Crushing Milestones and that Working Mom Life

I gotta tell ya, four months of babyhood is a real roller coaster. Penny has made so many incredible leaps and bounds in her development, but it definitely came at a price. For a few weeks there I was seriously wondering if we’d ever get our happy little baby back! She was inconsolable being held by anyone but me (even Sean!), fussy even when I was holding her, and was back to waking up every two, three hours at night (one terrible night, it was every single hour). And every time she did wake up, she fought going back to sleep so hard (screaming, crying, thrashing) that the only way I could get her to calm down was by nursing her back to sleep every single time.

To say I was exhausted would be seriously understating it. But underneath all that fussiness and sleeplessness, clearly a lot was happening inside her tiny little baby brain! Because as of this past week, she is not only seemingly back to her old happy self, but has been crushing milestone after milestone to boot!

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She can now roll from tummy to back like a pro — hooray! We also officially transitioned her to her crib last week (this development came as a direct result of the aforementioned terrible, waking-every-hour night, lol), and on that very first night she slept for ELEVEN HOURS STRAIGHT.

It’s only been like five nights so far, but except for one sad 2 AM wakeup on night #2, she has slept all night long with almost zero intervention from us! No more night feeding, no rocking — all we’ve done is pop her pacifier back in like, one time each night. She’s been able to get herself back to sleep every other time she’s stirred! The night before last, she slept 8:30 PM to 8:20 AM. Last night, she went in her crib at 8:30, fell asleep a little before 9, and is still snoozing away as I type this. Can you even BELIEVE IT?!

So you see? MIRACLES ARE REAL, PEOPLE! I mean, I know that things can — and probably will — change, and so I’m definitely not relying on this being our new normal just yet, but I’m certainly going to relish it while I can! And if rolling + sleeping through the night both weren’t enough, Penny has also started being able to sit up on her own!

She can only maintain it for a maximum of, like, 90 seconds before toppling over, and only if she’s not too tired (but also not too distracted and looking all over the place, lol), but I’m still so proud of our little chunk nugget! She’s growing up so faaaaasst.

 
And like I said, she definitely seems to be much more generally content, and more like her old self as well. I guess that’s what almost 12 hours of sleep every night will do! The real test to see if she’s truly over this hump, however, will be how she acts at Grampy & PoPo Daycare (aka my parents’ house) today while I’m in the office. Last week when she was there, she barely ate anything the entire time, and my dad had to walk her around the house in her stroller for an hour just to get her to take a nap. -_- (Have I mentioned lately how much I love my parents?)

I still work from home the majority of the time and usually have my parents or my mother-in-law come over and watch Penny while I work. However, Yelp recently opened up a DC office, and so once a week I load the kids — human and dog — into the car, drop them off with my parents, and head into the city for the day.

There are many reasons that I love working for Yelp, but having an office here is giving me all sorts of new reasons to love this company (that go beyond even the cereal bar in the office kitchen!) It’s probably not too surprising, what with Yelp being a young tech company and all, but I’ve found they are really progressive and supportive of new & nursing moms. They have nice “mother’s rooms” in all of their offices for pumping, and this office is no exception!

It’s not done yet, but there’s a comfy chair with a built-in desk/ledge, a mini-fridge, and a sink (plus some super cute wallpaper.) And once the mother’s room is fully set up, there will actually be a permanent, hospital-grade pump inside the room at all times. Each pumping mama will have their own set of parts (flanges and bottles, etc.) to go along with it, which means no more dragging my pump back and forth. Amazing!

Alas, the office is still being finished out, and the mother’s room won’t be complete until later this year. So until then, I still get the full #workingmom experience of lugging my pump along. Fortunately for me, however, I have two excellent options to help make that process so much easier!

Aeroflow recently reached out to ask if I was interested in testing out two different pumping products — The Motif Duo, a super lightweight, portable, battery-powered breast pump, and the Ju-Ju-Be Be Supplied pumping bag. (Aeroflow did send me these products to try for free, but they didn’t sponsor this post or anything, so these are my own honest opinions.)

I originally ordered the Spectra S2 breastpump through Aeroflow while I was pregnant, and had a great experience going through them (they have a simple form on their site and contact your insurance for you — super easy!). I really do love my Spectra, as it’s quiet, powerful, and user-friendly. However, my one regret is that I didn’t get the battery-powered version (my insurance fully covered the S2, but I would’ve had to pay extra to upgrade to the S1) as I find it very limiting to be stuck in one spot while pumping.

So when Aeroflow asked if I was interested in trying out the Motif Duo, I was super jazzed. And I became even more excited upon opening the box and seeing how truly tiny this thing is! It literally fits in the palm of my hand — and in the back pocket of my jeans!

It’s got a rechargeable battery built right in, and is a double-electric pump so you have the option to pump one or both breasts (it’s set up for one in the photos above.) It’s a little bit louder than the Spectra once it gets going, but it operates similarly: there are two modes, one for stimulating your let-down, and one for milk expression. It’s crazy convenient that I can get up, walk around, and do whatever I need to do while pumping — the first time I tried it out, I was able to go and pick up Penny after she woke up from her nap, while still actively pumping! It’s also great for pumping one side while Penny nurses on the other — since it doesn’t need to be plugged in, I can easily move it around to avoid her wiggly legs. However, I will say that I haven’t found it to be quite as efficient or powerful as my Spectra — I have to pump for longer and at a much higher power level to get the same amount of milk.

So although the Motif is super convenient — both while at home, and to toss into my diaper bag and take with me wherever — sometimes I still want to pull out the big dog. Especially when I’m at the office and want my pumping session to be as quick but efficient as possible. Which is why I’m also really glad that Aeroflow gave me the chance to try out the Be Supplied breastpump bag as well!

This bag is great — it is really nice to have a bag made specifically for carrying a breast pump! I was previously just dumping all of my pump stuff into an extra diaper bag that I had, but needed to remove everything from the bag in order to get things set up. The Be Supplied is great because it has a totally separate pocket for your pump that zips open from the side, which means you can access the pump without having to remove it from the bag! There’s room to keep the power adapter inside this compartment as well, so you literally just have to pull out the wall plug and you’re good to go!

It also has additional exterior and interior pockets to keep your bottles/bags, flanges, tubing, and everything. There’s also a “mommy pocket” on the front, where you can keep your keys, wallet, etc, if you wanted to use this as your only bag. Alas, I still need to bring a separate bag when I go into the office, as the Be Supplied isn’t big enough for my laptop, but it’s still way more lightweight and compact than the other bag I was hauling around. Plus, it’s machine-washable which is a HUGE plus given the extreme likelihood of milk getting in or on it somewhere, and the print happens to perfectly match my Ju-Ju-Be BFF diaper bag!

Aaaanyway, that’s enough pumping talk for now, promise. I know how thrilling this topic must be for the majority of you, lol.  Honestly, going into the office once a week and having to do the pumping thing really just makes me even more aware of how lucky I am for my work situation! Pumping ’round the clock is definitely time consuming, and I am so grateful to have the flexibility to continue nursing Penny much of the time when I am working from home.

I shall leave you with this one final, non-baby-related milestone of my own: I’m down 9 pounds! Huzzah! 🙂

‘Til next time!

Happy Week of Thanksgiving!

As the title of this post says, Happy Thanksgiving Week, friends!

As a special Thanksgiving treat, this little turkey decided to sleep for almost SIX (!!) hours straight IN HER CRIB last night, so I feel like a brand new woman!

Last we spoke, I was regaling you with tales of sleeplessness and wanting to continue getting Penny used to her crib. And so, in desperation, I ordered the Baby Merlin Magic Sleep Suit on Amazon and while this thing may make her look like an actual human marshmallow, dang, does it work!

 
I’ll definitely review it in more detail soon, but so far I am extremely happy with having purchased this baby snowsuit. Penny’s slept in her crib for four nights now, and is sleeping for increasingly long stretches of time. Last night’s six hours was certainly a record… praise be!

Anyway, all of this great sleeping and almost getting her on an actual bedtime schedule comes just in time to wreck it completely by traveling, hehe. Sean, Penny, and I are doing up Turkey Day with the Fox Family in Texas this year, and we’re so excited! Having already flown with Penny once, it’s nice not to be worried about the trip itself, and it’s going to be so great to introduce Penny to so many members of her family, including her great-grandmother!

This truly has been a week packed with family fun, since Penny got to spend some extra time with my parents during the week while I ran around to various post-car accident doctor’s appointments, and then this past weekend we also jaunted down to Williamsburg for a day to introduce Penny to her other great-grandmother on Sean’s side. 🙂

Sean’s mom prepared a huge Thanksgiving lunch for the occasion, so I got to stuff my gullet full of turkey, stuffing, green bean casserole, potatoes au gratin, and cranberry sauce. I loooooove Thanksgiving food, so I was a veeeeeery happy camper. And I’m even more excited now to repeat the culinary experience on actual Thanksgiving, hehe.

My college bestie, Bethany, also lives in Williamsburg with her hubby and their littles, so we stopped in to see them as well and did some baby swappin’ hehe.

And then we also stopped by Sean’s parents’ house house on our way back home too for a quick visit with his dad (who wasn’t able to join us in Williamsburg.)

The family fun didn’t stop with that, of course, since I convinced my brother and sister-in-law to come out and take some family photos of us the next day, hehe. I definitely learned a lot about what to do and not to do when it comes to taking professional photos with an infant, lol, but despite the windy weather and the fact that I woke her up from her nap for it, I’m confident we got at least a couple of good shots!

I’m so excited to get the photos back and put together our holiday card this year, since we have an especially wonderful reason to celebrate the season! We’re already entering my favorite time of the year, and it really is all the more special and exciting now that we get to share the holidays with Penny. I’m so thankful for this little nugget! I know I pretty much complained every single second of my pregnancy, but hot damn, was it worth it.

Okay, okay, I’m ceasing with the sappiness. I’ve just got lots to be thankful for this year, that’s all. 🙂

Anyway, with the traveling and craziness of the holiday, I probably won’t be checking back in on here until next week, so until then, happy, happy Thanksgiving!

The Bad Kind of First

Weeeeellps, yesterday turned out to be quite the emotional roller coaster of a day. It started out pretty great, with a decent night’s sleep from my little lovebug (a 4 hour stretch, followed by 2.5 hours, and then 3 hours after that) and then her being in a fab mood in the morning.

Around 11 I met back up with a couple of my #momsquad friends to catch the Crybaby Matinee — a special baby-friendly showing that the Angelika movie theatre hosts once a week. This week’s flick was A Bad Mom’s Christmas, and I figured that it was a pretty appropriate movie to take in with fellow mommas.

  • The movie itself was okay — it was pretty funny, I always love anything that Kristen Bell touches, plus it had some delightful surprise shirtlessness from This Is Us‘s Justin Hartley, hehe, but the film wasn’t anything earth-shattering. That said, it was a really fun experience getting to sit in the theatre with tons of other mamas and their littles, and not have to worry about if your baby cries or makes noise or gets hungry or anything. They keep some of the lights dimmed in the theatre so you can more easily check on and tend to your little one as well.

Of course, Penny just slept through the entire thing, but it was very nice to know that it wouldn’t have been a big deal if she had ended up fussing, hehe.

Sadly, the great start to my day was quickly overshadowed by what happened afterward. As I mentioned yesterday, my mom has been under the weather, so after the movie, Penny and I headed to my parents’ house to see her. Very unfortunately, while en route, my car got rear-ended. Just two-and-a-half months old, and already Penny’s experienced her first car accident. Not exactly the kind of thing I think I’ll be commemorating kn her baby book. 🙁

I was just driving along normally, heading towards an intersection with a (green) light, and there was a car sitting at the cross street sticking part of its nose out (to turn right, I assume). So the car in front of me slowed slightly, and I followed suit, but I guess the car behind me wasn’t paying attention or whatever, and didn’t notice that we were slowing down, and so he slammed right into the back of my car.

Thankfully, Penny is 100% okay (the accident didn’t even wake her up), but I was (I think, understandably) very emotional about it and am still very worried about her long term wellbeing. My car is still drivable — the accident popped my bumper out and left some scrapes.

I felt okay in the immediate aftermath, but as soon as I got to my parents’ house, my neck and shoulders started feeling stiff/sore. I called to see if I could get in to see my regular doctor, but he didn’t have any openings, so after we made sure Penny was okay, my parents watched her while I went to the ER to get checked out. They discharged me with a neck strain diagnosis and instructions to take ibuprofen and ice my neck and shoulders. Unfortunately I’m still in pain so I’m definitely going to follow up with my doctor, see a chiropractor, and some of you guys have suggested acupuncture so I’ll be looking into that, too.

I was also prescribed a muscle relaxer, but it’s not breastfeeding safe so it’s really just to be used if nothing else is working and I can’t sleep due to the pain (I would have to pump & dump my breastmilk). So far I’m not planning on taking it unless I have to, but alas, the doctor did also warn me that it will get worse before it gets better. We’ll see how today goes. And alas, the bad thing right now is that I’ve discovered I feel the pain and soreness most acutely while breastfeeding, since I use my neck and shoulder muscles a lot to wrangle both Penny and my boobs into position. Good thing she only needs to nurse like 7 – 9 times a day. -_-

Anyway, you can understand why the whole experience put quite the damper on what had started as a pretty great day — not to mention it ate up the rest of my day time-wise, as going to the hospital involved a lot of waiting around and took a really long time. And now I get to deal with all the super fun, not at all irritating insurance stuff, which is now all the more challenging when you’re wrangling a baby as well — it just makes the stuff like taking your car in to be evaluated, scheduling meetings with the adjuster, and scheduling appointments or whatever difficult. Ugh, I so took for granted how easy it was to run errands back when I was babyless, lol.

But! I shouldn’t complain too loudly because, as I said, things could’ve been way worse in many different ways, and most importantly, Penny is safe, happy, and healthy. I am going to inquire if insurance will cover the cost of a new carseat though, now that this one has been involved in an accident.

 
Here’s hoping today ends up being a much less eventful, far more emotionally stable day, yeah?

Busy, Busy, Happy, Happy

Well, I think it’s safe to say that Winter has come to Northern Virginia. Despite the fact that it was 75-degrees and sunny a week ago, the past few days and have felt like they’re of Winterfell-level proportions. Lows of 29 and 30 – brrrrr! The upside?

 
I’ve been able to make use of these stinkin’ cute fleece bodysuits that make Penny look extra-strength adorable.

 
We’ve certainly been keeping busy since last we checked in with you guys! Lots of time spent with family (that’s Uncle Ben hanging out with Penny in the photo above) and friends, old & new, plus Penny went to her first party and had a grand old time!

So, Wednesday night I finally got fed up with what was going on with my roots, and tried to re-dye my hair under the VERY MISTAKEN ASSUMPTION that Penny had gone down for the night and I had at least, like, 90 minutes before she woke up again. Well, I was unsurprisingly very wrong, and with Sean already asleep and me not wanting to disturb him (he has to get up very early for work), I had to pull my very best Tim Gunn and make it work.

 
Sooooo yeah, this resulted in a nice bleachy nursing session and lots of prayers that all of my hair wouldn’t fall out from bleaching too long, lol. Thankfully, I managed to get her to go back down pretty much right away after she was done, and thus escaped with hair unscathed and repurplefied!

And so I was able to look presentably vibrant (and very easy to spot) for my #momsquad coffee date the next morning! Now that Penelope and I are nice and comfy with each other, I’ve been really eager to meet other mamas in the area with similarly-aged kiddos. So being the totally level-headed and not-in-any-way-overzealous person that I am, I joined like, four different new mom Facebook groups and also downloaded the Peanut app (which is literally Tinder for moms, lol). I’ve been fortunate to connect with some lovely ladies and their even lovelier bebes!

It’s so nice to have other ladies with whom to get together and commiserate over developmental milestones, spit up, blowouts, and sleepless nights, hehe. Most of my friends’ babies are at least 8 – 10 months older than Penny, and right now the age difference of even a few months makes a huge difference in the whole parenthood experience. So while by this time next year, Penny and my friends’ babes all might be able to play together, it’s especially wonderful to have found some new mama friends with birthdays close to Penny’s — since they’re going through literally the exact same things as us. 🙂

On Friday, I met up with my friend Vicky for coffee in the morning. Mayhaps you are starting to see a pattern here: COFFEE. IS. LIFE. I’ve always enjoyed coffee, but was never really a habitual drinker. Didn’t need my daily cup of joe to get through the morning or anything like that. But now? HAAAAA! You should see the amount of stars I’ve racked up on my Starbucks rewards account. Lorelai Gilmore would be so proud.

And after yet another successful coffee date, Sean’s mom came by for a visit! Not only did she bring a delicious spread for lunch (homemade chicken pot pies!), but she also watched Penny for a stretch while I took a glorious and much-needed nap. Fri-yay indeed!

Which brings us to Saturday! We were invited to my coworker’s daughter’s first birthday party and were super excited to have Penny experience her first party! Naturally, she slept terribly the night before (go figure), so we got a pretty late start to the day. When I eventually had to jump in the shower, I asked Sean to get Penny dressed and returned to this bit of fashion-forwardness:

Bahahahahahaha. He gets major points for matching, but she is 100% missing the actual dress that’s supposed to go under the cardigan and over the bloomers. ::laughing crying emoji::

  
Much better. 😉

The party was so much fun! There were sooooo many kiddos and babies there, and it was really fun for Sean and me to see what our future holds, hehe. My fab coworker Kimberly did an amazing job with the theme, decor, and food (there was a Chipotle bar!!), and gave me serious goals for next August when we’ll be going through the same thing, hehe. Oh man, I’m getting emotional just thinking about that. I know that sounds ridiculous since it’s so far away, but I mean, I already can’t believe Penny will be 11 weeks on Wednesday! ::sniff::

 
Kimberly also arranged to have a Tunes 4 Tots session at the party, so Penny also got to experience her first music class! I can’t wait ’til she is, y’know, able to like, sit up and clap her hands and actually do stuff. But even though she was literally just sitting up in my lap watching it all unfold, I like to think she was having a grand ol’ time, hehe.

Later that night, Penny and I met up with one of my oldest friends, Megan. We’ve been friends since meeting in Taiwan in 2001, where we both attended high school! 16 years of friendship and counting…! Not that that makes me feel old or anything, heh.

After dinner, I dropped by my parents’ house, as another one of my uncles was visiting and wanted to meet Penny (she is far more popular that I could ever be!). This turned out to be a great thing, because while I was also supposed to see my parents again the next day, my mom came down with something so it didn’t work out.

They had originally offered to babysit for Sean and me while we went to a show, but since that didn’t happen we ended up having a nice lazy Sunday at home. TBH, it was really nice. I love having a reason to get out of the house (and I still did end up taking Penny on an errand run… and to get more coffee, hehe), but all the social engagements, coupled with the fact that Penny’s sleep has continued to be very unpredictable, did leave me feeling pretty drained.

So Sean, Penny, the dogs, and I all got to enjoy being home together — cooking (Sean), playing (Penny and the dogs), napping (everyone but me ::laugh/cry::), and taking care of stuff around the house (meeeeeee, heh.)

 
Which catches us back up to today! We’ve got lots of additional plans for fun this week, including our first Crybaby Matinee, more mommy dates, and a trip this weekend — whew! I’m also hoping that I’ll be able to get another one of the (many) parenthood posts I would like to write up this week, but guff, finding time to blog really is a challenge these days. I don’t know how actual mommy bloggers do it!

‘Til next time!

Penny’s First Halloween

So Halloween had kind of been losing its luster for me over the past few years. In my early twenties, I got SO JAZZED for Halloween: throwing parties, coordinating group costumes, doing the whole shebang. But, y’know, time passes and we all get old and lazy and my Halloweens of late have been a lot more about eating all the candy that I definitely, 100% got for the trick-or-treaters and not for eating in my pajamas with some kind of animal-ear headband on (only like, six kids ever come to our house, lol.)

But I won’t lie, Halloween with a baby — even one still firmly ensconced in the useless-lump-of-a-human category, like Penny — is like 1000x more fun!

Even though the only plans we have for today are lunch with a friend and going for our two-month pediatrician’s appointment (which means SHOTS! 🙁 🙁 🙁 ) everything is made just a smidgen better because Penny can be in costume, lol.

We took her unicorn costume for a test spin last week when we went to Spooky Tots at Fairfax Corner, where I got to coo and aww over all the adorable toddlers trick or treating in their costumes, while other parents appropriately cooed and awwed over Penny (something I never could have known prior to, y’know, having one, is just how much random stranger in the world flippin’ love babies, man!)

 
And because one costume is simply not ever enough, I also picked up the most amazing Bubble Tea outfit from BuzzBearStudio on Etsy — is she not the most delicious? 😀

Happy Halloween, friends!