Induction Advice

I know someone super pregnant who might have to be induced very soon, and I so badly wanna be my Know-It-All self and DM her this advice. But! That would be just as annoying as everyone was to me the day before my due date. Instead, I’ll put it here publicly so anyone in the future who might be getting induced can also access it.

First, think positive. I know being induced isn’t usually at the top of most people’s ideal birth scenario, but if it’s really happening- so many reasons it could be!- get on board with it. Instead of the rush of “Is this labor? I think so!!” and laboring around the house, calling your partner excitedly to get their booty home, scrambling to get your neighbor to watch the dog, you get to leisurely check your hospital bag, make the bed, and head to the hospital cool as a cucumber (well, relatively.) Every baby comes into this world differently; yours get to show up for an appointment!

My biggest piece of advice is to move your body. Once you’re admitted and the induction method is placed, you’ll likely have to lie prone for at least two hours. If this happens before bed- Yahtzee! I wish you the best possible sleep one can get while lying in a hospital knowing they’re hopefully meeting their baby the next day. There will be a limited window of time you’re off the monitors before you get checked and hooked up to Pitocin– this is the time for movement! I was lucky and got a full two hours to shower and eat breakfast before the doctor started her rounds. I didn’t take a seat until that doctor was at the foot of my bed, ready for my first check. I squatted in the shower, I did lunges across the room, I did high knees while eating toast. Help the induction method help you! If at all possible, don’t just lay there waiting for it to do all the work. Due to COVID, most of us can’t walk the hospital hallways, so make use of whatever space you have.

Finally, know that not all inductions end in the “cascade of interventions” you’ve likely read about if you’re trying to avoid a C-section. Sometimes the baby just needs a little nudge- even if you walk in zero percent dilated- and then it’s off to the races. Try to incorporate as much as possible about your original ideal birth scenario into your new induced one. Be open to pain management techniques you might not have originally wanted to try because, reader? Pitocin contractions are not messing around. I have nothing to compare them to, but Mamma Mia Pizzeria, they’re the real deal. No matter how your induction ends, there will be a baby at the end of it! No birthing person has ever been sent home with a baby to live inside of her forever because they just wouldn’t come out. By hook or crook, the time has come!

P.S. Hydrate. Even if you’re not getting induced. Pack a couple Gatorades.

Ow

Just when the bulk of your postpartum hair loss seems to be subsiding, baby will start developing their reaching and pulling skills. My kid’s favorite new toy? Any stray wisp of hair that dares to escape my top bun. He yanked out a full fistful the other day. Should I save it? Does that go in the baby book?

A “mom cut” would not look good on this face of mostly cheeks, so I guess I’ll be investing in many of those wide, stretchy headbands from my youth soccer days. Oh, and he’s finally discovered my glasses and has as personal baby mission to use them as a teething aid. Basically my head is a constant, painful (for me) source of entertainment. Which is probably my fault since my favorite pastime is putting my face constantly near his to smell it, kiss it, or generally gobble him up.

Pregnancy Laughs

One thing I miss about pregnancy (there isn’t much!) is the extra hormones that cause big emotions. It wasn’t super fun when it ended in tears- my husband has a video of me happy crying over the announcement that Big 10 football would be returning in the fall (???!!)- but they can also make you have laughing fits over things that, looking back, probably weren’t that funny. I realized a few weeks after the baby was born, “I haven’t laughed in a while… I miss that.”

Old People Facebook was a constant source of laughing to near tears. I also watched a ton of inappropriate best of Eric Andre compilations. If you’re currently pregnant, enjoy your giant laughing fits. You’re not losing your mind; it’s a normal side effect. If you’re postpartum and need some levity, I can’t recommend enough the book Sh*t, Actually by Lindy West. A friend sent it in a new mom care package for me (Rachael, you da real MVP) at a time when I thought I would never be able to have alone time to read a book again. Each essay was a source of true belly laughs, including my new favorite line from any book, ever, when she’s recapping the movie Top Gun: “It was Goose’s last honk.”

Half a Year

My son turns six months this week! I’m feeling…

  • Sore. Kid is huge! The physicality of bending over changing tables, carrying him everywhere, getting down to play with him– it’s a lot. I’ve put him on my shoulders a few times, and while he loves it, my traps are sore for days.
  • Refreshed. He is sleeping. Praise Jesus, hallelujah, I will never take another full night of sleep for granted as long as I live. I’ll do a whole post on sleeping and what has worked for us in the future. If you’re reading this in a zombie state, I feel for you deep in my bones and soul.
  • Excited. Watching him learn new things every day is likely mundane to anyone who didn’t birth him, but I’m fascinated watching him figure out the world.
  • Hopeful. As the weather gets nicer, more people are getting vaccinated, and the world is opening up to us. We lived the first three months of his life in a literal and metaphorical cave– hunkered down, just trying to make it through the fourth trimester; hunkered down, just trying to keep warm during the winter; hunkered down, trying to balance our pandemic bubble and local restrictions with the need for our brains to see other people. I have zero plans for the summer other than to introduce him to so much more than our backyard.
  • Nostalgic. I wouldn’t say full on sad that we’ve lived his first six months of life already, but when he’s in bed at night, my husband and I watch videos of him on our phone and think “OBVIOUSLY he’s the cutest kid in the ENTIRE world and we can’t WAIT to hang out with him tomorrow!!” We’ve fully drunk up all the parenting cult Kool-Aid. It happens. He’s cute. We do not apologize. I don’t (yet?) feel grief over, “Where did the first six months go?! It went so fast! How can this be?!” I know where the last six months went. I lived them! With the baby! Oftentimes in the middle of the night! Yes, time is an illusion and we’re all hurdling closer and closer toward death, but if anything, being a mom has helped me live more in the present. I’m not too concerned with where we were six months ago or where we’ll be half a year from now.
  • Anxious. Some of the parents in my Reddit group are starting to try for their next kid or posting about the pros and cons of having another and when. Wut. I’m constantly having to remind myself that we do not need to make that decision any time soon. I’ve always envisioned myself with two kids because that’s what seems normal? But if I had to choose absolutely right now (which I don’t! So why do I play these mental games?!) life is perfect with just him, and I’m content being one and done. Calm yourself, Brittney.
  • Celebratory. It seems like one of those made up occasions when you should get a cupcake, right? Maybe I’ll get cupcakes. He will want to eat them because he wants to eat everything his dad and I have, but he’s a baby. No cupcakes for babies.

Infertility Awareness Week

It’s National Infertility Awareness Week!

Here is the website with more info about NIAW– resources to share, hashtags to follow, colors to wear (orange on Wednesday!)

Zero of my friends trying to get pregnant want to hear from me, someone who was “devastated” for the three cycles it took to conceive. While those feelings were real, I can look back now that my tears were shed over my lack of control/ things not happening on my exact timeline vs. the truly gut-wrenching, soul-searching “why can’t my body do what it’s ‘supposed‘ to do” rollercoaster of feelings over infertility. So instead, I’ll be following the hashtag #WhatIWantYouToKnow and learning from people so I can be a better support to my many friends who are 1 in 8.

Every time someone “comes out” with their infertility story, my husband and I wonder, “why didn’t they say anything?” But we’re naive, and we have no idea what they’ve been through, and maybe we’re not great listeners. We know so many people who have conceived via IVF, people who had adopted after failed IVF cycles, and people who have been trying to conceive for years but fertility treatments are expensive. There’s a whole lot to be said about intersectionality and privilege and non-hetero couples, but I am 0% qualified to speak on any of that. So go read and learn and listen to people who are different than you!

Shameless plug for my cousin’s Instagram— their first was conceived via IVF in 2018, and they’re currently publicly sharing their journey for a second. Oversharing must be in our shared DNA 🙂

The One Your Partner Needs To Read

We have our VERY FIRST GUEST POST, YA’LL. Today’s knowledge is being dropped by Morgan, resident mom to us new moms because she had a kid first AND THEN another one *scary ghost hands to face emoji* She’s the wise old soul that shows up at your house with pizza and alcohol to listen to how it’s really going. (She did that! For me!) I told her she could write about whatever she wanted because her well of advice is vast and deep, and she chose to address your dear, sweet partner. Maybe passive aggressively send your partner the link to this if it resonates with you!

Hello to the partner who did not physically birth the baby yourself; this one’s for you.

I want to start by acknowledging that your life has completely changed. Your experiences that come with this baby are difficult. Your feelings on this change are valid. But I also want you to know that the birthing person is experiencing those feelings and navigating those changes on hormonal steroids. 

You both now serve at the pleasure of the baby. Mom is Chief of Staff and you’re a staff member. Because you’re probably a millennial, you want me to get to the “list.” I will cut off the 16 paragraph intro to the “best-chili-you’ve-ever-had!!” recipe here and get to it. 

  1.  Don’t make your partner ask for what she needs. Get used to looking for what she or the baby needs and just doing it.

That’s it. That’s the list. 

To drive it home, here are a few suggestions:

  • Is there a dirty bottle or pump parts somewhere? Clean them as this is now your JOB. 
  • Does baby need a diaper change? You’re on it. 
  • Is mom’s water bottle full? We become a dog in Pavlov’s experiment when it comes to nursing and needing our hospital-issued water bottle. 
  • Speaking of nursing the baby – is it taking an hour each time? Can you clean a bathroom or massage mom’s shoulders while they work that latch? If baby is bottle fed, can you do this feeding? (You can!)
  • Did someone drop off a gift for baby yesterday? Write the thank you note and put it in the mail. 
  • Do you have a plan for dinner tonight? Start thawing the enchiladas your coworkers sent over BEFORE it’s 6 p.m. and everyone is starving. 

But she won’t let me help!

Help anyway. There is a strong narrative out there that partners don’t always know how to help moms during this transition. Or baby only wants mom. Help anyway. 

To be clear, mom may have legitimate postpartum anxiety. She may overbear, not allowing another to handle baby’s needs. Whether anecdotally in my own and friends’ experiences or scientifically speaking, postpartum syndromes are real and serious. The hormonal plummet that occurs in those first weeks is the subject of much research and has given rise to some amazing Instagram communities. Research shows 80% of mothers have some form of the baby blues (which in my opinion is an incredibly diminutive term). PPD and PPA are prevalent and warrant attention and conversation. In fact, it’s likely mom may need your help identifying and working through these conditions. But that’s an entirely different blog post.  And if the above rings true, it’s all the more reason to start honing your ability to read the room. Take the initiative because you truly have the ability to make things a little easier on the people you love during this time. 

Bonus Tip: Do not suggest that baby is hungry every time he fusses. Especially if his saint of a mother just got done feeding him 10 minutes ago. 

A Rant

I’ve been reading the blog A Cup of Jo for many, many years & recently read this post, “Why Formula Feeding Was Best For Us.” Even the title tells you they’re going out of their way to make it as universally appealing and non-offensive as possible! The post goes on to share real stories from people in all walks of life who, at some point in their child’s first year or from the beginning, fed them formula instead of breast milk. As someone who stopped breastfeeding about two months after the birth of my son, I found it interesting to read other people’s stories of how they got to where I am. It was a lovely, informative post.

And then I read the comments.

Why, Brittney. Isn’t don’t read the comments the #1 rule of the Internet?!?!?!

I am angry. And I want answers. Why why why do women tear down other moms– people they DON’T KNOW– for choices that absolutely, 100% will never affect them?! The government isn’t looking out for moms, many employers and male colleagues aren’t looking out for moms. If we don’t support one another and the choices we make for OUR families because NO ONE is a better parent for your child then YOU, who else will!?!? (You can tell I’m hot and bothered by the amount of all caps words I’m typing. I do not apologize.)

The majority of the comments were, “Thank you for this,” followed by stories of their own formula-feeding journeys. A few simply said something like, “But breastfeeding is proven to be best. Stop trying to make formula feeding sound like an equivalent choice when it’s not as good.” I mean, fine. I don’t disagree that breastmilk is awesome for babies. The reason I wanted to breastfeed is because it’s so chock full of everything my baby needs straight from me to him. (Also, I’m cheap. Formula costs more cash money, yo’s! But, if time is money, breastfeeding isn’t exactly free.)

But then there were the comments that REALLY got me all fired up. Comments about “why are you trying to turn lemons into lemonade. You failed/ formula is second rate/ society shouldn’t glorify to parents that choosing formula is ok.” I! Can’t! Even! As a person who “failed” at breastfeeding and is now reading your comment, what is your intention? To make me feel like shit even more than my complex feelings about the situation already do? I highly doubt these same people would comment on a post about conceiving via IVF, “Why are you trying to turn lemons into lemonade? You failed.”

If you’re so concerned that my formula fed kid is going to have a smaller brain than your breastfed one, shouldn’t you be celebrating? Your kid will get a scholarship to Harvard while my little dunce still lives at home, attempting to repeat the 11th grade. (As if Harvard is a marker of success… but I can’t get off track here– I’m too incensed!)

And making lemons into lemonade is kind of, like, life? Not every parent in the original post ever wanted to breastfeed, so they didn’t have “lemons” to begin with. But those, like me, who weren’t able to breastfeed as well as we’d imagined while pregnant, have certainly grieved our lemons, thankyouverymuch. I didn’t look at my screaming child who was hungry but unable to get enough ounces out my boobs and think, “I’ll just go grab some formula and not once look back on this moment with a huge amount of self-flagellation!” Believe me, there were lemons. As humans so often do, I had an experience, I had emotions, I felt them, I processed them, I’ve learned things from it. If that’s what we’re calling lemonade, then come on over, honey, because I’m setting up a stand in the front yard!

If I sound defensive, I absolutely am. I’m defensive as hell against people who look at women in the most upside down/ twisty turvy/ you have no idea what journey I took to get here/ who even am I anymore/ period of their lives as new mothers and decide to tear down the choices they’re making. I don’t disagree with their core belief that breastfeeding is a wonderful option, but I’m disgusted in their conviction to impress these beliefs on people who are just trying to survive this hormonal hellscape while feeding their babies.

I fully plan to try to breastfeed again if we have another child, and I’m confident I’ll be more successful than I was after my first pregnancy. I had NO idea how hard it was going to be on top of a ton of other things I had NO idea how hard they would be. If it doesn’t work out for whatever reason– and you absolutely don’t have to give anyone else your reason– you can bet your ass I won’t be reading any blog comments.

Current Faves

My son is in the babbling, active, “this is so fun!” phase at 5.5 months right before he learns to crawl and upends our lives. Here’s some things that he’s recently been loving and/or have been super helpful as his parent. Again, not affiliate links because I just don’t care.

  • Dr. Brown’s Formula Mixing Pitcher– How you feed your baby is you + their doctor’s business. If it involves formula, I can’t recommend enough this pitcher. It saves so much time to make a bulk batch of food instead of mixing individual bottles, plus you can pour out just a bit at a time for a top off or refill instead of making a whole bottle. At first I was like, “Uhhh can I use a regular pitcher?” Which, you could, but this one has the ounces printed on the side for easy measuring + a special mixer handle that really gets the formula incorporated vs. a giant spoon or whatever you’d have to use if you just pull out the ol’ lemonade pitcher from the cupboard.
  • Jumperoo– Fairly certain I birthed a toddler instead of a cuddly, lazy infant. This kid has been trying to move since day one, so my parents gifted him this apparatus for Christmas, and it’s increasingly been a lifesaver since. The music buttons aren’t overly annoying (and have an off switch if you don’t agree with me!), and there’s 360 degrees of stuff he can put in his mouth, stare at, and spin. What I especially like about the one I linked over other exersaucers is that it’s suspended in the air so he can also fling himself back and forth horizontally instead of only vertically jumping up and down. For an already rough and tumble kid, he’s getting the feeling of being Crash Bandicoot while still safe and snug so I don’t have to be right there engaging with him.
  • Wonder Weeks app- New parents! Your baby develops in mental and sensory leaps, and The Wonder Weeks has all the info about them. I’m notoriously cheap and rarely pay for phone apps, but this is one I reference often and was definitely worth the one time price of $4.99. It’s uncannily spot on with whatever baby is going through at the time. Our sweet, cooing baby turned into a non-stop fuss machine last week, so I pulled out the app and sure enough, he’s smack in the middle of the “Fussy Phase” of his fifth leap. The Wonder Weeks info not only makes me feel like I’m not going insane (other babies around the world go through this phase, too! Put down the wine!) but it also helps my husband and I better relate to what’s changing in baby’s world. The app has suggestions for how you can help engage them in play to develop whatever it is they’re currently learning about the world.

Currently Singing

“Ima Ima Ima fuss boy

ah ah ah ah, ah ah ah

Look at me whine!

ah ah ah ah, ah ah ah

Ima Ima Ima fuss boy”

to the tune of the Weeknd’s “Starboy,” obviously.

We’re in the middle of a very fussy phase during Leap 5. Jim Carrey was wrong– this isn’t the most annoying sound in the world; the constant whine of a child who is perfectly fine yet upset with everything in life is.

Pockets

If you don’t yet have sweatpants with pockets for your postpartum period, get thee to your local store (or, you know, Amazon. But support local!!) A robe with pockets, hoodies with pockets– you’re gonna need a lot of pockets. I have one pair of comfy sweats sans pockets and one with two; I don’t need to tell you which I prefer wearing.

Your hands are going to be full of a baby that 1) you’re terrified of dropping and/or 2) doesn’t have control of their motor functions and is prone to jerking nearly onto the floor. You will need pockets for bottles, pacifiers, your phone, snacks, tissues… all of those supplementary baby things that shouldn’t take priority in your hands over your actual child.

You WILL start to amaze yourself with all the things you can carry at once, and once you get some confidence you might even start stacking things on baby… within reason, of course. An empty water bottle balancing on baby’s chest while you’re carefully carrying them down the stairs isn’t going to hurt anybody. Reminder to not carry hot things and baby at the same time: always set baby down and then go get your coffee cup.