One of the hardest parts of getting pregnant and becoming a mother for me has been feeling like my brain has literally been poked full of holes. I first noticed the effects of “pregnancy brain” late in my first trimester when I started losing words.
I would go to say something or write something, and I would know the definition of the word I meant — I would even be able to recall another time I had used the word in conversation — but I could not for the life of me tell you what the word was. I started googling the definitions or looking up synonyms (that I could remember) on Thesaurus.com, following my own linguistic treasure map back to my own vocabulary.
For a writer, losing words is a very big deal.
My mom loves to tell me a story from my own babyhood about our babysitter, Irene. Apparently, Irene had a habit of looking me in my little baby eyes and telling me, “Words are power.” I don’t know if this infant inception was the direct cause of my becoming a writer, but it’s hard to deny the plausibility.
The point is, I’ve always believed the sentiment of the phrase. Even now, I make excuses to tell Vivi the same thing. She doesn’t have to be a writer (unless she wants to be), but I want her to be able to communicate and express herself the best way possible. It’s part of why I spend a few minutes each day reading to her, even though it’s hard to believe she’s really paying attention as she carries on with her regular baby antics.
Anyway, all of that is a long way of getting around to the fact that pregnancy brain was a little scary for this logophile. It’s gotten marginally better since actually pushing out the baby, but now I just find myself suffering the effects of “mom brain.” (Which, spoiler alert, is the same thing. Babies make you dumb, folks.)
I also feel like it has been affecting the quality of my posts on here. Granted, I’m usually just trying to fling a few words together in a somewhat coherent sentence in between naps, freelancing, and keeping a semblance of order in our apartment, but I can’t shake the feeling that the quality is slipping more than I feel comfortable with.
Of course, this little blog is hardly a priority in the grand scheme of things (sorry, blog; the baby wins this round), but I would be sad if I felt like I let my most consistent creative outlet completely lose its shine. Besides, I feel like I have so many stories in my head from this one-of-a-kind experience I’m going through, and I’d hate to lose those just because I can’t make the time to write.
So while I might not be blogging as often, I’m going to try to brush up the quality of my posts. I’m not going to worry about consistency because, frankly, I can’t promise there will be any, but when I do post, I promise to really have something to say or share.
And hopefully I’ll be able to find the words to do that.
While I do feel like the first two months of Vivi’s life have gone by quickly, I also feel like they haven’t. Sure, a lot of the (at times restless) nights blend together into one long blur of feedings, but there are also a lot of crystal clear moments. Moments of joy (the first time she smiled at me!) and moments of “oh Lord, this is never going to end…” (see previously mentioned restless nights).
Fortunately, the good still far outweighs the bad. Yes, I’m still occasionally doused in puke or frustrated when I can’t find a cause (and therefore a solution) for a screaming fit, but by and large, Vivi is a happy, social baby, and I love being able to watch her change and develop every day.
So what is my 2-month-old doing these days? Well, I already mentioned the smiling, but it bears repeating because it is so. freaking. cute. It’s completely Joey’s smile (despite her having my mouth), which I think just makes me love it even more.
She’s also babbling a lot more, discovering new sounds (and, unfortunately for me, new cries) and becoming more and more interactive each week.
And she’s growing like a weed. Her size three-month leggings are starting to look like flood pants on her gangly little legs, and she’s filled out quite a bit in her belly and cheeks. (Yes, it’s just as cute as it sounds.)
But along with Vivi’s advancements, the last two months have led to a lot of realizations about myself and parenting as well.
The biggest being that parenting is probably the greatest exercise in humility you will ever encounter.
There’s simply no room to be cocky as a new parent because your baby is essentially a brand new person every day. Sure, your baby rolled over early and is a champion breastfeeder. But you know what else? She also screams during the entirety of tummy time and projectile vomits when she accidentally eats too much too quickly.
Yup, bet you’re feeling real advanced when your ears are ringing and you’re wiping spit-up out of your hair with a baby wipe. (Because, sorry, you’re not getting a real shower until afternoon nap time.)
At least once a day, I get an awesome feeling of, “I’ve GOT this. I am not a terrible mom — in fact, I think I’m doing pretty well,” but it’s usually swiftly followed by a crushing feeling of, “I am DEFINITELY screwing all of this up. What was I thinking having a baby?!”
It’s those moments when those little moments of eye contact and baby grins really come in handy.
The point is, it’s better to just stay humble. When they go well, maybe take a breath before you start sending out those early admission applications to Harvard. And when they don’t go so well? Try not to take it so personally.
After all, she’ll be a new baby tomorrow.
What’s that? Two cooking posts in a row? Aren’t I a little icon of domesticity these days? (Of course, “in a row” might be considered a stretch since my last post was a couple weeks ago. Oh, life with a baby!)
Anyway. As I said last time (because nothing has changed in my life, guys), I’m cooking more. Blah blah blah blah anecdotes.
The point is, I cooked this thing the other day, and it turned out pretty tasty, and now I’m sharing it with you.
Truth be told, it was one of those days when I had a few key ingredients in my fridge (in this case, gnocchi and chicken) and I decided to scan the interwebs for recipes I could make using said key ingredients. I found something that was generally what I was looking for, but I had to fill in a lot of gaps and improvise since I didn’t have everything that the original recipe called for. In this case, I substituted my favorite spices and a container of takeout Chinese broccoli left over from lunch the day before. Necessity is the mother of invention, right? Or, in this case, leftovers I don’t want to throw out are the mother of dinner. Or something.
As I said, though, the resulting dish was met with positive reviews, so I figured it was worth a post. Especially considering the only other posts I have rolling around my head are Vivi updates (keep your eye out for her two-month post…it’s coming next week) and thoughts on my new life as a housewife. I’ll get around to those. Probably. At some point.
Gnocchi, Chicken, and Broccoli Bake
3 T olive oil
1 large white onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 cups broccoli (or Chinese broccoli, which is what I used because multicultural fanciness!), roughly chopped
1 tsp rosemary
Salt and pepper
2 T butter
2 T whole wheat flour
1 cup chicken broth
1 1/2 cups almond milk
1 tsp cinnamon
2 chicken breasts, baked and shredded
1 package whole wheat gnocchi
Parmesan cheese, shredded
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Heat the olive oil in a large, oven-safe skillet.
Add the onion and garlic and cook until fragrant, stirring occasionally, about 3 minutes.
Add the broccoli, rosemary, salt, and pepper; cook until softened, about 10-12 minutes.
Remove veggie mixture from skillet and put into a bowl. Set aside. Wipe out the skillet.
Add butter to the skillet and melt. Stir in flour until mixed thoroughly.
Add the chicken broth, almond milk, and cinnamon. Cook until slightly thickened, about five minutes.
Stir in chicken and gnocchi until coated. Sprinkle with Parmesan and bake until slightly golden, about 20 minutes.
Allow to stand five minutes before serving. Enjoy!
I used to cook a lot when I was single and then when Joey and I first got married. I even had a whole section of this blog dedicated to what I dubbed my Kitchen Adventures.
But then around the time I was living on Long Island, I got a job back in the city and suddenly had a much longer commute to contend with. So Joey started taking over cooking duties. It started with a few nights a week, but it eventually became one of his primary responsibilities around the house.
What can I say? He’s good at it, and I’m a sucker for a man who can cook.
Over the last year or so, it has evened out a bit more as to who is wielding the spatula in our kitchen. But now that I’m home every day with the baby, I’ve tried to pick up more of the cooking slack. I mean, it’s not like I have tons of free time when I’m home, but I like to think that by taking one thing off Joey’s plate (by, you know, putting something on his plate) I’m giving him more time to spend with the Vivster when he gets home.
All of that is a long way of saying that I actually have a new recipe to post! My transition into total housewife is almost complete, you guys.
It all started with my book club. I’m in a club that meets about every two months. We try to read a variety of books in different genres and styles, and we do what we can to theme the food we eat to the book.
This month, we read Jane Austen’s Persuasion. After the necessary choices like tea and pastries had been covered by other book club members, someone suggested a meat pie of sorts to add some heartiness to the meal. I still hadn’t offered to bring anything yet, so I offered to make some kind of mini chicken pot pie. (Mostly because I had no idea what other kinds of meat pies exist, and I was scared to google it.)
After I made my offer, I decided it could be fun to create my own recipe using some of my favorite fall veggies. I’ve been cooking with a lot of fall produce lately, and I’ve never met a root vegetable I didn’t like. So the idea for my Mini Chicken Pot Pies with Fall Veggies was born.
The great thing about this recipe is that you could sub in basically any kind of vegetables you like, so get creative! Here’s what I used:
1 chicken breast, baked and diced
1 cups kale, roughly chopped
1 sweet potato, peeled and chopped
1 large parsnip, peeled and chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 medium white onion, chopped
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried thyme
salt and pepper to taste
2 cans of Pillsbury Grands Biscuits
The most time consuming part of the recipe is chopping all of the veggies, but I promise it’s worth it.
When I made this, I accidentally made way too much of the veggie mixture, so I used the leftovers to make a bigger chicken pot pie for Joey and me the next day. Dontcha love a twofer? The result was pretty delicious, and also pretty, well, pretty. Autumn is totally the best season, folks.
I also recently made a stuffed acorn recipe and salmon with roasted root veggies, but I forgot to take photos. If I make it again soon (which I probably will), I’ll write posts for those too.
What are your favorite fall recipes? Do you love root veggies as much as I do?
Being covered in puke and not flinching.
Thinking you cleaned off the puke and noticing half an hour later there’s still some on your forearm.
Taking every toddler toy commercial personally. (Will my baby never walk if I don’t buy that?!)(Answer: Your baby will still walk, psycho.)
Spending most of the day with your nursing bra unhooked before finally hooking it again. Most likely in public. Because you don’t even care anymore.
Planning your DAY around a stubborn burp bubble.
Being either half an hour early or an hour late to everything.
Truly believing all is lost if we lose this dang binky.
A tiny bit of guilt at what a relief it is when someone else wants to hold the baby. (Yay! Five minutes where no one is touching/clawing at me!)
The rush of love (and secret relief) when she really just wants to come back to you.
Reveling in every nap that lasts longer than twenty minutes. (He-llo, brushed hair and a cup of coffee!)
Wondering at least twenty times a day if you’re doing it right.
Praying for the next stage of development.
Wishing she could stay this way forever.
Writing blog posts in the back of Uber cars because it’s one of the few places your baby sleeps soundly.
I wanted to wait a few weeks until I wrote this post. Partly because I realized pretty early on that there’s not an easy answer to the question I pose in the title (and even if there was, it changes pretty much every hour). But also because, for the first two weeks of Vivi’s life, my mom was staying with us, so I didn’t really feel like I was experiencing “real life” with a baby until this past week.
So, you’re wondering, how has it been?
In some ways, it’s a lot how I expected. A newborn is really time-consuming. (SHOCKER.) Mine wants to be held as often as possible. She’s hungry a lot. She doesn’t really do that much besides eat, sleep, and poop. I don’t have any time to myself except for a few moments stolen while she naps or when Joey comes home and can spend some time with Vivian. I’m usually not as well rested as I could be. (Hahahaha understatements!)
In other ways, it’s not at all how I expected. And not always in a good way.
For example, I was really worried about breastfeeding. It was something I felt very strongly about and really wanted to do, but I had heard so many stories of women who had trouble — babies that couldn’t latch, milk that dried up or never came in, intense pain or discomfort that deterred them from sticking it out. It seemed like this supposedly natural process was a minefield of potential parental disappointment.
But I was fortunate. Vivi starting nursing literally moments after she was born, and we never had any issues while in the hospital or the first few days at home.
And then the real milk came in. And (apparently) with gusto. Suddenly, I had a baby that was getting too much milk and who would promptly spit up everything she had just eaten after every feeding. There were days I literally changed both of our outfits upwards of three times, and I regularly found myself near tears that this one thing I thought I had down was suddenly (and literally) backfiring on me.
Thanks to some advice from our pediatrician, though, we got through it. Sure, I still get doused in vomit occasionally (the creed of new parents everywhere), but it doesn’t really faze me at all anymore. (Remember this post? It’s so much worse after you actually have the baby.)
My voracious little eater aside, though, most of the surprises of motherhood have been positive for me.
For one thing, I was always kind of worried I wouldn’t be that into the newborn phase. They really can’t do that much yet, and a lot of their (extremely limited) awake time is spent fussing because they’re hungry or tired. We usually get 20-45 minutes of happy, fully alert baby at a time. I was worried I would be bored or, even worse, mildly irritated most of the first three months. But I’m really happy to say that I’ve been enjoying it a lot more than I expected. It helps that I just love this little girl so much, even just staring at her while she sleeps feels like a fun activity for the day. But I also just really appreciate getting to be with her every day and watching her change nearly every hour. She’s extremely curious, and I love watching her slowly discover the world around her. She’s also so strong, and it kills me seeing this tiny person hold her head up for the first time or scoot her body around on her play mat.
You know you’re a new parent when: watching a veritable slug of a person kick on their tummy for five minutes thrills you.
Basically, the whole experience has been even more fulfilling than I ever imagined. And now that she recognizes me on sight and can make prolonged eye contact? Well, I’d be lying if I said the first few times she looked at me — really looked at me — didn’t draw a few tears from this new momma. (Though we can probably blame some of the weepies on the hormones and sleep deprivation, right?)
Speaking of sleep-deprivation (because I know you really just want the gory details, not any of this “gosh I love my baby” mush), I’m happy to report that Vivi sleeps decently well. She usually sleeps from 6:30-8ish out in the living room with us (either in someone’s arms or in her swing chair), but I try to have both of us in bed (me in my actual bed, her in her bassinet) by 10/10:30. After that, she typically wakes up about three, sometimes four times, but we usually get two 3- to 4-hour stretches of sleep between the wake-ups. Vivian also takes a short morning nap (about an hour) around 10/11 a.m., and a longer nap (2ish hours) around 2:30 p.m (I try to join her for that one). The rest of the evening is a mix of wakefulness and sleep until the process starts all over again.
If it sounds like not at all a real schedule, it’s because it isn’t. It’s just the life of a newborn — they sleep a lot, but rarely for all that long. In fact, there is typically at least one night a week that she throws the whole thing out the window and just wakes up every hour and a half the whole night through.
Fun fact: That’s also how they torture prisoners of war.
True Life: My baby could be an evil dictator.
But you know what’s kind of funny? Even though I feel like I should be a zombie, I don’t really feel more tired than I usually did pre-baby. These crazy bodies of ours are capable of adapting to just about anything, apparently.
So, yes, I’m tired a lot. And regularly covered in someone else’s bodily fluids. And sometimes (often?) smell. As in, I literally stink. (Post-pregnancy hormones make you sweat a lot.)(GLAMOUR!)
But I really wouldn’t trade a second of it. Because while I’m sure I’m making a million “mistakes” along the way, I feel like I’m good at this. Or, rather, that I can be. I feel like, slowly, I’m figuring this little girl out. And, maybe in spite of everything, having a lot of fun along the way. Because just when I think I’ve hit my limit and might be the worst mom ever, she does this:
And suddenly everything feels like it’s going to be all right again.
So what’s it like to have a baby? It’s overwhelming and incredibly trying. And it’s also completely wonderful.