A Day in the Life During the Third Trimester

Life is very different in the third trimester of pregnancy than it is during any other time in life. Here’s a bit of insight into how a normal day has been going for me:

A Day in the Life During the Third Trimester1:00 AM: Wake up to go to the bathroom.

3:00 AM: Wake up again to go to the bathroom. Scoop water into my mouth with my eyes closed because I’m inordinately thirsty.

6:35 AM: Alarm blares. Attempt to turn over. Eventually flop onto back, then wiggle onto my right side and lurch my legs over the side of the bed.

6:43 AM: Catch a glimpse of my hands. Realize that my left hand is currently three times fatter than the right. Stupid fluid retention.

6:45 AM: Get in the shower. Thank God for solitude and hot water.

7:05 AM: A little voice cries “Mommy mommy mommy!” After checking to see if Sprout’s pajamas are damp (this child does 90% of his peeing at night), lift him up and change his diaper. Send him into our bedroom to wake up my husband.

7:10 AM: Peek into the bedroom to see them snuggling in bed. Climb under the sheets for a few moments of wiggly bliss.

Continue reading

A Few Recommendations for Interacting with Me While Pregnant

I wrote this a while back, but haven’t been able to post it until now. Fortunately, a couple of these no longer apply – the doctor lifted my restrictions about a month ago, thank goodness.

Maybe it’s my badass attitude. Or maybe it’s the fact that I obviously respond with my lunch order when you ask “Do you know what you’re having?” Either way, I typically haven’t had a lot of strangers interact with me during my first or current pregnancy. Nonetheless, if you run into me, here are some rules for dealing with me while pregnant. While these rules aren’t universal, I’m pretty sure they apply widely beyond my personal situation.

1) No comments on the size of a woman’s feet. During my first pregnancy, I had some serious fluid retention. Towards the end, there was a single pair of stretchy shoes I could wear, which my feet overflowed out of like muffin tops at the end of each leg. If someone’s feet are twice as big as usual, believe me, she already knows it.

2) No saying “Oh, you’ll have your hands full!” Personally, I’ll respond poorly if you comment about how two boys will be so difficult for me to handle. For one, I’m not the primary caregiver – my husband is – so he’ll be the one juggling it the most. Secondly, my kid is the toddler version of Mr. Rogers; he loves button-down sweaters, enjoys quietly looking at books, and actually shares with other kids. Rather than having my bubble burst, I’d prefer to delude myself that our second kid will have a similarly calm demeanor. Similarly, no one else wants to hear about how their life is going to be a living hell – that’s what “You’ll have your hands full!” is the nice version of.

3) No donations of maternity clothes unless requested. I deeply appreciate the generosity of the many women who passed on maternity clothes during my first pregnancy. I appreciated the actual styles of said clothes far less. While they may have been attractive on some pregnant woman somewhere, they certainly weren’t on me.

4) No touching. This is pretty much a gimme, and yet some people just don’t seem to know (or acknowledge) it. Friends and family are an exception, but only if if they ask first. The only person who’s totally exempt from this rule is my toddler son and even I’ve yelled at him a bunch of times not to sit on / hit / squish / climb on his future brother. Good advice for life, really.

5) No horror stories. During my first pregnancy, I was a bit of a Smug Pregnant Lady at times. While I was nervous about becoming a mom, my pregnancy was pretty damn easy, all things considered. But this time around is different. Due to some heavy bleeding that sent me to the ER early on, I’m more wound up than a yo-yo on Adderall. I know a number of women for whom things went Very Badly and am perfectly capable of coming up with plenty more horrifying scenarios myself. And I know I’m not the only one. Neither I or any other pregnant women need your idle comments to feed our nightmares.

6) No saying “But it’s for the best” or “It’s all worth it” when we describe our restrictions. Due to said bleeding, I have some substantial restrictions on activities. Whereas during my first pregnancy, I walked a mile to the train every day, biked into my first trimester and was a yoga die-hard, this time I’m not allowed to walk for more than 10 minutes without sitting down. Taking away my main form of stress relief was awesome. In addition, I’m not allowed to lift my two-year-old (too heavy), which is super exciting when he plays the “I’m going to lie on the floor like a dead fish game” when I’m trying to put him in bed. Of course, following the doctor’s orders is for the best – I wouldn’t be doing it otherwise! But that doesn’t negate the fact that the restrictions still suck. I know plenty of women who have much more severe restrictions. If I or any other pregnant woman is complaining, please just sympathize.

7) Don’t treat us as some special category, but just people who will be having a baby in a couple of months. (Except for giving up your seats on the subway – that you can still do, thanks.)

My Best of Twitter 2015

I know I’m behind the curve posting my best-of yearly posts the second week of January, but we had a surprisingly busy two-weeks off Christmas holiday. All of that gift-wrapping, food eating, museum visiting, and Internet browsing doesn’t just do itself. As you may have noticed, from the sidebar, I’m on Twitter, posting @storiteller. Most of the time I post links to articles on social justice, bicycling, and other political issues, with a smattering of parenting commentary. However, as not everyone is on Twitter and there’s just so much traffic, I wanted to highlight some of my favorite tweets about parenting this year. (Yes, it only goes back to June – I guess I tweeted so much that Twitter cuts off by that point.)




















Ridiculous Moments in Parenting: Last Week Edition

Last week, I wasn’t even at home and yet the shenanigans were even more absurd than usual. Because I was at a work conference all week, Chris had to play stay-at-home single parent to a two-year-old, an exceptionally challenging job. Here were just a few of the ridiculous things that happened.

– Sprout declaring that Kraft macaroni and cheese was “delicious,” a complement much higher than that he usually bestows on any food: This is despite the fact that Chris was a professional cook in a very expensive restaurant before leaving to stay home. Now, Sprout eats way more vegetables than the average toddler (hurray!), but the fact that Kraft Mac and Cheese was the height of culinary prowess according to him was rather horrifying and funny. No accounting for taste.

– Doing the Hokey Pokey by myself in a hotel room: Keeping the attention of a toddler over FaceTime is challenging at best. To try to keep Sprout from wandering off, I started listing off songs he might want me to sing. After asking about “The Itsy-Bitsy Spider,” “10 Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed,” and “House at Pooh Corner,” I finally scored with the Hokey Pokey. Which led to me sticking my right foot in and right foot out and turning all about by myself next to my hotel bed and holding out an iPhone trying not to trip.

– Spout taking a giant bite out of a hat: Chris is a big Green Bay Packers fan, so one of our baby shower gifts was a kid-sized cheese hat. Chris happened to find it in Sprout’s closet and showed it to him, commenting “This is a cheese hat.” Sprout replied, “Cheese hat?” and then “chomp.” He managed to get a good chunk out of it before Chris could wrest it away from him and explain it was “play cheese!”

– Experiencing our first hysterically funny toddler tantrum: The other day, Sprout was really upset for no apparent reason. The answer to every question we asked was “no.” The epitome was him running in place like he was in the world’s worst gym class, flailing his arms like a rabid chicken. I always thought that parents taking photos of their kids crying was kind of mean, but I finally understood as I tried to contain my laughter.

– Chasing after a toddler mid-puke holding out a Tupperware container: For some reason, Sprout often gets sick when I go out of town. Luckily for Chris, he waited until the day after I got back to do so this time. Fortunately for everyone, the bout only lasted three hours and he was fine by the afternoon.

– Going on a bicycle ride by myself on my own bike: While this used to be an extremely common occurrence, it definitely felt like a personal accomplishment in the same sense that Beth Woolsey of Five Kids is a Lot of Kids describes being able to clip her nails. I ride back and forth to the Metro every day, but that’s on clunky, heavy Capital Bikeshare bikes. When I do have the luxury of using my own well-loved Bianchi hybrid, it’s almost always dragging an extra 50 pounds between the trailer and the growing toddler. Being able to go on a ride and worry about no one else besides myself was truly glorious, especially because I rode through the well-shaded Rock Creek Park.

– Bike grease making its way onto my child’s face and very most likely, inside his mouth: Later the same day, we took a very short ride to our little downtown area. As I was putting my bike away, Sprout started running his fingers over the chain, despite my protests. Then, because he’s teething his molars in and the simple fact that he’s two, he promptly put his hand in his mouth. (At least I’m assuming he did – I didn’t actually see it, but he did have grease on the side of his mouth.) As I know bike grease is definitely not non-toxic, that was a super awesome parenting fail. Hopefully, he won’t be puking again tomorrow.

What were some of the most ridiculous things that happened to you this week?

The Three Stages of FaceTime with a Toddler

Text: "The Three Stages of FaceTime with a Toddler / We'll Eat You Up, We Love You So" Photo: Screenshot of the FaceTime program with a woman smiling into the camera
As I travel very rarely for work, my two-year-old son isn’t very used to the idea of it. The last time I was gone for more than a night was in December, which I suspect he doesn’t even remember. So I don’t think my goodbye really sunk in when I left on a four day work trip last week. To keep in touch, we FaceTimed every night and went through a very distinct stage each time:

Continue reading

A Parents’ Guide to Monstrous Children

Children can be little monsters – they’re often the cute Muppet kind, but on their worst days, they can wander into old-fashioned horror movie territory. With yesterday being Halloween, it’s time to review exactly what kind of terrible critter your child manifests as.

Newborns – Vampires
Although they lack teeth, newborns are most certainly vampires. At first glance, they are charming, charismatic creatures. The casual observer might never guess the damage they do. They sleep during the day to awake at night. They hypnotize their victims and then leave them dazed and exhausted. They drink of their parents’ life force; if you are breastfeeding, literally of your bodily fluids.They can be absolutely terrifying in the right circumstances.

Toddlers – Godzilla
They may be small, but they are mighty! Like the King of Lizards, toddlers leave utter destruction in their wake. Communicating in grunts and roars, they are frequently misunderstood. If they can’t get their way, there is much smashing and stomping. They’re not necessarily “bad,” just challenging.

Preschoolers – The Creature from the Black Lagoon (Gil-man)
Preschoolers are frequently wet, from mysterious substances that you’re not sure if you want to know what they are or not. They’re curious, although not about what you wish they would be. They sometimes have trouble adjusting to new circumstances and may lash out if they feel threatened. They’re incredibly difficult to capture, easily squirming out of your grasp.

Elementary School Kids – Leprechauns and other fairies
Elementary school kids are short, cute and surprisingly sneaky. Often mischievous, they’ll play practical jokes on the unwary, especially greedy siblings. They’ll promise you treasure at the end of the rainbow (or a clean room), only for them to hide when you realize it was illusory. If left alone, they can spend a good bit of time mucking about in the woods or a bog.

Teenagers – Bigfoot
They’re hairy and sometimes smell funny. They have inexplicably large limbs and are taller than you would have ever imagined. They’re mysterious creatures that are rarely spotted, leaving only half-eaten food behind. When they are seen in their natural habit, their communication is minimal. They feel terribly alone and as if no one ever understands them. As a result, they are a bit obsessed with finding a mate.

Guest Post at Rants from Mommyland

I’m super excited today because I have a guest blog over at Rants from Mommyland, one of my absolute favorite blogs of all time. Seriously, I have a total blogger crush on Lydia. I read the blog’s entire archives while I was nursing Sprout and it helped keep me sane in the dark hours in the middle of the night. She has a fantastic series called “Domestic Enemies of The…” highlighting the challenges facing mothers in all sorts of situations. I’m honored to be the latest in that series with Domestic Enemies of the Working Wife of the Stay-at-Home Dad.

Here’s the first paragraph:
I’m proud to be married to a stay-at-home dad. But it definitely comes with its pitfalls. While I’m so glad that I get to go to my job every day while my husband enjoys taking care of the baby and cooking, we’ve faced our share of Domestic Enemies.

Read the rest over at Rants from Mommyland!

Why I Don’t (Really) Mind When You Compare Your Dog to My Kid

A lot of my friends have dogs that they adore and don’t have kids, either because they aren’t at the right point in their lives yet or they don’t want kids. So when I do have the chance to get together with my kid-free friends, my story about my kid is often followed by them with a story about their dog. And I’m totally cool with that. Seriously. (Even if I can snap after too many jokes about the similarities when I’m already stressed – apologies to my sister-in-law.)

Photograph of golden retriever close up.

Here’s why I’m fine with you comparing your dog to my kid:
1) You’re looking for a way to relate.
For people who don’t have kids, it’s hard to know how to respond to someone droning on about changing diapers and sleep issues. What happened to the person who backpacked through South America? But both dogs and kids provide a way to talk about the domestic issues in our lives without being a total dullard.

2) They both take a level of time and emotional investment that people who don’t have pets or kids don’t realize.
As much as I love dogs, I am definitely not interested in getting one. They simply require too much time, emotional energy and attention that I don’t have. Dogs (unlike cats) are very social animals who need a lot of interaction to thrive. While you obviously have a very different relationship with your dog than I do with my kid, I totally respect your level of commitment to them and desire to talk about them.

3) They both rely on us for everything – and get into trouble when they don’t.
Dog stories and toddler stories are remarkably similar. They too often end with something destroyed and / or eaten that really, really shouldn’t have been.

4) We both have to deal with poop entirely too often.
Especially because my husband and I cloth diaper our son. At least we don’t have to pick it up in the yard. But total poop solidarity.

5) They’re smarter than my kid – for now.
Taking problem solving, language and social understanding into account, the average dog is actually smarter as a two year old. My kid is just past one, so he has some catching up to do to your pooch.

6) Dogs really are cute.
If you tolerate my Facebook photos of my kid, I’ll totally tolerate those of your dog.

7) You do understand the difference; you aren’t dumb.
As John at the Ask Your Dad blog points out, anyone who has any social skills at all knows that a dog isn’t the same as a human child. My friends are all smart enough to understand the difference between species.

8) I respect the fact that you don’t have kids.
A lot of my friends don’t want to have kids and I completely respect that. I’m not going to pretend that your dog fulfills a baby-shaped hole in your life because you don’t have a baby-shaped hole. Chastising folks who want to tell a story about their pet after you tell a story about your kid says to them, “Only I have the right to tell a story about my home life because there is something inherently more worthy than my story about my kids than your story about your pet.” But there isn’t – we all have our individual lives and want to share them with each other. The fact that you have different experiences than me makes you interesting. Plus, we parents sometimes like talking about something other than kids – including dogs.

So what are your favorite dog or dog and kid stories?

A Yelp Review from a Newborn

With everyone having an opinion on the internet today, why not newborns? They’re certainly good at letting you know when they’re not happy. When my son was only a few months old, my husband and I would joke about the review he would write about his daily meals.

Name: Sprout
Location: My house
Number of stars: 2

Many people say that the definition of “insanity” is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Well, if so, I must be insane, because I keep returning to this place day after day despite the limited menu and inferior service. At least the food is healthy and the price is right.

The menu is extraordinarily limited – nothing but milk! The same thing, day in and day out. And always breast milk; they never even switch it up with cow or goat. There’s no question that it’s good, but a baby wants something different every once in a while. Fortunately, they do provide a bit of variety in the delivery, alternating between the intimacy of nursing and the efficiency of the bottle.

Speaking of delivery, the service is atrocious! At first, I always request my meal quietly, almost silently. Because they sometimes miss this initial cue, I then have no choice but to raise my voice. Even then, I still have to wait; they never understand the urgency of the situation. The one with the breasts is often ready right away, but I get hardly more than a trickle at first. The tall one takes ages to bring the bottle, but at least it comes out quickly once it’s served.

Then, halfway through and at the end of my meal, the waitstaff insists on manhandling me! They pat me firmly on the back for minutes on end despite my protests otherwise. I don’t know why they put me through such torture – I don’t mind a little (or a lot) of spit-up, so neither should they.

The one major advantage of this establishment is that at least it’s free. It also appears to be quite exclusive, although I can’t blame anyone else for not demanding service. I suppose you get what you pay for, especially when all the proprietors expect is an occasional smile in return.