Office/Nursery Progress

We’ve got LESS than a month before we welcome this new little one into our world. There’s a TON we have left to do, not gonna lie. I’m working on sub plans for my maternity leave and generally trying to get a jump on things at work while juggling the usual tasks, trying to get ahead of any writing work I’d like to accomplish pre-baby, and, well, generally getting ready for the baby — name picking, analyzing what we may still need, etc.

But, one area that we’re trying the “slow and steady wins the race” motto out is our office/nursery; our “offisery,” if you will. It doesn’t need to be done immediately since the baby will be in our room with us for the first month or two (or more), but we realize that we won’t have the time to do it after the little one arrives. Plus, ticking things off of our “to do” list is always enjoyable.

So, most nights, we’ve been doing something *small* in the space. We started with a buttload of books, which we packed up except for the ones we always like to have available. (I’m talking about YOU, two copies of “Little Women”…you!) So, after finally emptying an entire 6-foot-tall bookshelf, we dragged that sucker down to the basement. Let’s call it additional storage, although we all know the cats prefer the term “jungle gym.”

Then, after vacuuming up a lifetime’s worth of dust, it was time to assemble our version of a changing table. As you may (or may not) remember, we repainted a free dresser to use for Hadman’s changing area when he was a baby. This time, we’re using one of the more heavy duty “cube storage” units from Target. It’s definitely thicker than the usual flimsy ones, so I feel more comfortable using this to support the little one. We also grabbed some feet to attach in case the height wouldn’t work and, of course, a few of the nicer cube boxes to up the fanciness quotient. If cube storage could be called “fancy.”

So, what’s left? Well, we already moved my desk out and the crib in, tossed down a big, fluffy, natural wool rug that I got from Rugs USA (seriously, cheapest high-quality rugs ever), and purged/boxed up tons of stuff we don’t need access to. Here’s where we’re left:

IMG_0239IMG_0242IMG_0240IMG_0243
– Obviously, um, declutter more. Lots of random pieces hanging around. And an extra chair. We’re still discussing the fate of the cat tree (yes, that ratty, scratched-up thing that my husband seems as attached to as any of the cats) and whether or not he can foresake the ugly office chair for a comfy, fits-an-office-AND-nursery-decor alternative. And, yes, we’ll be saying “see you in the next house!” to much of the comic art on the walls, which Dave’s been super good about. I just want to leave him with SOMETHING of his own…that doesn’t involve violent crime-fighting. Because, y’know, babies.

– Switch out some new wall art (which will involve some touch-up painting, ugh). I’m thinking of grabbing some canvases and a gold paint pen to do some DIY art, and I already picked up a bunch of swatches that I’ve ironed and chopped into fabric tassels for a wall hanging. But, yeah. Art.

– Floating shelves to the rescue. This is one of those “if we have the time/energy” things, but the floating shelves in Hadley’s room and our bathroom (seriously, how have I never showed you guys a final reveal for that space?!) are amazing, so we may do something similar above the changing area in this room. Plus, it’ll give us some more options for combining decor styles and a little extra storage. But, again, it’s not a “must-have” right now.

– Bring in the baby stuff! (sing to the Muppet Show theme song) “It’s time to strip the diapers, it’s time to clean the clothes!” So, I’ll be utilizing under-crib storage, which I’m in love with, for the “next sizes”, but otherwise keeping the newborn and 0-3 stuff at-hand as best as possible.

What do you guys think? I know we’re fighting an uphill battle with the color, ugly as heck rug, and, well, general officity (can that be a word? It should be) of it all, but this is FAR better than we were even a month ago. 🙂

Flashing What We Know

I recently mentioned falling in love with a few homemade birthday presents for our monkey. Thank you, dear friend Pinterest. I call her “Pinny” and she looks remarkably like Kaley Cuoco (whatever her married last name is, I can’t be bothered to Google) in my head. Pinny’s my new enabling BFF.

Anyhoo, one of the super easy projects I just HAD to stay up past midnight working on was the toddler flashcards. See, the kid’s a toddler genius (but what mom doesn’t think that, really?) who is starting to pick words out (for real), LOVES reading, and knows tons of letters, numbers, and animal sounds. Kid’s got it goin’ on, thanks to his Grandma’s diligent work with him daily. So, I don’t want all her hard work to go down the toilet while he’s lazing about spending intellectually stimulating summer days with me.

So, I spent some time on PicMonkey making and saving a few sets of flashcards. Here are a few wicked easy samples (not the whole sets, that’d be cray-cray):

Numbers!

Shapes!
(Boring as all get-out with the gray, but didn’t want to detract.
Side note: I did a rhombus AND separate diamond. We’ll throw the spaghetti on the wall and see which one sticks. Child-led learning. ;-))


Matching Game!
(Printing an extra set of the above shapes, he has to match them to the “real life” objects; moon goes with “crescent”, by the way. I’m tricky. I would accept star there, too, though.)

Colors!


Now, to print, *evenly* cut, and laminate them! Actually…first, to head to my mom’s basement to track down my tiny old laminator. *wink, wink*

By the way, I’m still thinking of making up a few cards for matching with colors as well as a set of friends ‘n family ones with pictures and names (especially to learn the folks who love us who happen to live far away, or whom we just don’t get to see often).

I am wondering, though — the game ones I’m obviously going to keep loose for matching purposes, but the others I’m thinking of putting on a metal ring. Whatchya think? Loose or ready-for-car-use?

Partying Simply

Last Wednesday, I revealed my plans for Hadley’s second birthday party (which will be in July). Can you tell I’m a tad excited about it??

While I was typing up that post, I thought about all the things that we do to try to keep the festivities eco-friendly. Mind you, in all things green, I think we’ve plateaued at a nice medium kelly green; not mint green (not at all eco-friendly) but not even bordering on dark moss (practically living in the woods). It’s a place we’re comfortable being. Our efforts are still there and have become a habitual part of our lives, but we don’t sweat it if we have to use a paper towel once in awhile. Y’know?

So, that said, I thought I’d share a few of the *simple* tricks and tools we use to keep a birthday shindig more about the monkey and less about the ozone.

Reuse, reuse, reuse. I don’t expect every guest not to use wrapping paper, but if I can, I recycle it. (I WILL love you forever if you bring a gift bag. That’s almost all I use anymore. Perfect for reusing!) Our decorations this year will also utilize the poufs I hung around last year (if they’ve survived), probably along with a handful more that I’ll make new. The sign for “Hadley’s Party” I made last year will be tapped into the front lawn again, too. So, any decorations you make or buy, consider whether they’ll have a future purpose, or can at least be recycled (hello, crepe paper!) when you’re done. I’m also going to hit up the thrift shops to see if they have any yellow or blue curtains or sheets to use as tablecloths (may or may not work, but we could use them in the future, too!) Heck, I even saved the party hats I bought last year. I’m turning into a grandmother from the Depression, I swear.

NO BALLOONS ALLOWED. Again, I don’t expect everyone to follow this rule, but as far as my decorating goes…nada. Hence the poufs. Those things are SO scary to me. I don’t want them near my kid (choking hazard) or in the landfill (SO VERY BAD for animals, you guys!!!). If someone gifts one (usually the Mylar kind in the shape of something), it’s fine, but I am a hawk about watching Hadley with it. Plus, I take it out ONLY when I can watch him, then put it in MY bedroom closet. Seriously. It’s Fort Knox up in here.

Use whatchya got. This goes hand-in-hand with reusing decorations. With the ducky theme this year, we’ve got a handful of rubber duckies (although I’ll probably have to get a handful more, admittedly) at home to use for decoration. I also have a mini red wagon (which Hadley, like, never fit in) that would be awesomesauce on a table with some hay or raffia in it. Oh, and I’ll peruse his toys to see if anything else goes with the theme.

Invites. Okay, this is a tricky one. If your family’s a super hip one full of folks who are tech-savvy, good for you. No, really, that’s awesome! But my family has some, shall we say, old school folks (again, not a bad thing!) who don’t spend much time perusing the ol’ interwebs. Thus, I make invitations. How do I keep it relatively low waste? I invite fewer people. Tricky of me, huh? Honestly, less people also equals less waste; makes sense, huh? Oh, and believe me, we DO invite the folks who mean the most to us, so no one’s missing out here. We’re just not inviting everyone we ever met. We didn’t do it for our wedding, we’re not doing it for our son’s second birthday party. 😉

Cups and flatware and plates, oh my! Some folks might suggest to use reusable (or “real”) plates/silverware/glasses/etc. Believe me, it crossed my mind last year, but I also fall victim of the a) that’s gonna take awhile to clean and b) people are raising an eyebrow at me…AGAIN complexes. Instead, I only get the items that I know we’ll need (no bowls if there’s nothing soup-like or ice creamy), and I try my best to get the compostable stuff. Of course, last year I only found a couple of compostable kinds of flatware, so had to supplement with other plastic ones (grr), so this year will probably consist of using all that up. Again…don’t sweat the small stuff, just do your best. Just know that there are more eco-friendly options out there.

Simplify your theme. You could also avoid a theme altogether, but I’m a nut for a good theme. Goodness knows how long I can get away with one! So, this year’s ducky theme will lead into an awesome homemade Sesame Street theme next year (reusing the colorful decorations, duckies, and Hadley’s plush toys instead of buying a bunch of trademarked stuff). Simple is best.

Actually, simplify, in general. This isn’t one that we’ve succeeded with as far as friends and family purchasing gifts entails. As Hadman gets bigger, we’ll talk with him about what he really wants and other ways we could ask people to spend their money in honor of his birthday, but at this age I don’t want it to seem forced. So, we accept graciously (and sometimes have to return doubles or the things we simply haven’t the space for). However, Dave and I try to keep it minimal and put tons of thought into what he’s getting based on his interests and what concepts we’d like for him to learn.   



So, here were just a few easy ideas to hopefully help you consider the environment whilst partying it up. There are already a few great resources on the web (like this and this and this) to help you in this arena, so I’m clearly not reinventing the wheel here. Just wanted to let you know what I prioritize in my mind so I’m not ultimately overwhelmed by all the craziness that birthday planning could possibly turn into.
    

In Your Face!

There was a time when I would stick my hand in my mailbox and find an unexpected rush of emotions. Perhaps stress, perhaps guilt, but always a general sense of negativity. Damn you, mailbox. Damn you.

But, I’m friends with the mail again. (Really, it’s not Mr. Mailbox’s fault. He’s just doing his job, quiet and stalwart.) Aside from the rather normal frustration of bills, those “surprise” packages and large envelopes don’t get to me anymore. The only remorse I feel is the fact that I’m adding to the waste issue in America by dumping the contents in the garbage or recyclables.

I’ve gotta say, though, Enfamil and Similac really have their marketing schemes tuned perfectly to the New Mom Channel. Considering the cost of formula, I’m sure some parents are grateful and even relieved to find a $5 off coupon here or there, or even a whole box containing a free, full-sized sample of their product. I get it, I do.

But, for those of us who are making attempts at nursing (and I won’t get into the “breast is best” stuff — doing what’s best for YOU and YOUR situation/family is truly what’s best, no judgment!), those packages can be a punch to the gut. Actually, yeah. It does truly feel like someone’s punching you. Best way to describe it.

There are even reminders on the envelopes saying, “If nursing isn’t working out…” or “Breastfeeding can be hard, there’s no harm in supplementing with formula” or “You’ve reached the 4-month mark, it’s time to give yourself a break”. ARE. YOU. KIDDING?! *words that aren’t really words but I utter them in my own language to avoid extensive profanity* Yes. Words. Blerg.

They’ve got their fingers on the pulse, alright. They know that breastfeeding is a downright challenge. I’ve never ran a marathon before, but I imagine it’s similar — ups and downs, a very long trail to a very emotional end that, once accomplished, you feel victorious for. And, for those who can’t make it through, it must feel just like quitting a race — deflating, demoralizing, downright depressing. And they’re playing right into that emotion.

I’m lucky. We’ve certainly had our ups and downs, but aside from some mysterious issues that are non-food-related (we hope), it has been what I like to call “an eventual success.” We no longer have to fight to get a proper latch. We no longer have *ahem* glorious, obnoxious, unexpected fountains. We no longer find him crying during meals (other than when he WANTS to eat). We no longer have an ounce of pain. It might have started miraculously, then reality sank in, but our new reality is that we’re a BFing family. I have an awesome son who now does exactly what he’s supposed to, an incredible husband who has the perfect instinct (definite Papa Bear going on), and I have finally learned, through trials and tribulations, how to feed my son. Not everyone is this lucky.

My supportive family, luck and general stubbornness have brought me to this point, and nothing else. So, thanks to those reasons, I find that I have developed an armor — an armor that Similac can *poink* bounce off and a shield that tells Enfamil to kiss my…erm, hand.

If there wasn’t such a fast expiration date, I’d try to put aside the coupons for anyone who may use them (but you find out so-and-so only uses the soy version of Similac and you only have Enfamil, or vice versa). No one at school has babies that are using formula (got another BFer in the house, though, yay!). And, in a horrible excuse for humankind, we’re simply too busy to drop them off at a home for women in need. So, the guilt of waste (and being unable to help) is still there…but my mail emotions are no longer of guilt. Triumph? Yes.

From Super Slow to Friggin’ Fast

*crickets chirp* It’s been over a month. Sorry ’bout that!

Anyhoo, time to talk about my eating since Hadley came along (exactly what you’ve been waiting 41 days for, I know). No, not diet — which is slightly limited but is pretty much an “I see, I eat” diet. That’s nursing for you.

What I mean is the fact that I’ve done a 180. There are ongoing family jokes about my slow eating habits growing up (several involving my being the only one at the table still nibbling my sandwich, talking a mile a minute, while everyone else’s Happy Ending sundaes are being devoured). Those habits followed me into adulthood. What can I say? Apparently, I talk. Who knew?

This is no longer the case. Well, I still talk, but my eating tendencies have flipped. In general, I’m starving most of the time (as I said above – thanks to BFing), so while at work I have to suck down my huge lunches at intervals throughout the day. When home, however, the baby seems to have a keen radar. The moment I sit down with my hot plate o’ food, he starts fussing or decides he’s hungry or whatever. Almost never fails.

This started on Day One in the hospital. I recall my first “meal” (all clear liquids or Jell-O or…wait, coffee?? That thing I didn’t drink for 9 months and still don’t to keep the caffeine out of the little buddy’s system??), but folks were busy snapping pictures with our new lil’ bundle of joy. I only remember one other hospital meal. All the others involved getting a few bites in while learning to nurse or visiting or trying not to murder some gosh-darn impolite nurses. Besides, it was mostly about drinking constantly – although I’ll never forget the 2am feeding when a nurse kindly handed me a tumbler of ice water that inadvertently ended up all over the baby and myself.

The thing I remember about the one hospital meal I ate, start to finish, (aside from the ever-present chocolate pudding) was creamed spinach. It. Was. Divine. Never had it before, and probably won’t, but I was so literally starved by that point, the fact that the baby was getting checked over and I got to the food HOT, I found it to be the most delicious thing I’d ever eaten. I still find myself having cravings for it. Weird, I know.

I don’t, however, want to forget to mention the first “real” meal I was allowed post-surgery – provided by my sister/best friend, Mary. She knew that I had craved a bologna sandwich (on soft white bread, with yellow mustard) during my entire pregnancy. The only cold-cuts I had were all-natural…needless to say, not bologna. She came with a huge bag, including several sandwiches, an entire bag of my other guilty pleasure (Jax…I know I’ve mentioned them here before, but they SERIOUSLY kick Cheez Doodles’ arse) and soda, plus I’m sure some other goodies I have since forgotten. But, again, I was too busy to enjoy it all in one sitting. It seems life has followed suit ever since.

Take this post, for instance. I started it while eating my dinner and simultaneously nursing the monkey. It has been written entirely one-handed. But, as long as I can eat enough to sustain both baby and mama, I’m happy. And, if I can keep punching out s-l-o-w, one-handed posts more frequently, I’ll be even happier. 🙂

P.S. If you’d like a different perspective on our new little family, be sure to check out my hubby’s posts on fatherhood at www.thedorkydaddy.com. Currently, you can find out about a new little family member, Dougie, and how he came to join the clan. (No, he’s not another cat.)

Mrow

Upon re-reading (and, ahem, editing) this post from June 11th, the unlit light bulb that usually floats above my head sparked. The result is the following post about how the cats have adjusted to our new life.

Here was my prediction at the time…

“We know that Beardslee is quite mellow, and has dealt quite well with his brothers coming home in the past, AND simply naps when my sister’s little one is around, so hopefully his transition will be smooth. We predict that Jasper will (eventually, at least) be the little one’s “buddy”…especially since he has slept next to the belly almost every night lately. But, he’s a bit spazzy, so that may take time. Eventually, he’s sure to be a toddler’s best friend, though.

Winston, however, is the wild card. He’s currently “the baby.” A very sensitive little guy who has a wicked mean streak (Jasper and occasionally Beardslee get their butts KICKED every morning, usually starting around 3 or 4 am; which I’ve learned must be handled with patience rather than screaming and a squirt gun…parenting tip #1) and is a downright bully at times…but when the others aren’t around, or he gets “in the proper mood,” he’s the cuddliest, sweetest little guy in the house. He’ll simply have to adapt, but I’m hoping I’ll be pleasantly surprised by the little guy. (Although he does think that several of the baby’s toys are his, already…along with other spots in the nursery, LOL.)”

I was pretty much dead right as far as how the lil’ guys have adjusted. But, let’s start at the beginning.

Being away from my “first children” was harder than I thought. It’s been hard in the past even to sleep over at my sister’s for Black Friday, away from Dave and the furries. But, this time they knew something was up when I left, and my emotions were on high from the hormones and disappointment of the scheduled C-section, so it hit me even harder to leave them for several days.

After several days of taking care of a newborn and adjusting to breastfeeding/the incision/lack of sleep, it was surreal just stepping foot back into our house. Instantly, all three boys (even the skinny-minnie Winston) seemed big. Not fat, but BIG. Big paws. Thick legs. Big bodies. Saucer eyes. Everything.

They also seemed to be on high alert. It appeared that they were pleased to have me back home, but the fact that I brought with me a living, moving creature (that smelled like the blanket Daddy had brought home for them to sniff) might have made me enemy #1. I just recall walking in, giving high-pitched squeals of love to my boys, observing their very careful steps, setting down Hadley (uber quiet in his carrier), plopping down into my chair, thinking, “now what?!” and bursting into tears of exhaustion and joy.

The guys didn’t appear “normal” to me for awhile after that. No one hid or howled in sadness or anger, which was my #2 fear; my #1 fear was that they’d hurt Hadley (and none of our boys are declawed). This didn’t happen, either. There was just a slight air of skidishness throughout the house, but that could’ve been from new parenthood as much as from nervous cats.

As time quickly passed, we learned that none of the boys is fearless. Jasper, in his own simple-minded way, is the “bravest” (ie most stupid?) and would hunker down on our bed in the middle of even the worst of Hadley’s tantrums. He has also been the first (and only, so far as I remember) to rub up against Had’s feet or the side of his head. I think it’s one of those “Mommy’s my best friend, and the baby came from Mommy, so I’m his best friend, too” sort of things. Heck, it’s how he took to Dave, too. “If Daddy’s her best friend…and I’m her best friend…I should like him!” So, he’s a definite buddy. I knew he would be.
Beardslee’s the most adjustable cat on earth…well, next to Jasper. He DOES have a rare-but-fierce temper when instigated. Otherwise, do whatchya want. Wanna pick me up out of a bush when I’m too weak to even meow? Thanks, sure. Wanna get me a “friend” who’s a huge drama queen? K. Wanna change what I eat and where I poop? I’ll follow. Wanna get me ANOTHER “friend” who doesn’t know where to scratch or the right way to potty? That’s fine. Baby? I got this.
Then there’s Wee Wee. “They call me MISTER Winston.” He’s been our biggest issue, and it’s not a huge one. More of a huge annoyance. Let’s just say that ever since those binkies (and bottle nipples? Yes, PLEASE, ma’am!) made their first appearance, he was a fan. He is known to prance and run around carrying them in his mouth (nipple first…yep…he thinks he’s a baby) and batting them all over the place. So much damn sterilization’s going on just from his midnight thefts. Oh, and, yes, if Hadley drops it while he’s sleeping, Winston will stretch his paw through the slats of the crib to steal the thing; he’ll never take it OUT of his mouth, though, almost to say, “Oh, you’re not using that right now? Mind if I do? Thanks.” Grr.
But watch them all when Dave’s a few minutes late bringing Hadley home. Watch them strategically place themselves around the doorway (Beardslee the closest on the stairs, Winston squatting near the shoes, Jasper finishing the half circle between them), showing body language that can only be seen as a friend missing a friend. Watch their eyes not leave the door until they hear Dad’s car pull in (when their heads turn to the sound, then back to the door, eagerly). Watch them sniff his socked toes in his carrier and contentedly hunker down for the night when they know their favorite man and their favorite boy are both home safely. We had an incredible family before; we have a perfect family now.

The Time Has Come

What a dramatic title. Probably overly so, but this is one of the biggest topics I’ve had to get a hold on since we even got pregnant in the first place. Yeah, THAT big.

We’ve been putting off using cloth diapers for a bit of awhile for a couple of reasons.

#1. We wanted to get the hang of H.A.’s feedings (yeah, sometimes I just feel like calling him “H.A.” as if he’ll one day be a fancy schmancy author or professor who goes by his initials. Plus, I gave them to him, so I can call him what I want. Fartypants McGee. Poopsalot Poutyface.)

#2. The confusion of what dipes to choose has been a tiiiiiny bit overwhelming.

#3. (singing) Time, time, tiiiiiiime. Time-time tiiiiiime. Time.

Yeah, those’re about it. We recently discovered the VERY encouraging option of purchasing a $10, 2-week trial at a local diaper store but thought we’d put it off until we have lots of time with Hads, ourselves. It wouldn’t be fair to make his caregiver do all the testing, especially since she’s got a pretty active 1-year-old on her hands, too.

Then we heard about the whole Japanese plant explosion that may cause a shortage of disposable diapers (read: jump in price)…and upon reading about the lack of chemical that will be causing the shortage, it was hard for our brains not to jump straight to “Mmmmmaaaaybe we need to switch over sooner rather than later.” I guess it was easy to force ourselves into a world of conveniently ignorant bliss, but to think of the chemicals we’re subjecting his “lil’ bidness” to…shiver.

In regards to the above challenges…#1 – we’ve pretty much figured it out, with exception to his uncomfortable gas situation. #2 – the trial helps here (and just jumping in with the ones I’ve purchased…although I’m up in the air as to whether I should just wash ’em all since the first time is an undertaking or just do a couple so that I can resell ’em if they don’t work out). #3 – while things are still hectic (or, shall we say, difficult to schedule?), once we get the hang of it I foresee it taking as much time as the disposables…maybe a tad more laundry time.

Up until this point, we’ve tried several kinds and found a favorite. While I’d like to say we’ve been Seventh Generation-ing it up, we haven’t. Pampers Swaddlers (not the other kind…and, strangely, it does make a difference) has been our go-to. It’s what FEELS the most like cloth. The other brands feel like, well, paper. I’d LIKE to make the switch to SG for those as-needed times (they weren’t HORRIBLE…just not what you’d like to put on your newborn’s sensitive bits), so we’ll see how that goes. A little at a time.

So, we may be finally picking up that trial package soon to get an idea of exactly what kind(s) we want to invest in — most likely to be tried over the following couple of weekends and overnight as not to overwhelm the sitter. And, when the moment strikes (ie during my next sudden burst of energy; that’s the only way I get anything done lately), I’ll be laundering the dozen organic bumGenius dipes that I bought pre-Hadley that have been sitting, in their packages, in a corner of the nursery. I’m nervous yet excited to get them on his bum and see if/how they work for us.

And, of course, I’ll be stopping back with my *honest* opinion of all the goings-on. Oh, and I suppose a “final” (is it ever really finished? And is there ever NOT an incoming bag of outfits messin’ the place up again?) nursery tour is in order. Especially now that he’s in the crib and we’re able to call it HIS space. 🙂 Now, we just have to determine where to hang a few final pieces of art…the hardest part.

*BTW, totally off-topic. Whatchya think of this font vs. my usual? Snazzy? Better or worse?*

Leaky Boobs is Right

If you’re not into breastfeeding or think there’s too much of an “ick visual” (I mean you, brothers :-)), please feel free to skip reading this post. Otherwise, be sufficiently forewarned that this is a TMI post. Thankyouverymuch.

I “like” a blogger/support group (although there’s often more argumentation over whether folks are pro-formula, pro-healthy babies, pro-breastfeeding/anti-formula, etc — it’s still a good resource, though) on Facebook by the name of “Leaky Boobs.” Gotta say…their name ain’t lyin’. Those babies, on occasion and without any warning of any kind, will soak through a pad, bra and T-shirt. Can you say “wop wop” moment?! Thank goodness that it hasn’t happened in front of a library full of students…yet.

When I started this post, Hadley was three weeks old and was not on a true feeding schedule yet. We’ve come a long way! There have been ups ‘n downs, including fighting off the occasional blocked milk duct, but I’m currently claiming breastfeeding as a success in our household. (Please, karma, don’t bite me in the arse on this one — I know this can take a quick turn for the worse!!!) Here’s the good, the bad and the ugly (so far!) for any of those interested in knowing —

The Good

The benefits! All the antibodies and kazillion other goodies that are provided in breastmilk? Fuggeddaboutit. Crazy healthy. Oh, and PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE know that I’m a total proponent of formula — heck, it’s FOOD made for BABIES, so it’s MUCH more important for folks to keep up the growth and nutrition of their babies rather than NOT feed them enough over principle. (I kid you not, I heard of a woman who didn’t feed her baby for DAYS after bringing them home, so stubborn was she over breastfeeding.) I know the guilt over not breastfeeding these days, and I would’ve been pretty devastated had I not been able to breastfeed, but ultimately what’s most important is that baby. As with all things, remember that we all have our own minds and MUST use them, regardless of the strong “voices” that insist we “must” do one thing or another. You’re the parent; do your own research and make your own decision. If you don’t, I honestly fear for your kid. Oh, and raise your hand if you were formula-fed. You can’t see, but my hand’s up…you also can’t see, but I don’t have a third eye or hugely horrific underlying conditions. At least, not of which I’m aware. 😉

He latched immediately. It was a miracle, and yep, I cried over it. (You’ll see below that miracles can be fleeting.)

At three weeks in, I was finally able to pump, so I could share one or two feedings a day (before returning to work) with Dave. While I wasn’t much for napping, it’s mostly about seeing him be able to share in and connect with the lil’ guy. (That’s what we found to be most rewarding, at least.) Now that I’ve returned to work, pumping in the library’s back room has been working out – although I always get a twinge of nerves over exposing my boobies in school (yes, it’s secluded and locked, but I’ve been trained to be appropriate at work!).

Now, at 7+ weeks, it’s become close to second nature. We’re bonding more, although he’s generally more concerned with staring off into space than looking at me very much. We still have the occasional fussy moment, but I’ve determined the two possible causes (more often than not, gas…or MAYBE a wet diaper, just maybe). Oh, and our secret weapon? The pacifier. More on that below.

The Bad

While he’ll fall asleep at the end of a breastfeeding session (woohoo!), for some odd reason he doesn’t find sleep at the end of a bottle. Makes it tough for his babysitter/grandma. He also doesn’t seem to be able to know when to STOP eating from a bottle, so he’ll go through a full 5+ ounces. (Actually, more like 6oz. even these days.) He was doing this at 2 weeks old. That’s ca-raz-ay! Chunkamunk!! (And, yes, while he was over 10 lbs. at birth, and is steadily increasing now, he doesn’t LOOK like a porker. I am observing some porkier tendencies lately, though – ie arms ‘n legs. Not that it’s a concern. Newborns are SUPPOSED to eat. It’s just something I have to continue to watch to know that he’s getting enough.)

Ouch. That whole “it doesn’t hurt to breastfeed” thing (for me, at least) seems to be a crock. The first time we fed, almost immediately after he was born, it didn’t hurt – but I was numb from the stomach down and was pumped with painkillers. Since then, I’ve learned about the variety of pains that accompany breastfeeding. Hadley started off to be a bit of a “chewer/chomper/grinder”, so I had lots of cracked/bleeding nipple issues. We now have this under control, but at 3 weeks he was still incredibly frustrated at times (which inevitably means he cried bloody murder, making his tongue shoot up to the roof of his mouth…taking forever to latch under those circumstances), so he’d still chomp from time to time. There was also a pinching sort of feeling at times, and often some soreness. And, of course, the pain of blocked milk ducts feels like a pinched nerve or pulled muscle, along with a lump or two or more. Way better than mastitis (which I’m PRAYING I never get!!!), but still obnoxious and, at times, unbearable. But, the pain is getting to be less and less, and some days not at all noticeable. It’s like your nipples change sensitivity…weird.

Over-exhaustion + frustration = where the eff did I put my patience?! My oh-so-kind husband has said numerous times lately, “I don’t know how you do it” (and sweetly says that I haven’t lost my patience…well, maybe once or twice…ha!) I have surprised myself at keeping my cool, but I’ve thrown my head back in frustration more times than I could count. Reason #1 is when Had’s either over-tired, gassy, or otherwise frustrated, hence gets overly aggressive and has a hard time latching. (Reason #2 is when he just WON’T fall asleep! Whether crying or not, when YOU’RE tired, it sucks.) At least I’ve got the hubby fooled into thinking I’m generally patient…mwahaha. 😉

Pay no attention to the pump instructions.
After days of sending Dave, my parents and, finally, myself to search for a different piece for my breast pump (eventually determined that it’s not MADE anymore), I realized that the instructions regarding nipple size, etc was a bunch of crap. It was a huge pain in the butt, especially in the midst of the exhaustion and trying to heal from the C-section. Damn you, Medela. Damn. You. To. Heck. Although, admittedly, the visual of my stepfather OPENING boxes of pump parts up at Babies ‘R Us with his Swiss Army knife still dissolves me into a fit of giggles.

The Ugly

I wasn’t raised in a very physical family. Not a lot of hugging or kissing. There’s love, of course, but emotions weren’t really worn on sleeves a whole lot. Needless to say, we were pretty discreet as far as nudity ‘n stuff, too. Sure, my sister and I shared the bathtub and a certain member of the household peed with the door open, but that’s pretty much where the line was drawn. So, no matter how I try to get my head into the “embrace public breastfeeding” game, I’ve got walls up. You can tell me a million times how okay it is to do and that people need to get used to public BF, but you just can’t break down that wall. I don’t feed in front of family (with the exception of Dave and my sister); not even my mom. This might change as time goes by, especially as it gets more streamlined and easier, and he fusses way less frequently. But, I should say that the places I’ve fed him so far include the mall parking lot, the Holland Farms parking lot (mmm, half moons), the Babies ‘R Us courtesy room, Dave’s bedroom from when he was a teenager, and a couple of other odd bedrooms. I’m sure it’s only gonna get stranger.

So. Much. Stigma. Sure, some of it must be based in truth. But, in my case, we’ve been lucky and the bad things I’d heard about that would SURELY throw BF out of whack simply didn’t. Maybe it’s because we’re publicly quiet about it. Regardless, the ugliness – be it from the “everyone MUST breastfeed, if you’re not you’re doing something wrong” side or the “I’m offended that you’re using your body in such a disgusting manner” side – is a sad thing. Luckily, we generally don’t deal with it.

Ouch 2.0. Sure, there’s been boob pain, but a less-expected pain? The ol’ back. Between leaning over a pack ‘n play for everything from changes to sponge bath sessions (yes, he does get bathed in the sink, too) and general games of peek-a-boo and mimicry, a new parent’s expected to have some aches and pains. Pile on the pain of wearing a bra 24/7 and the additional weight that these puppies now carry and it can be excruciating. I was big before (at times uncomfortably so), but this is…unpleasant.

Moo. I mentioned above the fact that I’m able to pump at work and when I’m not with Hads. It’s great, it really is. If we didn’t have the technology to be able to pump, I’m not sure Hadley would be on breastmilk at all. (I have yet to attempt hand-expressing.) But it is starting to feel normal to pump, and only because routine breeds a feeling of normalcy. Otherwise, there’s anxiety of being at school, or the fact that I’ve caught my husband staring, half in awe, half in what seemed to be terror, as this heaving, sighing machine milked me like a cow. I’ve milked cows and never felt this weird before. Oh, and I even had “the opportunity” to try out the battery pack for it, pumping in the backseat of my car in a full parking lot overlooking lots o’ city traffic. My first attempt was great. When I returned during my lunch hour, a woman was taking her lunch hour (apparently by sitting in her car doing nothing other than directly facing me). I’m used to putting on shows, but…yeah. It’s definitely one of the “uglies” of BF.

Not all nipples are created equal. I’ve never been a fan of mine, but throw in the extra heft goin’ on, they were bound to get…erm…bigger. So, all those shots that we see of a baby BFing but there’s almost a sense of modesty to it since their head (or mouth!) is covering all of mama’s *gasp*-inducing naughty bits…yeah, that doesn’t really happen with us. It is what it is.

And on that TMI note, I leave you with a video that I recently viewed. While I don’t use Luvs, I luv the vid (even though I’d never treat a waiter or other customer service provider this way!) I’m sure I’ll be back for BF follow-ups, but, man it took me awhile to finally write this one!

Sock Sack O’ Beans

I know what you’re going to think — “Wait. You’ve been absent HOW LONG and all you’re going to write about is a stupid DIY heating pad? What about the B-A-B-Y?!?!” And you’re more than entitled to have those thoughts. But, let’s just say that it takes all the power in me to write a post at all.

Not saying that I’m that full-blown exhausted that everyone talks about. Sure, tired, but generally speaking I’m doing fine. Got some strong emotions going on that I’m sure I could talk about (no post-partum depression, though, as far as I can tell :-D), but I don’t really feel like wasting time discussing that stuff, either. But my days have been pretty much a sequestered existence consisting of rotating feedings and changings. So, I thought, “I could wallow in the fact that it’s now August (“sweat drops, sweat drops” – anyone? “SNL”/”Cathy”?) or I could finally write a blog post.” So, here I be! Arrrgh.

Yeah. Maybe I am a tad overtired. I’ve had one nap since we brought the baby home. I’m not a big “napper”, but maybe I should take advantage of “free time” while I still can.

Why the HECK is this post about an old sock filled with dried beans? Because I don’t make it out of the house much…I needed a heating pad solution…and I was pretty proud that I made one. Don’t judge. These days, it’s the little things that make me happy.

So, I suppose what I’m getting at is more so the fact that I need a heating pad in the first place. As far as pain goes, I’m usually pretty tough, and wouldn’t have anything on hand for aches and pains. Hey, I felt like I was, in a way, gypped over Hadley’s birth in having a C-section; I didn’t get to experience LABOR and didn’t have much pain (beyond the whole issue of coughing, sneezing, laughing, etc with that darned incision), but I’ll post more on that when I feel good ‘n ready to do so. 😉 Long story short, though, through our trials and triumphs of breastfeeding (also more on that in a future post), I seem to have developed a blocked milk duct.

Funny. Had’s got a blocked tear duct that causes one of his eyes to goober up with yellow stuff (not puss, and ’tis completely normal – believe me, the doc has been consulted as to every inch of his cute lil’ body). Wonder if there’s a connection beyond grammatical. And, now, I’m not leaking yellow goobers.

Anyhoo, being a) quite the independent bugger and b) more than a tad intimidated by the overbearing lactation consultants, I’m determined to handle this issue on my own – unless, of course, it becomes a bigger issue (ie mastitis…an infection…in da booby. Yeah. Let’s hope not, shall we?). So, after researching via books ‘n the interwebs, I found myself filling a cute ol’ sock with dried beans. I wasn’t up for going all Martha Stewart with my sewing machine, so I took the easy way out.

Between using my bean-filled buddy (microwaved for a couple of minutes and wrapped in a kitchen towel), “pressure massaging”, attempting to pump (and feed) more on “that side”, and taking the occasional ibuprofen, I’m hoping that the issue

Otherwise, for those of you who are wondering (and since it’s World Breastfeeding Week), I should say that breastfeeding has been a challenge — and, in some ways, way easier than I had expected (example being – even though Hadley had been given a small bottle right after he was born — due to his size and a necessity to keep his body heat regulated, and the fact that I was getting stitched…er, stapled up — when he was brought back to me in Recovery, he immediately latched on — what a moment!) and in others, purdy darn frustrating (example – let’s just say he doesn’t always latch well, and he’s got a temper AND an impatient streak that make for meltdowns…can’t IMAGINE where he got those traits, hee hee). That’s the nature of breastfeeding, though.

I should shout from the rooftops that I’m terribly lucky. I’ve healed very well, have lost weight VERY quickly (some might say TOO much too fast – I swear I’m eating and trying to drink enough for the both of us, though! And, no worries, my tummy still looks like a satellite image being beamed in from Mars), can almost always get him to settle down for a feeding (even when there are latching issues), am able to pump so Dave (AKA “The Dorky Daddy”, AKA “Best Father and Husband on Earth”) can have some one-on-one time with his little man…and, miracle of miracles, my milk came in before leaving the hospital. The little guy was already starting to gain weight after his first week home, so all appears to be working! And, hey. Isn’t that all that matters? 🙂

Thanks, as always, for reading. I promise to write the birth story when I’m up to it, as well as more on breastfeeding. Oh, and for those who are wondering, we’re not using cloth diapers quite yet — not with how quickly this lil’ guy goes through them, and with how few we currently own. Gonna stock up and move onto that next step when things are a tad more, um, solid. One thing at a time, but we’ll get there. Oh, and just so I’m not a completely stingy b-word keeping things from you, here’s the unofficial birth announcement for those of you who may not have heard —

Our wonderful Hadley Allston was born on  
Friday, July 13th at 11:48am via scheduled C-section.
He weighed 10 lbs., 1 3/4 oz and was 22″ in length.

Best Laid Plans

So, I wish I could post everyday. I really do. That’s one of those “best laid plans” moments floating through my mind lately. But, what’s been on our minds more than anything? That’s right. Of course. The baby – who still hasn’t made his/her appearance yet.

That’s okay, though. He/she isn’t due until the 3rd…or 7th…although our doctors seemed to think that it’d be a tad early. Let’s just say it’s measuring bigger than expected. To look at me, though, we’re guessing it’ll be an average size. I’m all belly, and after our sono last week folks are asking “Where the heck are you hiding an 8lb., 13oz. baby?!” Luckily, sonograms tend to “over measure.” The latest news here is that IF he/she decides to stay comfy, they’ll probably be to big to deliver via inducement. What’s this mean? Possibly C-section. Which I hate. But, again, “best laid plans”….

Y’know what just occurred to me? The fact that I’m Strep B positive. It’s not a huge deal, just need an IV of medication when I get to the hospital. HOWEVER, it JUST hit me that some of my comforting yoga moves may be challenging, if not impossible, with an IV running from the moment I get admitted. Crap. Luckily, there are other positives from yoga that I can try to implement…but, still. Can I just say “AW, MAN!!!!!” please? Or, perhaps, something a tad stronger? *grumbles*

In general, I’ve learned how to be flexible. How can one not when a tiny being has taken over one’s body and, in many ways, life? (Although, admittedly, this has been a VERY easy pregnancy!) I’m hoping that, when the time comes, this flexibility works for us – and, of course, that things AREN’T complicated and run smoothly.

For now, while there are a million little projects I’d LIKE to finish or work on, they’re not important. We’re essentially ready for the baby to come home anytime. I seem to be getting Braxton Hicks contractions for now, so we’re all guessing it’ll happen this week – but, then again, “best laid plans.” Can’t wait to share nursery pics, our “belly progression” pics, and even the garden that we found time to plant!