How to Survive a Four Hour Drive with a Toddler

Prior to becoming a mother, I told myself I wouldn’t be caught dead driving long distances with a child. I figured I could put off accepting any kind of out-of-town social event until the kid was say, oh I don’t know – how old are they when they stop misbehaving? Oh right. Never. My genius pre-motherhood plan lasted less than two years. Last week my husband, eighteen month old son, and I set off on a cross-state drive for a wedding and I’ve lived to tell about it!

If you want to survive a long, family car ride without needing to call someone for bail money (presumably for assaulting whoever woke your sleeping child), then read on:

1. Expect the Unexpected

Before our trip could even get off to a proper start, I somehow managed to dislodge the right side of my front bumper. I’m talented like that. I’m like ninety percent sure it wasn’t my fault, but let’s not squabble over details. There we were: in the predawn hours, dragging rubber and plastic down the highway, praying to the travel gods the baby would stay asleep while anxiously looking for a safe place to pull off .

This looks safe, right, Honey?

“This looks safe, right, Honey?”

Despite neatly packing snacks, quietly transferring my sleeping son from the crib to the car, and carefully hanging fancy clothes without wrinkling them, I was not prepared for this. So what do you do when the proverbial fecal matter hits the fan? Aside from performing a ritual goat sacrifice, I strongly suggest you embrace the chaos. The more you try to fight against the craziness, the less calm you (and everyone around you) will be. Just try to roll with it – even if you’re screaming internally.

Just breathe in and out.

Just breathe in and out.

2. Breaks. SO. MANY. BREAKS.

Keeping in theme with the previous rule, you’ll need to adopt the mantra “F*** The Schedule!” When the mini vehicular catastrophe was finally remedied (thank you, zip ties!), we were a solid two hours behind schedule. I thought to myself, “That’s okay. We factored in a bonus hour for breaks, so we’re really only one hour behind. I can make that up with clever driving and no breaks. It’ll be fine!” Oh how innocent I was.

So young, so full of hope I was.

So young, so full of hope I was.

A funny thing happens when you try to drive long stretches without a break. Perhaps “funny” isn’t the right word. Pee. Yup that’s the word: PEE. Pee happens when you don’t take breaks and you have a toddler with the bladder the size of a thimble. Unfortunately my seizures left me with the inability to smell (True story! Ask me about it some time) which meant I was blissfully unaware of the urine soaked car seat and horrifyingly wet toddler until it was too late. Do yourself (and your upholstery) a favor, and take as many breaks as necessary. Those with functioning olfactory receptors will thank you.

WHY, GOD? WHY?!?!

WHY, GOD? WHY?!?!

 3. Baby = “Get Out of Jail Free” Card

Okay, this one may sound like I’m a horrible person – and maybe I am, who cares? – but one of the perks to having a baby is that it is the best excuse you’ll ever have! I’m not recommending you lie and say your baby is sick to get out of a party because, ya know, karma. But if you have a legit situation which has created some negative outcome, don’t be afraid to blame your exit strategy on the baby. Just don’t get drunk with power.

drunk with power highlander

It’s deceptively easy to use the excuse too much.

The final key to being able to survive a long drive with your toddler is to not worry about what others may think. Merely showing up in one piece should be accomplishment enough, in my opinion. Yeah, we were late and probably smelled of baby pee, but we MADE IT! The ride back? Now that’s an entirely different story…

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A Day in the Life 2.0

Once before, for funsies, I did a little glimpse into what happens in a given day of a high-risk pregnant woman.  Since everyone seemed to get a kick out of it, here’s a day in the life of a new mom with a chronic illness in 10 gifs!

1. Wake Up via Crying Baby

NOTE: This is what I want to say, but do not

NOTE: I would never say this, I just think it… very loudly

2. Calm Down Baby

It could all go horribly wrong at any moment

Much like trying to pet a wild animal, attempting to cuddle away the cries usually ends in scratches and more crying

3. Prepare Bottle

hot fuzz

Trying to function early in the morning whilst holding a baby in one arm is akin to trying to walk in a straight line after one too many lagers

4. Burp Baby –> Take Cover –> Change Baby

hammer

This one is pretty self explanatory

5. Attempt to Have Educational Play Time

Oh, Max, this is just the beginning of how uncool you'll think I am

Oh, Max, this is just the beginning of how uncool you’ll think I am

6. Try to Sneak Out to Pee/Eat/etc. While Baby Plays

If only I was this stealth

If only I was this stealth

7. Don’t Let Baby Kill Himself

So much energy, so little coordination

So much energy, so little coordination

Repeat Steps 2 – 7 ’til Bedtime

The days begin to blend together

The days begin to blend together

8. Do Any/Everything to Get Baby to Sleep

Praying is a viable option, right?

Praying is a viable option, right?

9. Wonder if Baby is Really Asleep

Babies are sneaky little tricksters, like mini-Lokis

Babies are sneaky little tricksters, like mini-Lokis

10. Rejoice! Baby is Asleep!

Be happy (even if it only lasts for a few hours), you've earned it!

Be happy (even if it only lasts for a few hours), because you’ve earned it!

5 Confessions Of A Chronically-Ill New Mom

With the past few blog posts dealing with heavy topics such as inability to breastfeed and body image issues, I figured we could do with something a little lighter.  So here are some of my embarrassing, honest, awkward, and funny confessions as a new mom dealing with chronic illnesses!

1. Eau de What??

Some of you may know this about me, but I can’t smell (thanks, seizures!).  This has its pros and cons.  Pro: I can walk by a horrifically awful dumpster and not have any reaction.  Con: I can walk around for the better part of a day with baby puke on the back of my shirt and not realize it.  And if you’re thinking that example sounds oddly detailed, you’re right, because it actually happened.  Unfortunately I can’t always blame my inability to smell.  Sometimes I am fully aware of the pureed sweet potato on the front of my shirt, but I am just too darned busy to change.

Confession: Some days I may smell like a combination of spit up, poop, and old food. I don’t care. It happens.

I'm insecure, so this is what I imagine people are thinking when they're around me

I’m insecure, so this is what I imagine people are thinking when they’re around me

2. Nature’s Napkin

You remember when you were a mom-to-be and you could spend hours on Pintrest looking up cute little DIY projects and clever hacks for life with baby?  Oh, it all seemed so possible and so adorable!  Those were the days.  And then your baby sneezes with reckless abandon directly into your mouth.  Snot happens.  As was mentioned in the above confession, I am often covered in so many fluids, I would make a hotel room on CSI look clean.

Confession: When my son is sick, and he thinks my shirt is a tissue, I oblige because I’ll do anything to make him feel better.

Sneeze away, baby

Sneeze away, baby

3. Back Burner Syndrome

Let’s face it.  When you’re a new mom, you’ve got your hands full.  Slowly but surely, more and more things start to be placed on the back burner.  It starts with not sorting the mail on a daily basis, then leaving clean laundry in the dryer, and finally you’re just lucky if you can remember where you put something.  Some of that I can blame on the “Lupus Fog” or  my memory issues (thanks again, seizures!), and sometimes I’m just prioritizing.  Surprisingly, my house actually stays pretty clean, but I guess I just feel guilty about not being able to “do it all.”

Confession: Laundry and dishes can wait.  My baby’s needs cannot.

Dust it off, boo

Dust it off, boo

2. I’ll Tell You What I Want, What I Really Really Want!

While the Spice Girls may have had more R-rated things in mind, what I really really want is much more G-rated.  I just want to be able to go to the friggin’ bathroom for like more than five seconds.  And I know I am not alone in this, so don’t even try to play like you wouldn’t ugly-cry tears of joy if someone said you could have a luxuriously uninterrupted, hot shower.

Confession: I love every second I get to spend with my baby, but there is only so much my bladder can hold.

How I feel when I finally et to go to the bathroom

How I feel when I finally get to go to the bathroom

1. Silver Lining

Oh you know me, always looking for the silver lining.  This time I really have found one!  I used to get bummed (and borderline offended) when people would assume that because I don’t look my age and have crazy hair that I must be a teen mom.  I even had one older lady behind me in the check-out line make a snide remark to her friend, “It looks like babies having babies.”  To which her friend replied, “I’ll bet you it wasn’t even planned.”  Perhaps their hearing aids weren’t properly adjusted and they thought they were being quiet?  But then I realized, I hadn’t been a teen in almost a decade!  Those crones’ comments were more of a self-esteem boost than getting carded at a restaurant 😉

Confession: When rude people think I’m a “teen mom” they’re actually just telling me I look great for my age!  Thanks, haters!

AND I'M OUT!!!

AND I’M OUT!!!

What The First Week Is Like With A Newborn

Even though it was almost seven months ago, I can vividly remember what the first week was like with our new baby.  It was exciting, scary, emotional, and – oh yeah – exhausting!  I’m sure you probably could have guessed that having a newborn while living with a chronic illness wouldn’t be easy, but there’s something different about once you’re actually living it.

Too bad this isn't a real card

Too bad this isn’t a real card

This isn’t meant to scare you, of course.  I just want to give you a little heads up (no pun intended) on what your first week might be like.  Here are five things you can expect:

5. No Wonder Sleep Deprivation is Used as a Torture Method

Apparently your newborn has not yet heard of the Geneva Conventions.  If he or she had, then they’d know that sleep deprivation is listed as one of the forbidden methods of torture.  Yes, you read that right, torture.  And that’s just what it can feel like in the first few weeks when you are still adjusting.  Sleep deprivation can cause memory lapses, hallucination, confusion, irritability, headaches, and an overall case of the yuckies (not a scientific term).  So it’s no wonder that getting up to feed your baby every 2 hours, be coordinated enough to change diapers, and calmly console your baby takes a toll on your mind and body.

 

No joke I could fall asleep in 5 seconds

No joke I could fall asleep in 5 seconds

4. Sometimes Babies Just Cry

There really is no nice or easy way to say it, but there will be times that your baby just cries.  You go through the checklist in your head – Okay, the baby isn’t hungry, wet, too cold or too hot, doesn’t have a fever  – but still your little one is crying.  Like any new parent, I probably made unnecessary calls to the pediatrician wondering if there was something wrong that was making my baby cry.  After all, newborns can’t talk yet, so how would I know if my baby’s appendix was bursting or something?!  (Which is actually a real concern I had)  And just like every nurse, mother, and grandmother told me, sometimes they just cry.  Don’t ignore your instincts, though.  If you really think something is wrong, then please call your doctor.  But do know, that even if you’ve tried everything and your baby is still crying, it’s okay.

Foolproof method

Foolproof method

3. Now is The Time to be Selfish

As I’ve said in posts before, my tendency to be stubborn and even a tad prideful when it comes to dealing with Lupus and a connective tissue disorder has never had a good outcome.  Sometimes if I bend over, my hip dislocates.  Sometimes during a flare-up, my joints are so stiff it hurts to sit in one position for too long.  And as I’ve also said in previous posts, once a baby enters the picture, don’t turn down help.  So with a new baby in the picture, now more than ever is the time to accept any and every offer you get.  Whether someone offers to come over and watch the baby for an hour so you can sleep or someone wants to bring you dinner, SAY YES!  You won’t regret it.

Why, yes, I will take that sandwich

Why, yes, I will take that sandwich

2. Play Nice

With hormones and tensions running high, your filter may be a little more lax than usual.  You might find yourself snapping and speaking more harshly than usual.  And the little things that were once just mildly irritating are now cause for WWIII.  If you have a partner, the biggest piece of advice I can give you is to try and speak sweetly to them during this very crazy time.  Studies show that the first year of having baby is one of the toughest for married couples.  So while it’s completely understandable to worry about finances or to be grumpy about whose turn it is to change the diaper, remember that a little bit of kindness can go a long way.

cam feel to much

Let it out, honey

1. Routine is Your Friend

All the adorable Pinterest boards and all the articles with perfectly-styled nurseries left out one little detail: it’s just not realistic.  When it’s two in the morning and you need to change and feed the baby, you won’t be thinking about how cute your changing station set-up is.  In reality, the most convenient set up in the first few weeks for me was having the bassinet in the living room where I could crash on the couch.  The living room was right next to the kitchen, where I set up bottles with pre-measured water in them.  It may not seem classy, but having some semblance of a routine – something easy that didn’t require much effort – made a world of difference for me and my sanity.  I’m not saying my way is right, but just find something that works for you.  You don’t need to make things harder and you certainly don’t need to worry about appearances.  Do whatever fits you and your baby’s needs and I promise it will make things just a little smoother.  And if all else fails, just relax and think of this adorable kitten massaging a little pug dog.

kitty massage

C-Section Checklist

We’re gonna hop in a little time machine here and go back to the frantic days leading up to THE BIG DAY.  Everyone was telling me the “must haves” I needed for the c-section.  But some of them just sounded downright silly.  Like, who is actually going to need to bring their make-up bag nonetheless have time to apply it?  The answer is no one, by the way.  No one has time to be model pretty and if they say they do, they are either lying or some kind of future alien thing.  So as if I didn’t have enough things on my mind – is the house ready? will the baby like the nursery? what if I fart during the c-section??? – I had yet to do anything that even closely resembled packing.  Time management isn’t really my “thing.”

Basically me everyday of ever

Basically me everyday of ever

So, without further ado, because my rambling and tangents could theoretically go on forever, here is a (mostly) foolproof packing checklist for your c-section and hospital stay:

For Just You:

  • Pajama type or loose fitting dresses.  Having a tight waistband pressing on your incision is Guantanamo-level torture
  • Some hospitals will provide socks with little grippy things on the bottom, some will not.  If they don’t, I highly suggest bringing a pair or two, because slipping on a cold hospital floor after major surgery isn’t super fun
  • Maternity bras (plus nursing pads) and really comfy undies.  Some ladies like to go the low-cut route (so it doesn’t touch the incision) some like high-waisted undies (because it feels like it keeps everything “in”).  It’s dealers choice
  • Your own pillow(s) and blanket(s).  Not only are hospital pillows flat and oddly noisy, but hospital blankets are thinner than truck stop bathroom toilet paper.  And that’s saying something
I just want to be warm and slee-hee-hee-heep

I just want to be warm and slee-hee-hee-heep

  • If you’re breastfeeding, bring your own pillow and cover and other paraphernalia because most hospitals will only provide a hospital-grade pump
  • LOTS OF HEADBANDS.  Between puking, sweating, tossing and turning in bed, and other things, you do not want to deal with hair in your face
  • This is a big one!  The hospital room I was in had a shower with washcloths and towels, but no shampoo or soap.  Also, even if you’re not going to breastfeed, your body will still be producing colostrum (aka liquid gold) AND your baby needs to smell you, pheromones and all.  So BRING YOUR OWN SOAP.  Use something unscented and gentle so as not to confuse your baby’s Basset Hound-like scent receptors.  Oh, and Q-tips.  Bring Q-tips because water in the ear is super annoying.

For the Baby:

  • Note:  Thankfully you won’t actually need to bring much for your baby during your hospital stay.  In between hospital staff and visitors, there will be an ample supply of diapers, beanies, bottles, formula, and everything else for your little one
  • Going-home outfit.  It’s up to you if you esteem fashion over ease, but remember that your baby is floppy, fragile, and impatient
  • Receiving/swaddling blankets.  ASK FOR TIPS from your nurse on how to make a nice little baby burrito because swaddling is not as easy as it looks
This is a fairly accurate equivalent of trying to swadde a baby

This is a fairly accurate equivalent of trying to swadde a baby

  • Mittens are a must because babies just love trying to scratch themselves and simultaneously gouge their eyes out with their tiny, angry fingernails
  • Grooming kit type things and pacifiers are optional again based on what your local hospital will/won’t provide

For your Partner:

  • Note:  Your partner’s sole job is to hold on to and take care of all the things you don’t have time for, just being honest.  With that said, the following items are less about things to keep your partner comfy and more about keeping your life stress-free
  • Facial toner.  This was a Godsend because I didn’t have the time/energy to wash my face yet I still felt like I had spent 13 hours over a fast-food fryer.  The toner not only let me feel refreshed but I didn’t even have to get out of bed!
  • IDs, insurance cards, and any other paperwork your hospital or doctors require
  • Camera (or SmartPhone) for all the necessary pictures you need to take.  I don’t care if people say all newborns look the same, I want pictures, gosh darnit!
  • Chargers and batteries!  This one CANNOT be stressed enough, people
  • Cash for vending machines, valet, or any other services that don’t accept cards (which, surprisingly, is a lot!)
  • Here’s one I didn’t think would be important but I’m so glad I brought – BAGS.  Bags for dirty laundry, supplies the hospital gives you to take home, gifts visitors bring, paperwork from your doctor/nurse, and everything else that will come your way.  Believe me, you will leave for the hospital thinking you are fully packed but then you will go home looking like a Canadian experiencing Disney for the first time.  No offense.
Be careful or this could be you

Be careful or this could be you!

Hope this checklist helps or at least gives you a guideline for packing!  Up next is a post about all the “wonderful” things they don’t tell you about getting a c-section!  Hang in there, though, ladies; you can almost see the light at the end of the tunnel (insert vaginal birth jokes).