Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Mom Series: Anna Santos

Good morning! I am glad to be posting more mom interviews. This morning's interview is with Anna Santos. Anna and I went to law school together, and she is the mom of a cute little girl named Cora! If you've been reading the blog for a while, you may remember that she was the one who reviewed Honest products for us! 

Chic Memphis: Tips from Moms

• Baby’s Full Name & Birth Date (explain name if it has significance)
Cora Lennon Santos, 5-3-13. We really struggled over her name – a day or so after she was born, the Social Security office in the hospital was calling us like, “Umm, excuse me, we have to write something on this paperwork before you leave.” All her first records just say “Baby Girl.” We ended up naming her after Adrian’s grandmother, whose full name was Corazon. Her middle name is Beatle-inspired. What can I say? John was always my favorite. 
• After the excitement wore off, how prepared did you feel to have a baby?
Full disclosure – I wasn’t really that excited to be pregnant. The pregnancy was unexpected and poorly timed – we had just moved to a new city, I was still looking for work, we were flat broke, and then BAM. Baby on the way. We also had a lot of other pretty serious family stuff going on around that time, so I think we were already dealing with a lot of emotional shellshock – the pregnancy was just one of many major life changes we had during a 6 or 8 month period. We didn’t really feel prepared, but on the other hand, we didn’t know how to deal with any of what we were dealing with. We didn’t have many friends and we were far away from supportive family. So maybe it was easier for us to adjust to the idea of having a baby because everything else in our lives felt new, too. 
• One word to describe my pregnancy is ______.
Lonely (too downer for your blog?). For real though – Adrian was traveling so often for work, my parents were far away, and because I was pregnant and unable to find work, it was really hard to make new friends. I missed my friends in Tennessee and I was just at a low point in my life. 
• Now that I am a mom, I wish someone would have told me that ________.
It’s ok to not love being pregnant. I can’t tell you how often people would say, “Don’t you just loooovvvveeeeee being pregnant?!?” And I didn’t – I was uncomfortable, I didn’t have a lot of clothes that fit very well, and I was stressed about becoming a mom, in addition to the rest of the challenges we were facing. To have people insist that being pregnant was so awesome only made me feel more isolated – I felt like I had to a) lie about how I felt, or b) be honest about how I felt, making the other person feel uncomfortable. Not a good situation in general. Being pregnant is always sexy or glowy or fun. It can be a really draining time, emotionally and physically. 
• What items (beauty, food, medicine) did you swear by during pregnancy?
MILKSHAKES ALL DAY EVERY DAY. **ahem** I didn’t have a lot of extra money to spend on indulgences, but a few things that made a huge difference for me were:
▪ Cotton briefs from A Pea in the Pod – thesematernity underwear had a waist cut that fit better around a pregnant belly frame, and they were so much more comfortable than my regular underwear.
▪ Mama Earth Tea – I had bad morning sickness and sometimes these teas were just the ticket.
▪ A body pillow – I sleep on my stomach naturally, so the later months of pregnancy made sleep really difficult for me. (Spoiler alert, you can’t sleep on your stomach.) A body pillow helped me get good support on my side so that I didn’t just have to sleep like a beached whale with my belly sticking straight up in the air.
▪ Nine Naturals Belly Butter – I used this every night before bed. It made my stretchy skin feel less itchy. 
• Favorite baby book or magazine (if you read them).
I tended to avoid blogs and books and magazines, because being pregnant, you kind of learn that everyone has opinions and will share them regardless of whether or not you want them. However, the best book I read, that I would recommend to any woman, is Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, by Ina May Gaskin. She’s a doula in Tennessee, and a pioneer in homebirthing. Although I didn’t do a homebirth, reading that book really put me in touch with how capable my body was, and reminded me that pregnancy is not really a sickness to be treated by doctors in a hospital – it’s a beautiful, natural part of life, and something that I didn’t have to be afraid of. 
• Maternity clothes tips
Leggings are your friend. Boots are your friend. Shoelaces are not your friend.
• What was the best advice you received that helped you in motherhood?
I don’t think I received any specific advice that has stuck with me, but one thing I told myself on a regular basis that really helped was that I was not the first person to go through this. Everything can seem scary because it’s your first time doing something. But people have been raising babies for literally hundreds and hundreds of years. You aren’t the first person to have a particular question or problem or concern – you have ages of wisdom and women going before you. You’re in the club now, and you’re going to be OK.   
• How did you decide the items from which you registered (research, word of mouth, random)?
This can be such a cluster. If you look on Pinterest, you’re going to end up with a registry that is one million pages long. We asked for recommendations and everyone was so SURE we just NEEDED to have something in particular. But what we ended up registering for were basics – diapers, basic clothes, safety staples. Nothing over the top, nothing fancy. We just didn’t know what we actually needed. When we figured out what our parenting style was, or how we were actually going to use a certain item, then we could go with our gift cards and fill in the gaps – we got a video monitor a few months after Cora was born, for example. But face it: no one needs a wipes warmer. You’re not a bad parent for using a cold wipe on your baby. 
• Where did you register? Target, and, where you could register for gifts from all different websites, like Amazon, Gap, etc. 
What is your stroller? Do you like it?
▪ A friend of ours handed down her BOB Stroller and we love it. Absolutely love it. It’s a larger jogging stroller, but can collapse down for easy storage. We tend to be out with our dogs a lot, and the stroller is sturdy and easy to push, even while wrangling a couple of pets. 
▪ When Cora was old enough for a convertible stroller (for when the BOB is too bulky), we bought an UppaBaby G-Lite. One review site says it’s like the MacBook Air of strollers. It’s true! It’s lightweight (< 8lbs), really easy to manipulate, and is so easy to carry around. 
What is your car seat? Do you like it?
▪ I honestly can’t remember what our first car seat was. Currently, Cora’s in a convertible car seat – meaning one that can be rear or front-facing. We use an Evenflo Platinum Triumph XL. The name is hard to take seriously, but it has high safety ratings, and Cora hasn’t complained, so I’m taking that as a good sign. Also, one time she threw up in it, and we were able to clean out the whole seat (padding included) pretty easily, with no leftover smells. Moms-to-be, let me tell you: that stuff matters. J
Isn’t a baby bottle a baby bottle or are some better than others?
▪ My honest opinion? A bottle is a bottle. We used Life Factory bottles, which are glass, and have easy-grip silicone covers. I picked them for a few reasons: less plastic, no BPA risks, won’t get messed up in the dishwasher, and the kicker: they sell sippy-cup tops for them, so when you kiddo is done with bottle feeding and nipples, viola! Juice cups! Cora is 2 1/2, and we’re still using them. That’s a pretty sound investment, I think. 
Favorite diapers? What the heck is a diaper pail? 
▪ When Cora was a baby, we used gDiapers. They are awesome – it’s a cloth cover with a plastic lining, and a flushable, biodegradable insert. When it’s time to change the diaper, pull out the insert and flush it down the toilet, and then either wash or reuse the cover. Poop goes in the toilet, not in your washer, but you’re not creating lots of landfill space. 
▪ The truth is, though, unless you’re fortunate enough to have a private nanny, most daycares require disposable diapers, both for convenience and for hygiene reasons. When Cora was 17 months and I went back to work, we switched to disposable diapers, and we use the Costco brand. I like them better than Huggies or Pampers, and hey! Everything is cheaper at Costco. 
▪ A diaper pail is a ruse and a waste of money. It’s a fancy machine that turns your diapers into diaper sausage – when you put a dirty diaper in the pail, it has a special twisty-mechanism that separates every diaper with an extra length of plastic bag. You don’t need this. Just use a trash can with a lid and don’t forget to take out the garbage. 
Baby monitors are expensive. What did you choose and why?
▪ We were originally gifted a basic sound monitor. No fancy pictures, no nothing. And it has been great – we still use it, and I sort of love the no-frills component. There was a period when Cora got a little older and we were nap-training her, when I realized I couldn’t tell whether she was sleeping or playing without opening the door. We ended up buying an old video monitor off of Craigslist for really cheap - $20 or $30. It worked great for that period of time when we were sleep and nap-training, and we haven’t really needed it since then. 
Where did you get your diaper bag? What is in it? {photo}
▪ actually use an old Banana Republic bag that I had. It is yellow nylon with leather straps and has held up pretty well – it has a middle pocket that is great for pacifiers, medicines, things I don’t want to lose, and then two larger side pockets for diapers, wipes, extra clothes, and snacks. I think my favorite part about it is that it’s not a dead-ringer for a diaper bag. I’m not morally obligated to carry around mom-looking accessories all the time, am I? I hope not. 
Best place to buy baby clothes?
▪ I couldn’t sound more suburban if I tried, but Target, Old Navy and Costco are my go-tos. I really do love more boutique and handmade stuff, and we have plenty of it here in the Bay Area, but kids grow So. Darn. Fast. It’s just not worth it to splurge for something they might only wear a handful of times. When you know that things are going to get food, paint, dirt, snot, and more food on them, the places I mentioned are great for affordable, cute pieces. There are a couple local places here in Oakland that we venture to from time to time – Ruby’s Garden usually has some great second-hand stuff, and Baby World always has fun local and eco-friendly choices. 
Nursery theme? 
▪ We didn’t really have a theme. I kept the looksimple and gender neutral, both for budget reasons, and also so that it would be flexible for Cora as she grew older. We painted her walls grey, and her crib and changing table are white Jenny Lind spindle style. We bought cute yellow and white linens, and hung a bunch of photos on the wall. Other items were gifts from friends or grandparents. I think the most personalizedwork I put into the nursery was to create a paint chip mobile using an embroidery hoop. It’s such a simple concept, but I really love the final look of it.
• What do you wish you had registered for?
Honestly, there is no shortage of stuff when babies are born. I wish we could have registered for dog walkers and house cleaners. True story. TREAT YOURSELVES!
• What did you think you would need, but it turns out you do not?
Targeted marketing sells this idea that everything has to be sanitized. Bottles, pacifiers, toys, linens, high chairs – the list goes on and on. I kind of bought into this for a while – we were cleaning toys and surfaces that she touched all the time. But I’ve heard so many times, and really believe, that kids exposed to more dirt and germs actually wind up healthier because they have more robust immune systems. And I have dogs! I’m never going to conquer the dirt. So we ended up abandoning most of our sanitizing practices. I mean, we still clean, but we’re a little more even headed about it now.  
• Is your baby on a schedule? Was that hard?
She is on a schedule, with naps and bedtime. It was really hard. I won’t even go into because a) it’s going to be different for every parent, and you just have to work out your own crazy, and b) it was a while ago and I’ve blocked those painful memories. J
• Be honest. When did you start getting sleep again?
After Cora was born, I did not sleep for longer than five hours for about six months. I did not sleep through the night for at least 14 months. There’s no getting around it. Lack of sleep sucks and it’s really hard on you – physically and emotionally. 
• How did motherhood change you the most?
I think it made me let go. I got pregnant three months after graduating from law school. I had just moved to California, and had big plans to be a career-focused woman. That wasn’t in the cards for me at that time – instead I ended up being a stay-at-home mom for 17 months. I had to decide to just roll with the punches, keep moving forward, and accept new challenges with gratitude. It still holds true in my life, my job, and as a parent. 
• What is your favorite part of being a mom?
Hands down: my kid is the best part. Being a mom is hard. It’s crap hours (24 of them, to be exact), messy, button-pushing, and exhausting. But Cora is funny, smart, kind, and so curious – watching her grow is just fantastic. I’ve told people before that I don’t always love being a mom, but I always love being Cora’s mom. 
• What is the hardest part?
Sort of already answered this above. Sorry. 
• People seem to have opinions about everything related to parenting. How do you deal with that?
The people whose advice I ask for, I’m grateful to get. When people offer unsolicited advice, I’ve learned to just say, “Ok,” and walk away. I just don’t have time to validate other people’s opinions of my parenting. One time, a woman came up to me to tell me that she was concerned I was holding Cora’s hand too tightly while we were out in public. Um, what? Ok. Bye. 
• Your best trick for losing the baby weight.
Weight Watchers. No shame in my game. 

If you would like to partcipate in the mom-blog interview series, please speak up! I would love to have more moms weigh-in! Feel free to reach out! Thanks SO much to Anna for all of her awesome contributions. I love the real-talk! 

No comments:

Post a Comment

09 10 11 12
Blogging tips