more regular intervals. Justin suggests I am having contractions but I'm not convinced. I thought for sure I'd make it at least until my due date which wasn't for a few more days. I take a shower to try and ease the pain. It helps. For a minute. A couple hours later, I take another shower. I go to the bathroom and spot a little blood. Ok, now I have a tangible sign that something's happening.

Justin times my contractions and I use Norma Jean, the world's sweetest kitty, as my focal point to breathe through the pain.

I should have taken lamaze classes. This shit hurts.

I am astounded by the pain. All of my life, I have prided myself on having a high pain tolerance. I can barely stand this.

By 7:00 am, I am no longer in denial that I am in labor. My contractions are about 7 mins apart, last about 70 seconds each, and have been happening like that for a couple hours. I know I am not supposed to go to the hospital until contractions are 5 mins apart but I am in so much pain by this point that when I call Labor & Delivery, I lie so they'll let me come in.

Justin and I drive to Roseville which takes us about 45 mins. We walk in the door just after 9 am. They take me back for an assessment and determine I am 3 cm dilated and at +1 station. The doctor yelled, "We got a keeper!" LOL.

They offer me an epidural and I say YES! I have been sober for 9 months. Someone is offering me (arguably) safe, legal drugs. HELL TO THE YEAH, I want an epidural. It seemed like hours until I finally got it (I SHOULD HAVE TAKEN FUCKING LAMAZE CLASSES) but once those needles were in my back and that sweet numbness flowed through my veins, I could have kissed the anesthesiologist. I seriously can't believe some women do this naturally. Those women are freakin superheroines in my book.

From then on, the day was pretty uneventful. My mom came by and stayed with me. My BFF, Melissa, dropped by for a few before she went to work. The nurses were all sooooo sweet and brought me jello, water, and chicken broth when I asked (which I would promptly puke back up). Justin and I talked and watched TV. I played on my phone and texted a couple of people that I was in labor. My labor continually progressed.

Later that afternoon, my sister, Taryn, and her son, Gabriel came. At some point, Justin and I watched the Red Sox beat the Cardinals and win the World Series!

At about 9 pm, the nursed asked if she could break my water. I'd been stalled at 6 cm dilated since about 3 pm. I said yes because I was eager to get this road on the show.

By about 11:30 pm, I was at 9 cm and the nurse said it was time to start pushing. And push I did. I tried in vain not to pass out right there on the table. I was soooooo tired having been up for…. some ungodly amount of hours. I kept slapping myself in my face to stay awake. Every time I would slack off my deep breathing for a second, the baby's heart rate would start dropping.  I couldn't see what was happening "down there" but everyone else in the room could. UGH. LOL.

I watched the clock tick past midnight. It was now October 31st - Halloween! Justin said he could see the head. I couldn't feel a thing.  The epidural was amazing. More time passed - still hardcore pushing - and the doctor finally said he was going to use a vacuum to help speed things along. THANK GOODNESS because after 3 hours of pushing, I had nothing left.

Awhile later, the doctor thrust this purple ball of goo up on me. Reese Raymond Carter entered the world at 3:04 am on October 31st, 2013. He weighed 9 lbs, 4 oz, and was just under 22 inches long. Ten fingers, ten toes and one little… you know. He was so PERFECT! I was so out of it by that point but I forced myself to be present. My baby! He looked like a little alien. He had shit all over him. He was so beautiful and so ugly at the same time.

While they were cleaning Reese up, the doctor came over with the placenta and held it out to me. Apparently, he didn't read the form birth plan I'd filled out weeks ago stating I wanted nothing to do with the damn thing. No offense to those who did, just not my thing. Justin was equally as grossed out by the interaction. I told the doctor, "Can you please go put it over there?" and pointed to the trash can. LOL. Seriously, just seeing it made me want to puke.

I don't know if it was the haze I was in or what but the whole thing felt very surreal, very dreamlike. Justin and I look at these pictures now of Reese's distorted little head and laugh because at the time we thought he was the most perfectly molded little human ever. Our little Halloween Pumpkin.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Blog Challenge Week 1 - A Day in the Life

This is the first in a series of blog posts my fabulous friend, Meghan, and I are doing in an attempt to document our lives as new moms. So here it is: the good, the bad, and the beautiful.

Our first topic is to describe a typical day in our lives. I made the mistake of reading Meghan's beautifully written post in which she'd included a number of adorable pix of her adorable son before writing my own post and now I'm incredibly intimidated. But - per usual - I've waited until last minute so now I have to just do it. So here goes. :)

Sunday, September 7th, 2014 - Reese is 10 months, 1 week

3:00 am - I am zonked out. I finally wound down enough to fall asleep two hours ago. I hear a Reese whimper above the nature sounds that are coming through the baby monitor. It's not enough to fully wake me so I drift back off. I hear the whimper again - a little louder this time. Again. Again. Again. Louder. Louder. Louder. I wait a few minutes to see if he'll self-settle. That's what the books say to do. But deep down I know it's just wishful thinking. He means business - I can tell. He's been sleeping through the night sporadically but, apparently, not tonight. FULL ON CRY. Self-settle is a no-go. Duh.

Funny how during the newborn days, a deep breath was enough to make me bolt upright and jump to his side, boob at the ready. Ten months later, I make him work for it a little. Like, really? Do you REALLY need me? You better really need me.

OKAY, I'm up. I go into his room and scoop him up, change his diaper, and settle in to nurse. I rock him while he eats and I cuddle him securely in case I accidentally drift off. In 45 mins or so, he's back out. I might have drifted off. I can't tell. I hear the dogs start whimpering in the living room so I put the slumbering Reese back in his crib and take them outside for their mid-night potty break. When I come back inside, Reese is awake and crying.


Maybe he'll settle. I give it a few minutes. He's still crying. My husband, Justin, wakes up. Oops. We have a brief team meeting to go over the game plan. He agrees to get up and give him a bottle so I fall back asleep.

8:30 am - I wake to hear Reese chirping in his crib! I love the sounds he makes in the morning. He is always so happy. Is there anything better than a baby playing? The answer is no. I am also incredibly happy thankful that Little Man let me sleeeeeep. Mama needed it. It's better for everyone involved when Mama gets a little shut eye.

Reese nurses and then I put on a cd of kid songs with his name interjected here and there. He loves it! We listen to it everyday. EVERY.SINGLE.DAY. Multiple times. I have it memorized. I even have a few coordinated dance moves.

We play and practice standing until Daddy wakes up.

9:00 am - It's Sunday so Daddy is home which is awesome because Reese LOVES Daddy! We all pile in the car for a trip to Starbucks. Mama and Daddy chat while Reese babbles on and on. Sweet boy, always has so much to say. While out, we decide to go to Lowe's for some supplies for a project on which we are working. Reese loves people and makes friends everywhere we go so shopping is one of his favorite things to do.

10:00 am - We get home and it's time for our second breakfast (and every time I call it that I absolutely think of Pippin from LOTR).  We opt for a few puffs and 4 oz of pureed pears. You know, to get things moving. And just a side note: if you don't want to read about poop, this is not the blog for you.

10:30 am - I nurse Reese down to a nap.  Hubby and I work on house projects and drink coffee while Baby Man sleeps.

12:30 pm - Baby Man is awake! That was an awesome nap. We are poised for a pleasant afternoon with a happy, sweet Baby Man. I put Reese in his high chair and pull him outside where Dad and I are working on fully enclosing the patio area for our pets so they can come and go freely through the pet door and not get out of the yard.

Reese eats a whole banana by himself! This boy would live off bananas if I'd let him. And I might except that bananas are supposed to be… binding for babies and since he has constipation issues, I usually try to limit the culprits. He also downs a few puffs before getting started on a 6 oz Sweet Potato, Apple, and Chicken baby food meal.  I'm eating a plum and I offer him a bite which he takes. Daddy gives him a bite of his peach but Reese is not interested.

2:00 pm - We just have so much playing to do that I don't know how we're going to fit it all in today. We mostly prefer to play with things we're not supposed to - Mama's phone, the baby monitor, any remotes we can get our mouth on, and any wires that are hanging around. As hard as I've tried to baby proof this place, some things have to be plugged in somewhere sometimes. And if that's the case, Reese WILL find it.

3:00 pm - Reese is sleepy so I nurse him down for a nap. He is soooo sweet looking when he sleeps. I usually end up rocking and holding him much longer than necessary in order to soak up some precious cuddles. Especially since cuddles are becoming increasingly rare now that he's mobile.

Hubby and I do some more work around the house and have some more coffee.

5:15 pm - Reese is awake! We nurse quickly and I change him into a fresh outfit so we can head to dinner at Justin's cousin, Travis' place. Travis and his wife Kristen have a 4 month old daughter named Samantha - we call her Sam. We head over and Sam is down for a nap so Reese is the star of the show! He's a little overwhelmed by all the people - maybe he's still not fully awake. He shows off his standing abilities and crab crawls around in pursuit of their cats. I try to monitor him closely as he is normally a bull in a China shop. Kristen is so sweet and always has toys to offer. The girl is ridiculously prepared for everything! We eat dinner. Kristen made, among other things, this killer garlic bread for which I MUST get the recipe. I might have had three pieces. Justin plays with Reese while I eat. SCORE!!! I take Reese back over and feed him 8 oz of a Butternut Squash Puree from squeezable pouches. Everyone remarks how quickly he woofs it down. You'd think we hadn't fed this boy in months. He has some puffs and then it's off to play. Soooo much playing, so little time. We're facing a real crisis.

We stage a little photo shoot with Reese and Sam before eating some homemade peach pie with vanilla ice cream. Seriously, I need some more Kristen in my life. That was the BEST pie I've ever had!!!  My Weight Watchers program is but a distant memory.

7:30 pm - We pack up Reese and head out. We have a couple of essential errands to run and Reese is inexplicably tired. He had two great naps today and he's only been awake since 5:15 pm. He cries in the car the whole time and I hate myself for not taking him straight home but we really needed to get these things done.

8:30 - We are home and Reese is ready for bed. I usually distract Reese with a new object while I do Baby Maintenance. Tonight, the object is his thermometer and maintenance includes nail clippings. I've been putting it off too long. Reese screams and kicks especially violently - if anyone heard him, they'd swear I was burning him with cigarette butts -  so I put it off as long as I can. He has a couple small scratches on his face as a result of the nails though and people are going to start commenting on it. They always do. This makes me feel like a horrible mom. So I brace myself and go in for the kill. The thermometer distraction mostly works. I make it out with only a few kicks to the jugular.

Baby kicks can't kill you, can they? Don't answer that.

We are ready to move on to lotion - first Curel and then prescription hydrocortisone cream. I absolutely HATE doing this part. I'm terrified it's going to end up in his eyes or mouth. But this kid has HORRIBLE eczema and if I miss even one application, he breaks out something awful.

All right. Clean diaper and Sleep Sack and we are ready for bed! And just in time because Reese is sleepy! I turn on his nature sounds and night light and nurse him down to sleep. He's out in about 10 minutes. I gaze at him, pat his back, stroke his arm, and take him all in. I have such a beautiful, sweet baby.

9:15 pm - I finally put him down.

My sweet baby boy.