Tuesday, June 24, 2014

NHP: How a Bloggy Horse Lady Preps for a Baby

Warning: Non-Horsey-Post, although, lots of horsey comparison, so maybe it's just a semi-horsey post about babies...

There are lots of things about myself and my life that I can adjust - my professional responsibilities, my exercise routine, my wake up time, my drinking habits (at least... temporarily), my diet (also temporarily), etc.  But there are more (many more) things about me that don't change, even if my surroundings or context does.

You just can't take the snark, tack ho, compulsive shopper or OCD out of the Bloggy Horse Girl.

Those things seem to stick around no matter what I'm doing.

So, it should be no surprise that I approached this whole "get ready for a baby" thing kinda like how I approached getting back into horses, moving barns, buying a trailer, or showing.

Actually - scratch that I put way more thought and planning into owning horses again (possibly even my trailer purchases?) than I ever did into planning for kids.  That might be a red flag, but it's true, so I will just admit it.

A lot of my friends began their baby education decades ago when it was socially acceptable to be babysitting.  They were changing diapers, maneuvering strollers around parks and trying to coax cranky kids into their beds while I was perfecting my shipping wraps (damn you pony club), scrubbing tack and droolling over saddles that wouldn't stain my breeches.

misspent youth
Tragically, The Boy also lacked any serious early exposure to babies/babysitting/younger sibs/cousins/etc.  This means that when we found out we were expecting, we were totally excited, but also, moderately terrified and completely clueless.

Usually this would trigger my Tack Ho OCD into overdrive, I'd be googling and reading and researching everything I could with the fervor of trying to compare the relative merits of two relatively identical bridles.

But it didn't.  Mostly because Thermal was on the horizon, and I mentally refused to "feel too pregnant" while I was still riding and planning for that trip.  (To that point, I still sort of refuse to "feel too pregnant" and am sometimes surprised when people ask when I'm due or I literally run into something with my stomach...)

Before anyone pounces on me for endangering the life of my child, I'd just like to say that yes, there was risk in continuing to ride, but I also always followed the advice of my OB and was lucky to not have any complications or elevated risks - which made me very comfortable jumping around at 2'3" for a few extra months.  I totally understand why other people wouldn't feel great doing that, but I did.

So, really it wasn't until after Thermal (or 23ish weeks preggo) that I started contemplating the fact that we were 17 weeks away from a real live baby.

THEN the Tack Ho OCD kicked in.  I started googling. I started reading.  And I started to desperately catch up on all the stuff most of my friends learned when they were 12.

Step 1:  Find sarcastic, entertaining blogs written by people who know more than you.

This was relatively easy.  I literally googled "snarky pregnancy blog" and then kept clicking links until I found what I wanted.

Three blogs/sites rose to the surface for me.  In fact, I found them so entertaining I've even forwarded posts to non-pregnant people because I'm that entertained.

It's possible that I've just turned into "that lady" who forwards shit people don't want to read (like horse articles to non-horsey peeps) but I think I have a pretty good filter for that... lord help me if I don't.... Although, now that I think about it, this whole post might be an example of talking about stuff other people don't care about...

1) Pregnant Chicken
This seems to be a very well known site, and is definitely run by a professional-mommy-blogger (another thing I didn't know about, apparently).  She doesn't update that often, but her backlog of posts is huge, so you just sort of find what applies to you in the archives and go from there.  Things that I appreciate about this site include the fact that she doesn't constantly compare your impending baby to a fruit or a veggie, but rather to other, more entertaining things like a grenade, or a barbie.  For example, for your 38th week of pregnancy this is what she says:
I love how some sites are still comparing your baby to fruits and vegetables at this point. They want to show what your baby looks like right now? They should show you a fucking baby because that’s what your baby looks like right now – not an obscure melon or a root vegetable.
Sorry for the language, but at 38 weeks preggo... it doesn't sound so profane :)

Anyway, she's funny.  She still seems to cover all the "traditional" content, but in a less flowery, omg-miracle-of-life sort of way, and I appreciate that.

2) Lucie's List
This has become one of my most visited sites while I prep for baby.  She is the Tack Ho of all things baby.  I know there are a million sites out there reviewing baby stuff, but this one has become my bible.  I like that she reviews things in all price brackets, and then (seems) to do a good job of telling you which splurge items are totally splurge worthy and which ones will just get you noticed at whatever bougie playground you plan on going to.  As a natural tack ho, I like to know when I'm following fads and when I'm actually buying a better product. Her site also helps you along the adventure of pregnancy, with tips, reminders, and suggestions - nothing radical, but all entertaining and helpful.

Her "baby registry checklist" is a GOD SEND for anyone who hasn't already had 17 children, had 17 friends who have already had children or had 17 years of Montessori training.  I seriously have a printed out copy with all sorts of notes and folds and check lists in the bottom of my purse.  It's gotten almost as much love as my old "Manual of Horsemanship"

(side note, why don't we get to register for new horses??? New horse owners are JUST as inundated with endless gear... plus the cost is also crazy.. I vote we start having "horse showers" and registering for things)

3) I Like Beer and Babies
This is a really "traditional" blog.

It's written by one mom, mostly about her satirical observations of motherhood as she raises her two kids.  She's funny, she's straightforward and like many of the horsey blogs I read, she does a good job of not making it look like it's all rainbows and tri-colors all the time.  There seem to be about a million of these blogs available for perusing, but I keep coming back to this one.  Maybe because the name sticks in my head.  (god I can't wait for beer).

So those are my favorites.  In terms of "credible enough to be printed in real life and not just on the web" I have one standout book that I will literally shove down the throat of my next friends who get pregnant and that's Emily Oster's "Expecting Better."

A clever title and stint writing for Slate.com meant that she had a leg up on all the other baby books I collected on my nightstand - but I really did find this book to be by far the most helpful and informative as I started my pregnancy.  She appeals to the scientist in me by taking ALLL the conventional pregnancy do's-and-don'ts and presenting you with the original source data that created those universally touted recommendations.   She's a tad polarizing as some critics think she's just helping to justify irresponsible women and their irresponsible choices to endanger their babies - But I found her voice refreshing and her presentation informative.

Basically she presents data (in a merciful laymen sort of way), then lets you decide what risk level you are comfortable with, rather than having to just decide if you want to be a "rule breaker" or not with absolute guidelines that lack any supporting info.

I really liked it, and for me it was nice to know that some of the risk factors associated with pregnancy (like  sushi or soft cheeses) were well within a tolerance that I was comfortable ignoring sometimes.  She also has practical summaries like "your risk of X if you do Y is more than/less than getting struck by lightning."  That made the threats of "1 in 10,345,672 babies will die from ____" seem more digestible.  Most baby/pregnancy books can terrify the crap out of you with all the horrible ways fetuses and babies can die that you never knew about.

This is where I started to really feel the similarities between pregnancy and horse ownership.  EVERYONE has an anecdote about something.

Some people always wrap their horses when they haul because they've heard/had horror stories of gore and maiming without wraps - and others never wrap their horses because they've heard/had horror stories with wraps.  So should you wrap you're horse in the trailer? Are you abusive or irresponsible for letting your horse go naked? or is it negligent to put those life threatening pillow wraps on their legs??

What's important to me is to a) understand what's actually happening in the back of a trailer when a horse is in it, b) understand your horse and their own brains/bodies, and c) Make a decision that I  am comfortable with so that I can sleep at night.

I've gotten very comfortable at those judgement calls with my horses - and so I sort of used Expecting Better to feel a tad more empowered about educating myself and feeling empowered to make my own decisions about pregnancy too.

That's enough on printed reading things....There's way too much out there to even begin to digest all of it.

Step 2: Find a place in your house to put the baby/all the baby stuff

In terms of actually buying stuff/making way for baby in the home... The Tack Ho took over again.  I'm sure you all have figured out that I have a strong preference for "pretty" and I also have a strong sense of what I consider pretty/not pretty.

Pia = Pretty
Gus = Pretty
Prair = Pretty
The Boy = Pretty
Equifit T-Boots = Pretty
My Trailer - Pretty, CWD - Pretty, Pessoa plaid Blankets - pretty (espec. the purple).  Pretty. Pretty. Pretty.

So, what am I to do with a nursery and ZERO inherited items from the non-existent previous kids?


The space we made for the baby is a fairly tight 9'x11' (which of course I immediately consider a "small" horse stall."  12x12 would have been better... but thankfully the baby is not a 17h 1200lb warmblood, so we should be able to make do...

I did consider the fact that our "converted" nursery (it was an alcove in the bedroom... we just added a wall and a door) lacked any sort of built in storage so I was going to need drawers.  Lots of drawers and shelves.

So, I waited for my semi-monthly notification of a HUGE GIANT SALE at Restoration Hardware and went nuts.

My first piece to nail down was the (massive) changing table that had (a shit ton) of storage.

This thing makes my massive tack trunk look like a small piece of furniture.

Then we filled in with a crib (also RH) and space for a rocking chair, diaper pail, etc.

This thing is just pretty.
Basically, I let my own style determine furniture, then I relied on the web (and Lucie's List, and a few friends) for all small furnishings.  The mattress, the changing pad, the diaper pail, the sheets, the extra sheets, the EVERYTHING OMG SO MUCH STUFF.

In the end, we ended up with a pretty decent looking (little) nursery that I'm pretty sure has more crap in it than we need, but it'll work.
you should be used to sub-par phone pics by now (look! a pony!)

see? HUGE.

It's not totally "done," but I'm tired of trying to organize a room for tasks that I'm unfamiliar with.  It'd be like packing up a trailer for your first show ever... you don't really know which hook you want your bridle/chain/helmet/spurs on until you're holding onto your horse with one hand and desperately searching for your bridle/chain/helmet/spurs.  So I'm just gonna wait for a phase two, once we know what we're dealing with...

Let's see, what else have I done to prepare... oh yes, HIRE PROFESSIONAL HELP.

Step 3: Hire Professionals

A couple weeks ago when I had my first bout of regular, semi terrifying contractions and I totally terrified The Boy.  That's not to say he wasn't loving, or concerned or trying to do whatever he could to keep the baby in, but he didn't exactly have a wealth of knowledge to draw on to help me decide what to do.

I sorta feel like going into labor and relying ONLY on him for guidance would be like me warming up for a Dressage Test, having Prair PANIC about something, and me asking him "so babe, do you think she's holding the tension in her jaw or her back? I just don't feel like she's totally engaging with me."

Or maybe it's more like walking a Prelim XC course and me looking at him with horrified eyes and asking how he'd suggest getting through the bank complex.

I'd never make the poor man try to guess how to help in a horsey situation he wasn't experienced in, and since his horse experience vastly outweighs his baby experience (uh oh, red flag!), it seems even less fair to expect him to be cool, calm and collected for the whole birth thing.  Could he do it? sure.  Do lots of men out there help support their wives through labor? absolutely.  But if there's one thing I credit with my (relative) success both personally and professionally, it's knowing how to manage and maximize my resources.  If there is an expert out there who can help me through something - I use them.  (I try to learn from them in the process, but holy hell, use your resources.)

Ergo, we hired a Doula.  At first I thought it sounded like a crazy, hippy thing to do, but then I realized that I literally have coaches for everything else in my life, why oh why wouldn't I get one for this??

So, I did more Tack Ho googling and we found a great young gal who won't give me the stink eye if I get an epidural - and who will help calm us down and tell us we can stay at home and eat sandwiches for at least another 8 hours before we need to be at the hospital.  (maximizing both time at home and sandwich eating is paramount for me).  She seems sweet and fun to talk to - and like she knows her birthing process, so I look forward to her calming me down and telling me that everything is totally ok.

Really, not so different from cantering by your trainer on the sidelines and hearing "eyes up, and LEG and ONE AND TWO AND ONE AND NIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIICE."  Or maybe it's more like full grooming.  I don't know, because I haven't done this before - which, again... professionals.

So yes.  Doula.  Check.

Step 4: Act like yourself

What else.  I guess really the only other prep we've managed is to really enjoy each other and our sleep for these last couple of weeks.  We've been having lots of conversations about our expectations (both of the baby, HA - and each other) and I think we're as ready as we can be.

Mostly our approach has looked a lot like how we do anything else.  Lots of random chatting, spending a little more money than we probably need to (my fault, not his), and lots and lots of reliance on other smart, sassy people for guidance.  That's how we got married, how we talk about the horses, the house... our friends.. all of it, really.  It'd be weird to impose another method and expect it to serve us well.

I say, do what works (assuming what you do works) and pray that the hormones and instincts will kick in when necessary :)  That's what we've done....


  1. I am admittedly really mesmerized by this. I too have had very little exposure to babies in my life, but I'm knocking on the door of 31 this year... that's getting dangerously close to "shit or get off the pot" time. The thought of a baby still makes me immediately super nervous, mostly because my biggest fear is losing ME. I see so many moms whose lives revolve 100% around their kids and that's it... I don't think I can handle that. I'm ok with kid being 90% but I still need the stuff for me. Maybe that makes me selfish? I dunno. So I'm very interested to see how you make it work, hoping I can learn a thing or two from you. Maybe you will help ease my baby panic!

    1. haha, I hope so! I've watched a lot of horsey gals do a great job of balancing their love/hobby with taking care of a kid (Of course they are pretty comfortable letting said kid climb around a hay loft while they lesson..).

    2. I feel exactly the same way.

  2. I'm not pregnant nor do I want to be but I loved this :)

  3. This is amazing. Nowhere close to having a baby, not even sure if I ever want one, but I read every word anyway and loved it.

    1. This!
      Also love the kids room, it is fab!

  4. The baby's room looks wonderful!! I love the all the pretty! :)

  5. I don't like babies. I don't want a baby. But if I ever was faced with preparing for one, I think I would hit the shit out of your list, it's fabulous.

    Also, pony showers. Yes. Let's all work together to make that a normal thing. For serious.

    1. ha, thanks! I was surprised how much "pressure" there was to be OBSESSED with all things baby while pregnant. It hasn't really been until the last few weeks that I've delved deeply into prep. Before that I just felt like I gained a little weight but was still living normally...

      and YES to the registries. Shocked Dover hasn't already figured that one out...

    2. Yes! Pony showers!

  6. Um, the idea of Horse Showers is completely brilliant, something that needs to start happening ASAP.

    Also, I love how you are most concerned with maximizing your sandwich-eating time. I literally laughed out loud :)

  7. Cute room!!

    Babies require SO much for such a little person!

    And yes new horses need a registry!

  8. I also really enjoyed reading this, even though I don't plan on having kids for at least another ten years... Loved all the horsey references too. I definitely agree on needing to have horse registries. That would be fun!

  9. Thank you thank you thank you! I love this post so so so much! I also love that you put the resto furniture in a small space too, I adore their collections, but felt initially like it's "big house furniture" and that in our (future) nursery it wouldnt work, but yours looks great and renews my desire to go for it!

    1. Yeah, I'm always a little put off by the scale of resto's stuff but I've always ended up thrilled with how it turns out. Our house has a smaller scale to most of the rooms, but I still shove it in there :). LOVE their kid stuff. It's a rare combo of "cute" enough for kiddos and still something I'd want around. :)

  10. Before my baby was born (she is one now), I mostly read about and prepared for pregnancy and delivery. After she was born, I realized that I had a lot of new questions. And I approached it like a new horse owner looking for wisdom, but I realized after some confusing websites/information from others that like a new horse owner you must be very careful and read/listen with a critical eye/ear. Only accept information that resonates with you.

    Kudos on the doula. Next up... lactation consultant.

  11. As a total non-baby person (I babysat once and was never asked back...), I get this. It all sounds weird and terrifying and doesn't make me want one, but at least you talk about it in terms I understand.

  12. Love this! Love Pregnant Chicken! As the mom of 3 (a 5yo son and 1.5yo twincesses) - one small thing to consider - the crib is right by the window. Light makes babies wake up (my twins were in a room with a lot of light as the daylight got longer, we moved them to a darker room, i can sleep again). So white-out blinds are a great investment because once baby can grab, those drapes will be ripped off the wall and more than likely be covering said baby instead of the windows, lol...

  13. This post is great!!! The new baby room is gorgeous! You did a great job. I don't ever want kids, but it was still really interesting reading about how you're preparing. I love your approach to everything actually. I wish I were so organized. :D

  14. I think your approach has been sensible and I wish I'd had "mommy/preggo blogs" to read when I was expecting! I think the Doula is a great idea. I guess my mom was mine, although since she was "Twilight Sleeping," aka zoned out of her gourd when my brothers and I were born, the whole experience was new to her as well. :-)

    The nursery is lovely. I do concur with Stephanie, though; light will not be your friend when you want Baby to snooze or nap. Light-darkening blinds, for sure, but NO hanging cords anywhere near the little one.

    I had epidurals with both of mine, BTW - highly recommended! Doesn't hurt the baby and it sure makes things better for you. "Don't be a martyr if you don't have to be" was my motto. Your daughter will certainly think no less of you. :-)

    1. You guys have such sharp Mom Eyes! We do have roll down blackouts for the windows, which will hopefully serve us well, and my dad has already devised a plexiglass shield to keep climbing/standing/grabbing baby away from the windows in general :)

      And I'm FULLY on board with an epidural, I see no shame in that WHATSOEVER. :)

  15. Even though my child-bearing days are WAY in the rear-view mirror (in fact, I am facing taking my "baby" to college next week and not coping well), I have enjoyed taking a look at Lucie's website to check out the latest gear. I also looked at some of her "what giving birth is like" stuff. Already found one hint to tell you: get your IV in your arm, not the back of your hand - waaaaay more comfortable! Just ask the nurse.

  16. Love this post. Love that dresser. Btw watch the crib by the window, kids are crazy good at pulling and breaking stuff you'd never think they could reach.You are getting so close! Its totally scary and terryfing at first but really I think if you have common sense and have owned pets, parenthood is easy to settle into. I never knew I could love someone as much as my child. And how much more... Sentimental? Sensitive? I cry at movies now, which is totally foreign to me.


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