Saturday, November 22, 2014

3 Months & 3 Stockings

...and about 3 minutes to blog. It's so challenging to find time, but I don't want to give it up!

Preston turned 3 months this week. Such a sporty little guy...

It's pretty crazy how much things can change in another month's time.
I remember when all I wanted was for him to hold his head up on his own. Such a small feat you might think, but a whole new world of possibilities opens up when babies can hold their head up unassisted.

He's now able to sit in his carrier facing outward and loves it...

He never liked his Bjorn (or any other carrier for that matter) much before, even though I have tried many. I think he has claustrophobic tendencies like his parents or something. Plus, even though it had been ages since he's breastfed, he'd start motorboating my cleavage anytime I tried to wear him towards me...even if he wasn't hungry.  It was funny to an extent, but not so productive an event for him or I. I'm thrilled he can now hang out facing the world and likes to be worn. We even vacuum the house together.

We've been doing a little special ops training in the mornings to strengthen his neck even more, and practice the art of rolling over...

Preston has also developed a love for books! Hallelujah! He showed little interest the first couple months when reading to him, but I just kept trying until he was able to focus on the images and hold his head up more to enjoy what he was looking at. All of a sudden he started really getting into story time. It's so fun to see the expressions on his face and the reactions in his developing's easy to tell which books and pictures are his favorites. He gives plenty of input himself, and I try to pause and let him talk during story time, so he knows I'm listening and involving him.

We're still on a tight budget while hubby's not working, so purchasing many toys hasn't happened. However we're slowly building our book collection however possible. The public library is limited on things his level and have very few board books, but we cleaned out their shelves this week.

I have a feeling the store Half Priced Books is going to be a popular place for us. They don't give you squat for trading in your old books, but their books for sale are pretty cheap, some on clearance for only $1. We traded in old books of ours and walked away with a small stack of few new ones for only $7! Crazy cheap!

Thankfully P has become MUCH easier to take out in public solo. Little to no screaming for diaper changes, and the weather has cooled off so he's more comfortable in his travel system. The past few times I've taken him out by myself he's been a breeze to manage. He barely mutters a peep and is quite content with car rides. He smiles whenever I go to put him in his car seat now. Lord, please let this last forever!

I've joined a few meetup groups for moms as well, and we went to our first outing together this inflatables bounce gym. Of course, he couldn't bounce, but I think it's good for both of us to get out and socialize. He ended up sleeping the whole time despite the ruckus that was going on... at least I know he can be civil if I take him out with groups now. ha!

Perhaps the best moment of the month has been decorating for Christmas. Yes, I know it's still early to be decorating, but the cold snap last weekend had us feeling festive! For the first time in years we hung stockings...and 3 of them, praise God! I had a momentary breakdown in the holiday isle when purchasing them, thinking back to the other holiday seasons, going through fertility treatments and losing pregnancies. Finally, we have 3 stockings!

One thing that sucks THE MOST when experiencing infertility is the holidays. You force yourself to decorate and give gifts. You try your best not to cry at every turn, but all you want to do is crawl into a hole and hide from the heart-wrenching stream of family cards that show up endlessly in your mailbox. I have not, for one second, forgotten about all of my sisters in infertility who are still on their journey to parenthood. Hang in there, because you will get your family eventually, and when you do it will change your entire perspective, I promise!

This is the first year in quite a while I've truly embraced Christmas and soooo much of the bitterness I had before is POOF, gone. It doesn't hurt that we now have a little help decorating...

I am just as much a bucket of tears these days, but it's for completely different reasons. Where I used to be overcome by sorrow every day, I'm now overcome with joy...and maybe still a few weird hormones left over after pregnancy? Seriously, am I going to be a hormonal mess forever? I'm going to become one of those old ladies walking around with tissues in my purse and a spare pack to hand them out in church.

Lastly, speaking of the holidays, we created a "wish list" on amazon for Preston, so that relatives who ask can see what he can use and can purchase gifts easily online. I'm noticing that practically everything runs on batteries these days. I have a few old school things like blocks and the "Farmer Says" toy, but would love any suggestions on good toys to get a baby under 1 yr. old that do not run on batteries. If you have any ideas, I'd love to hear them!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Mission to Sleep: To Crib from Rock 'n Play in 1 Day

If there's one device that moms everywhere have developed a love hate relationship with, it's probably the Rock 'n Play Sleeper. If you don't know what it is, here's a picture (complete with non-realistic well rested mom)...

Why Love? Only because it is the most versatile, portable, inexpensive, magically calming, life saving, miraculous baby device on the market! Seriously, if you are having a baby or giving a baby gift, this is THE ONE thing to have...the perfectly angled bed, the soothing vibrations at the mere touch of a button, the snuggly sides that keep baby cozied up and reassured anytime they wake themselves up with their startle reflex mid-snooze, and the fact you can tote it anywhere from bedside to shower side so you can make sure baby is safe at all times and actually get some shit done. The list goes on...

Then, why on earth Hate? This thing is like crack for babies! Unfortunately, with a 25 lb weight limit, they can't just sleep in it forever, and there's no shortage of horror stories from moms who've tried to transition their babes from RNP to crib. I don't blame these babies for rebelling when the switch is made. I mean, who wants to give up all the coziness of the RNP for a big ole empty flat boring crib?

A couple things I should state for the record. There is some controversy on if/how much you should allow your baby to sleep in a RNP. Among them, things like flat head, torticollis, and upper airway obstruction due to the inclined nature are noted by some doctors as possible risks. These are serious things to consider of course. On the other hand, the RNP is very commonly recommended by many pediatricians, especially to parents of kiddos with acid reflux, due to the exact same characteristics in design. So is it safe? My pediatrician said absolutely it's fine. In fact, she recommended not even attempting the transition from RNP to crib this early. I was shocked to hear her say that actually.

I am certainly not smarter than our pediatrician, but I will say that the bigger Preston was becoming the more I felt the urge to go ahead and transition to crib now. His feet and legs were becoming more scrunched at the end to where he was sleeping in a squat position. While this doesn't pose a risk, I didn't want him to get to used to that position. Most concerning was the fact he'd become so heavy (he's now over 15 lbs!), the support was starting to sag and I noticed his head began to slump forward during sleep more. I was having a hard time sleeping as well, because I was so worried about watching his breathing like a hawk when he was in it. It was time to make the move to crib.

And because there are so many horror stories out there about making the switch, I wanted to share our personal experience...It was not bad at all!
I really think it went smoothly because we didn't just move him into a completely different room, and throw him into a completely different "feeling" space to sleep. Some people may be able to do that with success, but I don't think our guy would have gone for it one hot minute.

Before the actual crib transition began, we moved his RNP into his nursery a month ago and kept it right next to his crib.
This way he became very familiar with his own room and the view he'd have from his crib. We used a portable mobile to hang above the RNP from time to time so that he'd get used to seeing that above his head as well. Then the time came to make the big move. So without further adieu, here's what worked for us...

1) Propped the crib up on one end using books.
This gave an inclined feel to his new sleeping space. While it wasn't quite as angled as the RNP, it definitely wasn't flat. Over time, we will remove one book at a time, so that he won't feel such a drastic transition to a completely flat mattress.

*We've already removed one book and will remove another tonight.

2) Made a "snugglenest" using a rolled up beach towel.
We placed this under the fitted crib sheet in the middle of the crib. This way, it wasn't such a big wide open space, and he still gets a cozy feel when he moves about. There are no loose blankets, so it's perfectly safe. Over time we can replicate with smaller (thinner) towels to lower the height of the snugglenest until it's taken away completely.

3) Placed a large firm throw pillow at the end of crib near feet. This way if he slid downward or kicked his feet, which he did a lot in the RNP, there would be something there to provide soft resistance instead of just crib rungs or empty space. We tied the pillow to the crib rungs firmly as well, so if he kicked, the pillow would not fall back onto him.

4) Put soothing vibration unit under crib mattress.
We took the battery powered vibration unit out of our Pack 'n Play (yet another baby sleeping device), which has only been used for diaper changes to this day and placed it under his crib mattress instead. This made the crib mattress vibrate, just like the RNP. This unit also happens to have an MP3 player you can play soft music from if you choose.

*I'm really not certain if/how much this element played a role, because the batteries were dying and after only a couple nights he went without any vibration just fine. We have now removed the vibration unit altogether...if he's fine without it, no sense in adding it back in and continuing the habit. If you're having issues transitioning, it might help, but you also might be fine without this step.

6) Placed mobile at center of crib hanging above his head. We used this mobile above his RNP prior, so it would be familiar to him.

7) Hung "baby shusher" in corner near his head. I have had more than one mom roll their eyes at me for using this thing, but I don't care. It works, both as a calming measure while mid-tantrum and also a preventative measure to prevent restlessness in the first place. It has one function and one function only. It goes "shhhhhh" to your baby at increments of 15 min & 30 min. You turn it on and it literally shushes baby to sleep for you. We had used this in the RNP prior with success, so figured we'd keep it in play in the crib. When I lay him down to sleep, I just turn the baby shusher on, lights off, and leave the room.

So, there you have it. Might seem like overkill just to get a baby into a crib. However, I would rather give him more than enough at first and then take away elements of comfort piece by piece, than to move to crib cold turkey with a not so pleasant experience for either of us.

The BEST part is that he seemed to sleep more restfully in his crib that first night than he even slept in his RNP. In fact, he is now going longer between feeds and has had a couple nights where he's only eaten twice throughout the night. It's been a week now, and he has slept as good or better in his crib every single night as compared to his sleep in the RNP.

First night sleeping in his crib! woo hoo!

We are probably still a long way from sleeping through the night entirely, but he is in his bed, in his room, and we are in our bed, in our room, on a completely different floor for the most part. It may not be perfection YET, but it's movement in the right direction!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

2 Months for the Diaper Diva!

I won't lie. Month 1 could not have gone by any slower. Being a new mom was/is hard work. However, dare I say things are actually getting a liiiitle bit easier to figure out?! The days and nights are going a tad bit smoother, and time is really starting to fly by.

I am now seeing what people mean when they say to enjoy it, because it goes by too fast! In fact, Preston turned 2 months over a week ago on the 18th, and I'm just now having a moment to blog about it. I took some 2 month shots of him, which turned out pretty cute considering I had about 3 minutes to get them before he started losing interest. He got all excited once I put down the golf tees and balls next to him, which is definitely a good sign for dad...

We're getting lots of smiles these days, and his personality is really starting to show.  I've a feeling we've got a little lady killer on our hands. I can't wait to see more of his little personality reveal itself.

Preston's 8 week check-up went really well...much better than I'd anticipated. In fact, I am the only wuss in the family apparently. The minute the nurse came in with the tiny silver tray of needles, I started tearing up and had to walk to the corner of the room while hubby stepped in to be with P. There was a really loud cry as he received the shots in his legs, but he was perfectly fine 1 minute later before we even left the office. His new wubbanub has proven to be a Godsend. The minute we got in the car he was out cold, with puppy paci in tote...

He had a very low grade temp over the following 24 hrs, but we gave him Tylenol a couple times and he slept it off fine. No horror stories or major fussiness to speak of THANKFULLY. Preston weighed 13 lbs. 3 oz at the apt (80% for growth) but is now over 14 lbs!

A week later we thought it was high time we ventured into public, although I was kind of hesitant. We're still being extremely careful about public places and strangers wanting to hover. There is just too much nonsense out there going around. A friend told me about these cool little signs that you can hang above baby to nicely say "Back the F off!" haha!

I felt better having the signage although I'm not sure we needed it. Although we made sure P was fed, changed, and happy before we left, we had 3 wet diapers with hissyfits for each in the course of 45 minutes, and he was hungry again and eating in the car by the time we called it quits. Exhausting much?

I seriously don't think I can handle taking him out in public places by myself yet, because it took both hubby and I to accomplish the mission. Hubby took him twice to change him while I bought diapers at Target. The boy does NOT like sitting in wet diapers and lets you know the minute he goes. Such a diaper diva! Apparently, he also doesn't like hand blow dryers that sound like an airplane is landing in the restroom either, as it scared the living daylights out of him and made him cry. It was also 87 degrees out, and he was sweating and uncomfortable in his carrier, poor thing.

Next time, I think we'll take his Baby Bjorn and strap him onto me instead. At least we tried though, and we were proud that we managed to hit 3 stores quickly. We were determined to say the least! Perhaps we should expose him to some new people in the comfort of our own home for now, before bombing him with so much stimulation all at once. He was so darn happy to be back home, and it was obvious.

Speaking of outings, I have a question for moms with babies who HATE wet diapers. We used to at least take walks around the neighborhood and P would sleep, but this is no longer guaranteed since he's awake more these days. What on earth do you do if you're out walking and a wet diaper occurs God forbid? We have a few little parks around our neighborhood with benches to change him on (which I've done), but if it occurs a mile away from home (which it has), I can't exactly just whip him out onto someone's front lawn and change him! So then, I am the crazy lady walking around the hood with a screaming baby. This has put a crimp in our walking plans as of late, and I'm really hoping this "Get this pee diaper off me NOW!!!" phase dies out. All suggestions are welcome if you've experienced the same thing, please and thank you!

Needless to say, we've been trying to stay as busy as possible and get outside while at home. Preston looooves being outside, especially now with a couple cooler mornings. The other day we picked roses...

He likes having his Rock n' Play outside with his toy arch attached. We sit outside and enjoy fresh air and birds chirping in the mornings...

Always guarantees some smiles...

Practicing grabbing and pulling on things...

Spending time sitting in his bumbo chair, although his fat little pork chops are already getting stuck in it when we lift him out...

He still snuggles with his favorite stuffed fox (and of course his puppy wubbanub)...

And since the pedi says he has the head control of a 4 month old (yes, a little humble brag), we are enjoying our new jumperoo too...

He loves spinning the wheel while mom or dad helps him bounce. And by the way, he's pretty smitten with his dad too...

Snuggamonkey play mat time on the daily...

And as much as P hates wet diapers, he loooves it the minute he has a new fresh one on. Immediate contentment...

Taking the cake is bath time. What was once a hit or miss event, has now earned a 100% hit rate for happy baby...

Last but certainly not least, we are enjoying plenty of extra snuggle time these days. Looking back on these pics, it's just crazy how much he's progressing and learning and growing in such a short time. I am cherishing every last snuggle that I can while he still wants to be in my arms...

It's safe to say, I'm falling more head over heels in love the sweet little man that Preston is becoming each day.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Power of a Praying Wife

When hubby and I got married, I would always hear how "marriage is hard work." I'm sure you've heard this saying too. The funny thing is that I never understood that phrase. Marriage wasn't hard work for us. I guess we were extremely lucky, because it always just worked really well without the hard part.

Maybe it's because my mom prayed my entire life that I'd meet the exact man God had chosen for me. Maybe it's because we lived together for quite some time before getting hitched. It wasn't like we moved in together for the first time. In fact, my husband was living in London working for a tech company and I was teaching 6th grade in Orlando at the time we got married. We'd lived together, apart, and had survived a lot. I'd just lost my mom to cancer a few months prior and my step-father to cancer 6 months before that. That to me, was HARD. Marriage was not.

We had YEARS of living without much worry; financially, health-wise, emotionally. We moved a lot for his company yes, but outside of that, life was gravy. We went where we wanted, when we wanted, and did things how we wanted.

Then, came the unexpected 3 yr+ journey to parenthood. Never could we have prepared for the bumps in the road. I have seen marriages end a result of embarking on this excruciatingly tough road. Not ours thankfully. However, I think it was the first time in a long time where life (which includes marriage) required work. I know I don't need to explain. You guys GET IT.

So here we stand, arriving at the place we've worked so hard to get to. Our dreams of becoming parents have come true. We have a beautiful, healthy baby boy who lights up both of our worlds the minute he opens his eyes every single day.

Why then, does it feel like I'm sometimes drowning in a mess of emotions still...or maybe again, just in a different way? I find myself floundering to figure out this parenting thing. I'm surprised at how well I'm learning to mother in certain areas, yet feeling completely defeated in others. Am I doing this right??

One of the places I know I can do better is being a better wife. I have caught myself a lot lately being someone I don't want to be...someone who makes sarcastic remarks, or corrects my husband, has to have things "my way", or becomes a smart ass when someone wraps a piece of pizza in tin foil because it's too loud and will wake the baby sleeping in the living room. Yep, that happened. To my defense though, why must tin foil be so loud?

I know without a doubt much of it's due to getting literally only 3 solid hours of sleep each night (usually 9 pm-midnight) until my shift for baby watch begins again from 12-6 am. My body is getting so used to lack of sleep it's even become impossible to nap while P's napping, whether it be day OR night. I won't lie. It's wearing me thin, and it presents itself by highlighting all of my most flawed character traits, bringing those into the forefront. It doesn't help that I am a textbook Gemini. Whoever said life is like a box of chocolates must have missed greek mythology and the story of Pandora.

However, this too shall pass. The life of a first time parent, and especially one of a newborn, is going to present challenges that no one could prepare us for. And for one of the very few times in our lives, marriage may actually require some work. It may require me to hold my tongue more often, to ask myself how what I'm about to say or do affects my spouse and my family, and to be comfortable with not being right. I am working on it though, and am committed to being a more laid back wife who points her finger a little less.

Recently, I started reading a new devotional, The Power of a Praying Wife. I'm only a couple chapters in, but this book couldn't have come at a better time. I am absolutely loving it! I want to share with you the first prayer from the book.

If you take the time to read it, I promise you won't be disappointed. I hope you get as much from it as did I...

Lord, help me to be a good wife. I fully realize that I don't have what it takes to be one without Your help. Take my selfishness, impatience, and irritability and turn them into kindness, long-suffering, and the willingness to bear all things. Take my old emotional habits, mind-sets, automatic reactions, rude assumptions, and self-protective stance, and make me patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and self-controlled. Take the hardness of my heart and break down the walls with Your battering ram of revelation. Give me a new heart and work in me Your love, peace, and joy (Galatians 5:22-23). I am not able to rise above who I am at this moment. Only You can transform me.

Show me where there is sin in my heart, especially with regard to my husband. I confess the times I've been unloving, critical, angry, resentful, disrespectful, or unforgiving toward him. Help me to put aside any hurt, anger, or disappointment I feel and forgive him the way You do-totally and completely, no looking back. Make me a tool of reconciliation, peace, and healing in this marriage. Enable us to communicate well.

Make me my husband's helpmate, companion, champion, friend, and support. Help me to create a peaceful, restful, safe place for him to come home to. Teach me how to take care of myself and stay attractive to him. Grow me into a creative and confident woman who is rich in mind, soul, and spirit. Make the the kind of woman he can be proud to say is his wife.

I lay all my expectations at your cross. I release my husband from the burden of fulfilling me in areas where I should be looking to You. Help me to accept him the way he is and not try to change him. I realize that in some ways he may never change, but at the same time, I release him to change in ways I never thought he could. I leave any changing that needs to be done in Your hands, fully accepting that neither of us is perfect and never will be. Only You, Lord, are perfect, and I look to You to perfect us.

Teach me how to pray for my husband and make my prayers a true language of love. Where love has died, create new love between us. Show me what unconditional love really is and how to communicate it in a way he can clearly perceive. Bring unity between us so that we can be in agreement about everything (Amos 3:3). May the God of patience and comfort grant us to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus (Romans 15:5). Make us a team, not pursuing separate, competitive, or independent lives, but working together, overlooking each others' faults and weaknesses for the greater good of the marriage. Help us to pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another (Romans 14:19). May we be "perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgement" (1 Corinthians 1:10).

I pray that our commitment to You and to one another will grow stronger and more passionate every day. Enable him to be the head of the home as You made him to be, and show me how to support and respect him as he rises to that place of leadership. Help me to understand his dreams and see things from his perspective. Reveal to me what he wants and needs and show me potential problems before they arise. Breathe Your life into this marriage.

Make me a new person, Lord. Give me a fresh perspective, a positive outlook, and a renewed relationship with the man You've given me. Help me see him with new eyes, new appreciation, new love, new compassion, and new acceptance. Give my husband a new wife, and let it be me.

In Jesus' name I pray.

No matter what we're going through in life, I've always known that our marriage needs to come first. Even with Preston now here, my husband still comes first and always will. We are the foundation that this family will be built upon, and as everyone knows, a house that's broken will not stand. I want our house to be solid. I want to be the wife that my husband wants to be around 24/7. I want Preston to feel the unmistakeable love that exist between his mom and dad and to find that same love for himself someday.

Love this man!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

No More Pumping, No Regrets

I know this title may come as a shock if you've been following and know how much effort has gone into providing breastmilk day and night for little P. Let's see...there have been at least 3 lactation consultants at the hospital and 1 at home, renting of a hospital grade pump, supplements that were causing more gas than good, baking of enough lactation cookies to feed an army, and a virtual non-stop rotation of feeding, burping, calming, pumping, hand expressing, and washing pumping parts 7-8 times per day...and yes, I am tired just reading my own writing.

So, how does playtime and snuggling with a newborn fit into all that chaos? Well, it doesn't very easily at all. Even if baby adhered to some predictable sort of schedule (which he shouldn't be expected to this early) the whole pumping routine would be difficult. Add to the mix days when baby is going through a growth spurt and cluster feeding (eating every hour practically). It's extremely difficult to least for me.

Correction: It's been difficult for US. I have an extremely helpful husband who has cared for P countless times so I could pump.  He's been soooo amazingly supportive, from being up all night helping with those dreaded SNS feedings, to being part of the LC consults, to dropping whatever he's doing at a moment's notice to support my ability to pump. I was spending about 4 hours each day on the entire process, so without hubby it never ever could have worked as long as it did.

4 hours. That's a lot of time that could be spent in a precious snuggle or reading a story or singing Itsy Bitsy Spider....the list of things I could be doing with Preston and would RATHER be doing with him just became much too long to ignore. And if I can be just a tiny bit selfish, there would also be more room for SLEEP, eating better, and caring for myself and our home...all things that would help me be a better mom anyway.

Anyone who knows me knows that I do not do things half-ass. I put a lot of energy into things I set my mind to in general, and giving P as much breastmilk as possible was one of those things. However, there were enough rough and sleep deprived days that both hubby and I had to re-examine what we could do to make things less stressful. And while I realize it didn't have to be all or nothing, without a doubt we agreed that pumping was just something no one would miss...not even Preston.

I felt guilty at first that breastfeeding was not the picture perfect experience I'd hoped for, complete with rainbows and butterflies. Pumping wasn't nearly as sustainable as I'd hoped either. Of course I want the best nutrition for my child, but I am also open to the fact that giving him formula (the most expensive kind on the market might I add) does not make me a bad mom. As my dear friend Amber reminded me, "Want to see a bad mom? Turn on the news!" Right you are my friend!

I began the process of weaning off the pump last week and was already down to 1 pump yesterday. I do believe I'm officially done as of today, and I don't think my body was fighting me much on the decision to stop obviously. It seemed very happy to hang a "closed for business" sign on the door and begin getting back to normal in record time. Other things I won't miss are arthritic hands from all the hand expressing, rashes on my boobs, blisters on my swollen nips, and the uncomfortable heaviness of boobs my body wasn't designed for. I can tell you with 100% certainty now that I will not ever be getting breast implants. I have never been so grateful to be an A cup again and regain admittance into the IBTC!

Furthermore, I am beyond content with our decision and won't allow myself to feel guilty for making the best choices I can for our family...even if it's not someone else's path. Our path to parenthood was not conventional in the first place, so I am used to rolling with the punches by now. Surely there will be many more things that turn out differently than what I envisioned at first...and that's O.K!

The past week has been much easier and more enjoyable to say the least. Now when I feed Preston nothing pulls me away afterwards. I'm not watching the clock and can just cradle him in my arms and take an afternoon catnap. I will admit though, that most times I stay awake and just watch him nap and snore and breathe. I notice every little hair on his head and wrinkle on his chunky little fingers. Many times I just sit there with tears in my eyes, grateful for every last thing about him. I couldn't have asked for a better little boy, and I'm going to cherish every free moment I have with him.

These little piggies = Perfection

Snuggling in my lap as we speak

Friday, October 3, 2014

10 True Things About the First Year of Parenthood (via Girl of Cardigan)

I did not write the following pearls of wisdom, but I really needed to read them today. I hope you like this post as much as I did. It's from an amazing blog called Girl of Cardigan. Grab some of these and enjoy...


I did a ridiculous amount of reading when I was pregnant.  I read natural parenting books and baby scheduling books and how to make your baby happy with no crying and eating is good for everyone led by the spirit of your baby your self books.  If there was a book to read, rest assured, I gave it a go.

I thought I knew everything I’d need to know.

How much of that information did I actually use?  Some.  A little.  The best bits of this, a quick trick from that, but no single book was spot-on accurate, and nothing was anywhere near as easy as all my reading had led me to believe.  Fable was just herself, and apparently she hadn’t been reading the same stuff I’d been bingeing on.  All that reading was mostly a waste of time.

These are the words I wish I’d read instead, before jumping headlong into the mommyhood with my books and my charts and my ideals and my high horses.  They’re flawed, and they aren’t all pretty, but they’re hard won and honest and as true as I can get’em. 

Here’s what I wish I’d known:

1. You are going to suck at this parenting gig and be awesome at it at the same time, all the time.  You will be a different parent every morning to a child who will also be different, sometimes changing in just hours, or minutes, or before your eyes.  There will be good days and bad days, good minutes and bad minutes, good choices and not so good ones.  You will do some things, probably a lot of things, wrong.  Be gentle with yourself, because you are wildly loved and incredibly needed.  You are climbing Mt. Everest with basically zero conditioning – expect to be kind of terrible at it for awhile.  You are beautiful.  We are for you.

2. Post-partum bodies are squashy and wobbly and dimpled and stretched and foreign and embarrassing and difficult and painful and gorgeously imperfect, and they tend to stay that way for quite awhile.  You made a human.  Now make your peace.  Eat good food.  Walk around when you’re well enough.  Listen to the people who tell you you’re beautiful.  Take them at their word.  Remember where your worth comes from.

3. Your baby is not like the other babies.  Your baby is the only one of herself who has ever been, and you and your partner are the only experts on her.  Your baby will not behave like the books say, won’t like what she’s supposed to like, won’t do what she’s supposed to do when she’s supposed to do it, and that’s normal and great and perfectly okay.  The best thing you can do is put down your literature and get to know your baby.  What does she like?  What makes her laugh?  How does she best fall asleep?  What does hungry sound like?  The discovery of these things will serve you so much more than any stranger’s care instructions ever will.  You don’t have to make your life or your family look like any particular model – you don’t have to follow the rules.  You just have to create a life that works for you and fosters love and security and a whole lot of laughter.  If that looks like 2am pancake parties, I’m not going to tell on you.  I might actually admire you and be just a little bit jealous.

4. We have got to stop telling people that things should be easy and painless.  We live in a culture that equates ease with value – the easier it is, the better it is, if it hurts you, something is wrong.  Reality check: sometimes things that are hard and painful are also really, really good.  Every once in a while as a parent, one of the things that you thought would be really difficult turns out to be incredibly easy and drama-free.  This is called a miracle, and though it might be somehow related to some book you read and the alignment of the stars and a magic way you pat the soles of your baby’s feet and the tea you drink on Thursdays, it’s still mostly a miracle, and the odds of that same miracle happening to EVERY OTHER PARENT EVERYWHERE are pretty slim, even with books and stars and tea and so much foot-patting.  We get excited in our victories, and want to share them, but it’s important to remember that we are all struggling with different issues.  One daddy’s easy is some mama’s nightmare.  And just because your baby doesn’t sleep through the night at five weeks or eat with a fork by her first birthday or cries a lot or your boobs get sore from breastfeeding (even though her latch is perfect) – just because it isn’t EASY and PAINLESS – it isn’t necessarily wrong.  Sometimes hard is okay, sometimes, often, it’s even good.  Hard is how we grow.  And guess what, kiddo – parenting is hard.  Any book that tells you otherwise deserves the big fat sticker of bullshit.

5. Speaking of bullshit, oh mylanta, the poop.  They warn you.  They tell you.  And despite every warning, it is still baffling and alarming and downright awe-inspiring how much of your next year is going to be spent dealing with, assessing, smelling for, washing off, evaluating, discussing, logging, and transporting poop.  Get good and comfy with poop, friends.  The poop cometh.  For whom the poop tolls.  The hunt for poop-tober – you get the idea.

6. The sooner you can figure out how to accept unwanted advice gracefully, the easier your year is going to be.  For whatever reason, people love to weigh in on babies – everyone has an opinion, and everyone wants to share.  I believe that most of this advice is pretty well-intended – most of it falls into the “it worked for me and I am so happy and I want to share my joy joy joy with you because you look very tired” category, which is at least only mildly offensive and really very sincere.
Here’s the thing – you can stumble through this crazy first 12 months in defense mode, snapping witty comebacks at judgey old ladies or know-it-all childless people, or you can decide to give everybody the benefit of the doubt, smile and say thank you, and become very zen and confident about knowing what’s best for your child and not giving one ounce of your abundance of poop about what anyone else says.

If I were you, I’d aim for zen.

Nobody is out to get you.  Everyone wants you to succeed.  And screw them all anyway, because you are raising a child, and that is awesome.  Did your kid eat something today?  Is she relatively hygienically sound?  Smiles occasionally?  You win all the things.  You are awesome enough to absorb any and all commentary, keep the bits you like, and toss the bits you don’t.  How sweet of them to care.

7. Start stretching, because it’s time to get flexible.  I’m not a big fan of general statements like “All babies like swaddling” or “Co-sleeping is best for everybody,” but there is one I can get behind – babies are really inconvenient.  Your schedule, your sleep, your stellar punctuality record, your deadlines, your best shirts, your relationships – everything is about to get messy and complicated.  You have two choices – become a weepinghungrytiredmess of doom, or swallow every ounce of pride you have and become flexible.  Ask for help.  Admit failure.  Be late.  Stay in your pajamas.  Ignore the dishes.  Let slide what can slide and rejoice when you make it through with all your bare necessities intact.  You are going to miss a few parties and a lot of snoozes and probably many other important things, and it will be okay.  It will be better than okay.  It will be amazing.
Maybe, just maybe, you’ll be one of those parents who gets a magic baby who responds to the methods in whatever book you read or is just naturally benevolent and fits like a glove into your fabulous and organized life.  Again, this is called a miracle.  We love you and are happy for you.  Now please, shut up.

8. The most important thing to get for your baby is not a Rock n’ Play, nor a good set of swaddling blankets, nor a high-end stroller.  The most important thing to get for your baby is a village.  Your village will keep you afloat.  They will carry you when you are tired, feed you when you are starving, forgive you when you are unkempt and hours late and a neglectful friend who can’t remember to wear socks let alone whose birthday it is.  They will love your baby when you are too tired or frustrated to hold her at the moment, because you are imperfect and human and have imperfect and human failings.  They will remind you who you are when you start to think your whole life is only about poop.  They will lift you up.

9. We have to lift each other up.  Raising babies is the hardest thing many of us have ever done.  We can tear each other to bits, criticize choices, and turn up noses, or we can love each other, admire adorable babies, offer a hand, and celebrate victories.  This is not a difficult choice, people.  Nobody cares that your way is better.  Everyone cares that your kid is gorgeous and let’s chat over coffee and what have you been doing with your hair lately because, girlfriend, you look fabulous.  Don’t be horrible.  It isn’t really that hard.

10. Success is found in being willing to grow.   Here’s the truth: you don’t know much of anything.  A year from now,  after your fantastic kid turns one, you won’t know much of anything still.  Gather wisdom around you.  Learn from your mistakes.  Stay humble.  Stay open.  When you know better, do better.  Be a better parent tomorrow than you were today, always, everyday, as often as you can.  Try things out and leave them behind shamelessly if they don’t work out.  Life isn’t a contest or a game – it’s simply only beautifully life. Live the minutes instead of scoring them.  Love that incredible baby.

Oh, lovely – you are going to have so much fun!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Goodbye Fenu-farts, Hello Major Milk Makin' Cookies

You know you've entered a new phase of life when you begin singing "99 Bottles of Milk on the Wall" along your daily walks with baby. Hey, don't knock it. It's a great time kill when you need to entertain for an extended period of time. And while there may not exactly be 99 bottles on the wall (or in my freezer), I'm still sweating like an Iron Chef to sling the liquid gold across the counter just as fast as I can make it.

Unfortunately, it turns out the supplements I've been taking to increase milk supply (Fenugreek & Blessed Thistle) may have actually been causing, or at least adding to, the toot-a-thon taking place in Preston's pants. How do I know this? Well, I am not 100% certain, but I'm pretty sure it was causing some of the tummy trouble.

This week, we had a couple really good days as far as mood and lack of fussiness goes. I thought maybe it was because I'd been able to give so much breastmilk those days, but then it continued into a day in which I'd given quite a bit of formula as well. Maybe he's just growing up into a completely well-balanced mature child already?! Ha! Doubtful at this stage in the game.

I realize it could all be due to chance, but it just so happens I'd run out of my milk making supplements and was awaiting a new shipment from amazon. I didn't think anything of that piece of the puzzle at the time. Then, the new supplements arrived, and I began taking them again as usual. To my chagrin, the tummy trouble seemed to begin again almost immediately. I could literally hear the air pinging in Preston's belly. One night at the wee hours as I was snuggling him,  our bellies growled really loud at the exact same moment...which is when a light bulb went off!

Could it be more than coincidence that the worse of this ceased when I stopped taking the supplements and re-emerged once beginning them again? Why were we both having rumbling in there? It wasn't bothering me much, because I'm a grown adult and growling isn't that big of deal. But to his tiny tummy, it could be a pretty painful feeling I'd imagine. I just had this intuition it might be a factor.

From then on I became a fart detective and was noticing every little reaction to eating and how his belly was doing. I starting googling more about tummy trouble related to both Fenugreek and Blessed Thistle and wouldn't you know it; it's a very common side effect to have increased gas and watery stools...both things we've commented on several times as a concern. I already cut lactose out of my diet weeks ago, so I knew it wasn't that. Apparently, these supplements are well-known to be hard on the stomach, in both adults and breastfeeding babies (even though Blessed Thistle is also touted as a "digestive tonic") and even though it's so highly touted for milk production.

Strangely, I learned a couple other things I hadn't initially the fact my pee smelled like maple syrup? Yes, very weird! Apparently, fenugreek can cause false readings of maple syrup disease in babies, and sure enough I realized I smelled like maple syrup every time I hit the loo. I am not being a hypochondriac either. It's like when you eat asparagus and can clearly smell it in your urine...except I actually smell like an IHOP! It's unmistakeable and so very strange.

Needless to say, I decided it's simply not worth taking these supplements if there's any chance it's causing any doo-doo disdain for Preston. They have definitely helped increase my supply, as I went from pumping only 0.5/1 oz. on both breasts per session, to now averaging 3 oz. However, many times a supply can be well established by 6 weeks, and we will be 6 weeks on Monday. Worth noting that I also rented a hospital grade pump for a month (Medela Symphony) to help bring in my stubborn to flow milk.

It's equally important, if not more important, to just keep creating the demand for milk by pumping, and that is something I'm continuing to do of course. I just returned the Symphony yesterday, because we don't need the $75/month rental fee. Instead, I will still be using my spiffy little Medela Pump In Style Advance that I got for FREE thanks to the Affordable Care Act. It's a $300 pump itself, so I will take what I can get even if it's not the very best available.

And because I'm one of those people who feels they need to be doing something more, I began searching for other natural ways of increasing milk production through nutrition alone. I made these Major Milk Makin' Cookies last night for the first time. Jackpot!!!

These cookies are seriously good, and I would feel pretty good about eating them even if I wasn't lactating. Outside of being full of galactogogues, they are pretty healthy for tons of other things...heart health for one. Maybe I shouldn't have told hubby they are for makin milk, because he needs these in his life too! I'm hoping he likes them, because unbeknownst to me, the recipe made almost 5 dozen. We've got some cookie eating to do!

This could be dangerous.

The magic milk making ingredients are oatmeal, brewer's yeast, and flaxseed meal...

You can read about all of the amazing properties of these foods here if you're interested. The blogger who posted this recipe @ gives some fantastic info on how it works to increase prolactin, the key hormone related to milk production.

Only time will tell if/how my supply is affected, both from the dropping of the fenu-fart and discontinuation of the hospital grade pump, as well as the addition of the cookies to hopefully balance it all out. I couldn't help but notice after making the cookies last night (and proceeding to eat a few more than I'd planned) that my next pumping session I got 5 oz! It could be coincidence, but I rarely ever get 5 oz, so I'm hopeful they're a decent enough replacement. Hopefully I won't turn into a total cow eating them like candy either. Cow's are good for milk making yes, but not good to fit in my shorts. ha!

We've been using this really convenient iPhone app to track Preston's feedings and my pumping sessions. There are a ton of apps out there, but if you need something to help organize I highly recommend iBaby Feed Timer.

This is what the log looks like...

This is what data for our last 24 hours, week, and month look like...

Bottle Feedings

The app allows you to input anything related to breastfeeding, pumping, feedings, dirty diapers, sleep, and make notes anywhere needed. You can share the account across more than one iPhone, so that means hubby or a caregiver/babysitter can track while you're not with baby. You can view all the data in real time as soon as the other person inputs something. Then, it also analyzes data so you can see trends over time. And, you can even email/print a spreadsheet of all the data at the click of a button...pretty handy if you need it to show your LC or pediatrician for any reason.

Fingers crossed I won't see a huge decline in supply due to the dropping of supplements and downgrading my pump, but if I do, I'll just drown my sorrows in cookies and almond milk.