Monday, October 26, 2015

Lessons Learned: Baby Edition

I know, I know...the baby is napping, so I should be napping.  Unfortunately, I am truly horrible at napping/day sleeping.  To be fair, I did lay down on the couch & close my eyes for a little while.

So instead, I'll take a quick moment to start an update about Baby J (whether I'll be able to finish it before he wakes up from his nap is a different story).  Today is the first day The Hubs went back to work, so it's my first day completely alone with him.  A little terrifying.  But we've made it almost until Daddy's Home Time, so unless something truly horrible happens in the next hour, I'd call that a success.  Today (aside from eating and diaper changes) mostly consisted of him napping on me while I watched Treme or read Andy Weir's "The Martian".  I anticipate many similar days in the next few weeks--hopefully with a few walks in there if the weather cooperates.  Tomorrow is his "2 week appointment" (which actually falls on his 3 week birth-iversary) so we'll see how well he's growing.

In those 3 weeks, we've learned a few things:

1. Mom (aka me) is not allowed to eat beans until we stop breastfeeding.  Baby bean farts are TRULY atrocious. (Hilarious, but atrocious.)

2.  When they tell you your baby's poop will become "yellow & seedy"...they're not lying.  And even my pediatrician doesn't know where the "seeds" come from.  It's a freak of nature.

3. You never imagined how much time you would spend talking about poop & farts with your partner.

4. Don't make a giant batch of lactation cookies until you know whether the brewer's yeast will make your kiddo gassy.  We had a period of about 4 nights where he screamed in pain for about 4-5 hours every night.  I stopped eating the cookies and his nighttime fussiness went down to about 30 minutes an evening.  (If anyone would like a couple dozen balls of frozen lactation cookie dough, let me know.)
He REALLY hates being gassy.

5.  You MUST get out of the house.  You cannot spend a week in your house watching the Game Show Network while holding your kiddo and not expect it to take a mental toll.  Let the hubs or your mother in law or SOMEBODY watch him while you run to the store, or go for a need it.  You've just had a major life change--that takes a while to adjust to. Just 30 minutes to an hour of something "normal" to your "old life" (being alone at Wally-World or strolling through the neighborhood sans kid with my husband) can help with the transition.  

6. The Baby Blues are all too real.  For me, it hit the worst during those 4 nights of fussiness mentioned under #4.  I didn't even realize it was happening until I found myself crying while nursing the little man--tears rolling down my cheeks as I whispered "Mommy loves you..." (not 100% sure that I believed it myself.)  My mom was here two of those nights and could really see how hard it was affecting us.  It's a good time to implement #5 (the first time, it was just a run to Walgreens to pick up photos for our baby book).  It's also a really great time to get a hug from your mom.  

7.  I remember reading somewhere before the baby came that it's okay to not have an "instant bond" with your little one.  That's really reassuring, because as much as I love this tiny thing we created, there are moments when he's fussing or when he refuses to sleep that I wonder "was this worth it?"  I know in the long run that it will be...but right now when there's so little direct interaction between us (aside from nursing), it can be easy to feel less like a loving mother and more like a cow that needs to be milked every 2 hours.  
Milk wasted.

8.  My husband is amazing.  I knew that before the baby, of course, but I know it better now.  I'm not sure how the stereotype of the "clueless husband" started, but I would be lost without my hubs.  We tag team the baby when he's fussy, we take turns getting meals ready, he helps with laundry & all the housework....he plays with Baby J and makes sure to fit in tummy time...watching them interact just melts my heart.  

9.  My mom and my mother in law are also both amazing.  They live 2 hours away, but have still made an effort to each come down at least once a week so we can get a bit of a break and they can get Grandparent Time in.  My MIL is coming down this Thursday so The Hubs & I can go to Red Lobster for Endless Shrimp...I anticipate it being the highlight of my week. :)
My mom--pillow for babies and pugsters.

10.  Our FRIENDS are amazing.  We only had to cook once in the first 3 weeks of being home.  So many people have stopped by with meals and to meet our little man.  I'm sure that a combination of #8-10 are the reasons I've been healing as well as I have.

11.  Watching what you eat during the first & second trimesters seriously paid off for me.  I've still got about 12 lbs to lose, but I already fit back in my pre-baby jeans (granted--those jeans were about a size too big since I bought them when I was TRYING to get preggers).  That's not bragging--I'm sure I just have some good genes or something, but not having to go through the awkward "having to wear maternity clothes even though the baby is on the outside" thing has helped combat the Baby Blues.  I was pretty irregular about working out during my pregnancy, but for the first 6 months I was really diligent about wearing my FitBit and logging my food, making sure I got 75g of protein each day & staying within my allotted calories.  I was FAR less diligent during the last trimester (because I was hot & miserable and NEEDED all of those slushies, darnnit!) but it didn't seem to affect much by that point.

12.  I have never been happier to fit in all of my shoes again.  During the last trimester I was limited to about 3 pairs of shoes because my feet were so swollen.  Now, I'm like "WEAR ALL THE SHOES!!!!"  Except the flip-flops.  I may never wear the flip-flops ever again.

13.  I now totally understand why yoga pants and stretchy tanks are the uniform of the mom.  Whatever's comfy and makes feeding easy.

14.  Boppys make great couch-napping pillows (or "just resting your eyes" pillows).

15.  The Boba wrap is really intimidating, but CAN be mastered.  Though I think it's best for wearing around the house, or out for a walk that starts at your house.  The idea of taking the baby somewhere in the car seat, then wrapping the 20 feet of fabric around me while standing outside my car, just to go to the grocery store for 15 minutes seems excessive.  I'll probably wait til Lil' Man is big enough to fit in our Snugly before I try using a carrier at the store.

Previous Adventures:
Birth Story

Related Adventures:
Mom Guilt Edition
Working Mom Edition
Things That Suck
Traveling For The Holidays
Living In The Moment

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Welcome Baby J! (Birth story)

So it may be a little while before I start posting regularly again, thanks to the arrival of this lil' man...
He arrived October 6 and we have been busy loving on him ever since.
"Hi folks."

I started laboring that Monday night, with contractions ranging between 10-30 minutes apart.  After I got out of bed, they started stabilizing to about 10-15 minutes apart.  The Hubs (who works from home/his car) had work appointments scheduled nearby in the area, so he was texting me after each appointment to check in.  He stopped back by the house around 11:30 for lunch and I was still at about 8-9 minutes apart. I had been sitting around, but once I started walking around the house (doing laundry, loading the dishwasher, watering plants, etc), everything ramped up quick.  Finally I texted the Hubs at 12:30 to let him know he needed to head home so we could head to the hospital, since my contractions were about 6-7 minutes apart & had been that way for about 30 minutes.  He zoomed back & picked me up...but unfortunately he still had one quick appointment about 5 minutes from our house.  It was just to pick up a title from a claimant, so we zoomed over there (Note:  Curvy roads & contractions don't mix.)  

He had told her we were headed to the hospital (let's hope he gets some good customer service reviews for keeping that appointment with his laboring wife in the back seat) so she hopped out of her car at the meetup and told us "Congratulations!"  I winced a "thank you" mid-contraction, they wrapped things up in under a minute, and then we raced off to the hospital.  The Hubs was praying we'd get there in time for me to get my epidural, otherwise he'd be in some really hot water. :)

We got to the hospital about 1:30, checked in (Note: women in active labor should not be allowed to fill out paperwork--apparently I accidentally checked that I had both smoked & drank during my pregnancy.  I misread the questions and thought it was asking if I had EVER smoked or drank.  Whoops.  Thankfully my nurse rectified it later in the system for me while I was in recovery.)

They checked me out & I was dilated to 5cm, so they admitted me and "whisked" me off to Labor & Delivery (the whisking never seems quite fast enough when you're mid-contraction).  They hooked me up to an IV (gotta have a full bag of fluids in you before an epidural can be administered) and did a blood draw (also related to the epidural)...and then it was a matter of waiting for all that to come back before they could page the anesthesiologist.  Twice.  Then she finally showed up (that wonderful lady) and hooked me up.  Aaand while I had hoped for the "immediate relief" that was promised in my prenatal classes, she then told me it would take about 3-4 contractions for it to fully kick in.  So the suffering continued...but after about half an hour it had dissipated & was very manageable.   (There might have been a few extra clicks of the button in there as well. Yay drugs!)

My doc came in & checked things out--I was up to 7cm & my water broke while he was checking.  He guesstimated that I should deliver around 9pm....Aaaaand then apparently had to leave the hospital from 5-6pm for some reason (I was not consulted in the matter).  My RN was concerned because the baby's heart rate was dropping during contractions & he wasn't tolerating some of the positions they put me in well (they turn you pretty frequently when you have an epidural).  She checked me again & I was at 8cm.  That's about the time that WE all realized my doctor was no longer in the they had to track down a sub. She came in to check things out, while the RN's were on the phone with my doc who was reportedly "15-20 minutes away".  And then about 20 minutes later...he was still "15-20 minutes away".  The sub doc decided to use one of the little "skull probes" since the fetal monitors weren't getting good readings--but everything was A-OK.  However, things had progressed to the point that the sub doc felt we should go ahead & push.  Ten minutes later, our sweet little man was here...immediately after which, MY doc walked through the door.  Whoops--missed out on all the fun!  He told us he got stuck behind a "slow Taurus".  He went ahead & finished up with the gross, less fun portion of delivery (placenta, stitches) while I got to meet the newest member of our family.
Since I was pretty much completely numb from the waist down, I got to hang out in the delivery room for about 2 hours while they bathed, weighed, and checked our our wee lil' man (100% perfect!) and then passed him around for pics with docs, grandparents and daddy.
There was much paparazzi-ing...
And the Hubs & I FINALLY got to eat some food...
(Mmm... hospital chow...)
Then we paraded our way up to the recovery room (me being wheeled up in a bed, since my legs still didn't really work).  Our hospital practices "rooming-in", meaning Baby J would be staying with us for the entirety of our 48 hour stay--no well-baby nursery.  That was a bit intimidating--alone in a big room, me with only partially working legs, two exhausted adults with absolutely no idea what they're doing.  However, the first night Baby J was having a bit of trouble maintaining body temp, so  they actually ended up taking him down to the NICU for a few hours to put him under the warmers & run a few tests.  Everything came back okay, and it also allowed us to actually get a few hours of sleep.  He was very drowsy the next day too from the Tylenol they gave him during his circumcision, which allowed us to nap a bit more.  (Sleep is SUCH a precious thing--never take it for granted.)

BUT he perked right up after the Tylenol wore off, which meant a very fussy, hungry night our second evening in the hospital.  It sounds awful, but there were a few moments I remember wishing his body temp would drop again so they could take him down to the nursery so we could get a little rest. (Bad mommy, I know.)  

Our last day in the hospital I got to meet with a lactation consultant, who helped us find a good nursing position and get him to latch on (he was developing a preference for only one side--ironically, now 2 weeks later, the side he didn't want to nurse on is now the side that produces more.  Go figure.)  

Finally got to go home around 5pm on Thursday...which is terrifying in itself.  You mean I have to take this thing home and try to keep it alive without medical personnel at my beck & call, where I can over-Google every little thing and freak myself out? Yipe.

At home, the Pugster was waiting for us, having been cared for by Grandma & Grandpa while we were at the hospital.  So, we then had to introduce him to the new "bald puppy".  He was confused, anxious, curious...I'm pretty sure he thought we'd brought him a new toy that he's not allowed to touch.  He's acclimated well over the last couple weeks, but still demands to be in one of our laps any time they are not previously occupied.
Just chillin' as a family...check out my son already judging me for taking selfies.

It's been a whirlwind of learning and tears (not all belonging to the baby), and hard to believe it's been 2 weeks...and yet still intimidating to know that I have 10 weeks of leave left, and my helpful hubby starts back to work next week, leaving me alone to try not to accidentally kill this kiddo.  The days zoom by, and yet there are times I think about how long it will be until he hits milestones (holding his head up, actual non-poop smiles, having a more developed digestive system, sleeping through the night) and it feels like it will never get here.  But all the same, I adore our new little addition and am super-excited to see how he grows throughout the years.
So tiny he can use a burp rag as a blanket.

Previous Adventures:
Completed Nursery

Friday, October 2, 2015

Shrimp & Andouille Jambalaya Risotto

A couple years ago I posted about a really delicious gumbo risotto recipe that I tested out & fell in love with.  This time, I decided to try it with jambalaya instead.  I prefer a "cajun-style" jambalaya (read: no tomatoes) that gets most of its flavor from the roux and the meat--however, with a risotto, you're typically not making a roux beforehand.  Not to fear--dry roux powder is here!  I love this stuff & use it frequently--it's a pantry staple at our house, even though I have to buy it while I'm down in Louisiana.  If you can find it in your supermarket, I highly recommend picking some up...if you can't put it at the top of your souvenir list next time you're near the Gulf. (Their brown gravy mix is also a staple at our house.)

You could easily make this as a chicken & sausage risotto instead, but I had shrimp onhand so that's what I went with.

SIDENOTE: In retrospect, I'm not sure why I decided to make a risotto, which requires hovering over a pot for about 30-45 minutes, while 39 weeks preggo.  My feet were sore & swollen by the time we were ready to eat.  The next time I make this I will definitely make sure to NOT have a bun in the oven.  Risotto requires some maintenance to make sure it doesn't burn, but the end result is creamy & delicious & totally worth it.  Between the Cajun seasoning & the jalapeno, ours had a perfect amount of heat for my taste, but if you prefer milder flavors, you can omit the jalapeno--or add a second one if you like it super-spicy.

INGREDIENTS: (makes 6-8 servings)
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 links of andouille sausage (approx 1/4 lb each), or 4 links of Johnsonville New Orleans Andouille Style smoked sausage (this is what most folks can easily find at their grocers and I think it tastes great--and no, that's not a paid endorsement.)
1 onion, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
1 jalapeno, seeded & diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1-2 Tbsp minced garlic
1 Tbsp dry roux powder
1 Tbsp Cajun seasoning of your choice (you already know my personal favorite)
3 Tbsp butter (we use Smart Balance spread)
2.5 cups arborio rice
30 oz beef stock (or 4 beef bouillon cubes + 32 oz of water)- low sodium if possible
1 cup water, if needed (you can alternately use dry white wine if you like)
2 green onions, sliced, plus 1 more for garnish
1/2 lb medium shrimp, peeled & tails removed
black pepper & parsley, to taste

In a large dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Once up to temp, add the sausage, vegetables, garlic, roux powder, and cajun seasoning.  Once the veggies begin to soften and caramelize, add the butter and stir until melted.

Lower the heat to medium-low and add the rice, stirring well.  Let the rice "toast" for about 3 minutes while stirring. Now begin adding the beef broth--just enough at a time to keep the consistency somewhat liquid and stirrable.  As the mixture thickens & absorbs the broth, add more.  Stir frequently and repeat the addition of broth to keep it from burning--approximately 1/2 cup at a time.

When you add the last of the broth, also add the 2 green onions and the shrimp, since these require much less time to fully cook.

When you've used up the broth, taste the rice.  If it's still crunchy, you can start adding some of the water and cook a little bit longer.  Risotto should generally be slightly al dente like pasta, but if you overcook it it will get a bit gummy.  However, much like pasta, this should be done to your taste.  Now is also a good time to check for seasoning & see if you need to add pepper, additional cajun seasoning, etc.

Once the rice is done to your taste, it's ready to serve!  Final consistency should hold together when scooped into a bowl and spread out slightly, but not as thick as say, mashed potatoes.  Top with the remaining green onions & serve!
If you have leftovers, this will thicken in the fridge, so you'll want to add a bit of water before reheating so it's not a solid mass.

NutriFacts: (for 6 servings)
  • Calories534.0
  • Total Fat21.9 g
  • Saturated Fat7.0 g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat2.1 g
  • Monounsaturated Fat3.2 g
  • Cholesterol107.0 mg
  • Sodium1,653.0 mg
  • Potassium151.5 mg
  • Total Carbohydrate67.3 g
  • Dietary Fiber1.0 g
  • Sugars0.7 g
  • Protein19.3 g