The Best Boy

It’s taken me a bit of time to muster up the ability to write this post, though if you follow me on social you are probably already aware that this past Friday we said goodbye to my darling boy, Harry.

Harry was my first baby. We got him when I was 16 and he was just a 10 week old puppy — he was so little he fit length-wise across my stomach with his legs fully splayed out, and right from the beginning he was the most people-loving, energetic, lovable little thing.

Harry was my boy through the end of high school and through college, he saw our family grow from just me, my siblings, and my parents to include all of our partners, five babies, and four other doggos.

Seeing our family through all of that means that he was with us for over 15 years, and, as you may know, 15 is a very long time for a pup. Even though he maintained some of his spunk and spirit right until the end, throughout the past couple of years we had been seeing a steady decline in his mobility, he started having to deal with various ailments, and was just showing his age.

First came the days when he stopped being able to go up and down the stairs with reliability. Then times when he had difficulty even just standing up from his bed on his own. He would slip and wobble when walking, falling down and not being able to get back up. This also meant he was having lots of accidents, which made it even harder for him to regain his footing, and more than once I found him splayed out in a pool of his own mess. We also had to entice him to eat his food half the time, and he had lost a lot of weight.

We took him to the vet a few times, and they confirmed what we already knew: there would come a point where he would start having more bad days than good days, and that is when we would have to start thinking about his quality of life and whether it would be time to say goodbye.

A few months ago, we thought we were at the end, and I started to heartbreakingly mentally prepare myself. But, he bounced back, and we got a little more time with our very best boy. He gained some weight back with the help of a high-calorie nutritional supplement, some joint vitamins, and even got a bit of his spirit back with the help of painkillers and arthritis medication.

We knew the clock was still running though, and it was only a matter of time before things took a turn for the worse again. Six weeks or so later, he fell back into a bad period, and we thought it might be the end, again. But one more time, he bounced back! He seemed content enough, he would mostly sleep but he seemed happy as far as I could tell — he even had a few spurts of playing with Daxter! And so, we got a few more weeks with him.

But… it couldn’t last forever. And last week, it just seemed like he was finally done. He stopped eating, was shaking and shivering, didn’t have the energy to get up anymore… he just seemed so tired. And so, finally, I knew I couldn’t put off what I’d been dreading any longer.

I have never had to put a pet to sleep before, so it was a particularly heart-wrenching decision but I finally gathered myself enough to call Lap of Love, an at-home veterinary hospice service, and set his final appointment. We spent his last day, the Fourth of July, cuddling, eating bacon, and just being together as a family. And then, early Friday morning, the doctor came over and we said goodbye.

It was a heartbreaking experience, and up until the very last second I was second-guessing myself, but I know now that it was the right choice. Harry was able to go so gently, so peacefully, so comfortably — in his favorite bed, me right by his side.

My brother Ben came over that morning to say farewell, and after Penny gave Harry a kiss goodbye (the very last photo I ever took of him, below), he took her out for a bit so that we could move forward. I was already bawling at this point, and she voluntarily came over to give me a huge hug and patted my back as they were leaving. I hate that she’s the one who had to comfort me during this time, but I really needed it.

Dr. Kimberly, the vet, was so kind and calming during the entire experience, too. She reassured me that I was making the right call, that Harry looked so tired and worn down, that this would be a release for him and he would soon be free of pain and at peace. I fed him a final piece of bacon while she gave him a shot that put him into a deep, relaxed sleep, and then when I was ready, she gave him the shot that stopped his heart. It was very dignified and gentle. Even after it was over, he still just looked like he was sleeping.

Daxter had been hiding downstairs for most of this time, but came up after it was done, gave Harry a little sniff, and walked away. Dr. Kimberly said that some pets just know… and I think that was the case with him. The doctor then took a pawprint impression in some clay for me, and clipped a lock of his fur as a keepsake. Together, we laid him in a basket and she tucked him in with a soft blanket, then carried him away to be cremated.

I really do believe it was the best possible exit from this world I could have given him, but it still hurt (and hurts) like hell. I just miss him. Even though he pretty much just slept all day at the end, the loss of his presence feels so vast. He was my constant companion for 15 years — pretty much half of my entire life. He went from being the most excitable, energetic, bounding little thing to a crotchety old man (the literal doggie equivalent of the guy yelling “get off my porch!”) but never lost his deep love and affection for people. He was just… a really, really good dog.

One of the hardest parts, other than the actual act of saying goodbye, came the next morning when Penny asked where Harry was. I tried to explain without breaking down that he had died (I read that we shouldn’t use euphemisms, as they can be confusing to young children), and reminded her that she said goodbye yesterday. She seemed to accept it, but has called out for him a few times since and it’s just really hard to hear.

We brought Pixel (my brother’s dog) over to keep Daxter company, since he’s seemed a bit rudderless since Harry’s passing, and I think it’s helping him a lot. But Penny also sometimes calls Pixel by Harry’s name, which is hard for me, too. Sometimes I feel like I’m doing fine, and sometimes I find myself instinctively looking for him and having to remind myself that he’s not here anymore. Or I think about how this new baby won’t ever get to know him, and it brings me back to tears.

I know it will get easier with time, and I also know some people might not understand why I’m feeling this loss so deeply, grieving like this when it’s “just a dog,” and that’s okay. They don’t have to understand. Harry was a beloved, treasured member of our family, he really was my first baby, and he’ll be in my heart forever.

Playing Outside

With my dog harry!More info: http://blog.ben-powell.net/2009/02/16/outdoor-jag-test/

Posted by Ben Powell on Monday, February 16, 2009

I’ll love you forever, bud.

Day in the Life – 1st Birthday Week

Hi friends!

It’s been a minute since I’ve popped in with a Day in the Life post (despite all my intentions and promises to do them more frequently — they’re surprisingly time-consuming and also time is like, this insane, ridiculously fast, totally cruel thing right now and somehow it’s already been 6 months since my last one of these?!??!?

A-hem, anyway…

6:30 AM: I hear Penny start to stir via the baby monitor, but she’s just happily chattering and playing in her crib when I check the video feed, so I promptly throw a pillow over my head and try to go back to sleep. “Try” is the operative word, since I’ve been having a very difficult time falling and staying asleep lately, so while I don’t end up going back to sleep, I do lay there cursing and contemplating my existence for a while, lol.

7:10 AM: Penny, on the other hand, does fall back asleep because I leave her in there too long, HA! I finally drag my butt out of bed, brush my teeth, wash my face (I use LATHER’s Ultra Mild Face Wash in the AM), throw on some moisturizer, and get dressed.

I got a new sports bra and leggings set from Torrid’s Harry Potter line, and I. AM. OBSESSED. They have the Marauder’s Map print all over them, but are dark, and they’re really flattering. Score!

I also take my daily vitamins and pack up a bag with my laptop, planner, and water bottle, and then settle down to do a quick morning meditation on the Calm app.

7:30 AM: I finally go downstairs to get Penny, and she wakes back up when I enter the room. She’s so happy to see me! I give her a bottle, change her diaper, and get her dressed. I also let the dogs out and give them breakfast.

8:00 AM: Off to daycare! Penny goes to daycare twice a week, and I try to get her there by 8:30 because that’s when they serve breakfast. Attendance is a lot lighter during the summer (though I’m sure that will change starting very soon, since it’s back to school week in VA!) so there are only four other babies in there right now — three of whom are named Charlotte, I kid you not.

8:30 AM: I stop at Starbucks to grab a bite & some caffeine and get a little bit of work done. Usually I head straight to the gym after dropping her off (or I bring her with me if it’s a non-daycare day), but I have a few work things that I’d like to get out of the way first thing. Plus, you know, coffee. And food.

 

I grab a Turkey Bacon Breakfast Sandwich and an Iced Vanilla Bean Coconut Latte, as well as a protein box to snack on later. I tackle my inbox, respond to messages on Yelp, schedule some calls, work some behind-the-scenes magic, submit my weekly newsletter, and check the reviews from the event I hosted last week.

I also pick up a gift card for one of Penny’s daycare teachers, since it’s her birthday tomorrow! We normally don’t attend on Wednesdays, but I asked if we could switch days so that I can keep her with me on her actual birthday this week.

10:30 AM: Gym time! I was supposed to have a session with a personal trainer yesterday, but he had to cancel at the last-minute. I’ve been trying to connect with him to reschedule, but we haven’t been successful in finding a new time, so I stop by the personal training desk to see if I can get scheduled. They slate me in for next week with a new trainer, so I’m still on my own for a little while!

 

I do a little under 20 minutes on the lateral elliptical (which I only discovered yesterday but is, like, weirdly fun?!) to warm up, then it’s over to the weights area. I do the following set 3 times:

– 20 seconds high-resistance rope pulls
– 8 front-side-back lunges
– 10 ventral & lateral raises (with calf raises)
– 12 side dips
– 12 tricep dips
– 8 donkey kicks on each side
– a 2-minute knee-plank

 

It doesn’t actually seem like that much when it’s written down, but I am basically just a puddle by the time I’m halfway through my second set. WHEW.

 

11:30 AM: I head home, snacking on some of the protein box I got at Starbucks earlier on the way. As soon as I get home, I let the dogs out, and then jump in the shower to rinse off.

 

I also take the opportunity to refresh my hair color by adding some dye to my conditioner. It’s a tricky balance, because I want my color to look fresh for the party on Saturday, but the fresher it is, the more it bleeds when it gets wet. And since the chances of me not being at least a little bit sweaty during the party are basically zil (I’m a really sweaty person, lol), I need to make sure I have a few buffer days / showers beforehand.

12:00 PM: I settle in to do some more work, and also start drafting up this blog post (it’s much easier if I jot things down as I go through my day, rather than try to remember everything later.)

When I check my phone, I see that daycare has sent me some photos! They use an app to keep me apprised of all her diapers, food, and naps (rare and fleeting though they are), and can also send me photos! Depending on how busy they are, sometimes I get one photo, sometimes I get a whole bunch.

Luckily, today looks like the latter — I get a little photo recap of the fun outdoor adventure they went on this morning! I guess it tired her out, because according to the app she’s also currently napping — miracle! (Although, it ends up only being a 30 minute nap… so not really so miraculous. But I’ll take it because sometimes she doesn’t nap at daycare AT ALL.)

2:00 PM: Lunchtime! I really should have eaten something before now, but I got totally caught up in work. I’m starrrrving! I’m trying to clear out our fridge to make space for the birthday party food I’m going to have to pick up before Saturday, so it’s a big ol’ hodgepodge lunch of leftovers: braised pork, spaghetti squash carbonara, steamed broccoli, noodles with spaghetti sauce, and a keto cheesecake cup that my MIL made.

I also unload clean dishes from the dishwasher while everything’s heating up. Bonus: my Fitbit lets me know that I’ve hit my step goal! Whoop!

2:30 PM: I sit back down at my desk and eat while doing more work / semi-watching The Office for the 1923487th time. I also take a quick break from eating for a phone call with a restaurant I’m working with for an upcoming event.

3:00 PM: The dog groomer arrives (we use a mobile groomer that comes to our house), and thank Heaven, because these shaggy pups really need a shave! Old man Harry is up first!

  

4:00 PM: While the groomer is still busy with Harry, I quickly run out to pick Penny up from daycare. (I let the groomer know.) In an attempt to try and keep her from falling asleep on the 5 minute drive home, I chat with her super animatedly and look suuuuper crazy (windows are also down, ha!). She’s soooooo exhausted!

I put her down in her crib as soon as we get back, and she passes out immediately.

4:20 PM: And right on cue, Harry is done, looking dapper as all get-out, and it’s Daxter’s turn!

While Penny (and Harry, heh) are napping, I wrap up the rest of my work to-do list for today, then decide to tackle a few of my birthday party projects! First up, her party guestbook. I made a big photo mosaic out of all of Penny’s Outfit of the Day photos and got it printed as a poster that I’m hoping folks will sign! I also got a second poster printed with her monthly photos in case we need extra room. I use double-sided tape to mount them both on some foam board to keep them sturdy and flat. I also finish a task I started yesterday: punching out the donuts from some free printables that I found online for table scatter.

 

I also try (for the fourteenth thousandth time) to organize my thoughts enough to write my “Dear Penny” birthday blog post, but I get too emotional (again) and don’t make a ton of progress. I’m not emotionally stable enough for this! Only two more days…

5:30 PM: Sean’s home! It’s so nice to have some in-person adult conversation finally — since I didn’t have any meetings today, it’s actually been a bit of an isolating day. One downside of working from home, I guess! (And a very small downside in the grand scheme — I love working from home.) We hang out for a bit and we go through the whole “How was your day, honey?” married-people thing, hehe.

6:05 PM: Penny is STILL asleep! I finally have to go wake her up, and she makes it VERY clear that she was not done sleeping, lol.

 

We spend some time cuddling and she cheers up pretty quickly though. 🙂

 

6:15 PM: Dinnertime! For Penny, at any rate, and it’s BRINNER! Lately, I’ve been seeing everyone and their mom feasting on Kodiak Cakes — a high-protein pancake mix — so I picked some up when I was at Target yesterday. Penny goes BANANAS for the pancakes, and also for the actual bananas we give her alongside them. She can now say the word “Nana!”

6:20 PM: Daxter is finally done. Whew! This shaggy pup took a really long time. But hey, it’s like we got a brand new dog! I feed the dogs — my mom made them some special mix-ins (with chicken and carrots and stuff) that they go craaaazy for, so unlike their breakfast kibble which sat untouched for most of the morning, they gobble their dinner up.

  

6:30 PM: It’s playtime! I know she’s been playing all day at daycare, but finally I can get in on some of the action! She is so much fun these days — really into playing with toys, really interactive, and really smart! She figures out how to put a smaller cup into a larger cup, proving that she is basically a genius. (I get entirely too excited when I realize she’s learned this new skill — hence her expression in the third photo above ahahahaha.)

  

7:20 PM: Alas, all good things must come to an end, and eventually it’s time for bed! Since she napped so late, we push bedtime a bit later (it’s usually at 7), and honestly I would be fine with keeping her up even later, but she’s already showing signs of being tired! Girl’s got a strong internal bedtime clock, what can I say?

 

I change her into her jammies, give her a bottle, and we read a book.

Then Sean brings her down to her room, turns on her sound machine, zips up her sleep sack, and puts her to bed! She quietly plays with her stuffies for about half an hour (she loves stroking her stuffed unicorn’s mane, it’s the cutest thing ever), and then is down for the count.

7:45 PM: After she goes down, Sean and I get to eat some dinner ourselves at last! I just heat up the rest of the pasta & broccoli leftovers — it’s not a very exciting day, eats-wise, but at least it’s productive. Now we actually have some space in the fridge! Sean makes some udon noodle soup.

We tend to operate pretty autonomously at home, so I have dinner while working on this blog post (and watching more Netflix, naturally), and he plays some computer games.

10:20 PM: Whew, I’m beat! Man, I used to be able to stay up so late… but with my Penny alarm clock, those days are definitely behind me. I start the dishwasher, let the dogs out one last time, schedule this post to run in the morning, and go through my nighttime routine: skincare (lately I’m using BeautyCounter’s Countermatch cleansing milk and am really loving it! I’ve also been experimenting with various essential oils), brush my teeth, pop on my pjs, and hit the sack.

10:40 PM: Well, I try to hit the sack. As I mentioned above, sleep has been a bit elusive for me lately, so I put on a guided sleep meditation session through the Calm app with the hopes that it’ll help quell the tossing & turning. And that’s a wrap on today! Goodnight!

Q&A: Dogs & Babies, Maternity Leave, and the DockATot

Soooooooo, let me paint you a word picture (accompanied by an actual picture.) Here I was, sitting on the sofa, browser open, Penny napping peacefully in her Rock ‘n’ Play, the dogs snoozing away nearby, and with absolutely no idea what to write.

It’s not that I don’t have things to write about. I mean, I had a baby six and a half weeks ago. I’ve had a lot of learnings and really do have a lot to say, haha. But it’s like there’s so much I want to say, I can’t figure out how to say any of it! Tough though it may be to believe now, there used to be a time when I posted daily to this here blog — sometimes even twice a day! Shocking, I know. And back then, I had no problems coming up with something to write about every day, but it seems that the longer I go between posting, the harder it is for me to get back into it. Conundrum.

So being the internet-dependent person that I am, I turned to you guys to help me figure out and narrow down what I should write about with regard to what life has been like over the past several weeks. And boooooy, did you! Thanks to you all, I now have a whole list of topics to to dig into, specifically for those who might be interested in the nittier, grittier side of newborn momming. Since some of your questions are pretty big and deserve posts of their own, I figured I’d start off by tackling some of the easier-to-answer questions I’ve received.

Let’s get to it, shall we?

How are Harry & Daxter adjusting to life with their new baby sister?

Thankfully, bringing Penny home has been a total non-issue for the dogs! Harry has been completely nonplussed by her presence since we took her home, and Daxter continues to warm up to her more and more. I was a little bit worried about how Daxter in particular would take to her, as he had exhibited some jealous behavior towards my nieces when they were babies, but thankfully those issues have yet to surface with Penny. Yay!

I definitely tried my best to prepare the dogs as much as I could prior to Penny’s arrival:

  1. I made sure a bunch of the baby stuff was all set up and placed the house long before I actually went into labor, so they could get used to all the new furniture and “stuff” that would be encroaching on their space.
  2. The dogs stayed with my parents while I was in the hospital (where they stay frequently), and I sent my parents home with the hat that Penny wore in the hospital to let the dogs get familiar with her smell.
  3. When the dogs came home, I went outside and greeted them by myself without the baby since it had been several days since I had seen them.
  4. Lastly, upon the advice of my friend Lara, who is a dog trainer, I made sure not to make a big deal of trying to get the dogs to “meet” Penny. I didn’t force them to go up to her, or hold her up to them to sniff, or anything like that. Penny was sleeping on the couch in her Boppy lounger when they came in, and it actually took them a little bit of time to even notice her.

All those things combined led to a very uneventful introduction, and things continue to go quite smoothly! Daxter still doesn’t love it when she starts crying and fussing (he’ll just get up and sulkily leave the room, lol), but he loves curling up in her Boppy lounger when she’s not using it, and both he and Harry (as well as my brother’s dog, Pixel) all seem to be generally unaffected by her presence. And Penny can sleep through their barking and yapping too, so win-win!

How’s breastfeeding going?

I feel very fortunate not to have had any real issues with breastfeeding thus far. I know that’s not the case for many people, and I’m incredibly grateful to have what seems like a good milk supply, as well as no issues with Penny latching (nor with her taking the occasional bottle). I have dealt with pretty regular engorgement issues (I don’t think my supply has really regulated yet), but fortunately have not had any complications from that, like mastitis (and praying it stays that way!)

 
That said, breastfeeding in and of itself is not without its mental and emotional challenges, even if the physical aspect has been pretty smooth for me. After all, just because it has been going well so far, doesn’t mean it’s guaranteed to continue being that way, so the possibility of my milk supply dwindling in the future is sometimes on my mind. Also, I’ve been super grateful that Sean’s able to give her the occasional bottle of my pumped milk, as it can be emotionally draining to be her only food source, but we were also constantly second-guessing whether or not we were giving her too little, or too much, when we bottle fed her.

I ended up getting the Hatch Baby Grow scale and changing pad which, in addition to letting us keep track of her weight and growth (something that the data-freak and crazy first-time-mom in me L-O-V-E-S), it has also allowed us to see roughly how much she has been taking from me as well by weighing her pre- and post-feeding. Doing so has really helped alleviate a lot of my worries with her feeding, and I can definitely say that she’s getting enough to eat because she’s packing on the pounds like a little champion: 11 pounds 12 ounces as of yesterday!

What was it like leaving the house by yourself with Penny for the first time?

Thankfully, it was very smooth, but probably only because I ramped up my outings with Penny VERY slowly. Sean and I had taken her out with us together several times (to the doctor, to lunch, etc), and when my sister was in town we took both Penny and my nephew Alex out together as well.

So by the time Sean was back at work and it was just me, I felt relatively confident in handling her carseat and stroller… but I still took it one baby step at a time. Pretty sure our first time out solo was just to the Chick-Fil-A drive-thru, lol. Then to Target. Then finally to meet a friend for lunch, and now getting out of the house is easy as pie… as long as I don’t need to be too punctual. Punctuality is definitely not my strong suit now.

What was it like leaving Penny for the first time?

The very first time I left Penny was just to run some quick errands while Sean was home on the weekend — this only happened a couple weeks ago. It’s actually kind of crazy to think that I wasn’t more than a room away from her for almost six entire weeks, heh. I did pretty well since it was a short trip and I was actively doing something the whole time — driving, running into the store, etc.

The first time Sean and I both left Penny was last weekend when we went to see Blade Runner 2049 and my parents watched Penny for a few hours. I did less well that time — even though I know my parents had everything totally under control, it was still hard to be away from her, of course. She’s my tiny human, after all! I’m obsessed with her. I did okay during the movie itself (it was really good!) but I was ready to get up and race out of there the second it ended. Also, I burst into tears when Sean poked fun of me for checking my phone as soon as the credits started to roll, lol.

How long are you on maternity leave, and when do you go back to work?

I’m very fortunate to work for Yelp and receive twelve weeks of maternity leave, fully paid. If you’re outside of the US, that probably doesn’t sound like a whole lot, but believe me, it’s above and beyond what most people get in the States and I’m very grateful. Since I was induced three weeks early, I used my PTO to add to my maternity leave as well to beef up my leave time and keep my original return-to-work date in mid-December.

What are your childcare plans for when you go back?

I’m also very fortunate to currently work from home (though Yelp is soon opening a DC office! Exciting!) and have an ever-changing but pretty flexible schedule, which gives me options for Penny’s childcare that I might not otherwise have with a traditional 9-5. We are also lucky ducks in that we have lots of family close by! So the plan is for my parents and Sean’s mom to watch her a couple days a week, and I’ll be enrolling Penny in a part-time daycare for the rest of the time. On nights when I have an Elite Event happening, she’ll either be home with Sean, babysat by family (in addition to our parents, we also have my brother and sister-in-law and Sean’s sister in the area), or with a sitter.

How are you sleeping?

I’ve saved this for last because it’s kind of a doozy to get into. The simplest answer is: I sleep in three hour chunks. Sometimes it’s slightly longer, sometimes a little shorter, but for the past week or so she has been pretty consistent.

The (much) longer answer is that over the course of the past 7 weeks, that amount has ranged from one hour (which, yes, is just as horrible as it sounds) to 3.5 hours (which feels AMAZING to get that much sleep at once, ludicrous as it sounds), and we’ve only made it to a three hour average by finally throwing money at a sleep solution that seems to really be working for us — the DockATot.

I’ll be the first to admit that I was very resistant to getting a DockATot initially, for a few reasons. One, it’s pretty expensive for what many have described as a fancy dog bed. Two, it’s most commonly utilized for bedsharing, which is something I swore up and down and left and right that I would never do (but don’t worry, I have an entire post I plan on writing about things I said I’d never do before actually having a baby, lolololololol). Three, it’s not technically approved in the US for use as a crib nest (in a crib or bassinet), even though it is marketed as such overseas (where it goes by the name “Sleepyhead” – 100% positive this distinction has to do with )

But, as you can see, I ultimately got over my reservations and made a conscious, informed choice to try the Dock-A-Tot, and I’m gonna be honest: I am soooooo glad that I did.

A little backstory: when we first brought Penny home, I was adamant that we strictly follow the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendations for safe sleep (to reduce the chance of SIDs). That meant she was to sleep alone (no loose bedding, blankets, or toys), on her back, and on a flat, firm surface, so we had a bassinet set up in our room which fit all those criteria. What I didn’t really consider, however, was that it would be so difficult to get her to sleep in said bassinet! Go figure.

Yup, pretty much.

Trying to put Penny down to sleep in her bassinet was a challenge every night. More often than not, her eyes would shoot back open the second she touched the mattress even if she’d been fallen asleep elsewhere. She’d also only stay down for about an hour to an hour-and-a-half most of the time she was in her bassinet, but would sleep soundly for much longer in the other sleeper products we have — her Boppy Lounger or Rock ‘n’ Play. However, since only products labeled “crib,” “bassinet,” or “pack ‘n’ play” “count” for the AAP’s safe sleep recommendations, I didn’t want to let her sleep overnight in them and started experiencing tons of anxiety that she wasn’t sleeping safely enough (on a somewhat related note, I highly recommend that new moms NOT Google things like “SIDs Death Stories” at 2 in the morning.)

So, suddenly I was either spending hours at night trying to get her to go down, and then back down, in her bassinet (often the only way to do so was by letting her fall asleep on her side or tummy whilst on my chest and then transferring her, sigh), or simply staying awake all night while she slept in her lounger or Rock ‘n’ Play. Obviously, neither of which were real solutions as they both required me to be awake all night and frankly, it started to feel dangerous as my exhaustion started compounding upon itself.

Cause darling she’s a nightmare dressed like a daydream

More than once, I accidentally drifted off while nursing or holding her in bed or in my glider, only to awaken in a total crazy-freak-out-panic each time because it felt — and was! — so unsafe. That was the reality check that finally made me realize we desperately needed to figure out a different sleep solution, as I felt the benefits of strictly adhering to the AAP guidelines were now outweighed by the risks our total exhaustion was posing (and to be clear, its not like I was suddenly intending to disregard the official recommendations, I just realized they could still be applied whilst allowing me to get some rest.)

I like to think I’m pretty tuned into all the trending mom stuff on Instagram (#dockatot, #freshlypicked, #littlenomad, lol), so I’d heard about the DockATot a while ago (plus I have friends who really love it), but was hesitant to jump in due to the price. So I initially tried out a cheaper alternative, the SnuggleNest, which I found on Amazon as an Open Box deal for only $30.

The SnuggleNest did work better than putting her in her bassinet alone (and also allowed us to bring her into bed with us more safely), but didn’t seem to make that big of a difference in her sleep as she was still waking very frequently, and I also kept waking to find her all sidled up against one side which made me slightly nervous (even though the sides is mesh/ventilated.) Clearly she was looking for the security of feeling more snug and “boxed in.” (Which I’m pretty sure is also what makes Daxter only want to sleep smushed between my legs at night, and makes Harry cram himself into Pixel’s teeny tiny dog bed when he visits instead of his appropriately-sized one… but I digress.)

I already knew that a big part of what makes the DockATot so popular was the idea that it makes your little one feel snug and secure on all sides (their tagline is “reinventing the womb”) so I finally started researching it in earnest. And as I did, it began to appeal to me more and more — not only did I have friends who swore by its magical, sleep-inducing powers, but the more I looked into it, the more sense it seemed to make from a safety, security, and sleep perspective. Then, after one particularly sleepless night, I had a crazy mom moment and literally ran out of my house to go get one, lol.

Since using it, I’ve found that it’s not just a soft, fluffy pillow, but is structured, quite firm and, in my experience, does live up to its claims of breathability. (I stuffed my face into the bumper for over a minute and could still breathe through it.) Plus, it keeps Penny so snug that she has yet to get her face anywhere close to the sides even when she turns her head.

The most important thing, of course, is that it helps her — and thus, us — sleep. Penny goes down quite easily in it when it’s time for bed, and far more amazingly, returns to sleep so quickly after waking up to nurse in the middle of the night. Plus, from the very first night in her DockATot, Penny started sleeping 3 to 3.5 hour stretches with consistency (barring any extenuating circumstances like her coming down with a little cold this weekend ::cry::). It’s not a magic bullet that has made her suddenly start sleeping through the whole night, of course, but honestly just getting consistent periods of 3+ hours of sleep makes such a huge difference, and obviously it’s my hope that those stretches will continue to get longer as Penny is able to go more time between feeds.

We primarily use the DockATot in her bassinet (it fits perfectly), though I do bring it into bed occasionally (especially after Sean leaves for work in the morning so she and I can nap together, hehe.) And I look forward to hopefully being able to use it to help transition her into her crib when the time is right for that as well (acknowledging that if she starts rolling before then, we may need to reevaluate since the danger of using a DockATot in a crib is the potential for baby to roll out and become trapped between the side of the crib and the DAT. We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it though.)

I could probably keep talking about this forever and go into even more detail as to why we made this decision and why it’s working for us, but this has already been a super long post, so if you have specific questions or would like more details about our sleep sitch, feel free to leave a comment or reach out to me!

I’ll take my leave for now, though, with the promise of coming back to address some of the other questions/topics you guys had for me — most of which deserve posts of their own. On the docket are posts about my postpartum body image, product recommendations, a day in our life, my new mom skincare and beauty routine, all of the emotions that motherhood has brought with it, and, as mentioned above, all the things I’ve had to take back about motherhood once I actually became a mother, lol.

I also intend to talk about my plans for weight loss and getting back on the health train, but I want to make it clear that this is unrelated to the concept of “losing the baby weight” because A) I think the societal pressure to do so is utter crap and B) I’m already back at my pre-pregnancy weight because I only gained like 10 pounds during my pregnancy. It’s just since I was overweight when I started out, I’d still like to lose some libbies and start focusing on my health again (especially if I’m to be expected to keep being able to carry my little chunkmonster at the rate she’s gaining weight, bahahaha.)

WHEW! Hopefully all of that should keep these blog wheels turning for a little while, at least! Penny and I are headed off to Atlanta today to visit my sister (so I guess you can add a “my experience traveling with an infant” post to the list!), but I promise to try and get back to blogging more regularly once we return! And in the meantime, you can let me know if there are any additional topics of interest that seem to be missing from the list. 🙂

Foxlet: Week 17 & 18

Helloooooo! So in case you missed last week’s news

We found out that there’s a baby girl growing inside me! Sean and I are both super excited, and extra terrified, hehe. And now we’ve successfully arrived at week 18, so read on if you’re interested in how this little lady (squee!) is doing!

 
Foxlet’s Size: Foxlet is the size of a tall Frappuccino with whipped cream on top! Or, y’know, a bell pepper or an artichoke.

Weight Gained: I don’t even know right now. My weight seems to fluctuate up and down by 2-3 pounds on any given day, and sometimes more than that. I actually kind of freaked out a few days ago because the scale said I’d dropped an additional 5 pounds, which would have brought my overall pregnancy weight loss to almost 20 pounds! And, as I’ve said before, while it’s not uncommon nor a bad thing for me to have lost weight (since I started out overweight), I’m getting to the point where things should probably be evening back out. But since that 5-libbie loss occurred after a night fraught with toilet-hugging, I realize (now, in the light of day and sanity) that it doesn’t count.

If I had to guess based on, I dunno, averages or whatever, I’d venture that I’m like 12-ish pounds below my pre-pregnancy weight. I think I’m slowly starting to gain my lost pounds back, but I’m still in the red for right now. And I still barely even understand how that’s the case, since hardly any of my non-maternity pants fit anymore and I already feel like a walking stomach.

Symptoms: Dude, I am EIGHTEEN WEEKS and my nausea still hasn’t gone away! I’m starting to get to the point where I’m more pissed about that than anything else. 12 weeks, they said. Then 14 – 16 weeks. Well, heeere we are, and I’m still spending most nights rubbing my belly (in an attempt to quell my nausea, not for good luck.) I’m trying to keep things in perspective and remember that it wasn’t that long ago that I was nauseous literally 24/7, so things really have been getting better, it’s just still not great. I’d say I feel good like 30% of the time, okay (not great, but not terrible) 40% of the time, and still pretty damn awful 30% of the time.

At least the active puking seems to have primarily taken a backseat… aside from twice this past Sunday, including once while at church. Happy Easter to me! (Don’t worry, I made it to the bathroom and didn’t end up heaving into the collection plate.) And the lessening vomitous activity is definitely a good thing, because (and this most definitely has TMI written all over it, but whatever, pregnancy is gross) lately throwing up has involved simultaneously peeing my pants. YUP. Now, if you’re suddenly thinking that I’m the most disgusting person who’s ever walked the face of this planet, this is apparently a pretty common issue at this point in pregnancy — just ask the hilarious genius behind Alpha Mom if you don’t believe me:

(Side note: if you’re pregnant and not subscribed to Alpha Mom’s weekly pregnancy updates, you are seriously missing out. They. Are. Everything.)

Aside from those oh-so-lovely symptoms, additional ones lately include breast tenderness, round ligament pain (a kind of stretching/pulling/occasionally sharp pain as my uterus continues to grow), and getting embarrassingly short of breath from doing things like… pacing while I’m talking on the phone. Lol.

Emotions: Here are just some of the most recent Reasons that Pregnant Gretchen is Crying:

  • My mom asked my dad to switch seats during Easter brunch
  • I died in a video game I’ve been playing
  • My friend Jackie unexpectedly brought me bubble tea when we met up for dinner
  • I’m babysitting Pixel (my brother’s dog) and all three dogs looked up for a photo at the same time

  • Phoebe temporarily died for the 34892598th time on Charmed
  • I couldn’t find my right flip flop
  • Daxter crawled into my lap while I was trying to take a belly pic and fell asleep on my baby bump
  • I ate all the hot dog buns in the house but we still had hot dogs leftover
  • My sister sent me a ridiculously cute picture of my niece Kira

Okay, I guess you can’t really blame me for that last one. ::heart eyes emoji::

Cravings: Raw fruit and veggies are still a big craving, as is sandwiches with lots of mustard on them. Raaaaaandom. In general I’m just so happy that appetite has started coming back (yay!), so I’m finally able to eat foods that I have barely been able to look at for the past few months. Though, I’m definitely not back to my old self by any means because I’m still awfully picky about what I want/am willing to eat.

On the more stereotypical pregnancy craving front, I have been indulging in ice cream relatively regularly, and I ain’t mad about it.

 
Aversions: Still having that big marinara/red sauce aversion, which means I have officially surpassed my lifetime record for the longest period of time gone without eating pizza. On the plus side, meat’s finally back on the menu! Huzzah!

Sleep: Sleep’s been kind of iffy. I’m trying not to take Unisom as often right now, as I fear I’ve been getting too reliant on it (plus it made me sleep SUPER late sometimes, which delays eating, which makes me more likely to be nauseous…). Which means that sometimes I sleep fine, but sometimes I toss and turn all night, or I have those nights where even though you know you must have fallen asleep at some point, it feels like all you’ve done for 8 straight hours is lay there thinking about stuff. Also, my crazy vivid pregnancy dreams have been making a comeback lately.

Purchases: I made the grave mistake of going to Target on Monday to pick up supplies for a Yelp event I’m planning, and got immediately waylaid by the baby section. And while you should be VERY proud of me for being able to resist picking up the teeny watermelon baby bikini below, I couldn’t quite stop myself from procuring just a couple of wee little baby tings. Heh. It’s just a set of socks and washcloths though, so I still think I was rather restrained!

 
Wearing: I have fully jumped aboard the maternity clothes train and I’m loving it. Why haven’t I been wearing maternity clothes my entire life?! They’re so comfortable and they make my bump look way cuter. I’ve picked up the majority of my maternity wardrobe online from Old Navy, got a few pieces from H&M (didn’t even know they carried maternity or baby clothes until recently!), and I also just ordered a dress from Pink Blush Maternity after salivating over the gorgeous maternity dress that Ashley wore for Easter. Love that they have a huge, well-stocked plus size maternity section to peruse!

Missing… not much right now, actually! I’m not really feeling deprived, I just continue to be eager to have my nausea be gone 100%… and am getting a little fearful that that might not ever really happen for me.

Looking Forward to… my big Yelper Party next week! It’s my biggest bash of the year — free food, awesome entertainment, the works! — and this year’s theme is Yelp Goes Gatsby, so it’ll be extra fun! (Though admittedly, trying to find an era-appropriate dress that works with this belly has been slightly less fun.) This is one of just a few events I throw that’s open to literally anyone who RSVPs on Yelp (plus it’s totally FREE to attend with the option to donate at the door to benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society) so if you live in the DMV area, you should totally come out!

The Day Before Tuesday

Hey, look, it’s Monday! Hope everyone had a rad weekend. In true Gretchen fashion, mine was bookended with media consumption: I kicked off the weekend with Captain America: Civil War (it was awesomeeee) and ended it with last night’s episode of Game of Thrones (which, alas, left me… unsatisfied.)

Bran is literally every single person watching last night. What a tease.

Anyway… Happy belated Mother’s Day to all you mamas out there, by the way! I couldn’t spend Mother’s Day with my actual mama (she’s in Texas with my grandmother right now), but she was of course in my thoughts all day (along with my mother-in-law and my sister and all the other fantastic moms in my life!)

As for me, I traded in my own (fur)children for some new models this Mother’s Day:

Hehe. Grooming Day is always a good day in my house. They’re like brand new dogs! Well, physically. Personality-wise, they’re still the same old bratty, lovable, annoying, wonderful princesses they always are.

Tonight I’ve got an event that I’m hosting for work, which I’m going to relish, because tomorrow I get to wake up bright and early to go get a whooooole bunch of cavities filled! Huzzah! ::sad trombone:: I swear, I take good care of my teeth. Curse this soft enamel! Anyway, suffice it to say I’m looking forward to today’s activities far more than tomorrow’s.

If I’m not too numbed up, maybe I’ll be motivated to check in post-drilling tomorrow. You never know! Either way, see you when I see you!