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    Deep Thoughts

    Thoughts After Nine Months of Nursing

    I’ve been wanting to share my thoughts on breastfeeding since I officially finished nursing Hudson earlier this month. How can I not when it dominated the last 9 months of my life by a mile? But I keep putting it off, and I think that much of my hesitance in writing about this topic stems from the overwhelming amount of hyper-opinionated information available online. I am confident that women do not need any further resources—especially in the form of opinions—to help them make up their minds about the very personal decision of infant feeding.

    In my nine months as a mom, I’ve never witnessed any real-life mom shaming on the feeding topic: no snarky comments about nursing in public, no side-eye for a mom’s decision to feed her baby formula. In my in-person mom’s group, about half the moms were nursing, and about half were on formula. Nobody seemed to care much either way about what the other moms were doing on the feeding front—we were all too busy trying to figure out how on earth to get our babies to sleep. The internet, however, is another story. Facebook mom groups and new mama forums can be a black hole of over sharing, projection, and judgment, but of course the extremes always tend to get more airplay online. I would venture to guess that most moms are much more moderate about their views on the whole thing than the stories told online will lead you to believe.

    I’m firmly in the camp of: you do what’s right for you, your baby, your family. One of the great secrets of adulthood is that no one has any earthly idea what they’re doing—we’re all just trying to figure this parenting thing out. So today, I’m just sharing my story; how we made the decision to breastfeed, and how it all went for my son and I.

    I remember telling Jason on the night that we came home from our hospital’s “Breastfeeding 101” class that I was more scared of breastfeeding than giving birth. The class unfortunately reinforced what I’d read online: the initial experience of breastfeeding would likely be was painful, difficult, and exhausting.

    But PS: it’s THE MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU CAN DO FOR YOUR UNBORN CHILD.

    No pressure.

    I was, of course, intrigued by the perks of the whole deal—both for Hudson, and myself. A few bonus IQ points for Hudson and effortless weight loss on my end? Sign us up. But really, most of my motivation came down to food. I know that I feel my best eating whole, natural foods, and nursing Hudson would be giving him exactly that. So I was in, and my goal was to make it to 6 months, if at all possible.

    All that said, my husband and I decided that if it all went south and breastfeeding wasn’t working for us, we’d have no issue supplementing with formula until we could figure things out. Even before Hudson was born, we both had a sense of how precious those early days would be, and we didn’t want to remember them as a battle. Approaching the whole thing with hope but also moderation and a plan helped me maintain a sense of calm as the clock ticked down to the delivery date.

    I was pleasantly surprised to find that despite my fears, for Hudson and I, breastfeeding came pretty easily. Hudson gets most of the initial credit for that for figuring out the latching situation right off the bat, and I am still convinced that my crazy-41-week-pregnant-lady binge on ALL of the lactation cookies that I’d made for myself to eat when he was born contributed to my milk coming in very quickly. (For anyone completely freaked out by the term “lactation cookie” – they’re just chocolate chip cookies with brewers yeast mixed in :))

    The early days, of course, were not always easy—I was exhausted, recovering and Hudson was a marathon eater. Thinking back to him nursing for 45-60 minutes during growth spurts when he’d be hungry every two hours, I seriously question how I survived the early days with my sanity intact. (A very supportive husband and lots of coffee and water is how.) But I mostly felt gratitude that it was working for us.

    Everyone tells you how much easier it gets after the first few months, which I agree with 100%. Hudson got much, much faster at eating, and the whole process became second nature. Going back to work only part time was hugely beneficial in continuing breastfeeding exclusively. I have thought so many times in the last year that I bow down to all of the mamas that bring their godforsaken pumps to work every day, pumping 3-4 times at work. Pumping is unequivocally the worst, though a necessary evil.

    So on we went, nursing every 3 hours during the day and God only knows how many times at night. We cruised past my 6-month goal (how did I not celebrate that?), Hudson was thriving, and I was enthusiastically enjoying the bonus 500 calories burned daily.

    Hudson was eating so much solid food by 8 months that his milk intake had dropped significantly—this was both appropriate and positive, according to his doctor. I decided to swap out one feeding session per day with formula to give myself a little bit of a break. I did a TON of research and found organic formula options (Honest Company, Plum Organics) that I could feel really good about giving him to supplement the healthy solid foods he was eating.

    Huds helpfully exhibited none of the sadness/frustration/emotional trauma often cited in articles about weaning. The first bottle of formula he’d ever had in his life was around 8 months and the little tank hoovered the entire bottle without pause. You could have PRETENDED to prefer me, bud! I’m mostly joking about that, because what I really felt was relief. It was like a dam broke: suddenly, I felt overwhelmingly ready to be done.

    I’ve done the math, and I estimate that in the nine months that I nursed Hudson, the grand total amounted to 1740 sessions. Some of those were pumping, but either way—holy cow. It blows my mind to think about, and I’m glad I never did that math the night I came home from the breastfeeding class because that likely would have been the tipping point of overwhelm.

    So in the end, nursing for Hudson and I was, by all accounts, about as good as it gets. It was also the biggest sacrifice I have ever made, and unless someone I love needs a kidney in the future, that will probably stand true for my entire life. (I think it may top kidney donation anyway. What’s the recovery on that—like, a week or two??) I am in awe thinking about it now: I sustained a human life with my own body for 18 months. Science! God! Magic! Whatever combination of forces is responsible for that happening, it’s pretty amazing.

    I am also super happy that it’s behind us now. Which maybe is not the most motherly thing to admit, and I know that many women have given up far more to breastfeeding than I have, nursing their babies for much longer or omg twins. But it’s true. We did it, I’m proud, we’re done. 9 months in my belly, 9 months connected to me, (literally, 8 times a day for the first few months!) through nursing. You are welcome, Hudson William, and you owe me for life. Just kidding, I’ll try to control my mom-martyrdom until you’re at least in your teens—it was good for me too.

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    Life Lately

    Life Lately

    Our first official sighting of the water cannon at the mouth of the Chicago river! I love watching it soak unsuspecting boaters over the summer–hopefully Hudson is up for a little schadenfreude 🙂

    I’m working on Hudson’s 8/9 month update (whoops) and have so many cute photos of him to share soon, but I thought I’d share a look back on life over the last few weeks. I am pretty impressed by our activity level lately! I loved the quiet, snuggly fall and winter with Huds, but I am feeling antsy to get out there and show Hudson his first summer in the city.

    Last night, Jason said he thought May might be Chicago’s best month because all of the anticipation of summer is still ahead of you. I totally agree: I am PUMPED. We have more fun plans with friends on the radar and are just so, so excited for warmer temperatures and consistent outdoor time. Bring on the beach, parks, street festivals, pool time, and lots of time on the balcony. Here’s a look at life lately!

    No words. Just amazing.

    Two weekends ago might have been the best weekend of my life! Except for the weekend Hudson was born, of course. Oh, and our wedding. And honeymoon. Okay, so forgive my hyperbole, but it was a REALLY good one: WE WENT TO SEE HAMILTON! Jason surprised me with tickets for our 2nd wedding anniversary this spring and I have been anxiously, impatiently waiting ever since. Despite my sky-high expectations, it still exceeded everything I could have hoped for in a show. It was thought-provoking, hilarious, heartbreaking: just everything. Best present ever, J!

    A peanut butter infused vodka cocktail from Arbella.

    After the show, we went to Arbella for a pre-dinner cocktail. I got a peanut-butter and chocolate concoction because how can you NOT try peanut butter infused vodka if it’s on the table? I’m happy to report it was as ridiculously good as it sounds. River North has long needed something like Arbella (upscale, creative cocktails, intimate atmosphere) and we actually went back after dinner for one more drink because we loved it so much.

    “Wonder” – the dessert course from the Art Menu at Topolobampo.

    Dinner was Topolobampo… long on our must-go list and it was just out of this world good. We did the 7-course tasting menu with wine pairings and enjoyed every bite of a long, delicious meal inspired by Rick Bayless’ modern Mexican art collection. I even braved squab for the first time (major trip down memory lane recalling my 22-year old self Googling “squab” while working in marketing for Fox & Obel and subsequently being horrified at the notion of pigeon as a delicacy.) It tastes, of course, a lot like chicken 😉  The only photo of dinner I took was our dessert, which tasted like light, fluffy, heaven. Or maybe that was the wine pairings talking? Mama’s a lightweight these days.

    Pineapple aguachiles and Hiramasa laminados at Lena Brava.

    And I have to add–that marks TWO Rick Bayless restaurants in just two weekends. Who am I!? The weekend before last, I went with a girlfriend to his new place, Leña Brava in the West Loop for dinner and it was equally good. Much more casual and trendy but no less amazing on the food front. Also, Mr. Bayless himself was there! I’ve heard before that he’s often seen around Chicago but it was my first sighting, so I was pretty excited. My hungry little heart was pretty happy about all of the great food over the last few weeks.

    I became OBSESSED with redoing our balcony this year, and I’ve made some major progress! To be honest, by redoing, I really mean doing anything at all with it. My biggest challenge was finding a functional, outdoor table with an extremely small footprint that was 32-36” high, which is just high enough so that your view is not of the railing but not too high so that you’re staring down a 35-floor drop to the ground below. Not to be dramatic or anything. I’m happy to report that I found the PERFECT solution: a balcony bar!

    We have officially named our little 7×9’ outdoor paradise the Sky Terrace, which sounds more than a little bit like the name of an early 2000’s hotel rooftop bar in the Gold Coast, but we are tired new parents so please forgive our lack of creativity. Now we can say to each other, “Hey, want to go have a drink at Sky Terrace tonight?” This is helpful in us pretending we have a summer social life when really we’re in for basically every night at 6:30PM due to the almighty Bedtime.

    Hudson is unsure about his new digs.

    I’m apparently on a home-improvement kick, because I also attempted to read The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up—I got about 40% through it before I just couldn’t handle any more “tidying” as a verb, but I do credit the book for kickstarting some intense spring cleaning and organizing. We donated or tossed a TON of stuff and I organized even the deepest, darkest corners of our little condo—a very necessary endeavor as Hudson’s empire continues to expand and take over our entire condo. His little play area has the best view in the whole place.

    Hudson’s favorite part of swimming lessons: the part where he’s not swimming.

    I signed Hudson up for mama-and-me swimming lessons at Goldfish Swim School and I have to admit I’m a little underwhelmed by the whole thing. He has officially outgrown his talent for instantly napping in the carseat, so getting through Chicago traffic down Grand is pretty miserable both there and back as he is not a happy camper being stuck in the back seat alone and is extremely vocal about that.

    I love the water, and really I just want him to be comfortable in it. But I’m thinking I can probably get him to that point by myself this summer in our pool, and later I can worry about him actually learning to swim. Plus, he’s so BIG that I can’t really do a lot of the exercises with him during the lessons— the instructor will say, “hold them under one arm and with your other arm, help them kick their feet!” Meanwhile, I’m holding on for dear life to my 22 pound, wiggly, wet, pissed off baby with both arms as he’s trying desperately to climb on to my head so as to avoid being dunked again. Lots of work, little reward as of yet 😃

    By far the biggest thing we’ve done lately was a weekend trip out to Ohio to visit family, but that’s getting a post of it’s own–so I’ll wrap it up with this picture: our official first trip down to our pool deck. No swimming yet, just a little playtime on a blanket because I have to figure out how the heck you get a baby and yourself in and out of a pool that doesn’t have stairs (Google? Mom?) but get ready Hudson Bean, it’s only a matter of time!

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    Life Lately

    “Easter”

    Our Easter outfits: technically not pajamas 🙂 Also, the only picture we took together. Mom of the year!

    I keep doing this weird thing. As a holiday approaches, I think, ehh—Hudson is too little to get into this, so really, who cares this year? And then as it gets closer, I think—oh crap. I CARE! If nothing else, it’s a great excuse to dress him up in a little outfit, do a festive craft for our yet-to-be-created baby book and get the picture, right? And then once I get my wits about me, it’s too late to actually do anything about it. This is so strange because I LOVE holidays. We did not drop the ball on Christmas, of course, but a version of this scenario has played out for Halloween, Thanksgiving (how did I not get a “mama’s little turkey” onesie and make a FOOT PRINT TURKEY?!), and St. Patrick’s Day.

    Given my track record, it was probably no surprise to Jason when right around Black Friday I did an about face on my “let’s just take it easy this weekend” stance and wanted to do something to celebrate Easter. At that point, it was really too late for the outfit, and I didn’t have the heart to send him straight into the arms of a terrifying mall Easter bunny for the classic meltdown pic.

    So we decided to start our own family tradition and make a nice brunch at home to celebrate. Which was perfect.

    But from here on out, I’m committed to getting my holiday on. Hang on to your hats, family.

    This weekend was as beautiful a spring weekend as I can remember—in the 70’s! Which is particularly great because Easter is always heavy on the spring weather expectations with the whole “rebirth and renewal” thing—but April is a weird month in Chicago and does not typically deliver on the sunny, mild weather front. I remember so many cold, drizzly, Easters past… and maybe even a freak snow shower or two?

    Just two men having a drink.

    On Saturday we took advantage of the summer-like weather with lots of walks around the neighborhood, and sat outside at D4 to have drinks and an appetizer (and try to contain Hudson, an increasingly difficult task). We had the good luck to have friends surprise us to come over to say hi to Huds, grill dinner with us and watch the Blackhawks game—though that’s where our good luck ended, because we ran out of propane (key for steak skewers) and the Hawks also seemed to run out of good luck.

    On Sunday I got up early with Hudson and we headed out for an early trip to Starbucks and for a few laps around the neighborhood to wake “ourselves” up from the relatively late night with friends. Then we got home, got ourselves out of PJs, and got down to brunch making.

    Our final spread, and the only galette I will ever make.

    We made a frittata, our favorite bacon from Whole Foods, and ambitiously attempted a smoked salmon potato galette. At one point Jason said, “So, did you actually read this recipe? Because you seem pretty surprised by a lot of these steps.”  Apparently I skimmed it, because nothing in me would have committed to a two-cast-iron pan situation involving a potato cake flip with hot oil in the process. The whole thing took 2 hours to make and we were starving by the time it was done, but we had a lot of fun in the process. It did not turn out perfectly, but I loved spending the day in the kitchen with Jason while we rotated Hudson through his various toy stations to keep him entertained.

    After brunch, we took Huds to the park for some time on the swings, then headed home for a family nap to sleep off our huge brunch and the fresh air. The best.

    Next year there will probably be Easter bunnies, baskets, and egg hunts, but I hope we continue our Easter brunch tradition in some form every year. I imagine that holidays come to take on a life of their own as babies turn into children, and families grow and change. Even though I don’t have the photo in the cute outfit, I will always be grateful for these memories of our quiet little celebration at home.

    But get ready for July 4th, 2017, Huds: I’m coming for ya with a star-spangled onesie and a hand-print flag!

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    Travel

    Our first family vacation: a trip to Palm Springs

    Maybe my favorite picture of him yet – just so much cuteness!

    Midway through our family vacation to Palm Springs, my mother in law said, “I can’t wait to read about how you’d describe this experience on your blog.”

    Apparently, Jason and I did not get all of our bad travel karma out of our systems with the ill-fated “babymoon” trip to Marco Island a little over a year ago, which ended in the ER for severe food poisoning. Lest I overxaggerate here, there was no ER on this trip. But it was not exactly smooth sailing.

    I thought I planned extremely well for this trip. That planning included making sure Hudson would be entertained on the plane, and that both he and I looked very cute. My exhaustive planning did not account for the airline losing Hudson’s suitcase (which had my pump in it!) or Hudson getting sick.

    Before I start whining, let me say that this trip was overwhelmingly great. I read something once that talked about how huge a factor proximity is in the amount of time you’ll spend with loved ones if you look at the total number of days in your life. That’s a pretty obvious statement, but it stuck with me—perhaps because of it’s “duh” factor. I often wish it were easier to spend quality time with our family or friends, and proximity has become even MORE of a factor when attempting the Herculean feat of Leaving the Home with a Baby. It’s ridiculous.

    So despite all of the bumps along the way on this trip, having over a week to spend uninterrupted with family was awesome. Hudson may not remember it later, but mama will, and I LOVED watching him get to know his aunts and cousins. And even though Chicago had one of the mildest winters I can remember, we soaked up every second of that desert sunshine.

    The trip to the airport went super smoothly thanks to my old pal from my traveling days—the Chicago Cabbie. We set up an SUV bright and early and were miraculously all dressed, fed, packed and ready to go when he arrived. Though we had about 3x as much stuff as we were used to traveling with–we were basically a caravan of three.

    Even dropping the bags off at curbside check in was relatively painless and within about 15 minutes we were through security, two big hurdles I was pretty nervous about for our first flight. But it was all actually fairly easy, and we were free and clear to cruise into vacation mode…. or so we thought. (FORESHADOWING!)

    God bless the Chicago United Lounge, because those wonderful attendants fixed what could have been a major issue:  despite booking together and choosing our seats weeks ago to ensure we were all set, somehow our seats were moved around and we were all split up. After a few stressful minutes, it was taken care of and our seats were all back together… this time. (MORE FORESHADOWING!) We spent an hour relaxing in the lounge, while Hudson got some yogurt from the buffet and I drank a celebratory vacation mimosa.

    We booked Hudson a seat for the flight which killed me a little bit because as a friend put it, we’ll be paying for his flights for the next 18+ years, so there’s a clear benefit to taking advantage of children under 2 flying for free. However, the more I thought about it, Hudson has not slept in our arms in months now, while he regularly sleeps in his carrier. This was a great move and worked just as I hoped: he snoozed out in the stroller at the airport for a bit, and again for about an hour on the flight. I am pretty sure he would not have slept at all otherwise, and he just does not have more than 3-ish hours of awake time in him right now before things get ugly. So, money well spent.

    And thanks to him being able to snooze a little, the plane ride was actually pretty fun! He played with his new toys (a great tip I’d read), ate some peanut butter and more yogurt, and charmed the sweet ladies behind him. He didn’t even seem to register the pressure/ears thing that is commonly cited as the reason babies cry on planes. When he started to get a little fussy, we busted out the iPad which I’d loaded up with Mother Goose Club episodes on Netflix and he got to rock his ridiculously cute baby headphones. Judge me all you want: I support the use of technology 100% when the result is a smooth flight. All in all, could not have been a better first flight experience.

    Then, we got to the airport at Orange County to discover that Hudson’s suitcase was MIA. And in fact, when we left it at curbside check in, they somehow never tagged it in at all—so they couldn’t even tell us where it was, because it was likely in the black hole of O’Hare’s lost and found. Life lesson: always count those bag tags that I typically stuff in a pocket and forget about.

    Hudson was SO great while we spent an unexpected 2 hours in the OC airport. Just hung out in his stroller, watching strangers and playing with his toys. This was also the first time I nursed Hudson in public for real (with a scarf!) because there was no other choice. Another example of a scenario I’ve avoided for a ridiculous amount of time that ended up being no biggie.

    When it became apparent that the suitcase was not showing up that day, if ever, we hit the road (after fixing a snafu with the rental car… nope, didn’t reserve a mini-van!) and the 2-hour drive from Orange County to Palm Springs was so scenic and beautiful. As planned, Hudson crashed for most of it.

    Jason’s sister-in-law and her husband have a beautiful home in La Quinta in the PS area, where we camped out for the week. I hadn’t ever been to the area before last year but the California desert is so unique and beautiful. Palm Springs and the surrounding area is like a lush, green oasis with lots of (man-made!) water. And yes, I commented about a thousand times on the “dry heat” and how awesome it is.

    A few trips to replace Hudson’s essentials were in order. My urban mind was blown witnessing the sheer scale of the local Walmart—my Fitbit registered more steps on that day than any other, and I didn’t even do much other walking that day! But we got everything he needed and then the first half of the trip was off to a great start.

    Pool days with grandma

    The guys took a side trip to Vegas so “the girls” spent a few quiet days at the house taking walks around the neighborhood, grilling dinner, and enjoying the perfect weather. As always, Hudson was pretty cautious with his aunt and cousin at first but within about a day was hanging with everyone like he’d known them his whole life. (Which technically, he has, haha.)

    One of my favorite, funniest memories was when Huds’ cousin Alex was playing with him early on the second day and he was really starting to warm up, wiggling over to her and flashing lots of smiles. MAJOR progress. I was talking about my fear of Hudson’s 7 sharp little teeth and getting bitten and she said, “Oh, my friend just uses a really strong tone with her baby and it stops them, like ‘NO!’” Apparently that is a winning tip, because Hudson froze at the abrupt change in her tone, and then completely lost it. I felt awful… but could not stop laughing. One step forward, five steps wayyyy back. So funny, but everyone recovered nicely.

    I dragged Alex with me to a nearby “lake” for Hudson’s morning walk one day which was a big fat fail. The “lake” was flat, dry looking, and surrounded by people fishing out of the back of their cars. In one of the most scenic areas I’ve ever seen, I managed to find the least scenic place of all. Should have stuck to our idyllic morning golf course walks.

    Hudson at the zoo!

    We also spent a nice day at the Palm Springs zoo. Hudson was crashed out in the stroller for most of it, including the giraffes. Which is unfortunate, because the giraffes were by far the coolest thing I’ve ever seen at a zoo.  I couldn’t get over how beautiful and authentic the habitats for the animals were (Maybe because I’m used to Lincoln Park zoo?) and they just seemed… happy?

    Once the guys all got back from Vegas, Jason and I headed out for a little day-date to the La Quinta Spa for lunch and some drinks. Jason treated me to a massage there last year when I was pregnant, and the resort is heaven on earth. One-on-one time for us is rare, so we enjoyed every second of our afternoon.

    This picture is not really an accurate reflection of how the rest of the night went, but it’s still cute!

    We also attempted an early family dinner out with Hudson at a beautiful restaurant called the Cliff House. To be fair, I didn’t anticipate this being amazing, exactly, but I thought it would be fine. Maybe a few little walks around, bites of food, just some basic baby management. But pretty early on it became clear that he was not having it. Since the Cliff House is not exactly Chuck-E-Cheese where I’d feel OK about Hudson fussing around while people attempted to enjoy their nice dinners, Jason, Hudson and I bailed.

    That night Hudson started crying on and off at least every hour, and we pretty quickly realized that our poor little dude was not feeling well. He was coughing a bit and became increasingly congested. That night was an endless blur of trying to make him comfortable and short spurts of sleep. He didn’t have a fever but was visibly uncomfortable and stuffy—the poor guy looked like a caricature of a baby with a cold.

    Hudson’s other aunt and cousin had just arrived and thankfully he got lots of love and new toys to distract him the next day, but by bedtime he was inconsolable and I called our doctor back home. He advised us to try some Benadryl to help him both breathe and sleep, and to head to an Urgent Care in the morning. All hail Benadryl, because we all finally got some sleep. The doctor at the Urgent Care was the sweetest thing and told us he was likely battling a nasty virus that she’d seen a lot of lately.

    His grandparents kindly did the majority of Hudson duty the rest of the day with lots of snuggles and love so that Jason and I could get some rest and spend time with his siblings at the pool. Though I feel slightly guilty saying this since my little bud was feeling so crappy, it was actually a great day.

    The next morning we said our goodbyes and drove back to Orange County for one fast and furious tour of the coast before flying out the next day. We considered skipping this or even delaying the flight home since Hudson still was obviously not feeling well, but ultimately decided that getting him home would be the best thing. And I’m glad we stuck with our plan, because the drive was beautiful, relaxing and Hudson got some much needed sleep.

    The harbor at Balboa Island

    Crystal Cove

    My boys! <3

    After checking in at our hotel, we did a quick walk through Balboa Island in Newport Beach, which was adorable. But it’s situated in the harbor, and I wanted to see wide open ocean. So after a little bit of Yelp-ing and cross-checking Google Maps, I found a restaurant close by called The Beachcomber Cafe and we drove down the coast to the beach. This was exactly what we needed to end the trip—we pushed the stroller through beautiful, winding trails of Crystal Cove beach and sat at a picnic table in the late afternoon sun, watching the water and waiting for space to open up at the cafe.

    We had a few appetizers and drinks while Hudson attempted to take out everything within reach, which unfortunately included my awesome margarita. It was short and sweet, but a good last day for our little family.

    Jason and I sat on the balcony of our hotel room that night and watched the sun go down over the water while Hudson slept inside. Between the suitcase and Huds getting sick, it was not an easy trip—as two of my favorite mom bloggers put it, moms don’t get vacations, they get relocations. But all in all, it was great memories with family, a break from Chicago’s early-spring gray skies, and exploring new places. We had all survived, and surely our bad travel karma was expended for at least the next decade.

    Or so we thought, until the next day at the airport with our Benadryled child, we discovered that United had mixed up our seats AGAIN and kindly relocated Jason to a middle seat in the back of the plane. And ooh, sorry about that, they couldn’t do anything to fix it. I would ask how this is even possible but this week the video of the doctor being dragged off the United plane after refusing to give up his paid seat surfaced, so it’s confirmed: United is just the WORST with customer service.

    Resolving this situation involved literally paying the jerk that United put in the row with Hudson and I, who declined to trade seats with Jason when he explained the situation. “I can’t take your cash…” he said with his hand out.

    When we got home, Jason asked, “So, now what do you think about traveling with Hudson in the future?” And I admit my first thought was: NOPE.

    But then when I really thought about it, none of it was Hudson’s “fault”—of course. Travel used to be such a huge part of our relationship and this trip crystallized for us, yet again, how different things are with the addition of one tiny person. It’s going to be a long time before travel is carefree or easy again. But really, most of what happened was just weird bad luck, and that will all fade in memory. Eventually, we’ll just remember how cute he looked in his sun hat against a backdrop of palm trees and mountains, and taking him to see the ocean for the first time. Worth it 🙂

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    Baby

    Hudson’s 7 Month Update

    Last month was a big one for us! Hudson seemed to grow by leaps and bounds, practically daily. As usual, I’m late posting this so our big boy is now well over 8 months old! But I didn’t want to miss the chance to document some of the things that made month 7 so awesome. (Which really, true to confusing pregnancy/baby math, is month 8. May Hudson inherit his dad’s affinity for numbers.)

    As has been true of every month since last August, this one flew by. We had our first family vacation to Palm Springs, which definitely warrants its own recap. We also all got sick this month, and Hudson got the worst of it. Seeing him so miserable was the worst, but we learned about the magic of baby benadryl and acetaminophin/ibuprofin cycling, gave him lots of hugs, and now it’s behind us.

    Mostly, I think this month was notable because he seems more and more like a little boy to me. (A tiny, destructive little boy that communicates via grunts and yelling like a miniature caveman. Now that I’ve written that… maybe that’s all little boys?) It’s fun and also a little bit heartbreaking to see hints of the little boy he’ll be while the babyish qualities and dependencies melt away.

    On that note, anyone else remember the word “babyish?” That’s one I haven’t thought of in a while. That was the ultimate insult between my sister and I, whether to each other or to a thing: “Stop acting so babyish!” or “That shirt is so babyish.” Was that something we made up or do all kids hate to be reminded of their recent arrival here on earth?

    Okay, on to Hudson!

    Wiggles

    Hudson is increasingly physical. I still like to read the corresponding chapters for his development and age in the Wonder Weeks book to see what’s going on in that big head of his, even though I agree 100% with what Jason often says: “IT’S ALL A LEAP!” But one of the things the book says often is that you can start to see hints of your baby’s personality by what he chooses to focus on. I’m pretty convinced the second he’s mobile, he’ll never be in one place for longer than 2 seconds ever again.

    A few months ago, he started laying on his back and thrusting his whole torso upwards, off the floor, like a baby bridge. He’d do it a few times in a row out of nowhere, seemingly to expend energy. And now, he’ll lay on his stomach and shoot his legs and arms out over and over again like a beetle flipped the wrong way. If he’s trapped in his stroller, he’ll start dramatically shaking his head from left to right—just always, always moving!  The worst example of this is that while on his changing table he twists like a corkscrew to grab the basket of supplies behind him, often knocking the whole thing off in the process.

    We have a variety of ridiculous nicknames that speak to these qualities including Wiggles and Wreck-It Hudson. May these live on only in our memories 😉

    Eating solid food and drinking water

    Chowing down on a spoon full of PB

    This month was night and day compared to 6 months on the food front. Once I started seasoning his food, he’s game for pretty much anything. Oatmeal with a big dollop of peanut butter is his favorite, and he’ll eat a pretty astonishing quantity for dinner at night before bed. He also likes sweet potatoes, apple sauce, spinach (when mixed in with something else!), chicken, beef, eggs — but funny enough, the two things that he’s gone to TOWN on are hummus and guacamole, both given at restaurants to try to entertain his wiggly self. Give him all the flavor! I also have been making banana muffins that he’ll eat with me at breakfast in the mornings.

    He still makes the same hilarious, horrified face the first moment anything goes in his mouth, but then he’s good to go.

    We’ve tried the sippy cup here or there to mixed enthusiasm and results, but while we were on vacation, Grandma started giving him sips of her water out of a real cup and he LOVED it. So now, we’re just doing practice sips with open cups, and he’s also starting to figure out how to use the soft straw on my big bubba water bottle.

    Giving hugs

    This is by far the cutest update of last month. As mentioned, Hudson is generally a little whirlwind of wiggles, kicks and twists. So when we’re holding him, we’re holding on for dear life. Over the last month, he started something new where he’d pause to bury his face into our shoulders and wrap his little arms around us for a few moments. And yes, I die of happiness, every time. It never lasts long, but it is the sweetest thing. He’s changing so quickly that the days of infant snuggles already seem far in the past, so I’m mentally bottling up these moments.

    Toys and Games

    Huds LOVES his toys, which is a good thing considering there are literal buckets of them littering our home 😃 He likes to sit in front of his toy bucket and take them out, one by one, examining each one carefully and then tossing it aside. On to the next one!

    Over the last month he’s gone from just looking at or grabbing for his toys to really playing with them. His favorites are his laptop—he’s fascinated with it opening and shutting—and a dog that sings and lights up. (Both Christmas presents from Grandma and Papa!)  

    Smiles and Serious Face

    We get a lot of comments when we’re out and about regarding his high level of cuteness, and this proud new mom can’t even find a way to phrase that as a humblebrag. He is just adorable.

    The other common comments are that he’s a big boy, that he’s so serious, or that he’s so happy. The last two are obviously contradictory, but he is not one to smile on command if he’s not feelin’ it. There have been many serious stare-downs with well meaning strangers smiling at him or trying to engage him with funny noises or faces. He just looks at them with those big chubby cheeks and a slightly furrowed baby brow, taking it all in.

    Other times, he really turns it on and gives people big, open smiles or even little shy peekaboo smiles. I can’t figure out if he’s reacting to the person, or if it’s just a reflection of his mood in the moment. Maybe both? Whatever it is—I love both sides of his personality.

    Starting to crawl

    This month we saw a huge jump in his upper body and core strength! Tummy time as an infant was not his favorite, so when he suddenly preferred to be on his tum and was often pushing most of his torso off the floor, it was a big surprise. All that rolling around pays.

    There’s been a clear progression in mobility: first, lifting his torso off the floor, then BIG reaches for a toy that he wants, then starting to use his hands to spin himself around in different directions while on his belly. But there was little crawling action because he couldn’t seem to get that tummy off the ground.  I read a tip about elevating their hands to help them bear weight on their knees more comfortably, so we propped up his hands on a couch cushion on the floor and he immediately lifted up his torso and started rocking back and forth on his knees! Since then, he’s been trying that move on his own and doing more army crawling.

    True crawling is right around the corner and we are not even remotely prepared, haha. I have ordered a few child proofing things but we’ve set an April goal of getting some of our death trap of a condo truly baby-proofed.

    He can easily sit up now when put into sitting position and stay there for as long as he wants. The “BUT” to that is that he still thrusts himself backwards with a lot of force. I have no earthly idea how to get him to stop doing that so for now, sitting is still a highly supervised activity.

    Babbling

    Huds is so adorably vocal lately! Lots of babbling and squealing. The most prominent has been “dadadadada”—I’m accepting the fact that this likely means his first word will be “dada.” (And secretly, I love it. Jason and his little mini-me are THE CUTEST together.)

    Beyond the babbling, he is quite clear with us when he’s over an activity (or food, or place) and lets us know through various strings of dissatisfied grunts. Happiness is expressed in squeals or giggles, of course, but the grunts are the best. He has started crying more this month, but it seems like he’s experimenting with crying as a tool to communicate with us more than anything. And typically, the grunts precede the crying. So really, it’s our own fault if we get to crying, haha. I imagine him saying: “You had a chance to fix this.”

    Sleeping

    I had such high, high hopes for solid foods becoming our sleep savior. Longer naps and finally dropping that last nighttime feeding had to be just around the corner with some oatmeal!

    Unfortunately, this was not the case and I feel pretty resigned to the fact that we just have a cat napper on our hands. He is still great at putting himself to sleep within minutes, but he just cannot get himself back to sleep during the day after his sleep transitions between 30-45 minutes. This means that we remain solidly in nap jail, and our progress towards the two nap dream has effectively halted, since he can’t nap for only 60-90 minutes over the course of the whole day without being a complete psycho. So, I just tell myself we’ll get there eventually—right? She asked hopefully.

    This was a weird month on the night sleep front because we were out of town for a week and he was sick for a week, so there were lots (and lots) of night wakings. And given the circumstances, I just went with it. Jason and I are both pretty exhausted after weeks of newborn-style sleep again, but we finally seem to be settling back in to just one wake up around 3-4am. At which point he’s gone without food for 8-9 hours and I feel like hey, a guy’s gotta eat. I can handle one wakeup. Three, I cannot! How did we survive eight months ago?!

    Out and About

    Since our first big car ride, we’ve been out and about a lot! Or at least we’ll call it a lot as compared to the previous 6 months 😃 Hudson and I met friends for a music class once, which as expected was a huge hit. And we also went to a baby gym class, which was also a ton of fun. March was not, and never is, the nicest month here in Chicago, so it was good to have some activities to break up the gray days. But we did get out for walks whenever we could, and I am so, so excited for consistently nice weather to get here already.

    We’ve also gotten a lot braver (or maybe just desperate and stir crazy?) about bringing him to restaurants with us for short stints. He has about an hour max in him, requires lots of plastic cups to keep him entertained, and it’s critical that nothing glass is within reach or it’s a goner. Another critical step is saving Elmo’s Song on YouTube until things start to get hairy, which gets us a bonus 10 minutes.

    Blitz

    This picture cracks me up. Blitz has started squeezing his way on to my lap while I’m holding Hudson. Everybody in the pool!

    Hello, friend.

    Oh, and I’m sure you’re thinking: but Laura, what about the cat?! I’m so glad you asked.

    I’m happy to report that relations between Hudson and Blitz continue on an extremely positive trajectory. Hudson is not exactly a delicate little guy, and if Blitz gets near him, (which is often:  he LOVES Hudson and follows him everywhere) he’ll enthusiastically grab as much fur as he can fit into his chubby little fist  and yank for dear life. Blitz just sort of rolls his eyes and moves his body out of reach. I love them.


    And that concludes another 2000+ word update about Hudson! Brevity: not my strongest suit. Jason has said, “why don’t you blog shorter things, more often?” But these updates are like a runaway train… I get started and watch out. But I’m glad I’ll have these to look back on both to remember all of the little details about Hudson each month, and as my own journal. I’m tired and I wish I blow-dryed my hair more often, but life is good.

    I recently listened finished the S-Town podcast and, like the rest of the world, found it beautiful and thought-provoking. (Also, not at all what I expected! Where is the gold?!) The main character talks often about a “worthwhile life” and what that means, calculating the number of hours in one’s life not spent sleeping, eating, or doing the things required just to live. How do you fill those hours? That’s what defines whether or not your life is worthwhile, he says.

    I’ve talked before about what a 180 it’s been to go from traveling, dining out, and enjoying complete freedom to life with Hudson. But from the perspective of a “worthwhile life” — I think this is as good as it gets.

    Cheers to 7 months, Hudson! I love you more than you’ll ever know.

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    Illustrations

    Illustration: Morning Coffee

    Originally posted on my portfolio site at ll-creative.com 

    On one hand, this girl COULD be a new mom, based on the way she’s gripping a face-sized cup of coffee and the slightly dazed expression.

    On the other, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that most new moms aren’t wearing cute crop top pj’s to bed. Or maybe I’m projecting?

    Cheers friends!

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    Baby

    How to Use the Nest Cam as a Baby Monitor: Pros, Cons and Tips

    When we were researching baby monitors, I kept coming to review sites that called the Nest cam the best option. And there could be nothing but the best for our first born baby! Said the crazy lady.

    We received our Nest cam as a gift and it has been an awesome tool to keep an eye on Hudson, one that I’d highly recommend! But, it took us a little bit of figuring out how to best use it as a baby monitor, and to make it really work for us. Out of all of the reviews that I read, I couldn’t find anything that really addressed my #1 hesitation—how to use it for consistent monitoring of a baby versus as a safety/security tool that you would just use occasionally, which is what it’s designed for.

    So, I thought I’d share our experience for anyone out there that also may be considering the Nest as a baby monitor.

    *Note that we are an Apple family, so we’ve only used the Nest with iPhones and iPads, never an Android so I can’t speak to that.

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