Party of 4

I have never been happier than I am now, with my (complete) family of four.

My pregnancy days are behind me, since we’re stopping at two, and I’m so in love with my family.

The 1st time around

Everything about Aidan’s (baby #1) entry into the world was dramatic. The poor guy gets dogged on every time we talk about how easy his sister has been.

I was nervous the whole pregnancy because of a previous early miscarriage. I passed out a couple of times and, after 22 hours of tough labor, rife with his heart rate scaring us half to death, I ended up having a cesarean section. Then, he had a painful, shallow latch for feeding initially, but as a newbie it took me a month to figure it out, and it caused my supply to be just enough – so pumping was never an easy option. Having said all that, I breastfed for just over 12 months, and although he was a tough baby (I don’t think we slept for a year), he’s an amazing toddler, and an outstanding big brother.

I honestly didn’t realize other parents of infants WERE sleeping. I thought all babies were just like mine. Even though it was rough, we were willing to go through it again.

Take 2

Funny, I spent my first pregnancy worried about Aidan, and my second pregnancy… worried about Aidan.

Because he was my first baby and we were already “established,” I was very nervous about him adjusting, and about him hitting the baby. I had no idea how much our attempts to prepare him were sinking in, and really wasn’t sure what he would think of having a baby sister. Turns out, he was born to be a big brother. He’s loving, gentle and helpful. I didn’t know I could love him anymore than I already did, but I do!

About a girl

Kennedy (baby #2) entered the world via VBAC after 9 hours of labor and 1 hour of pushing. It was such a relaxing experience – if one can say that about labor. I requested an epidural right away since I determined I’d felt enough contractions to last a lifetime with Aidan, and my husband and I watched episodes of “Homeland” on the iPad. Every now and then he’d look at my chart and announce I’d just had a huge contraction. I have no regrets about not feeling those suckers.

After latching on fairly easily (considering their mouths are the tiniest when your boobs are the largest), she went right to sleep without even being swaddled. We were astonished! We had heard of baby’s sleeping, we’d just never witnessed it. Aidan needed the 5 S’s all the time, and frankly, we could’ve used S’s 6 & 7!

I’m really glad my tough baby was my first baby so I could really focus on him, and I’m really glad labor was easy this time so I could continue to love on him and pick him up as I always have.

Kennedy was back to her birth weight in record time, so we were cleared to let her sleep. This was also drastically different as Aidan had to be woken to eat and they monitored his weight closely for the first month. Miss K came out on a 3-hour schedule and always gives us a longer stretch at night.

Recovery

My recovery this time has been completely different from the first time. Unlike post-surgery, post-VBAC I was able to walk around as soon as I felt up to it. It was wonderful!

My body is bouncing back faster this time as well. Some of that is because I was able to be active sooner, and some is because I’m in a better place nutritionally. I have products to help with energy, strength and weight loss that I ran by my doctor, which is good because I have a deadline for being back in shape. My sister is getting married in November! Baby weight is temporary, but wedding photos are forever. Thankfully, chasing a toddler around while carrying an infant is quite sporty, I’m back to exercising, I gained less weight this time around, and I’m nursing.

Why is the second child so much easier?

I’m sure anxiety was a large factor in our first experience as parents. It’s impossible to be second child parents until you actually have a second child.

Parenting is more fun this go round since we aren’t second-guessing ourselves or each other. First time, it was the blind leading the blind, which can get pretty ugly when you’re tired.

I questioned whether or not to share this entry since it is very personal, but I decided to because our first and second experiences having a baby were so different. We always knew we wanted two children, and I can’t wait to see how these two, unique love bugs turnout.

I thought I was busy when I was single, then I thought I was busy when I got married, then I thought I was busy when I had one child. Now, I know I’m busy. And… back to it! Cheers!

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Breastfeeding for a year, and our weaning plan

Let me preface this by acknowledging that my parenting methods and experiences are mine alone, and I recognize that decisions surrounding breastfeeding are deeply personal. No matter what science or an outspoken friend/family member says, only you can choose whether or not to breastfeed, for how long, etc., based on what works for your health and lifestyle.

Some of you might think I’m crazy for nursing for a year, while others will think I’ve stopped too early. I’m sure you’re all lovely people, but your opinions on my choices really don’t matter. All that matters is that my family is happy and healthy as a direct result of the choices we’ve made, and I’m really proud of us.

My breastfeeding journey in a very large nutshell:

Week 1-6: I know why people choose not to do this.

Through month 3: Breastfeeding feels like a leash tying me to my child. I can’t take most medicine or have a glass of wine without considering if it’s sharable with a tiny baby.

3-6 months: Breastfeeding is easy and convenient – no dealing with bottles, etc., but I’m glad to say I’m almost halfway though my goal of nursing for a year.

Months 6-11: I love this! I know I said I was only going to do it for a year, but we’re both really enjoying it, and it’s so much easier now. We’re just not ready to stop. Besides, it’s only 4-5x a day, and I can always choose to give him food instead if need be.

What a difference a week makes…

Month 11 I took a 1-week trip to Colorado sans hubby. My son was on my boob like crazy, and his teeth tended to linger as he got lazy. By the time I returned, I was ready to reclaim my tatas.

I needed to make a plan and stick with it because we have another trip coming up at the end of this month. I don’t think it’s wise to ask a baby to tackle multiple adjustments at once.

Weaning:

At the time I started weaning my son was nursing 5x a day; roughly – 7am, 11am, 3pm, 7pm, and once during the night. During weaning, we’ve alternated bottles between whole milk and formula in order to gradually introduce cow’s milk to his digestive system. He’s done great, showing no preference, and with no negative reactions. We weaned gradually over 3 weeks.

The first nursing session that became a bottle was 3pm. We started with my husband giving him a bottle on day one. He fought it, but was happy to drink it once he took it. The same thing happened when I gave it to him the next day. Day 3, he took the bottle with ease.

After taking the bottle so easily on day 3, we decided to drop the 11am the next day. He took it, no issue, opening his mouth as soon as he saw it.

After 2 days with an 11am and 3pm bottle, middle of the night feedings became bottles, too. I left a diluted bottle in the fridge for my husband so I wouldn’t give in while in a sleepy state, and my son went along with it. Not having mommy or getting to nurse in the middle of the night made waking up in the middle of the night less enticing, which was also good, and a long time coming.

After a week (we were now a total of 2 weeks into weaning), I dropped the 7pm session. Honestly, I thought I might cry. This was always my favorite session; however, in case my milk started to dry up once going to only one nursing session in a 24-hr period, I didn’t want to worry he wasn’t getting enough right before bed. If he had fought the bottle, I probably would have given in, but he didn’t, so I felt good about the decision. That was three nights ago.

The first night he didn’t nurse, he also didn’t sleep well, which has been pretty typical. Although, since we’d been diluting bottles more and more each night, we were able to see that he didn’t need the calories, so we stuck to our guns and didn’t feed him.

The second night, he slept 12 hours straight, which had never happened.

The third night, he woke up after 9 hours, but was fine to go back to sleep with only a little water.

I’m currently still nursing in the morning, and I’m not sure when I’ll stop. I could go on for a while, for a couple more days, or it could be determined by when my ducts decide to stop making milk. Time will tell, and I know my son will do great when that day comes.

Because I weaned my son gradually, and I wasn’t an over-producer (which bothered me at times when I wanted to pump), I never needed to pump/express when I transitioned him to a bottle. Not pumping ended up keeping me honest to my plan so I couldn’t easily fall back into it. For once I was happy to make “just enough.”

I’m happy I chose to do this when I felt it worked for us, not when someone else told me I should. I’m proud I did it this long, but I also feel surprisingly good about the transition. All around, it has been a really positive experience for me, one I look forward to sharing with our next child. Even weaning has gone better than I anticipated.

If there’s anything I hope other’s gain from this, it’s to keep going during those first few months when it feels like a chore. If I stopped when it wasn’t any fun, I would’ve missed out.

Tomorrow is my son’s 1st birthday. I’ll raise a glass, without worrying about what’s in my bloodstream – thus in my milk, and toast to all the learning, growth and joy we’ve experienced. What a year it has been!


Breastmilk is liquid gold, and I’m Fort Knox

I have a mental hangup about pumping and dumping, or using my expressed milk rather than nursing.

Much of this goes back to the beginning of my breastfeeding adventure. They wanted more weight on Aidan than he was initially gaining. It turned out that I just needed to nurse him more regularly, but I got nervous about producing enough milk then, and even though he’s gained weight on track ever since, I’ve never truly felt confident in my milk supply. I have friends who get way more when they pump than I do, too, so I also judge myself against them. Because it takes a couple pumping sessions to get a full meal out to store, I’m a hoarder when it comes to actually using it.

Sometimes, my hangup starts with pumping in general. I convince myself that I’m taking milk away from the baby, so he won’t find as much there when it comes time to eat. Considering I pump right before he goes down at night, when he has a full belly and won’t eat again for at least 5 hours, this is irrational, but I can’t seem to shake it.

As far as pumping and dumping goes, I have a guilt complex that says I’m choosing booze over my baby if I drink enough that I have to pump and dump instead of nurse him. Many nights, I’ll have a glass of wine after I nurse him for the last time at night because I know it will be out of my system before it comes time to nurse him again, but I never have more than one glass because I don’t want to risk there being any booze left in me when he’s hungry again.

I haven’t had more than one glass of wine at a time since November of 2011. At some point, I should go on a big date night with my husband and get a little happy on wine. Goodness knows if I’d even make it through a second glass at this point, but I’d like to give it a shot because I have a lot of fond memories of enjoying a bottle with my husband.

I don’t know what my issue is, but I’d really like to relax about all of this.

 


Baby Steps: True tales from a new mommy

I have a baby!!!

I know what you’re thinking. Considering I was pregnant, this was the most likely outcome; but, as my due date came and went, I was pretty convinced I was just going to be pregnant forever.

The first thing I thought when I met our baby boy was that he was amazingly cute.  Allow me to be honest and say that not all babies are cute-cute, some are just cute because they’re babies. Sure, all mothers are biased, but I still can’t believe how perfectly adorable he is, and that I had made him.

The second thing I thought was, how do I feed him? I was in the hospital room with my husband, it was the middle of the night, and even though I’d been to a breastfeeding class, neither the baby nor I had ever actually tried it, so we were a bit lost.  Thankfully, babies can go almost 24 hours without food when they first come out, because I know he didn’t get much of anything our first few tries.

Our first morning, the lactation consultant helped me latch on one side, and we managed the other side the next morning. Unfortunately, it would be another month of the blind leading the blind before I realized that the nipple trauma I was experiencing wasn’t just a brutal adjustment, it was a shallow latch. There are many lessons learned for me that had to do with not knowing what was “normal.”

Here are a few of the lessons I have learned. I won’t call them advice because every experience is unique, this is my first time out, and I’m certainly not qualified to be “advising” others. I am so grateful for the support I’ve received since you really don’t know what you don’t know, and you also don’t know to ask about it until you’re in the moment throwing your hands up in the air. So, here are the things I kinda-sorta know now.

  • Even though you always hear, “never wake a sleeping baby,” you do need to wake them up to eat every 2-3 hours for the first month because their little bodies will let them sleep through opportunities to gain weight and get crucial nutrition.
  • Rocking and lullabies do very little to comfort a newborn. Swaddling, shushing and controlled shaking (refer to the 5 S’s from Happiest Baby on the Block) work much more effectively.
  • There is more to successful breastfeeding than latching. After a month, I was dreading feeding my baby rather than enjoying it. Lucky for me, I got sick, and decided to mention my feeding issues while at the doctor. Now, I look forward to it and am so proud to be able to do it.
  • Sometimes you have to remind yourself that the baby isn’t crying because he/she is mad at you.
  • Your baby won’t be mad at you when he/she wakes from a nap that came from learning to self-soothe/cry it out.
  • If you are breastfeeding and your baby isn’t gaining as much weight as the doctors want him to, you will beat yourself up; however, the pride you feel with each ounce he gains will end up trumping any frustration.
  • Although breastfed babies don’t really get constipated, they may need pooping “encouragement” after they finish with the initial meconium poops. We had to use a q-tip to get things started. This is one of those things I would never have known about if I hadn’t had to do it.
  • As much as it’s nice to feel needed and bond with your baby, breastfeeding can also feel like a burden, and it’s easy to feel frustrated when you can’t ever pass off the work. A friend suggested I view it as a tool that only I could use to soothe and satisfy my baby, and that perspective made a big difference in how much I enjoy it.
  • If you think you’re going to get a nap, but you don’t, you will feel drastically more exhausted than if you plan not to get a nap, and you do.
  • How tired you feel when you wake up to the sound of a crying baby all depends on what the clock says. Honestly, if someone were to move the time forward before you looked, you’d feel more refreshed.

I really thought I’d be much more bothered by lack of sleep and a plethora of diapers (we average 15 a day… homeboy hates to be wet… seriously, hates it) than I am. It really is different when it’s your own.  I’d swim through poop on no sleep for this little dude. I seriously hope I don’t have to do that, but if he needed me to, I’d bust out that swan dive in an instant.