Intensity

Three weeks after Xavi was born, we took him to my cousin Bea’s birthday party in Whittier. I was tired and frazzled about what to wear, but I wanted to get out, see my family and give them a chance to meet the little guy. I fed Xavi and maybe 30-40 minutes later, we got going. We instantly hit traffic on the eastbound 10 freeway. Xavi got upset and hungry and started crying. No amount of soothing or Happiest Baby on the Block trick would work. Xavi was hungry. I was stressed and so was Sean. I didn’t know if we’d make it to Whittier. After about 10 miles and barely getting to Downtown LA — less than half way to our destination — I told Sean that we should exit in East LA, find a place to park and I’d feed him until he calmed down. He agreed and followed my directions to my aunts’ apartment complex. Four of my aunts and their families all live in the same building. On a Saturday afternoon, I figured someone had to be home. If no one was home, I’d hang out in their driveway and feed Xavi there.

A few minutes later, we parked and walked up to apartment 1. Tía Angeles answered the door to find me with a screaming newborn and stressed husband. In my pocha Spanish I explained that we were on our way to Whittier for the birthday party, but had to stop because the baby was hungry and really upset. She rushed me in to one of the bedrooms so I could nurse the little guy. Xavi instantly calmed down and after nursing fell asleep. I thanked tía Angeles and greeted my other aunts, Chabelita and Isabel, before leaving to our final destination, Whittier.

Not excited about 4 month checkup time

The rest of the car ride was uneventful. Traffic cleared up on the 60 and Xavi, now with a full tummy and moving car, fell asleep. I’d read about people going for a drive to calm down screaming babies, but didn’t know the car ride itself could be the cause of the screaming. Previous car rides had been short and without much traffic so Xavi remained relatively calm. Obviously, I had a lot to learn.

I’ve always been annoyed by LA traffic. It’s different now. Annoyed isn’t strong enough to describe my intense dislike. I’ve noticed this with other things too. Weekends are better now that I know they’re my two full days with my little family. There are more and bigger cracks in the sidewalk now that I’m pushing a stroller over them. Laughter — Xavi’s, especially — is more contagious. Love and appreciation for my husband and family has grown exponentially. Sleep is more appreciated.

Life is different with Xavi. I like that — as long as he’s not screaming in standstill LA traffic, but I have a feeling that’ll happen again. And again.

Envy and perspective

Note: I wrote this a few weeks ago while still on maternity leave.

Years ago Lori told me about a conversation she had with our mom.

Mom: I want Cindy to hurry up, get married and have kids so I can quit my job and be her babysitter.
Lori: Do you only want to be Cindy’s babysitter? What about me?!
Mom: Oh, I didn’t think you’d want me to watch your kids because we clash a lot.
Lori: Of course I would. You raised us and did an awesome job.

Mom, me and a box of KFC

I don’t know if I was even seeing anyone at the time, but I remember thinking this arrangement would be awesome. I could work and still make sure my future child was with someone I trusted and was great with children. Not only had my mom been a stay at home mom and raised four children, she had also worked in primary education for several years with special needs children. Oh, and this was way, way, way before I even had a clue about childcare rates in Los Angeles.

As awesome as it would be for grandma to be the babysitter, I knew it was unlikely in my case. My parents need those benefits attached to my mom’s job. (Dad is self-employed.) My in-laws are both retired but live in New York, so that’s out of the question too.

Throughout pregnancy I kept thinking of that conversation. I was so envious of friends and cousins with this arrangement. As I prepare to go back to work and figure out our childcare plans, the green-eyed monster returned especially as I stared at our budget spreadsheet.

And then I thought about what I do have and what I am grateful for.

A healthy, happy Xavi.

An engaged and fully committed partner in parenting
It’d be too sappy to enumerate the many ways Sean is the partner I need. I have no doubt his love, support and help will ease the transition.

Grandparents!
While neither set of grandparents can be full-time caretakers, they have been immensely supportive and loving. My in-laws spoiled their first grandchild with several of the big ticket baby items. We’ll be seeing them soon too. My parents have been around at least once a week to visit Xavi as well as help Sean and I with things we don’t get to as new parents (household chores, bringing prepared meals). As soon as we’re ready to leave him, they’ll jump at the chance to babysit too.

I was lucky enough to get to know all four grandparents. Xavi has four grandparents and two great-grandparents. Lucky kid.

Siblings and extended family nearby
It was super nice to have my siblings drop by during maternity leave just to visit or help out with Xavi for a few hours. There’s no shortage of people who would jump at the chance to babysit him if we need a night out.

Science Poster Day 2013

A job
I like my job. I miss my co-workers and the students. I’ve seen them a couple of times since July at the closing dinner for one of the research programs and a staff appreciation bowling outing. My job is generally stress free and rewarding. More practically, I don’t work crazy hours and have a short commute (for LA). I can’t forget that I also have excellent benefits. Health insurance should be it’s own category.

Maternity leave
I’ve been off for the better part of three months. Most of my leave has been paid even though I wasn’t able to use my short-term disability insurance (I set it up wrong when I was hired in my current position). Fortunately, since I’ve been employed at the university at least part time since 2006, I had a lot of sick, vacation and comp time saved up. I could have taken off about another 6 weeks but we can’t afford to be a single income family that long.

A rent-controlled apartment
This is big. We have plenty of space for our little family and short commutes to our workplaces. While I sometimes complain about our neighbors, the neighborhood is nice, generally safe, walk/run-able, and is kid-friendly.

Options
Jaclyn Day’s post on childcare and maternity leave really hit home.

They [46 million people in poverty] are the mothers and fathers who have few options and who can’t make the “hard” choices about breastfeeding, childcare and what elaborate decorations to have at their child’s first birthday party, because there may be no choices to be had.

Our budget might be tight, but we’re still quite privileged. I’ll keep that in perspective as I make another big transition.

Missing my baby: On returning to work

Me & Xavi

On the Monday I returned to work, I cried. A lot. I cried as I kissed Xavi goodbye and left him with Lupe, the babysitter. I cried as I shut the door behind me and walked the ten steps to my car. I cried as I drove to work on auto-pilot after so many years of driving and running the same route.

To calm myself down, I prayed a few Hail Marys. I needed whatever help la Virgencita could offer. I repeated mantras to myself. You’ll get through this. Xavi will be okay. You’ll get through this. Xavi won’t have any trouble taking the bottle from Lupe*. Sí se puede. You can rush home if you need to. He’ll be okay. You’ll be okay. We can get through this. Don’t stress. It’s not good for you or your milk supply. Lots of mothers do this and survive. You’ve done difficult things before. This isn’t too different.

Of course, those difficult experiences were nothing like this. This was on another level. It was hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life.

I left my baby, my Xavi Monster with the huge bright eyes and silly smile. I’d leave him again the next day and the day after that. I’d be away from him for 8+ hours 5 days a week for the foreseeable future. Ugh.

I tried not to think about the long term and instead focus on the now and the positives. I had 14 weeks of (mostly) paid maternity leave and got to spend a ton of time with Xavi in those crucial first few months. I enjoyed the job I was returning to and liked my co-workers.

I’d be fine. I’d get through the day and the following days. I’d be fine. More importantly, Xavi would be fine.

Twenty minutes later, I was driving in to the parking structure. I had finally gotten the crying under control. As I walked toward the office loaded down with bags (pump with extra parts and bottles, purse, and lunch bag with extra snacks for my stash), I realized that campus hadn’t changed. I chose to walk through the mini zen garden hoping it’d calm me more.

The mantras and garden were all for naught because as soon as I opened the office door and the student workers and my colleagues exclaimed “Cindy!” I lost it again. I couldn’t even look at my co-worker D — clearly happy to have me back — without crying. And I couldn’t say more than “I’m a mess. I forgot my keys.” D gave me a tight hug and let me in to my office.

Sweet sign

On the dry erase board my colleagues wrote a welcome back note. There were more surprises waiting for me in my office.

The office when I returned

The balloons and fresh sunflowers were a nice touch and definitely made me feel loved. I left them there for the week until the office started smelling like stinky latex and I got annoyed of walking around them.

I got through the rest of the day fine with lots of tissues, staring at my desktop wallpaper (above) and text message photos from Lupe. Xavi looked content, even happy. He had no problem taking the bottle.

Shortly before 5, I rushed home. Xavi was just as calm as when I’d left. In fact, his transition has gone much smoother than mine. Lupe loves working with him and has nothing but good things to say about his behavior.

The first week went by quickly. Since I was catching up on three months of missed work, e-mails and the like, I didn’t have much time to feel sorry for myself after the first few hours. The second week has gone by more slowly as the rush of the first week subsided. Plus, I’ve had one 12 hour day thanks to an evening event. Pumping in my office is still awkward, but I’ve gotten used to it. I’m lucky enough to have the lone fully private office. The coordinators’ offices have windows facing the rest of the office, but mine is the only one with blinds on that window. Fortunately, I haven’t had any issues with a drop in supply which I worried about since I didn’t have much of a freezer supply of milk built up.

Sean has been amazing. He does all the bottle and pump part washing and sterilizing nightly. In the morning, he prepares the bottles for Lupe, puts my pump parts in my bag and makes coffee. The coffee is super necessary as I’m sleeping less than I did when I was on maternity leave. I no longer have the luxury of going back to sleep until 9/10 after the first morning feeding around 5/6 am.

The toughest part of my day is still leaving Xavi in the morning — even though now there are no tears.

The best part is when I get home and get to hold, play and cuddle with Xavi.

*Up until the Sunday before I returned to work, bottle feeding was still hit or miss. Mainly miss. I had a “duh” moment when I realized Sean or the babysitter should use a shirt with my scent on it to trick him. It worked

Nap time reading

While the baby naps in my arms, I typically go through some form of social media and check out interesting news and stories. Or I binge watch The West Wing. Recent favorite reads:

Sherman Alexie is one of my favorite writers

The Poem That Made Sherman Alexie Want to ‘Drop Everything and Be a Poet’ [The Atlantic]

I have no shame in admitting that I’m an Alexie fangirl. I was so disappointed when I heard he was in LA recently for a book signing and I didn’t find out until a week later. (He doesn’t advertise his readings on Twitter, but his feed is very entertaining.) Anyway, this piece for The Atlantic’s “By the Heart” series was enlightening and inspirational. I’m grateful his poetry professor gave him the book that included the life altering poem.

At the same time, I’d never seen myself in a work of literature. I loved books, always, but I didn’t know Indians wrote books or poems. And then to see myself so fully understood in one line of a poem, as though that one line of a poem written by someone else was my autobiography … It was like understanding human language for the first time. It was like hearing the first words ever spoken by a human being, and understanding for the first time the immense communicative power of language.

I had never intellectualized this feeling that I’d had my entire life. And then, to hear the thing aloud. To see it in print. These are the kind of emotions that nobody puts words to, at least not where I’m from. So an intellectual and emotional awakening were fused in this one line. They came together and slapped me upside the head.

Gibson In ’88: ‘It’s A Good Story’ [ESPN]

Tuesday, October 15th marked the 25th anniversary of the most dramatic, amazing, awesome walk-off home run in Dodger history. I don’t remember seeing it live, but do remember those playoffs and being excited that my dad caught a ball at one of the NLDS games against the Mets. I have seen Kirk Gibson’s home run dozens of times as it’s played on the Dodger jumbo screen all the time, but didn’t know everything going on behind the scenes. And there was a lot!

Arash Markazi interviewed players from the ’88 Dodgers, A’s, coaches and management to fill in the story.

One of my favorite parts was reading Vin Scully’s role in motivating the very injured Gibson to stop icing, suit-up, take some practice swings with the bat boy and tell Tommy Lasorda he could pinch hit in a close game.

Vin Scully (Dodgers announcer 1950-present, NBC announcer 1983-89): In the middle of the ninth inning of that game, we were in commercial, and I had told the producer and director, ‘When we come out of commercial, follow me.’ You don’t do that very often, but, in this instance, I felt it was important, so, when we came out of commercial, there was a shot from the blimp of Dodger Stadium and I said, ‘If you’re in the ballpark with binoculars, your first thought would be, late in the game, Is Kirk Gibson in the Dodgers’ dugout? The answer would appear to be no.’ They did a slow pan from one end of the dugout to the other, and I basically said Kirk Gibson will not play tonight.

Gibson: I was sitting there, and, when Vin said that, I stood up and said, ‘My a–!’ It was time to go get dressed. That’s not to say I wouldn’t have gotten dressed if he hadn’t said it, but he did say it, and I was vocal about it with whoever who was around me at the time.

Today we don't have the Dodger blues. Right after I got the hoodie on, AJ Ellis hit a home run.

The playoffs have been stress inducing lately. Xavi and I are crossing our fingers in hopes of celebrating another improbable, impossible victory.

This game is a nail-biter. #dodgers #nlcs

Go Dodgers!

Jaclyn Day

I’ve been following Jaclyn Day’s blog for a couple of years, but never really paid attention to anything aside her affordable fashion posts. I was missing out, but perhaps it’s good that I’m just finding some of these posts months later when I’m at the beginning of my own parenting experience and can relate to her fretting over the cost of childcare or dealing with her post-pregnancy body image issues.

These posts hit home:

The things about parenting we don’t talk about — on maternity leave, childcare and the privileges some parents have/don’t have

No easy answer — sharing photos and videos of our children on social media

Four days in September

Saturday, September 7th | 5 weeks and 2 days

6weeks

By early September, breastfeeding had improved but I didn’t actually feel successful. Xavi was generally content after feedings and had enough wet/dirty diapers but he wasn’t growing out of newborn clothes or diapers. And since we wouldn’t be seeing the doctor again until his 2 month check-up, I had no clue about his weight gain. I considered going back to the lactation consultant, but kept putting it off. Instead, I looked up infant scales and asked Sean to pick one up on his weekly trip to Babies R Us for diapers.

As soon as Sean got home we set it up and weighed Xavi before his bath.

8 pounds, 2.5 ounces.

I quickly did some math and once again looked up the average weekly weight gain for breastfed babies. He was right on track and it made me feel so much better about my efforts. I know numbers don’t always tell the whole story, but they provided the reassurance and encouragement I needed. They put me at ease that my efforts were paying off. Most importantly, it was confirmation that Xavi was getting what he needed.

Thursday, September 12th | 6 weeks

We received a lot of great gifts for Xavier. One of those was the Fisher-Price My Little Snugabunny swing. Sean set it up in the living room. For the past few months it’s sat there largely unused taking up space and occasionally tripping us up as we get too close to the legs.

Sean and I had both tried to put Xavi in the swing, but he always fussed. It didn’t have the magical calming and sleep inducing effect I read about with other swings. Sean wondered if Xavi disliked the positioning. I feared that the gift would never be used.

swing

So it was a pleasant surprise when I put Xavi down to make lunch. I closed the blinds and sat down to eat lunch. Xavi stared at the birds and his reflection. After 15 minutes he had fallen asleep. He stayed asleep for over 2.5 hours, the most he’s napped during the day on his own (not held by me, Sean or another family member). While Xavi slept, I was able to get some housework and writing done.

By the time he woke up, I was more than ready to feed and cuddle my baby. While those hours to myself felt freeing, I missed Xavi. Since that afternoon, I’ve found the swing pretty reliable for naps.

Sean calls it the chore enabler.

Saturday, September 14th | 6 weeks and 2 days

It was a lazy Saturday morning. Sean was watching TV or reading comics. I was perusing a new moms Facebook group. Another mom posted the following:

New Mamas Get Nothing Done (and other untruths)
Original poster: So true, it made me cry.

I read the linked blog post and had the same reaction. I shared it with Sean and then posted my own pithy response: I feel accomplished when I eat a few times, shower and get dressed…

Seriously. I was not prepared for that fact and even if someone told me that I might not have a chance to brush my teeth some days until well until the afternoon I would’ve shrugged it off and thought they were exaggerating, doing something wrong, or had a difficult baby. I needed to learn this one on my own.

Reading that blog post assured me that I wasn’t the only one — are you ever the only one when it comes to mom/parent experiences? — and that it was okay to just be in my pajamas all day cuddling and feeding Xavier.

momkisses

We were doing something (like champs!) and that something was my most important responsibility.

Saturday, September 28th | 8 weeks and 2 days

On Thursday we met with a potential fill-time babysitter. When I told her that Xavi had not yet taken a bottle of pumped breast milk she looked a little worried.

“Good luck with that,” I imagined her thinking.

We — er, Sean — tried after 6 weeks. I wanted to make sure breastfeeding was going well and had no issues with my supply. Sean tried twice. Both times Xavi refused the bottle. The situations weren’t ideal. I was home in another room or the shower. Also, Xavi was already getting to the hunger point where he was fussy. A bottle just wouldn’t do. The milk went to waste. Ugh.

This afternoon, I left Sean with 3 ounces of freshly pumped milk and a napping baby. I set out for an easy run walk with my cell phone.

“If he doesn’t take it, let me know. I won’t go far.”

I set off down the block feeling strange to be out without baby and stroller. The huge cracks in the sidewalk didn’t bug me and the sunshine and light breeze felt good. Since it was my first “run” in a very long time and because I’m out of shape, I kept it really slow and did run/walk intervals. I felt proud of being able to slowly jog for 12 minutes without stopping except to tie my shoe.

First run/walk and bottle

After about 15 minute I received a photo from Sean of an empty bottle. He took his first bottle! I almost cheered. It was such a relief to know at least one aspect of my return to work would be a little easier.

There were three firsts that day:
1. Xavi took a bottle of breast milk.
2. I went on a postpartum run/walk.
3. I was away from Xavi for more than 30 minutes. (The next day I’d be away for 3 hours. Success was mixed, but we were all happy to be reunited.)

Lindas Canciones

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I was 7 or 8 when Mary came over and excitedly shared a must-listen new tape, Linda Ronstadt’s Canciones de mi Padre. I’d never heard of Linda Ronstadt and was a little confused by her name. Ronstadt didn’t sound Mexican. I soon came to learn that she was US-born and didn’t speak much Spanish. My parents didn’t care. Linda could sing the hell out of some rancheras and soon they were playing the tape constantly.

The music was as beautiful as the woman on the cover of the tape and I loved it. I already had been introduced to rancheras through José Alfredo Jiménez classics like “Volver, volver”, “El Rey,” and “Caminos de Guanajuato” thanks to my Guanajuato-born father. While Linda Ronstadt was not my introduction to mariachis or rancheras, she was the first woman I’d heard sing backed up by a mariachi. It would be many years until I found out about singers like Lola Beltrán or Chavela Vargas. Until then, Linda was the pinnacle of female rancheras songs in my eyes.

serenata

I wasn’t strong enough a singer to emulate her as a kid — or even as an adult — but Danny gave it a shot. He learned to sing “Y ándale”, a song about not caring that your fianceé´s parents will see you as a drunk when you come over to see he. Danny practiced with dad and gave his big performance at tía Nelly’s wedding backed by a full mariachi. His performance was a hit. Ironically, dad quit drinking soon after.

In college, I bought my own copy of Canciones on CD and listened to it countless times. I’ve learned the songs since then and sing along… or try to. Five years ago, I went to a concert at UCLA’s Royce Hall by Linda Ronstadt and Mariachi de Nati Cano on the bill. I was so excited to hear live versions of the songs I grew up listening to with my dad, but came away feeling confused and let down. Linda didn’t sound like the woman on the albums I’d come to love. It didn’t make sense how her voice could have changed so much as she aged.

Mexicanitos al grito de guerra

Now I understand that at the time she was already dealing with the onset of Parkinson’s, a disease her grandmother suffered from as well.

As the Parkinson’s news broke out last month, I realized I couldn’t name any of Ronstadt’s hits in English. All I knew was Canciones which I still sing on the regular. In fact, all I could think about was the songs I loved on the first album and the follow-up, Más Canciones.

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I sing Hay Unos Ojos frequently to Xavier. I hold in my arms and sing as we walk around the apartment. He stares up at me with eyes that seem to get brighter and wider. When I got pregnant, I was a little sad that I never took the time to learn how to play the guitar. I wanted to be like my dad who would entertain us for hours with the guitar and a short list of pop and children’s songs. I may not have the guitar (for now), but I do have my voice and a love for singing. Hopefully Xavier will remember the songs I sing for him with the same fondness I think of songs like Cri Cri’s “Los Tres Cochinitos” or the Cascades’ “Listen to the Rhythm of the Falling Rain.”

If I had to list 10 albums that changed my life, Canciones would definitely be on it. I’m grateful Mary introduced my parents to Linda Ronstadt. They played the album and actively sang along. I don’t think dad ever expected that 25 years later I’d follow his example and would sing the same songs to my son.

All the days of my life

Team Sean and Cindy

I’m a day late on this anniversary post. I was too busy yesterday spending time with Sean and Xavier, catching up with friends visiting from NYC, and freaking out over Breaking Bad to do some writing.

The day after we got married, we checked out of the hotel, and went to my parents’ house for leftovers and to open up gifts. Later that afternoon, Sean took a nap and I stayed up to brainstorm the moments I never wanted to forget from our wedding day. I wrote a long list of details and moments that would not be captured by any photographer, videographer or guest. A year later, I re-read the list and am so glad I wrote those memories especially the one after the vows.

Vows

When it came for the rite of marriage, Sean and I followed Fr. Ricky’s directions. We stood, faced each other and held hands. Our guests looked on quietly — mostly — as we stated our intentions.

Yes, we had come freely and without reservation to give ourselves to each other in marriage. Yes, we would love and honor each other as man and wife for the rest of our lives. Yes, we would accept children lovingly from God and bring them up according to the law of Christ and his Church.

The church was quiet except for a friend’s toddler asking “Where’s Buzz Lightyear?” I thought that was fitting since we had just pledged to accept children.

Saying our vows

Following the statement of intentions, it was time to give consent to marriage through our vows. Sean went first and repeated after Fr. Ricky that he promised to be true in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. His voiced cracked and tears welled up as he professed to love and honor me all the days of his life.

Nervously, I took my turn and repeated the same words Sean had just uttered. I, Cynthia, take you, Sean, to be my husband. As I continued, I tried my best to keep my voice steady and eyes dry but was only half successful. I couldn’t help tearing up as I saw the emotion in Sean’s face as I promised to love and honor him all the days of my life.

When I was done, Sean mouthed, “You won.”

I shook my head. No, we pretty much cried at the same time. The bet and bragging rights didn’t matter anyway.

A kiss to seal the deal

A year later after reading my notes, I realize that Sean was right. I did win, but it wasn’t a bet and the prize was better than bragging rights.

I got him. And Xavier too.

First anniversary

Happy anniversary, Sean.

What I expected when I was expecting

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“Is it everything you expected?” Isabel asked. I think it was Isabel, but it may have been one of my other former roommates at the mini-reunion lunch to celebrate 15 years of friendship.

I didn’t know how to answer because I couldn’t clearly list my expectations. Sure, I had an idea, but it was pretty vague. I tried my best and said stuff about being tired and not sleeping much. Now after thinking about it for a few days, I have more to add about the first month.

Yes, it is everything I expected and more. It’s been difficult in ways I didn’t expect and rewarding. However, each day it just gets better as Xavier grows, becomes more alert and I feel less inept.

goinghome

Expectation: We’ll get the hang of breastfeeding pretty quickly. It’s natural, how hard can it be?

Reality: Breastfeeding is freaking hard, painful (at least for me) and time consuming.

I knew that breastfeeding was a skill that must be learned by mother and child, but I naively expected that it would come easy for us. It didn’t. I blame myself. I should have done more to prepare and been more realistic about the challenges.

I did prepare. Before delivery, I met with a lactation consultant and attended the breastfeeding with success class. After Xavier was born, I saw three separate lactation consultants 4 times, but only 2 had a chance to see me nurse. I think the biggest mistake I made was checking out before seeing the on-duty LC. I saw another LC in clinic on day 5 and 8. By day 8, I’d already cried in frustration and pain a few times and really needed her assistance.

It’s getting better. Xavier is latching on better (no pain!) as he grows and we try different positions. I know he is getting enough by his wet/dirty diaper count and growth. He may still be small, but the newborn clothes that looked huge on him initially are more fitted. And there are a lot of moments while I’m feeding him and just staring at his little face and cheeks feeling all warm and fuzzy.

I also didn’t expect breastfeeding to be a topic of conversation. I don’t mind the comments, mainly because they’re positive and pro-breastfeeding. It is weird to answer questions from neighbors about how it’s going, if my milk came in or if I have enough.

[We weighed him recently and his weight gain is right on track. That makes me feel so much better about breastfeeding.]

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Expectation: I won’t get much sleep at night, but I’ll sleep when the baby sleeps to make up for it.

Reality: I sleep in short 2-3 hour stretches at night, but not much when he naps during the day.

Initially, the sleep deprivation didn’t feel that bad since it was pretty new and he was sleeping a lot. I feel more tired now as Xavier sleeps less during the day and the tiredness from the past few weeks sort of accumulates. He sleeps for intervals of about 3 hours between 9/10 pm and 9/10 am and 2 hours during the day. The night feedings have been getting easier to deal with if I keep him in bed with us rather than swaddled in the Pack n’ Play napper. Swaddling works best when Sean does it at night, during the day he breaks out of it. I don’t sleep much during the day since his naps are shorter then, he wants to be held and will wake if I put him down about 60% of the time, and I’m not a daytime napper in general. Plus, sometimes I’d rather shower, eat, or pump during his naps.

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Expectation: The first few months are like the third trimester and babies need to be held a lot.

Reality: Xavier wants to be held all the time, even when sleeping.

I don’t have a problem with this since I’ve been waiting months to hold my son. However, there are times when I would like to take a shower or use the bathroom without worrying that he’ll wake up as soon as I place him in the napper. If Sean is home or we have visitors, I’ll feed Xavier and then get a little break to nap or do something else while someone else holds him during his nap.

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Expectation: Going anywhere with a baby will be a production. You can’t just spontaneously pick up and go out.

Reality: I’m a little anxious about going out with him and have become a bit of a homebody.

In the first week home, I only went out for appointments with the doctor and lactation consultant. After a week of this and feeling like I was getting cabin fever, we finally got out for a short walk. After Sean returned to work, I’d take him out in the stroller to meet him on his walk home from the train station. I haven’t been out with him alone and still am working through the whole nursing in public issues.

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Expectation: I’m going to need a lot of help from Sean and my family.

Reality: I needed the help and got it. Sean and my family have been the perfect support for this new mama.

I really haven’t done anything except care for Xavier in the first month. Everything else including cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, laundry has been taken care of by Sean, my mom or my sister. My mom comes over to bond with her chulo, but will also start cleaning around the apartment as soon as Xavier shows signs that he’s hungry. She and Lori have cooked several meals and done grocery shopping. My brother sends over food from the restaurant where he works. Even my neighbor, Maria, has helped out with meals by making me oatmeal or soup. [Sidenote: I've been living in the same place for 13 years. Maria and her husband have been my upstairs neighbors the entire time. We've always had a cordial relationship, but hadn't interacted much until recently so it's been a pleasant surprise that she's been so helpful.]

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Expectation: Sean will be a wonderful father and partner in adventures in parenting.

Reality: Xavi and I couldn’t ask for better.

Sean does everything I do with Xavi except nurse. He returned to work after the first 10 days at home, but he gets home pretty much at the time of day I need help the most. Not only is he great with his son, he’s also done everything possible to ease my recovery and encourage me as I struggled with breastfeeding.

He’s also responsible for all the great pictures.

Expectation: My physical recovery would take a few weeks.

Reality: My recovery has gone well. I feel back to normal physically and any lingering pain/soreness has gone away.

I hope to be cleared after my 6-week check-up to begin running [slowly] again. For now, short walks with the stroller are about all the exercise I’m getting. I hope to get a wrap so I can wear him out.

Expectation: There would be a lot of diapers and some blowouts.

Reality: There have been a lot of diapers and a couple of messes.

We’ve both been peed on and have discovered that some diapers don’t work for us (ew, leaks) and babies can be really forceful with bowel movements.

xccday2

Expectation: I’d fall in love instantly with Xavier and would be awed. It’ll make the challenges worth it.

Reality: I’m totally in love. I stare at him all the time and study his cute features, tiny hands, feet, etc. And yeah, there are tough moments, but they pass as soon as I see his eyes light, his lips part in to a grin, and he snuggles up next to me content and satisfied after eating.

I love the faces he makes when I talk or sing to him or after he’s just finished eating. He really likes the singing and looks at me in wonder. I love seeing Sean cuddle and rock Xavi to sleep. He’s still small, but growing steadily. At the two-week check-up he had gained back what he lost in the first few days and surpassed his birth weight. He still looks goofy in some of his newborn clothes. I do get a little frustrated after a long day when it’s just us two and I need a nap or he’s in the middle of a cluster feed. But then Sean gets home or Xavi goes down for a nap or I finally get a chance to shower/eat/sleep and everything is better. I even look forward to doing it again the next day and seeing what’s new with Xavier.