life as a mama | trial+error

The first few months of parenthood are all trial+error. At least I haven’t been so lucky to get my hands on the official “Mama Manual” yet. So far, I’ve learned a number of things. One [self-enforced] “Rule”: do not get myself fully ready and dressed in my “work clothes” before getting Finley fully ready to leave the house first. You just never know if you’ll get pooped or spit-up on! But, sadly, the mishaps can’t always be avoided 100%..

I didn’t have my work clothes on yet, but my make-up and hair were done. I was burping Finley and sure enough, she spit up in my hair, down my back, and on the rocking chair. (You know you’re a mom when you go to work with a few crusty ends to your hair and then get whiffs of spit-up throughout the day without it bothering you.) I was ahead of schedule despite the spit-up incident and for that, I was proud. Until I took a look at my hair in the rearview mirror just before backing out of the driveway, only to see something crusted on the shoulder of my shirt. WTF is that?? And then I had a flashback to when Finley was a newborn. Those sleepless nights… waking up to change+feed her… getting pooped on. OMG! It’s POOP! I remembered that I had this shirt folded on the floor with plans to return it, only to never get around to returning it or wearing it until this particular day. Sure as shit (no pun intended), it was crusted baby poop. On my shirt. Shameful yet proud, I went inside and washed it off as best as I could and was back on my merry way to work. When your outfit is clicking and your feelin’ good, and the baby is already in the car, there’s no way you’re going to change into a whole new outfit… am I right? (well, that’s my motto anyway) The only other thing that would have made me the epitome of a working mom that day would have been a breast pump bag on my shoulder. I didn’t look quite as bad as it probably sounds…

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Other things I’ve come to realize…

• Have burp cloths everywhere around the house. Because when the baby spits up, you realize the burp cloth is never in sight. My favorites are these Aden+Anais ones. So soft and fit perfectly on shoulder and around neck with it’s shape.

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• Have phone, remote, burp cloth, and whatever other useful items near you while breastfeeding. Again, in the middle of breastfeeding, an infomercial or something equally as bad will come on the TV and then you’ll realize the remote is a couple feet out of reach. Or you’ll decide you want to catch up on facebook but realize your phone is nowhere to be found either. I’ve become pretty good at picking up various items with my toes…!

• Have a bottle cleaning station somewhere other than the kitchen. (we do ours in the laundry room) I just feel like the kitchen harbors more bacteria from various foods, gross wash cloths, etc. Plus, who wants this bottle clutter in the kitchen where everyone sees it?

BOTTLE STATION

• Be sure to have gas relief drops on hand. These are a life saver!! And it might be the cutest thing ever to watch a baby get a taste of something other than milk for the first time.

• Formula container with dividers. With this, you can measure out the exact amount of formula into separate compartments so you can easily make a bottle when you aren’t at home. Love this thing! (buy it here) Will be great for snacks (for baby or husband!) when we are past the formula stage as well. 🙂

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• If you know you are about to change a poopy diaper (or as I say it to Finley in a weird this-is-how-I-talk-to-babies-voice with a slight accent, “poopsie pants!”), take out a few wipes ahead of time. Trying to get one out with one hand is a challenge and is suuuuuper annoying.

• Pacifier clips. (because it never fails, the pacifier somehow, magically gets lost in the carseat every time and is impossible to find!) I was going to make my own but took the lazy way out and just ordered two from this etsy shop. Aren’t these adorable!?

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• Have phone nearby at all times, because there are always moments you want to capture on camera or video! I’m good at this one. 🙂

FINLEY COLLAGE

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life as a mama | a “new normal”

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I knew life would forever be different, but there are no words, no advice, no books, nor countless stories from experienced parents that can prepare you for parenthood. When we got home with Finley, we looked at each other, confused, as if it was our first day of kindergarten, with no clue what to do next. I felt so lost, I wished I was back in the hospital for a couple more days to feel be taken care of. The first few nights, we slept with our lights on (dimmed) because, heaven forbid I couldn’t see my baby if I opened my eyes. Feeding/changing her countless times in the middle of the night was a huge production. Cory and I would both get up, turn on lights, fumble around to make a bottle, get pooped and peed on while changing our crying baby’s diaper. The whole ordeal would take at least an hour. We were zombies during the day the entire first week month. And the first week is when everybody and their brother wants to visit. Bless their hearts.. 🙂

If this trailer of “Up All Night” doesn’t sum it up, I don’t know what does. I cannot stop laughing when I watch this!

The swearing, the crying, the wipes… the freaking wipes! They stick together and you can never get just ONE out with one hand while the other hand is holding the baby’s legs so her feet don’t get in the poopy diaper.

Cory and I also had a moment when we looked at each other and said, “We need to get out of the house”. We felt like prisoners in our own home. But, going out in public was also a huge production… Was she just fed? Is her diaper clean? Is she sleeping? Ok, Go! Fast! And God help us if she starts crying when we are in a store. It happened in Target and we [sorta] panicked. No one wants to be “the lady with the crying baby”. I stayed in the aisle with the screaming baby while Cory ran to another aisle to get a bottle of water so we could make a bottle for her (see, we weren’t even prepared enough to have a bottle ready in public!). By the time he got back, she had stopped crying. The good news is, when the baby is that little, people just give sad, puppy-dog-eye faces and think it’s so sweet, versus when the child is a little older, you get glares while they think “OMG. Control your bratty little child, lady!”. Can’t wait until those days…

My parents stayed with us the first week. I’m not sure we would have made it through that week without their help. Chances are, Lucy would have starved to death and us to, for that matter. One night, my mom stayed up in the living room while Finley slept in her cradle until she woke up for her first feeding so we could “go to bed” for a couple hours without the anxiety of Finley being next to us, needing us. Something so small, yet so wonderful.

There is no doubt that I wore the same two outfits every day for two months. (I’m sure Cory was really attracted to me.) I was so proud and felt accomplished with each little thing I may have gotten done in one day; whether it be a shower, a prepared meal, or doing the dishes. My biggest milestone that first week was when I figured out how to pump and do my makeup at the same time. First epic fail as a mama: spilling the pumped milk all over the bathroom floor. I could just cry [over spilled milk]!

I’m somewhat ashamed to admit it, but there was a night or two when I woud rock Finley’s cradle with one arm off the side of the bed, telling her to “Go the F to sleep. Please. You are an infant. You are suppose to sleep“, then instantly feel so mean for using the F word directly to my sweet, innocent daughter. (But rest assured, she’s a baby and doesn’t know good from bad [words] yet.)

Though amazing, those first couple months weren’t very glamorous. But, truth is, my life is so much richer and full of love than it’s ever been before. Between a happy marriage to my handsome husband who would do anything for me [and I for him], an adorable dog who is loved more than most dogs [and is part human, I’m pretty sure], and now this healthy, beautiful little baby who is all ours (all ours!!), there is so much love. So much happiness. I feel incredibly lucky+blessed every. single. day.

I mean, does it get much better than this:

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KOCH FAMILY

Finley is just over three months old now and I finally feel like we’ve [sort of] gotten the hang of things. This “new normal” is pretty darn wonderful. She’s been such a good little baby… She rarely cries, loves her nuk, enjoys bath time, smiles when I use the bulb suction to suck boogers out of her little nose every day (seriously!), lets me dress her up in multiple outfits and take way too many pictures of her, and will go from breastfeeding to a bottle [that is only room temperature] with no hesitation. She’s not picky! She’s been smiling since she was four days old and is just one happy, easy going baby! I know the days will come when she’ll seem like the naughtiest little girl in the world (while people glare at me and think I should control my kid), but I’ll still love her to pieces and all the while, still think she’s the best little girl in the world too…

Because she is. 🙂

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finley kathleen | her debut

A week before Finley was born, a woman at the UPS store blatantly told me, “Nope. You aren’t having that baby any time soon. You haven’t swelled up and don’t look miserable yet.” I politely clenched my teeth smiled and said, “you’re probably right”, though I disagreed 100% in my mind. Truth is, not every woman is miserable during her pregnancy! Aside from the difficulty bending over, and waking up multiple times during the night to pee in the last trimester, I really enjoyed my pregnancy. I loved the newness of it all. That first experience is so incredible! I felt lovely and special and embraced the giant bump that grew in front of me!

Much to my disappointment, at my 39 week appointment I hadn’t progressed from the week prior — still 2-3cm and 90% effaced. That same day, I had Cory take a maternity picture of me before the sun went down. I knew exactly what I wanted and felt I had to have at least one “professional-looking” maternity photo. Little did I know, I would have never gotten that photo if I waited just one more day! I’m so glad I didn’t wait, because I’ll cherish this forever…

MATERNITY PIC

Throughout the last trimester, I worried about whether or not I would know if I was in labor. Would my water break? How would I know for sure if I was having contractions? Well, my contractions made a grand entrance at 2am that night… each one lasting 30-60 seconds, five minutes apart. And, they hurt—bad. Because the lady at the hospital made me feel like I didn’t need to go in yet, I laid in the fetal position in bed for nearly two hours, repeating myself through the pain of each contraction, (I even apologized to Cory for probably sounding annoying!) finally making the decision to go in around 4am. (For the record, Cory did not think I was annoying and he graciously did whatever I asked of him if I thought it would help me; like get me orange juice and water, and rub my shoulders or not rub my shoulders, and talk or not talk or ask questions! If you’ve been in labor, you’ll understand how wants+needs are all over the board! A woman in labor changes her mind with each contraction.)

Before leaving, I found a dozen red roses on the counter for me, as well as a Valentine’s Day card from Cory and one from our soon-to-be daughter. Little did Cory know that that soon-to-be-daughter would actually arrive on Valentine’s Day!

Despite the inch of fresh snow covering the roads, we made it to St. Paul. While Cory was on the “red phone” to get the maternity ward doors open, I had a contraction and had no choice but to get down on all fours in attempt to be the most comfortable. You do what you gotta do with no shame during labor! Shortly there after, we saw a wheelchair and put it to good use. And just like out of a movie, Cory ran into the doorway while pushing me into a room. 🙂 (I still love him.)

While I was pregnant, I worried about getting an epidural, but that and the IV in my hand ended up being a piece of cake. My philosophy is that contractions put real pain into perspective…

The next five hours consisted of calling family+friends, resting/napping, rotating positions, and watching Finley’s heartbeat (and mine) on the monitor. It amazed me to have a contraction and not feel the pain.

MY VIEW.

my view.

I had a fever when I was admitted and it only went up so my nurse told us that they had to assume the worst which would be an infection in my uterus, which meant that Finley could have the infection too. Because of that, Finley would have to be in the NICU to be monitored and I wouldn’t get to hold her immediately after she was born. Hearing that broke my heart, but I was grateful to know beforehand vs. them whisking her away without me knowing why.

A doctor came in to break my water around 9am and said it wouldn’t be long. But I didn’t start pushing until 12:30 when my doctor arrived. Thank God for her. She was so amazing, encouraging, and reassuring during it all. I remember at one point when I started giving up, she said, “Think about Lambeau Field and ALLLLLLL those fans that fill the stadium. Each one of those people was born.”

Finley’s head had been low for a long time, they could already see it. So naturally, I thought a couple pushes and she’d be out, how tough could it be? We talked and laughed in-between pushes. Cory played Bon Iver Pandora on his phone for me because the elevator music channel (complete with serene photos of streams and foggy forests) annoyed me. Turns out, after a couple pushes, Finley wasn’t budging. After nearly two hours, I was reaching complete exhaustion. When the doctors saw meconium, they got serious about getting her out asap, and that’s when they told me they would use the vacuum suction to help. This. Was. Terrifying. All I could think was that I didn’t want them to have to use the forceps too. Then I started having visions of being rushed into an emergency C-Section. More than anything, I was worried about Finley. Again, my [fantastic] doctor told me to look her in the eyes and she said, “Do I look worried!? No. This baby is going to be born and everything is going to be ok!” After that, I closed my eyes and was the most determined I’d ever been in my entire life, because my baby’s life depended on it. At 2:59pm, Finley Kathleen took her first breath and let out the most beautiful cry I’ve ever heard. Soon after, Cory showed me this picture on his phone…

FIRST PIC OF FINLEY

freshly born ‘lil baby!

My first thought (other than how perfect she was) was that she looked HUGE! She was, by no means, huge, but was bigger than I expected—7 lb. 4oz. Healthy+Perfect. Before I knew it, she was bundled up and handed to me for the first time. Her sweet, glimmering eyes looked up at mine and I told her I was her mama as tears of happiness+relief+exhaustion+love+pure joy rolled down my cheeks. I dreamed of that exact moment for so long.

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first family photo.

(I swore I wasn’t ever going to show anyone this picture of me because if that doesn’t look like the stereotypical women who just delivered a baby, I don’t know what does! But despite my face not looking beautiful, the moment was beautiful, and that’s something to cherish.)

She was taken to the NICU to be hooked up to antibiotics and monitored in case of an infection. Turns out, she never ended up having any type of infection. She scored an 8 and 9 on her Apgar tests and was as healthy as they come!

And you know what, she is exactly what I imagined her to be… 🙂

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HELLO LITTLE LADY