Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Working v. Stay-At-Home, Mommy Wars, and the Name of my Blog

Future SAHM and WOTH moms.
My Sister and I at her high school graduation. Try not to be jealous of my 90s style.
I want to get this post right, because I think this is an important and touchy issue. Little did I realize how touchy it was until I got pregnant and entered the ranks of mommy-dom. I was so excited and started obsessively reading blogs on babycenter.com every day. If I am being honest, I started doing that when Dan and I first began talking about being pregnant.
 
When I was about four months along, I happened across a blog post about daycare. The blogger had basically written a short post about how she loved her daycare, but she was a bit sad to see her son learning things that she didn't teach him. However, she was obviously happy he was thriving. It was just about that war inside of her. The title of the post was Daycare is Raising My Son. It came at exactly the wrong time for me. I had just toured a few daycares and was really in the midst of making decisions about what I would do once I had Ben and my maternity leave was over. (You have to get on wait lists for daycares super early around here). It wasn't so much the post that got to me, but the comments to the post. Here are the two that stood out:
 
"Daycare is so expensive that I find it hard to believe many families are making enough to both cover the costs of daycare and come out ahead enough to make it worth it. As for me, I would never place my child in a daycare unless I thought they absolutely needed the time out of the house. I’m not saying daycare is bad, my own mother ran one, worked for one, and would give anything to go back to that work. But I have and always will be of the opinion that if you want children you should be their main caregiver. Please note I said main, not sole. Both parents need to take an active role and there’s no reason other relatives can’t get involved. I just can’t stand when both parents are working 40hrs a week and just dumping their kids off. I knew a couple who both had doctorates and worked full time, yet their son never went to daycare or stayed with relatives. If they can make it work anyone can it’s just a matter of what else your willing to give up."
 
"Honestly, if your child spends 70% of her waking time with someone else that’s not you, then I’m sorry but YOU’RE NOT RAISING YOUR CHILD. And don’t get me started with that 'quality time' crap; children learn by mimicking and by repetition and if the only time in which you’re together you’re busy in the kitchen or doing the laundry, how on earth do you expect to teach them anything? In my case in particular, I work from home when I have the time; I’m lucky that my husband makes enough money for both of us and that my mother-in-law is a wonderful woman, although her being semi-illiterate can be a problem at times. If I didn’t have these two conditions in my life I simply WOULDN’T HAVE HAD A BABY. Period. If I didn’t have the money or the time to raise a kid, I wouldn’t have had one. You don’t HAVE to have kids, you know."

I put the parts in bold that really hit me in the gut. I am not going to lie, I cried. Right there at my desk. Some of it was the pregnancy hormones, but some of it was this deep fear coming to the surface. Was I going to be a terrible mother because I was going to be away from Ben for the day while I worked? Was daycare going to "raise" my son? Not only was I sad for these reasons, but I was mad. I was mad that I was being judged by someone who didn't know me or my situation.

This is why I work instead of staying home with Ben: I chose to go to law school straight out of college, and I incurred a lot of education loan debt. At that time, I didn't realize that I was choosing between being a working-outside-the-home mom or a stay-at-home mom. I have always known that I wanted kids, but it wasn't on my radar at that point in time. I was 21, and I hadn't met Dan yet or even been in a serious relationship. Getting married and having kids seemed like the way distant future. And it was the distant future - Dan and I got married when I was 28, and I had Ben when I was 32.

Dan was in the same boat as I was with the education loan debt. And when we chose to spend our lives together, we also chose to combine our massive law school debts. Oh, Twuuuuu Wuuuuuv. And then, we moved together to where the jobs were for us, the D.C. area. And guess what? It's expensive to live here! Because of all of those jobs, no doubt.  After we got married, we bought a modest home in the suburbs.

I have crunched the numbers. Then I crunched them again. We could not afford to live on one income. We could not meet our basic expenses. We already live pretty modestly when it comes to clothing, travel, entertainment, etc. However, there are definitely some things we could "give up." Like cable or our cell phones. But none of that would really make a big enough dent to allow us to stay home without also paying much less for our mortgage (like half). We already live a half hour away from D.C. (up to an hour in traffic). Living any farther away would cut into our quality of life for the person who was working. We could live in an apartment. At this point, however, we own our home and it would be expensive to sell it (not that I want to). Finally, if we really wanted to live on one income and somehow could swing it, it would have to be mine due to what I make.

So basically, the only way it would hypothetically work for us right now is if Dan stayed home with Ben, we lived in a small apartment, and we had no cable or cell phones. I know us. That would not be good for our marriage, and, by extension, our family. Dan would be unhappy. I would be unhappy. It would not be a good environment for Ben because of that.

That is why I work, personally. I am sure there are people out there who choose to work, but may not need to financially. There are definitely a ton of valid reasons for that, it is just not my situation. Who knows. If I could stay home, maybe I would realize that I would miss working. For the record, I do not regret my choices for a nanosecond. If I hadn't gone to law school, I wouldn't have met Dan, and Ben wouldn't even exist. Also, as much as I gripe about work sometimes and being a dumb lawyer, I am actually proud of my accomplishments.

I named this blog very quickly without thinking much about it. I had just started back to work, so it was in the forefront of my mind. I was actually physically dizzy when I woke up that morning. I remember I had Dan bring Ben downstairs for me, but I still felt like it was OK for me to drive to work. Don't ask - it doesn't make sense. I thought I could blog about the issues I faced as a new mom who also worked outside the home. That doesn't mean that a lot of what I talk about might not also apply to moms who "stay at home." By the way, my sister is a "stay at home" mom. I wish we could come up with a better name for it, because she is almost never at home. She does so much. Sometimes, I swear she is in two places at one time. It's magic.

Actually, it's blood, sweat, and tears.

I am related to and friends with so many moms. Some have jobs outside of the home, some don't. None of them judge each other, and they are all great moms. I have to remind myself of that when I come across some anonymous post that makes my blood boil.




Tuesday, July 30, 2013

I Guess Antigua is NOT the Perfect Place to Fall in Love

Yikes. Last night's ep of the Bach was RAW. Why can't Brooks just love Des??? Geez! Anyways, I feel like we all knew something was coming with Brooks because of how clear they have been about him being the frontrunner. I try not to read Reality Steve, but from reading the ew.com recap, I read that his spoilers were wrong. So yay for that at least.
I bet Des was wishing she could break Brooks' finger again...
Welcome to the television event of the summer! We are treated to all of the ups and downs that Des has experienced along the way. Then, Des gets to reflect on her three guys she has left. Once again, she is clear that Brooks is the only guy for her. We are treated again (subjected?) to their dorky "adjectives" for their feelings for each other.

Onward! We start with Des' date with Drew. I feel like Drew is a stranger to me. Because I am close, personal friends with the rest of them. But what I mean is, he is just like a Ken doll robot. Anyways, here is what Des finds attractive about Drew, in order: (1) Abs (2) Eyes (3) Face. Huh. Guess she is not a butt girl. Notice she didn't include slicked hair.

They spend their date exploring the island and just happen upon a "locals party." How convenient! Des wants to feel the music in her bones and just dance! This is not nearly as awkward as the weird lederhosen dance she and Swimfan were doing in the random courtyard in Germany in front of confused strangers. One local weaves a heart out of leaves and demands that they kiss. Unfortunately, their dinner is rained out. They talk so much about how it is totally not a big deal and totally does not ruin their night, which makes me think that they were bummed. Whatevs, Drew decides this is a good time to basically propose. He is ready to spend the rest of his life with Des! Or at least the next few hours on this rose-petaled bed.

Before we get to Swimfan's date, we go with Brooks to visit his mom and sister to talk about his feelings for Des. It's been two whole months and he just doesn't feel ready to say he loves her or to marry her! He explains to them that he is about to have his "exotic" date with Des. I see his sister raise an eyebrow at "exotic." I guess he used that word because he didn't want to say "overnight," but "exotic" isn't any better. May I suggest "last date before I meet her family?" Anyways, someone is NOT on cloud nine. He's uncomfortable and not in love. Mom and sis tell him that he's gotta be honest.

Then we have to try to erase all of that from our mind for Des' date with Swimfan. To distract us, Des wears a sweater/vest top that was previously ravaged by a shark. With a bikini top and khakis. It's like she just threw on whatever was around. They hop onto a helicopter and fly to a deserted beach. My first thought on these "deserted beach" dates is  - where do they go to the bathroom? Are there portapotties? Do they sneak out to the woods? Go in the ocean? Hold it? THESE are the behind the scenes questions I want answered! Anyways, they feed each other watermelon, frolick in the ocean, and generally have a good time.

Later on at dinner, they have a legitimate conversation about where they would live. It is always so strange when they talk about practical decisions of life after the Bachelorette. I love it. It was like when Jef and Emily actually talked about religion. (Sad that didn't work out though). WHYEEE can't Des love Swimfan. He could read her poetry ALL DAY LONG! ALL DAY SON!

[Another random behind the scenes thought. During their overnight, when the cameras are off, don't you think the contestant would be like, so what's the real deal? Are you going to choo-choo-chooose me or not? I would. But I'm pushy like that.]

They head on over to the overnight suite, and you guessed it, Swimfan recites poetry. They get hot and heavy in the pool, and then we have to use our imaginations, because we're outta there.

Brooks is still being whiny and he needs to talk to Hare. Hare wants him to boil it down for us (thanks Hare) - is Brooks not in love with Des or just not *sure* if he is in love with Des? At first he wanes, but then he drops the hammer. He's not in love, and he's gotta tell her. To rub salt in the would, it's not him, it's her. He's ready, he swears, he just doesn't love her. There will be tears folks.

Feel free to Mesnick on a Balcony, Des
Cut to Des. In clear contrast with her haphazard outfit choice for Swimfan's date, you can tell she chose her best blue bikini, white shorty-shorts, and breezy mullet shirt for her date with Brooks. She does look pretty cute. I'm jealous a bit. Then I realized she is about to get her heart broken on TV. But still, she looks great.

She immediately knows something is up when Brooks walks toward her, probably because he looks like he is entering a haunted house. They take an aggressive walk down a mile long pier (it seems like) and finally arrive at a place they can sit and talk. During this walk, I think about their "adjectives" for love, and I am thinking that Brooks is moon walking backwards. Anyways, it is BRUTAL. Brooks DRAGS it out. When Des says she misses him everyday, and she is realizing that he could care less, I feel for her. She asks him why he is doing this now, and he says because he finally just knows now. She says she was at the "finish line" for him. And then she curls up into a ball and cries. Sad. They walk again, I guess to where Brooks will be taken away, and he is all, what now? Um, you leave obv. And then she drops the bomb that she only wanted to give her heart to him, not the other guys. Take that Brooks! When Brooks is by himself, he says that this is the worst day of his life! Dan laughed at this, and it was kind of funny the way he said it.

I was kind of hoping that Des with go on the date solo and drink herself into oblivion. But instead, she went back to the Pier of Sadness to cry more. She really needed a double rainbow.

How are they going to fill two hours next week? Will she rally and try to choose either Swimfan or Drew? I hope not, because that relationship will NEVER work once either guy sees the show. Will Brooks come back and realize he made a terrible mistake? If this happens, I hope he makes a crazy grand gesture and not some lukewarm discussion about how his feelings have changed. Gals love grand gestures, and sometimes we need them in order to feel validated in taking a guy back after they have broken our heart.

Until next week! If you are looking for more to read, ihategreenbeans.com posts funny recaps! Also, I just found that Jillian has been giving her thoughts over on parade.com. I (heart) Jillian. She was definitely the best Bachelorette. Although, two terrible things were spawned from her season: Jake Pavelka and Ed's 80s shorts.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Push Present: Selfish or Well-Deserved?

I saw this on a lot of pregnancy discussion boards before I had Ben. The talk about push presents. Without fail, someone would always say, "My precious newborn is push present enough for me." Or, "I thought the baby was my present!" Ugh. This statement kind of reminds me of the Pregnant Women are Smug song (here).

Me and My Real Push Present (haha)
Yes, I would much rather have my precious newborn over some bauble. But, luckily, I didn't have to choose between the two. I got both! I think push presents get a bad rap because you hear about the really overboard gifts that celebs get. Most are along the lines of humongous diamond rings. But here's the thing - I am pretty sure Beyonce and I don't get the same thing for Christmas, so why would we get the same push present? That is to say, I am happy with something a bit more humble. It doesn't have to be a huge diamond something or nothing.

Dan's Sweet Gift to Me
For my push present, Dan gave me an adorable pacifier charm for my Pandora bracelet. I loved it and still do. But, what really made me cry was the sweet card he gave me with it. It was just a funny card with some heartfelt words from him to me. I was feeling overwhelmed after Ben's crazy birth, and it was just an incredible reminder of how Dan was there for us.

So, if you are about to be a new father, get your wife a push present. You can handle this extra errand. Let's face it, I'm sure your wife has planned everything else, from the hospital she's giving birth at to the list of items to bring for the baby. You have 9 months to go buy it. You can do it! Even if your wife says she doesn't want one, she's lying. She will love it when you give it to her. If budget is an issue (and it always is, let's face it), do something small or at least write out a really sweet note on a card. It will mean the world to her. After all, she did just push a melon out of her hoo-haa (or in my case, get cut in half while she was out cold).


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Our Dog and Tips for Bringing a Baby into a Doggy Home

Introducing Shelby! Dan and I got Shelbs about three months before we got married. I don't recommend doing that, but it worked out for us. We got her as a puppy, and she looked like this:
 
 
Pretty adorable, right? We had big plans for her to sleep in her crate at night, and lots of other things, but she ended up sleeping with us at night in the bed and pretty much ruling to roost. It's true that having a dog dips your toe into the pool of parenthood. I'm not saying it's the same, it's not. However, we had responsibilities when we got her that we took seriously. We had to go straight home after work to take care of her (no spontaneous happy hours). We had to plan our mornings more and, of course, make arrangements for her during the day. If we want to go somewhere in the evenings or the weekends, we had to figure how long we could be out before we needed to get home to let her out. If we were going out of town, we had to make arrangements. We were responsible for feeding and growing another living thing. Here she is now:
 
 
Still adorable. Shelbs loves most people and other dogs (although she has her moments) so imagine our surprise the first time she freaked out at a kid. Turns out, she doesn't like them. She never had a bad interaction with one, she just wasn't familiar with children, and decided they couldn't be trusted. They were short, unpredictable, and loud. They weren't quite mailman status, but still. Being the breed she is - yorkie/poodle mix - didn't help. So Dan and I were a bit worried about how she was going to react to Ben. Here are some things that we did. Maybe they helped, maybe they didn't. But, we are all co-existing happily currently (knock on wood), so take it for what it's worth.
 
1. Trial Run: We were lucky enough to have a friend with an infant come visit us twice while I was pregnant. I was amazed that Shelby was fine with my friend's baby. I think it made me realize that baby was different from kid for her. She was interested in him, but wasn't obsessed with him and didn't act aggressively towards him. He pretty much stayed put, and she did her own thing. This took some of the worry away from me and allowed me to relax.
 
2. Set Up: We had everything pretty much set up baby-wise, so Shelby had some time to get used to all of the gear. I did not make her listen to tapes of babies crying. I figured - why put her through that misery until it is absolutely necessary? I figured it would just annoy her.
 
3. Blanket from the Hospital: We did this tip, which I am sure everyone has heard. Take a blanket with the baby's smell from the hospital (our sweet nurse just gave us one of the receiving blankets). Have your husband bring it home (before the baby comes home), and let the dog sniff it. Do NOT let the dog have her way with it (tear it apart or something). Let her explore the smell for a while, then take it away. Shelby was obsessed with the smell on the blanket. So much so, that I was a bit worried. But she was just really into what the smell was.
 
4. Introductions: I had read that it was good to do the introductions outside of the house (like in the driveway or porch) so that the pooch can have the first sniff on neutral territory. However, it was snowing. There was no way in hell I was going to have my newborn out in the snow so my nutty dog could sniff her. So in we went! I did make sure to greet Shelby myself while Dan carried Ben in. I had read this somewhere. And then we had the highly anticipated first sniff with me, Dan, my parents, and Dan's mom an inch away, all holding our breath and holding onto Shelbs. She was VERY interested, but not aggressive.
 
Shelby is wondering why people are taking
pictures without her in them. Confusing.

5. Routine/Walks: We did our best to maintain Shelby's walks after we got home with Ben. I think this gave her some sense of normalcy and, of course, exercise. Dan had three weeks of paternity leave (amazing!), so he would walk her, and I would stay home with Benji. I think this also gave Dan an excuse to get outside and clear his head. After Dan went back to work, I got my butt outside the door and walked Shelbys with Ben. I experimented with various wearing, but ended up using my stroller. I could put it all the way down so that it was flat, and I used an infant insert for extra cushioning. If I didn't have Shelby, I definitely would not have been taking these walks everyday. So it was great for making me get out of the house and get some fresh air.

6. Let the Dog Near, but Stay Close By: We didn't want Shelby to think of Ben as some sort of forbidden fruit she should be obsessed with. So we wanted to let her, under strict supervision, get close to him. We never leave them alone, even now. Now that he is moving more, Shelbs is a bit more curious and wants to get in his face and sniff. I tell her "off." I want her to be comfortable with him, but I also want her to keep a respectful distance. I let her have a little more leeway if I am holding him. He has already grabbed a handful of her hair, and she was like - what the hell?!? But she didn't bark or growl or anything.

7. Address Problems, but Don't Freak Out: Shelby had a weird thing with the Mamaroo when we first brought Ben home. We had had the Mamaroo out beforehand, and it didn't bother her. But whenever we would put him in it or take him out of it, she would run up to it, bark, and act agitated. I'll be honest, I did freak out in my head a bit. I thought, oh no! Here is the beginning of the craziness! But what we did was try to remember to give her a treat and make her sit before I put him in and took him out. Eventually, she just got used to it, and it was fine.

All in all, things are going pretty well. Shelby loves to sit next to me while I feed Ben on the couch. I try to give her a pat now and then during. She follows us up to the nursery when it is changing time in the morning, and she always gives Ben a sniff when we get home. There are times though when not having her around would be easier. She constantly is scratching at the door when I am sitting down and feeding Ben. She barks as passersby while Ben is sleeping. But, we love her. It should be really interesting to see how things evolve once Ben is mobile. I know that it will be an adjustment, but I am hoping that since it is gradual and Shelby knows Ben, it will be fine.

Wouldn't it be amazing if they were best friends? (Haha.)
 
 
 
 
 
 


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Royal Baby Revealed!


Just saw a video of the royal baby (RB), Kate and Will here. I was excited about RB before, but this video made me love them and get even more excited for a couple of reasons.

First, Kate did not try to hide her post-baby bump! I remember when I was six months pregnant with Ben. Dan and I were doing a road trip somewhere and chatting about the future delivery. I said to him, "You know that after I have the baby, my stomach won't immediately go down. I'll still look six months pregnant for a bit. I'll look like I do now." Dan - "WHAT?!?!?" Seriously, he was in shock. I am so glad I told him in advance. Anyways, Kate looks great! Almost no one famous shows their post baby bump. I bet she didn't have much of a choice about making the appearance the day after, but she still wore a dress that emphasized it and seemed like it was no big deal.

Second, Wills has changed a "nappy!" Good for him! I am sure that he has a bevy of people that would do it for him, but he chose to do it himself. I can't imagine his dad went within 5 feet of a dirty diaper. Ben was in the NICU when he was born (but was full sized), and I had to be basically forced to change his diaper the first time. And it wasn't until a couple of days after he was born.

I am looking forward to hearing what they name him. Dan cannot understand the excitement surrounding RB, and it is hard for me to explain it to him. I guess babies are exciting in general. Add royalty to the mix, and it's pandemonium. Especially for this little guy, who is now in line to be king in the highest profile royal family in the world. Yay babies!

This Blog Tells All

Hah-wan Pah-blo. Say it Frenchie!

Welcome to Men Tell All! Grab your guitars and your love for invisible poetry and let's dig in.

You're welcome.
We started out by joining Hare and Des on their party crashing adventures. A couple of odd things I noticed about these parties. First, not enough people were holding drinks. Second, the parties seem to be in silence and in the dark. It was actually kind of creepy. But who cares because LOOK! There is Ash and J.P.! And who is that? It's the Mesnicks with their mini-Mesnick! If you look closely, you can see Baby Riley sipping on some cab and rolling her eyes. And Trista! And then there was a party bus for some reason.

Hare then tells us that Des got some advice from our "most popular" Bachelorettes. Um, excuse me Hare, but stop lying. Jillian was not on that couch, and Ali makes me want to punch a puppy (hide Shelbs!), so you have a very loose definition of "most popular." Anyways, Em talks about Kallon, and Ali talks about Rated R. Love those blasts from the past. But somehow, Ash does not talk about Bentley. I am pretty sure J.P. has a strict no talking about Bentley rule, and that is why. P.S. Ali's roots are still terrible and she seems to be rocking the grey hair trend, just now started by Rhianna. She looks dumb (Ali, not Rhianna).

And we're back! Hare introduces the guys. From the crowd's cheers/boos, we can tell that everyone LOVES Juan Pablo, HATES James, and feels lukewarm about everyone else. Hare starts with Jonathan, the fantasy suite guy from the first ep. Now, was I the only one on earth that thought his joke was kind of funny? Yes, maybe he pressed it too much for too long, but still. It's not like he stuffed some of his warm underwear in her pocket (Hi drunk girl from the British guy's season). And I'm sorry, but Des *is* going to be the kind of girl that goes to the Fantasy Suite. Maybe not at the first cocktail party, but it is going to happen. I ask (my) Dan though, and he confirmed that the fantasy suite guy was "creepy." ANYways, fantasy suite guy says he is so happy he didn't get booed, and the prosecutor totally zings the guy by saying its because nobody remembers him. The prosecutor's justice stings, but rings true.

This just in! Brian's a coward! That is all.

HOT SEATS. I'll tell you who has a hot seat - Juan Pablo. More to come.

Ben: I hate that this guy has my son's name. Aggravating. So let's call him Sh*thead instead. Sh*thead back peddles what he said in the limo by explaining he was just at his wits end after being served so much justice from the prosecutor. For 8 hours! The other dudes still think he was up to no good, and I believe them because Juan Pablo says so. And then some guy named Dan who lives in Vegas and sells beverages says that Sh*thead's baby mama told him that Sh*thead is, like, totally a terrible father. Oh, and by the by, he was cheating on his GF when he got her PG. How sorry do you feel for little Brody right now? We are cleansed a bit from the eeewww feeling of this by Zak reminding us that Juan Pablo is an awesome dad.

James: If I were Hare, my first question would have been: So have you been out on Mikey's boat yet getting into "intimate situations" with "tall, successful" women? Holla! Work hard, play hard! Amiright??? Anyways, James tries to explain the conversation again, stating it was a "real" conversation that "real" men have. Mikey chimes in saying it wasn't a "plan," they were just talking about what would happen if things didn't work out. Kasey chimes in. Gotta love him. For some reason, as soon as Kasey says "tall girls," Mikey loses it. He stands up and starts spouting some nonsense about being a "player" on US Weekly. I think he just wanted to tell the world he was in US Weekly. Even though Kasey is way too eager, I do believe that James probably said something like - If I can get to the final four, I will have a good shot at being the next Bachelor. BURN HIM ALIVE! Thankfully, Juan Pablo gets us to put away our torches and puts it all into perspective for us. He likes James just fine, but doesn't want him dating his sister or daughter right now. I don't know about you guys, but I think Camilla is probably a bit too young for him anyways. And probably not "tall" enough.

Juan Pablo: Did you know he has a daughter? Her name is Camilla, and she is adorbs. Unfortunately, Juan Pablo can't date because he spends all weekend hanging with her. He also has to fight the terrible stereotype of being a crazy hot sexy lov-ah due to his Latino soccer player status. What does he want from life? A wife who he can have a couple of kids with, eat breakfast, and watch movies. If you are a single woman right now and not filling out your application to be on the Bachelor in anticipation of Juan Pablo being the Bachelor, then you are crazy. Who doesn't like to eat breakfast and watch movies? I LOVE eating breakfast and watching movies! Let's do this Bachelor Nation. Make it official. Juan Pablo for Bachelor.

Zak: Zak explains the reason why he is so intense is because he is on an oil rig for six months out of the year and *really* wants a wife dammit. So I decide to cut him some slack. I immediately regret that when Hare pulls out the journal that Zak gave Des and reveals there is a poem written in invisible ink on the back page. (my) Dan chimes in at this point and wonders if Zak is in the third grade. I guess because only third graders think invisible ink is cool. Hare asks Zak if Des read it. Zak doesn't know. This confuses me. Did she know there was something written in invisible ink in there, or was she just supposed to comb the pages with a black light on the off chance that there was. Who knows. Hare reads the poem. It was a bit uncomfortable, but over quickly. I thought, phew. No more awkwardness from Zak tonight....

Here come Des! Immediately, she throws up in her mouth a little bit remembering fantasy suite guy, but accepts his apology. She comments that Sh*thead seemed insincere, like he was putting on a persona. And I thought - exactly! He is so smug. She calls out James and says he was manipulating her on the steps. I agree. And then James breaks the cardinal rule of the Bachelor Nation. He says that Des was in a relationship with 25 guys. DISGUST. Doesn't he know that she is just on a special journey to find love!

Des gives absolutely no good reason for not giving Juan Pablo a one-on-one date. Sad. Maybe he was TOO SEXY! TOO SEXY! (Remember that Antonio Banderas skit?) Well, it looks like we can all relax now. All of the awkwardness is ov- Oh no. What is happening? No. NO. ZAK, PUT DOWN THE GUITAR. Whyeeeee is this happening to me? *This* is what makes me throw up in my mouth a little. In the words of Rachel Zoe, I die.

Hare says the finale is in two parts! Yay! So there is still two episodes left, they just decided to do Men Tell All early. Phew. The scenes are super-dramatic and Des seems to really lose it. The crowd is in utter shock, mouths are really catching flies.

I can't wait until next week! I am a little disappointed that they didn't ask Bryden why he felt the urgent need to leave in the middle of Des' one on one with Swimfan. But that's ok. See ya'll next week! For longer hilarious recaps, I like the gal over at ihategreenbeans.com.


Monday, July 22, 2013

This Post is Gonna Be Legend-WEIGHTforit-Scary

YIKES. I am going to talk about my weight. What it is now, what it used to be, and what I want it to be in the future. This is pretty scary, because I am cagey about telling my exact weight to anyone (even Dan). In fact, as I am writing this, I am wondering whether I am going to lie on this post just a tiny bit. Like just a pound or two. But I won't! So why in the hell am I even doing it? My motivation for writing this post is: (1) I think weight loss is something all new/new-again moms are interested in and (2) if I tell the world my weight, perhaps I will be a bit more motivated to say no to that cupcake next time.

When I graduated from college, I weighed about 150. For the record, I am 5'8". My sister was doing Weight Watchers, and she inspired me to do it as well. We were living together for the majority of the summer, and it was awesome. It was actually easy to lose weight when I was 22 years old, had nothing else to worry about, and had someone doing it too for support, etc. My sister would actually do most of the meal planning. It was honestly the best. When I started law school in the fall, I was down to 122, which is the lowest weight I have ever been and ever will be. That is when I met Dan. Poor bastard. He thought he was snagging a skinny girl.

This is me when I graduated college.
Just kidding. I'm actually 40 weeks PG here.
There was no way I could maintain the 122, especially without my personal trainer/chef/best friend/motivator sister living with me. However, I stayed in the lower to mid 130s throughout law school, and was relatively happy with that weight. When I moved to D.C., I trimmed up a little more just from walking around the city, working out more (we were members of a gym), and I went vegan for a time. By the time we got married, I was about 128, and feeling great!

Then it all went downhill. Physically, I mean. Otherwise, I was very happy. Dan and I got Shelby, and very soon after we got married, we bought a house in the burbs. This all equaled a weight gain for me. I wasn't walking to work anymore or going to the gym immediately after work. I also could not stop eating the way I did on our honeymoon, which was whatever I wanted all of the time. I would go through periods where I would lose some weight, but by the time I got pregnant with Ben, I weighed 142.

I feel like I should mention at this point that Dan kept getting thinner after we got married. It was like I gained every pound he lost. His weight loss was because he started doing marathons after we moved to DC. He also gave up most dairy and alcohol to help with his training and some stomach issues. I was tricked! I thought I was marrying an on-the-trim-side-of-average weighing man. What I got was this insanely fit thin guy. UGH.* So the crazy person in me feels like if Dan loses weight, I am in comparison bigger. I keep hearing the line from the JT song - I couldn't get any bigger, with anyone else beside of me! It's like he's my mirror. A-whoa-oh. (p.s. How self-centered is JT? "You reflect me, I love that about you?" Geez.)

Of course, if I were happy with myself, it wouldn't matter if Dan actually weighed negative pounds. But that is neither here, nor there.

I gained about 28 lbs during my pregnancy, putting me at about 170 when I gave birth. I was actually "lucky" that I had one of those pregnancies with the terrible heartburn and weird stomach stuff. Different foods did not appeal to me (like Mexican, which is normally a fav!), and I couldn't let myself get too full. And I still managed to gain 28 lbs. If I would have had a different pregnancy, I probably would have gained so much more. At the time, I hated it. Now, I am thankful.

After I had Ben, the weight came off pretty quickly. I felt this false sense of security. Like I could eat whatever I wanted, and still lose weight. After about a month, I actually started gaining weight back. What the what??? I was breastfeeding non-stop. Didn't the celebs say I could breastfeed, eat whatever I wanted, and still lose weight? THE LIES!

So, right now I weigh (DRUM ROLL) 146.5 lbs. About 4 and a half lbs. from where I was before I was pregnant. However, I would like to be thinner than I was when I got pregnant. I want to be my old self. My goal is to lose about 15 lbs. How am I going to do it? Seriously. Tell me how please.

Throughout the years, I have gone back to weight watchers. Usually, I would do it online. But it just wasn't ever the same without having my sister with me. I actually managed to lose about six pounds before I got pregnant with Ben by tracking my calories on the My Fitness Pal app on my iPhone. (I had gained a bit more weight then due to a pregnancy that ended in an early miscarriage). So my plan is to try My Fitness Pall again. It's free (if you don't count my cell phone bill), and pretty easy to keep track of. The complicating issue is breastfeeding. I have to find that magic number of calories that gets me to lose weight, but not diminish my breast milk production.

By crunching numbers, I came up with 1800 calories a day. I looked up various online calculators (here and here) to get the number of calories I burn in a day basically doing nothing. That number is about 1700. I read that a person burns up to approximately 500 calories a day breastfeeding. I feel like that is the upper end, so I factored 350 calories burned from breastfeeding. That puts my daily calories burned at 2050. If I keep to 1800, that puts me at a negative of 250 calories a day. There are 3500 calories in a pound. That means I should lose half of a pound each week. It's a slow weight loss, but I don't want to risk messing with my breastfeeding.

You probably have noticed that I haven't talked about exercising. I am not factoring that in too much, because I don't exercise that much. I get on the treadmill a bit during lunch at work, and sometimes on the weekend, but that's it. During my maternity leave, I would take Shelby and Ben for long luxurious walks, but those are only on the weekends now.

So here we go! I am basically like - can I start tomorrow please? I bought some chocolate croissants for my book club meeting and there are some leftovers at home....NO! I start now!

 *I am obviously being a bit sarcastic here. It is awesome having a good-lookin' husband. I am just jealous. I love that he is motivated and doing something that makes him feel good about himself.

Friday, July 19, 2013

I Still Love to Go Clubbing

Book clubbing that is. Dan has his hobby (running), and I have mine - being a member of a book club. Mine doesn't keep me in my skinny jeans, but oh well! We meet about once a month on Sunday afternoons at each other's houses (and occasionally out somewhere). It is hard to believe, but we have been meeting for three years now!

A couple of ladies are missing, but here's most of the crew!
I may be biased, but I think we are pretty much the most perfect and best book club there is. We take turns choosing books, so everyone has a voice. We understand that people can't read the book everytime - either they get busy or they didn't want to finish it for some reason. So no judgment if you didn't finish (or start). Since we all have a love of reading, there are always a good amount of people who have read the book to make discussion interesting. We are also interested in each other's lives now that we have been meeting for so long and are genuine friends. Our group usually stays around the 10 person mark. We are all women, but of a variety of ages. It's great.

I have been asked a number of times how the group started by people who are curious or possibly want to start their own book club. First, I tried to look for an existing club to become a part of, but I couldn't find one. So, I went onto readerscircle.org and placed an ad to start a book club. I used a new email address for it. I obsessively checked the new email address every hour for a couple of days. Crickets. I pretty much forgot about it for a couple of months. Then randomly one day, I remembered to check the email address, and there was an email from someone saying she was interested. I met up with her, and she suggested putting up flyers at a couple of the local libraries. I also pulled in a good friend of mine's sister (who is a good friend of mine on her own now!), who loves to read. We got a couple more people from the flyers, and a couple more people from the readerscircle.org post. And it grew from there.

The reason I wanted to be a member of a book club was twofold. First, I wanted to expand what I read and talk about it. Second, I wanted to meet new people. This club has met and exceeded those expectations. Having my club has been great since Ben was born. My aweome book club threw me a "book" shower, which was so sweet. Also, it has been wonderful to have some thing that is "me," if that makes any sense at all.

If you are interested, here is a list of what we have read over the years. If it has an asterisk, that means that the majority of us liked it and/or it was particularly good for discussion. If it has two asterisks, then we loved it.
  1. The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist**
  2. Bel Canto by Ann Patchet
  3. I See You Everywhere by Julia Glass
  4. The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein*
  5. Life of Pi by Yann Martel*
  6. The Help by Kathryn Stockett**
  7. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden*
  8. Room by Emma Donoghue*
  9. The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski
  10. Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult*
  11. Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson
  12. The Paris Wife by Paula Mclain*
  13. The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O'Farrell*
  14. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon**
  15. The Next Queen of Heaven by Gregory McGuire
  16. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern*
  17. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot*
  18. A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
  19. The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield**
  20. Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay
  21. Those Who Saved Us by Jenna Blum*
  22. Monstrous Regiment by Terry Pratchett
  23. Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman*
  24. The Guernsey Literary Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer*
  25. The Rook by Daniel O'Malley*
  26. Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan*
  27. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford*
  28. Wool by Hugh Howey (have not met on this yet)

Thursday, July 18, 2013

It's a Wash (Washing Bottles/Pump Parts and Milk Storage)

I spend about 30 minutes every night making bottles for the next day and washing all of the bottles and pumping parts from the current day.* Is that normal? I just don't see any way around it. It reminds me of this article that I read about Elizabeth Banks here. She was talking about how she had no "help" over the holidays, and said this:
 
"[We] had no help, no nannies, no babysitters. It was crazy. You forget how difficult it is to wake up in the middle of the night, how exhausting it is,” she admits, adding being a hands-on mom took on a whole new meaning. “I lost all my nails. I did dishes and cleaned bottles for 10 days so I lost all those nails!"
 
I thought this was pretty hilarious, and I judged her. Look at her! Doing what normal moms do all of the time! And having to sacrifice her beautiful nails! Gasp! But now, I think if I could pay someone else to do it, I would never wash another bottle ever again.
 
Here is what my counter to the right of my sink looks like after a washing with everything drying. It used to be where my beautiful red Kitchen Aid mixer lived. That is now stored in a cabinet.
 
I do not wear Oakleys and a stopwatch while washing bottles. Those are Dan's.
He stands in the corner and times me while looking cool.
Actually, he is such a sweaty guy that he has to rinse them off after a run.
I do not wash my pump parts at work after each pumping session. I store them in a Tupperware container in the fridge. I learned this tip from a friend of mine that is also an important nurse at a children's hospital. The theory is that you refrigerate breast milk and it's okay, so why can't you refrigerate the pump parts (with the breast milk on them) just for the day to prevent bad bacteria from forming? The powers that be don't officially condone storing used pump parts in the fridge, but it works for tons of people from what I can tell. And it works for me. I also throw the empty Tupperware back in the fridge while I pump since it has breast milk on it after the first pump.
 
The Tupperware in question to the right. To the left, my cooler bag for pumped milk.
I am in the car for almost an hour after work between commuting home and picking up Ben from daycare. So for the ride home, I put the breast milk in a cooler bag with an ice pack that I keep in the tiny "freezer" section of my little fridge.

Regarding milk storage, I follow the general rules that you can store fresh breast milk in the fridge for up to 6-7 days. I use whatever I defrost from the freezer first, since you are supposed to use this within 24 hours of thawing. Once, I used it past that. I really did not want to throw it away so I called up a friend to get permission to use it. She said to sniff it and see if it smelled sour. That makes sense to me, like how you would do a "sniff test" for real milk. It smelled like wonderful magical unicorn breast milk and not sour. So I used it, and Ben was fine. That being said, I only did that once and really now make an effort to make sure the thawed frozen stuff is used first.
 
They say you can store frozen stuff up to six months in a regular freezer, but let's face it, I am going to use all of mine way sooner than that.  
 
*For the record, Dan helps, but it mostly falls to me just due to timing.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

My Name is Abbey, and I have a Housekeeper

This is totally what I look like when I clean.
Let's talk about the dirty stuff - dishes, laundry, toilets, floors. I, like most of the general population I assume, love a clean house and hate to do it myself. I can keep up with the day to day stuff - the kitchen sink is normally kept clear, I put away toys and blankets at the end of the day, laundry, etc. But for the heavy lifting (i.e. the bathrooms, the floors, the dusting, etc), I have a housekeeper that comes every other week. It is, hands down, the best $200 I spend every month.

I started having my house cleaned about a couple of years ago. I was getting tired of spending a full day on my weekends cleaning. Also, my house was never entirely clean at once - I would clean in sections, and then get tired and quit. Having guests was stressful because I would have to really clean beforehand. It was always a thing I had to do in the back of my head. I wanted to be free to enjoy my weekends without that constant "to do."

You might roll your eyes, but it was life changing. I am way more easy going about having people over, because my house is normally clean. I may need to straighten up, but I don't need to worry about things being gross. I feel more relaxed in my house, and I am not dreading the clean-up over the weekend. I am so glad I started this before I had Ben, because it is so nice to have it established now that I have even less time to do things and something else that I want to be doing so much more.

I think moms, and women in general, sometimes have a hard time paying someone to clean their house. More guilt. I have two hands, and I can clean. Can we afford it? There are so many other things we need to spend money on. Well, first, let me tell you - I considered myself pretty good at cleaning. But the first time my housekeeper came in and did a thorough cleaning, I realize I was just an amateur. With regards to the money issue - Dan and I have a mortgage and student loan debt, and I am sure that we could be doing more to put money towards savings. Sometimes, it seems silly that I have a housekeeper. We live in a modest split level home with hand-me-down furniture. We have linoleum kitchen floors and original 60's cabinets. I buy generic soda. But, I still wouldn't cut out the housekeeper to save money. It just really improves my quality of life. So I am going to have a housekeeper, and I am not going to feel bad about it.

Our House.
By the way, I think stay at home moms should also not feel guilty about having/wanting/needing a housekeeper. Everyone needs help, and if having someone clean your house is high on your priority list and can help make you sane, go for it!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

This Blog has all of the Qualities You are Looking for in a Blog (The Bachelorette)

Hometown Dates! Yay! However, let's first address that it seems they are going to cram overnights, the final two, and the final rose ceremony into one episode two weeks from now. Usually overnights is its own separate episode, then Men Tell All, then the finale. Ugh! Oh well, I guess I will muddle through somehow.

We all knew Zak was a goner this week, right? But if you weren't sure at first, a clear sign was Des confessing to Zak that she wasn't nervous at all to meet Zak's family. You should always be a little nervous if you care. Apparently, Zak's family owns a snow cone business and dabbles in awkward singing. The intensely awkward family sing along was almost too much to bear. Des started crying during. I think she wanted to make it seem like she was moved to tears because it meant so much to her. I think they were either tears from trying not to laugh or tears of desperation to be anywhere but on that couch.

Ugh, Drew. I feel like he is probably a genuine person. But I just can't like him because he reminds me so much of Jake Pavelka. He is just too shiny. He told the camera he was excited to tell Des those "three magical words in that order." Which makes me think that previously, he has gone Yoda on her and said "Love you, I?" He was incredibly sweet towards his sister though.

Is it just me, or is the only word that Des uses to describe Swimfan "athletic?" Well he perpetuated this description of himself by taking her to a baseball field. I have to say, Des looked super cute in her baseball gear. Zak would be miffed if he knew that Des drew some pictures for Swimfan, because drawing dumb pictures for each other is their thing. Maybe Zak would be comforted to know that Des clearly bartered with one of the snow cone kids to draw it for her in exchange for a snow cone. I am not going to even get into the whole nose adjustment thing. Ack!

Ugh! Badly drawn pictures is OUR thing!

In clear contrast to Des not being nervous at all to meet Zak's family, she REALLY cared about what Brooks' family thought of her. Also she made a present for Brooks. Don't worry, it wasn't more kindergarten pictures, but a list of their top moments. Phew! Even though Brooks seem to need a lot of reassurance from his family and he didn't drop the L bomb, the date seemed to go well. Weird though, there weren't any family sing-alongs.

The convo with her shifty brother was pretty dumb. I hope that is the last we see of him. Clearly, they aren't close.

She told Chris Hare that she wants a proposal from Brooks. They have never been this straightforward before! I hope that she does end up picking Brooks, because I would feel sorry for Swimfan if she ends up choosing him, and he has to deal with the fact that he was her 2nd choice. So it seems that Des has some sort of breakdown coming up. Yay!

For a full hilarious recap, I like the lady over at ihategreenbeans.com. I'm sad that the season is almost over!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Pumping Update (Pumping Tips), Plugged Ducts, Just Another Day at the Office

This happened to me last week:

Time for me to pump at my desk! I close my door, hoist up my shirt, and hook myself up. I turn the suction on high, and then go about my business until....FIRE ALARM! Crap. I look around my office and think to myself, is it 100% necessary for me to leave? It's probably just a drill...But then I come to realization that, even though we all know breast milk is a magical unicorn, Ben would probably rather have his mom alive. So just on the off chance that an actual fire was occurring, I quickly unhooked myself from the pump and throw the ounces in the fridge. Just as I am walking out my office door, the damn alarm stops, and I see people coming back. I hear strains of people saying it was some sort of building problem, but not a fire. Fine. I hadn't gotten very far into my pumping, so I go back into my office, and hook myself back up. Not two minutes later, the alarm goes off again. I called it a day. Just part of the glam life of pumping at work.


Just a reminder of the cuteness that I am pumping for!


 
So as a pumping update - I am currently pumping about 14-15 oz a day at work. I pumping four times at approximately 8:15am, 10:45am, 1:45pm, and 4:00pm. I get anywhere from 3 to 5 ounces total a pump. I also pump at night before bed, and I get 2-3 oz. At daycare, Ben is eating anywhere from 18-22oz generally. On Mondays, I don't need to supplement from the freezer, because I have extra that I have pumped from the weekend. The rest of the time I usually need to supplement a small amount from the freezer. I still need to do an inventory of how much frozen milk I have left. I am going to go ahead and pick out a brand of formula, and buy a can to have on standby so that I am not taken off guard when I run out. I figure, I am never more than one bottle behind, so if/when it comes time, I will just make a bottle of formula to go with his other bottles at daycare and tell them to give him that one last. If he doesn't end up needing it, great. If he does, then it's there for him.

Let's revisit the tips I tried to up my supply and whether they helped:

  • Relaxxxxing - It has probably helped that I am in a groove now and not as stressed out. I have a nice set up at work, with my pump always out and a fridge under my desk.

  • Fenugreek Supplements - This was not a magical aide for me. But also, there were no terrible side effects, so I am still taking occasionally on the off chance that it is helping.
  • Warm Gel Pads - I don't use these anymore, too much trouble.
  • Higher Suction - I think this helps a ton. The way my pump (I have a Medela Pump in Style Advanced) works is that for two minutes it does fast suction, then it does slower suction. I start at a higher suction than I used to, and then after the two minutes, I turn it up even higher. It is actually sort of uncomfortable. I would NOT recommend this for moms in the first month or so of breastfeeding/pumping. You would kill your nips. This is just for those who have been doing it for a while. Fool around with your suction, it might help.
  • Replaced Membranes - Not sure if this helped or not. But I am going to keep up with it.
  • Water. I still drink it. I do think it makes a slight difference if you are not hydrated.
  • Oatmeal - You're crazy if you think I would give up the oatmeal cookies. If I have to have my nipples sucked at by miniature tornadoes, I sure as hell am going to have my oatmeal cookie and whether it's helping or not.
  • Massage. Okay, so I have noticed that it helps to press the shields into my breasts while pumping. It definitely makes more come out. This is super annoying because I like to have my hands free. So I just do this occasionally throughout and feel very put out about it. It is kind of my last ditch effort.
Something that I suffered from a bit has been a plugged milk duct due to a milk blister. Sorry if you are grossed out by the following, but I feel like it neeeeeeeds to be discussed for no other reason than I should not have to live with this knowledge on my own. So basically, a plugged milk duct happens when something blocks the duct (duh) and there is a back up. This means you feel like you have a hard golf ball in your breast. It is uncomfortable and can lead to mastitis (infection). The blockage can occur anywhere in the duct (I think) or from a milk blister. A milk blister is on the nipple when one of the little milk holes (my term) gets blocked my an incredibly thin layer of skin, and it looks like a tiny white spot. I have the milk blister.

Basically, you want to unblock the duct as soon as possible to get the milk out. At first, I just used heat (either from a heating pad or gel pad) and then nursed/pumped as much as possible to dislodge the clog. This worked eventually, but would take FOREV, and I would stress out about it the whole time. When I figured out that my clog was due to a milk blister, I did this maneuver: I sterilized a safety pin with alcohol and poked the little milk blister with the pointy end. Then I squeezed out the milk or nursed. Sweet sweet relief. This is my go to now. By the way, Dan almost passed out when I told him what I was doing.

So there you go! Happy Monday! And because it needs to be said one last time - milk blister.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Happy (early) Birthday to Me

Is it just me or does my hand look fat?
This is a part early birthday present to myself and part of the Treat Yo'self idea I talked about here. About two years ago, I complimented one of my sister's friends on her necklace. She told me that she got it from a website called The Vintage Pearl. I loved it so much that it stuck in my head since then. I finally got my own! It is basically an online jewelry store where you can get pretty personalized stamped silver charms for necklaces. I got a charm for Ben, Dan and Shelby. The necklace that I got was the "eclectic charm necklace." It comes with a standard 18" chain, but I paid more for the longer 24" chain, and it is the perfect length for me. I love it! It is definitely perking up my working day and keeping my family close to my heart.

By the way, this probably goes without saying since my blog is brand new, and I am pretty sure the only readers are myself, my sister, and my mother-in-law, but I am not being paid by The Vintage Pearl. I paid in full for my necklace. I am just sharing because I love it and think it's cool. :)

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Tips for Returning to Work after Maternity Leave

I feel like there are a million articles about this out there with very similar tips, but what the hell. Here are mine:

1. Have a "practice day" at daycare. I started work at the end of June, but had to pay for the whole month of June to reserve Ben's spot in daycare. So I took advantage of that by taking him in for an afternoon a couple of weeks before I returned to work. It was great because I brought all of his supplies, learned the ropes, and got out my first cry. If that had been my true first day, I would have been super stressed because I ended up forgetting a couple of things, having to stay longer, being an emotional wreck, etc. But because it was just a practice day, it didn't matter, I didn't have anywhere I had to be. If you can't do a practice day, then try to bring all of the supplies to daycare before your first day and talk to them about the ropes of dropping off/picking up. It will just be one less thing to worry about.

2. Go back to work at the end of the week. I saw this tip a lot, and didn't really put much credence to it at first. My thought was - you have to face a full week at some point, might as well jump in the fire. For me though, it just happened that the end of my 16 weeks was on a Friday. It worked out great, and I really urge anyone to do the same if they have a choice. First, Fridays are much slower at our office, people are more likely to be out, and it is casual dress. So it was low maintenance day to return. Second, the only thing that got me through that day was knowing I had the weekend to recover and smother Ben with attention. Third, since I didn't produce that much breast milk by pumping on the first day back at work, I was comforted to know I had the weekend to try to figure that out. By the first dreaded Monday, I was refreshed and had the confidence that I had one day under my belt, and we had all survived.

3. Have your husband do the drop off. Obviously, this may not be possible for some people because you are a single mom (I totally salute you) or due to schedules. For us, it works out that Dan can go into work a bit later, and I can get home a bit earlier. See our schedule here. So Dan drops Ben off at daycare, and I pick him up. Picking up is just so much easier emotionally than the tragic dropping off. It's easier on the guys to do this because they don't feel the same guilt we do. They just don't. So on my first day back (and all the others so far), my last image of Ben before going to work  is of him playing at home with Dan. Whatever you do - try not to do both the pick up and drop off, unless you are working part-time or something. Doing both would be very hard.

4. Treat Yo'self! (Parks and Rec reference!) There are positive things regarding being back at work, and you should let yourself enjoy them. I work in downtown D.C., and I have a lunch hour. It was strange to be able to do whatever I wanted during my lunch hour without having Ben with me. I walked to Whole Foods and grocery shopped. I met friends for lunch. These things seemed luxurious to do without a baby. My future plans are to use this time for a pedicure as well (wild! I know!). I also am trying to get back into going to the gym in our building during lunch. Now, I realize this tip would be much harder for moms who have professions like teaching or nursing. But, if you can, treat yo'self! 
I'll Be OK Mommy!

5. Realize that your baby is going to be OK. No one is going to love and care for Ben like I do. He's my flesh and blood. To me, he's perfect and adorable. BUT, I'm not the baby whisperer, and I'm not perfect. I wasn't playing with him every single second during my maternity leave. Not every moment with me was a high quality moment. Other people can care for him, and his quality of life is not going to drastically go down. Of course, you want to make sure you trust and like those people, but that goes without saying.

6. Go ahead. Call. Don't feel guilty about calling and checking up on your baby those first few days. Any good childcare provider is used to this and will not make you feel bad. It was a relief to know that he had just finished a bottle, was playing happily, had a good nap, etc.

7. Realize that something's gotta give. Life is not going to be like it was before you had a baby. Something is going to have to be pushed aside to make room. One of the things for us was Shelby's evening walks. Before Ben, I would get home every evening and take Shelbs for a walk. I don't do that anymore. She still gets a walk during the day, and she has a yard to run about in, so she is not neglected in the slightest. Also, about half of the time, Dan and I don't eat dinner together. High quality dinners during the week are nonexistent. If I have time to take a bath at night, it is not nearly as long and luxurious as it used to be. Dan had to adjust his running schedule big time. Down the road, when Ben gets older, maybe we can incorporate some of this stuff back. But for now, hasta la vista.

8. This is your life now. Own it. Goodbye guilt! If only it were that easy. I am still working on this one. But here is the thing - I've made my choices, my life is what it is. I need to stop feeling guilty and apologizing for it and just live it. If you are truly unhappy, then examine your life to see where you can make changes - maybe a different work schedule, working from home, or trying your hardest to budget so you can stay home altogether. But if you are not truly unhappy or if you don't have any other options, stop second guessing yourself, because it won't accomplish anything.

That's all I've got! Notice I didn't put anything up there about cooking meals ahead or something. That is because I didn't do that. I'm sure it is a good tip, and it would have been awesome to have some easy meals ready for me. BUT, I am not a cook giant meals and freeze them kind of person. I'm just not efficient like that and never got around to it. So I can't give that advice.

Good luck to anyone reading this and going back to work! It's not easy, but what is? But people do it everyday, so you can too.