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I Also Lived a Day According to Ben Franklin’s Schedule (but with a newborn, and only kind of)

A few days ago I stumbled across the Good Men Project‘s post I Lived a Day According to Ben Franklin’s Schedule and it Changed My LifeI envied the author, Tim Goessling, for getting to live by a schedule- even one from 1791. Dividing my day and living in an organized fashion are ridiculous fantasies for me now that I have a newborn. No two days are alike in this house. One day baby naps and I get things done, and the next there are no naps in sight and I end the day crying. Though I was very intrigued and love a good challenge, I figured there was no way I’d be able to also live a day by Ben Franklin’s schedule, mainly because of the 5am wake up. I sleep when the baby sleeps in the mornings (most of the time) and waking before she did just seemed foolish. I talked to Steve over the weekend about living by this schedule for a day and explained that if I did manage to try it, I wouldn’t let it interfere with his schedule, which, you know, pays the bills around here.

Tuesday morning I awoke at 5:20am very confused. The baby had gone to bed when we did, at 11:30pm. The confusion turned to panic as I ripped myself out of bed and stared wild-eyed into the pack and play 2 feet away from where I sleep. There she was, my little daughter, sleeping as she had slept for the past 6 hours straight, an obvious miracle. She was tossing and turning a bit, her signal to change her diaper. I decided that waking up at 5:20 was just as good as waking up at 5:00 sharp, and knowing that this opportunity might not present itself so nicely again, started my day living (loosely) according to Ben Franklin’s schedule, pictured below.

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borrowed from Good Men Project’s “I Lived a Day According to Ben Franklin’s Schedule and it Changed My Life.” (click photo for link to article)

 

5:20am~ awaken with big open eyes, wonder why baby hasn’t woken up in SIX hours, panic

5:20-5:23am~change diaper in the dark while baby screams

5:23-5:40am~ feed on both breasts, baby falls back asleep

5:40-6:00 pee, confirm menstruation is back a mere 11 weeks after birth (even with EBF, no bottles, and no pacifiers), make coffee, learn that Meadowlands Racetrack has ostrich racing, vow to later Google ostrich racing, fill up Brita tank. I reminded a confused Steve of why I was awake by tiredly mumbling “Benjamin Franklin” with a shrug and assured him it wouldn’t interfere with his getting ready to go to work. Things were going well in the kitchen until I became too efficient and overfilled my coffee mug. I could go on a rant here about the inefficiency of a Keurig which only fills coffee mugs half way, forcing the user to brew twice in a row, but I’ll spare you.

Ben Franklin’s schedule clearly stated that I should rise and wash in the morning. The shower would have been a good time to contrive the day’s business, think on Powerful Goodness, and come up with the day’s resolutions but I chose not to shower in the morning for two reasons: 1) I had just showered last night and postpartum/PMSy hormones were already making my skin incredibly dry and 2) I had promised Steve that my Ben-Franklin-for-a-day stint wouldn’t affect his necessary schedule to, you know, go to work and provide for our family. If the baby woke up while I was in the shower it would throw off his usual morning rhythm and so I chose to forgo it.

I sat in bed with the laptop and contrived my day’s business. What did the day hold? Well, the baby is teething so probably the day was going to hold lots of crying and drooling and general unhappiness. The female cat was going to pee in the kitchen because apparently that’s just what she does now and my efforts of resistance are futile. If this day was like the day prior it would end in tears for me, as long days with a baby sometimes do. A walk outside would do us good, so I checked the weather- forecast was for 20 degrees F, with snow showers at night. At 6:15 it was 14 degrees but felt like FOUR, so yeah, probably no walk for us today. I contrived that the day’s business would just go as it was going to go, and that was that. I had no plans for socialization due to the menstruating. No one tells you the first one after birth can be terrifying… I didn’t want to see or talk to anyone, instead just wanted to curl up in a ball and rock my cramps away.

After contriving business and whatnot, I addressed Powerful Goodness. I sat in bed with my coffee and pledged to just sit and think for a full 5 minutes. I should have relished this time, as during the day before I had exactly zero time to think and ended the day completely fried, but I only lasted 4 minutes. Not knowing exactly what Powerful Goodness is, I reflected on the day before and forgave myself for losing my patience and temper. I resolved to practice Only Love Today and peeked in at the baby sweetly sleeping and felt the warm wave of gratitude wash over me. God, is she ever beautiful. We are so lucky.Then I remembered my husband and had a moment of gratitude for him. This led to wondering what was for dinner, which led to the realization that today he was going to be gone until 10:30pm. The dread set in as I looked at the clock and realized I had 16 more hours until someone else could hold the baby. Putting the dread aside, I decided to make turkey meatballs and roasted brussel sprouts for dinner, should I have the time. If not: leftovers.

Thinking on Powerful Goodness was actually really nice. I still don’t know what it means, but it feels great to do.

Sipping my coffee, it was time for the resolution of the day. Uhh… “Don’t lose my mind?” Does that count? What about “Don’t throw up when changing a poopy diaper.” “Try and eat breakfast before 3pm?” No, those didn’t sound right. I made 3 resolutions, one work-related, one home-related and one sanity-related. I would update a page on my website, fold the (2) hamper laundry in the family room, and start the Orange Rhino Challenge of no yelling. I didn’t expect to accomplish all of these, and placed the Orange Rhino Challenge as my priority.

Prosecute the present study… hmm. I scanned the original Good Men Project article for what the author thought that meant. Oh- “I took “contrive day’s business” to mean I should set out some goals for the day and “prosecute the present study” as me setting up a clear plan on how to accomplish them.” This made me laugh because my clear plan on how to accomplish the day’s goals was just “KEEP IT TOGETHER.” I decided my clear plan would include doing anything and everything in my power to get my infant to nap. With the teething and growth spurts she hasn’t been napping for more than 15 minutes during the day and it’s been very trying. Infant massage has been helping, but getting her back to a 2 or 3 nap routine (which I can tell she needs) has been impossible. So, “Get that baby to nap” became my (vague) clear plan for the day.

Then, breakfast. While the baby was still asleep I washed some blackberries, which I put atop a big bowl of old country muesli. It was heaven. By 7:30am I had eaten, blogged (albeit a very short post), written in a few personal side projects, beaten a level in Candy Crush, read a chapter of a book, taken pictures of the baby and texted them about, and stretched.

While Ben Franklin scheduled his work from 8am-12pm and 2pm to 6pm, my workday lasted for  solid 15 hours. From 7:30am until Steve stepped through the door, my time was spent wiping drool, changing diapers, scrubbing the kitchen floor, freaking out on the cat (totally failed at my Orange Rhino Challenge a few hours in… very un-Ben Franklin-like of me), swaying/rocking/dancing with/singing to the baby, nursing, doing everything in my power to get her to nap, making mental notes, thinking about coffee, organizing individual messes into piles of mess, and cleaning the house. I kept forgetting my goals of the day and had to constantly check my morning’s notes to remind myself to fold the laundry (done at 6:30pm), update my website (fail, but I did some tinkering to my business’ Facebook page), and not yell (complete and utter fail). At around 1 I was able to read a few more chapters of a book, just as Ben Franklin would have done, and even heated some lunch.

Through crazy persistence and some (read: lots of) luck, the time I put into helping my daughter nap worked, and she took a short afternoon and long early evening nap- this meant I had time to make dinner! Roasted brussel sprouts and turkey meatballs: a dream come true. I also had time to get an array of other neat house-stuff done, none of which included doing the dishes or laundry. The actual text from me to my husband stated: Try not to kill me when you get home. There’s stuff everywhere. But I swear I have a plan! 

Ben Franklin ended his work day at 6, at which point he tidied up, ate dinner, relaxed, and reflected on his day. I didn’t get to reflect until I quietly crawled into bed at 11:30 (unlike BF there was no way I was staying up until 1am). I thought about the goals I had set earlier, what I accomplished, what good I had done. I thought fondly of the majority of the day, which was spent cuddling with my baby and providing what I could for my family with what limited time I had. I thought about how to anyone without a child, my day might seem really stupid, lame, boring, or unproductive. Then I thought about how little I care nowadays of the opinions of others, how everything I need I have, and how much better life is with naps.

As I drifted off to sleep, I again addressed Powerful Goodness, something which Ben Franklin only did in the mornings (according to his schedule). My mind swelled and caved around thoughts of the universe, why we’re all here, and what makes me happy. I didn’t come to any huge conclusions or figure out the meaning of life, but I did fall asleep peacefully, and awoke this morning with a strange sense of contentment. As a new mom, I can’t even begin to think about the possibility of considering following Ben Franklin’s daily schedule every day, or any schedule any day for that matter- but I will try to continue to address Powerful Goodness as often as possible to keep me centered, humbled, and thankful.

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I Screamed into a Pillow Yesterday

I don’t really want to think about yesterday. It was hard. And long. In a cruel twist, the universe decided that the baby would start teething and I would start ovulating at the same time (Read: 9 weeks postpartum). This means that yesterday, teething was in full spring as was my period. Even exclusively breastfeeding, with no bottles or pacifiers, and baby not sleeping through the night (though last night she slept for 6 hours straight… go figure). I didn’t realize how terrifying the first one after birth could be. The day ended with Steve coming home from work and taking the baby, and me taking a moment to sit on the couch and cry into my hands for a few minutes, then composing myself and heading into the kitchen to eat my first food in 10 hours.

I’m not going to recap everything. Instead, read this blog entry by PA doula and mother of 2, Brittany, to get an idea of how One of Those Days as a new mom can go. Brittany has a newborn AND a toddler, so, yeah. I can’t even imagine.

Some days… some days are really challenging. Luckily today is a new day. Fingers crossed, deep breath, here we go.

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16 Products & Services to Make Your Postpartum Easier

This list is not in any particular order nor is it complete. I feel like I should have some sort of disclaimer like “Individual results may vary. You might not like or need or want any of these products or services.” But really, I don’t know what I would do without most of these things:

 

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1. Snuza Hero

 

This might be one of the most important, beloved gifts we were given during pregnancy. The Snuza clips easily onto both disposable and cloth diapers, as well as little pants. Does the baby sometimes wriggle around enough so that it unclips itself and goes off and gives us a heart attack at 2am? Sure. Are a couple of inconvenient false alarms worth the peace of mind that the Snuza gives us? Absolutely. It’s easy to use and can go anywhere the baby goes, unlike infant monitoring pads that stay in the crib. No matter what room our kiddo finds herself napping in, we can attach the Snuza to her. It’s pricey, but worth every penny for anxious new moms like me.

 

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2. Keurig Coffee Maker and Ekobrew Reusable Filter

I didn’t appreciate our Keurig until our daughter was born. I use an Ekobrew filter so can fill with my favorite regular or decaf coffee (decaf… ha! hahahahAHHAHAHAHAh) and press a button and have a cup of coffee within seconds. The Ekobrew saves us money and doesn’t harm the environment, so everybody wins.

 

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3. Lactation Counselor/Consultant

If you’re even considering breastfeeding for any amount of time, please research and contact a lactation counselor or consultant during your pregnancy. Have their number on your fridge and programmed in your phone. Call them. Have them come over. Pick their brains. Let them direct your hands and watch you attempt to breastfeed and let them work their magic. Our lactation counselor charted the course of our postpartum period, saved our marriage, and changed our life. In like, 2 hours. Please. Please please please have a lactation professional on speed dial; breastfeeding can be challenging BUT IT IS POSSIBLE.

 

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4. Boba wrap

We love this wrap! Our daughter has been enjoying her Boba since she was about 2 weeks old. Some days her being in the wrap on my chest was the only way she would nap or I could get anything done, like dishes or laundry. The wrap has also been great for exercise and cabin fever as it keeps her warm and snug even in the cold winter months and I can get out of the house!

 

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5. Birth Ball (aka Yoga Ball)

Our birth ball was of mega importance during my induction and labor and continued to be a great tool after our daughter was born. Bouncing or swaying on the ball with her in my arms has helped her to calm and sleep when otherwise I would have been required to walk around the house exhausted. Birth balls can be so helpful when both you and your baby are tired but he/she needs movement to drift off to dreamland. The ball was also hugely helpful in alleviating my lower back pain after labor. Bouncing on it was -not- happening in the first 5 weeks when I was still healing, but eventually I was using it all the time.

 

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6. An assortment of nursing pads

So, I didn’t realize in pregnancy that my chest would go through a bunch of crazy size and shape changes after birth. I knew my milk was going to come in and things would change, I just didn’t realize that my breasts could change shape literally from day to day. I also didn’t realize that certain nursing pads would work great with a larger bra needed on days when I was more engorged, and others would work better when I was smaller, pointier… you get the drift. Luckily I have a bunch of different types of pads, both cloth and disposable, that work for different sized bras and boobs.

Bamboobies: great for round/larger days/bra with a tighter fit

NUK cloth pads: great for every day, but not the softest material so can be scratchy

Target brand with adhesive: great for larger bras/smaller or larger chest days

NUK Ultra Thin pads: great for rounder days- no adhesive so if bra doesn’t have a snug fit, can move around or fall out when nursing

 

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7. Coconut oil

Make your life easier by going to Costco and getting a big ole tub of organic coconut oil. We have never used a lotion or cream on our baby- only coconut oil, and she has the softest, smoothest skin. I never have to worry about her ingesting chemicals, especially now that she chews on her hands all day long. She has had only 2 small dots of cradle cap, and that was when she was a week or two old and we weren’t bathing her yet. After every bath, we slather her in coconut oil. It’s compatible with cloth diapers, has gotten rid of diaper rash, has healed cuts on her face from nail scratches, and worked wonders as a nipple cream. We tested a bit out on her ankle where the skin is thin when she was a day or two old, watched for a reaction and we’ve never had a problem with it. It’s also delicious, in case you were wondering.

 

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8. Boppy

I’ve tried a few different types of nursing pillows and now only use our Boppy if I want to use a pillow. In the early days when baby was still so tiny, it provided the perfect amount of height to help with breastfeeding. I also use it now when I’m in bed- I place it atop two pillows (like an upside down horseshoe) and lean back to breastfeed. Sometimes we sit the baby inside of it for a minute. sometimes I rest a plate on it to eat. We use our Boppy ALL the time, and love that the cover comes off easily to throw in the wash. I also love that we bought it gently used for $8 at a baby expo.

 

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9. Fresh Direct (especially Heat and Eats and 4-Minute Meals)

My mother in law gifted us with 2 weeks’ worth of freshly made meals and they were absolutely delicious life savers. We got everything from -the best- chicken tikka masala I’ve ever tasted, to fresh berries, frozen dinner rolls, salads with chicken and toppings, soups, risottos… These meals are a major component to our eventual breastfeeding success, because I was able to keep fed with fresh, delicious hot meals by just popping them in the microwave for 4 minutes and scarfing. My mother in law hand-picked each item we received, and they arrived at our door ready to be put in our refrigerator and freezer. Another great resource to look into is Door to Door Organics to get fresh produce and groceries delivered- just know that you probably will have zero time to cook anything. 

 

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If you currently own a Star Wars bathrobe, please contact me. You may be a person I need to get to know.

10. Bathrobe

Sometimes there’s not a lot of time to find a shirt in the postpartum period. Sometimes you’re tending to a clusterfeeding baby every 20 minutes and shirts are pointless. Sometimes your hormones go berserk and you’re hot and cold and then hot again, and sometimes you just need a warm, snuggly, soft robe on to make you feel human when you’re sleep deprived and wondering what you got yourself into. Oh, and sometimes you fly out of your 3 minute shower to get to your crying baby who just woke up from her catnap and a bathrobe does the dual jobs of drying you and keeping you warm while you console your little one.

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11. Brita Ultramax Dispenser

Staying hydrated is such a huge, important factor of the postpartum period. It’s one of those things everybody stresses while you’re pregnant but you’re not really listening or caring because, hello, it’s hydration, not rocket science, and No offense, but I think I’ll be able to handle drinking water after the baby’s born, mmkay? You guys, staying hydrated with a newborn can be insanely challenging! I’m thirsty constantly, especially when nursing the baby 12 times a day and she is literally sucking the hydration out of me. Our Brita water thing makes cool, clean, refreshing water available all of the time without having to deal with water bottles and recycling. It’s one of the best purchases we ever made. I believe we got it on sale online at Target.com for around $15.

 

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12. Wearable blankets

This is one of those items we received at our baby shower that I completely did not understand. It stayed in its package until 2 weeks ago when Steve and I were concerned about the temperature. We live in a multi-family home and while the beginning of the evening starts out at a completely livable temperature, as time goes on it creeps up as we are heated from the family who lives below us. By 3am our bedroom is like a sauna! The wearable blanket is the perfect option for us to keep baby warm the beginning of the night- I just take it off at her mid-night diaper change/feed if it’s gotten warmer in the room and then don’t have to worry about the baby overheating and also didn’t disturb her sleep by having to add or remove layers. Whoever came up with wearable blankets is a genius (and obviously a parent).

 

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13. Floating octopus thermometer

 

I used to use this thing towards the end of my pregnancy when I was concerned with whether or not the showers I was taking were too hot, because I was/am a total worrywart. Now we use this for every bath and thank goodness, because apparently I am terrible at gauging whether or not the bathwater is too hot or cold for the baby.

 

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14. EarthMama AngelBaby Bottom Balm

Yes. This got rid of diaper rash within 24 hours. Also- EMAB Nipple Cream is awesome! 

 

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15. Disposable plates/bowls/cups/flatware

You have lots of options here- paper, plastic, even ones made from sugarcane and plant starch (it’s official, Costco has EVERYTHING). Dishes are going to be the last thing on your mind. You will grow to hate dishes, and will be amazed at how many spoons two people can go through in a single day. Disposable dishes and flatware have been sooo wonderful in reducing mess and stress, and when visitors came in the early days I never had to worry or think about cleaning after everyone went home. 

 

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16. Himalayan salt lamp

My sister gave me this a few years ago and it’s turned out to be the most perfect addition to our bedroom, where our daughter sleeps. It gives just the right amount of soft light for a baby. I have enough light to change a diaper and breastfeed in the middle of the night, and yet I can still fall asleep with it. Though, let’s be honest, I could sleep through a hurricane most nights.

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