All I needed was milk.

We ran out of milk. My mission was simple and direct.

Get milk.

I was also hungry.

There’s a moral here: never send a hungry, pregnant woman out to go get milk.

hungry grocery shoppingHere is what I came home with:

  • Milk (good. mission accomplished.)
  • TWO bags of steamable frozen sweet peas (why I needed two? I don’t know. Especially since we have a bunch of frozen vegetables in the freezer already.)
  • A pint of strawberries (there are clearly worse things to be eating.)
  • A bag of mini cinnamon raisin bagels (worse things like this.)
  • A bucket of sprinkle sugar cookies (why do they come in a BUCKET?! Publix at least has the decency to put them in a TRAY.)
  • A bag of Uncle Bens Long Grain and Wild Rice (WHAT?!?!)

All I needed was milk.

Never, ever, ever send a hungry pregnant woman to the store for milk.

 

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First impressions: UPPAbaby Mesa

mesa1A few days ago a knock came on our door and at it was the infant car seat we had registered for: the UPPAbaby Mesa! (UPPAbaby’s car seat)

Let me say this right now: we could not be more blessed to have the parents we have on both sides. Wow.

For those who don’t understand the difference between car seats these days (because I had literally no idea going in) let me give you a rundown from my understanding. Which is minimal.

Nowadays you have two basic kinds of car seats to schlep your baby around from place to place in a vehicle: the “infant car seat” and the “convertible car seat”.

The infant car seat is smaller and can easily be popped out of the base (the doohickey it sits on in the car) and into a stroller/on top of a high chair/into the main shopping cart area, etc. You don’t have to take the baby out to get it into the stroller, and they only go up to 35-40 pounds. After the baby gets too big or the entire ordeal becomes too heavy, you graduate to…

The convertible car seat. The convertible car seat can be used rear-facing (which you are supposed to do, by law, at least a year and a minimum of 20 pounds, but longer if possible/ideally). The seat then goes front-facing when they are older. These are obviously a little bigger than the infant car seats since they then go forward up to 70 pounds(ish) and you take the baby out of the car seat in order to do anything with them.

Some people only use a convertible car seat from birth, which is cool, but it seems a little harder in terms of the schlepping around and restaurant maneuverability when the baby is super young, which is why we registered for the UPPAbaby Mesa – an infant car seat – and will also be registering/purchasing a convertible car seat for later.

My husband and I have one car between us, so our needs are a little different from many people in terms of getting car seat bases, etc. However, with the infant car seat you can purchase JUST the base (the doohickey the seat clicks into and out of) so you can transfer the seat across multiple cars without buying separate seats for each car.

Now that we’ve gotten that cleared up, let’s get back to the seat!

Here’s one of the vain reasons I like this car seat: it looks nice. It looks sleek and no muss/no fuss. Here are the other reasons I really like this car seat as well…which I will explain further down.

  • The base itself is very thin, which in any car is a godsend, but especially a sedan since our furry baby (dog, I have a problem, I know) needs his room too when we all go in the car together!
  • The pop out is SUPER easy and you don’t need eyes to use it
  • No threading to adjust the seat for the baby
  • Because this car seat is relatively new on the scene, it doesn’t fit with a lot of strollers but DOES fit with the stroller we chose, the UPPAbaby Vista. (I wrote about the stroller a little while ago.)
    • Side note: you DO need an adapter for this car seat to work with that stroller, which is baffling since they’re the same brand.
    • Side side note: oh well. You can’t win ’em all.
  • The install is so easy, even I feel confident in doing it.

mesa pop outThe “pop out” – what the heck am I talking about? When you’re in the car you need to be able to pop the seat out of the base easily. Some seats have buttons, but the UPPAbaby Mesa has a super easy lever that you can just feel for in the back of the seat to pop the seat out and go on your way. Love that.

Now, no threading? Have I started sewing? What am I talking about? Trust me, when I first started this journey that would have made literally zero sense to me. Basically in car seat talk, “threading” is the norm for how you adjust the various aspects of the seat, such as height for the head and then how tight the straps are. As the baby gets bigger and plumper you need to adjust the head rest higher and the straps out. Most seats use a mechanism called “threading” where you have to take the straps OUT of the seat, and re-thread them through another hole to adjust the seat up. But not the Mesa! It’s so simple that even my husband and I could do it.

And that’s saying a lot.

Here’s me adjusting the length:

And here I am adjusting the…girth? Width? Whatever you call it:

mesa level indicatorFinally, the install of the actual base is so easy it’s a little bit mind-boggling. Since our car is a 2004 it has the LATCH system available, which means that there are special little hooks you would have no idea existed unless you needed to put a child in the backseat of your car. Essentially these hooks come out, and you pop the seat in. In order to get the Mesa correctly installed, you pop the hooks in, and literally just press down on the back of the base until it’s tight. In Buy Buy Baby they have a fake car seat with LATCH system to show how the different car seats install, and this one took less than 1 minute. No, it took me less than 1 minute. If we ever need to transfer the seat to another car, I will have 0 doubts that we will be able to put it back in safely. It even has a little level indicator to show you if you need to adjust the level of the seat for optimal…level-ness. I truly cannot stress enough how easy this seat is to install, which is important since anything to do with baby gear seems to throw my husband and I in for such a loop that we sit confused and frustrated for hours after.

As you can see, it’s really easy. Like, REALLY easy. The rest of the features of the UPPAbaby Mesa don’t really differ from other infant car seats (sun hood, adjustable handle, etc.), but really, the adjustments and the day-to-day ease of use make this car seat stand out, which is good, because the price also stands out. Like I said, we are so blessed to have the parents we have, but really, if you can, take a look at the UPPAbaby Mesa.

First impressions: so glad we chose what we did.

Here’s the seat on the stroller!

uppababy all together

Oh my god, there is going to be a PERSON in there.

The bird.

It was a day like any other.

That’s when you get lulled into the most dangerous sense of security.

I had one thing that had to get done on my to-do list. Do not confuse this with “one thing on my to-do list” because HA. But this one thing was simple: drop off the dry cleaning.

The dry cleaner is two blocks from my apartment. It was a beautiful day. The birds were chirping. I should have known something was amiss.

These are what these hairties look like. They actually are really nice, especially on your wrist.

These are what these hairties look like. They actually are really nice, especially on your wrist.

Earlier that day I had gone “running” (HA.) and still looked like a shiftless hobo, despite the amount of time in between the “running” had ended and I decided that the task needed to be done. I had my hair in a “messy bun” (HA.) and used one of those new-fangled no-crease hair ties that you see in cute boutiques and hair salons that promise to not give you headaches are what all the celebrities wear and I was in a vulnerable state and would believe anything the hairdresser told me after her magic had made my hair do things I didn’t know were possible, okay?!

Now, let’s Quentin Terantino this just a little bit and give an important piece of information about myself with a flashback: I have a bird phobia. Usually I have it to a point where I can be an acceptable human being in public, but if birds are fluttering in my face there’s a major problem. It started when I was 9 years old and my mom and I went on a trip to Paris. We were there on the Champs d’Elysees enjoying ourselves when my mom spotted a cute wrought iron table and in a motherly explosion decided her life would not be complete unless she had a picture of me sitting at it. I sat down and two pigeons landed on the table, which at 9 years old, they were right at face level. I started to get back up but the momness took over: “THIS WILL BE EVEN CUTER!” I can remember her shrieking. Three more pigeons landed on the table. They all looked at me and started flapping and cooing and their beaks were bobbing toward me, which again were inches from my face. I tried to step away. “STAY! THIS IS AMAZING!” I heard. Apparently the 20 pictures she had snapped already were not enough and I wasn’t looking adorable enough seeing as I was currently fearing for my life. I didn’t have the vocabulary at 9 to say, “this is bullshit and pigeons are disgusting rats with wings,” but if you could have that feeling as a 9 year-old, I had it. Another pigeon landed. At this point the beaks and the wings were flapping in my face and I was scarred for life. It was over. The bird phobia was born. Fast forward 20 years.

And we’re back. And I’m pregnant, in horrible workout apparel trying to hide my not-fit-not-quite-cute-pregnant self, with my hair in a “messy bun” (HA.) with those “adorable” hair ties that are supposed to make my life complete, schlepping my husband’s dry cleaning two blocks.

And then I feel something on my head. It felt like something large had fallen from the sky.

Confused, I look up and feel my head and see what on earth could have fallen.

And there it is. The bird.

The bird was coming for me. It was right at the moment I realized the bird had already attacked my head. A BIRD. ATTACKED. MY. HEAD. 

My eyes widened and as I realized what was happening and screamed the bird made contact a second time. It was coming for the hair tie. So not only did I look like a ragamuffin but I looked so awful that a bird thought it saw a worm in my hair.

This is when life got real. I screamed bloody murder again and started running down the sidewalk, bag of dry cleaning still over my shoulder. I looked back again and the bird was flying toward me yet again. It turns out that these birds are oddly quick in flight – quicker than I am running down the sidewalk with a bag full of dry cleaning. As I looked back the bird was mid-swoop for the third attack. I screamed louder and ducked. The bird missed me by inches.

More screaming.

More running.

I ran a block and then the sobbing began.

This is what happens when you Google image search "scary bird." Yes.

This is what happens when you Google image search “scary bird.” Yes.

I had to sit on the corner of the sidewalk rocking a little bit, counting to ten with deep breaths, and then crying a little bit before I gained any composure at all, at which point I madly texted my husband to tell him the story. I could feel the laughter coming from the other side of the reply texts.

I made it to the dry cleaner.

I made it back home.

But I’ll be damned if I didn’t hear every bird chirping on the way back.

Bird, you won this round. But I will win at life. Somehow.

And God, I hear you. Loud and clear. I will stop going out in public looking like someone who would scare Shrek. MESSAGE RECEIVED, SIR.

P.S. I would bet you a thousand dollars my mom today could not find any of those pictures from that Paris trip and the wrought iron table birds that she had to have.

P.P.S. **UPDATE** Mom came through and found the table when the first bird arrived. Please note my look of uncomfort. What you cannot see is my mom yelling at me to stay put, and “SMILE FOR GODS SAKE THIS IS GOING TO BE AN ADORABLE PICTURE!”

bird phobia beginning

More birds were soon on their way.

What’s wrong with online baby retailers: an open letter to Buy Buy Baby

To the tech folks over at Buy Buy Baby,

I direct this letter to you because it happens to be where I registered. However, the same concept applies to most other baby item retailers: Babies R Us, Nordstrom, Land of Nod (surprisingly not Pottery Barn Kids) I’m looking at you, too.

Perhaps I notice this as a user experience “professional” more (what does that even mean?) but it is frustrating when registering/buying things/being a hermit who buys things online in lieu of human interaction. But nevertheless, I have noticed this problem, and it needs to change.

Here is how the rest of the Internet handles products that come in multiple colors/patterns:

  1. You list the product on the website
  2. The person interested in the product clicks into the product for more details
  3. The person looks at the details and, this is where it gets important, can see all the different colors available for that product on the same page
  4. If there are reviews, all the reviews are for all the colors are combined there.

Note: that each color might be listed as clickable separately, but are then combined in the product details. Let me demonstrate. Here is what happens when you go to gap.com and look at, say, tees and tops:

gap_example_front_listing

If you’re a customer looking at these products, you can see that there are 2 “burnout dot” tees and 2 “stripe-hem” tanks. You can also see there are more colors in each. Say you want to look at the burnout dot tee, because you can also see there are additional colors. So you click into one of the shirts and lo and behold, all the colors are listed and you can see all the reviews for that product, not the reviews per color

gap_example_product_listing

Makes sense, right? Right. It does. Because this is how e-commerce works. This is how we have become accustomed to shopping online.

Now, let’s change gears and go shopping for baby gear, shall we? Let’s say I want to look at diaper pails. Diaper pails come in a ton of different colors per option. Here is what you get when you search for diaper pails.

buy_buy_baby_retail_example

Wait…there are 10 different Ubbi(r) Diaper Pails…and they are all the exact same except for the color? So how do they all have different ratings? (Some with no reviews, some with 2, some with 3, some rated at 4 stars, some at 3, some at in between)? Here’s how. When you click into an Ubbi Diaper Pail color, it is the only one listed for that product. Instead of clicking in and then being able to select the color you want, you are presented with only that option: 

diaper_pail_product_detail

There are NO options for other colors. The reviews for this diaper pail are different than any other of the others of the exact same product. What you are forced to do, then, if you need to look at a cumulative view of all the reviews, is click into all of the separate colors of a product that are the same product, and read the reviews for each color, and mentally sort of average-out what people think of it.

Read that again. I, the customer, am forced to aggregate all of the reviews mentally myself, instead of the website doing it for me, as you the retailer claim to do.

Let me also state this clearly: this is the same experience for every single product/product type on your website.

The diaper pails are an easy example to demonstrate, but it gets even more frustrating when you’re looking at, say, swaddling cloths that come in multiple sizes and colors/patterns and are all mixed together. You have literally no idea if you have seen all the color and size options, and sometimes don’t even realize that there are sizes, because they are listed separately too. At this point, just listing the sizes each as a different product with the colors inside would be a vast improvement.

Buy Buy Baby, I know it’s not just you. Let me stress this again: this is a problem that exists on almost every single baby retailer website. I don’t know why, and I don’t know how, but please, for the love of all that is holy, stop it. Fix it. Work with the baby gear manufacturers to list supply their products in some sort of way that you can list them logically. Moms are notoriously sleep-deprived – for the love of all that is holy don’t make them reach for yet another cup of coffee on account of you.

Love always,

MotherhoodWhat

It’s a…

…HEALTHY BABY!

Holy crap. It’s a healthy baby. We had our 18-week ultrasound with the full intention of finding out the sex, which we did. And it’s a boy. But most importantly…IT’S A HEALTHY BABY. To say that Tax Lawyer Husband (TLH) and I were a bundle of nerves going in would be the understatement of the year.

However, all is good. All is healthy. And now we can breathe again. Only 21 weeks to go! Now to learn things like, “how to take care of a baby.” That might be important.

A guide for swimsuit season for pregnant ladies’ significant others

Somehow winter disappeared and in its place not spring, but pure on summer swimsuit season. I thought I knew the horrors of swimsuit season dawning before with the “wow, I suddenly hate all my swimsuits I had!” and the “people really have to see me in barely any clothes again?!” and “I wonder if they make parkas I can wear by the pool? Let me tell you all in true seriousness: maternity swimsuit takes this to a new level.

every pregnant woman's acceptance that swimsuit season is upon them

It should probably come as no surprise since wearing anything skintight and revealing when your body is changing in ways you can’t even understand. While this is meant as a guide for significant others, I want to give all the pregnant women one protip: stop looking at pictures of pregnant people whose bodies remained impossibly perfect or whose body types you had nothing to relate with before they became pregnant. This will lead to stupid unrealistic expectations and will make the experience worse.

But alas, this is not about picking out a bathing suit or how to feel confident because, well, let’s face it, who am I kidding and what the heck do I know? Instead, this is a guide for you husbands/significant others out there who are dealing with a growing, emotional, and vulnerable person trudging out to the pool/beach/wherever with you like a freaking champion.

Step 1: The initial showing of the bathing suit. When she holds up a swimsuit and says, “oh, this looks cute, right?”

Responses can and should include any of the following:

  • Yes!
  • Super cute!
  • You have such good taste!
  • That’s awesome!

Responses should in no way resemble:

  • Uhh…
  • Yeah?
  • Sure?
  • …what? Oh…yes…sounds good.

Step 2: The reveal. When she goes and tries it on and then comes out in said swimsuit, this is the most critical moment. Do not mess this up. Put away your cell phone and do not even think about grabbing it. Then, in this exact order, do precisely this:

  • Exclaim sincerely, “Wow!” or “That looks great!!”
  • Continue looking at her/the swimsuit as if you’re actually examining it
  • Exclaim a second time (yes, a second time), “that is really cute! You look great!”

Step 3: The questions. Congratulations, you have made it to the questions round and have played your hand well so far. If you have reached the questions stage without the appropriate responses to steps 1 and 2 you are in a hole but this is where you can redeem yourself. Again, put away the cell phone. Looking at your cell phone at any point during this point means certain death.

The trick here is to appear as if you are actually pondering her questions and answering them honestly.

If she asks, “is this too tight?” look and say, “No!! Not even a little bit!”

If she asks, “how do I look?” look and say again, “You look great!!”

And this is the most important piece of advice I can give you: Never, ever, ever, ever, EVER say this phrase:

“You look fine.”

If you think this phrase means that she looks fine/good/great/whatever, you should already know that what it means to a woman is, “you should burn that garment immediately.” However, if you utter this phrase to a vulnerable pregnant woman, she will have an immediate meltdown and no amount of “you look great!” will dig you out of the mental grave you have dug for this person you love who is growing another person inside of her.

Do. Not. Do. This.

Step 4: The cooldown. Now, if the phrasethatshallneverbespoken was spoken, I have no words for you. Just admit defeat and offer to make her some tea or a shirley temple or something of the sort. If you have navigated Steps 1-3 according to this guide then you are over the hump. Explain how excited you are to go somewhere where she can wear said suit (example: “I can’t wait for the Memorial Day beach trip!” or “We need to head to the pool this weekend!”). Then go with the typical, “can I offer you a tea/shirley temple/foot rub?” that you should already be doing whenever you don’t know what to say.

And that’s it! Easy peasy. Or not easy. But do know that I am only here to help you. Good luck and happy swimsuit hunting!

Note: My dearest TLH (Tax Lawyer Husband) did so well until Step 3. He even pretended to examine and asked me to spin around, looking as if he were truly interested…until…thephrasethatshallneverbespoken came out of his mouth. I slightly got tunnel vision after this and there was no amount of anything that could bring me out of the depression that followed.

He learned his lesson.

How to get a breast pump: a step-by-step guide

As of yesterday, here is what I knew about breastfeeding/breast pumps:

As of today, here is what I know about breast pumps: it falls into the same exact category as every single other baby item/topic of “it is never, ever, EVER as easy to understand as it seems like it should be.”

Now, my husband works for a company that happens to have a ridiculously generous (for our times) program that gives out breast pumps to expectant mothers and spouses who are expecting as well. It is incredibly generous and something that I want to take full advantage of. I should have known something would be amiss because the scariest thought of all baby-related thoughts popped into my head: “this will be so easy and great!”

Protip: if you ever have this thought about anything to do with babies and/or baby products go ahead and stab yourself in the eye with a spoon. It will be less annoying than what you will inevitably have to endure.

I like to compare the breast pump to the stand mixer on your wedding registry: everyone has a different opinion on how much use you’ll actually get out of it, but it’s a big ticket item that no registry would be complete without, unless you already have one. I thought this analogy was especially apt since I did have a stand mixer already when I got married, so how perfect would it be that I could already have the breast pump, too! ADORBS, RIGHT?!

I am now going to take you through a step-by-step guide on how to obtain said breast pump.

GiftSet_kiinde1. Fall in love with a storage system called Kiinde that direct-pumps into measured bags that have a timed heater that automatically shuts off so it can’t overheat the milk and that also fit directly into a bottle that is supposedly some sort of godsend bottle that works better than normal bottles. Clearly. This is step one.

2. Register for the Kiinde and brag to your mom about how much better stuff is now than when I was born. Be secretly smug about this product you’ve “found” and what a genius you’ve become. Read reviews and fall more in love.

3. Ask your husband to talk to his company’s HR about said breast pump and/or paternity benefits/leave.

4. Wait 2 weeks for number 3 to happen.

5. Remind your husband to talk to his company’s HR about the breast pump and/or paternity benefits/leave because, for really real, he should probably get acquainted and we need to probably get a move on this in case they need a certain amount of notice.

6. Wait another week and a half for number 5 to happen.

7. Get extremely annoyed at your husband for dilly dallying and being embarrassed to ask about anything from HR. Get more annoyed when husband accuses you of having a pregnancy mood swing. End argument with him buying you a Wendy’s Frosty. Pretend that was your plan all along.

8. Have your husband ask HR only to have them tell him there is no such thing as a free breast pump from his company and the HR person had never heard of this.

9. Pull up press release from the company talking about the free breast pumps and rehash argument from number 7, only without the Wendy’s Frosty.

10. Call insurance company to ask about the breast pump. Have them give you the number of the company with which your husband’s company has a corporate breast pump partnership and whose number should have been given along with all maternity/paternity benefits by the HR person.

limerick breast pump

Note: I still have literally 0 idea how this is used and still think all breast pumps look like the suction device Count Rugen uses on Wesley in the Princess Bride movie.

11. Call breast pump company (that only works during Pacific Coast hours, obviously) and then have them verify through your husband’s company that your husband works there. Start to become mildly excited because the breast pump they give you is a $600 hospital-grade breast pump, so there’s a chance that this might be worth it after all. (The pump is made by a company called Limerick and the pump is the “PJ’s Comfort Standard.” I am sure that I will be reviewing it at some point later on down the road because hey, free $600 breast pump, amIright?)

12. Out of a masochistic curiosity, look up the Kiinde again and the brands with which it is compatible.

13. Re-read list, making sure that your realization of this free $600 breast pump you have just spent the better part of a day reading about and/or trying to track down is not on the list.

14. Contact Kiinde customer support out of desperation.

15. Receive email back from Kiinde very kindly explaining that no, you cannot direct pump Limerick’s PJ’s Comfort Standard into the Kiinde bags because a) the thread is unique and b) the Limerick pumps do not use valves (valves?! what the hell is he talking about? I barely know what a valve is, let alone how they apply to breast pumps!) and so the direct-pump Kiinde bags that are so convenient and awesome supposedly collapse with this system.

However, the very nice Kiinde email goes on to explain that I can still use the bags and that they are quite useful. Of course.

16. Get sad.

17. Laugh at self for thinking that anything could ever be easy! HA!

18. Get sad again realizing that self degradation still doesn’t lead to knowing anything about breast feeding other than it has to do with breasts. I think.


At the end of the day I am still getting a supposedly wonderful breast pump and accessories for FREE, something for which I am very grateful when I put all joking aside.

My current thinking is that I will (of course) take the $600 breast pump+accessories and make the Kiinde bags work because you can still pour into them and the storage+heating is great, even if I can’t “direct pump” into them (one of the features I really loved). The “active latch” nipple of the bottle is still apparently fantastic so the bags fitting right into that is great and still a lot less cleaning/sanitizing than the traditional bottles, etc.

Now the next task: learn about how to sustain another human life with breast milk. That might be important.