so long 2013

2012 was easily the best year of my life.
And 2013 was easily the toughest.

Everything I ever thought I knew about myself suddenly changed and my self confidence was thrown for a loop. It was crazy. And hard.

I'd like to think I grew up a bit. Maybe I'm a little more patient. Maybe more confident. Maybe slightly more emotionally mature? Mostly I feel like I was thrown into a bunch of impossible situations and I just did all I could to not drown. I'm not sure that's growth... could just be survival.

I had to self-validate myself over and over and over. I would say that is this year's theme.
Self-validation. Forced confidence. Yeah.

We moved to Rexburg in January, leaving my entire life behind. EVERYTHING was new. I left BYU just when things were getting good: I was sitting comfortably in the Illustration program, loving my friends, getting closer to my professors... And BYU-I is not BYU. I knew nobody, I hated everybody and I just did. not. want. to. be. there. I couldn't find a job for months. I was stuck in this small town, doing nothing, knowing nobody. The distance from Provo made relationships with even my closest friends really difficult and somehow I lost the ability to really communicate with any of them. I felt isolated. Except for Andy. Andy is awesome. No one ever needs to doubt the awesomeness that Andy Vidmar. But it took a lot of effort to get myself out of that depressing rut.

And then I got pregnant. Don't get me wrong, that was completely awesome, but becoming a mom is the most terrifying thing. That responsibility is endless. It's the biggest commitment I'll ever make in my life, and I feel like I made the decision too quickly. My word, the boy I birthed is beyond perfect and I love him to pieces, but me as a person? I am 21 years old and utterly too immature to be handling such a giant job. But you know, fake it till you make it, right? It's taken all I've got to stay confident in the face of the doubters (me being the biggest doubter of them all of course). It wasn't until after he was born that I started to understand that being Rory's mom is really what I'm meant to do. I am thrilled now... but for months I was constantly judging myself and doubting myself and was just so worried about what I was doing and why I was doing it. Also, birthing a 10 pounder really took a toll on what was once my nice skinny bod. I gained 50 lbs in one year. You can't do that without crushing emotional side effects. Talk about self-validation. It takes all I've got to not be disgusted what the body see in the mirror every day. I'm working hard on staying proud of my body.

So those were the hard things, but YES there WERE good things. Obviously being married to Andy is a riot and we're going on our second year and our relationship has truly never been better. This year I discovered my love for oil painting and I improved tremendously. I spent the majority of this year pregnant, and though it was tough, it was also an amazing experience. I basically traveled the entire month of August. I got to escape Rexburg and move up to beautiful Spokane. I spent endless amounts of time relaxing and preparing for our baby boy's birth, while having a blast getting to know Andy's family better. I BIRTHED RORY BOY and spent the last two months absolutely loving being his mama. For the most part, I was happy. There were just a lot of tough moments that I know I will cringe when I think back on.

I am so excited for a fresh start. Jimmy Fallon excited. Even though we are moving back to Rexburg again at the end of this week, I am way more optimistic than I was a year ago. Being Rory's mama gives me a huge reason to try my hardest every single day and I am just so excited for his first year, no matter where we are. Wahoo. I'm also going to graduate from college this year (hopefully), which is a huge step forward in life.

So cheers 2013. GOODBYE.


happy christmas

It's christmas and I'm celebrating with this mini family of mine and already it's dark outside and Rory's first christmas is almost over and no matter how hard I try I can't make time stop. 

So we took a short walk outside in the cold because I wanted to step back and take a deep breath of cold air and let Rory fall asleep on my chest while I talked to Andy about our life and our future and how it's all moving too fast. 

I was telling Andy about how much I hate that Rory is getting so big. His christmas jammies are size 3-6 months and he is only 6 weeks old. I took him to the pediatrician yesterday and he weighs 12 lbs 9 oz. He's a full 3 lbs over his birthweight. This is the smallest he will ever be ever ever again and that just breaks my heart. There is no possible way to adequately soak his newbornness   He's turned from a newborn into a bonafide smiling baby boy. There should be a rewind button. If there was I would just keep skipping back to revisit even the hardest memories when he was the smallest because even though I was trying my hardest to soak it all in there are too many moments that went by too fast. When your life is based on another's it's hard to let moments go because it's not just your own moments that pass quickly, it's also someone else's. 

But today was the absolute best and even though he was 100% oblivious I got to watch Rory enjoy his very first christmas. He was never put down- being passed from one relative to the next all day long. He was bombarded with presents from all of his loved ones from all over the country. And me, Rory and Andy got to be all together as a famdamily. I loved every quick passing minute of it. 

Merry Christmas everyone!


15 things that saved my sanity during the first month of motherhood

It has been 5 WEEKS since Rory James was born.  Frick on a stick! Doesn't that just blow your mind? Is it even possible that I've had this little buddy of mine for almost five whole weeks? It kind of makes me sick to my stomach seeing how fast time is flying.

Thinking back to the day Rory was born, I've realized how badly I've depended on certain things to get me through each day. Some of these things are absolutely mandatory, and I thought I'd share them with the world.

1. My Brest Friend Pillow

Number one on the list because it is my number one lifesaver. Holy. Crap. This is easily my favorite purchase that I made, once I got past that ridiculous name of course. I'm embarrassed for the manufacturers on that one. Unlike the popular Boppy pillows, this one clips behind your back and really hangs onto you so that the baby doesn't slip between you and the pillow. The back support is fantastic, and there is a pocket that hangs off the front in which I keep a few useful things like burp cloths and nipple cream. I take this pillow with me all over the house and I use it almost every time I feed Rory. Haven't washed the cover yet though and it's developing a lovely crust from dripped milk... Taking that cover on and off does not sound fun so I'm procrastinating.

2. Hospital water jug

Because I'm exclusively breastfeeding I'm friggin thirsty. I'm constantly guzzling water and I'm not about to go refilling a million glasses every few hours. The jug that they give to you at the hospital is perfectly huge and I always have it with me. I basically fill it to the brim with ice and let it melt so I always have some cold water with me. My most common request of Andy is to please go refill my water please oh please!

3. Free hospital junk

Aside from the big ugly water jug, there are a lot of other magical things the hospital hands you. Before we left the nurse said we could take anything that was disposable. Booyah. We stole a whole pack of diapers and a bunch of wipes, all of which lasted us two weeks at home. That's a lot. I also took a can of healing spray, some mesh panties, giant pads, and the spray bottle that is oh so important for your delicate lady parts. Fill that spray bottle with warm water and it is the most wonderful experience you'll ever have on the toilet. No kidding.

4. Avent Manual Breast Pump

Hey new moms, do you feel chained down? Ever want to leave your house for more than 2 hours at a time?  Then a breast pump is mandatory. Expensive, but it's the only way you can rejoin society. I haven't quite figured out how to manage pumping on a regular basis - I'm still just trying to keep a constant supply up - but having a pump allowed me to leave Rory with my in-laws on thanksgiving to go see a movie. Andy and I can go out to eat when we want to or go out shopping because we have a bottle with a bit of breastmilk in it. I love it. I get frazzled easily if we go out and my only option is to breastfeed because I'm not nearly coordinated enough to do it in public, and it really takes some guts to pop your boob out when everyone can see you. I got a manual Avent pump because it's small, quiet, easy to wash, and it pumps straight into the bottle. Awesome.

5. Nipple Shield

Rory and I had BIG ISSUES trying to breastfeed. My lactation consultant gave me a nipple shield which I've been using on a regular basis and has completely saved us. I'm trying to wean him off of it right now, but it's a life saver during those 3am feedings when I can hardly keep my eyes open and don't want to spend 5 frustrating minutes trying to get him to latch correctly.

6. Skip Hop Diaper Bag

There were a few things that I spent way too many hours researching on Amazon. Like really, waaaaaay too many hours. I blame those hours on the fact that I spent like 6 pregnant weeks just hanging out with no agenda and so much time to kill on the internet. The Skip Hop Diaper Bag that we went with is highly rated on amazon for good reason. Perfect size, lots of space, the pockets close easily with magnets and it has clips so it can hang off the back of a stroller. It also doesn't look too feminine for my manly-man husband to hold for a while.

7. Britax Travel System

Thank you oh thank you kind mother for this gift. Every time we pull out this stroller Andy always raves about how much he loves it. The carseat pops in and out of its base like it's nothing, and the stroller is so easy to maneuver. We bought this insert to keep Rory snuggly and warm, and dude he will just konk out whenever we buckle him in. He sleeps most soundly in his carseat, even compared to being swaddled in his crib. So far the only thing I can complain about is the size of the basket underneath the stroller. No question, it's too small. But overall I'm totally happy with this system. Plus it looks snazzy and expensive.

8. Aden + Anais Swaddle Blankets

SWADDLE BLANKETS. I think we've ended up with 6 of these and I would not trade them for anything. We use them every single day. My mom showed us a magical swaddle that is different from the one the nurses show you in the hospital - maybe sometime I'll try to describe it for you all - and we wrap him up tightly every night. He loves it. We bring these all over the house. They are perfectly lightweight but still keep in some warmth. I know they're expensive. Being on a college student's budget, more blankets were not something we wanted to spend a bunch of cash on. But they are so so so worth it!

9. Netflix

In order to stay sane I know I need something to occupy my brain while I breastfeed for hours and hours and hours every day. My routine: turn on my selected tv show on Netflix (I've watched episodes of Scrubs, Freaks & Geeks, Breaking Bad, and 30 Rock in the last 5 weeks), grab my water jug and my brest-friend pillow (gagging at that name still. seriously!?), squat down on my bed and let Rory go to town while I watch funny shows and play Candy Crush on my iphone. Netflix is a true life saver during those early morning feedings where it takes all my effort to get out of bed.

10. A Giant Sweater to Hide the Lumps

Guys, I still have over 20 pounds to lose before I get back to my pre-pregnancy weight. I feel gross and I look gross. I'm still wearing my maternity pants and it's been a whole month. So what can I do to help my poor self esteem? Hide it all! I got a giant sweater on a black friday sale at Old Navy and I wear it all. the. time.

11. Nipple Butter & Breast Pads

Managing my lumpy awkward mess of a post-partum body has been it's own adventure. Add on some raw nipples that feel like they've been attacked by a cheese grater? Not great. I'm not particular to this nipple butter... it's organic and it smells a bit like chocolate which is nice, but the important idea was to have something to protect those poor nippies from the world. Disposable breast pads are essential unless you think it's okay to walk around with milk dripping off your t-shirt. I layered up those breast pads with some soothing nipple cream and my aching boobs thanked me.

12. Co-sleeper

I have a confession. Rory slept in our bed with us until he was a week old. I know. How awful and careless must we be?? To be honest I loved it. I loved waking up and having him right there. I loved falling asleep with a protective arm wrapped around him. I'm a super light sleeper and I was confident he would be fine. Others were not so confident, and insisted that we find a different solution. My in-laws ended up buying us this co-sleeper that fits in right next to our bed. It's works great for us because he's not so far away that I freak out when I can't see him, but he's not too close that others freak out that we might squish him. Win win.

13. Belly wrap

I really really wanted a fancy post-partum wrap. Like really really bad. I'm dying to get back to a comfortable shape and I just about went out and spent $90 on some snazzy post-partum gear. But I didn't. Instead I found a more reasonably priced $25 option at walgreens. Just a run-of-the-mill Ace support brace that worked just fine for the 2 weeks I could stand it. At first it felt amazing to have everything held together, but after a while the brace felt uncomfortable and now I only wear it occasionally. I do still wish that I had the money to go get a real post-partum brace, but I guess the real moral of the story is that I was glad to have something to hold my insides together when I felt like I was drooping every single direction.

14. Wubbanub Pacifier

I kind of hate that we use pacifiers as much as we do, but they're an amazing invention. They calm Rory down instantly and sometimes are the difference between minutes of crying and seconds of crying. I'll take that. A friend gave us this super cute dinosaur pacifier toy that Rory can grab ahold of with his hands and keep the pacifier end in his mouth. That way we don't always have to be reaching over to pop it back in his mouth when accidentally spits it out. Brilliant!

15. A Spectacular Support Group

I am one lucky lady when it comes to family support. Not only do I have a fantastic husband who is willing to refill my water jug 8 times a day and who comes home from work with a hot chocolate for me and a diaper change for Rory, but I also have some loving in-laws who offer to take Rory in the early mornings while I catch up on some much needed sleep. My mom flew across the country for an entire week, leaving four kids at home, in order to teach us her tips and tricks and then cry with me when I really needed to just vent. I'm so blessed to be related to all these great people.

There are still some problems I have no solution for and am still struggling with. Baby acne is plaguing little Rory's handsome face. Cradle cap is giving him dandruff. My word, I need a real good nursing bra. Rory's socks will not stay on, and our bathtub situation could probably be better, but hey. We're figuring this crap out as we go. I'm just happy we've found some things that work so well for us.


one month old

Rory James,

You, sweet boy, are a month old today. That floors me. Already you are filling out your clothes and are showing obvious signs of growing up. I've never enjoyed my life quite so much as I do with you. Being your mama brings an immense satisfaction that I've never felt before.

You are the happiest baby. Yes you cry, but never without a reason. Most the time you are just content to lay in my lap and stare into my face. When you sleep with your mouth open I lean in to smell your delicious sweet breath. I stroke your cheeks, I kiss your forehead, I rub your ears and play with your fingers. You are just the most adorable newborn and I love that I get to keep you all to myself.

Lately you have been sleeping pretty restlessly. Your eyes wiggle beneath your lids like you're dreaming and you fuss every few minutes. But before long you relax again. When you sleep you make these high pitched sighs that are so adorable. Your favorite sleeping place is on my chest. I love that. I love love love that that is where you fall asleep the easiest. I'd so much rather hold you during all your naps than lay you down anywhere. My productivity level is at zero, but I'm holding you as close as I can and I am completely satisfied.

Your hair is amazing. Whenever we meet new people, the first thing they comment on is your gorgeous head of thick hair. It sticks straight up for a few days after we wash it. It's so fuzzy and soft I can't stop touching it. We always know when Papa Vidmar has been holding you because his your is all greasy from him stroking it so much.

I never thought I'd be one of those ridiculous moms who coo at their babies, making funny faces and stupid noises, trying to get a response out of an obviously oblivious baby. But I am. And I'm the worst. When I wasn't watching, Andy used my phone to record me sticking out my tongue at you and talking like cookie monster. In my defense, I did get a smile out of you at one point. 

Your skin is peeling like you're shedding snakeskin. First your feet, then your hands now your face and back. It's taking all my willpower to not peel it like a sunburn. You still have some baby acne. It doesn't bother me nearly as much as I expected it would, though we might try out some infant eczema cream to clear it up. 

Your first bath was fantastic. We had to wait a long time because your umbilical stump seemed to stay on forever, and the day before it fell off you got circumcised. I held you in my lap in the bath water and you were just silently staring up at us with the biggest eyes. You LOVED that bath and didn't make a peep the entire time even when Andy accidentally dripped water in your eye. Your second bath was not nearly as great. After screaming bloody murder I pulled you out and fed you right there on the floor to calm you down and you peed all over my leg. Thanks for that. 

Your farts rock. Seriously though, they are louder than anything I could ever produce. Incredibly impressive. I can feel your stomach rumbling with gas while I feed you. You are a very gassy baby. You also pee on someone at least once a day. We are still trying to figure out how to manage your diaper changes without leaving you exposed long enough to pee on one of us.

Your lips are so tiny. So itty bitty. You have a fabulous poop face where your eyebrows go high, your eyes get all watery and your tiny little lips pout and your face gets all red. We think it's hilarious. Your eyebrows are already so expressive, though you usually are frowning pretty seriously. It's like you're trying really hard to focus. When you sneeze, you sneeze with your whole body and your arms fly up and sometimes you hit yourself in the face. Hiccups bother the crap out of you. You are always pretty fussy until they go away, which I find ironic as you used to have hiccups two or three times a day when I was pregnant with you and sometimes it drove me nuts too. 

Last week you started following us with your eyes. Sometimes when I move too quickly it startles you and it takes you a bit to find me again. I think it's hilarious. Your neck muscles are getting stronger and stronger. After a nice nap and good feeding, I hold you up and you swing your head round and round and round as though you're trying to absorb everything around you as fast as you can. When Andy holds you he does it with you and I'm pretty sure it's the cutest scene in the world.

Once you started screaming in pain while I was changing your diaper. I couldn't figure out what was wrong until I saw that you had a fistful of your own hair clenched tightly in your hand and were pulling on it with all your might. You poor dumb baby! I couldn't help but laugh a bit as I did all I could to get you to relax your arm and let go of your hair. Am I evil? 

You have my ears. There's a wiggly "dogbite" on the tip just like mine. Yours also are sprouting little hairs along the edges like an old man. Your pediatrician made fun of you for that. Your feet are exact copies of your daddy's. Exactly. You have the Vidmar opposable big toe. Your hands however, remind me of my brother's. Big long fingers with small palms, though chunkier than mine. I love your wobbly legs and itty bitty knees. I spend a lot of time wiggling your legs around.

You wake up every single day at 4am. What's that about. I watch netflix while I drowsily feed you. Everything from the emporer's new groove to 30 rock to freaks and geeks to mythbusters. It's a good thing you're not impressionable yet or you might be pretty confused from those weird shows. 

Your dad makes up new ridiculously lame songs every day to console you while he changes your diaper. It's adorable to see him interact with you. He loves you so much. When it's midnight and I'm just about ready to crash, he'll swaddle you up and lay you on his belly while he talks to you. He's so great with you and I can't wait to see you two become best buddies.

I love that you are so healthy, Rory boy. I love that we get to keep you forever and that I get to watch you grow up every day. Being your mama is the most intimidating responsibility, but I'll take it on gladly because you are just so friggin adorable. I love you buddy.

See all "letters to Rory".


breastfeeding woes

Breastfeeding sucks. At first. For us, at least.

Rory was born with a two 9's on the Apgar scale- basically perfect. Perfect and huge with the most gorgeous brown hair. But for the first 8 or so hours of his life he made these constant coo'ing noises with every breath he took. The doctors ordered a few stress tests because they were afraid he was working too hard to breathe, though there never was any definite diagnosis. These consistent coo'ing noises were ADORABLE and I seriously am getting teary just thinking about how cute they were and how I almost miss them (hormones much? gosh), but they definitely interfered with Rory's ability to breastfeed. He couldn't concentrate or just wasn't interested. I don't remember how long it was exactly, but it was a while before we were able to successfully get some milk into him, despite him being placed immediately on my chest after birth. It was a bummer, but I was thrilled at the fact that everything with the whole birth went so perfectly and nothing could get me down.

^^Rory's cooing noises recorded by my mama in the hospital.

Over the next few hours we had help from a few nurses, though now that I think about it they weren't much help at all. As sweet as they were, most of the time they were rushed and I didn't get many answers out of them. Rory wouldn't latch. He'd jump right off as soon as I'd think he was in the right place. Over and over they told me that it wasn't an issue - newborns are sleepy for the first 24 hours and Rory was especially tired because of my epidural. I really tried not to worry, but my baby had no food in his belly. Eventually we talked to a lactation consultant who helped out a lot and I got answers, but Rory still seemed sleepy and didn't latch well. He'd pull away frustrated a few seconds after I'd get him on. We left the hospital frustrated but hopeful. I thought I'd figured it out.

Wrong-o. I don't know how I got through the next two days. I really really don't. Rory never latched for more than a few seconds at a time. My milk hadn't come in and Rory was so drowsy. He slept for hours at a time - which is not a good thing with such a young baby. He once went 7 hours without eating and it scared the hell out of me. Every 3 hours or so I'd wake him up and spend an hour and a half to two hours squeezing what I could into his mouth. I was so worried that he was starving.

But we had an appointment with our pediatrician when he was 3 days old and she calmed us immensely. He wasn't jaundiced, he was definitely healthy, but he had lost a pound which was a bit over 10% of his body weight. Losing 10% is normal for a newborn, but the pediatrician gave us some formula to supplement with until my milk came in. I can't describe the relief. She asked if I had any problem giving my baby formula and I was like "are you kidding? Food in my baby's belly?! I LOVE IT. I'LL DO IT!" We went home and I did my best to breastfeed, then we tried our one and only time supplementing. He took half an ounce. Heh. Jeez baby why??

But you know what, miracles do happen. My milk came in that day. Rory still wouldn't latch, but my milk was in! I pumped a few ounces and we made it through the night by syringing that miracle juice into Rory boy's mouth.  But yes. I was at my wit's end. Like I said, I don't know how I made it through those first couple of days without a serious breakdown.

AND THEN. My mom and Andy's mom accompanied Rory and I to an appointment with a lactation specialist at the hospital the next afternoon. I remember being hopeful, but not expectant. Turns out, this lady was sent straight from heaven itself. She took one look at Rory trying to hang on to my boob and immediately said "I know what's wrong." She helped me put on a small silicone fake nipple thingy, we situated Rory.. and he latched. And he guzzled. Holy crap that kid just ate and ate. And I just started sobbing. My hands were preoccupied so my tears just dripped down my face. Oh the happiness and satisfaction I felt seeing my baby boy eat.

We weighed him after eating and he had gained 2.5 ounces in the 20 or so minutes we were at that appointment. The consultant graciously handed us the nipple shield and sent us on our way.

Have we had issues since? Yes. BUT Rory is past his birth weight now and is as healthy as can be. I'm working now on weaning him off the nipple shield. I don't want to be using it long-term, but it is just so easy to pop on and off. Hopefully we'll be done with it in the next few weeks. Hopefully :)