Just Grin and BarrettBlog
A blog beginning with my wedding journey all the way to my pregnancy journey with a little bit of life sprinkled in.
I am a working mom. I teach. I coach. I write. I read. My “me” time is sacred. It’s my opportunity to get things done without a child hanging on to me, which I love by the way, but just not for the full day. When my child naps for a long time, the angels sing a chorus of Hallelujah, and I head right to my desk to dive into a blog or straight to the couch to dig into a book. Or maybe I sleep. Or watch Netflix. Or clean. Whatever. I just want the opportunity to have those options. But before I dive into what I did to blockade car sleep let's look at why I did the insane things I did.
When my son was around 4-5 months old, and we were really perfecting those nap schedules, I really valued putting him to sleep in his crib or pack n play. Why? Because his long naps allowed him to get the restorative sleep that he needed and me to have some “me time.” Moms, we know how important “me time” is. It’s like gold, and I wasn’t going to let a car nap take away my coveted time to myself.
So what happens when your baby falls asleep in the car on your fifteen minute drive home? That catnap, even if it is only 5 minutes long, kills the sleep drive. That car nap sends signals to the brain: Hey, I am not sleepy anymore. That nap satisfied me. Let’s play! Try to put your child to bed after a catnap, and he won’t have it. He’s ready to go! Then, you’re left trying to chase naps all day. It’s exhausting. Unless you want to drive around for an hour and half, so your baby can get his full nap, follow these ways to prevent the dreaded car naps.
My last car had a keyless start, so I would rattle my keys incessantly anytime I saw my son start to drift off. One hand was safely on the wheel and the other shook those keys like my life depended on it. Henry’s head would snap right back up every time. Did I feel cruel? A little. But not enough to warrant me to stop. After all, I was doing this for him, so he could have a nice long nap that left him well-rested and happy. My rapacious rattling had nothing to do with my desire to lie down and read a book. When I got a new car and had to put my keys in the ignition, I banged my keychain against the dashboard as best I could. Not as effective, but it still worked. I highly suggest purchasing one of those jingle bells and keeping it on hand in the car. Want to take it up a notch? Belt Jingle Bells at the top of your lungs until you get home, and then you can sing Silent Night as you creep out of the nursery to enjoy some peace and quiet for a couple hours. 3. Talk in Whale
Yes, I am talking about Whale as in the whale speech in Finding Nemo. Before discovering Whale, I would narrate everything that was happening out loud to keep Henry awake. Yet, adding in the dialect of an orca spices things up and piques Henry’s curiosity, so he’s more apt to hang on to witness Mommy’s newfound craziness. To really get into the role, move your body back and forth like you actually believe you are a whale. Mommy is making a right turn [bob body the right]. The car stops at the red light. Now it turns green and here we go. Vroom Vroom [Contort your body as if you are emerging out of the water to blow water out of your blowhole]. Now we are home, home, home. Time to sleep. You’re whale-come. 4. Activate Scream Mode
This one is very similar to talking in whale, but instead of narrating everything in Fish, you will recount all details of what you’re doing by screaming. To extend this practice, you can see how loud you can scream your child’s name. For example, my son’s head would slowly drop. “HENNNNNNRRRYYYYYYY!” He would snap back up. A short time later, his eyes would grow heavy and start to close. “HENNNNNNRRRRY!” Even louder that time. This headache inducing practice continues until you arrive home, and your child goes down for a nice, long nap, and Mama can kiss that headache goodbye as she kicks her feet up on the couch.
5. Roll Down the Windows
I have a saying, “When Henry’s eyes are no longer brown. It’s time to roll the windows down.” Super cheesy but effective. As soon as those eyelids become heavy, I roll that window all the way down and let the air and noises flood into the car. Henry’s aroused from his short-lived slumber. This strategy works even better when it’s raining, and those droplets can pelt Henry on the face. Then we arrive home and it’s to the windoooowwws to the beds. The sweat stops running down my head. All the mamas can now call their friends.
I hope these tips help!
How We Transitioned from Room to Nursery
Step 1: Follow @takingcarababies on Instagram or check out her blog.
Cara is amazing! She is a sleep expert and a former nurse. Her tips have helped tremendously.
Step 2: From Birth-4 months we kept our son in our room in a bassinet next to my side of the bed.
This was easy for me to grab him whenever I had to breastfeed.
Step 3: Around 4 months, we got rid of the bassinet and switched to the pack n play portion.
Step 4: Around this same time, we moved our son further from away from me but still on the same side as me.
Step 5: Around 5 months, we moved the pack n play to the opposite side of the room, the farthest away from me.
Step 6: Around 5 months, we also moved the glider to the nursery. Most of the feedings and bedtime routine now took place in the nursery rather than our room.
Step 7: Around 6 months, we tried to do as many naps as possible in the crib in the nursery instead of our room. Make sure it's dark!
Step 8: Around 8 months, we transitioned to the nursery and sleeping in the crib no problem!
How to Get Your Toddler to Eat
Step 1: Turn on Calming Music
Step 2: Let him eat what you are eating
Step 3: Let him take control and feed himself
Step 4: When that doesn't work, sing "If You Are Happy and You Know It" over and over and over
Step 5: Shove food into his mouth when he giggles at the song. Do this until he is finished eating.
Step 6: Go insane! Your child will find this funny and then will eat on his own. You're welcome!
How to Shop for a Toddler's Birthday Without Buying Toys
1. Book Club Membership
2. Baby and Mommy/Daddy Yoga Class
3. Children's Museum Pass
4. Toddler Art Class or Art Kit
5. Baby's First Year Memory Keepsake
6. Swim Lessons
7. Baseball Tickets
8. Zoo Membership
9. Train Ride
10. Kids Cooking Class
How to Prepare for Breastfeeding
Step 1 Order a pump through your insurance
I ordered mine with Medela. Fill out a questionnaire and see if you are eligible.
Step 2 Clean and sanitize your pump parts
Follow the directions that come with the pump. I boiled and then washed the parts the first time before using. Subsequently, I only washed.
Step 3 Buy supplies
Step 4 Take a class
Sign up for classes at your local hospital and research La Leche League near you to join support groups and classes for after Baby is born.
Step 5 Practice relaxing techniques
It's important to practice relaxing techniques now, so when your baby comes you can learn to relax your mind and body for your let down to happen.
Step 6 Get excited for baby!
How to Calm a Baby 0-3 months: The 5 S's
Step 1: Swaddle
Wrap your baby in a swaddle. It is best to practice wrapping baby in a swaddle when she is calm to get her used to the swaddle. But if she is fussy continue wrapping in the swaddle even if she appears to not like it. Make sure arms and legs are wrapped snug in the swaddle.
Step 1a: Wrap or sling
During the day, wear your baby around in a wrap or sling. The snug, tight, close, swaying motion of a wrap reminds your little one of the uterus and makes him feel right at home and calm. A sling also teaches your baby the difference between night and day.
Step 1b: Sleep Sack
During the night, we would put our son in a sleep sack when he was ready for bed. He was the most secure in the sleep sack and had a harder time wriggling out of them.
Step 2: Side/Stomach Position
Once your baby is nicely swaddled, roll him onto his stomach or side in your lap. This position will relieve any pressure or gas that he may be feeling in his stomach. Never put a baby to sleep in this position.
Step 3: Shush
Next, add a loud shushing sound. Moms tend to do a quiet shushing sound but the louder the better. It was noisy in the uterus. Download some white noise, a high pitched hair dryer sound, or white noise and turn it up. Turn on a sound machine for the evening.
Step 4: Swing
Then add in swinging or gently rocking to replicate the movements of the womb. Whether you use your arms to jiggle your baby, a wrap, an exercise ball to bounce, or a swing/bouncer, the gentle motions will calm your child down in no time.
Step 5: Suck
Finally, plop a pacifier or teether into your baby's mouth to add the cherry on top!
What every happened to predictability? The Tanners and Fullers might still be wondering in 2020, but they must not have looked too hard to find it because it is sure living in my household. I love routines just as much as I love finding change on the ground, watching airplanes take off and land, and doing crosswords in the morning. They're a pretty big deal to me. I love reading other people's routines. I love watching stories on people's routines. There is something about that tantalizing taste of predictability that really gets me pumped. The satisfying smell of familiarity that tickles my fancy. And the pleasant performance of doing the same thing day in and day out.
With that said, it's important to keep in mind that routines are not rigid. They are flexible to deal with changes, to spice things up every now and then, and to keep you safe. Here are my routines for the weekdays and weekends.
My Weekday Routine
And that is our routine! It is isn't set in stone and varies from weekend to weekend. Remember routines are flexible. Sometimes do we have to postpone a nap or skip it entirely? Yes, that's life. Occasionally, do I have to "ignore" Henry, so I get get necessary work and household projects done? Yes, it happens. From time to time, do we stay inside all day because well we don't feel like leaving or changing from our pajamas. Yes, of course. A routine is what works best for you and is subject to change. Let me know your routines!
I’ll be honest. I thoroughly enjoyed breastfeeding, but I never expected to one day be sitting on the grimy floor of a supermarket bathroom squirting milk out of my overly full breasts. That would have been a hard pass for me in the Places To Pump Department, and I had already found myself pumping on the sweaty seats of a high school bus at a cross country meet as the bus driver blocked teenagers from climbing aboard a few weeks earlier. Nevertheless, that September day there I was crouched on the ground desperately squeezing the milk out.
I need to back up a bit before arriving to how I got in that situation on that particular day. By the time September rolled around I was in my 8th month of breastfeeding and pumping. It had been going well. Breastfeeding had been delightfully easy from the start (Cue eye roll and the chorus of, “Must be nice,” from all the cracked nipples and engorged women out there). That said, I wasn’t ready to relinquish the power my boobs had quite yet, but I wouldn’t have argued if given a break from the constant need to have someone suckling on me for nourishment, even for only a few days.
The opportunity presented itself when a friend of mine announced he was getting married near San Francisco in September. My husband and I didn’t debate long. We booked our flight. We were excited, but as the trip quickly approached, I began to get anxious about being away from my son and breastfeeding. With more and more research I gathered from the internet, I soon came to find out that pumping on a vacation was more like a full time job. You had to make sure you had all the right supplies: coolers, ice packs, cleaning brushes, breastmilk bags, portable battery pack, multiple flanges, bottles, and a side of determination and perseverance. Not to mention, you had to ensure that there was enough milk left at home to last your son the whole time you were away. It was a lot for only a few days.
Not too long later, there I was trekking through TSA with my Medela in hand and a forced smile plastered on my face, ready to force myself to have some fun. After getting through the plane ride and having to pump on the plane, I was starting to feel more relaxed and that this was a good idea. Later, we met up with our other friends at the hotel. The weather was beautiful. The backdrop gorgeous. The food delicious. We danced, ate, and drank our way through the wedding, having a ton of fun. The next day, we made our way to San Francisco and then spent the day walking throughout the city, taking in all the sights and tourist attractions. So far the day was going great!
Which leads me to why I was sitting on the floor of a grocery store bathroom. What I didn’t fully realize was that without my son sucking out every last drop of milk, my breasts filled up fuller and faster, which meant I had to pump more, which meant the more I pumped, the more my boobs thought I needed more milk. Supply and demand. Simple economics. Hence, a problem arose.
On our walk through the city, I had only brought along my handheld pump because I didn’t want to lug around all the supplies for the motor pump. As hour 4 quickly came and past, I knew I had to desperately get to a bathroom to relieve myself. I scrambled to a Starbucks bathroom, locked myself in a stall, and tried letting the milk flow naturally. Nothing happened. I was hyper aware that there was a line to use the bathroom, my friends and husband were patiently waiting, and I was super uncomfortable squished in this box. It was taking forever, and I began to panic. Soon, I abandoned my post and went to find my group. I would suck it up. I didn’t want them to spend their vacation confined to my boobs’ time and agenda. As we walked some more, my boobs started hurting a lot. I was getting engorged, and any woman who has breastfed before knows that this isn’t a pleasant experience. I dreaded mastitis. I needed to do something. And fast.
Then, there in the horizon I spotted an oasis in a desert, a Safeway. It was all in the name. My way to safety. Safeway = grocery store = private bathrooms = pump in peace. I darted to my refuge, throwing back a, “You guys don’t wait for me. We’ll meet up later.” I scoured the store for the bathrooms and found them tucked away in a hidden corner. Perfect. I nearly sprinted to the room. Finally, with the door locked behind me, I sighed a deep breath of relief. Then, I surveyed my surroundings.
It was the kind of bathroom that reeked of urine, had toilet paper scattered throughout the floor, and had a toilet that was filled to the brim with piles of toilet paper. Not the most ideal or sanitary place to squeeze milk out of your boobs, but it would have to do. At least, I was in peace and quiet. I settled on the floor on a toilet seat cover, relaxed, and let the handheld pump do its job.
What felt like only a minute later, I heard noises outside of the two bathrooms. Then, there was a knock. Was a line seriously forming for people to use the restroom? How many people had to suddenly pee in a grocery store, so much so that they would abandon their carts? I, for one, rarely used the facilities in a shopping market. What the H-----??? Well, this was San Francisco where everyone was probably perfectly hydrated. Curse you, West Coasters, and your need to be healthy. My “just a minute” wasn’t going to cut it anymore after the 4th minute. I texted my husband. He would save me.
And he did. He stood outside the bathrooms directing people to another stall, telling these poor people with weak bladders that his wife was pumping inside. I did the deed and felt my boobs sag with relief. Then, I had to pour that precious liquid down the drain since I didn’t have the means to safely store my milk. Oh, what we do for our children. I opened the door, walked out, and turned one last time to look at my safe haven that wrenched me from my struggles. A dingy bathroom floor where I had pumped.
Simply put. I don't make dinner. But let me preface: I can make dinner. I have made dinner. I just don't.
Let me back up. I grew up with my mom making homemade meals, and, despite her protests, she is a good cook. We sat around the dinner table practically every night and had meals. My grandma was the same way. She was really good. For years the whole family would gather EVERY Sunday at her house to have a home cooked meal. I wanted that for my future family. I envisioned coming home from work and prepping a gourmet dinner filled with all the food groups. We would sit around the table, talk about the day, and throw our heads back in laughter. I pictured making my husband's favorite meals. Meals he could brag about to his friends. You know, the quintessential things white people dream about.
Then, I met my husband. His mom is a good cook. His dad is a good cook. Naturally, he became a good cook as well. In the beginning of our marriage, I tried fixing meals, but my husband was just better. And I had an epiphany - I DON'T LIKE COOKING. I don't. I dread thinking of meals to have for the week. I despise chopping, dicing, or slicing anything. I dislike frying, sautéing, whisking, or mixing. So my husband took over. In fact, he was glad to. He enjoys cooking and thinking of meals. I threw in a feeble attempt every now and then, but in all I don't do it. And for a while I felt bad about it. I felt like I should be doing it more. I felt like it should be my role. Not the husband's. Those feelings lingered on, so once in a while I would half-heartedly suggest I take over the cooking for the week. I even made a New Year's Resolution to cook a meal once a week. That didn't last long. Then, this year I finally learned to let go after a year of having to let go.
My first encounter this year of letting go came two days after the New Year, and it hit me like a slap on the face. I was about 36 weeks pregnant when I learned that I had to have a c-section because of a brain aneurysm. The whole pregnancy my neurologist had said I would have a normal birth until on second thought she decided it would be safer if I did not. I pleaded. I didn't want a c-section. I wanted a birth the natural way. Like somehow having a c-section made me less of a woman or a mother. So not true. Finally, I let go. It felt better that way, succumbing to what is. And guess what? The c-section was fine. Actually, it was more than fine. It was my son's birth story. It was his perfect way into this world, and it was because I let go.
The letting go continued on that year when after spending nearly 6 1/2 months at home with my son, I had to let go of the routine and schedule I had carefully crafted for him and hand it over to my in-laws and mom. I had to let go that they wouldn't do everything the way I did it, and it would be ok. I had to let go of that guilty feeling that having a career made me less of a mom. I could balance both and be good at both.
When Henry spat up all over my outfit the moment we were about to leave, I let go.
When the mother-son photo shoot I had planned turned into Henry crying and then falling asleep, I told myself to grin and bear it and then let go.
When Henry woke up at the crack of dawn, and I had to drag myself out of bed, I let go. Sometimes.
When Henry had explosive diarrhea on his Breakfast with Santa outfit, so he had to wear his Christmas Morning outfit instead, I reluctantly let go.
When Henry would fling his food all around while I watched helplessly, I didn't want to, but through gritted teeth and clenched fists, I took a deep sigh and then let go.
And finally, later on in the year, I had to let go that my breastfeeding journey would have to end sooner than I had in mind. I found out that I had to have surgery on my brain aneurysm, and the medicine I would have to be on required me to stop breastfeeding. I cried. I didn't want it to have to end, but when I let go and let God, it became ok. I had no control over the matter, and finally letting go was like freedom from the bondages of worrying. The world didn't end when I stopped breastfeeding. We had some setbacks, but my son is still happy and healthy. Again, it's our story.
After a year of letting go, I can say that I don't make dinner. And I, Lauren, am now okay with that.
This once a week blogging is definitely going out the window. With teaching and coaching officially underway, I collapse on my bed around 9:30 PM every night in a comatose state. I have little energy to wash my body and brush my teeth. Do you think I have time to blog? No! And don't make me. Thank you.
Anyway, Baby B is starting to develop a somewhat sense of hearing, and I am about to commence an all out North Korea effort on brainwashing my baby into learning about sleeping. We're going to talk about sweet, savory slumbering all day until I wear my baby out at nighttime, and then we are going to actually sleep after playing the propaganda Sleep Song: Sleep You Little Bastard. (*Disclaimer-I do not call my baby bastard. I actually play my tummy lullabies and classical music). So that's pretty much what is going on in the pregnancy now.
I hate this phrase. I always have. Some women are skinny by genetics. Some are skinny because they work out really hard and eat healthy. That doesn't make them bitches, Meghan Trainor!
However, that kind of changed when I got pregnant. So James and I are at the new Raleigh food hall, which is AMAZING! So much food everywhere and with my appetite back I was in heaven. After devouring empanadas and beans, I was feeling HUGE. My jean shorts immediately became unbuttoned, farts were escaping my butt, and I was spread out like I was Jabba the Hutt. While I was transforming from woman to creature, a Skinny Bitch came sidling up next to us with her boy toy. She had on high heels, skinny jeans, and a low cut top with no bra. She was drinking a Mai Tai and get this....eating nothing! In a place called a Food Hall, she was eating no food! Instead she was snapping selfie after selfie. As the umpteenth fart fought its way out, that was the moment when I first used the term Skinny Bitch. And I left feeling more satisfied than ever.
Week 17 Baby was the size of a Tangy Tangerine and Week 18 baby was a sweet potato. Yum Yum.
Hush Little Baby. Don't say a word. Or Mommy's going to call you a little Turd. And if that turd does stink, you better close your eyes and don't blink, you little Bastard
-The propoganda Sleep Song
North Korean Mommy