For Lu: The Baby

So I've had a really hard time writing this post.  It should be titled "Welcome to Parenthood: Where Nobody Knows What They're Doing."  Because, seriously.

You have a baby now, it's overwhelming and life-changing, and I've heard it gets easier - but I haven't been there.  So I wouldn't know.

You might let your baby cry herself to sleep from the day she's born.  You might never let your baby cry herself to sleep.  Either way, you wouldn't be alone.  I've tried to be somewhere between the extremes ... but who knows? maybe that's worse!

Everyone will give you advice and none of it will be the same.  Generally speaking, though, here is some of the best advice I have been given.

First, words of wisdom from my mother:  "Your job is to raise your children so that they don't need you."
If you ever find yourself a slave to your child, something is wrong.  Obviously newborns need their mothers. But as they get older, you should be teaching them to be independent, even if it's in small ways.  I nursed Liam exclusively except for the bottle I gave him once or twice a week, just so that he would take a bottle.  You need some leeway - for a temple trip, a night out, or just a few hours alone with your husband.  Take steps to make that possible.
(Binkies are another touchy subject.  Personally, I think they can be a lifesaver for the first few months when you are SORE and your baby just wants to chew on something.)
(Also, put your kid on the floor sometimes.  She won't like it but it's good for her.)

Second, a paraphrased gem from a "sleep expert": Don't project your own emotions onto your baby.
Babies cry when they are hungry, tired, uncomfortable, etc. If you can figure out what they are telling you, the communication becomes more effective, and your baby will cry less.  
When we project our own emotions on them (she thinks I've abandoned her! she's scared! lonely! resentful!), we are the ones who suffer most.

Third, an acronym about baby schedules from my sister-in-law: EASY
Eat - Activity (play) - Sleep - You time
This way you feed your baby when she wakes up, and put her down when she gets tired.  It should eliminate sleep crutches like being nursed to sleep. I haven't done the best job of implementing it though....

Finally, the best advice I think I've ever seen, coming from Pinterest a few weeks ago:

I think this sums it up nicely. You are this child's mother.  You are entitled to receive inspiration on her behalf, whatever it may be.
Don't forget that.



On the first day of sixth grade I was standing nervously in line, waiting for Mrs. Hageman to come and collect our class from the curb.
A girl I had never seen before came bouncing up to join the group.  She slid into line and waved her mom away, confident enough to take on a new year - in a new school - alone.
I've never forgotten the impression I first had of her.

Yesterday I called this girl from my fancy Google phone.  We talked for nearly two hours - the longest phone conversation I've had since I was dating Slice long distance. (And before that, probably middle school.)

We used to talk about friends and school and boys that never noticed us; book reports, debate speeches, e-mails, Mock Trial. We made ridiculous commercials and went to Classic Skating and Star Wars I and Hale Center Theater together.  Then I moved away.

(This picture proves that she was the prettier, less awkward friend. My hair?)

Now we talk about babies and husbands and jobs and houses, and how hard it is to not have control over our lives.  Now she's the one talking to her daughter while we're on the phone, like I used to talk to my younger siblings.
Now we are wondering how to raise our own daughters to be strong, confident, compassionate women.

It really got me thinking.

Thinking about the women in my life who have helped me, changed me, taught me, in so many different ways.  
Thinking about what I want my daughter to learn, from me and other people that she trusts.
Thinking about the kind of friends I hope she finds, friends she can talk to and look up to and stick with in an increasingly harsh world.
Thinking about her life as a woman, the trials and heartbreaks that will certainly come her way; the woman that I hope she becomes because of them.
The woman that I want to be for her - and anyone else who may be watching.

And I'm just thinking about how lucky I am, to have the mother and sisters and grandmothers, aunts, church leaders, neighbors, friends that I have always had.  The men that make our sisterhood possible.
We really all need each other, you know?

So ... thanks.  To all of you.  For being a part of my life.


tempting fate

I turned off word verification for like 3 days.  Got 10 spam comments.
Sorry, the word verif is staying.

For Lu: The Nursing

I think we can all agree that breastfeeding is best, and according to the World Health Organization your baby should have nothing but breastmilk until six months old, yadda yadda you can nurse until two years and beyond.
I think we can also agree to not judge each other.

I started feeding Liam baby food before he was five months old.  All signs said he was completely ready for them, and I don't care if someone thinks that he will be obese in five years because I fed him early.  He slept well, and he was a happy baby.  He also basically weaned himself around 9 months.
MG, on the other hand, is nowhere near ready for solids.  She doesn't even like to taste our food.  I've started feeding her formula bottles with a little rice cereal in them to beef her up, and still, she is tiny.

Point is - you're the mama, do what you think is best.
I can't give much helpful nursing advice through a blog post, but, here's a list of things that have been valuable to me as a breastfeeding mother.

1. Lanolin cream.  My dear Tay gave me some Lansinoh and suggested that I start using it weeks in advance.  I did, but probably not as faithfully as I should have.  I still cracked and bled a little.

2. Nursing pads.  Honestly, I haven't needed these much.  Like, maybe ten times and mostly in the night.  So I never used them regularly and I don't know which ones are best.  Sorry.

3. Pump.  I've used a few and liked both this one and this one just fine.  Don't use the one you get from the hospital, it's awful.

4. Boppy pillow.  Not everyone loves these.  I did.  I could nurse Liam and still use the computer (ha!).  Also, sometimes I dozed off during the nighttime feedings, and it was nice to have him cradled in the thing instead of falling out of my sleepy arms.

5. Nursing bras and/or camisoles.  Buy yourself some decent ones, you'll use them to death.  The Motherhood Maternity salespeople can be very helpful.  Think about a couple things when you're looking: clothes you normally wear, activity level, comfort, size, padding.  I never really needed a sports or sleep bra, didn't want underwire, did want padding.  Try on a few at Motherhood Maternity or Target, and buy the ones you like.  I never wore the 3 cheapo ones I bought.

6. Tops.  I didn't realize how tight-fitting all my shirts were until I had to nurse with them.  Then I went out and bought 7 new shirts.  One way around this, if your shirts need camisoles underneath (mine did), is to buy nursing camis or halftees, or a bra like this that can pass as a camisole .... but you'll probably want a white one. Ahem.

7. Special underwear.  DON'T buy nursing tops, they will make you furious.  Any top with a stretchy neckline will do - cotton or carinessa.

8. Nursing covers, if you want them.  I use mine mostly at church.  They're much easier to use than blankets, and don't have to be anything fancy.

9. True grit.  You will be in exceedingly great pain for at least a few weeks.  Just plan on it, and know that it will end, and know that it's worth it.
When I first started nursing I thought it was inconvenient.  Now that I have to supplement with formula, I know better; compared to bottle-feeding, nursing is suuuuuper convenient.
Just a thought.


For Lu: The Birthing

For this post I'll try to cover both medicated and unmedicated childbirth, and what helped me most with both.  Of course, any other moms are welcome to add your own advice in the comments!

There are a few major things that I wish I would have implemented during my first birth experience - because they made all the difference with the second.  Things will always come up that you didn't expect, but if you prepare yourself, you can handle whatever happens.  With that said, here's "what I wish I'd done."

Home:  Stay at home for as long as possible.  Really.  I knew that I should, and with Liam I thought I was waiting, but no.  Checking in and hearing the words "You're a 1+" will crush your spirit like a cinderblock.  You'll be anxious to get to the hospital - don't let it get to you. Time your contractions, eat and drink as much as you can (even though you won't feel like it), do projects if you need to distract yourself.  I baked cookies for the nurses on the day I was laboring at home.  Surprise!  The nurses loved them.

Move:  Don't just lie there; you've got to move around.  Per my Hypnobabies training, with MG I changed my position after every contraction.  It was tough.  I'd get comfortable, handle a contraction well, and want to stay that way.  But I forced myself to move and I am quite convinced it sped up the process.
With Liam, I discovered that I could handle the pain better if I was on my feet.  I stood for every.single.contraction. until I got an epidural, even when I was on Pitocin and hooked up to IVs and monitors.  That was probably 12 hours' worth.  I don't know, I just couldn't bear to sit there.

Position of the Baby: I know, I sound totally paranoid about having another posterior baby.  That's because I am.  YOU DO NOT WANT THIS TO HAPPEN.  A posterior baby will cause more painful contractions and slower progress, back labor that the epidural may not anesthetize, harder and longer pushing, better likelihood of tearing/episiotomy, you understand me??
And really, it's quite preventable.  There are ways to turn your baby, if you know that you need to, before you get an epidural and can't move.  Ask your nurses, ask the doctor.  If they check you and mention that "it's possible," you jump on that and demand a definite answer! Text me for ideas on how to turn her! Do what you have to do!

Relax: So, with all the moving and contracting and demanding answers from nurses, this may not seem like a high priority.  But it really is.  In hindsight, I think my lack of confidence may have hurt me more than anything (besides the posterior-ness) with Liam.  Your body knows when you are scared, and it will work against itself if you're as terrified of childbirth as I was.  You have got to believe in yourself.
You've got to believe that God created your body, and that your body is capable of giving life.  No matter your character flaws or low pain tolerance or whatever, you are capable.
Relax and let your body do its work, then relax and relax again.  Breathe.  Focus inward.  Talk yourself through it, talk your baby through it.  Cry if you need to.  Pray.
Lean on your husband.

And if you need to utilize the wonders of modern medicine, don't let it - or anyone - get you down.  That doesn't mean you're less of a person.  It means you made a decision.  Praise the Lord that we even have these options.

Stand your ground.  I wish everyone could have the awesome doctor/staff/hospital that I do, but unfortunately, most of you live in big cities with big-time hospitals and strict regulations and possibly uptight caregivers.
Anyway, don't be afraid to ask for what you need.  And if something happens that you don't like, don't be afraid to ask questions.  Like, why are you doing this?  And, are there other options?  Often nurses do things just to follow normal procedure - which doesn't mean they can't make exceptions for you.
(I can give specifics if you want.)

In the end, it's your body, your baby, your experience.  I loved it when my doctor told me "There are lots of right ways to have a baby!"  because it's true.  The important thing is to get her here safe and sound.  Once she's here, life as you know it is over.
Because once you're a mother, you are a different person.  And you'll wonder how you ever felt like a whole person before you were a mother.

Next: The Nursing


For Lu: The Bag

I'll be writing a few posts for my pregnant friends about the things that I know now, after birthing two children (even though I am younger than all of you) and having two vastly different experiences.

Firstly, the hospital bag.  With Liam I had mine packed weeks in advance.  Second time, I was packing it while I was dilated to a 5 (guessing here), and I forgot/neglected things both times.  I suggest you pack:
  • Comfortable clothes.  Comfy slippers (and/or good walking shoes), PJs, stretchy pants and shirts. Some comfy undies. A robe if you want.  Some people make their own "cute" hospital gowns, but a hospital gown is a hospital gown - and I didn't wear one either time.  I prefer to wear regular clothes.
  • Good walking shoes for the husband.  Slice complained about his feet for days after Liam was born.
  • Towels that are larger than a hand towel, for showering.  Take a couple.  Maybe red ones.
  • Toiletries.  The basics, don't forget lotion and chapstick. 
  • Pillows, if you are particular about yours. 
  • Food.  You will not be allowed to eat while you're in labor.  And if you're in labor at the hospital for eighteen hours after not eating dinner the night before, you will be weak and shaky and STARVING - and doing the hardest work of your life.  So, take some snacks that are easy on the stomach.  You might see them again.  (Sorry, but I did.)
  • Nursing stuff. Nursing bra/tank, lanolin cream, a couple nursing pads just in case.  
  • Baby stuff.  An outfit or two, one with legs for the carseat on the way home.  Ask me if I learned that the hard way.
  • Cameras and journals.  If you're a better person than I am, that is.  I have hardly any pictures from the hospital (especially with me in them), and I'm terrible at journaling and baby book stuff.  Just started on MG's last week.
  • Mobile devices.  I've had playlists and audio books and semi-constructive things to do, but I never did any of it.  I watched TV and checked Facebook and played Tetris on my phone.  And slept.  You should have options.
  • Cords for said mobile devices.  Again, ask me if I learned this the hard way.
  • More food.  I eat constantly for days after giving birth.  Mostly junk (chocolate).  I don't feel guilty about it either.
I hope the hospital provides (and if they don't, you'll need to get):
  • Plenty of blankets, pillows for you and your husband
  • Pads - LOTS and LOTS of them, stool softeners, Tucks pads, and maybe antibacterial spray
  • Swaddling blankets, diapers & wipes, pacifiers, hand mitts
Some people take their Boppy pillows, and flip-flops for the shower.  I haven't needed either.  Some people also take copies of their Birth Plan, and signs to put on their door, and incense and essential oils and music players and what have you.  I haven't.

Next up: The Birthing


Then Slice came home and we were all okay.

We are finally back among the living, as they say.
Time for a rambling, picture-filled post!

First, Lu, since you wanted to hear about the good parts of our AZ trip, here are the (only) photos I took on my phone while we were there:

And after we came back:

Poor kids.  They both slept a lot, for a week, which was nice.  But then they got better and I got worse (sinus infection), so it was pretty rough - even with Ki around helping a BUNCH - until Slice got off work and saved me from utter destruction.  

In other news, MG is finally growing.  We started giving her formula bottles once or twice a day.  I'm just not making enough milk, and I've known it all along, but she's had some "nipple confusion" (as they say) so I've been hesitant to give her a bottle EVER.
We're over it.
She loves bottles, and she's growing into 0-3 month clothes, now that she is four months old.  So that's good.

(Also, I get to watch Liam feed her and it melts my heart.)

In OTHER other news, the new house is a no-go.  Slice simply will not be convinced.  I can't blame him, really, it's just this whole "putting the kids in the same room" thing that I've been living in fear of for probably a year now.  Once that is done I will buckle down and fix up this old thing, for at least a little more time of living in it.

And I'm off.