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Sunday, July 29, 2012

step to it - week 3

day 1
Wow. This was so easy I can't even believe I have two kids right now! I ran tonight while all dishes and laundry were done. Toys were already cleaned up. Both kids were asleep and husband was still at work. I wasn't too full from dinner. It wasn't too hot in the house. It was perfect. Sometimes we moms get lucky and have evenings like this.


day 2
I ran with 40 minutes before we were headed out to dinner with my in-laws. I had planned on running later in the evening after the kids were asleep, but then dinner plans came up and I knew we'd be out later than normal and I can't run on a full stomach... so I ignored my husband's sigh of frustration that he had to get the kids ready alone while I ran before we all headed out. But it worked. I did it and even got a shower in before heading out to dinner! Yay me, making myself a priority for once. And my husband even said he was proud of me after, so that's double yay!

day after
I stared at my post-baby belly in the mirror today after the shower and it was OK. I walked out into the kitchen to show my husband how the dark line on my stomach was now fading and how my belly button (completely distorted after two pregnancies) was even looking a little better. And I was walking around all proud, like even though my stomach is flabby and not at all what it was pre-babies, I'm actually proud of it! Running does that to me. It has nothing to do with numbers on a scale (I don't own a scale and never will, I refuse to care what the numbers say). It doesn't have anything to do with losing the baby weight or fitting into some ideal of what I "should" be like. For me, running even just a few times a week gives me CONFIDENCE. It makes me feel stronger, better, happier, awesome. So awesome that I strut my post-baby belly around in my kitchen today without a care in the world!

day 3
This running thing is getting tougher and easier. Tougher to run longer stretches now, but easier because I'm not huffing and puffing as much. Today's run I had the baby in her bouncy seat staring at me. Every minute I'd turn toward her and huff and puff through a smile and a "hi sweetheart, see mommy run?!" She loved it! And I realized again today that the time flies by. Which makes me realize I CAN do this!

**be sure to check out this post and others at a GREAT new site
 where myself and others are featured bloggers!**

Also see the FACEBOOK group Maine (Moms RUN This Town)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

sweats = great mom, not "that" mom.

So here's the thing about wearing sweats all the time... it's pretty much OK! It's acceptable. It's understandable. It's not a weird thing or something to look down upon.
Hi, I'm Angela, and I'm a mom who wears sweats often.

Sweats: noun, baggy T-shirts (often with logos from conferences or races I've run in the past or even high school);  running shorts with draw strings, always with draw strings; tank tops (some are even maternity still, 3 months post baby - hey, they are comfy and I have not had time to do the old switch-a-roo of the maternity to regular clothes in the closet yet!); and anything else just plain comfortable.

I'll say that I'm mostly this mom who wears sweats now because I had my baby in April, which led into the warm summer months of staying home over maternity leave. The days where I spend my time nursing, pumping, changing diapers, and chasing a toddler. All of which is NOT in the least bit glamorous. I don't even need to brush my teeth if I don't want to (OK of course I WANT to, but who the hell can remember if she did that on certain days!?!?).

We are not going anywhere most days. Some days all we're doing is meeting up with other moms who experienced the same lack of shower and busy morning as I did, and who most likely will be wearing some version of yoga pants or tank tops or sweats themselves. Or I'm off to a library story hour or to the beach or the store real quick... again, who cares what I'm wearing?!

Here's the thing about saying we won't ever turn into "that mom" who wears sweats all the time and "lets herself go" and doesn't do her hair anymore. I'm totally accepting of becoming this mom. I was a casual dresser anyway pre-babies taking over my time and life. It's not a bad thing to be comfortable, ladies!
And honestly, I'm glad to be this mom on most days. The mom who didn't have time to do her nails because she was cleaning up the playdoh "cake" that she and her son made together this morning while singing "happy birthday" to nobody in particular. The mom who didn't have time to take a shower this morning because she was cooing loudly back and forth with her infant daughter who has recently learned to "talk" back to her, which led to too much time "talking" and not enough time to shower before the toddler woke up and demanded his milk sippy cup.

Being a mom who does not dress up every day doesn't mean I'm better than the moms who DO dress up. Certainly not. In fact, they are my superheroes. But being a casual dressing mom who favors comfort over fashion DOES make me the mom I am right now, the one who is just trying to figure it all out now that I'm a new mom to two children. It makes me focused on what's important right now - accepting the fact that I'll be spit up on any minute anyway so why even try wearing something nice?!

I return to work full time in a few more weeks... and what scares the hell out of me is having to pick out outfits that one, fit my post-baby body, and two, are put together, like more than a T-shirt and shorts fits together. Things that match and are nice and not wrinkled and that need accessories like jewelry and hair done and shoes other than flip flops! Yikes.

I actually DO love to dress up. It's fun really to do my hair and nails and wear makeup other than concealer under my dark tired baggy eyes. It's great to be all matching and cute and have people say "oh you look great today!" I admit that I love that feeling and it does make me feel better.

But for now, I'm M-O-M, Mom, capital M on that these days. It's who I am and what I do, all day, every day. So I need to make it easier somehow. And wearing something really comfortable and easy to slip on and off every time I get spit up on or my son splashes me with mud or water outside or when I need to nurse or pump... well, so be it. 

I'm "that mom," most dread becoming back in the single days of oh-I-know-how-to-do-it-better-than-you-moms.  Sure. But I'm also that mom I always wanted to be. The one who doesn't care what others think, who puts her kids first before everything else, and the one who PLAYS, a lot! I like being "that mom." I'm really OK with it. And eventually I will get dressed again, I swear. For now though, I like my gym shorts, thank you very much. 

**be sure to check out this post and others at a GREAT new site
 where myself and others are featured bloggers!**

Sunday, July 22, 2012

step to it - week 2

Week 2 of the Couch to 5k running program, post baby #2! 

day 1
I did NOT want to run tonight.
I told myself to run Monday night, but was way too tired after work so instead watched TV and ate a Smores from the microwave with my husband on the couch Then yesterday I planned on running, but we thought my dad's property got hit by lightning (it wasn't, false alarm) so I was all worried pacing around the house cleaning instead of just strapping on the sports bra and stepping it out.

And tonight's excuses? Well, let's see, in no particular order - too damn tired after working all day, I have no clean nursing tank tops so desperately need to do laundry, so freaking tired, I'm hungry and just want a bowl of cereal, yawn, Pinterest looks like more fun right now, and oh yeah, did I mention I'm sooo tired and just want to veg out on the couch watching my newest obsession, The Practice?!

But it's important. To run. To get out of my own way, the baby's way, the toys and the laundry.

So I did. I just got on the treadmill and I ran. And like it always goes, I was half-way through before I even realized I'd been doing it very long. And then my running time was over and I was completely into my MTV 16 and Pregnant episode (yup, sorry to admit but I love that show. I call it my research for how to work with kids at my job as a school counselor!) and didn't want to stop.

Lesson learned: Ignore the excuses in my head and in the kitchen sink and in the bucket waiting to be folded. They are always going to be there. They're not as powerful as I am when I get off my butt and just START RUNNING.

day 2
I ran last night and then I ran this morning, go team go! I usually like to skip a day in between, but all those formerly mentioned excuses earlier this week means I needed to double book myself here. I will skip the craziness of details about how it took me 24 minutes - yes I timed it - to get me and 2 kids out of the house so I could start running.

So let's fast forward to when I'm actually hitting feet to pavement... and the two times I had to stop to give my son his cup of water, two times he needed help getting his hat that he let fall on the ground, five times I had to shush my daughter and give her the pacifier again because she was having a hard time falling asleep, the three times I started singing "You are my sunshine" through huffing and puffing just to help my daughter fall asleep, the two times I had to drink some water myself so then my son wanted his water two more times... and that's all I can remember right now in the 30 minutes we were gone...

BUT. I did it! I. DID. IT. I ran. Again. With two kids. Super Runner Mom, that's me.

day 3
Oh this was a hilarious one. This is the one I almost quit, threw in the towel and said hell no to this running program. This run today made me remember just why I waited until my son was a year old before trying this process the first time around. Now that I started it when my daughter turned 3 months old, well that's just crazy now!

I wanted to run outside but my daughter had just eaten and throws up easily so can't be bounced or lying around in a jogger. So inside on the treadmill it was. I thought I was good to go since my husband was home and my son was hanging with him, daughter was sleepy in her bouncy chair. So I put the treadmill on. Well, then just as I stepped onto it my daughter fussed so I went to change her diaper. Unbeknownst to me my son was no longer with his father but instead sneaked onto the treadmill... pressed some buttons... and was on his way! He screamed, I screamed, I jumped and put the baby down quickly, and my son's face was scared and excited all in one, and I grabbed him off the treadmill before he started running himself. My husband came running downstairs, both of us blaming the other for this mishap, and me secretly thinking, "yup, my running days are over, I cannot do this."

After calming my son down (he was fine, just scared more than anything) I shushed the baby to sleep for 10 minutes before resuming my position on the treadmill. Halfway through my son came in to "check mama." After huffing and puffing a convincing reason for him to leave the room ("Wow, go see what Dad's doing! So cool, go see!") he left me to my solo adventure that was not feeling so solo at the moment.

But I did it. Again. With two kids. I did it.

I'm realizing that my timing is terrible with running these days. And yet I can't do anything about it. I refuse to wake at 4 - the time I'd have to get up in order to have the house to myself to run. And I end up running late at night after kids are asleep most days anyway so nothing I can do there. I do it when I can... and sometimes my only option for when I can run is when kids are around. So I take that chance, as annoying as it turns out to be, I take it. Because I need to. I need to run. So be it.

Another crazy week of running DONE! I think I survived. Barely.

**be sure to check out this post and others at a GREAT new site
 where myself and others are featured bloggers!**

Also see the FACEBOOK group Maine (Moms RUN This Town)

Friday, July 13, 2012

step to it - week 1

This will be a 10-part series on how I stepped back into shape post-pregnancy and delivery of #2. Stay tuned for weekly updates. Hope this inspires you to get off the couch yourself every once in a while, or at least makes you laugh at how I'm going about it! 

day 1
Today I started running again.
Man what a great feeling. Feet to pavement, well to the treadmill this time because it was too damn hot outside to run and the baby was asleep and I didn't want to disturb her. Still, a great feeling.

To realize that your body still works. That is an incredible thing after being pregnant, gaining the pounds, not running for almost a year because whenever you tried to do more than walk or move on the elliptical machine when you were huge and wobbly and off balance, you didn't feel energized or ready to run, you felt well, huge and wobbly. Now, knowing that knees bend and feet arch and legs stretch and stomachs can suck in and everything just WORKS, that feels amazing.

It was only a few weeks ago that I could not bend at the stomach because of my C-section incisions. I could not bend down to pull up my own underwear in the hospital, needed my husband to help take a shower, could not get out of bed without flinching. Yet I ran today. It all worked again! Crazy!

Of course it doesn't work all the same way as it did when I was in 5k shape the last time around. But hey, we'll get there again, no worries.

So there I was, armed with my Teen Mom MTV shows on the lap top (cannot run on the treadmill staring at the wall, need something cool to pass the time). Started the Couch to 5k program for the second time. I started it a year after my first son was born in preparation for my first race. It was the best thing I'd ever done for myself. Now back at it, 3 months after my daughter was born. I recovered from a C-section for 8 weeks, then started walking then when I had the OK from the doc. I gave myself until 12 weeks to start running again, and even as I planned that I told myself I'd only start if I felt "ready." I am a big proponent of listening to your body instead of what others say or do.

Well, I was ready. I'm so ready. I can't wait to get back into running shape. Running is my escape, my sanity and my power. It's my control and way of life. It's how I function really. It's the best thing I have found to make me a better mom and wife and person.

Today was good. Even if I didn't get the laundry done in order to run. It was still good. Laundry can wait.

(there I am stepping out for my first walk with the baby, post-surgery!)

day after
Typed "Maine 5k races" into Google today. A whole lot came up. I moved ahead a few months and found a few cool ones in September I could be ready for. It's good to have an end in mind, a goal to set my sights on. I'm a little early into this game to be looking toward the end, but hey, goals are good. Not quite ready to sign up for one yet... but I know which are looking good.

Just keep running, just keep running...

day 2
I ran last night. At 8:45 p.m. When I was ready for bed, both kids were asleep and hubby was ready to sleep, too. I ran instead of sleeping. I laced up my sneakers. I rushed through washing the dishes and putting toys away, and I ignored the overflowing bucket of dirty laundry. And I ran. I watched Teen Mom while I did it, so that was fun. "It's only 20 minutes tonight," I told myself over and over to keep up the motivation I really did not have. When I saw 10 minutes on the screen of the treadmill I thought, "See, half-way there, it's not so bad." Then when I was done, I was SO excited. My first time wanting to NOT run and yet I ran. That. IS. AWESOME. Go me!

But my girls are a hurtin'! Full of milk and huge, the sports bra is not cutting it. Note to self: Ask running friends what the hell they use to keep those damn things contained when running.

day 3
I did it! I ran the three times I was supposed to this week! SO pumped right now. It's just awesome to say I did something for ME while I have two kids.

Today I was able to run in the middle of the day because my husband was home early from work and both kids were napping at the same time. It was too hot outside to run in the middle of the day though so treadmill it was. I walked past the dirty bottles in the sink, clean dishes in the strainer, beach bag that needed to be unpacked, milk that needed to be put in freezer bags, clean laundry that needed to be folded, birthday gift that needed to be wrapped, emails that needed to be replied to, and floor that needed to be swept in order to do what I needed to do. And yes, I noticed every one of those things as I walked from the kitchen to the treadmill room, thinking "I really should do those things while the kids are sleeping and I have some time." But I chose not to. I chose me instead. THAT is awesome.

I can do this. Again. 

(Post-run: baby screaming so I had to feed her while all sweaty and nasty. Shower had to wait longer than I wanted. But I ran today. So who cares. I can stink a little. It's all good!)

**be sure to check out this post and others at a GREAT new site
 where myself and others are featured bloggers!**

Also see the FACEBOOK group Maine (Moms RUN This Town)

Thursday, July 12, 2012

welcome to the club

I was in the middle of folding my fourth load of laundry tonight when I got a text message saying that my friend's first baby was born about an hour ago. A little boy, 7 lbs 5 oz and 19 inches long. Noah, they named him. As I texted her back something along the lines of "I'm so happy for you, tearing up right now, so so happy, congrats, enjoy every second..." I could not help but smile through the happy tears, thinking, wow, she's a mom. She's finally a mother, something this friend has wanted so long and now it's her turn.

As I put the Boppy cover over the pillow (it needed to be washed... spit up does that to a Boppy...) I thought of my friend, probably in recovery right now, maybe even trying to feed her baby for the first time, smiling at the little miracle that he is. I thought about how she'll be using a Boppy pillow soon enough. She'll know what a Boppy pillow is in due time and why it's so magical and amazing. Maybe even a few months ago she had no freaking clue what the hell a Boppy pillow was... and yet now she'll not only know but she'll understand.

And I thought, "welcome to the club, dear new mommy friend, welcome to the mommy club."

Isn't that how it goes? We get pregnant or even start trying to get pregnant. And then within a few months we find ourselves walking up and down the aisles of Babies-R-Us wondering what on earth a little tiny baby is going to need all this stuff for and how we're going to fit it into our home and whether we should go for practical or cute. And then we end up at our baby shower thanking everyone for the sweet, adorable gifts, and then those gifts are put away in our home in preparation for a little bundle to arrive to enjoy them. And then we're in the hospital staring at something we created and that we now are to take home and use all the baby gifts with. And it's overwhelming and exciting and scary all in one. And that is the precise moment we realize we need something, someone. We need mommies around us. We need to know we aren't alone in this overwhelming state. We need to know that somebody else has been here before and done this and survived it, and indeed raised a healthy, happy child.

So we reach out to moms. Moms of all kinds really. Our own mother, first and foremost. Then good friends who are moms, maybe a cousin or two, or that girl we used to talk to in high school/college/work but have sorta lost touch with over the years but now find a reason to be re-connected due to having survived the baby bump status. We might even find some random people on Facebook or as part of some blog group to help us out a time or two. We cling to our co-workers and old friends.

This club is the reason why we can be in line with someone at the grocery store who has a child throwing a tantrum and know what she is going through and end up talking about how our own child threw a tantrum just yesterday and it stinks but it's just a phase. Or how we can be at the playground and end up saying "How old?" and nodding to their adorable child, and before we know it we're talking about our battle scars from labor and how annoying our husbands are for not changing enough diapers. We become instant friends with these moms. Because we all get it. IT, the "it" we're going through that is mommyhood.

We join a club. THE club. The one we've dreamed of becoming a part of since we were kids really. That deep friendship that only exists among people who really get it, who know what the hell Boppy even means. It's not like we think we're cooler than those who don't have kids. It's just that we belong to this group of people now who understand this HUGE thing we are doing and going through, that's all. We love our friends outside "the club" just the same as we did when we were not part of the mommyhood either. We just need this mom thing surrounding us because being a mom is so HUGE in itself. Because in this "club," we are part of something bigger than we ever imagined came along with that plus sign on the pregnancy pee stick. And it's amazing, so helpful, and something we can't do without once we find it.

I hope all moms out there have this, this so-called "club." You need your mommy people surrounding you on this crazy journey through motherhood. You need those people you can cry to and vent to and admit being a "bad mommy" to. You need those people you can ask silly questions of, and text your baby's well visit weight check to because you are just so excited that you were able to feed your child into growing that much! You need people who can explain what the word "engorged" really means and feels like, and who you can laugh with over wearing the hospital mesh panties a bit longer than your hospital stay because they were the only comfortable thing you could find when recovering from a C-section. You need people who will nod their head in understanding when you say you can't see straight because you were up every 2 hours last night and the night before while your partner slept soundly through the baby's screams. You need somebody who doesn't think you are crazy when you say going grocery shopping for an hour alone felt as liberating as going out on a Friday night with the girls. 

We need moms. We can't survive without them. And it's a hell of a lot more fun with them by our side. So be grateful for those moms in your life. And to those of you who are brand new to this club, welcome to it. Hold on tight, it's going to be a crazy ride. But we're here for you. We've got this. Together.

**be sure to check out this post and others at a GREAT new site
 where myself and others are featured bloggers!**

Monday, July 9, 2012

book - Eat, Sleep, Poop

A fellow mommy from our Facebook group recommended this book and I'm so glad she did. It's now going to become something I give to new mommies. Such a great resource! Very realistic, straight-forward, easy to read and understand, and so knowledgeable. I learned a lot from this book, even after having two kids you'd think I knew more than I learned here. I definitely recommend this book to new parents.

Eat, Sleep, Poop - A Common Sense Guide to Your Baby's First Year by Scott W. Cohen, M.D., F.A.A.P.

Every topic you can think of is covered in this book, in depth, with real information that makes sense. I liked that there were topics explained better than any doctors or nurses explained to me with both my children in the hospital. For example, on page 33, the author explained that newborns get antibiotic eye ointment in their eyes to prevent bacteria that may have gotten in their eyes through the birth canal to prevent blindness and eye infections. Never knew that was why they put the ointment in the eyes. Nice to know!

Some great info from the book:

Vitamin K shot - I learned in this book that the reason newborns are given this shot is because all babies are born deficient in vitamin K. This vitamin helps blood to clot so it's very important. "Without a vitamin K injection, there is an increased risk of an infant spontaneously bleeding anywhere in her body, even the brain," the author wrote on page 35.

Eyesight at birth - Babies have 20/200 - 20/800 vision at birth and can see six to twelve inches, according to the author on page 50.

Baby girls - may have red or blood in their urine and diapers the first week or so after birth due to hormonal changes from the mother. It's normal.

Why babies hiccup- They hiccup often because they always swallow air. They don't bother the baby so should be left alone.

2 and 4 - His tip was that for the first two to four months babies will eat every two to four hours at two to four ounces each session.

Happy spitters - He described the difference between reflux babies and those "happy spitters," who spit up each feeding but are happy and it doesn't bother them. On page 90 he offered tips for helping a spitter - keep upright after feedings for at least 15 minutes, elevate the head in the bed, etc.

Pumping - Said the best time to pump is immediately after breastfeeding. "That's because no infant empties the breast fully, and by pumping after the feeding you are emptying the well, so to speak, and sending a signal to your brain to produce more milk," he wrote on page 97.

Milk allergy chart - On page 105 I was pretty impressed with the chart to help moms determine if their child has a milk allergy. It's easy with simple steps to determine if something else is going on.

Sleep schedules - He suggested it's never too early to start a sleep routine, even starting at two weeks old. He gave great tips on how to do this - making the bedtime routine different than any other nap time routines, baths, music, rocking, etc.

Sleeping through the night- He said when babies are 3 to 4 months old they are ready to sleep through the night. He suggested that nighttime wakings and feedings are out of comfort instead of need or hunger. He gives good tips on how to teach your baby to self-soothe in the night. Getting a baby to sleep through the night is largely dependent on your response to her waking in the night, he wrote.

Naps- Most babies take 3 naps a day for 6 months, then may go to 2 naps a day until 15-18 months old, the author wrote on page 131. Keeping the times routine every day is key.

Crying - On page 147 the author gives another great chart to find out why the baby is crying at random times to find diagnoses of congestion, fever, notifying doctor, etc. Great chapter on colic.

Tummy time - He suggests starting at 2 weeks old.

Fevers - A fever is defined as over 100.4 degrees F. The author said that the number of days - more than 3 days - that a child has a fever is more important than how high the fever is. Under two months old and anything over 100.4 degrees you should always call your doctor, the author wrote.

Rashes and illnesses - A great chapter with tons of information about common illnesses like the cold, vomiting, hand foot and mouth disease, etc. There are also some good charts describing what to do with diaper rashes and yeast infections.

Medications while breastfeeding - A great list of medications someone can take while nursing is listed in the back of the book on page 260.

OVERALL... an awesome resource! 
Definitely one to buy and keep on the shelf and to give as a baby shower gift. 

Friday, July 6, 2012

the truth about two

Parenting two children is hard. It's challenging. 
Recently I was thinking - at 3 a.m. as I was pumping - that the difference between having one child and two children is that having one is like a crazy dream. It's fun and chaotic and new and confusing. The second time around it's Bipolar City. Seriously, it's the most ups and downs I've ever experienced. It's not an entire great day and then an entire bad day. It's more like an entire great 10-minute span followed by a whole awfully challenging 10-minute span. It doesn't stop with two kids. Ever. There is always somebody waiting, something more to do.

It's literally up and down all day long. It can sort of drive you crazy at times - or at least make you sigh a whole lot and close your eyes real tight to fight back the almost tears forming and make you wish things were different for one second. Not wish away baby #2, never, ever do you think that, but wish things were different in some way - wish that your firstborn knew he was still so special to you and doesn't need to be so super jealous and acting out; wish that your husband didn't have to work so much to pay for this fiasco and instead could be here now in this second, helping to diffuse the jealous boy or the newborn screaming; wish that it was almost bed time or that the newborn would just sleep, please, just sleep! wish that one was a little older or that you were a little younger to keep up with their energy or wish that it wasn't so hot outside to make you all crabby or wish for... well, something to make it easier in this moment. 

And then all that wishing makes you feel guilty. It's not like I had this second baby to wish away her life. I love the newborn stage, in spite of its lack of sleep and full out awkwardness. When my daughter turned 3 weeks old I already felt sappy sadness at how much bigger she'd become and how I'd never have those first days again. I don't want to spend this chaotic time wishing it away or praying for bed time to come sooner, I really don't. 

But it's hard. Damn hard. And I have no shame in admitting that. I think admitting that I struggle at this new-mommy-of-two-thing makes me a stronger mom actually. It means I'm real and not living in some la la land where it's full of fairy tale endings and babies who sleep through the night at week two or toddlers who have not learned the word "no" yet.

Being real and honest doesn't mean I don't love my life. It doesn't mean I don't know how truly lucky I am, seriously I know.

There are many days I don't shower, or if I do somebody is in the bathroom asking me 10 questions I have to pop my head out every two seconds. I have to put off my walk until both kids are fed and one has had time to sit up straight for 30 minutes so she doesn't puke and after I get the stroller ready - and even then if we somehow manage to get out the door at a decent hour before the sun is way too hot outside for the kids to be out there, even then some days I have to turn around after only busting a move walking for 10 minutes instead of my preferred 45-60 because somebody is screaming and somebody else is wanting to "gooo hooomeee mommmmmyyyy!" There are plenty of nights where my husband and I can't finish a single conversation and it makes me laugh thinking we'd be on the phone for three hours at a time back in the day or drive around making things up to talk about because we'd run out of things to say. Now it's "hey can you get some milk" and "do you know what day it is?" 

(Do you see those smiles on our faces?! that's date night #1 post-baby #2's arrival! We practically ran out of here that night, unlike our first night out with #1 when I cried and we came back home like an hour later!)

It's just, well, different with two kids. 
My sister-in-law told me the difference with having a second child as a newborn is that life does not stop like it did when you brought home child #1 from the hospital. With one child you can sit and hold him all day long and rock him a while before bed and fall asleep together as a little family of three on the couch if you want. With a second child, life keeps moving. Your toddler needs a lunch made and to keep going to play dates and you can't stop washing laundry because he needs to be changed. It's just different. 

There are so many incredible things about having two kids that truly do make up for the rough moments. The smile on my baby's face when she hears my husband's voice at night, and how my son lights up a room with his laugh at how silly mom and dad are at the dinner table.Or how everyone says my daughter looks like me. After two years of hearing my son only looks like his father, this is nice, very nice. The way my son runs to the bathroom to get his potty chair that he also uses as a stool so he can put it next to me in order to see better when I'm changing his sister's diaper and he coos to her in his little baby voice, "Hi baby Addisyn, hiiii, it's O here, O's here, hold my hand..." Or when in the backseat the newborn is screaming and my two-year-old reaches over to touch the edge of her car seat and says to me, "I help baby Addisyn, mama, I help," then turns to his sister and says, "O here, don't worry, O here," as in Owen is here, your brother, I'm right here with you. Those moments make it worth it, for sure. They make me cry in fact, all the time. 

Because this is it, really. This is the reason why we had a second baby, isn't it? To have a sibling for our firstborn. To make his life better - even if it's not right this moment when his sister is  needy with all those feedings. We wanted something special for him, something he'd get with nobody else, not even his best buddy he's known since the day he was born or his cousins who he adores. We both come from having three siblings each, all of whom we are very close to now. We wanted that for our son. We wanted another child to share our chaotic life with, someone else who would make us see things in a different way than we saw with our son or when we were just the two of us living in this what seemed like big house then but is now oh-so-crammed full of toys.

We knew it would be hard. We knew it would be such an adjustment adding another member to our family. Was I prepared for this? Yes, mostly. The part I was not comprehending before though was how all the time goes out the window with a second baby around. Literally every single second of the day somebody needs me for something. Always. Nothing is ever finished, always something more to do. Of course it's all relative and it's all based on what we know at a particular time. I don't judge those in the single-kid families boat. It's all hard and challenging and new to them, too. I don't miss that stage of parenting either, the place of having one kid where you are sooo confused on everything and where you think that drool at age 3 months means teething - when really the teeth did not show up until 13 months. I don't wish those moments back. I like that now with my second one I'm more confident and I have half a clue what the hell I'm doing. That's definitely a benefit of the second time around.

And no matter how confident you are there are still "those days." Yesterday was one of those bipolar days I mentioned above. My son woke up happy, smiling, in a great mood. Then I picked up the baby to feed her and he was throwing things around the living room and trying to sit in the baby's car seat again. We get outside and he's happy, and within 10 minutes of walking (took us 45 minutes to prepare to go for a walk...) my son is yelling that he "no like walk" and wants to "goooo hooommmeee" and my newborn has just fallen asleep but will wake the second we stop walking. Awesome. And then we get inside and my son is giving me a hug, thanking me for taking him on a walk today. Great, because we just cut it short because you hated it, but whatever, you split personality toddler. 
          And then later we get into the car - a huge success in itself when you have two, the whole let's pack up and get into a car all in one piece game - and everybody is happy, we have music on and sun shining and I think it's all great. Until we get 10 minutes to where we're going and baby is screaming because she finally pooped and son is yelling at his sister "no cry baby! no! no cry!" which only makes the baby, well, cry. 
          We get where we're going, have a great time, until I have to feed the baby and my son starts to throw his shoes and run all over the place - on nasty pavement in public and I can't do much about it holding an infant who easily spits up if I jostle her. Deal with that scenario somehow, and off we go again. 
          We find a ride-on toy that you put quarters in and my son is happier than I've seen him in a long time, which makes me feel guilty, like I need to do things like this more often with just him so he knows he's still our special boy. He's screaming with delight at this ride-on toy, telling me, "excited mommy! excited!" with a huge grin on his face, that literally makes me tear up, thinking, "See, he's not so bad, this toddler phase is OK. We are OK." Both kids fall asleep in the car on the way home and I again think, "I can do this, it's all OK." 
          Get in the house and baby has woken up and is screaming her head off wanting to eat, and toddler is now awake from the car wondering why he has to go into bed now, giving me attitude. And I think, "I can't do this. What do I do? When is my husband coming home?! I need a break!" This is the moment where I want to call anyone I know who is considering "trying again" for a second one and shake them into waiting just a tiny bit longer so they know what they are in for. And even that makes no sense and I'd never do it. Insert the ups and downs model here. 

At the end of the day my son says out of no where to me, "Had a good day today mommy. Good day. Excited," and wraps his little arms around my neck. I tell him I love him and he says his famous combination of "thank you" and "love you" all in one word that he learned about a year ago and still has not perfected into making them two words yet. Something I adore about him. A thing that reminds me despite all of his toddler tantrums he truly is my little boy in there, just a whole lot taller and with way more attitude than he showed when he was small enough to sit in the Bumbo. 

And of course I think, it's all worth it. So what if I can only shower late at night, or if my husband and I never get a warm meal or a full sentence out again? It's OK that about 20 times a day I literally can feel the gray hairs starting to grow in my head because I'm so frustrated I could cry. It's going to be fine. 

We are going to manage our way through this challenging time, and we will adjust somehow to something new, something greater, something different. Because that's what this is all for, this family thing. We are here to have a good time together. And at the end of the day if we can end it by saying "that was a good day today, excited," with smiles on all of our tired faces and arms wrapped around one another, I think we must be doing something right. 

Everybody says that "the days are long but the years are short." I'm going to hang on to that one, probably for a very long time. 

Monday, July 2, 2012

my milk story - the second time around

The First Time
So there I was, two years ago, wearing rose colored glasses, all naive and innocent, all "this is going to work perfectly and just how I plan for it to go," as I walked into the hospital to have my first baby, daydreaming about how bonded we would be after we'd successfully nursed and nourished and attached ourselves to each other.

my handsome boy Owen, minutes old!

Fast forward 5 days and my 9 lbs 3 oz baby boy was screaming and my husband was freaking out and I was desperate to make nursing work and feeling like the worst mother on the planet because it didn't work. Move on to the end of day 5 in the hospital when the doctor discharged me yet said my son had to stay another night because he had lost too much weight due to not getting enough food. Awesome. Score one for Mom of the Year.

Move forward 12 months from there to find me successfully pumping my last session, after pumping every 2 to 4 hours for an entire year, having supplemented with formula in the first and last months, having nursed only a week.

You can read my full story of my first time attempting to nurse, pump, etc. at this link

Nursing did not work with my first child. At all. I had cracked and bleeding nipples that hurt in the shower and when I wore a bra and pretty much all the time for weeks. My son was tongue tied. I was barely sleeping, feeling pressured to breastfeed, and my son was literally starving.

Pumping worked. It was just something I did and was really proud of. End of story. A happy ending at that. My son was super healthy and happy and growing. I did my job and I did it well - without nursing, with formula and pumping breastmilk into a bottle.

Preparing for #2
One of the first things I thought about and planned for when I found out I was having a second child was the feeding situation. I recalled how awful it started in the hospital with my son and nursing. I did not want to repeat that situation again. So I got books from the library about breastfeeding, just as a refresher course. I talked to my husband at length about our differences in opinions and how things went wrong back with our first child and feeding him (He saw a baby who needed to eat and who nursing was not working for, therefore feed him formula until things are working, end of story. I got all emotional and hormonal and guilt-ridden so could not act rationally.). I told him my new plan. He agreed it was perfect and would support me with whatever.

My mind opened more going into the second baby and feeding it. I was ready and prepared to take on lactation consultants and refused to be pressured or bullied into nursing again.

The New Plan 
The new plan was to do all of the above. When people asked me whether I was going to try nursing again ("it could be totally different this time with your second child, you never know.") or if I intended to pump exclusively like before ("that's so much work, are you sure you can do that with two kids?"), I said we were doing all of the above and whatever works.

I planned to try nursing in the hospital, but I already knew from the get-go that even if my child nursed like a champ I did not want to be a strictly breastfeeding mom. I knew I was not comfortable nursing in front of people, and I thought it took too long to nurse versus use bottles, and it was important to me to have my husband in on the bonding and feeding action so using bottles would help with that. I planned to pump often, starting the second day in the hospital. I planned to use formula in the hospital too if we saw our baby was not gaining weight or was screaming so loudly like our son did due to not getting enough food.

I planned to advocate for what I wanted and tell the lactation people thanks but no thanks, all set, I've got this covered.

The Second Time Around 
So how did it all turn out? AMAZING actually! Could not have been better.

With our second baby, a girl Addisyn, I was ready and empowered and not naive like I was the first time. Even when the pressure started the minute we got into the hospital - literally - when the nurse who was hooking me up to monitors introduced me to the lactation consultant who was on duty to be in the C-section delivery room with me in order to help me in starting skin-to-skin immediately and trying to nurse right away. I did not flinch or waiver. I repeated in my head over and over, "do not let them bully you, you can do what you want, it's your baby." Literally within 10 minutes of being there they were asking how we intended to feed our baby, breast is best you know, skin-to-skin is so important, etc. All things I've heard a thousand times before - and do not dispute, just for the record.

I matter of factly told them my plan - "all of the above" - nurse and pump and formula if needed. They did a sideways glance toward each other, and again repeated how best breast really is and how they were there to help me through it.

They asked what I did with my first child. When I told them I'd pumped for an entire year they were shocked, said they'd never heard of anyone doing that, how incredible. It made me feel so empowered, like, see I can still provide my child breastmilk, so back off, I've got this!

I have to admit the lactation lady and nurse were super nice and just trying to help me, no shame in that. But sometimes there is helping and then other times there is pushing too hard.

Fast forward about a half hour and we were in the surgery room. My baby girl was born and the nurse and lactation lady helped me put her to my chest almost immediately. That was INCREDIBLE. It was the most amazing thing in the world, especially considering with my son I was not allowed to do skin-to-skin or try nursing until at least an hour later. I could not even really hold him until an hour later. So this was amazing, and all thanks to the nurse and lactation woman.

It's working! ? ! ?
Within 5 minutes of putting my baby to my chest she was rooting and started nursing. It was incredible. I had heard about this and seen it on the video in the Breastfeeding 101 class I'd taken with my first pregnancy, but it had never happened like this with my first child. I was mesmerized. It was working!

After about an hour of some skin-to-skin in the surgery room while they patched me back together, we moved into the recovery room. Our family was outside the room waiting to see our baby girl and we were excited to have them come in. I felt pretty pressured at this point by the lactation lady and nurse. They said that it was fine to have family come in but baby needed to be on me for skin-to-skin. They put her to me, naked and me naked on the chest. They covered her up entirely so you could barely see her head and said, OK sure bring in the family. I looked at my husband for help, after I'd already said twice that I really wanted to dress myself and wrap the baby in a blanket so family could see her now for just a few minutes, not stay long, as I knew I needed to rest immediately after surgery and of course I wanted to hold my daughter longer. But it was really important to us to have our family come in right away, even for a few moments.

The women looked at each other like "this is not a good idea." My husband stepped in and asked what I wanted. I said I wanted my family to come in. He told them something along the lines of "she was bullied once before by nurses pushing the breastfeeding, I want to make sure she's comfortable." I was so proud of him and relieved that we were on the same page! They apologized and said absolutely, whatever we wanted. Our family came in for literally like 15 minutes and then baby was back skin-to-skin on me! I felt empowered, like, "we've got this, my husband and me."

Hospital stay = SUCCESS!?!?
The 4 days we were in the hospital were excellent as far as nursing went. Addisyn was a champion eater. Everyone told me so. She had a latch and sucking notion that just worked! I didn't bleed or have tremendous scabbing like I'd had with my son the week in the hospital. She knew just how to do it, so all I ended up with was one side a little bruised as they called it, but even that went away within a week of being home and wasn't terrible.

When my milk had not come in yet and my breasts were pretty engorged, making it tough for my daughter to latch quickly (just the size I think wasn't working for her), I started pumping (by day two like I'd said prior to her birth in my feeding plan!) for about two minutes just to get my nipples to come out and to make a few drops of milk come out so she could latch easier. This worked amazingly well! My husband I think is the one who thought of it, so proud of that guy!

A few things the nurses helped me with to aid in successful nursing: bringing her to me instead of me leaning over; using lots and lots of pillows to prop her up; switching sides every other session, but if she found one side that she latched easier on that was OK to just use that side, too; squeezing my breast like a sandwich to get her to latch more appropriately - that worked wonders; tickling her cheek and chin to get her to wake up more to eat after she'd fallen asleep while nursing; etc.

So much better this time around!
The one thing I found so helpful this time was that I was WAY more confident about what I was doing. I said what I wanted to say, did what I wanted to do, asked for help when needed and turned it away when not needed. I leaned on my husband more and on strangers or even family opinions less. I listened to my baby and to myself and did what worked for us. I think I had a sense of peace around this situation that I didn't experience with my son the first time. Everything with the feeding department with my first was stressful, chaotic, overwhelming, terrible. But with my second, it was easier, calmer, sweeter, and it WORKED.

I left the hospital with 2 ounces of pumped milk that I was super proud of, and a baby who latched great and was nursing, and the idea that yes, I think I could do this. My daughter lost the normal amount of weight in the first day like all babies do, and then kept gaining and has not stopped since. I kept asking them to weigh her every day because I wanted to make sure we avoided the situation we had with my first baby, which was he lost so much weight we had to stay an extra night in the hospital. Every night when the nurse would weigh her she'd say, "good job mommy, you're doing it, she's growing just fine!"

I was so relieved. We could go home!

Our own process.
I continued at home those first couple of weeks nursing a lot. I had one side - and still do - that was way too fast for her and each time she'd nurse on that side she'd vomit. So I would typically nurse her on one side and then pump the other side. This process had me freezing bags and bags of breastmilk from the first week. This was also something that was going better. I produced way more milk than I did with my son, and I didn't have to do it so religiously (every two hours, literally, 24/7 for 5 months at the start until I allowed myself to sleep in the night!). I could go every 2-3, sometimes 4 hours. Now I can go 6 hours and be OK (not that it feels great! I try to do it every 2-4 hours now).

By day 5, the second night at home from the hospital, we gave her a bottle of pumped milk. She was inconsolable, starving, screaming. We'd heard that scream before and we were not going to make it last. So my husband gave her a bottle of milk and she slept 7 hours that night. Crazy, I know. Since then I nurse her, give her bottles, have others give her bottles, use a pacifier - and she's great, does a great job eating, never seen anything like it. I feel very lucky that it all worked this way.

When she'd have a tough time settling down to nurse in the beginning at home because she was so hungry (from sleeping a while!) I would have to keep putting her away from the breast, up on my shoulder and shushing her and telling her to slow down, then move her back to my breast and she'd latch great. Sometimes I'd just switch sides to help her latch better. This was one trick we found that worked well for us!


I nursed more in the beginning, but then when my toddler son started coming home from school and I needed freer hands to help him, and when she turned around 3 weeks old or so I just seemed to get back into the pumping routine for some reason. I think it was partly out of habit, some out of preference for that system and routine I had and of liking knowing exactly how many ounces of milk she was eating at a time. I just started doing it again. It started with me just giving her 1-2 bottles a day, mostly at night so my husband could be part of the action and also so she'd sleep longer at night getting more from the bottle than breast.
I stopped nursing in the night early on, too, because it took twice as long as giving her a bottle did and man, we needed sleep!

Until we got to the point we are now, at 11 weeks old, and I nurse her first thing in the morning at 5-7ish and then maybe once during the day, depending on what we're doing, and then at night during her typically fussier time where she just wants to be close to me 5-7ish. The rest of the feedings are bottles.

I pretty much do what a working mom does, I think -nursing first thing in the morning, then when she gets home from work and maybe once more, but all bottles during the day. I just did it a lot sooner, during my maternity leave. It just worked for me.

Why pump at all?!
I have had several people ask me why on earth I pump if she is such a great nurser. It's not something I can explain unless you were a pumper, too. I just don't mind pumping, did it for a year with my son so you can say I'm sorta used to it by now. I have a system with pumping and it literally takes me like 10 minutes start to finish, including wash out the parts. I also REALLY like knowing how much she's getting at a time.

Also, in my personal experience my daughter nursing does not empty my breasts at all, no matter how long I leave her on there. I always feel heavy still afterward and I hate that feeling. It always makes me want to go pump. Perhaps that's because I'm used to that empty feeling from using the pump so long before. I know people say that babies nursing empties the breast more and babies take in more milk that way but I highly disagree - in my own personal experience, that's just not the case. I also like using bottles because every single time I nurse her she needs to eat sooner the next time around than she does if she has a bottle. Bottles keep her fuller longer.

So I pump.  Not always. But I do it.

But I appreciate the nursing parts!
What I love about nursing  is being close to my baby. I like how easy it is. Once early on we were out to supper and I had given her a bottle but she was tired and needed to be close to me to sleep, so I nursed her like 5 minutes and out she went. I like that when my son is running around and I have 10 things going on so no time to make a bottle I can sit and nurse her because it's there. I like that sometimes nursing is the only thing to calm her down at night when she's tired.

I feel very, very lucky that this is my nursing story. 
I feel grateful that my freezer is  full of breastmilk. That my daughter can nurse one minute and take a bottle the next, no problems at all. I like that the hospital stay was easier this time, way less stressful. I like that I felt stronger and more confident this time around. It all just worked better.

I now understand why some people can't comprehend why nursing didn't work for others. If I'd experienced my daughter breastfeeding so easily as my first time around I would have no clue why people say nursing is hard. It wasn't hard with her. I'm even more grateful now that I went through all the challenges with feeding my son the first time around because it made me better understand how difficult nursing really is. I hope those who had a baby like my daughter who was so easy to nurse really take into consideration that not all babies are like that, it is much harder for many others.

What's the plan?
So the plan now is to continue nursing and pumping and freezing breastmilk. I still have tons of cans of formula in the kitchen that I got at the doctor's office for free in case we need to supplement at any point (I had to do that the last month or so with my son when I stopped making as much). My goal is 6 months of breastmilk this time (funny how my goal the first time was a week, then to the end of maternity leave, then through the summer, etc.). 6 months is about when I go back to work, so I figure that is a good goal. However, my sights are set on a year again, but I'm not married to that idea. Having two kids means I am WAY busier and also way more realistic these days. I will be happy to get that far, but we'll see how it goes. I'm home this summer because I work in a school and there is no school right now, so my priority is feeding my daughter. Then after that when I'm working full time again and taking two kids to and from daycare and exhausted we'll see how we do. I hope it works out, but if not I will just be proud of what I've done so far.