Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Women of LA

Hi everyone,

'Tis I, the former writer for Running Into Screen Doors. First, please know this is merely a creative hiatus I have taken... Between trying to make a dolla, dolla bill y'all, and raising the cutest baby on the planet, my brain's a little fried and I have been having a difficult time coming up with anything worth reading that doesn't sound preachy or boring as hell.

Having said that, I hope you'll enjoy a YouTube video I just stumbled upon... As you know, I lived in LA for three years, and while I wasn't trying to pick up chicks or "hit that ass," I LOVED this video and all its accurate stereotyping. Also, I don't think you can go wrong with a video that features Pauly Shore, Urkel and Mr. Belding...

Hope you are doing well... hugs and kisses from me to you!

Monday, November 19, 2012

On Gratitude

Oh hey, everyone (and by everyone I mean my computer screen and the thousands of Italians who visit my site each month due to this post)! I kind of fell off the face of the earth recently. Here's the thing: between caring for and loving the cutest baby on the planet (I know, I know, I don't know how I managed to score him, but I did), trying to make money and actually having a life outside of the 1,100 square foot confines of my house, this blog has unfortunately suffered a bit.

Ok, a lot.

A couple years ago, I chatted with a well-known blogger and asked her how she managed to turn what was originally a fun online hobby into a lucrative job. She said consistency is the hardest thing and clearly, I suck at posting five times a week. Or more than twice a month! Not that I am trying to turn this blog into a lucrative job, I just wish I didn't feel guilty for neglecting what is supposed to be a fun online hobby.

Anywho, as it is the week of Thanksgiving, a time that always provides an opportunity to thoroughly reflect on what we are grateful for in our lives, I figured I would do just that, here:

I am grateful for...

... my beautiful, glorious, amazing, hilarious, genius son. He is the ultimate.

... my husband, for working his ass off to support me and said glorious baby at home and understanding why it is important to us both in the first place.

... my family and in-laws, in constantly being a place of love and support. And yes, Moe is definitely included in this bunch.

... my friends, for loving the three of us in the way that they do. The laughter we have with our compadres cannot be purchased, duplicated or appreciated enough.

...  San Diego's heat wave being over (am I jinxing myself by typing that?).

... the holidays, as they are my favorite time of year. I am GIDDY with excitement.

... good health.

... cashmere sweaters, boots and scarves.

... happiness, in all its forms, big and small.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

190 (About Pregnancy Weight Gain and Losing It)

What does 190 mean to you?

To me, it's the number I topped out at before giving birth to Jack.

Mmmmhmmm, yessirree!

I thought I'd write a little something about gaining weight when you're pregnant. Full disclosure: I don't exactly know what weight I was when I became pregnant. I hadn't weighed myself in 6 years before that; I live my life based on how my clothes fit and try not to fixate on numbers. So, I have to guess that I was between 138 and 143 because that's where I've always felt good.

You do the math, people: that's around 50 pounds of weight gain. Every time I went to the doctor, I saw the scale creep to a number I had never before seen in my life.  I should also mention, most OBs say the "healthy weight gain for pregnancies" is around 25 to 30 pounds.

Did I ever feel discouraged or down on myself? No, I didn't and here's why:

(1) I ate healthily, drank a ton of water and exercised regularly. I did not use pregnancy as an excuse to indulge in every food whim I had (although, I did consume a fair amount of prosciutto and limeade during those 9 months), nor did I pretend to be some delicate flower who needed to sit on the couch all day.

(2) My mom told me she gained around 60 pounds with each of us. It was just her natural weight gain for pregnancy (and doctors will tell you, the best predictor for how pregnancy will be for you is how it was for your mother). Sorry for outing you, Mom.

(3) My doctor told me tall, thin women have a tendency to gain more weight when pregnant to make their bodies more hospitable to their babies. Which sounds kind of mean and horrible, like my poor child was relegated to some sort of dungeon as opposed to a master suite.

(4) I've mentioned this before, but I guzzled around a gallon and a half of water a day... that's some serious poundage right there!

(5) I was in the process of doing the most important thing I had ever done in my life: bringing a person into the world.

Once I had Jack, I lost 30 pounds in 6 weeks (ok, well, I guess if we're being analytical here, Jack was almost 7 pounds, so I lost around 23). When I went in for my 6 week check-up, I was shocked to learn I still had 20 pounds to go because I already felt amazingly light for where I was at on the scale.

Since then, I've continued to steadily go down. I'm solely breastfeeding Jack, walk for about an hour and a half a day, eat healthily and don't stress about it. It took 9 months for me to gain the weight and I refuse to get down on myself... being a new mom is challenging enough.

Pregnancy has made me appreciate my body like never before. The extra chubs or skin I would have fixated on in high school (ummm, which was non-existent in high school, I see that now) or college is nothing; I think I look damn good and I am truly proud of what I've been able to do during the last year thanks to my body.


A couple tips that has helped in feeling good about myself since birth:

(1) At 6 weeks, I went and bought two new pairs of jeans. I needed to get out of maternity jeans and yoga pants and feel like a real person again. I simply started trying them on until I found two I felt good in; I did not check the sizes until I was waiting in line to pay for them. Also, I wanted my pants to feel snug... some words of wisdom to live by, "Sweat pants are the most comfortable pants in the world. You never gonna want to lose weight unless you feel uncomfortable." (Shout out to Li-Nan for her insight).

(2) The only exercise I did for the first 6 weeks was walking. I'd strap Jack to my chest, leash up Moe and off we'd go. It was a great way to get out of the house for some fresh air and I truly believe walking to be one of the best things you can do to clear your head (and trim your thighs, eh, eh?).

(3) I'm back to not weighing myself. We don't own a scale, so it's easy for me to do, but I can tell I am already significantly smaller than I was at my check-up a month ago.

(4) I've started going to kickboxing classes at the gym and I kid you not, I can feel the endorphin rush when I'm walking home. Even if it wasn't a hard core workout (which it is), the happiness I experience after that hour is worth it.

(5) Surround yourself with people who do not fixate on weight or body image. At the end of the day, you brought a human into the world, and that should be their focus, not your size. Also, acknowledge the fact that every woman, body and pregnancy is different: comparison truly is the thief of joy.

To all you pregnant ladies out there, enjoy life as it is right now before it changes in the biggest way possible. And to all you new mamas, congratulations! I'm sure you and baby look great.

Mine sure does.

“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” - Buddha

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Routines... Good for Children and Working Mothers

I started working again Monday. Who's watching Jack? Oh, I am.

Let the hat wearing begin!

Currently, I'm trying to manage scheduling watching him and getting work accomplished concurrently and thus, I have to start getting Jack into a routine. Some parents dread this word, but honestly, in all the years I've worked with kids, nothing screams a relaxed child than the word 'routine.' Kids thrive on predictability and knowing what comes next. If you set expectations, they know how to meet them and most of the time, will try to rise to the occasion (to the best of their abilities, of course. These days, Jack's doing the best he can if he sleeps, eats and fills his diaper).

On my end, I'm going after new social media accounts and trying to become a freelance writer. The issue I'm facing is that when I have to decide between giving myself time to write and watching my beautiful son, he wins out every time.

As it should be, n'est pas?

Naturally, this makes things sticky. Kyle and I have agreed that I have a year to make a certain amount from home. If Jack turns one and I'm still not bringing in enough, I'll have to go out and get an office job. Which is certainly sentiment enough for me to bust my ass and try to make it happen.

Because I love being at home with my boy more than anything.

Working moms, any suggestions on how to be most successful in the limited time you have? At this point, I welcome any and all tips!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

What to Register for with a New Baby (or Things I'm Loving 6 Weeks In)

For some reason when I was pregnant and it was time to create a baby registry, I had major anxiety. As in, it was laughable how much the thought of picking out a car seat and a stroller and a breast pump brought on a severe case of the sweats. It's not that big a deal, right?

But he is my first baby. And I wanted the best. And I love doing research on things like this.

SO, I am imparting all my hard earned wisdom cultivated in the late night hours over the last year to all of you. I have read blogs, product reviews and Amazon descriptions, hit up new and old mamas alike and here's what I have for you: a list of things I could not be living without.

 Le swing: Fisher Price My Little Lamb Platinum Edition Cradle N' Swing

This is the first item on the list because, in some ways, it has helped me get back on track with managing my life. I didn't register for a swing because they are (mainly) huge and our house is (mainly) small. Also, I had read somewhere you should wait until your baby is born before deciding between a bouncy seat and a swing to see which one they prefer. Our friends generously let us borrow their bouncy, but alas, Jack is a swingin' kind of guy. He is not a fussy baby, as long as he's being held most of the time... uh, yeah son, mama has things to do and this arrangement is not gonna work out for long! Enter the swing. It has changed my life. It's like baby crack... fo reals!

Le Miracle: The Miracle Blanket

Some people refer to the first three months after birth as the "fourth trimester" (a bit of an oxymoron, but I digress).  Essentially, the belief is that right out of the womb, babies don't have the coping skills needed to be comfortable on planet earth. The answer? Swaddle the kid like a psycho in a strait jacket. I'm sure plenty of you know about the beautiful muslin Aden & Anais Swaddle Blankets and while we use them for a variety of things (keeping the sun out of baby's face, wiping up spit, playing fun games of "Mother Theresa dress-up"), they've been difficult to use as actual swaddles (i.e. the few times we've used them overnight, I've been awfully scared of Jack suffocating). In walks The Miracle Blanket. It's like the muslin swaddle's somewhat plain Jane sister who has a winning personality and ends up getting the guy in the end. We use it Every. Night.

Le Carrier Pour La Bébé: Cybex Aton

Before I wax poetic on this car seat, I should mention I'm almost certain this company decided to stop selling their product in the U.S. (I am SO happy we snagged one before they did!). Designed by those crafty Germans, this seat is not only the lightest on the market, it's also one of the best looking (in my opinion). Also, it clicks into its adapter easy peasy which has made my life one bit easier. No matter what direction you go in the car seat world, make sure this is on your registry... the hospital won't let you leave the hospital without one. ALSO, determine if your car seat works with the stroller you select. We ended up getting a Cybex stroller in addition to our B.O.B. so that we could push baby boy around the first 4-5 months of his life before he can sit up unassisted.

Le Mute Button: Philips Avent Soothies

I was one of those pregnant women who said, "We're gonna try to avoid using a pacifier if we can." HA! Once Jack was alive and doin' his thing, that lasted a total of one week. I had registered for some of these as a "just in case" sort of item, and I thank my lucky stars that I did. Aside from diapers, a change of clothes and the car seat, this is one item we never leave home without. 

Le Best Friend: My Brest Friend

Allow me to weigh in on the Boppy vs. My Brest Friend debate, as I've had the pleasure of using both multiple times at the lactation support group I attend (more on that later): My Brest Friend wins, hands down. While I could see the Boppy being good for tummy time with baby, it wiggles around too much, and I certainly can't get up with it around me. Aside from My Brest Friend's spelling (and oh yes, it drives me completely insane: you couldn't just have it be My Breast Friend? What's so wrong with the 'a'?), it provides back support and Jack's finally getting to the point where he can rest his head on it while having a go at my tits, which means I have a single hand free. What I can do with said free hand, I've yet to determine, but I'll let you know when I figure it out!

Le Dog Walking Assistant: The Moby Wrap

We received two types of wearable baby carriers: the Beco Gemini (structured) and the Moby (simply fabric). Jack was much smaller than we were anticipating and was unable to use the Beco right away, so we started using the Moby. Now that I've finally mastered how to tie it, I can say I love wearing Jack in it. Not only was it a lifesaver for the first six weeks during "the witching hours" from 4 to 8pm (he immediately zonks once we start moving), it's also been handy as a helper for walking Moe when Kyle's at work. In addition, seeing Kyle wear Jack in it? Holy moly, he's never been more attractive. Because, really ladies, is there anything better than seeing your husband be a kick ass father? I don't think so.

Le Pump: Medela Freestyle Hands-Free Double Electric Breast Pump

My friend Micaela sent me her breast pump to use before I had Jack and I'll admit, I thought I'd be using it once and a while. Like most of the things I'm discovering about motherhood, I was completely wrong and have used it non-stop. I had milk supply issues right out the gate with breastfeeding (it turns out my boobs wanted to be disappointing from high school right up to now), and the first month of Jack's life, I was essentially chained to this thing. Breastfeeding is easier than before so it's not AS important as it was in the beginning, but it does allow me to have some extra milk in the diaper bag should we need it.

Le Diapers: Pampers Swaddlers Sensitive
Yes, they're the most expensive diaper I'm aware of. Yes, they are totally and completely worth it. Do you want yellow poop shooting out the sides of your kid's onesie? Didn't think so. If you can afford it, these are the way to go.

I could go on and on about the items I'm loving (as well as the ones I think are kinda meh), but this write-up has to have an end at some point. If you want to ask me about any of it, feel free to email me at ehsutherland@gmail.com. In addition, I can't recommend Lucie's List enough for any first time parent trying to navigate "baby gear hell."

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The First Month

Surprises from the first month of being a parent (and things seasoned parents don't tell you):

1. Babies are a time suck.

I think we're starting to get closer to the "set routine" portion of baby life, but the first thirty days went something like this: wake up, feed, try to do something but ultimately soothe fussy baby, change diaper, feed, try to do something but ultimately soothe fussy baby... You get the idea. I'd look at the clock and suddenly it would be 4 o'clock and all I'd have to show for my day's output was keeping another human alive.

Which is actually a pretty big deal, am I right?

2. You feel like a phony.

I must admit I still feel like a bit of a fake when it comes to this whole "mom" thing. When I pass Jack off to Kyle, I call him "Daddy" which is additionally weird and doesn't feel genuine. It's not that I don't look at my son and feel like his mother. It's more that it feels incredibly surreal and I don't put myself in any sort of "Mom" classification. I know at some point, I'll start to feel like this whole thing is not a dream, I'm just not sure when.

3. Recovering from having a baby blows... especially in the summer.

Since Jack was born in August, we've been "surviving" the worst heat wave I can remember as of the last few years. I am not built for hot weather. I wilt in the heat like a southern belle and would prefer a good winter storm any day. But can I go swimming to cool off? Nope, I have to wait until my six week check up. Have I been sweating profusely, more than I normally would in this weather? Of course! Also, sorry, a bit TMI, but having to wear maxi pads for a month and a half? All sorts of not fun. If you thought you hated them in middle school, just wait until you have a baby! It seems like a never-ending drag.

4. Your house will experience many states of non-clean.

This kind of ties into number one, but it deserves its own section. People tell you to let your house go to crap as you get used to your new routines as a parent ("Focus on your baby! Don't worry about folding the laundry or doing the dishes!"), and while this advice is all well and good, it can only get to a point of disrepair before health codes start to fail and public health nurses get called in. I imagined having a ton of time to clean while Jack was "sleeping" during the day, but I laugh at my naivete, friends... what a fool was I!

5. If you're lucky, you'll get to enjoy all sorts of free food!

While I think we are reaching the tail end of this perk, I have to say it's been pretty awesome. Our friends and family have brought take-out, homemade meals, groceries, dessert, even some booze... and it has been all kinds of helpful. Remember number one? Forget any kind of decent cooking  coming out of your kitchen for at least the first month.

6. It's not as hard as everyone says.

Don't get ahead of yourself- I am by no means saying being a mom is easy. Good god, no. What I'm trying to say is that many, MANY people will tell you the horror stories and make it sound like having a newborn is akin to trying to teach a panda how to roller-skate or surviving some sort of scary Indonesian prison. Yes, I'm not getting as much sleep as I did pre-Jack. Yes, it is work keeping a helpless human alive (I mean, the kid can't even hold his head up for christssake). However, Kyle and I have talked about it and agree: it's totally manageable and not that bad. I'm hoping this is reassuring to some readers, but I will mention that if you're a complainer or a "glass is half empty" kind of person, it will probably be quite hellish for you.

7. Babies are incredibly talented at producing loud, audible farts.

I mean, seriously, it's impressive.

8. They're not as delicate as you anticipate they'll be. 

Going into this whole "newborn" thing, I was slightly afraid of breaking my child. I imagined that one false move and baby boy would end up in the emergency room. It turns out babies are incredibly resilient (and thank god for that, because Kyle and I aren't exactly delicate people)! As long as their basic needs are being met and their head is supported, you pretty much get an A+.

9.  Baby poop smells like rotten popcorn.

This is for breastfed babies... I can't attest to the formula fed set.

10. You will think they are perfect, you will spend an inordinate amount of time staring and it will always feel like it's flying by too quickly.

Ok, I guess this really isn't a surprise.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

My Birth Story: Follow Up

It seems many of you were able to appreciate the lightness of my son's birth. I come from a family that enjoys seeing the humor in things, and dear lord, the day of Jack McKay's debut was certainly filled with many opportunities to do so.

However, I realized after sharing my dramatic tale that there were a few things I forgot to mention and I decided that some follow-up is needed.

(1) All the noise I was making was not necessarily from the pain I was in. Yes, giving birth was very painful at times, however, up until some nurses taught me how to rein in my vocals, I was using being loud to actually get through the contractions in a positive way. It helped me keep my focus. I'm going to do a different write-up about natural child birth in the near future, but until I do, hear this: many natural childbirth advocates believe that an open mouth equals an open cervix. Sounds crazy, but I totally buy into the idea that if your body tenses up (like clenching your jaw), you're less likely to progress as well in labor. If you let go in regards to what your body is doing, things happen faster.

(2) The birth I had was AWESOME. I realized after a few friends commented on how terrified they now were of having a baby after reading my story that I hadn't adequately conveyed my satisfaction. Almost everything I could have envisioned about how it would go down, did. Granted, I didn't expect to show up at the hospital at the last minute, shoot amniotic fluid at some nurses and I CERTAINLY didn't think the midget from Poltergeist would be the doctor on-call delivering my child, but you can't get everything you hope for in this life!

(3) I have never felt more proud of myself or my body. Bringing another HUMAN (!) into this world the way nature intended... I did what I set out to do and no one can take it away from me. And I have the world's cutest baby to thank for it.

(4) Kyle did not get major props in my last write-up. I won't deny it: I was a little skeptical about how he would be as a birth partner leading up to "the big day." I had asked him to read three books, most of which he did not because he thought the cesarean was definitely happening. The night he started scrambling to catch up was the night I went into labor (oops). But you guys, he pulled it out. He, more than anyone else on the planet it seems, has a way of keeping me calm when things seem their most chaotic. And aside from his choice of parking space and his incorrect use of a certain "contraction tracker" app, he was awesome. I was (and still am) super proud of how he handled everything that day.

(5) I forgot to mention the world's most delicious oatmeal cookie can be found at Sharp Mary Birch Hospital. It was the first thing I ate after giving birth and I have never loved a cookie more.

In the coming weeks (because it seems I am still having difficulties getting posts up; sorry about that), I will be writing a slew of things about birth, life with baby and officially starting out as a working mom. I hope you'll join me in all my new adventures!
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