Ep. 78: A Massive Mom Milestone

December 30, 2019

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2020 is here, and Shanna and Laura are approaching a massive mom milestone – finishing the first year of parenting a new baby! They keep it real as they reflect on the last 12 months as new moms, from the joy, to the chaos, to the best books they’ve managed to read from cover to cover. Also, Laura talks about her 10-month-old son’s recent leap in language development, and Shanna describes her 11-month-old daughter’s new way of playing with toys. Finally, they reveal their BFPs and BFNs for the week. Shanna’s baby is 11 months and three weeks old, and Laura’s baby is 10 months and three weeks old.

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Episode Transcript

[Music]

Shanna Micko: Hi. Welcome to Big Fat Positive with Shanna and Laura. On this week’s episode, we have our weekly check-ins. We have our special segment, Big Topic, where the big topic is 2019, where we reflect on the past year and reveal some unexpected things that have happened to us in the last 12 months and finally, we wrap it up with our weekly BFPs and BFNs. Let’s get to it.

[Music]

Shanna Micko: Hey, everyone. Welcome to episode 78. Hi, Laura.

Laura Birek: Hey, Shanna.

Shanna Micko: How are you guys doing?

Laura Birek: Well, we are doing well. My baby is 10 months and three weeks old, so it’s Thanksgiving week when we’re recording. This’ll be released a little bit later, but in our present moment it’s Thanksgiving week and Thanksgiving can be fun and it can be nightmare. I shouldn’t say it was a nightmare. We just have had a little bit of a hard week than expected, because we went up to Fresno for the Thanksgiving holiday to visit my family.

Shanna Micko: That’s kind of a big road trip, right? Like an hour drive.

Laura Birek: It’s three and a half hour drive, which with the baby ends up taking four and a half hours, because you have to stop at some point and chill out. This is such a stupid ass first world problem.

Shanna Micko: Oh God.

Laura Birek: We brought Corey’s Tesla and charged it midway through, which actually, it makes a great stopping point with the baby, so it’s fine.

Shanna Micko: How long does it take to charge?

Laura Birek: It took like 20 minutes, I want to say 30 min. It took less time than it took for us to go to Chipotle and get some lunch.

Shanna Micko: Okay.

Laura Birek: Yeah, it wasn’t bad. There’s a really great supercharger. That’s what they call these charging stations right in the middle. It’s in this place called Lebec, which is right midway between LA and Fresno. So it’s very convenient and they’ve got this huge center where there’s an in and out and a Chipotle. So we just walked over to the Chipotle and it was fine. But of course, it was crazy busy, because everyone’s on the road. So it took us like a half hour just to order a freaking Chipotle, but that was all fine. 

The baby wasn’t so into the car ride, but we totally gave in and played some videos on the iPad, which seemed to help him chill out for about like 40 minutes. We played StoryBots. Do you ever watch StoryBots?

Shanna Micko: Yeah, it’s cute.

Laura Birek: It’s on Netflix. They’re cute and he really likes it. Honestly, I think I could play him anything that’s moving on a screen and he would like it.

Shanna Micko: Yeah, at that age.

Laura Birek: I know that everyone’s like, no screen time till they’re two and I’m just like, how do you deal with a baby in a car for that long? I guess there’s probably people who are better than me, but we were just like, keep them happy. Show them StoryBots. So we did that and that was fine. It was really nice to be in Fresno. We stayed at my dad and my stepmom’s house and then we would go over to my mom’s house almost every day to visit. The thing about divorced parents is you get two Thanksgivings, so we did one Thanksgiving on Thanksgiving and then we did another big one on Saturday. So we got a lot of Turkey and all that stuff and it was really good. The baby was so cute. He really liked Thanksgiving dinner. He loved the Turkey, he loved the mashed potatoes, he loved basically all of it. That was fun. Here’s the part where it wasn’t so fun. The first couple nights he slept fine.

Shanna Micko: In a pack ‘n play?

Laura Birek: In a pack ‘n play. Nights three through seven, not so great.

Shanna Micko: Oh, no. Why?

Laura Birek: I don’t know. He just was over it. He was done. He was like ready to be home. I think there’s just a lot of stimulation. So my stepbrothers have three girls between them and they’re six, four and two I think and they are obsessed with the baby.

Shanna Micko: Aww.

Laura Birek: It’s so cute. But they are all hands all over him all the time. They were just so into him and I think he might have been just overstimulated. We weren’t planning to stay seven nights, but we ended up coming a day early to avoid bad weather and then we ended up staying a day late for some stupid technical reasons not worth getting into, but we ended up staying seven nights and he was over it by night three.

Shanna Micko: Poor guy.

Laura Birek: The third night we were like, oh, he’s a great sleeper. We put him down at seven and an hour later he’s starting to cry and my dad and stepmom were like, “Should you go get him?” We’re like, “No, no, no. We’re going to do our pop-ins. We’re going to keep the sleep training intact.” He cried for like an hour, Shanna.

Shanna Micko: Oh, no.

Laura Birek: My dad had to leave the room from the monitor.

Shanna Micko: Really?

Laura Birek: He was too emotionally affected by it. That’s what my stepmom said. It was sad. Eventually, I gave in and just went in and nursed him, because I was like, well, this isn’t working. There’s too many different things. I think he was also teething. It was just a lot. Also, I think he’s technically in a leap. I’ve honestly stopped keeping track, because at this point the leaps last so long. They’re like three weeks or so. Maybe I’m exaggerating, but every time I look he’s in a leap. So I’m like, oh whatever. He is just like in a permanent leap stage. Oh my God, the last night we were there, he was waking up every 40 minutes basically and so finally, I tried to go co-sleep with him in the pack ‘n play.

Shanna Micko: Did you curl up in the pack n’ play?

Laura Birek: No, I tried to sleep on the couch with him in that room. It wasn’t working. Finally I’m just like, okay. I’m going to bring him into the room we are staying in. So I brought him in and we had a king bed and thought putting him between us would be safe and of course, I was freaking out the whole time that he wasn’t safe. It didn’t matter, because he didn’t sleep. Then he thought it was like fun play time and he just thought it was hilarious and he kept rolling between me and Corey and being like, daddy, mommy. Not saying it, but just being like, haha, they’re both here. We got no sleep. It was awful.

Shanna Micko: Oh, no.

Laura Birek: Anyway, we’re so happy to be home now.

Shanna Micko: Good. I’m glad.

Laura Birek: So that was the Thanksgiving drama and I have to say it was worth it, because we hadn’t seen a lot of his family since he was born. The three girls hadn’t met him yet. We just FaceTimed. So it’s totally worth it, but it’s making me a little gun-shy about traveling again with him.

Shanna Micko: Yeah.

Laura Birek: It doesn’t sound like a relaxing vacation if he’s going to be up all night.

Shanna Micko: No, vacations don’t exist anymore once you have kids, Laura. Don’t you know they’re just trips?

Laura Birek: Shanna.

Shanna Micko: We drove one and a half hours down to Newport Beach this summer with both girls and I was just like, never again. We are not. It can be so hard: just the car trip and the packing, the logistics, the this, the that. But give it a few months. You’ll totally forget and then you’ll be like, we need to go to the mountains.

Laura Birek: I’m going to have some inspiration and forget all about this. So listeners, remind me. But anyway, so that was the sort of hard part of the week. But the really fun part of the week is that my baby suddenly has I think it must be like a cognitive explosion or a leap or who knows what, but there’s some kind of massive language explosion that’s happening, because suddenly if you ask him where his head is, he taps his head. When he eats, he says, “Yum, yum. Yum, yum.” If I ask him, “Do you want boo-boo?” He knows the word boo-boo now and he gets really excited.

Shanna Micko: What’s boo-boo?

Laura Birek: Boo-boo is breast milk. Would you like to nurse?

Shanna Micko: I see.

Laura Birek: So I actually recorded him, because I didn’t know how long this would last and I think it’s so cute and so I wanted to capture it. So here is audio of him when I ask him if he wants boo-boo.

Laura’s recording: Do you want some? Do you want some boo-boo? Do you want some boo-boo?

Shanna Micko: Oh my God, that’s so cute.

Laura Birek: So he just becomes a frantic mess when you say it.

Shanna Micko:
This is so cute. He loves it.

Laura Birek: He loves it. I don’t think we’re weaning anytime soon. He’s obsessed. The other thing is that he’s suddenly very aggressively waving hi and bye to everyone.

Shanna Micko: I love it.

Laura Birek: Even if you say like, hi or bye, like if we’re reading a book and it says, “Hello,” in the book, he starts waving. It’s just so interesting to me. It’s like someone flipped a switch and suddenly he understands all this language.

Shanna Micko: Wow. That’s so cool. Their development is just mind boggling.

Laura Birek: It really is. It’s interesting, because obviously it’s been growing all this time. I’ve been talking to him using lots of vocabulary words and trying to make sure that he gets the language exposure or whatever, but it just like all of a sudden is clicking. So interesting. 

It’s really fun.

Shanna Micko: That’s so fun.

Laura Birek: I’m really looking forward to him being able to communicate a little bit more. Hopefully, it’ll make our lives a little bit easier.

Shanna Micko: I think so. Definitely.

Laura Birek: So that was well worth a week of no sleep, I guess.

Shanna Micko: Well, that could also be why he was struggling with sleep. When they go through those kind of developmental leaps, things like sleep get disrupted. That’s what I’ve noticed.

Laura Birek: No, definitely he wanted to practice probably and he was sort of talking. He’s starting to do this thing where as he’s falling asleep he like mutters to himself. So I think that’s it. But anyway, that was our week. Shanna, how was your Thanksgiving?

Shanna Micko: My baby is 11 months and three weeks and our Thanksgiving was good and completely exhausting and we didn’t go anywhere. We stayed home. I had family come in and Elle didn’t have school on Thursday, Friday of course, because school’s closed. I also kept her home on Wednesday, so I had a five day stretch with both girls. 

You recall probably a recent episode where I took them to the library for one hour together and I was ready to just crawl in under my covers forever. So having them both together for five straight days is wonderful, because I like that they get time together and Elle loves her so much and their relationship’s blossoming, but damn, it’s exhausting. Elle does not nap when she’s at home. She’ll nap at school and so then the tiredness builds up and everything gets wacky and family is in town and stuff. So by night five, the girls were in bed and I poured a glass of scotch and sat on the couch and sipped it and my body just went ah. I told Steve, “This is the first moment I felt relaxed in five days.”

Laura Birek: Oh my God.

Shanna Micko: It was truly exhausting.

Laura Birek: I believe it. It’s exhausting with one. Having two? Elle is high energy.

Shanna Micko: Oh, yes. The dictionary definition of high energy.

Laura Birek: She’s not the kind of kid to go sit in the corner with her book and you don’t hear from her. She’s like, let’s play. I love her. She’s so fun. She’s got a lot of energy. I can imagine that puts you to the test.

Shanna Micko: She does not enjoy playing alone. She will a little bit, but she definitely prefers to interact and have me or Steve or the grandparents. 

She just always wants to play and how you mentioned your little nieces are all over your baby all the time, that’s her all over CeCe all the time. So CeCe kind of gets worn out of the touch and the attention and it’s crazy and I just got Thanksgiving dinner from Whole Foods because I couldn’t manage to cook.

Laura Birek: Good for you.

Shanna Micko: So we got delicious food and it was great.

Laura Birek: You had people coming in too. Having house guests, even if they’re family is hard.

Shanna Micko: My mom and stepdad came in and Steve’s mom was here. So it was a full house. I had to get ready for them and stuff.

Laura Birek: No matter how easy a house guest they are and how much you love having them there, it’s always just an added thing you have to keep in your mind. Like, oh they need towels, they need whatever.

Shanna Micko: Clean sheets blah, blah, blah.

Laura Birek: I know you’re a big routine person too, so the whole routine is gone out the window I imagine.

Shanna Micko: Yeah, Elle’s a big routine person too, because at school she has so much structure. She goes to preschool all day and then she comes home and it’s like a free for all and we’re all just like, ah, and everyone’s thrown off. But it was nice to have a lot of family time. The update on CeCe, which is really cute, is she must be going through some kind of leap too because her play has completely changed I’ve noticed whereas before, she just kind of would immediately put things in her mouth. She still does that to a degree, but now she’s doing things with more intention. She has toys where you push a button and it sings a song and she knows that her action has a reaction and so she’s pushing buttons and things are playing and learning to put toys inside things and a lot more intention in her play

Laura Birek: Interesting.

Shanna Micko: It’s so cool to see her thinking about stuff now. So that’s really fun.

Laura Birek: That is very fun. Also, makes you feel a little better probably about having so many toys, because right now I’m like, why do we have these? You’d be happy with a cardboard box. Eventually, they will be utilized is what you’re saying.

Shanna Micko: Exactly. They might not be utilized for what they’re supposed to be used for yet and it’s good to have a variety and then the last little thing is we went and got our Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving and that was really fun. CeCe was so excited to help us decorate. She was digging into all the boxes and of course eating ornaments and it was a fun, festive time. 

So I’m really excited for the holiday season. Even though it’s not her first Christmas, it’s technically her second. I feel like it’s going to be her first Christmas.

Laura Birek: She was what? Three weeks old?

Shanna Micko: No, not even.

Laura Birek: They’re barely out of the womb.

Shanna Micko: Yes.

Laura Birek: I don’t think fourth trimester counts for your first Christmas.

Shanna Micko: No, no. She slept through it all. So this is really going to be fun and I’m excited.

Laura Birek: We haven’t gotten our tree yet, because we usually go right after Thanksgiving too, because Corey loves Christmas, loves it and wants to decorate ASAP and get a real tree and all that stuff.

Shanna Micko: Awesome. Same.

Laura Birek: But we were stuck in Fresno and then he had to go back to work right away, so we were kind of stuck. We have to go get a tree and it’s harder when you have a baby. 

It used to be like, whoa, we’ll just go whenever. It’s like, okay. Between nap times.

Shanna Micko: Oh, yeah. Definitely.

Laura Birek: We’ll probably end up having to get it in the dark somewhere. I will say I do feel prepared though, because someone was like, “You have to make sure you get the ornaments that are break proof,” and I was like, “Girl, I got those years ago, because I have cats.”

Shanna Micko: Oh, good. You are ready.

Laura Birek: Cats do prepare you in some ways for having a baby.

Shanna Micko: The whole feeding them, keeping them alive, getting the unbreakable Christmas ornaments. That whole thing. But yeah, I do need to come up with a way to baby proof my tree, because we do have a lot of breakable ornaments. I figure I’ll just put them higher up and maybe put one of my spare gates around the tree or something.

Laura Birek: That’s another thing that cat owners do. See?

Shanna Micko: Oh, yeah.

Laura Birek: We’re way ahead of the game.

Shanna Micko: You are. Good for you, guys.

Laura Birek: My cats are actually pretty good. They only bat at the ornaments and maybe they’ll get the lowest ones off, but they don’t try to climb the tree, thank God. You hear about cats who try to do that and I’m like, oh God. Can’t have nice things.

Shanna Micko: No, anyway. So that’s us. Should we take a break and come back with our special segment?

Laura Birek: Let’s do it.

[Music]

Laura Birek: We are back. So our special segment this week is Our Big Topic and the big topic is 2019.

Shanna Micko: Woo-woo.

Laura Birek: Woo. So we obviously just talked a lot about Thanksgiving, but we release on a little bit of delay and this episode is going to be released the week of New Year’s.

Shanna Micko: Right.

Laura Birek: So we want to do a little introspection. We want to look back on 2019 and we decided that we are going to ask each other some questions. Shanna found this blog post called 20 Questions for New Year’s Eve and it’s from the artofsimple.net. Looks like a very cool little blog and we’re just going to ask each other questions and do a little soul searching. Do a little look back.

Shanna Micko: Listeners, answer these questions for yourself as you hear them. Join the conversation and also, you can always reach out and let us know your answers too, but we’ll give you that info later.

Laura Birek: Yes, yes. Okay. Do you want me to start?

Shanna Micko: Sure.

Laura Birek: Shanna, I’m going to start with the first question on the list. We’re not going to do all 20 questions. Don’t worry, listeners. They’re like, oh my God, this episode is going to be five hours long. So the first question though I think is a good one, is what was the single best thing that happened this past year, Shanna?

Shanna Micko: That’s a tricky one for me, because CeCe was technically born in 2018.

Laura Birek: Yes, she was.

Shanna Micko: So I can’t count that.

Laura Birek: Nope. The single best thing: starting Zoloft.

Laura Birek: That’s good. Honesty.

Shanna Micko: Oh, yeah. Well, that’s out there now.

Laura Birek: Yay.

Shanna Micko: Yay. I think I talked about a lot of some of the anxiety I had in the beginning of CeCe’s life and I had a panic attack in the grocery store and I didn’t know what was happening. So I finally got to the point where I was like, I think I need a little help with this and so I went to the doctor and I was diagnosed with postpartum anxiety and depression and it has gotten so much better. I’ve been seeing a therapist. I started some medication. We’re managing that closely and I just feel like my old self again.

Laura Birek: That’s so great, Shanna.

Shanna Micko: It’s so great. It’s amazing. I’m not having panic attacks, I’m not paranoid as I walk down the street with my baby. I’m sleeping better at night and I’m not saying antidepressants or Zoloft is the answer for everyone who’s struggling with this kind of thing. I know there are different ways to cope, but for me personally, this has been a lifesaver. 

I feel like it’s just made me appreciate my family and my kids more and helped me be a better mother, because I really was struggling quite a bit, even if I didn’t let on a lot on the podcast. I think I definitely talked a lot about some of the anxieties and worries I was having.

Laura Birek: I can tell a big difference in you.

Shanna Micko: Really?

Laura Birek: Definitely. If only in sort of our interactions like working on the podcast behind the scenes, when to schedule and that sort of thing, I was actually a little worried for a while, because you were so stressed out. I remember you being like, “We need to record,” and being like so frazzled and blah and then I definitely saw a difference. That’s like a concrete thing, but I can definitely tell that you’re back to your light self. The weight has lifted.

Shanna Micko: Totally. One of the biggest symptoms I had with that was this constant feeling of not being able to focus.

Laura Birek: Oh, wow.

Shanna Micko:
Granted I do have a lot of stuff going on in my life: I work from home with a baby, I have two kids, blah, blah, blah and I have a podcast. But my brain was constantly pulled in all those directions all the time. So it did feel very overwhelming and I didn’t know when I could work on the podcast, because I just couldn’t think that far in advance and that’s since cleared up and I’m just way more focused now.

Laura Birek: That’s so awesome. Well, I’m so happy for you.

Shanna Micko: Thank you so much. That’s odd. I did not know that that was going to come out as the one of the best things that happened to me this year, but there you go. Huh. What about you, Laura?

Laura Birek: The obvious answer is I had my baby and that is the single best thing that happened this year. But that’s such an easy answer. It’s like too easy. Everyone knows that one. So I’m going to just say actually that the next to having my baby, which is the biggest joy forever and ever and ever, the single best thing other than that that happened was sleep training.

Shanna Micko: Oh, that’s a good one. That worked well for you guys.

Laura Birek: It worked very well for us and it changed my life. I feel like the way you feel when you got treatment for your anxiety and depression is how I feel like going from no sleep to him sleeping through the night. I feel like a completely different person. I feel like I can take on the world now. It just completely changed my life and I know it was only five and a half months of no sleep, but five and a half months of no sleep is a lot of no sleep.

Shanna Micko: Yes, it’s hard because it’s not just no sleep. It’s no sleep plus trying to take care of a tiny baby that needs you constantly.

Laura Birek: Recovering from a surgery.

Shanna Micko: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. That too. That little thing.

Laura Birek: So I’ll say that other than the baby, that’s the single best thing that happened this year.

Shanna Micko: Good. I love it. Yay. All right. Here’s question number two. What was the single most challenging thing that happened in 2019?

Laura Birek: Honestly, how can I look past having the baby? You know what I mean? The whole year has been a challenge in that way and just to piggyback on the last one, the best thing and the most challenging thing was going through the sleep training and going through the no sleep. So that has to be it. The challenging part of motherhood for me was really the no sleep. I’m a person who loves, loves, loves sleep, and I’m a person who I think I need a little more than average. You know how they say some people can run on like six to seven hours and some people need like eight to nine. I’m the eight to nine person. So it was hard on me. It was a real rough transition. So it was really, really challenging those early months to not have any sleep. It’s real, real and nothing can really prepare you for it.

Shanna Micko: Oh my God, I’m so glad I’ve passed it.

Laura Birek: How about you? What was the single most challenging thing for you?

Shanna Micko: Obviously, dealing with postpartum depression anxiety was tricky, but the thing that really sticks out in my mind is breastfeeding. It was so damn hard in the beginning. She was not gaining weight. I was going to the doctor every couple days to weigh her and check in on her and I took that freaking medication to increase my supply and it was just so challenging and feeding and then pumping and feeding and pumping and feeding and pumping and I was just losing my mind. I really, really struggled with that and I got to say I’m proud I guess that I made it through and didn’t give up. I hate saying that, because I don’t think it really matters if you decide to give up, if it’s hard.

Laura Birek: You supplemented too. You should let people know. I’m only saying that to let people know that it’s totally okay to supplement with formula.

Shanna Micko: Right. I supplemented later though. When she was like three and a half months, I started.

Laura Birek: That’s right. Okay.

Shanna Micko: Because I just was finally ready for a break, but in the beginning I was really trying to increase my supply with all those galactagogues.

Laura Birek: Oh, the galactagogues. Yes.

Shanna Micko: Fade memories of those. So that was my biggest challenge.

Laura Birek: Okay. So I’m going to skip ahead. The next question I’m going to ask you is, it’s not a question, it’s a statement.

Shanna Micko: Oh, okay.

Laura Birek: Pick three words to describe this past year.

Shanna Micko: Whoa. Wow. It has been such a complex year. I feel like I need 60 words to describe this year.

Laura Birek: You only get three, Shanna. 

Shanna Micko: Overwhelming, magnificent and hilarious, because it’s just funny to have a three-year-old and a baby and they crack me up and I love that aspect of it. Even though it’s been challenging in a lot of ways, I’ve had a lot of laughs. My three-year-old is super goofy and does things to crack up the baby, and then she laughs. It’s super awesome. What about you?

Laura Birek: This is a hard one, especially, because you took a couple of them.

Shanna Micko: Oh, sorry. Thesaurus.com.

Laura Birek: Okay. One would be, I’m trying not to cheat and use compound words. Transformative.

Shanna Micko: Oh, that’s such a good one.

Laura Birek: Because obviously I transformed from just a single person to a mom and all that stuff. Let’s see. Exhausting.

Shanna Micko: That’s a good one too.

Laura Birek: Then it seems so trite, but I think cute, because my world is just filled with cuteness right now and the whole year my baby is just so freaking cute. It just kills. Sometimes it’s just like, oh, you’re so cute. I can’t handle it. Then the outfits are so cute and the toys are so cute and then he snuggles with the cats and that’s so cute. I would say it’s sort of overwhelmingly cute.

Shanna Micko: So much cute. Oh my God. Love it. All right. Let’s pick another one. Laura, next question. What were the best books you read this year?

Laura Birek: Ooh, I love this topic. This is my favorite topic.

Shanna Micko: Cool.

Laura Birek: I haven’t been reading as much as I have in previous years. Usually, I keep a tally of all the books I read and I think last year I read 30 something. This year I think I’m at like, maybe eight. I think all of them are audio books. So that is the caveat. So I didn’t read as much this year, but I have two books I want to talk about. One is one I actually already talked about on the podcast. It’s Burnout by the Nagoski sisters, but it’s by these twin sisters. I talked about it in episode 51. It was my BFP. It’s a book that if you look at it, you might be like, this is weird self-help. I don’t want it. It got a pink cover. It’s clearly aimed towards women, which I have deprogrammed myself. I’ve been working really hard on this, but my upbringing has programmed me to think like, eww, girly stuff is bad. Which is awful. That’s a whole thing to unpack in another time. But you know what I mean? Like, eww, it’s chicklet or whatever.

Shanna Micko: Right. It’s got to be fluffy.

Laura Birek: It must not be important. The men writing things are important. So I’m definitely trying to move away from that. But what I’m saying is, if you have that sort of internalized and you don’t even realize it and you look at this bright pink cover, you might be like, I don’t want to read that. You should read it. Every woman should read it and men, I think. But it really is focused towards women and moms especially, it’s all about how you can actually manage the stress in your life. It has this really revolutionary way of dealing with it where it recognizes that there’s a difference between stress and the stressor. Your crying baby is the stressor, but the stress is the physiological response in your body and you have to deal with that response in your body no matter what. You can stop the baby from crying, but that doesn’t make the stress in your body go away.

Shanna Micko: Right.

Laura Birek: It’s mind blowing amazing stuff. So definitely Burnout. Then the best fiction book I read this year, it’s actually in the same like, I don’t know if I want to read that, because this is girly was City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert. Elizabeth Gilbert wrote, Eat, Pray, Love, which is isn’t that the perfect example of the chicklet thing? I was the same way with Eat, Pray, Love. Like I don’t want to read that, whatever and then now I’m an Elizabeth Gilbert super fan. I think she’s so amazing. She’s an amazing writer. Her prose is just super crisp and it’s so good. I actually did convince Corey to listen to it too as an audio book. He loved it too.

Shanna Micko: Ooh, I want to check it out.

Laura Birek: You should read or listen to it. The person who does the audio book narration is really good too. So it’s a great listen. But it is 1940 in New York City in sort of rundown off Broadway theater and it’s poignant, but it’s also a really, really fun read and it’s very feminist. It’s very much like girl power. You just got to read it. It’s so great.

Shanna Micko: Okay. Cool. I will definitely check that out.

Laura Birek: Burnout and City of Girls. Those are my picks. Shanna, did you have any good books you read this year?

Shanna Micko: This is so embarrassing. I have read one book this year. One and only one.

Laura Birek: You have a lot going on. You have two kids and also that puts you ahead of a lot of America, Shanna.

Shanna Micko: Really?

Laura Birek: There’s a lot of people who read zero books. Yeah, I don’t remember what the statistic is, but a lot of America does not read a single book. So you are ahead of those.

Shanna Micko: Are those people under the age of three?

Laura Birek: I think it’s already literate Americans.

Shanna Micko: I definitely have picked up multiple books, mostly nonfiction, like how to discipline your gut, how to sleep train, all this kind of baby parenting stuff. But a month or so ago, my mom came into town and she’s like, “I read this book and I’m done with it. It’s great. Do you want it?” I was like, “Yeah, sure.” I read it and I finished it. It was so fun to read a book. I was reading before bed every night and I finished and I was like, holy shit. I don’t think I finished an actual novel in a couple years, because I’m so busy. So I did love this book. It was really fun. It’s called Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine.

Laura Birek: I’ve heard good things about that.

Shanna Micko: It’s by someone named Gail Honeyman and I love this character. This Eleanor Oliphant is so interesting and bizarre and you really get into her mind about the way she thinks about people. She’s kind of a loner introvert, but she has a job and she’s very separate from her coworkers and she develops this very weird crush on a musician in town that she has never met and is convinced she’s going to end up with him. It’s just a really cool, interesting character study into an odd young woman and I thought it was really fun. I would suggest that book if anyone wants to read a fun novel.

Laura Birek: I should add that to my audible cue. I have some credits to use.

Shanna Micko: Yeah.

Laura Birek: Awesome.

Shanna Micko: Yay. I’m glad I got to talk about the one book I read this year. I feel a little proud of myself.

Laura Birek: I love reading before bed. I need to start doing that, because I find myself scrolling.

Shanna Micko: Yes, it’s much better than scrolling I’ve discovered.

Laura Birek: Much better for your mental health. Shanna, do you want to take a break and then come back with a few more questions and our BFPs and BFNs?

Shanna Micko: I do. I love answering questions about myself, so yes. Let’s do it.

Laura Birek: Okay.

[Music]

Laura Birek: We’re back. We have a few more of our 20 questions, not actually 20 questions for New Year’s Eve. Little self-reflection going on. I have a question for Shanna, which is, what was your single biggest time waster in your life this past year?

Shanna Micko: Oh gosh. I would have to say looking around on Facebook. I’m in some moms groups, which are fun and can be valuable, but also it’s that kind of thing where if I just have a few extra minutes and I don’t really know what to do with myself, I pick up my phone and just scroll around and read other people’s problems. I don’t think it adds that much value to my life. I’m not a huge participator in the conversations, so it’s not like I’m gaining a lot of friendships by doing these particular mom groups. I’m not talking about our group, our Big Fat Positive community, because I love our community and our community is so nice.

Laura Birek: Our community is so great, oh my gosh.

Shanna Micko: I feel different about that. This one’s like more people and a lot of people seem to really know each other and I just don’t chime in a lot, because I feel like that would eat even more time if I thoughtfully contributed to every single thread. But yeah, I’ve noticed that my iPhone gives me a tally of my average daily use of my phone.

Laura Birek: Girl, I turned that off years ago. A month after they introduced that feature, I was like, nope. Don’t want to know.

Shanna Micko: I found it interesting and it’s got up to like three to four hours a day and I’m just like, what?

Laura Birek: Wow.

Shanna Micko: I don’t even understand. Sometimes I think it counts when it pops up for notifications or something, because I’m not really spending that much time on Facebook. But it did go down when I was reading that Eleanor Oliphant book, because I wasn’t on my phone so much.

Laura Birek: I know.

Shanna Micko: I was reading, so that was cool. What about you?

Laura Birek: Same. I just spent way, way too much time on Facebook. There’s something soothing about it but also infuriating. This has actually been a pretty recent revelation that it’s not helping me. You know what I mean? I know probably a million people could have told me that already, but the endless scrolling has been starting to feel kind of empty lately. I definitely really enjoy some of the moms groups I’m in that are helpful. But I need to find a way to pair back, because it’s just my default now. I’ll bring my phone out and I’ll find myself clicking on the icon even if I have nothing going on and I don’t know if it’s because I turned off notifications a long time ago, but I’m always like, shoot, should I see if someone responded to that comment? Instead of I should be able to like only check it every once in a while, so I need to pair back on that. But not to piggyback on yours is either definitely Facebook, but it’s also like HGTV is probably my second biggest time waster.

Shanna Micko: I was going to mention TV too. I’ve really gotten into like baking shows, but I really love those and it helps me relax. I feel like it’s better than empty Facebook groups.

Laura Birek: See, I don’t want to say all TV because it’s not. My husband’s a TV writer. We write for TV. I think of it as research and also, I like it. I want to watch it and we’re in peak TV, right? Like the golden age of television.

Shanna Micko: So much good stuff.

Laura Birek: So not all TV. Just specifically HGTV. I don’t know what happens when you buy a house. 

It’s like something happens and you’re suddenly interested in HGTV. That’s what happened to me and I’ll just watch like fucking Property Brothers back to back.

Shanna Micko: Oh God, Property Brothers.

Laura Birek: I love them. I finally know which one’s which. I feel accomplished.

Shanna Micko: Wow. Laura, that’s good. Is that your answer to number nine? Your biggest accomplishment of 2019?

Laura Birek: Yes, Drew is the realtor and Jonathan is the builder.

Shanna Micko: Got it. Mental note made. All right, Laura, let’s do one more and wrap this up.

Laura Birek: Okay.

Shanna Micko: What was the biggest thing you learned this past year?

Laura Birek: Oh, wow. Well, there’s so much. Having a baby is just like constant learning.

Shanna Micko: I know, right?

Laura Birek: It’s really hard to narrow it down. I think maybe something that I definitely didn’t really understand until I actually went through the process of having a baby and raising this baby was, I learned that your baby is going to do what they’re going to do at their own pace and has their own personality and you don’t have a lot to do with it.

Shanna Micko: It’s true.

Laura Birek: Because you sort of think like, this little moldable thing. I feel like my mom kind of put a lot of pressure on you, like, “Well, you were an early talker and an early walker and all that stuff.” I had to cut that out of my head because I realized like, you know what? He’s going to walk when he walks. He’s going to talk when he talks. He’s going to roll over when he rolls over. You’re adrift at the beginning with a baby, so you tend to hang onto these milestones thinking they’ll sort of anchor you and it can be frustrating if you’re like, where’s the first smile? Where’s the first smile? Then you’re like, where’s the roll? Where’s the rollover? He needs the rollover. To just like chill out about those things is something that I think I’ve learned this year is that he’s going to do things at his pace and he has his personality that’s going to help dictate that. You know what I mean?

Shanna Micko: Yeah.

Laura Birek: My job is to sort of support him but not force him into anything.

Shanna Micko: I love that. That’s so great that you realize that in the first year of his life, because it is hard to get that perspective. 

I feel like now that I have almost a four-year-old, I realize that all of those milestones when she was a baby just don’t matter anymore. She’s this big kid now and we get so hooked on those milestones, especially when you’re comparing to other babies that they’re playing with and stuff. I was really in that tunnel vision when Elle was a baby and that time all passes and they grow up and you forget about all of it and so now that’s helped me be more relaxed with my second baby. So I think it’s cool that you realize that now first time around, so that’s awesome.

Laura Birek: Well, I realized it. I may not emotionally embrace it all the time. My mom will come over and she’d be like, “I thought you’d be walking by now,” and I’ll be like, “Chill out.”

Shanna Micko: Come on.

Laura Birek: No, I definitely know it and I’m trying to embrace it and let him be him.

Shanna Micko: I love it.

Laura Birek: How about you, Shanna? What is the biggest thing you learned this past year?

Shanna Micko: I think the biggest thing I’ve learned this year is that taking care of myself is actually really important.

Laura Birek: Wow.

Shanna Micko: I’m still not totally great at it and along with that comes asking for help. I don’t like asking for help. I like feeling I can do everything on my own and that method got the best of me this year with two kids and working and everything. I suffered for that and finally just got pushed to the point where I needed to be humble and ask for help and I reached out to a doctor, getting better at reaching out and asking even Steve to help give me a break here and there and people in my life. So that has helped me tremendously be a better mom and a better person and a happier person and it’s not easy, because sometimes you’re like, taking care of yourself means getting a pedicure, going to the spa and I’m just like, I don’t have time or money for all that stuff.

Laura Birek: Sure.

Shanna Micko: But it’s not also about that relaxed time. It’s about making sure you feel good and you’re taken care of too.

Laura Birek: That Burnout book actually talks a lot about this. They talk about this myth that self-care is like a spa day. It can be a spa day, but it can also be going to the therapist or it can also be hiring a babysitter or it can be stuff that you don’t want to do, like going for a run. There’s all kinds of ways to actually take care of yourself and I think it’s awesome that you are recognizing that you need to do that. I need to be a little better at that too. It’s hard to ask for help. I feel like we are both sort of very go-getter independent ladies who take care of our own business and it’s just out of my comfort zone to be like, I need help. Somebody help me.

Shanna Micko: Even asking Steve, “Hey, can you put Elle to bed tonight even though it’s my night?” Because we alternate. It can be hard sometimes, because I feel guilty. Oh, well, he needs a break so I should just put her to bed even though I’m exhausted and I’ve been parenting for 15 hours already today and I get all wound up in my head with guilt and blah, blah, blah, blah. It’s like, just ask for a little help and that little bit of relief can be huge sometimes.

Laura Birek: Good for you, Shanna.

Shanna Micko: Thank you. 2019 was an amazing year. All in all, I think it was.

Laura Birek: It really was. Yes, transformative like I said. Just a completely new me in this year. So I’m very interested to see what 2020 brings.

Shanna Micko: Me too.

Laura Birek: Plus I’m going to make a bunch of stupid 2020 puns, like about 2020 vision.

Shanna Micko: Is that your New Year’s resolution?

Laura Birek: Yeah, as many puns as possible.

Shanna Micko: Okay. That’s doable. Should we move on to our BFPs and BFNs?

Laura Birek: Yeah, let’s do it.

[Music]

Shanna Micko: So we wrap it up with our weekly BFPs and BFNs: our highs are lows for the week. Laura, what do you have for us?

Laura Birek: I have a BFN. Ooh, negative, which is glowing electronics.

Shanna Micko: Oh, okay. Elaborate.

Laura Birek: Dad, I know you listen to this podcast. Hi, dad. I love you.

Shanna Micko: Hi, Laura’s dad.

Laura Birek: Hi, dad. So this is nothing against you. Please, please, please don’t be worried about this. But my dad’s house is very smart. If you remember, we were there for the week and he has smart gadgets everywhere and he has not only like nest thermostats but nest carbon monoxide and smoke detectors in every room and fancy modems and all this stuff. So the baby was sleeping in the room where the modem was and it’s like the TV room. Glowing electronics are not a big deal if you a), don’t sleep in that room and b), don’t have a baby that you’re carefully calibrated to perfect dark sleeping, because you want him to sleep.

Shanna Micko: Pitch dark.

Laura Birek: I realized as I was putting the baby down the first night that the modem that my dad has, which is like a super cool fancy modem, it’s like a big cube with a glowing blue ring inside. I want to say like three or four inches across and I was like, no, no, no. No, no, no. This is not going to do. This isn’t something you can just put some electrical tape over. So I had to figure out a way to fit a box over it, but then I discovered that those really cool nest carbon monoxide and smoke detectors also have a feature which would be really good if you’re an adult who needs to get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, which is when it detects movement, it starts glowing a little to give you a little light.

Shanna Micko: That’s cool.

Laura Birek: It’s not good if you have a baby who is fussing and you go in to check on them and do a pop in.

Shanna Micko: That’s annoying.

Laura Birek: I love technology. You know I love my nest cams, I love my Owlet monitor, I love all these things. But the glowing lights are the devil.

Shanna Micko: That’s so annoying.

Laura Birek: I don’t think that was the reason the baby couldn’t sleep. I don’t think it helped. 

I think by the last night I had figured out ways to mostly shield him from the glowing lights. But yeah, it’s not something I’m used to. I’m now used to sleeping in a dark cave, because we’ve blacked everything out.

Shanna Micko: It can be very annoying. In Elle’s room, she has the Verizon modem. The internet thing for some reason was plugged into her room and it’s got a big glowing light and we’ve always tried to deal with it and yeah, like you said, it’s not easy to just put a little tape over, because it is so bright it glows through it. So we finally figured out that if we get one of those circular, thick felt pads that you had put on the bottom of chair legs so they slide across the floor.

Laura Birek: Furniture pads or whatever they put them.

Shanna Micko: Yeah, it’s a quarter to a half inch thick. We took one of those and plopped it on there and it was finally something thick enough to just stick on and seal the light.

Laura Birek: Amazing.

Shanna Micko: So there’s a hack for you.

Laura Birek: In my baby’s room, the Owlet does glow. It has like a bright version and a dim version and the dim version’s pretty dim. But once your eyes get adjusted, it glows green to tell you it’s okay and if something’s wrong, it glows red or yellow or whatever. So I have it in one of those cube bookcases that there’s a bunch of cubes and so I figured out I have black cloth napkins that I could rig up to work as sort of like a curtain, because I have to keep going in and out. So now that’s part of our bedtime routine is like we turn on the Owlet. Now we cover up the Owlet.

Shanna Micko: Funny things you do when you’re a parent that you never thought you would do.

Laura Birek: Never. Okay, Shanna. Do you have a BFP or a BFN for us?

Shanna Micko: I have a BFN also.

Laura Birek: Oh, yay.

Shanna Micko: Yay. It’s that my baby’s in a weird phase between crawling and walking. She’s walking but not well enough to take her to the playground for example and she can play around and stuff and I don’t really want to bring her outside and have her crawl in the dirty ground and so I feel stuck in this weird limbo of let’s just stay in the house and if we do go outside, really I just like plop her in her little stroller or that push car that I have.

Laura Birek: The little pink push car.

Shanna Micko: I just want to be able to I guess take her to a playground so she can run around and play without constantly being on hands and knees.

Laura Birek: It’s just so muddy right now too.

Shanna Micko: Cold and muddy. When I did take her to the park recently, we just sat on a blanket and she just eats leaves and she got a leaf stuck in her throat and she was gagging and coughing and then threw up everywhere, because she was gagging on a leaf and I’m just like…

Laura Birek: What a fun, relaxing trip to the park.

Shanna Micko: Yes, such a great relaxing trip to the park. I’m getting wound up on my head paranoid that I’m not giving her enough outside time because of this weird in between phase and so I’m looking forward to when she walks more confidently and I’m going to take her to that playground and have some good outside time.

Laura Birek: We are in the same boat, because my baby’s crawling really well now, but he’s not anywhere close to walking quite yet. We went one day and he just got completely muddy top to bottom. He loved it, but it was like, ugh. I was like, “Aren’t you cold? It’s cold out.” Think about babies that are living in colder climates where it snows. They can’t go out. They can’t go to the park in December.

Shanna Micko: That’s an LA problem. I’m like, I can’t take my baby to the park in December.

Laura Birek: It’s 55 degrees outside, oh my God.

Shanna Micko: I bundle her up so much for these little walks we go on when it’s 55 degrees. It’s ridiculous. I know.

Laura Birek: We are soft, soft California people.

Shanna Micko: Yes, we are. So it’s a BFN that will resolve itself soon.

Laura Birek: Maybe our listeners have tips. People who live in colder climates who actually have to deal with this like for more than a couple months a year, we’d love to hear.

Shanna Micko: We would love to hear and we would love to hear any of your answers to any of our New Year’s 2019 reflection questions. So definitely reach out and share those with us. Laura, where can everyone reach us?

Laura Birek: So we’ll put a link to those questions at our website, bigfatpositivepodcast.com. You can also reach us on all the social media’s: Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook at BFP Podcast. We also have a Facebook community group. Just search for Big Fat Positive community. It’s a closed group, so you have to request to join and I will add you right away and you can join in on the awesome conversations we’re having in there. Or you can email us, [email protected].

Shanna Micko: If you love Big Fat Positive, please spread the word. If you know someone who’s pregnant or a new parent, tell them about our podcast. Big Fat Positive is produced by Laura Birek, Shanna Micko and Steve Yager. Thanks for listening, everyone. Bye.

Laura Birek: Thanks for listening. Happy New Year.

Shanna Micko: Happy New Year.

[Music]