Sunday, May 29, 2016

Paternity Leave in Pictures: Part I

Today is Will's last day of paternity leave/ vacation time and it was glorious. I mean, truly. Sure, I am sleep deprived beyond anything before and I definitely have a touch of the baby blues (not PPD, fortunately... still working through all the emotional highs and lows); but when I get overwhelmed, Will is (was) there to help me breath, or remind me to eat, or give me perspective, or let me cry into him.

And on that note, here's a splattering of all the fun we Baldwin babes have enjoyed with our favorite guy around the house more than we've ever had during residency.

Reading books together every night; Laura trying to look natural before the umpteenth attempt at stealing Dad's glasses off his face...

Woohoo! Nana bought the girls a tunnel!

Will and I fit through it too; we checked.

Took Stephen and Laura to their first Emergency Department Family Picnic; everyone just drank Stephen up. Laura loved all the dogs and climbing up the slides; played well with the older kids too! Will and I lost horseshoes miserably. Will played frisbee and regained his street cred. I made play dates like a champion.

These were some of the best times - just being with each other. Too often, we underestimate the importance of not doing something special. We lose the art of being; of being content with ourselves and with others as we build our relationships.

When school (well, classes) were over for me, that is really when time started to hold out a bit longer. Then it got hot, which always helps the clock drag. And somewhere in those ticking minutes, we find ourselves. We find our family - how we love, how we tick, how we move, and how we interconnect. While building blocks together on the porch (in the oppressive heat of a spring late arriving), we are literally building our family unit closer by the time spent just being.

So I repeat: how glorious.

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Friday, May 20, 2016

Going to the Library: 5 Reasons to Get Out During Maternity Leave

High-five to Kelly at This Ain't the Lyceum for hosting!


The biggest reason to get out of the house after you've had a baby 8 days earlier is because your older children are getting stir-crazy, and maybe you are too.


Also, it's the first full day of your husband being off. This will, in fact, be the beginning of the longest break/vacation he's EVER had during residency, which alone is cause of celebration.

#dadcation time, y'all.


There was sunshine today in PA, and that was also celebration-worthy considering the dreary days May has thus proffered. I am supremely looking forward to many more of these jacket-less days ahead.

And: toddler backpacks. Adorable.

The girls made me proud by repeatedly not acknowledging strangers who attempted to say hello; they would, however, say "bye bye" and wave occasionally. We had an extremely leisurely stroll to the library, considering how short toddler legs are, so I certainly was not over-exerting myself by any means.


If you get out of the house, things happen like:

  • A $50 fine becomes a $20 fine simply because your library card expired
  • You pick up their entire collection of potty books because GHB decided she likes sitting on hers
  • You find a couple cookbooks (and promise yourself a good fiction or non-fiction book once grading is completed)
  • The new children's section is done and you love it! Your husband offers to watch the girls while you peruse books and you take him up on that offer. This means all hands on deck (because little people like taking all the books off the shelves in no particular order),

while you wear Stephen in the ring sling. Meanwhile, in the checkout line, a little girl asks you what is inside said sling; you're a little sad you can't say, "A puppy!" simply for the element of surprise.


A big reason to get out is simply a change of scenery. We like to avoid crowds and have a place for the girls to run around, and they love being outside. It only took us 45 minutes to get out of the house, and a brisk 7 minute car ride, and ta-da! Historic downtown with its two hour parking.

Upon arriving home, the children and I all napped. Glorious.

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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Happy Due Date, Bebe Baldwin!

Today is Bebe Baldwin's due date and... he is six days old!

He was born on Thursday, May 12 at 2:50 p.m. He was 7 lbs, 6 oz. of cuteness and we are all super smitten with him. Stay tuned for his birth story, because it is exciting!

We love you, Stephen John Baldwin!

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Friday, May 6, 2016

What does a Third Babe Need? The Simple-ish Plan

I love interior design. It should be considered a hobby, considering how much time I spend perusing websites, daydreaming and planning for a day when we'll buy matching furniture... then again, matching is boring. Complementary furniture! I like!

We've been extremely lucky to be given so much when Grace was in utero, so she came into this world with a Pottery Barn crib, a lovely dresser that my SIL Ellen painted pretty, a baby swing, a rock 'n play, Aden and Anais blankets (the best, period), and lots of pretty clothes (once we knew she was a girl!). When Laura was in utero, we needed even less quantity and more bulk - she shares clothes, and got a pack 'n play, new carrier (a ring sling to join the beloved ergo), and two double strollers (one jogger, one umbrella).

Now, Bebe Baldwin - my third bambino and my first boy. What does he need?

Need: (v.) require (something) because it is essential or very important.

Clothing, of course, is a need - but how many onesies does one really need? I bought the most adorable newborn onesies for Grace, and of course, she was a girl, so my MIL and Mom began buying her pink clothing ASAP. There is probably something to be said for gender neutral clothing and sharing it... We do have enough gender neutral clothes to get him through the first few months, so I am not even going to put clothes on my list. Plus, as soon as you have given birth, people begin sending you adorable things they find. TRUST ME ON THIS.

sleep needs

Sharing is caring
  • crib
  • sound machine
  • muslin sleep sack
We are using our extra pack 'n play that Laura currently naps in (in the guest room), so we don't need to buy one to set up in our bedroom, and I already have an extra sound machine that I bought in panic after (temporarily) losing one. Check, check! Since Bebe will be a summer baby, he'll need a light, muslin sleep sack to keep him warm enough. We have one, and I bought him this one too.

I'm ready for my close-up... I mean, diaper change.

resting and self soothing 

  • blanket(s)
  • downstairs pack 'n play
  • wubbanub
Grace and Laura both have a Baby Starter satin and minky blanket, which they lovelovelove. Unfortunately, they come in three colors: blue, pink and white. I am not buying Bebe (or any baby) a white blanket. Is that some sort of joke?!

I found MEG Originals on Amazon, and ordered this one. It came, beautifully wrapped in tissue paper, and is so soft and lovely. I hope Bebe just loves his new blanket! Our super durable Aden + Anais swaddle blankets are still in use (the girls wrap their baby dolls up!) buuuut maybe I need just one more new muslin swaddle blanket too? (FINE, DEFINE "NEED" AGAIN.) We have two extra wubbanubs since Laura is not taken with hers still.


Things you think are safe and put away... are never. 

  • Clothes storage/ organization
  • cute baskets for diaper/ wipes

This is my most vague component because it requires a lot of creativity based on the situation. Remember that this is the THIRD child, but also remember that this family is moving next summer post-graduation and his parents are not super into adding more furniture to our current collection... so I found this, and we love it. Just set it up, still deciding how to organize... baskets, baskets everywhere! They're handy, I swear. I like canvas ones for storage; wicker or seagrass for everything else.

in and out needs (boring basics)
{We use...}

  • Nursing pads - Lansinoh
  • Diapers - Pampers 
  • Wipes - Pampers
  • Stain Remover* - Seventh Generation spray; Biz detergent 
  • Vitamin D drops - Enfamil 
  • Diaper cream - Desitin 
  • Lotion - Aveeno
  • Hand sanitizer - Babyganics 
  • convertible car seat - Britax
  • minivan** - Honda Odyssey

*because newborn baby blow-outs are very, very real

**We actually tried to buy a minivan today, which was an epic failure due to rain, traffic and GHB mysterious throwing up for the first time [during a car trip] ... so FINGERS CROSSED that we can get the papers signed tomorrow. Minivan shopping is one part research (thanks Kelley Blue Book, Car Fax and my MIL), one part budget and one part ninja. We've missed out on multiple van possibilities simply by people buying the car as we found them - but this one is secure for now. Egads! Do not recommend van shopping when you're due to have a baby sooner than later... c'est la vie.

more help!

My mom snuggling with her granddaughters! 

  • Amazon Prime
  • Meals
  • Babysitting
  • Gift cards
  • Cleaning Service
  • Family visits

What else? Amazon Prime means I can order almost anything from home and never leave... I've heard about grocery delivery as well, which intrigues me. Having babies so far from family and friends is definitely a sad spot for me - it was so different being part of the process whenever my mom had a baby. I try not to be jealous of not having a similar kind of supportive community here in town, but I am very human in this respect. That being said - we are so lucky to have both of our families travel extensively in these last few months (and the months to come!) to spend time with us and help out!

Yay! Aunto Kato came in town after her NYC trip!

Come back soon!

Maybe I can get baby announcements/ thank you cards out on time this third round...? (Hashtag hahahahahaha)

Bebe Baldwin, mama is waiting! I am so excited to snuggle you all summer long. Two more weeks of school - or less! If you come earlier! Wink-wink. 

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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

30 Days Later: How to Survive a (Hard) Residency Rotation

Saturday was the last day of MICU and, of course, it was the weekend, so Will was the only resident covering multiple floors. He has nurses and an attending too, so it's not like he's all alone - it's just a lot of work for a moderate-high census. Bonus: no admissions!

MICU (medical intensive care unit) is a hard rotation; the hours are long, patient loads are heavy and require a lot of decisions to be made, and oftentimes, people die. So, you can't be mad that he's working late because he's talking to a grieving family. Their whole world is upside down.

For the family waiting at home, the hours feel longer (time moves faster at the hospital when you're so busy!), the routine misses a crucial element and we generally are just trying [to eat well, get the toddler to whine less, get work done, watch less Daniel Tiger, whatever].

Here's how we cope/ survive/ love each other:

Long Live Routine

OB appointments are typically on Mondays. Therapy is Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. Class is Monday through Thursday. Grading and class prep on Friday. Grocery shopping is on the weekend. Laundry is weekend. Mass on Sunday. Because when you have things to do, time passes because it must. It's certainly not living life to the fullest, but we're in survival mode during these long work months since I solo-parent for most of the day/week.

The second part of routine is never letting "us" be taken for granted. It's saying goodbye at 5:30 a.m. and Will fixing enough coffee for both of us every morning so I don't have to do it. It's texting him updates on our day and pictures, so he feels included and keeps up with the girls. I don't expect responses too often - in the morning, he's rounding, and then the day rushes by; but he reaches out when he can to check in with me. It's a big hug and kiss when he comes home, and giving him a little space; it's the girls climbing all over him, even while he falls asleep on the floor during their bedtime routine. For half the month, he was home for bedtime, which was a definite silver lining.

Let It Go

For me, it means laundry once a week, max. And maybe not even put it away until Will helps me. I'm growing a baby, wrangling two little ladies, and keeping our family functioning. Laundry is not a priority.

Still a clean freak who can't concentrate well when the house is a wreck? Turn cleaning into a game. I feel like this is a the real secret of life.

Visit the hospital

The best part of this is how excited they were to see him, and how much they did not want to stay still for a picture!

This is one of our most favorite things to do- dropping off a coffee or coke or phone charger... we're lucky to live so close to Will's work, so hopping over briefly isn't a huge issue. It's a big production considering we see him for maybe four minutes max, but some days, it feels worth it. We mostly did this while he was on overnights/ 24+ hour shifts. Some days, it just felt like a game changer. We were all together for a few minutes and that mattered.

Extra Help

If your budget lets you hire a cleaning service, do it. If your budget means you hire extra babysitters, do it. If family members can swing it, invite them to come help for a week. If friends want to help, let them. Let your tribe help you. Let strangers help you. We're all human!

Special shout-out to my MIL for the week she spent with us, and all her help, which included grocery shopping, toddler wrangling, crisis control with our water heater's sudden clanking, and the fact that she's continuing to minivan shop for us since we can't find anything in our area.

Another reason I need extra help is to help manage my anxiety. I've never had this kind of stress before, and pregnancy has certainly acerbated it. I cry over things I could normally handle, and I'm very sensitive to ... anything. I'm just trying right now. My best support are all far away, so I am grateful for modern technology. It's hard being away from family and friends during times like this.

(It goes without saying, of course, that Will is my total rock. So having him on NICU for the past two days actually feels like a vacation - as a comparison between MICU! I'd also like to add that Grace's six therapists are truly amazing and took time this past month to ask me how I'm doing, check in on us, and even offered to pick up groceries, etc. if need be - we are so lucky to have these women love Grace and us!)

Have fun!!

Seriously: just do what needs to get done (feed children, pay bills, nap, therapy, class, get outside...) and keep a sense of humor. Some nights, we watched TV for two hours. Some days, we played outside. Always, we rolled with the punches. I learned to cope with a lot of whining ("use your words!") and clingy children who have recently decided that of all their stuffed animals, they BOTH love Cat Cat best. Flexibility is the key to surviving this residency anyways, I think.

It's all pretty overwhelming. Every day was the day I tackled. I didn't make plans. I kept to the schedule and I moved on. And when it was all over, we danced.

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