Thursday, May 24, 2012

The three month check-in.

Cross posted at Salt and Nectar
Well, three months in, and everyone is still alive.

And I could say that the reason I haven't been writing about it more frequently is because I'm busy (I am), that I'm exhausted (oh, my god), that when I have a moment of free time all I want to do is sit on the couch and veg out (with wine). But really, I think the real reason I've had such a hard time finding the words to share the past 12 weeks is because I've had more postpartum than I'd like to admit. And certainly more than I want documented online for my son to one day potentially read. While I know the kind thing to do would be share it with you in the case that you have or will one day feel the same and know you aren't alone, I just can't.

But I've struggled. A lot. With emotions and feelings that I didn't want to have or share or be judged by, no matter how common this 'side-effect' may be. The bottom line, however, is that my son is perfect, and beautiful, and awesome, and all I want to do is make sure he knows that his father and I will do—and always have done—anything and everything needed to make sure he knows that we're in his corner. Cause, seriously, look at this guy.

So. That said. Moving on.

Looking back at all the research and judgmental observation of other parents we did while I was pregnant, no one just came out and told me what we really needed to hear. And so I'll say it.

Put the pile of books down. Stop worrying about what kind of schedule you're going to put a tiny, helpless human who has been in the world for mere days or weeks on. Stop judging other parents because they are doing it "wrong," because they're doing what they have to do to survive. Seriously. And stop listening to what worked for your best friend/aunt/mom/grandma/neighbor/stranger at the grocery store. Because what you think will happen is not going to happen.

You hear me? It's. Not. Going. To. Happen. You are not in control of this situation. You will never be in control of this situation. I thought I'd be relinquishing some control, sure. And then the boss showed up and let me know I was just a fool for having any preconceived notions at all.

My child was not going to use a pacifier. 
And then, on the second night of nonstop crying unless he was being nursed, the nurse informed me he was likely using me as a pacifier. If I wanted to get any sleep at all, she recommended the real thing. I refused, because the book* said not to introduce them before 4 weeks. About 4 days and numerous crying fits (mine, not his) later, I realized I couldn't act as a human pacifier if I wanted to function in the world, and I caved. Nipple confusion, my ass...he still nurses just fine, thank you.

*"The book" refers to any number of books. No need to be specific, because this was always my answer: "But the book says to..."

My child was not going to sleep in our room. He has his own room and a monitor for a reason. Sleep in our bed? Not a chance.
And then, when every peep he made the first night home had me in his room, peering at this tiny little thing in his giant crib wondering if he was ok, it was quickly clear that he needed to be in our room. But as we had no bassinet, we had to fashion a makeshift bed for him (and found a second use for his changing table pad), which we placed between our heads. And then we all slept.

When we bought him a bassinet the next day, after five minutes of sleep he promptly decided that was enough, and the screaming began. And the only way I could get him back out was in the crook of my arm in my bed. Which is precisely where he stayed the next 11 weeks until he decided the Rock and Play next to the bed would suffice. His crib is the next step at a time.

I didn't need my mom the first week. 
But she came anyway. And then one night she wordlessly took the crying child from me as I paced the house, sat up with him from 2-5 am, and I remembered what it was like to sleep during those hours. The next day, she cleaned my house and went grocery shopping. Again. My mom is awesome.

I'd just sleep when he sleeps.
Ha. Hahahahahahaha. Right. This has got to be the single Worst. Piece of Advice. Ever. This child didn't sleep during the day for the first 10 weeks (note: no, this does not mean he slept better during the night), and if he did, it wasn't more than half hour at a time. (It's still only half hour at a time, but at least now we're up to 4 or five naps a day). So how exactly does that give me time to sleep? You at some point have to feed yourself. A non-toasted plain bagel is not exactly the type of meal I was used to. It's no wonder I lost 17 pounds the first week.

And a shower is nice. Shampooed hair is nicer. Blow-dried clean hair totally wins. And since our moms can only visit for a day or so at a time, I've been pretty much on my own to do basic house stuff the rest of the time. Laundry has to get done. (Mine can wait, but this kid knows how to crap his way through multiple outfits a day.) Dishes need to be washed (not optional. We don't have a dishwasher.) Anything that isn't baby centric needs to happen. Cause hello, if I have a half hour to myself, I'm not about to sleep through it.

So what have I learned the past 3 months? Basically, that this is hard. Like, hard in ways I didn't know were possible. Breastfeeding alone is an 8+ hour day (at least the first couple of months—by now we're down to 5 to 6 hours a day. I know because I have an app that times it. Obviously.) Every moment of the day is consumed by the need to care for someone else. And sure, some babies sleep through the night by the second week, nap constantly, or only eat for 10 minutes a side. Some babies only poop once a day—or every three days—by six weeks. Some babies are, well, boring. But E is so, so not that baby.

He is, however, a champion at the toothless grin. He's crazy strong and frustrates himself by constantly trying to sit up by himself. He thinks it's hilarious when I sing Jack Johnson songs to him. He talks constantly. He loves bath time. His favorite thing to cuddle with is whatever t shirt I slept in the night before. He knows that the best time to ruin a diaper is the minute I've put on a clean one. Or, even better, when I hand him to Daddy.

So we're learning. Every day is different, and every day is a challenge. But we're hanging in there.
Happy three months, Mister Man.

Friday, May 11, 2012

I will chop and you will like it.

When I hear the phrase 'primary caregiver', I can't help but think it sounds like 'only' caregiver. Obviously I know what primary means—and as the parent who is home all day with Lil'E, I am the one who does the bulk of the job. But there are two of us, so I hate having the "primary" title. I'm not sure what my point is here...I guess I find it unfair to hubby when he does his (almost) fair share. And when hubby is home, it's definitely nice to have someone there to pass the baby to.

Basically, I need a break by 5pm, so I'm glad Hubby's hands-on. He comes home for lunch most days, but it's usually when E is eating, so I still only get a few minutes of baby-free time before he has to head back. So when he gave me a hard time about spending 'too long' making a couple of new recipes for dinner, I was a bit put-off, I gotta be honest. An hour by myself in the kitchen is like an hour in my own private little oasis. I'm sorry if the baby is fussy for you for an hour, honey. He's been fussy/attached to me for the past 4 hours straight. You can handle it. Me? I'm gonna go get lost in some chopping.

These are great Indian recipes for if you want something different and crazy flavorful but without a whole lot of work (no matter what your spouse thinks)—they have lots of ingredients, but most are spices.
Indian Tomato Chicken (Tamatar Murghi)
Half a large brown onion, coarsely chopped
4 cloves garlic
About a 1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and thickly sliced
Olive oil
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp cardamom
1 inch of a cinnamon stick, crushed (or a good dash of ground)
1/2 tsp all spice
2 bay leaves
1/4 tsp nutmeg
Boneless, skinless chicken thighs (6-8, less if you have a small pan)
1 can diced tomatoes

In a blender or food processor, combine onion, garlic and ginger, and pulse/process til smooth. (Or you can dice everything if you don't have a processor) Heat about a tbsp of oil in large saute pan (the biggest you have) over medium high. Add onion paste and saute about 10 minutes. Add all the spices and cook another couple of minutes.

Add chicken and turn it over/move around until each piece is coated in spice mixture. Try to have them touching but not overlapping in the pan. Pour in the can of tomatoes (with juice) and about a 1/4 cup of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to medium low and cover. Cook 45 minutes, then remove lid and cook another 45 minutes. The sauce should be really thick-only add a tiny bit of water if it looks like it may burn.

Potatoes and Cauliflower (Gobi Aloo) 
Olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 small piece ginger (1/2 inch), peeled and minced
2 large russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp paprika
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp garam masala
salt to taste
About 1 pound cauliflower, chopped into bite-sized pieces
Big pinch chopped fresh cilantro (plus more to serve)

Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Sautee garlic and ginger about a minute, then add the potatoes. Stir in turmeric, paprika, cumin, garam masala, and 1/4 tsp salt. Cover and cook another 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the cauliflower and cilantro into the saucepan and toss everything to get the cauliflower as coated as you can. Reduce heat to low and cover. Stirring occasionally, continue cooking 10 minutes, or until potatoes and cauliflower are tender. Add salt to taste.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

I love deceptively simple dinners.

As my entire life revolves around what time Lil E needs to be fed (every two hours during the day. Still.) I either have to plan dinners that I can prep in advance or that take next to no time to throw together.

This pork roast looked and tasted far more involved than it was-I just whisked together the glaze ingredients and salad dressing, boiled and drained potatoes, then got the meat in the oven before I sat down with him. By the time the Worlds Longest Eater was done, so was everything else-I put Hubby in charge of checking the meat, and it came out perfectly.

All I had to do was mash potatoes, slice the pork, and chop an apple, and dinner was on the table. You can use lamb for this, or substitute plain apricot or other preserves if you prefer.

Apricot-Pineapple Pork Roast
2 lb pork roast (or bigger. Or smaller. Whatever.)
1/2 cup pineapple/apricot preserves
Good squirt brown mustard (less than a tbsp)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp soy sauce (low sodium)
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

Combine preserves, garlic, mustard, soy and Worcestershire. Sprinkle roast well with cinnamon, salt and pepper. Cook at 350 for approx 30 min, then brush with glaze. Cook another 10-20 minutes or until 145 inside (Approx. 20 min a pound. Or be lazy like me and buy a roast with one of those magic pop-out things in it). Remove, brush with more glaze, and let sit, covered, for 10 minutes before slicing.

Serve with more glaze on top. I placed on a simple sweet potato mash (sweet potatoes cooked in salted water and then mashed with margarine) and a salad with apples, cranberries, goat cheese and homemade apricot-pineapple vinaigrette (equal parts preserves, olive oil and apple cider vinegar plus some fresh pepper and a dash of mustard.)