Saturday, May 25, 2013

Oh Etsy...

How did I ever survive without Pinterest, Etsy and a smart phone? And maternity leave has been made far better (and more expensive) with my smartphone. The Kindle app is a godsend during marathon nursing sessions. The poor Mac is collecting dust.

I've always dreamed of starting an Etsy store for my yet to be developed crafty skill, but until then, I will just keep others in business. For Christmas I got Eric a key chain with pennies of significant years, and then had them stamped with the corresponding life event:

1981: EST. (born)
2006: I do (married)
2008: Miles (born)
2010: Felix (born)

While I got my keychain at Simply Sweet Studio on Etsy, a friend from my 2010 due date online club has an Etsy shop, and she liked this idea so much, she started doing it herself! So if interested, check her out, too: Simply Stacy Designs.  

Well, we knew that there was going to be a 2013 penny added, but didn't know the name. After Gus's birth, I decided to complete the key chain and get Eric a "I didn't push, but I threw back the leg of my wife who pushed present". You mean you haven't heard of that? It's almost as absurd as an actual "push present." (I think Zales just created the idea that you need to get your partner overly priced jewelry because a healthy baby isn't enough of a gift.) I know. I'm all Judgey McJudgerson. And the truth is, Eric and I purchase a Charley Harper print after each of our child's I guess it's akin to a push present? Judgey Herr Hypocrite. (Snap! That's masculine. Whateves. I may be German, but never took it. Yo lo siento.) For August, we selected the print called "Generation Gap."

So now we have quite the Harper collection and are going to work toward getting it all insured. I've never collected anything outside of grey hairs and dust bunnies, and never insured anything outside of my wedding ring so it all feels rather "adult." But I guess so does pushing 3 kids out of your hoo-ha in less than 5 years. Adult...or maybe sadistic. Jury is still out.

Etsy has also come through for me recently with the purchase of Gus's wedding attire for the upcoming nuptials of family friends. I mean...stop the cuteness! Okay, don't. And all the boys in the family will be wearing bow ties. I may opt for one too as I have yet to find a dress in the depths of my closet that is nursing friendly and can zip up the junk in the hatchback. Sure, that doesn't rhyme, but I'm feeling the junk fits better in a hatchback than a tiny trunk. This little number is from iHearTees. The tie is removable, and I got a matching Nuk clip because I've turned Gus into a paci addict. Yup. I am a paci pusher. 3rd child, folks. Child gotta learn to self soothe with a prop so I can make sure the older two aren't into the tomato knife or helping themselves to races in the street (BOTH of which have happened bee tee dubs).
While Miles's and Felix's bow ties are from Old Navy, I got Eric a bow tie from Etsy as well. Not that he needs another one for his collection, but everyone loves new duds for a wedding! This was from Port Royal Outfitters.

I am excited to see us all as a package/collection. Stay tuned! All 2.5 of you reading. (Hi Mom!)

Etsy has also allowed me not to mourn the loss of the ability to "ooo" and "ahh" over baby/kid clothes. Over the past years, I have turned the dismay at ugly boy clothes into an exciting hunt for cute ones. Because while it takes effort to dress a little girl in ugly clothes (like the loch ness, jury is still out if they exist), I feel it always generates a little extra appreciation and smile when you see a well dressed little boy. And as someone who has purchased 90% of her boys' clothes from consignment and Goodwill, I can tell you that you can do it on a dime, too! But Etsy has also come through for me and others. 

Case in point: this little diddy was from Nuncle and AunT for Felix. And of course, Gus welcomes the hand-me-down. And once his chunk overflows, this will be set aside in the bin in the attic full of cute boy clothes that used to say "future children" that now says "future nephews and friends' children." Okay, it doesn't say either; it says "preemie-3mo" but it implies that. And whoever that boy is, is gonna get one heck of a  hand-me-down wardrobe his entire life if I do say so myself.
 This is my Etsy/Goodwill steal of the century. I got for $1, and it is a cute organic onesie with a felt robot sewn on. Okay, so I don't have confirmation it's from Etsy, but it just screams it, no? Or maybe that is Gus screaming "ROBOT!" Either way, "cute is as cute does."

 I guess it doesn't matter what this kid wears. How can you focus on it with this face?
If I wasn't only 6 weeks out, my uterus might have just sighed and opened for vacancy.


Thursday, May 16, 2013

"Let me clear my throat...ah huh ah huh"

DJ Kool, Bo-yeez!

Um, can we say 1996 classic?
Um, can we say that I shudder using '96 and "classic" in a sentence together?
Um, can we say that I bet your bottom dollar that there are girls born in 1996 who are having babies along side me?

[insert wrinkle reducers and gray hair over here]

Ahem. Let me clear my throat.

I sing this classic diddy most nights when I hear Super Baby two point O (Miles's moniker for August) grunt and hiss and gurgle and speak in tongues. Boy is NOISY! It doesn't bother me in the sense that I panic he is dying from over active gurgle disorder, but it bothers me in that all I can think is, "CLEAR YOUR THROAT, CHILD! you canNOT be getting a good night sleep!" And he's not; my pretty good sleeping baby hit 4-5 weeks and is up every.blessed.1-2 hours. I am just not used to this throat clearing. I keep thinking, "but I don't have babies who grunt at night!"

Huh. Fancy that...these kids, albeit all penised (I created that verb to mean "all boys") and bred from the same genetic stock, are INDIVIDUALS!

It makes motherhood both unpredictably fun, and unpredictably annoying. (ie, you mean [insert technique] doesn't work for this baby?)

Gus is, physically, a great mix of his two brothers. At this point, he is a Felix doppelganger when asleep, and a Miles doppelganger when awake. And all of my boys have amazing hair (well, and cowlicks) and eyelashes. (Girls, be jelly...)

But there are differences...

Boy can SPIT UP! It took me 5 weeks to admit I have a "spitter." I've never had one before. It's not projectile, but as evidence from the picture above, you can be sure I have lactose christened shoulders after almost every feeding. No wonder my husband constantly says, "you smell like milk..."

Boy has got an INNIE belly button. I have to actually clean inside that sucker. After it got rancid his first week (no joke, rotting umbilical cord is RANKTASTIC peeps), I was obsessed with making sure once the stub fell off that the cavern in his belly didn't harbor tasty bacteria slurries. (You are welcome for the mental image).

Boy is a totally different nurser. Miles was the boob hog. (Pantly pull off method please?) Felix was business in the front, acid reflux in the [arched] back. Gus is a gulper. I think he can't handle my letdown, and he also is a victim of the shallow latch (we are working on it). So poor kid gulps so much air, and gets the worst hiccups. But boy can BURP. We are just working on getting him to say "scuse me." Clearly he is well fed, but we are working on stretching out time between feeds because the mammary jungle needs a break.

Boy has some long, narrow feet. Miles has tiny feet (at 5 years old, he wears the same size 9 as his younger brother). Felix has what I lovingly refer to as "paddles" (large and wide), and Gus has feet that I think could play piano.

Boy is chill! Okay, so currently I think we are going through week 5 of the "wonder weeks" and he is exceptionally fussy, but overall he has been an easier baby than the other 2. And doesn't loathe the car seat...yet. I jinxed it.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


Brothuh is gaining weight and taking names.
9 1/2 lbs, folks. PURE BOOB JUICE.

We had a wonderful Mother's Day full of doughnuts, the park, and a mile hike up in Roswell.

No one said this job was easy, but it sure can be fun.

We call him Gus. Or Guster. Or Gus-Gus...or IG baby (ie, instagram baby. Poor kid may never get a real photo from a real camera).

Friday, May 10, 2013

I hate hate

My boys have yet to start throwing around the "eff" bomb or "aitch, eee double hockey sticks", etc, but they know that in our family, the word "hate" is a bad word when used against someone.

They have caught me saying things like "I hate that [fill in the blank with something like pollen on the car]" and reminded me that it is a bad word.

Although, they have started saying "I hate you" to each other in the car. "let he who is without sin, cast the first stone..."

"Hate" truly is a powerful word. I get incensed when I see people picketing funerals with signs that say "God Hates [fill in the blank]."

So with that established, lemme just draw up a little scene from today that I am writing in a fit of anger (read: this may read all wonky and poorly constructed):

I just walked out of Miles's Pre K singing concert where he waved so proudly to us when the school all got up on the risers to sing. And he sat, stone cold straight faced the ENTIRE concert, nervously playing with his shirt and shorts ties. The intensity of both his pride that he was up there (even though not singing) and intensity of his shyness made my heart burst as well as weep. As someone who has graced the stage for more plays than I can count, seeing his nervousness overwhelm him into what looked like a very unhappy boy is extremely hard for me to manage. Especially since the night before he did a full on performance at home with Felix of what he called "The Money Dance." Sometimes...I just want to untangle his DNA and find the spot that reeks of social anxiety and snip it out.

So, walking out with both pride and heartache, Eric, Miles, Gus and I see a family we know very casually and stop to talk. The mother and father of the family congratulated us on the baby and then found out we had another boy in the middle....

...wait for it...wait for it...

the dad said to Eric and me--IN FRONT OF MILES AND GUS (who totally understands English at 1 month):

"3 boys? Wow, God must HATE you!"

I.was.gobsmacked. My heart was already vulnerable, and aren't we in a parking lot of a church? And are you seriously saying this to me in front of 3 of the 4 males in my life?

And then I wanted to say "God hates hate. Boys, let's get the "eff" outta here..."

I have ducked the slings and arrows of insensitive gender comments from friends, family (sadly), and strangers alike since after finding out our 2nd was a boy. And I have had moments of sadness and grief for the missed opportunity for a mother daughter relationship (and the fact that almost all of my closest friends have all girls), but I try not to feel as though it is a failure, let alone that God is punishing me.

I don't care how "in jest" the father was being. What he said was not okay...and although I could go home and bawl and call my mom and process what he said with her, I wonder if Miles heard, but don't dare ask. We are already in the midst of explaining death and God and I don't want to have to explain this lil gem that was said.

On the heels of mother's day, tell your mom how much you (and God) love her.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Gus's Guide

Third Baby.
Third Boy.
I don't need anything new, right? Right?

Well, beside the fact that all of a sudden Miles and Felix are tearing through the knees of all their pants...but let's be fair. 90% of their clothes are consignment, so we are doing pretty well for being on three-peats. 

So, outside of pants, one would think Gus is totally set in the "what I need for the new baby" department. And you are all thinking, "huzzah! A brief post from Ali!"

Sorry folks. Wrong on both accounts.

Y' you know how much things have changed since 2010? I liken the baby product world to electronics. Give it a year, and it's obsolete. And there is no better industry than the baby industry to make you feel like if you don't get the latest and greatest 100% organic-vegan-gluten free [fill in the product], your baby will die from SIDS or lose his chance to be accepted to Harvard.  When in reality, I think it's a slurry of scare tactics and Moms jockeying for position of having the best of the best. And to be honest, with my first, I was like putty in the hands of all the marketing. It was also on the bubble of the BPA-free crisis, and I was dealing with a 33 weeker with whom we had to take special precautions for his health and safety.

Now I feel a little more measured in my approach to all things baby, and have gone from greeting people with a squirt of hand sanitizer, to sucking off my child's pacifier to clean it. And my idea of "need" and "want" has shifted. Additionally, our family has been on a journey of becoming more minimalist, which when you are cramming 5 bodies into a shoebox, becomes imperative.

That being said...Gus hasn't been the victim of all things three-peat, and the baby industry has come up with some really cool new products since both Miles and Felix were infants. 

Here is Gus's guide to products to consider for the infant period. He would write this himself, but since I didn't play him Mozart in the womb, he isn't writing, yet.

Boon Bathtub
For the first two boys, I initially bathed them in the pink basin they give to you in the hospital. Then we graduated to a hard plastic PRIMO Eurobath. It worked okay, but was huge and clunky, and took up residence on the side of the bathroom wall. I'm into lazy easy parenting, and when I saw this, I quickly consigned the Eurobath and purchased the Boon bathtub, which at the time was on sale on Amazon! 

It's awesome. It collapses and hangs up in the tub, and it perfectly cradles my infant with just the right about of water. And it can get bigger for when Gus is sitting up. So I put it in the actual bath (not on the floor like the model below), and fill the tub with about an inch of water. Then I fill the Boon with just a bit of water as well (in the infant position), and put Gus in it. He loves it! Okay. Lie. He HATES the bath, but the Boon makes bath time very quick and efficient. I use the washrag to take clean water from the actual tub, and wash Gus's face and hair etc. This is because Gus is a bath pooper and the idea of giving him a "fecal-oral route" facial is not attractive.
 Photo courtesy of project nursery
Aden and Anais swaddle blankets 
(bee tee dubs, did you know it's pronounced a-nay, and not anus? You're welcome.)
I have more receiving/baby blankets than I know what to do with. Sure, some are warmer, some are perfect for tummy time, but most are perfect for being folded up and put in a basket, never to be used. (Alert--use them to wrap baby presents for other people! Let the over population of blankets be their problem!) Previously, I would never have recommended buying someone a baby blanket (unless handmade), given that I just don't think they are that useful.
And yet...I contend that Aden and Anais blankets are must have. Sure. They are pricey, but they are so versatile. I use one every day for just about everything: nursing cover up, swaddle blanket, car seat cover for the sun, spit up cloth, changing pad... (did you know that 2nd babies don't get their diapers changed on a legit changing pad? And that 3rd babies get most of their diapers changed on Mama's lap?)
The length, the muslin lightweight material, and the general quality can't be beat.

Rock n' play Sleeper
Oh sweet baby Jeebus. This thing is genius. I am sure all the Physical Therapists in the world are cringing, but for those of us with more than 1 child to tend to, this thing is a must. It's lightweight, mobile, and essentially replaces the bouncer, boppy seat, swing, and maybe even the crib (I readily admit Gus slept in it at night for the first 2+ weeks. And slept WELL.) It washes well, and Gus can travel around with me while I do laundry, dishes, etc.
And the bunny ears? I DIE for! (Please tell me you know I am joking. I've looked into seam ripping those suckers off...bunny ears, really Fisher-Price?)
I will acknowledge that it is important to do tummy time and HOLD your baby...and am the first to admit that the majority of naps take place on my chest, but this thing is perfect for holding the infant when you have to be domestic.

Although I do use the A&A swaddle blankets for swaddling quite a bit, I've just started experimenting with the woombie and am quickly going to ebay to find myself some deals and steals on used ones (I am currently borrowing a friend's). It's like the ultimate straight jacket for babies. I have a host of other swaddle-specific blankets, including the miracle blanket and kiddopotamus, but I am here to say the woombie is superior. None of my kids really "like" swaddling, but once they are asleep, I think being swaddled helps them sleep longer. As Eric and I say, they are more "organized". (Totally a residual NICU term from 2008).
Anyone in the market to sell theirs, I know a buyer...
Finally, outside of my boobs, and a few used onesies...this is all that Gus currently requires.

Inquiring minds about diapering: I sold my entire cloth stash over a year ago. Sad! But knew I wouldn't be able to hack it if and when we had a 3rd. So I am back to sposies, and experimenting with using Nature Baby Care Diapers, and so far, so good! I am also a convert to Earth's Best Wipes.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Déjà Boob

Cliff hanger...hanging from a cliff...that's why they call him CLIFF HANGER!

I'm upping my usual $0.25 reward to $0.50 if you can name where that line comes from. And if you don't have cable and have kids under the age of 5, you are in striking position.

I wanted to wait until after Eric had a recent dermatology appointment before posting about my 1 week postpartum PTSD and boob crisis.

I know; what the milk duct am I talking about? Eric/dermatology/PTSD/boobs...

Here me out. I'm not cray-cray. Just cray. Singular.

Ever since Eric's cancer stint, albeit short in duration (and we are 3 years into being cancer free), I think I have a little PTSD and pretty much think everything is cancer.

Miles's swollen lymph nodes behind his ears (that he has had since birth)? Cancer.
Eric's vericocele from a few years back? Cancer.
Felix's crazy eye trick where he shakes his eyes on command? Result of cancer.

I'm just being honest. And it's probably something I should address professionally, and I have actually thought about it. But I'm afraid my paranoia is a result of cancer...or a teratoma. Actually, that's probably a result of the fact I just read Brain on Fire and think I have the protagonist's crazy disease.

>>Tee-o's. READ THE BOOK! It's amaze-balls. And how did I get through 2 other maternity leaves without a smartphone?--holy Kindle. I've already read 3 books, and my favorite has been Brain on Fire. I highly recommend it for those who like medical dramas. And it's nonfiction. Obvi. It's me we are talking about.

Time in.<<

So. Let's start with Eric and his dermatology sitch. He has had this "patch" on his chest for the past few weeks. Anytime he has some aberrant bodily abnormality, I fuh-reak out. His cancer diagnosis was right after I had Felix, so following, right after I had August, I felt a sense of dread in thinking about his patch of unknown origin. Especially because tuff actin' tinactin wasn't helping. (Ie, r/o must be CANCER!)

So he went to the dermatologist this week, and they determined it is contact dermatitis of unknown origin.  Phew! Except...the whole unknown origin thing kinda freaks me out. I mean, I like to know the origin of this stuff so I can avoid it. Right?

Speaking of unknown origin, back to Déjà Boob.

You following? Yeah, didn't think so. But I'm operating off of 2 hours of sleep and a grande Starbucks Misto. (Ie, poor woman's latte. Trust me. It's cheaper and tastes the same. I've got 3 boy mouths to feed. Mama is gonna be poor.)

So, chronology: we win the gold medal in the vagina luge with Gus. We are on cloud nine, go home, and as a breastfeeding mom is wont to do, tap that shiznat. Which for me, includes a lot of manhandling the spigots. (TMI?). And although I still haven't pumped or used bottles, have had to hand express some due to fast letdown and initial engorgement that first week.

Well, as I became acquainted with my old friends, I noticed a very hard lump/nodule/bump on one side. My mom and Eric confirmed it was there, too. You know how sleep deprivation can get you seeing/hearing/feeling things that aren't there. I call it postpartum phantom syndrome. It's in the DSM-V (or should be.)

Also, I know what ducts feel like. And this was no clogged duct. It felt like a bullet lodged in my boob. I have a history of dense tissue and back in 2003, even had a fibroid removed. But this didn't feel like a fibroid or even a cyst to me.

So, my mind went "there" and I scheduled an appt to get bullet boob checked out. My mind and hormones got the best of me for 48 agonizing hours. I didn't eat for about 2 days (I attribute that to the first 5lbs I lost), and went to my appointment...hoping the NP would be all "totally nothing!"

Well, she not only identified my boob bullet, but then also identified about 6 others between my two boobs. (She also asked me if I had a boob job, which Eric and I laughed about. It's just a testament to those of us with dense breast tissue. Apparently it feels like an implant--if only it looked like it.)

And then she scheduled me for an ultrasound ASAP.

I LOST IT IN THE OFFICE. Oh, I was in that office every week for months getting violated with an internal ultrasound, dealing with preterm labor, shots, anxiety...and I didn't shed a tear. But now I was boo-hooing so hard, I couldn't walk out of the office. I started shaking and even contemplated getting a prescription for Xanax for the night. For real. All I could picture was leaving Eric alone with 3 wild boys...and a healthy life insurance policy. (Okay, total lie I have no idea what my life insurance policy is. #ignoranceisbliss)

So fast forward first thing the next day, I'm hanging out with my newborn, husband, and middle aged women at the breast radiology center. Eric and August kindly took an early morning nap in the waiting room while I pumped all the milk out of my boobs behind a dressing curtain and waited for a scan.

Shit. Wasn't I just getting a more fun ultrasound like 2 weeks ago looking at Gus all mangled in my ute? Granted, the ultrasound jelly here was warmed, but give me the cold jelly and baby image over boob tissue any day.

The tech left to go show the radiologist.


Where the hell is everyone? They are contacting the hem/onc department--I know it. And I'm doomed.

Wait and text my best friend and Eric in a panic. 

In walks THREE PEOPLE. Nothing ever good happens when the tech comes back with the radiologist and health professional of unknown origin (HPUO).  (Taking the theme of unknown origin too far?)

I think the HPUO was a resident. But I totally blacked out when the radiologist said she wanted to take some of her own images, so I can't be sure. She started scanning me and here is the thing...we all felt the bullet in my boob, but it did not show up on ultrasound. And she scanned all quadrants and then I started crying. Because, well, I was 1 week postpartum and getting my boobs ultrasounded (made up verb) and they couldn't find everything because this cancer was one wily SOB and mutated into a form that can't be picked up by ultrasound. PTSD y'all.

So she kept saying that it all looked like normal breast tissue and I had one large cyst. And that I needed to just monitor and follow-up with my OB.

Diagnosis: palpable mass of unknown origin that is not visible upon ultrasound. (Ie, as my OB said, "chill the 'explitive' out. It's nothing to worry about." Okay, he didn't say that but that's what my mind wants to remember.)

So I am learning to be okay with all this unknown origin business. I'm learning to trust that Eric's skin issue and my boob issues are nothing. I'm learning to accept the fact that there can be more than one leap from odd bodily issue to cancer.

And I'm learning to believe that sometimes life repeats itself, but sometimes, it's not Groundhog's day...and I'm not destined to spend my maternity leave dealing with another health crisis.

I'm learning to release my cancer anxiety of KNOWN origin and enjoy the fact that I have one squishy baby who needs a present Mama...and her bullet boobs.