After my C-section with baby #1, the nurses gave me Percocet. Then I vomited (and cried). A lot. So they gave me Zofran.
Vomiting is super fun after your stomach’s been cut open. Add to this a squirmy, little newborn who’s trying to suck your boob. Plus, you’re starving because they won’t let you eat before major surgery. I just figured this was part of the post-labor excitement that all new mothers experience, so I started screaming, “I’m never doing this again!”
Luckily for baby #2, my brother came to visit and clued me in on the Percocet-makes-you-sick genetic mess that I am. While my brother and I get to vomit on Percocet, it makes our dad do things like go on hikes in the mountains by himself without telling anyone and try to carry snow back in his pockets. Like I said, Percocet is the devil.
I left the hospital with prescriptions for Percocet and Zofran. It was like a 2-for-1 deal: Here, have some Percocet. And some Zofran for the nausea.
On the way out the door, the discharge nurse casually mentioned another option: 800mg of Ibuprofen. Guess what I picked? And it worked gloriously.
When baby #2 arrived, the nurses went into full drug-pusher mode again. Dear, are you experiencing any pain? We have just the thing to get you flying high: Percocet…
Huh, doesn’t it show in my chart that Percocet makes me sick?
Why, yes, dear, but a little Zofran will fix that right on up. Come now, be a good little lady. Everybody’s doing it.
I think I’ll pass. Where’s the Ibuprofen please?
Cue nurse shift change.
Dear, how are you feeling? We’ll get you fixed up real quick with a little Percocet…
Um, like I told the last lady, Percocet makes me want to eat hot coals and then spew them across the room.
Oh, honey, no worries. We’ve got a great Percocet-Zofran combo that’ll do you good. What are you waiting for?
I think I’ll pass. Where’s the Ibuprofen please?
Cue nurse shift change. And so it went.
I started to feel like a pirah because I refused the riches they kept offering. Who doesn’t want to be pain free?
Hello? Ibuprofen is my friend. How many times do I have to say this??
Also, isn’t Percocet one of those drugs that people crush up and snort? Because they got addicted to it in the hospital?
In other words, Percocet is a gateway drug to heroin.
In America, two million people either abuse or are dependent on opiates or opioid pain medications…and misuse of them all often leads to heroin [because] heroin provides a similar high for a fraction of the cost.
According to the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, the number of people seeking care for abuse of prescription painkillers rose 400 percent from 1998 to 2008.
So here’s my “ask your doctor about” pitch. Ladies, talk to your doctor or midwife or doula about Ibuprofen before going the Percocet route. Especially if you’re anti-vomit like me. Especially if addiction runs in your family.Especially if you are in recovery.
Of course Ibuprofen has side effects (especially for pregnant women). The point is, Percocet isn’t the only post-delivery pain medication available. You have options. Advocate for yourself and explore these.
And prego mommas, think on this when putting your birth plan together. We put a lot of effort into debating epidural or no epidural, vaginal birth or C-section. But where is the discussion about how to best handle post-delivery pain?
And where is the discussion about the medical infrastructure arming new mothers with prescriptions for drugs like Percocet, drugs that contribute to the growing pain pill addiction crisis in this country?
Ladies, it’s guest blog time! (Which means I get to take a week off from writing to do things like de-flower my kitchen. #wallpaperhell)
I’m excited to introduce my friend Corinne, super entrepreneur and mom of two rambunctious boys. She’s been at the mom-thing a little longer than me, so I appreciate her perspective on parenting.
Without further ado…
Hello, new parents!
This post is for you. However, if you are a new parent, I don’t expect you to have time to read this. Because you are
b) feeding, changing, burping, rocking, or otherwise dealing with baby
c) trying to feed yourself and/or the rest of your family, but have decided it takes too much energy
d) peacefully, gloriously asleep (as if!)
So dear reader, I ask you to convey these words of solace to any newbies in the trenches.
It is all going to be ok.
You are not going to die.
Your baby is not going to die.
Yes, this new baby thing sucks. No, thinking that does not make you a bad person.
All you need to do for the next three months is SURVIVE. You do not need to shower. And you can eat whenever you want. (Screw regular meal times. Pizza at 3am? Yes, please!)
No, I don’t know why no one warned you. When I asked my own mother this question, “WHY DIDN’T YOU TELL ME IT WAS GOING TO BE LIKE THIS???!!!” Her very calm response was, “Would you have believed me?”
No, Mom. No, I would not.
Here’s the thing. You know all those funny movies about parenting? The movies where they show the baby projectile vomiting or spewing poop and covering an entire room? Before entering the surreal world of parenting, we laugh at these movies because they are funny and deep down we think they are a huge exaggeration. What fools we were! Now we laugh (and sometimes even get a little teary) because we realize they are a huge underestimation. HUGE.
Here’s a brief list of the surreal things I experienced as a new mom: 1) Poop.
So vast and expeditious that it not only filled up a diaper but exploded out both sides and onto my lap/car seat/crib instantaneously.
(It’s worth repeating.) So vast and expeditious that when a diaper was not in place, it flew across the room and hit the wall on the other side. Seriously. I got the baby all cleaned up and turned around to see streaks of poop running down the wall. I have no idea how the physics of this even work.
3) The stomach bug.
That infects the entire household. Stomach viruses are the worst. Once my son puked every night in his crib for 11 days straight. My husband and I finally got a routine down: He cleaned up the baby, I cleaned up the bed. This worked great. Until we both got sick. Then the routine went like this: Baby pukes. We get up and start cleaning. Husband hands me the baby so he can puke. Husband comes back and I hand him the baby so I can puke. Repeat, repeat, repeat.
So new parents, do not fret if your new baby experience is not living up to all the cutesy baby pictures you’ve seen on Facebook, in magazines, on parenting blogs, or out of the mouth of your all-too-perfectly-put-together next door neighbor with five perfect kids of her own. You, too, will have those cutesy moments. But they will be just that: moments. And then the baby will poop.
Big brother likes to say he’s going to be 4 soon. He’s been saying this pretty much since he turned 3. He’s getting closer now – December will be here before we know it. (I better get my act together and start the Pinterest party planning.)
In the meantime, we are potty training little brother. Which entails saying things like, “You’re a big boy now!” This is met with wails of protest from the bigger boy in the house. Age, height, the big boy/girl label are really the only status symbols for the preschool set. And they guard these fiercely.
I had to do something to reinstate the status quo, to ensure that big brother didn’t sabotage little brother’s right of potty passage. So I escorted big brother into his bedroom, found his stool, otherwise known as his bedside table, and instructed him to drag it across the floor to his dresser. I then honored his monkey-esque climbing skills and told him to shimmy on up to the top and turn on his lamp. This was followed by a speech about independence and responsibility. How he’d earned the right to control his destiny. Let there be light.
He was thrilled and spent all day practicing. And showing off for little brother. He discovered other things he could do with the stool. Such as reaching his piggy bank (and dumping all the coins onto the couch. We’ll be finding quarters til he goes to college.) Or treasure-hunting on top of the frig. Just kidding, he won’t be tall enough to climb up there for at least another month.
I forgot about the lamp.
Bedtime came at 7pm like always. Those of you with 3-year-olds know that bedtime is a wacked out game of bingo. “B4….B4…” As in B4 I go to sleep, mommy, I want a drink. “P2…P2…” As in Oops, I just noticed that I have to P2, mommy. “C5…C5…” As in Oh, and, mommy, I C5 books I want you to read tonight.
This game is pretty interminable. And tends to be played very loudly. After the first request, I usually get to fix myself something to eat. But just as I’m pulling the dish out of the microwave, request #2 comes screaming down the hall. Never mind the constant reminders of YOUR BROTHER IS SLEEPING.
Strangely enough, I managed to eat dinner, read a book, and enjoy some wine. Til I had to pee. At 9:15pm. That’s when I noticed an odd glow coming from down the hall…
Yep, he was in his room with the lamp on. I marched in, ready to do battle. But he was actually overjoyed to see me. He was so beyond tired he couldn’t quite fathom how to get out of bed to turn the light off. Instead, he’d tried to rally and play with a fire truck in a very drunk, dizzy kind of way. He looked at me with bloodshot eyes, transmitting, “Help me, OB1, you’re my only hope.” And silently pleading, “For the love of God, mother, turn off the lamp.”
Click. He was out like a light.
We went through the responsibility speech again the next day. He agreed to the terms and conditions. Without reading them, of course (does anyone ever read them?) And he went on with his day trying to hold it together. (Not very well. Because: sleep deprivation.)
He was thrilled when 7pm came around. Ah, sweet Jesus, bedtime!
I forgot about the lamp.
This kid is bone tired.
Nope, it’s now 10pm. TURN OFF THE LIGHT. (DAMNIT.)
I didn’t actually say that. I collected myself. Struck a power pose. Sailed down the hall. And confiscated the lamp.
You can have it back when you’re 5. In the meantime, I’ll teach you how to cut up your chicken nuggets with a steak knife.
Comment below to share your bedtime drama stories or on Facebook at MothersRest.
When I was 10 weeks pregnant with baby #1, an aunt said, “Of course, you’re not planning on having a C-section.”
Um, at 10 weeks does anyone plan on having a C-section?
I put on my best Southern lady smile and said the following things. In my head. Using more colorful language: Well, I just “finished” struggling with infertility for SIX YEARS and would now like to simply bask in the moment of I’M PREGNANT!
Must we jump right into the mommy wars?
Unfortunately, the mommy wars really do start when you get that positive reading on the pee stick. And natural birth vs. surgical birth pretty much tops the list. (Quickly followed by formula vs. breast milk, cloth diapers vs. disposables, co-sleeping vs. crib.)
The aunt was a maternity ward nurse, so I’m guessing she deemed herself qualified to share her unsolicited opinion with me meant well. She views C-sections as a last resort. (Or maybe she views them as a “no” resort.) That hospitals shouldn’t be so trigger happy to do one just because mom is way over lugging around the baby weight. Or because mom’s gotta schedule around that board presentation at work or because the doctor’s tired of chit chatting and wants to get er done.
Sure, why not set your mommy dreams on an unmedicated, vaginal birth? At home in your bathtub surrounded by patchouli oil. If Alanis Morissette can do it, you can, too. I do know several real women who went the no-drugs route. As a 2x C-section veteran, I seriously applaud them. They tapped into primal power, joining women across the millennia. Generations upon generations have accomplished this. But not me.
At 10 weeks, I hadn’t yet dived into the everyone-must-read-it-but-it’s-actually-kinda-meh What to Expect When You’re Expecting prego Bible. So I’d never heard of placenta previa. And then at 26 weeks – the day of our 12th wedding anniversary, the day we were headed on a babymoon – my doctor gave me the following lecture:
Congratulations, you have complete left lateral placenta previa. You can google it (no, wait, you’re pregnant, you shouldn’t actually google anything.) Basically, the placenta is blocking the “exit.” Most placenta get on with life and move as the pregnancy progresses. But you’re old, and Old Lady Placenta is kinda curmudgeon-y, so don’t get your hopes up. In case you needed something to worry about, should you suddenly notice blood running down your legs, go immediately to the ER. Oh, and enjoy your babymoon, but NO SEX.
Then came the dreaded “C word.”
By the way, if Old Lady Placenta doesn’t get her act together, it’s a C-section for sure.
We took childbirth classes and crossed our fingers, hoping to AVOID THE C-SECTION AT ALL COSTS. Because, heaven forbid, a C-section.
People like to stoke the natural birth vs. surgical birth debate. They casually fish around to see if you have a birth plan, then they want details. If you drop the “C word,” they look on with pity and start to extol the benefits of vaginal. The narrative often goes like this: a C-section takes away your chance to experience childbirth as a rite of passage and reduces your ability to bond with baby.
I liked to toss “placenta previa” at them and watch them squirm. Then I’d drop the mic and walk off.
With baby #2, I did try for a VBAC. Hell, why not? I figured it would at least make the birth experience novel. I’d already gone the scheduled C-section route, so let’s mix things up a bit and see what the ole vajajay could do.
My doctor terrified me beforehand with tales of uterine rupture (just writing that phrase gives me the heebee jeebees.) But I found an incredible doula who empowered me and my husband through the entire (medicated) experience. Nope, doulas aren’t anti-drug. Yes, I loved the epidural.
And when I didn’t dilate much beyond 4cm after tons of hours, my doctor recommended pitocin at half the typical dosage. Just enough to get things moving, without straining my fragile uterus. But baby was sunny side up (back labor, anyone?) and the plates in his head started overlapping precariously. (Writing that phrase also gives me the heebee jeebees.) He and I tried for 44 hours. We gave it our all.
I ended up with another C-section. And I’m proud of it. Neither C-section diminished my role as a birthing mother.
If you traveled a similar route to motherhood, bless you. You did an amazing job. You birthed your baby. You have the scar to prove it. And you might have emotional scars, too. People say awful things. Childbirth can be a humbling experience that’s quickly followed by the darkness and confusion of sleep deprivation. You’re more vulnerable in that state to believe those false narratives and to let others write your birth story for you. Don’t let them tell you you’re lesser because nature had other plans for you.
Sit with yourself for a while. Reflect on the birthing experience. What were the highlights that day, that night? Where was the beauty?
And I get it, terrible things can happen when you’re under the knife. There’s a story going around online that is (maybe) true about a mom waking up from a C-section to discover her legs were amputated. What?! (Why did I just tell you that? I now hate myself.)
There’s also concern that baby misses out on important good-germs if he doesn’t travel the “traditional” route, but there’s hope for that, says the journal Nature Medicine:
…Researchers ask doctors to put a piece of gauze inside the birth canal of women giving birth by C-section before delivery to soak up their microbes, and then take out the gauze just before the baby is born. As soon as the baby is born, the doctors swab the baby with the specially prepared gauze, focusing on the mouth and face before moving onto the rest of their body.
So, C-section mommas, let’s celebrate if baby is happy and healthy and thriving. You made it through the journey of pregnancy and childbirth. You did your mom thing.
I’m not here to promise everything will be great or even ok. But if delivery heads in the direction of a C-section, your role as a mother is not diminished. You have not failed. You are not a coward.
If a C-section is the right thing to do, you are fulfilling your first obligation as a mother. You are becoming a mother. You are making crucial decisions for the health of your baby and yourself.
You are honoring your role as caregiver.
Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Rewrite your story so the light comes through.
How is it possible that this sweet little guy is TWO already?!
To celebrate, he enjoyed popsicles at daycare, toy airplanes with daddy, and birthday brownies at the lake with Mimi and Poppa.
I actually have TWO miracle babies. And if it wasn’t for Miracle Baby #1, there’d be no Miracle Baby #2.
This is my story. My struggle with infertility. (And sleep deprivation.)
I share it because I’m sure many of you can relate.
Infertility used to be this thing of shame. Just read the Old Testament where all the women weep because they’re barren. A vessel unfilled. It is their identity.
Today, we can label ourselves other things: career professional, aunt, leader, lover of dogs, sister, writer, musician, artist, biker babe. WE ARE NOT BARREN.
Still, even today, women whisper the word: infertility. As if saying the word gently will turn it into a prayer. Or make the heartache go away.
Say the word out loud now. Do you notice it’s full of assonance? Softness? In…fer…tility The harsh “t” sounds don’t come til the end. Like you can hold the pain at bay.
Say the word out loud again. Linger over the word. Dwell on it. NORMALIZE IT.
Let’s support one another. Let’s give hugs and hold hands. Let’s cry over it together. Giant tears that actually acknowledge the heartbreak. Of unrequited wanting.
In my story, we tried for six years. The doctors called it “unexplained infertility.” They told us I might be allergic to my husband’s sperm. They told us we might be incompatible.
Other people called us “those people who just want to have dogs” or “those people who don’t really like kids.” We didn’t want to talk about the wanting, so we let them label us.
We tried lots of things.
Charting. We filled calendars with random notations for months. (At least I didn’t have to spend money on birth control any more.)
HSG Dye Test. To see if I had endometriosis. Perhaps a smidgen. Otherwise, all clear! (My doctor was impressive. It didn’t hurt. I took ibuprofen beforehand.)
Clomid. Apparently, it thins the lining of the uterus so the fertilized egg can implant. Mine was already thin, so there was definitely no need for more thinning.
Intrauterine Insemination. I lost count after the fourth IUI. It was Russian roulette where the doctor tells you how many eggs are available that month so you can HAVE TRIPLETS MAYBE. And then you stab yourself in the stomach with a really long needle because you are willing to HAVE TRIPLETS MAYBE.
I once shot up behind Walgreens. Another time in the middle of nowhere eastern North Carolina behind a tractor supply store in route to visit my best friend (and her brood of 3 lovely, non-triplet children.)
And finally, In Vitro Fertilization. Our saving grace. Truly, a joy unbounding.
We put the truck up for collateral and took out a loan at the bank to pay for our dreams. And, all praise Jesus, IVF worked. I can’t even describe what it was like when we saw that heartbeat on the ultrasound at 6 weeks. It was miraculous.
We got lucky. We only went through one round of IVF.
And by lucky, I mean: The doctors harvested 19 eggs. Then only 11 fertilized. Then only 5 embryos made it to the day of truth, Day 5. Then only 2 seemed suitable for transfer. Then of the 3 still under watch, none made it past Day 6 to freeze “for next time.”
Of the two suitable embryos, the doctor pointed at a picture of one of them, saying, “If you get pregnant with a ‘singleton,’ this is the embryo to thank.” We were looking at the very beginning of our son. He was perfection.
We got lucky. The transfer and implantation were successful (perhaps thanks to progesterone suppositories). And at 8 weeks, the reproductive medical team released me back to my regular OB. This was thrilling and surreal.
We got lucky. Pregnancy was a breeze. Yet also terrifying: I faced complete placenta previa. Which meant I could bleed to death if I went into labor prematurely. This also guaranteed a c-section, which my incredibly careful OB waited until 38.5 weeks to perform (vs. the typical hospital protocol of delivery at 36 weeks.)
Our minister likes to say that the church congregation breathed a collective sigh of relief when our sweet boy was born. The prayers of the people were with us that day. I lost a full liter of blood. But sweet boy was perfect.
Fast-forward 20 months when Miracle Baby #2 arrived.
No, wait, let’s back up a bit.
I always imagined a house with two kids. I don’t know why. I’m the oldest of 3. My husband is the youngest of 6. But when I dreamed of the future, two small blurs filled my visions.
But motherhood is hard. Especially when you have to recover from a c-section. Especially when you’ve lost a liter of blood during delivery. Especially when you can’t figure out how to nurse and the baby can’t either. Especially when you aren’t allowed to sleep because you have to feed the baby every 2-3 hours. Especially when you aren’t allowed to sleep.
I went from the highest joy to the deepest pit of rage. All because of sleep deprivation. But I didn’t know to call it that at the time. I just knew I was suddenly Mommy Dearest. How cruel that this miracle I had begged for for so long could take me to such a shocking place. All because of sleep deprivation.
I set aside dreams of a household of four. And worked to find myself again. Reading all those books on the Resources page of this blog. And leaning on (raging on) my husband to pull me back to myself.
My OB told us if we wanted another baby – I was old – to wean sweet boy at 3 months and to skip the birth control. But to not get our hopes up. That IVF would probably be the only option. IVF – which we’d have to start from scratch again. Because there were no frozen embryos.
I set aside dreams of a household of four. If motherhood was this hard, how could I handle two children? If infertility still lurked around the corner, if baby #2 wasn’t guaranteed anyway (what if IVF didn’t work this time?), no way was I going to wean baby #1, to drop that bond, at 3 months. I would savor every ounce possible of my sweet new son, despite myself and the sleep deprived rage.
But we skipped the birth control.
Sweet boy grew and slept more and smiled and laughed more. Sleep deprivation began to loosen its grip. And when baby turned 1, motherhood seemed to make a lot more sense.
And then my clothes wouldn’t fit. And I started craving every sugary thing I could find. It was basically a joke at work: “Here, you probably want a donut, right? Would you like 3?”
It seemed beyond ridiculous to think I was pregnant. Me, this body that can’t get pregnant. Me, this body that endured pokes and prods for 6 years.
I told myself I was going through hormonal changes because I was beginning to wean the baby.
Then I wanted to vomit when I washed the garlic press. And I noticed pregnant women everywhere. And I noticed my silhouette in a store window – I looked just like them.
My husband thought I was crazy. And even crazier to get my hopes up. We’d agreed we were content with a family of three. And now here I was with this insane dream again of a family of four.
Three positive pregnancy tests later, he still didn’t believe me.
I was ecstatic and scared to death. Would I survive the rage of sleep deprivation a second time? (Would our marriage survive it?) How could we possibly handle two small children so close in age?
At least they’d be 2 years apart.
More like 20 months.
When I finally got to the OB, the ultrasound tech informed us I was already 16 weeks pregnant… (Yes, I have an MBA. No, I have no idea how babies are born. See IVF above.) And, oh, would we like to come back next week to learn the baby’s sex?
So, yes, it’s possible to go through IVF and conceive naturally the second time around. And actually, my body needed IVF to teach it how to create life. Without IVF, there’d be no Miracle Baby #1. Without Miracle Baby #1, there’d be no Miracle Baby #2.
And what a thing of love we’d miss. These two.
And the second time around, I dared sleep deprivation to take me down. I clung to my maternity leave manifesto and I started this blog. (In my last post, I asked you to ponder how you’d like to contribute to the world. This is it for me. To tell you sleep-deprived mommas it’s all going to be okay.)
Now it’s your turn. To tell your story. Out loud.
Give someone else hope. Or a hug. Or a chance to reimagine life and find joy outside the dream of parenthood if life doesn’t bring it their way.
Because families are created through biology, technology, and official and unofficial adoption. Especially the unofficial kind where we can simply (and majestically) choose to embrace and love our neighbors. Who is your neighbor? Walk outside and see.
Stephen Covey talks about focusing on four quadrants to help you reach your best self: spiritual, mental, physical, and emotional health.
You can read his thoughts on this. Or just check out the video below that a friend recently shared with me. It’s been a while since we talked about rediscovering joy in the midst of parenting crazy. So this video may be timely for you.
And it really gets at Covey’s four quadrants through what it calls: the 3 most important questions. Plus, it’s only 7 minutes long.
I like watching the video through the lens of creating a vision for your life as a mom, daughter, partner, friend, colleague. Or, perhaps, are you following your soul’s yearning or just buying into society’s definition of success?
And if you don’t have 7 minutes, here are the questions. Vishen Lakhiani, the video guy, suggests spending 19 seconds pondering each one:
1. What do you want to experience if time and money are no object?
2. How do you want to grow and be a more creative human being?
3. How do you want to contribute to the world?
Let me know if you tried this exercise. What did you learn? What did you gain? Comment below or on Facebook at MothersRest.
Ok, I get it, there are tons of posts out there about the delights of raising boys. But I think we need to expand the canon to embrace the new age of androgyny in which we live. Plus, my dad is old school and doesn’t think little boys should have GIRL HAIR.
You might be a #BoyMom if…
10. Little man likes to cook like Da-da.
9. A tanker truck goes by and the appropriate response is, “Pass gas!” (Because some things never change.)
8. The kiddo is really into firemen, policemen and floral arranging.
7. You constantly chastise him for trying to be a tough guy. (Because some things never change.)
B: Mommy, I’m going to shoot you.
Me: We don’t shoot people. And we don’t say that.
B: Rockets shoot into the sky.
Me: You make a good point.
6. Sweet boy loves purple and pink balls.
5. Tea parties involve Jedi mind tricks.
4. Your world is full of wrestlemania. Plus monster and duck capes. All the time. (Because some things never change.)
3. Princess dresses make everyone happy.
2. Your parenting title has evolved to Poopy Doopy Mommy Moopy. (Because some things never change.)
1. The penis isn’t just for boys.
B: Mommy, where’s your penis?
Me: I don’t have one. I’m a girl.
B: Ellie’s a girl and she has one.
Me: Her momma must be so proud. Hashtag RepealHB2.
What’s on your #BoyMom list? Comment below or share on Facebook at MothersRest.
Since I’ve gotten a ton of love from you guys for the post on how to survive the 6-hour car trip with baby, it seems only fitting to give you an updated version for the toddler set. Besides, that’s where my life’s at these days.
Many of the tips from the baby edition still apply, so definitely check out that post if you haven’t already.
Also, I like to make life difficult for myself and travel without electronics (because I’m an anti-TV luddite). But everyone I know swears you need a DVD player or iPad for each kid – totally your choice.
So here goes….
Day-driving is where it’s at.
Dang, y’all, the good ole days of driving through the night with a beautiful, sleeping baby are…GONE.
We figured this out one Christmas night when little brother screamed for 2 hours straight, and big brother refused a trip to snoozeland. (Oh, the drama he would’ve missed!) That settled it. We now plan all trips pre-sundown. Because if the kiddos ain’t gonna sleep in the car at night, we might as well all be in bed when the sun goes down wherever we’re fixin’ to get to.
Nap time is your friend.
I’m a huge fan of the splendid car-nap. (It’s the only way the 3-year-old will nap on the weekend.)
Plan your venture so that nap time hits at the trip mid-point. Then the kiddos will magically (fingers crossed!!) fall asleep just when you think they are about to get bat shit bored. This means pack the car, feed the little ones and plop them into the car an hour or 2 prior to nap time. During the pre-nap phase, otherwise known as the “car trips are fun!” period, they’ll chatter happily (or not), counting fire hydrants, trash cans and big rigs.
Then comes the lovely quiet period of the trip when mommy can enjoy her favorite podcast or some Beastie Boys on low volume, while the tikes doze off to dream big thoughts of the junk food nanny will serve during your visit.
Cherish the sleep aids.
The goal is for the little ones to nap for 1-2 hours. That way you only have a couple hours of trip left to survive. (Hopefully, they’ll tolerate this last period like champs. #WishfulThinking)
Ransack your house for all the special sleep friends you can find and fill the car with them: dolls, blankets, elephant loveys…Believe me, the more the merrier. You don’t want nap time sabotaged because Emmie’s 2-headed dog didn’t make the cut. Or got lost along the way. Or she vomited on it when you went around a curve too fast (true story). Don’t be shy – bring ’em all!
Place the ever-crucial sleep friends within arm’s reach of each kid. I’ve often dreamed of attaching bungy cords to these sleep pals and the kid to prevent the inevitable wailing from when a special friend ends up on the floor.
Prepare to soothe the kiddos with a couple lullabys if that’s your jam. And work a sound machine into the mix, too. (But don’t let it put you to sleep.)
Position the kids strategically.
My kids are now in forward-facing car seats and it’s awesome. Gasp! (Sure, sure, proceed with the hate mail.)
Skip this tip if it offends you. But here’s how we roll: Big brother sits behind the passenger seat and little brother behind the driver seat. This is helpful whenever anyone wants a snack. Without turning around, I manage to go-go-gadget my arms and hand big brother the goodies that he then passes along to little brother. Big brother is really proud of his helper skills.
Speaking of snacks.
Don’t forget the goldfish, cheerios, whatnot. Prepackage them into the appropriate serving sizes pre-trip so you can just dole them out at your leisure (or when the kiddos are out of their gourd hungry). You know, fill up a bunch of those snack trap things.
Bring mom snacks, too: granola bars and dark chocolate anything are my go-tos. And don’t forget water bottles for everyone. (The Thermos ones don’t tend to spill.)
I also recommend SPINACH AVOCADO PANCAKES. Sometimes the 6-hour car trip overlaps with lunch or dinner. Children can only choke down goldfish and cheerios for so long. And I hate herding little cuties into McDonald’s by myself. So we live on these tasty pancakes that can handle zero refrigeration for several hours. I usually stop for a picnic/leg-stretch break and we chow down, but, other than being kinda crumbly/greasy, you can eat them in the car one-handed.
These pancakes sound fancy, right? Easy peasy. Just make regular pancakes, replacing the oil with a mashed up avocado and crumble up raw spinach into the batter. Cook per normal. Throw them into the car. Then update your status on Facebook about how you’re the best veggie-and-fruit sneaky mom ever.
Raid the toy box and library.
You need toys and books. Or things will go sideways.
I have one of those extra large LLBean tote bags that I can’t even lift that’s perfect for the long-ass car trip. Find yourself something similar and cram it full of giant-sized books and giant-er-sized toys. Stow it between the kids’ car seats for easy access. And pray nothing becomes a projectile if your kid is already Olympic-javelin-throwing material.
I fill the very bottom of the tote bag with handy travel supplies, like extra diapers and 10 gazillion changes of clothes for the potty-training-in-progress kid. Then I place the toys on top. That way the kids can reach whatever they want. I also keep a couple things upfront with me in case they get bored of the spoils in the bag.
Eventually the boys will be big enough to reach the back of the front seats with something other than their very muddy shoes. At that point, I’ll get these backseat toy organizer hanger bag thingys. My SIL loves them and they make life in the fast lane pretty fabulous for her kiddos.
Wear a fanny pack.
To stash an extra car key and cash. Also, your cell phone. That way when you stop for gas, you don’t lock these crucial elements in the car because your awesome yoga pants don’t have pockets. (I know the name of a great locksmith in Amherst-middle-of-nowhere, Virginia in case you ignored this tip.)
Plan low key potty stops.
For potty training tots, bring a travel potty that fits into a bag, along with extra clothes and wipes. You can park off road for the business. (I really like church parking lots.)
Another option is to stop at a hotel, especially if you need to pee and must cart the whole lot of you into the bathroom. Hotels are fun! They are clean! They sometimes have cookies! And one time, my boys got rubber duckies from the housekeeping staff. Anyway, definitely a better gig than the typical gas station fair (gack!)
Plot out stretch breaks.
Like at Chick-fil-A where you can get the happy meal with a SHINY NEW BOOK!! Or at an awesome tourist trap like Dinosaurland. Or perhaps at a geyser. Some place where the caged animals you call children can run off the seated-too-long car jitters. Great for momma, too!
Don’t forget the fleece blanket.
I can’t say enough about the humble fleece blanket. It’s quite the lifesaver in so many ways. Like to survive hypothermia in your car (say what?!) So pack 1. Or 6.
And now I’d love to hear your tips for the long-ass car trip with small chillens. Are you pro-DVD player? Do you have a favorite car-friendly food? Share your #TravelTips below or on Facebook at MothersRest.
This post was almost a cry for help. Until another mom took pity on me and showed me the light. (Thanks, Alison!) Now I can do the same for you.
All I can say is that I’m looking forward to next summer when the littlest member of the fam’ is potty trained. Trips involving all things water are sooooo much easier sans diaper. Rather than change a messy kid, I’d prefer taunting him to take a swim potty break. (Trust me, the taunting is necessary. Learn from my poolside potty trials here in this post.)
Maybe I’m the only one in this boat, but I devote my pool time to 3 things: trying to keep little brother from drowning, eating the drippy remains of big brother’s day glo-orange popsicle, and scanning the water for free-floating poop. Because, in my experience, swim diapers suck.
Next summer my little guy will turn 3 and he better be a potty professional by then. If not, he and I are going to have words. Are you listening, kid? Do you like goldfish? Do you like milk? Mommy only guarantees such goodies for potty trained 3-year-olds.
But this summer, we endured the humiliation that is the SWIM DIAPER. By which I mean, there were a couple shut-down-the-baby-pool incidents that I’d love to blame on another child, but you know how it goes.
I’m not exactly sure the purpose of the lowly swim diaper. Except to make pool managers think pool attendees are sanitary members of society. Because these things definitely don’t hold pee. And when water meets poop…Let’s just say it’s an unholy union. Where each party tries to flee from the other one. Usually by running down the leg of the innocent child whose parents have been duped into making him don a swim diaper. (And what, pray tell, are swimpants?)
Editor’s note: This post is not a product push. The manufacturer doesn’t know I exist, so, no, they aren’t paying me to hype this thing. Hashtag I wish.
Since I’m one of those cloth diaper moms, I’ve been down the road of the reusable swim diaper before. From my experience, the only benefit is that you get to keep your hard-earned cash, instead of dolling out precious dollars every other week for another pack of tossable swim nappies. The mess-containment properties are pretty much the same as with the disposable jobbies: na-da. Thus, I was a little skeptical when she suggested I try yet another reusable option.
But I was desperate. And not disappointed. It was, like, praise baby Jesus!
That’s why I’m here to tell you to drop everything and find one of these diapers. I don’t actually care if you get this Tuga brand or not, but here’s a link if you’re interested. Hey, maybe you’re lucky and have an Alison in your life who can just loan you one.
Now, as promised, here is my 3-pronged approach to SWIM DIAPER BLISS.
1. Leverage layers.
I use this Tuga thing as a diaper cover. I’m too much of a chicken to let my kid just wear it by itself. Because the humiliating incidents from other swim diapers are still fresh in my mind.
Simply pull the cover up over (CONTAINMENT!!) your swim diaper of choice. Regarding which I vacillate between a disposable one and a regular cloth diaper without inserts. (The inserts water-log and weigh down your little swimmer.) The benefit of the disposable, of course, is you don’t have to cart home a dirty diaper. For extra cuteness, you can cover the cover with your kiddo’s swim suit.
Ladies, the cover idea is BRILLIANT. When you do have to change that mess, you just peel off the cover and change the diaper underneath. You can always rinse the cover with hot water and soap if needed and then get on with the fun.
2. Size up.
My little guy currently wears 2T, yet this loaner model is 4T. This way you can truly use it as a cover (CONTAINMENT!!) per above. Plus, you can get an extra year of wear out of it in case your kid refuses to potty train next summer.
3. Live for elastic.
Check out the picture above again. The key component is ELASTIC EVERYWHERE. Increasing the odds that nothing’s getting past this thing. My kid has “road tested” my cover-over-swim-diaper cocktail 4x now. And I’m pleased to say this combo is where it’s at.
Good luck to you during these final days of summer. And may you experience swim diaper bliss!
Comment below to share your tips for escaping swim diaper hell or on Facebook at MothersRest.
You know how it goes. You haven’t talked to your partner in weeks. Between chores and work and baby stuff and big kid activities and walking the dog and…well, life leaves little room for connection.
Bring on DATE NIGHT.
And everyone knows the first rule of date night: Don’t talk about the kids!
You can talk about the trash truck schedule for the upcoming holiday week. But, under no circumstances, should you mention the (shhhhh) children.
This makes sense. The reason you’re on the date in the first place is because those pesky, lovable little creatures have disrupted quality coupling couple time. You’re out on the town with your beloved to reminisce about the good ole days.
So here’s a fun drinking game for you to play on your next date. Every time someone mentions “Bobby’s” name, you both have to take a shot of tequila. (For legal reasons, I must now state that I only condone such activity if there’s an uber driver involved in your evening festivities or you’re doing one of those staycation date nights where you sneak off to the dining room after the kids go to bed and eat PFChang’s on the wedding china.)
Let’s recap now, shall we?
YOU MUST NOT TALK ABOUT THE KIDS. PRETEND YOU DO NOT HAVE KIDS. ACT LIKE THE KIDS BELONG TO THE NEIGHBOR.
That’s the rule, right?
NOOOOOOOOO, don’t give in to this myth. Go with your heart and TALK ABOUT THE KIDS AS MUCH AS YOU WANT.
What the what?!
I know, I know. Your best friend only offered to babysit for free tonight (bless her) if you promised you’d stick to any topic but (oh, the horror) the children.
Well, here’s the dealio. Assuming your kids are important to you both, let’s all get on with it and stop censoring ourselves. If you want to talk about the kids, then talk about the kids.
Many well-meaning experts recommend that you consider marriage and family a balancing act, as if your lives are a seesaw with the baby on one end and your marriage on the other. Couples are counseled to spend some time away from the baby and focus on their marriage and outside interests: talk about your relationship, your job, her job, the weather, anything but the baby at home. But marriage and family are not diametrically opposed. Rather, they are of one cloth.
Yes, the couple should spend time away from the baby occasionally. But if they are making this transition well together, they will find that they can’t stop talking about the baby, nor do they want to. They might not even get through that first meal without calling home – at least twice.
Too often, such couples are made to feel as if they have done something wrong because they have made their own relationship seemingly secondary to their new roles as parents. The result is that they feel all the more stressed and confused. But in fact, they have done something very right. The important thing here is that they are in it together. To the extent that both husband and wife make this philosophical shift, the parent-child relationship and the marriage thrive.
Can’t say it better than that guy.
And now you definitely need to hire an uber driver for your next night of disco fun. Gonna be a whole lot of tequila shots going on. Cheers!
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