Monday, December 11, 2017

A Star Wars Baby Shower

Last month, my mother and sister hosted a baby shower for our growing family in my parents' home in Indiana.  Given our nursery's space and sky theme, as well as our baby's unique middle name, my sister decided that a Star Wars theme was in order!

From the food to the Pinterest-inspired diaper cake to the favors, there were little elements of the movies everywhere.  It was definitely cute and fun.

Most of the photos I have are from my sister's instant film camera.  It was really nice to have friends and family together in one place (with lots of kids!) to celebrate.  We've been blessed with such generosity from everyone since they found out we were expecting.

I'm thankful to our family for their support.  Not only were they in attendance, but gifts from as far as NY and PA also made their way to the shower, and our apartment office thinks we are crazy with the amount of packages coming in from family and friends near and far.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Pregnancy: Things I've Learned in My First 7 Months

I'm officially in my 3rd trimester of this first-ever pregnancy, and it has been an adventure.  I mean, first off, nobody tells you (or most don't) how gross it is in general, including much of that first trimester feeling like a hangover or flu hit you.  Or how much it sucks when you catch a cold and can't take much to help it.  Or how your body is gonna change beyond the iconic "I'm a goddess with a bump" ways.

Our pregnancy announcement

Some women just love being pregnant.  Some women are more forthcoming with info than others too.  I think you need to find some close friends who aren't going to sugarcoat things for you, otherwise you start Googling things about your boobs and pray that your browser history doesn't incriminate you in the future.  (P.S. As much as I dislike Jenny McCarthy's pseudoscience influence on the world, her old book Belly Laughs is probably one of the most honest, funny accounts I've read of pregnancy to date.)

Here are a few things I've learned along the way, from the perspective of a first-timer...
  • Surrender now, versus later.  This is something I've done somewhat unwillingly as I'm a "planner" at heart, but it's just the reality I've come to accept.  I have had to surrender to the idea that I have no idea what I'm in for as a first-time Mom.  Every person has a different pregnancy, birth, and parenting experience.
    • When people ask me about my birth plan, I tell them, "I want a healthy baby to exit my body.  I have my personal preferences as to how I'd like it to go, but I'm not married to them so long as I get that healthy baby to exit my body, which is childbirth no matter what happens."  I'm the same way about my breastfeeding/nursing plan.  I'm going to do my best to keep that baby healthy and fed and see how it all goes.  No set expectations.
    • Bad, scary things can happen at any time.  I held off posting photos or nursery prepping for a while, because we know people who've miscarried, had stillbirths, post-partum infant loss, etc.  But then I realized, I need to surrender these fears so I can feel a little joy about this baby!  This is only my second pregnancy blog post, believe it or not!
    • It was actually hard for me to surrender a little of my independence, like not being able to reach into the washer to get things anymore, or lift things and carry stuff, etc.  My old Army attitude of, "Let me carry my own weight!" really kicked in.  But now I see I have some physical limitations and need to just let people help me.  It's kind of nice, even though it makes me feel a bit helpless.

  • Keep the advice you want, release the advice you don't.  This is paraphrased advice that my grandmother gave to women in my family, and I think it's what she would tell me today too.  Certainly be a sponge and absorb as much as possible, but like I posted earlier in my "getting pregnant" post, you're going to get tons of conflicting, often unsolicited, advice.
    • One incident that stands out in my mind was when I posted a photo of Dan assembling our crib on my personal Facebook.  Many of the comments and texts/feedback I received were along the lines of:  Haha, he'll never sleep there, you know nothing.  My kid never used a crib.  What, you're not co-sleeping?  Here are the thousands of reasons why you're doing things wrong and you haven't even given birth yet.  Whether they realized it or not, even if I was just feeling particularly sensitive that day, they crushed my joy of just having this tangible "thing" in our nursery.  Or rather, I let them crush my joy.  I'll never forget that, and how I should learn to just let that stuff roll off my back.
    • Balance what people tell you with doing your own research and reading.  I'm a reader/researcher at heart, so I just kind of absorb it all right now.  It's kind of nice to sit quietly and read a book while I can and take or leave the advice in silence.
    • You don't have to answer everyone's questions.  There are so many hot-button topics in the world of babies these days, from vaccinations to circumcision to diapering to feeding... sometimes it's best to just say, "My husband and I are keeping that to ourselves; we'll make the decision together."

  • Give in to maternity clothes before you are willing to admit you need them.  I've observed some bragging where women are like, "Oh, I was able to wear my normal clothes my whole pregnancy!" or "I'm 8 months pregnant, and this shirt isn't even maternity!"  And so I felt this sort of pressure for a while to squeeze into my regular clothes so that I didn't have to admit that I was already wearing maternity clothes at X weeks pregnant.  But then I realized I was going to Arizona and Disney in August/September and needed some shorts for the hot weather, and I don't really own shorts.  So I bought maternity jorts (LOL), my first foray into maternity clothes, and I was like OMG WHY DIDN'T YOU PEOPLE TELL ME THIS STUFF IS THE SH*T, I SHOULD HAVE BEEN BUYING MATERNITY WAY SOONER!
    • Maternity underwear is awesome sauce, y'all.  This is one place where I wish I'd gone sooner, because my regular undies were either constricting or rolling down as the belly grew.  I got these cotton undies from Amazon, in like XXXL because the sizing is for fairies or something, and I wear them EVERY DAY under the belly with glee.  Also, buy panty liners.  Just trust me, I'm not getting into it, just do it and surrender (see?  back to that number one bullet).
    • Dresses and shirts you can often stretch into later trimesters, but pants are where you'll have to give in first.  I always recommend that you sit down in your non-maternity pants before leaving the house, especially for office girls like me, to make sure you aren't starting to feel constricted.  Once you start to feel constricted, it's time to cave in to the pants.  I've found I like leggings and ponte knit pants the best, because the denim and trouser type pants I've picked up tend to sag and need to be pulled up all the time, like you're wearing a d*mn tube top.

My grandmother insisted that I needed a rest during my sister's wedding reception.

  • Invest in multi-tasking clothes and underwear to save money.  Maternity clothes, like everything related to weddings and babies, are relatively expensive.  So one thing I did was realize that I'd need some clothes that are work appropriate but also functional post-partum (i.e. breastfeeding and pumping).  When my bras started to feel uncomfortable/small, I bought nursing bras that would work for me post-partum and started wearing those.  Nobody knows (until you blog about it!) and you'll be able to use them beyond pregnancy.  (These nursing bras on Amazon are basically 3 for $20.)  I also only buy dresses and tops that friends confirm are going to work for nursing/pumping, i.e. cross-front tops.  I've been buying knit dresses and tops from a seamstress that have gone from pre-pregnancy to 3rd trimester, because her other customers have said they work for them.  The Pink Blush dresses I wore for my sister's wedding were designed to be worn pregnant or not, so those purchases definitely felt like investments versus a waste of money!

  • Graciously accept hand-me-downs, but say no when you need to!  If you're lucky, your friends will hand down some freebies to you that will be useful.  A maternity winter coat was a really great thing to get, and we even got a free bouncer.  Sometimes the baby clothes won't fit your "vision" for how you'd shop for the baby yourself, but when you think about how much the kid just gonna barf on things (or worse) you realize you'll be happy to have some clean clothes to change him into that don't cost you anything.  Even though I don't really watch sports, and so much for little boys seems to be sports-related, my "Future MVP" is gonna wear that hand-me-down football onesie.
    • I found that establishing my own personal rules for receiving used items was helpful.  For example, I don't accept hand-me-down "loans" where I have to keep track of who gave me what and get it back to them in shipshape.  You shouldn't have to waste precious Mommy brain cells figuring out which items are loaners and worry about them staining or breaking!  I also want the freedom to donate what I don't want to use or keep, without judgment.  I live in a two-bedroom apartment, so I just don't have space to keep it all.
    • If you've got your hopes up that you'll get something new as a gift, just be honest and tactful with your friend.  You deserve new things too!  Maybe you really have your heart set on adorable crib sheets to fit your safari nursery theme, so you don't want your friend's nautical themed ones, no matter how much she insists you need them.  Just let her know that you believe you have some coming as a gift, and that you're grateful she offered.  It's your baby, your nursery, your call.

Oh, and this doesn't have anything to do with the above pregnancy tips, but I finally found a body pillow that works for me!  I'm a back sleeper, so transitioning to my side for sleeping was not fun at all.  I used one of those giant body pillows, but as I tossed and turned I found I just didn't get a good night's sleep with it at all.  During a business trip, I was piling pillows around me at the hotel, and I realized that I like having a sort of "hug" from pillows wedged under both my back and belly.  I found this pillow on Amazon that connects two wedges with adjustable fabric, and it has been PERFECT for me.  It's also much more portable, so I've been able to take it with me while traveling.  My sleep is soooo much better, and it doesn't shift when I switch sides in the middle of the night.  I have seen individual wedges sold, but not another one that connects like this.

So yeah, that's what's up in preggo world for me lately.

I can't wait to read this again someday and laugh!
It's like Ygritte in Game of Thrones saying, "You know nothing, Aubrey."

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

West Point: 10-Year Reunion

My favorite view at West Point

In October, Dan and I headed to my alma mater, the United States Military Academy at West Point, for my 10-year college reunion.  I was really excited about the trip, because it was my first time introducing Dan to a place that is very near and dear to my heart.

Maybe I'll show this photo to our baby someday!

I wanted to make sure Dan had the full experience at West Point, including seeing some of the behind the scenes things that are pretty much off-limits to the public.  After all, it's a fully functional military base!  Fortunately, my goddaughter's father is assigned there, so he was able to show us the Mess Hall, the fitness center and gyms, and even a cadet room!  Then I walked Dan around Trophy Point overlooking the river, so he could see some of the grounds.

We did participate in a few of the "official" reunion events, including a nice class dinner, viewing the cadet review on the parade field, a tailgate at the Firstie Club (the senior bar/club), and a football game!  Whew!  We did a LOT.  We also walked quite a bit, and those hills are a lot tougher now that I'm older, less fit, and pregnant.

The thing that made the reunion worthwhile (other than introducing Dan to my school!)  was seeing my old friends and classmates.  My company (my classmates who shared a dorm with me for our sophomore through senior years) showed up in bigger numbers than most.  I saw friends that were in my classes/major, in the same sports, and more.  It made me incredible nostalgic of course.  I can't believe we graduated over ten years ago!

And three people missed this photo...  H4 Hogs were representing!

I don't think I was on the fence about attending my reunion, but I definitely wondered if it was necessary in the age of social media.  After attending, I would resoundingly say it still has a place!  Much more so in this case than even my high school reunion, because my college was particularly tight-knit and unique.

I may not go to reunions every five years, but I probably will try every ten.  This one was also particularly special because we stayed with my goddaughter's family, spending quality time with my friends and their kids, even taking them to the local pumpkin patch and doing a hayride.  I am so glad I went, and that Dan could come with me!

Have you ever attended your high school or college reunion?

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