TTC Baby #1 vs. TTC Baby #2

Had my first in-person appt at our fertility clinic and was struck by the differences between this year and 3 years ago.

Blood work

Baby #1 – I fretted all day, waiting for the results to come in and then poured over them, looking up the values online to double check whether they were normal

Baby #2 – Forgot to check my email for the test results until 5 days later and then gave them a once over and called it a day.

Body Prep

Baby #1 – Fertility boosting yoga stretches each night. Prenatal, vitamin D, coQ10, B6, every night. 2 mugs of smelly herb tea daily as prescribed by my acupuncturist, as well as many needle sessions. Daily meditations. Extra strict diet – not for calories but for nutrients – like full fat dairy serving each day. No caffeine. No alcohol.

Baby #2 – prenatal and coQ10 vitamins daily. Did smelly herb tea for a few days and then kept forgetting to drink it. Keep forgetting to call my acupuncturist and refill the herbs and schedule more needle sessions. No meditation. 1 cup of coffee a day. Plenty of full fat dairy servings (i.e. ice cream every night). No fertility boosting stretches.

First In Person Appointment

Baby #1 – Nervous, excited. Counting down the days. Daydreaming about getting pregnant. Did some down-there grooming before the appt. Wife came with me and held my hand.

Baby #2 – Kept forgetting about it. Was deep in work mode and barely left for the clinic on time. Thought about grooming but decided it’s nothing the doctor hasn’t seen before. I told my wife she could just stay at work. “Just be there for the inseminations.”

During the appointment

Baby #1 – Was sweaty and nervous. Super bummed that we likely wouldn’t start inseminating that cycle (found what turned out to be two large uterine polyps that needed to be removed.)

Baby #2 – Totally chill and had a nice conversation with Dr H. She actually tried to convince me to inseminate this cycle as I’m about to ovulate and have a large follicle ready to go, but my brain immediately screamed “IM NOT READY!” So I held off. Even though she kept saying “are you sure? I really want to get that egg.” 🤣

Granted, it’s very hard to see if my polyps have returned when I’m about to ovulate and my lining is super thick. So the verdict is still out on that question. But everything else seems to be ok. Dr. H doesn’t want to use Clomid the first cycle because my body develops a lot of follicles and she’s worried I’ll have multiples. But she’ll prescribe it if the first try is unsuccessful.

So for now we’re booked for a March insemination with a monitored cycle and a trigger shot. I have no idea why I’m not ready now or for a February try. S asked me why we’re not trying in February and I didn’t really have a good answer. Although I am concerned about us starting Mabel in full-time preschool in late Aug and making sure we give her enough time to adjust to that before we turn her world upside down with the arrival of a baby. Soooo, I guess the answer is, March just feels right? Who knows, S may change my mind on that and we might try in Feb. Stay tuned.

In other news, I hate flu season. We’re on night 3 with a feverish toddler who’s barking wet loud coughs and can only sleep while being held by one of us at a certain angle so its easier for her to breathe.

That open-mouth breathing just breaks my heart in two!

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Donor drama

It seems slightly dramatic to call it drama. But I like the sound of it.

We knew we wanted to use the same donor for Tiny Human #2 that we used for Mabel. He didn’t have any pregnancies listed on his profile when we picked him – which was just a month before we got pregnant. When we submitted to the sperm bank that we had a baby, they asked if we were interested in a sibling with the same donor and we said yes. So they said they tend to put vials aside for the Sibling Registry and for us to just let them know when we were TTCing again. For some reason, I guess because his profile said no pregnancies, I assumed we were the only family or maybe there was one other.

Fast forward to yesterday, when the sperm bank emailed me and said our donor had 4 FAMILIES and all 4 were interested in siblings. But they only had 7 vials left, so they were limiting each family to 1-2 vials. So if we wanted 2 vials we needed to order them ASAP. Cue panic!

Within 10 min (after texting S to confirm we wanted to do this) I whipped out my credit card, called the sperm bank and bought 2 vials. We really can’t afford to buy them right now, hence the credit card usage, but I would have been so stressed at the thought of being the family with just 1 vial. Just 1 shot at using the same donor! I’m stressed enough as it is at the thought of just 2 shots at this.

Before this, I was pretty laid back about TTC – still drinking coffee, taking prenatal vitamins but kinda sporadically, not really exercising or doing yoga. But that has changed. Now I’m only drinking decaf. I’m shaking up my diet to include more veggies and full fat dairy, and I’m back to stretching and doing fertility yoga moves. I feel the pressure now.

I got my blood work back and everything is normal. I was expecting changes from my fertility blood work 2.5 years ago, but it’s almost exactly the same, which is great. I have a phone consultation with the RE, same Dr. as last time, on Jan 15th. And then onto the in-person appt sometime after that. A little nervous about that first ultrasound, as last time I had a couple uterine polyps that had to be removed. Fingers crossed they haven’t grown back. I’m guessing we’ll be inseminating in March – if everything goes smoothly. Maybe April. Eeeek- that seems like no time!

Because we only have 2 vials of the Donor, I’ve considered asking to use clomid. For Mabel, I had a monitored cycle, no drugs, and the a trigger shot once I had a large enough follicle. Maybe if the first IUI doesn’t work, I’ll ask for clomis for round 2. It does seem weird to ask for it if my ovarian reserve is fine. I have no problem ovulating, just looking for ways to increase our odds.

Now for cute photos:

pretty sure Santa triggered Mabel’s fight or flight reflex. She didn’t unclench those fists until she left his lap.

This looks familiar

Obligatory TTC Baby #2 Update

Yep. We’re doing it. No idea how we’re going to pay for childcare for two littles, but we’ll figure it out. We want another tiny human!

Our fertility clinic makes you have blood work done before you can see someone in person. So they put in the lab orders for me to go on either Day 2 or Day 3 of my next cycle. I totally thought we’d be in Texas for it visiting family and figured I’d just do it during my January cycle. Lo and behold, Aunt Flow arrived a tad early. So off I went this morning to the lab. I had forgotten how much blood they require. 12 vials!

I should get MOST of the results on my online patient portal this week. But a few they only tell you in person. Now I just have to call and schedule my first appt for sometime in mid January or early February! Excited, but also nervous. I’m 38. I was 35 when we were trying for Mabel. I’m a little nervous to see the comparison between my blood work now and 3 years ago. Hopefully my eggs have aged well.

While we’re on this subject, did any of you notice a change in your cycle length after having a baby? I used to have a solid 28-30 day cycle. I now have a 25 day cycle. Huh? Granted, I only start really tracking it and paying attention the last few months as we were discussing TTC again. But it’s been consistent these last 3 months. Exactly 25 days. Never had a cycle this short before. A little worried because my luteal phase is only 11 days. But my acupuncturist has once again armed me with disgusting herbs in the hopes of getting everything primed and ready. Fingers crossed they help lengthen my luteal phase.

Now off to sleep for a few hours before we hop on an early morning flight to go see my family for Christmas. Happy holidays everyone!!

Motherhood: 18.5 months later

Not sure if anyone will even read this, it’s been so long since I posted. 

Life has been exhausting, thrilling, sleep deprived, fulfilling, joyful and everything in between. I love being a mom. I am here on earth to be Mabel’s mom. And I can’t even really remember what life was like pre-Mabel. 


So what is Mabel like now at 18.5 months old? Resorting to bullet points here.

  • This kid needs the freedom to run around and blow off steam. She needs time outside every single day to run, jump, dig in the dirt, and turn over every rock and if she doesn’t get it, I pity the people around her at the end of the day. (Hint: that’s me and S)
  • She is saying new words every day, including various body parts, “tickle tickle tickle” to the baby she shares a nanny with, “EIEIO” when we sing Old McDonald Had a Farm, and she tries to sing “no more monkeys jumping on the bed” but just ends up wagging her finger and saying something along the lines of “mo mo monies mum mo med”
  • She eats pretty well. We have to chop things like broccoli up really small and hide it in pasta sauces, but she gobbles up her food and sometimes when she’s hungry she’ll just start listing all the food she knows. Which leads to her asking for a waffle at 2am. 
  • She calls herself MeMoo. Which means we now call her MeMoo more often than Mabel.
  • She loves looking at herself in the mirror. She’ll slowly walk by the mirror and nonchalantly watch herself. And then turn around and walk by the mirror again. She also likes to kiss her reflection. It’s adorable.
  • We’re reached the stage where she’ll randomly walk up and kiss us. And it melts my heart every time.
  • If you cough, Mabel will drop what she’s doing and walk across the room to pat your back and make sure you’re ok.
  • She’s a passionate girl and lashes out easily. We’re constantly saying “No hitting” and “we don’t hit people” and removing her from situations. She’s definitely in that boundary pushing, not-able-to-express-herself-verbally-so-she-gets-frustrated-and-throws-toys phase. We even spoke with her pediatrician about it and she said to just keep doing what we’re doing. M, her nanny, sometimes has to take Mabel into the kitchen away from the other kid M watches and sit with her until Mabel calms down. It’s a process.
  • She loves making people laugh. If she does something that makes us laugh, you can almost see the lightbulb go off in her head and she’ll keep doing it over and over. And over. 

So right now life is great. As soon as we get comfortable, Mabel changes it up on us, but each month we keep saying, “This is my favorite age.” 

I’ll try to be a bit better about posting updates. I do still read your journeys and it makes me so happy to read about the sucesses and the 2nd babies that are arriving for some of you! 

Sleep training-ish

It’s no secret that sleep has been lacking in our household. Ever since Mabel was 4 month old, she’s had multiple erratic wakings each night. Resulting in two very sleep deprived moms. It didn’t help that she was battling multiple colds back to back from Christmas until the end of Feb. 

This past weekend was the first weekend in 2017 where NO ONE in our house was sick! Hoping it stays that way.

So now that Mabel’s finally not sick, I thought it’d be a good time to try some gentle sleep training methods. Specifically the No Cry Sleep method. It’s more of a long term gradual program to get your baby used to sleeping in their crib and to slowly get them sleeping for longer stretches. You do a sleep log in the first night and then aren’t supposed to do another one for at least 10 days. It’s a gentle, laid back method so it’s a lot of “2 steps forward, 1 step back” in the beginning. But after 22 days, I am happy to report that Mabel’s sleep is way more consistent now. Still have a ways to go, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. 

Our method while she was sick and not sleeping well was for us to take turns cosleeping with Mabel in the bed we have in her room. She’d start the night in her crib, but once she woke up, we would bring her into bed with one of us and then take turns pulling “Mabel duty.” My wife and I decided we wanted to sleep in the same bed again. And get Mabel used to sleeping on her own. 

Her bedtime routine at the moment:

  • 5:30: dinner, which usually lasts until 6 or so
  • 6:30: bath time. We don’t wash her every night, but she sits in warm water and plays with her bath toys every night
  • Post bath: naked baby time until we put on her night diaper and pjs
  • 7:00: bedtime bottle in her dim room with just a lamp on and her sound machine on. Once she finishes the bottle, we read a couple of books. When she starts yawning, the lamp goes out and we rock until she falls asleep. She’s usually out by 7:30-7:45.

The Plan (first phase):

Part 1: Mabel protested being in her crib a lot. So the plan was to let her fall asleep in my arms and then transfer her to her crib for each waking. This was exhausting. A lot of the time, it took 5 or 6 tries before she stopped fighting it and stayed asleep in her crib. Sometimes she would be fine in her crib for about 15 min and then would cry and scream. And there have definitely been nights when I gave up after a couple tries just to make sure we all got much needed sleep.

Part 2: Mabel was getting a bottle for every waking. I wanted to start slowly taking some feedings away. So the plan was to try to soothe her by rocking, walking, snuggles first, then if she can’t be comforted, we’d feed her. This is still a work in progress. But there is usually at least 1 waking a night where I can rock her and she’ll fall back asleep without eating. If she’s really upset and won’t fall back asleep, I give her a bottle. 

Night 1 log: Mabel woke up 8 times!! The longest stretch of sleep she had was an hour and a half. No wonder we’re so freakin exhausted. 

Night 10 log: let me just start by saying we had a fantastic Night 9. She woke up 4 times and I was excited about officially logging her progress on Night 10. Well of course, Night 10 was horrendous. She was up 7 times. Slight improvement over 8, but, eh, not really. 

I didn’t actually do a Day 20 log but I’m hoping to do one in the next few days. But I am so happy to see her progress this week. After the horrible Day 10, she suddenly started waking up just 3 times a night. I know, I know. That’s still not great. BUT, those 3 times are consistent. She’s been waking up at 10pm, midnight, and 3am, waking up for the day around 7:30am. And last night she woke up TWICE at 10pm and 3:30am! Too early to celebrate though, we’ll see tonight if that’s the new normal or just a one-off.

After months of erratic wakings and never knowing how long she was going to sleep, this feels wonderful! And she’s spending most of the night in her crib. She’ll still protest her crib, usually at the 3am waking. But I’m ok with that. Big improvement. 

Now that she has consistent wake up times, we can start working on Phase 2 of The Plan (assuming she continues being consistent.)

Phase 2: 

Part 1: This part is scary, but we’re going to now try to put Mabel in her crib when she’s really drowsy but not quite asleep. I know she’s going to protest this and it’ll take many tries and many nights before she’s ok with this. If she is ever ok with it! This is a very stubborn girl. 

Part 2: Slowly keep phasing out the night feedings. We’re gonna continue to comfort her first and only offer a bottle if she keeps insisting on it. When given a bottle, I’ll listen for when her sucking slows down and I’ll gently pull the bottle out of her mouth. If she protests, I’ll put the bottle back, but repeat the process so she gets used to having the bottle out of her mouth before she actually falls back asleep.

Fingers crossed this progress continues. It’s a long road, but I feel comfortable with this method. I know it’s not for everyone, but I’m hopeful we’ll have a better sleeper on our hands soon! 

Getting my groove back

I feel like there have been a few definite phases to first-time parenting. I’m sure they’re different for everyone, but here are the phases I’ve gone through. 

SURVIVAL MODE

  • The first 3-4 months of your baby’s life, this phase is hard. Really hard. A total shock to your system to witness the reality of having a teeny tiny human totally dependent on you and adjusting to life outside the womb. 
  • Everything non-baby related gets pushed to the back burner: household chores, work, your marriage and social life. 
  • While this phase is hard, it’s also magical to just focus on your baby and get to know him/her. You become a family.
  • Some of the best weeks of my life were during this phase – being unaware of the outside world and just curled up with my baby and wife.

REINTRODUCTION TO WORK 

  • You struggle with balancing work and family life for the first time. And feel like you’re failing at both. 
  • Sometimes fantasize about winning the lottery and not having to work. 
  • Feel completely out of the loop in terms of current affairs and pop culture because of the Survival Mode you just went through. 
  • Struggle to find appropriate work clothes that fit your slowly shrinking body. Maybe wear the same two pairs of pants (i.e. The only pants that still fit) for the first few weeks. 
  • Often realize after you’ve left the house that you haven’t brushed your teeth or your hair.
  • Forget your pump parts a couple times and then fork over money to make sure you have multiples of everything.
  • It takes a while before you find your footing and get a rhythm to your day, but it does happen. 

REINTRODUCTION TO YOUR PARTNER/ FRIENDS/ OUTSIDE WORLD

  • This phase started when Mabel was about 7 months old. At some point I realized I wanted to hang out with someone and not just talk about the baby.
  • You feel naughty and guilty asking your partner to take on parenting duties while you go have a drink. 
  • While you’re out, you’re always looking at the clock thinking, “she’s getting a bath right now. She’s being read a book right now…”
  • Try as you might to stay up, you can’t make it past 10pm anymore.
  • You never stop loving your spouse, but around this point, you suddenly look up and realize, “oh, there you are. I remember you.”
  • You start making more time for your partner – nice dinners after the baby goes to sleep, laughs during the baby’s naps, etc
  • You still put your needs last and sometimes leave the house without an umbrella (when it’s raining), without brushing your hair, with two different socks on….

REINTRODUCTION TO YOURSELF 

  • Just entering this phase, but I suddenly feel the need to get my shit together and take better care of myself
  • Let’s start with my DAMN BRA – I have no idea what size I wear now. My ribs are definitely wider than they were pre-pregnancy, so my old bras aren’t comfortable anymore. But my boobs shrunk back down after I stopped breastfeeding, so my maternity/nursing bras are way too big. And I’ve just been fumbling around wearing ill fitting bras for months and putting it on the back burner. Time to get remeasured and wear a fucking comfortable bra again!
  • I’m going through a style identity crisis. I’ve just been wearing whatever is comfortable and has the fewest food/spit up spots on it. I work in San Francisco – a pretty stylish city, but my office is very casual – jeans and such – and I’ve totally taken advantage of that. I need to up my style game. I haven’t bought any new clothes in a very long time and I really want to get out of my rut.
  • Am trying to find a way to start running again. Was training for a 5k when we got pregnant and I really loved it. My goal is to run along the embarcadero in SF once or twice a week after work. 

Maybe it’s the appearance of spring after a very rainy and cloudy winter, but we’re feeling hopeful in this household. Still sleep deprived, but we’re doing something right, as we have one hilarious, happy, thriving daughter. Money is still super tight, but we have food on the table every day and our bills get paid. Ready for spring and summer!

9 months in

I can’t believe it’s been so long since I posted on here. I have to revert to bullet points for this one. Excuse my laziness.

  • Our first real health scare: Mabel had a febrile (fever) seizure at the end of January. Poor S was home alone with her – I was setting up a work event. It happened suddenly while S and Mabel were lounging in bed that morning. Mabel was unresponsive for a few minutes after the seizure and her temp suddenly spiked super high. S did everything right and called 911 and undressed Mabel and put her in the empty bathtub. The cold surface worked and by the time the paramedics arrived Mabel was responsive and babbling again. I rushed to meet them at the hospital and they explained febrile seizures and said she was totally fine. Once a baby has one – which is just caused by a sudden temp rise – her chances of having another one are slightly higher than the average baby. Most kids outgrow these seizures by age 3 or 4. We are just super careful about keeping tabs on her temperature and made sure M, her nanny, knows what to do in the event of another one. As long as they don’t last more than 2 min, we have no need to worry about brain damage. Scary, for sure, but somewhat common. 
  • Mabel is a physical force! This child learned to crawl right after she turned 6 months, learned how to pull herself up to standing a week later, and is now cruising along all our furniture and pushing her walker all throughout the house. She’s gonna be walking on her own literally any day now. She’s progressing a little too quickly for my taste! I just want her to slow down just a tad and stay my little baby a bit longer.
  • Mabel now says mama or mommom when she wants us. She also calls her nanny and the cats mama. So basically everyone she loves is mama, which seems about right 🙂
  • This kid has had a cold for pretty much all of 2017. Our whole household has, in fact. I’m home sick from work today. S was home part of last week. And poor Mabel has had a runny nose for most of Feb. and recently developed a cough. She has her 9 month appt this afternoon, but her doctor has said we just need to wait it out and keep her comfortable. We keep the head of her crib slightly elevated, her nursery humidifier on 24/7, and her nose frida is used every damn day. So ready for our family to all finally feel better. 
  • Sleep. Sleep is still elusive. I know some of it is because Mabel’s been sick and uncomfortable lately. Some of it is because she seems to be teething (she sprouted 2 teeth at 5 months and nothing since) – lots of drool and lots of biting. Some of it is because of all the new skills she’s learning, like walking. And some of it is straight up baby FOMO. Right now she’s waking up like 6-8 times a night. And slowly killing us. We’re following the No Cry Sleep method right now. Slowly but surely over the past 10 days her sleep has gotten ever so slightly better. Fingers crossed it continues down this path. 

Basically, besides our lack of sleep, life is pretty good right now. Can’t believe we’re starting to plan her 1 year birthday party! Where has the time gone???

All I want for Christmas is sleep

So, 6 month sleep regression. Is this a thing? 

Mabel is not going through a brain leap (she just went through leap 5 a couple weeks ago). The only thing I can think of is teething – she cut her first tooth 2 weeks ago and maybe there’s another one about to push through? She’s also sooooooo close to crawling and she just recently started sitting unassisted. I think I read somewhere that they have trouble sleeping when they’re on the cusp of learning new skills. 

Here’s the deal:

Mabel is a great napper. She consistently naps 3-4 times a day. M, the nanny, has her on a predictable schedule and can now just put her down in her crib when she’s sleepy. Mabel will protest for a few minutes, but she always falls asleep relatively quickly. 

And putting Mabel to bed in the evening is pretty painless. She eats “dinner” – purées at the moment- around 6:00. We do some quiet play time until about 7:15. We then put her pjs on, give her a bottle, read a book or two and then rock her and sing to her until she falls asleep. At the end of our daily bedtime routine, she’s almost always asleep by 7:45 or 8. And we then transfer her to her crib. We love her bedtime routine, definitely a highlight of our day. I feel like it’s just as much for us as for her. Easy peasy. 

Until 3 weeks ago, Mabel was getting up like clockwork twice a night. Usually around 1am and then again at 4-ish. She’d take a bottle and then pass right out. She’d be awake for maybe 10-15 min. We’d gotten used to this and didn’t mind it. And then she’d be up for the day at 7am. 

3 weeks ago, the sleep weirdness began. She’d go down for the night no problem. But at her first wake-up at 1am, she refused to go back to her crib. She’d be snoring in my arms but as soon as her body touched her crib mattress, she’d wake up and start screaming. So after trying for an hour to transfer her back to her crib, I’d give up and cosleep with her in the bed in the nursery for the last half of the night. 

About 2 weeks ago, she started waking up a lot. And protesting her crib in general. We even bought a quilted pad for her crib and some flannel sheets, thinking maybe her mattress was cold at night. Doesn’t seem to have changed anything. 

Last night was typical- 

  • 7:45pm – asleep for the night in her crib
  • 9:30pm – wakes up and cries. We offer comfort and after refusing to go back in her crib, we put her in the pack n play in our room. She stays asleep.
  • 10:30pm – wakes up crying. Give her a bottle and she drinks a bit before passing out
  • 11:30pm – wakes up crying. Rock her back to sleep
  • 1:30am – wakes up crying- S gives her a bottle and she passes out again
  • 3:00am – wakes up crying and passes out after being held by me for a few minutes
  • 4:00am – wide awake! Tries to pull herself up in the pack n play – giggles when she sees me. I take her into the nursery to rock her back to sleep. She bats at my face and runs her hands through my hair the whole time. finally falls asleep at 5am. I put her down in her crib and go back to bed. 
  • 5:30 – she starts crying. I hand her off to S as I have to start getting ready for work. S cosleeps with her in the bed in the nursery until 7am and I leave for work. 

What the fuck is going on?!?!?

She hasn’t had this much trouble staying asleep since she was a newborn. We don’t jump up and attend to her right away for each wake up either. We wait a few minutes to see if she can settle herself and fall back asleep (and occasionally she does).

Our house can get a bit cold at night, but we have her in fleece footed pjs with a non-swaddle sleep sack on top of that. And she has a warm blanket that she likes to sleep with as well. 

We’re not ready for CIO sleep training, but we’re also aware that our views on that might change after a few more weeks of severe sleep deprivation. 

Lord help us. I hope this is a phase that passes quickly!

Love and cute babies

After these past few heartbreaking days, I’ve been struggling to figure out how I can help. In any way. 

I’ve decided to focus on the micro-levels of my life. Be a patient mom. An encouraging wife. An accepting and kind friend. To let go of any grudges I might have been holding. We’re already donors to Planned Parenthood, but we’re now considering becoming monthly donors. Adding the ACLU into the small group of charities we support financially. We’ll be volunteering at our local food bank. 

We’re also focusing on the local politics. If the country doesn’t reflect the values we cherish, we want to at least make sure that Mabel’s hometown does. And we’re so lucky in that regard. Not only is California incredibly progressive (although the state definitely needs to get its shit together about the death penalty!), but the Bay Area is even more so. In our city, all of the bonds on the ballot that will be spent to repair our schools and revitalize neighborhoods passed with flying colors. We’ll start attending city council meetings when we can. Saying hello to our neighbors more frequently. 

There’s obviously a lot of anger in the middle of the country from people who feel left out of the economic recovery. But I refuse to let that anger seep into my life.  We are better than that. And I will fight it with love. Love trumps hate.

I’ve let all my friends know they are welcome to crash at our home any time they need a safe space. If anyone of you lovely ladies are in the Bay Area and need a place to vent, cry, or just snuggle a cute baby, our door is open to you. 

I wore a pantsuit yesterday for Mabel. As a way of showing her I’m still fighting for equality, tolerance, and civility. 


My friends and I have agreed to trade photos of cute babies and pets as a way to counter the anxiety and dread social media has started doling out. So I’m sharing some cute photos of our darling 5 1/2 month old. We started her out on purées recently after she showed interest in our food. So far she’s had rice cereal, puréed green beans, peas, and pumpkin. She’s also sitting in the bumbo chair pretty well these days.



Much love to everyone. We’ll get through this. Just keep up the good fight!

How we survive

Now that I’ve been back at work for a little over 2 months, we’ve learned the routines and tips that help keep us afloat and sane. I think it goes without saying that these are just the things that work for us – they might not work for everyone. And we’re always happy to hear other tips as well! Lay ’em on us!

Hire the best help you can afford. We are very fortunate that we can afford a nannyshare. S’s family lives about 2 hours away, which is great for weekend visits – not great for having them watch Mabel regularly. In an ideal world, S’s mom would live nearby and watch Mabel during the week. Sigh. So here we are. Mabel shares her nanny with one other baby who is 5 weeks younger than her. We’re barely making ends meet each month, but it is worth every.single.penny. M, the nanny, is great with the babies. Mabel lights up every morning when M walks through our front door. And she has cried when M left at the end of the day. This makes it so much easier to leave in the morning, knowing Mabel feels loved while we’re gone. M also washes whatever bottles Mabel uses during the day and does Mabel’s laundry each week. Worth every single penny.

Meal planning. We have a giant whiteboard calendar on a wall of our kitchen. Each month, I wipe it clean and start planning our monthly menu and notating it on there. We’re trying to lower our grocery bills (see nanny costs above), so we’re just buying what we need and planning our meals ahead of times. We typically cook a meal on Monday, have the leftovers on Tuesday, cook a meal on Wednesday, leftovers on Thursday. And Friday is our “date night” so we treat ourselves to take out and watch a movie once the kiddo is asleep. It’s nice to look ahead at what’s for dinner. And we haven’t gotten sick of leftovers yet, which is nice. We also always have a spare “emergency dinner” on hand – for nights when things go haywire and it’s suddenly 9pm and we’re starving and haven’t done any dinner prep. These are usually frozen meals like Newmans Own brand – where you just open the bag and dump everything into a skillet for 10 minutes. Not the healthiest, but better than a bowl of cereal. Advice about meal planning: pay attention to the weather. When planning our September meals, I got carried away with fall comfort foods, but the weather was still stuck in summer mode. So mid-september, I followed the meal plan and made soup one day in the crock pot, not thinking about the weather. Turned out to be unseasonably warm that day, in the 80s! and there we were eating hot soup and sweating. 

Food Prep is everything. Meal planning doesn’t help much if you don’t prep beforehand. Making a stir fry is much harder if you’re trying to chop veggies AND cook it. All while wrangling a kid. Or if you wait til the kid is asleep to start, it’s 9:30 before you even get to sit down to eat. Therefore, I carve out an hour or two each Sunday to prep for the week. This includes prepping my lunches. I might bake a few potatoes and make some mason jar salads. Or cook a big batch of quinoa and roasted veggies. I’ll chop veggies for all our weekday dinners. Then when it’s time to make dinner later that week, I just have to dump the ingredients into a pan and not waste time chopping. Or I’ll make a meal and freeze it Sunday, if it’s something that freezes nicely. Now that it’s cozy fall season, I’ve taken to baking on Sundays too. Pumpkin bread, corn muffins, and banana bread are quick and easy. And make our house smell lovely. 

Crock Pot. I love our crock pot. We never really used it much until I went back to work. But it’s so easy!  We’ve made veggie chili in it. Potato and corn chowder. I have butternut squash soup planned for next week. The crock pot is a must. I’m trying to explore beyond soups, so throw any cool recipes my way. It’s very satisfying to just throw a bunch of stuff in it and turn it on. And then come home to a nice-smelling home and a hot meal.

Night prep. I get up between 5:30-6:00 each morning. I’m pretty much a zombie until I leave the house for work. If I had to  make my lunch, set up the coffee machine, pick out my clothes, or pack my work bag, I would be late to work every single day. It’s absolutely necessary for me to get everything picked out and ready to go the night before. It’s not fun. The last thing I want to do when I’m tired at the end of the day is get the coffee machine prepped and ready. Or pack my breakfast and lunch. Or lay out my clothes. But I so appreciate it when I can just throw my lunch in my bag. Or walk into the kitchen and immediately pour myself coffee. It’s made my mornings much, much easier. 

Splitting the night shift. There’s no way I could pull night shift all by myself with Mabel and then go to work and function. So S and I take turns. Each evening is split into two shifts. One from 10pm-2am. And one from 2am-6am. We don’t always switch over at 2. We keep it pretty loose, based on how Mabel’s doing. But the important thing is that no one is expected to pull the night shift by themselves.

Syncing our calendars. I’m usually the one rushing home at5pm to relieve the nanny, but working in events means there are a few days a month that I have evening events. So we’ve found that me sending S calendar appts for those days really helps keep us on the same page. I went through and sent her appointments for all the evenings I have to work late until the end of the year. We also discuss it’s home of course, but now S gets a notification a few hours before she has to be home as a gentle reminder to leave work earlier than usual. So far it’s working and we’ve only had one snafu where the nanny had to stay 30 min late. 

Routine. Routine. Routine. I know babies love routine, but I do as well. M has been great about getting Mabel on a schedule during the day. We care less about following the clock exactly than about making sure Mabel’s days follow a certain pattern. So her schedule might vary by an hour or so from day to day, but the pattern always stays the same – wake, eat, play, nap and repeat. This helps us as well. We know what to expect and because I know she’ll go down for her final nap right after I get home, I can squeeze in a few extra work emails during that time. Or start dinner. Or just zone out on the couch if it’s been a stressful day. Routine is our friend these days. I know the routine will change as she grows, but I think all 3 of us benefit from having a predictable pattern to our days.