12 Things I Discovered After Having a Baby

While pregnant with Luna, I heard all the typical tips, warnings and advice from basically every single person I came in contact with, stranger or not. I nodded kindly and smiled when they told me all about how much my life would change, but in my head I was thinking very arrogant thoughts. Duh. I KNOW my life will change. I am perhaps the most prepared Mom ever, and I am READY.

I was cocky, so cocky. I began babysitting when I was 12, worked in a daycare in college, taught Elementary school, taught preschoolers, toddlers and worked with LOTS of babies. I knew what to expect, and in some ways, I was really prepared. I mostly behave like the mother of a second child. Eating food off the floor? Putting dirty hands in their mouth? Explosive diapers? Snot and spit-up on my clothes? Forced to look like a fool in public? It’s all totally fine. I have yet to stress over any of this. I knew it was coming.

However, Luna is now a year old and after reflecting a lot on the past year, I realized that I was in many ways not at all prepared for parenthood and have discovered that there are some things you will never realize until you have a kid.

1. There are basically zero healthy drive-thru’s. We are out and about often, and too often I fail to pack myself any food. It never fails that severe hunger strikes when I am in the car and Luna has just fallen asleep. It’s, of course, nap time and the absolute last thing I want to do is wake her up. So, the only reasonable option is to get food at a drive-thru, but where? I’m a vegetarian and try to eat healthy as much as I can. I usually end up at Starbucks, because when all else fails, coffee.

2. Mom friends are imperative. Most of my friends in Tennessee are childless. I never once cared that I was having a baby and no one else was, until I had the baby. It gets lonely and often isolating when you are taking care of a baby 24/7. Also, your baby is sometimes all you want to talk about, and I’m here to tell you that 30-year-old single guys do not actually want to talk about breastfeeding, meeting milestones and post partum depression. In fact, the only people who want to talk about these things are other Moms. My new friends are so important that I may soon be writing a blog specifically for them.

3. Parking at the grocery store is a real challenge. There was a moment when Luna was a couple of months old and the two of us were grocery shopping together. After checking out, we walked to the car and I faced a completely new dilemma. First, who/what do I load first? Baby or groceries? Baby, right? I should get her buckled in safely before unloading the groceries. Then, after everything was unloaded, I looked at my empty basket, then at the “basket return” area 50 feet away… shit. It’s rude to leave your basket wild and free in the parking lot, but if I return it and leave Luna in the car someone is certain to call child protective services on me. I stood there in the parking lot, glancing between the basket return and Luna, debating, when an angel dressed in a Publix apron asked if he could return my basket for me. Now, I always park as close to the basket return as I can get, and Luna doesn’t get unloaded first anymore.

4. My body is so not my body. Having a baby does a number on your body. My hair, nails, skin, eyesight, blood pressure, belly button and even my teeth have changed. I have so much to hold over this poor child’s head.

5. I know where every decent bathroom is located. When you have to breastfeed and change diapers in public, you very quickly learn which stores and restaurants have decent places to sit and changing tables. Shockingly, many places do not even have changing stations. And, in case you’re wondering Nordstroms has the BEST bathrooms. They have a super clean, comfortable, spacious and private room just for Mothers. There are chairs for breastfeeding, enormous changing tables, mirrors, end tables, sinks and very clean women’s restrooms are connected. It’s totally worth walking across the mall.

6. I have never ever had so much respect and appreciation for my parents, and I respected them a lot before I had Luna. Raising a kid is hard, scary and freaking awesome. Luna is only one and I am already so proud of her. My heart breaks when she cries. I miss her when we are separated for more than an hour. I want nothing but the best for her, and suddenly everything my parents said and did (well almost everything) makes so much sense. I get it now, I’m a parent too.

7. You do not need half of the baby crap you will buy, and what you buy you will only use for a very short amount of time. There should be some sort of system in place where all Moms rotate their baby gear from new Mom to new Mom.

8. We watch way too much TV. I like to have the TV on 90% of the time. Not because I want to sit and watch TV all day, but because I like having the background noise. Being in silence with my own thoughts is rarely a place I want to be. I prefer to have reruns of Friends, The Office or Gilmore Girls constantly playing through the house. It’s comforting, like having an old friend over. However, I do not want Luna to be in the habit of watching so much TV. We have had to change our habits, and we now play a lot of music…  and mix in some TV, especially in the evenings.

9. I miss my family more than ever. I have lived far away from home for about 8 years now, but this is by far the most I have missed everyone. I want my Mommy all of the time! Also, I want Luna to have more time with her Grandparents, aunt, uncles, cousin and all of my long-distance friends too. Thank God for Skype and smart phones!

10. My baby wins.  I know that every parent thinks their baby is the cutest. Before we had Luna, Husband and I often talked about this phenomenon, and thought some parents must know that they’re kid is not actually the cutest, smartest, funniest most talented kid. However, now we have Luna, and I must tell you, she actually is the cutest baby ever.

11. Sleep is a luxury I miss severely. I have always been able to function on little sleep, but I was also always able to sleep-in here and there. When I taught Elementary school I usually slept about 4 hours a night, but on the weekend I would sleep-in until my heart’s desire. If I went out on a Friday night, I could stay out until the sun came up and sleep the next day away or enjoy a nice Netflix marathon. Now, if we go out at night I stare at the clock and constantly think “in 5 hours I have to get up… in just 4 hours I have to get up…” I miss you, sleep.

tired

12. The last one is one I have heard time and time again, but I didn’t really get it until I too was a parent. I love Luna more than I ever could have imagined. It’s true, you don’t understand this kind of love until it happens. I love Peter, I love him more than I could ever put into words. I ‘m completely mad about him, but my love for Luna is entirely different. She is our entire world, she’s everything.

What did you learn after having a baby?

Cheers!

How to Be a Successful Parent

Lately, I’ve seen several articles come up in my news feed with titles like 5 Tips to Being a Successful Stay-at-Home Mom, 10 Ways to Win at Being a Working Mom, or 7  Habits Every Best Mom Does Daily. I read a few, out of curiosity. I mean, who knew there were a set number of steps to take to succeed at parenting?? I began reading expecting to feel a little worse about myself afterward, and I wasn’t disappointed, although not exactly right either.

If I were to sum up the advice it would be to stick to a schedule, stay organized, take time for yourself, keep your house clean, meal plan/prep, have date nights…in other words, do it all. I totally understand this advice. These things are important and helpful, but if you are not doing these things daily, (and none of us are, am I right?) I have a sneaky little feeling that you can still be a “successful parent”. In fact, I’m sure of it. So sure, that I made my very own list of How to be a Successful Parent.

1.  Feed your kid. Keeping them hydrated is good too.

2. Give them a roof to sleep under. A tent counts.

3. Do what you can to keep them from harm. Like, running with knives and playing in the medicine cabinet should definitely not be allowed.

4. Lead by example. If you want them to treat others kindly, do the same. (However, slipping up is cool too. They should know we all make mistakes.)

5. Love them. It’s what they need most.

At the end of the day if you all survived, then give yourself a pat on the back because you are one successful parent. Hurrah!

She's alive, healthy, fed and definitely under a roof.
She’s alive, healthy, fed and definitely under a roof.

AND, if you managed to survive the day and clean your house then you most definitely deserve some ice cream.

Cheers!

Adventures in Teething

We try to get out and do something fun or exciting everyday. We workout with a friend 5 mornings a week, hit up Starbucks a couple of times a week (where Luna is now known as a regular), we shop, visit friends, hike, swim, go to the park and look for adventures whenever possible, but some days we stay home. These days are “teething days” Luna has no teeth yet, but every few days she turns into an unhappy, fussy, drooly, chew-on-everything, impossible baby. It is not fun and not easily remedied.

Yep, that's how I feel about teething too.
Yep, that’s how I feel about teething too.

Lucky for our generation, we have an endless amount of resources and tips at our fingertips. After days of dealing with “the Grumpus”, I took to the Internet and Pinterest to find out how to make my baby happy. (Because nursing her for 12 hours straight is not a reasonable solution.) I don’t half-ass anything so I tried them ALL.

Teething toys– doesn’t want to hold for very long.

Ice cube in a sock– not interested

Amber healing necklace– made no difference

Orajel– no help

Teething jewelry (Chewbeads)– not a hit at first, but she’s a fan now

Rubbing her gums– helped temporarily

Chewing on our fingers– big hit

A sweating Starbucks cup- Loves it. This was an accident, but once she got her gums on it, she couldn’t get enough.

Wet/frozen washcloth– the best! OMG She could gnaw on a wet cloth for hours

nom nom nom nom
nom nom nom nom

Popsicles (breastmilk-cicles to be exact)– Awesome! These are the messiest things ever, but she ate them up (literally). These are so easy to make and watching her eat a popsicle is perhaps the cutest thing ever! Okay, fine, EVERYTHING is the cutest thing ever!

breastmilk cicles drooler all gone

Everyday is an adventure when you’re a Mom!

Cheers!

Why My Baby Hasn’t Ruined My Life

First flight!
First flight!

When we were pregnant we constantly heard negative comments and warnings from other parents (not all, but more than I expected). People loved telling us that our lives were basically over now that we were having children. Goodbye fun, no more adventure, adios traveling…none of this is allowed or possible once you have baby. Some of the more common phrases we heard were, “Good thing you got all your traveling out of the way before you had kids.” “Enjoy all your summer adventures now, this won’t be possible next summer.” “You know you have to stay home all the time once you have kids.” Every single comment sounded like a bad omen, like we just made a huge mistake, like I made a bad purchase and should exchange it or get a refund.

Luna's first time on a horse.
Luna’s first time on a horse.

I expected everyone to be happy and excited for us. I thought everyone would tell us how magical and rewarding it us to be a parent. The last thing I wanted to hear was “Beware! This is going to be so much harder than you ever imagined!” There are lots of reasons why these statements bothered me while I was pregnant, but after having Luna I am trying to understand what these parents were really saying.

First time in a swing.
First time in a swing.

I’m an optimistic, believe in the good in people, kind of person, so I don’t think these parents were trying to be harsh or that they do not love their kids. In fact, I’m sure they adore their children and even like being parents (most of the time). What I think, is that these parents may be, or perhaps were, going through a stressful time. I have to admit that as far as families and parenting goes, Husband and I have had it pretty easy so far (minus the whole me being sick thing). It’s true that we got to do so many things and see so many places before having children. That doesn’t keep us from wanting to keep traveling. On the contrary, it just makes us want to see more, However, we certainly don’t feel like we didn’t take advantage of our single kid-less life. We have no regrets, that’s for sure.

First swim.
First swim.

Also, I think that maybe, just maybe, we are slightly more adventurous than some of these well-meaning advisors. Maybe some of them didn’t do some of these wet-and-wild crazy antics before children, and therefore do not do them post-children. I don’t really know, but I do know having Luna has only added to the adventure in our lives.

First hike to a waterfall.
First hike to a waterfall.

We take her just about everywhere we go, and while it isn’t always easy, and certainly not faster, it has been very doable. We are pretty low-key people. We pack the essentials, carry backpacks, wear the baby and take her with us to show her how we like to enjoy life. So far, she’s been on a plane, hiking, to a waterfall, swimming, rock-climbing, on a boat, out to fancy dinners, played at parks, had a picnic, and lots more. I feed her when she’s hungry, she naps two-three times a day and is a really happy baby.

First trip to Cheekwood.
First trip to Cheekwood.

Sure, there are times when we have to cancel or reschedule (thanks teething!), but it doesn’t phase us. We decided to have kids because we wanted to be parents. We wanted this, and we know that parenting require some sacrifice, sacrifice we are more than willing to make. Even if we weren’t able to travel and have adventures, it wouldn’t matter. I can honestly say I love spending time with my baby. I enjoy feeding, changing, bathing and playing with her. Sometimes we just stare at her as she kicks her legs, rolls around and babbles to a stuffed animal. It’s somehow become more entertaining than anything on TV.

Her first boat ride.
Her first boat ride.

You know, now that I that I am writing this, I guess they were right… our lives are different. This summer is nothing like last summer. Regular day chores and events are more challenging and take longer to complete, but what they failed to mention is that it would all be worth it. They didn’t tell me how I’d grow to love someone more than I ever thought possible. They didn’t tell me that hearing a baby’s first laugh would be better than hearing a waterfall. No one said that feeling her fall asleep on my chest would be better than feeling the ocean water on my skin. I didn’t know that watching her grow would be our biggest adventure yet.

First rock-climbing trip.
First rock-climbing trip.

What I’m trying to say is, if you want kids, or if you find yourself in a surprise situation, do not let the fear of losing your pre-baby life takeover. Babies will live your life with you. If you love to travel, hike and climb, then your baby will love doing those things with you. If you love reading, painting and watching classic movies, baby will be loving it right at your side. That baby is going to make your life a hell of a lot happier. Yes, you will be busy, exhausted, stressed and covered in someone else’s bodily fluids, but it won’t matter. It’s all just part of the latest adventure.

First hike through the woods.
First hike through the woods.

Cheers!

P.S. We are currently planning our first international trip as a family of 3. Can’t decide where to go yet…any suggestions? Morocco? Australia? Chile? Spain??

Judging

judging a personLately, Husband and I have discussed acceptance a lot. I’m not sure what exactly is sparking our conversations, but it’s got me thinking. We all crave acceptance, but are so frugal when it comes to accepting others. Most of our friends are just like us…they have the same beliefs, likes, hobbies, style etc. It makes sense, right? We want to spend time with people who share similar interests, but are we rejecting people who aren’t enough like us? I know that growing up I was guilty of being very judgmental. I am sure I thought I wasn’t, but looking back I realize I judged almost everyone and probably missed out on some great friendships because of this flaw.

Now, as an adult, I like to think that I am much more open-minded. Traveling the globe has definitely forced me to not only get to know people completely different from myself, but it taught me to genuinely love these people. What’s that quote from Ender’s Game?

In the moment when I truly understand my enemy, understand him well enough to defeat him, then in that very moment I also love him. I think it’s impossible to really understand somebody, what they want, what they believe, and not love them the way they love themselves. -Orson Scott Card

There is so much truth in this quote. Husband and I were raised by parents with very different personalities and parenting styles, my girlfriends are so different from his guy friends and we have both been forced to get to know these important people in each other’s lives on a deep level. We learned that our families and friends may be different, but they love us just the same. We now have very good friends from social circles we never hung-out in before, from countries we were lucky enough to visit and from the different places we have lived. Ten or fifteen years ago I would have been too stubborn, shy and critical to taken to the time to really get to know these people. Now, I love them and couldn’t imagine my life without so many different types of people in it.

Recently, I have had conversations with friends who felt uncomfortable and even angry at some new people they were somewhat being forced to spend time with…one friend is extremely environmental and hippy-esqe, the other is very religious. The first, very green friend, feels so strongly about her good earth-saving habits that she has no tolerance for people who don’t give two figs about conserving or saving or Earth. The second, church devoted friend, is uncomfortable around acquaintances who do not share her beliefs.

I understood where each friend was coming from, we all feel on edge around people who think differently from us, but I wanted them to know that the benefits far outweigh those uncomfortable moments. The best way to do this was to start discussing the big differences between the two of us. Turns out, there are a lot of major differences between me and a close friend… She never wastes water, I take ridiculously long hot baths. She loves all things big and small, I want every single bug squished. She believes one religion, I believe another. She cooks real food everyday, I cook frozen foods everyday. She cherishes her naps and books, I cherish my insane moments with Shaun T. She is morally opposed to Taylor Swift, I shamelessly know every word to every one of her poppy lovey-dovey songs. Turns out that I am not so similar to even my close friends.

Anyways, once we got our differences out in the open (and yeah we discussed more serious topics than Taylor Swift), we then talked about why? Why do we behave this why? Where do these habits come from? What shaped us and made us these practically grown-up people? And, WOW. What I learned from these conversations and from the many conversations with all my new friends, is that we are all doing our best to be the best people we know how to be. Some of who we are is from how we are raised, some is from our education, some if from our closest friends and some is from the experiences we’ve had thus far. So, the quote holds true, once we truly understand someone, we cannot help but love them.

The experiences that have had the biggest influence on me are when I learned to love someone who before I never considered liking.

I said at the beginning of the post that “as an adult I like to think that I am much more open-minded”, and the truth is that I am a little more open-minded, but I still judge the heck out of people, what they wear, what they eat, what they like, what they say, and so much more. (TODAY, I caught myself instantly judging a whole group of teachers in the faculty lounge.) However, the difference is that I have learned am learning to look past those judgements and to the real people with real stories. While getting to know them, I hope that they get to know me too, because I know I have many reasons to be judged as well.

I challenge you to step out of your comfort zone this week and get to know someone you don’t hangout with…maybe a co-worker, an in-law, your hair dresser, anyone really. Find someone who is unlike you and allow them to share their story. I guarantee you’ll both get something awesome out of it!

Can’t wait to hear how this goes!

Cheers!