The Book That Will Change Everything

As I look back on the initial weeks following Ainsley’s birth, I am thankful for some bright spots amidst the sleeplessness and near-debilitating anxiety. For example, remember how all my preggo friends who were due around the same time had their babies before me? Well, once we all had our babies I stopped being bitter and none of that mattered anymore. I was grateful that we shared our pregnancy journeys together and I was even more thankful that they were along for the postpartum ride.

So one night around 3:00am, in a state of delirium, my friend and I were commiserating about how hard our lives were. It’s kind of ridiculous thinking back now. Here we were, two new mommies of beautiful, healthy baby girls and all we could think about was the hard stuff. It took weeks before we were truly able to appreciate how blessed we really were. Are.

beauties

But that was the frame of mind we were in so… we were texting back and forth, trying to stay awake so we wouldn’t accidentally nod off and drop our children and somehow our conversation took a hilariously inappropriate turn. We started coming up with chapter titles for the book we would one day write, promoting a celibate lifestyle. Sex is not worth it because it could lead to pregnancy, we thought. And pregnancy could lead to childbirth. And spiraling down the rabbit trail we went. (Please note: it was 3:00am, we were delirious and we love our children very much.)

And still, that conversation continues periodically as we encounter new stages and challenges. Other friends have joined in too. So I wanted to share said titles with all of you. (Please note: There are more, far too inappropriate to include in this public sphere, but I invite all moms to let your minds wander…)

  • Chapter 1: Nursing is Not Natural (Subtitle: Just because moms produce milk and babies can suck, does not mean nursing comes naturally)
  • Chapter 2: Formula Poop Stinks
  • Chapter 3: How to Properly Remove a Poop-Saturated Onesie (Subtitle: This little factoid is a game changer)
  • Chapter 4: What’s a Shower? (Subtitle: Is that odor me?)
  • Chapter 5: Is that Poop or Food Stained on my Shirt?
  • Chapter 6: Creative Substitutes for Nursing Pads (Subtitle: Because who has time to go to the store?)
  • Chapter 7: My Everything Hurts
  • Chapter 8: How Could My Husband Do This To Me?
  • Chapter 9: I Don’t Know Myself Anymore
  • Chapter 10: The Diaper Is For Peeing On, Not The Changing Table

Possible book titles include:

  • The Many Layers of Motherhood
  • My Complicated Mom Life
  • How Could My Husband Do This To Me? (Subtitle: See Chapter 8)

Want to help us brainstorm more? Join us in the comment section below. This book is sure to be a New York Times Bestseller.

 

An Absolutely Brutal Week and the Decision to Stop Breastfeeding

I recently made the decision to transition from breastfeeding to formula feeding and I have to admit, it was not an easy decision to make. We have been all over the map in terms of feeding since the moment Ainsley was born.

At the hospital, I nursed during the days and she took a bottle in the nursery at night. When we got home, our pediatrician was concerned she had lost too much weight since birth and recommended we supplement nursing with formula. While recovering from delivery, I was living in a fog from lack of sleep and pain meds, so letting others feed while I napped was a gift. However, it did cause my milk supply to slow down and by the time family left town and I was on my own again, I had to make a quick decision about how I was going to feed – breast or bottle. When faced with the decision alone, without any outside influences in favor of or against either option, I made the decision to nurse exclusively. For the first time ever, I felt like my mom instinct kicked in and when we went back to the pediatrician a few weeks later, Ainsley had gained weight. Huge relief.

I had to work hard to get my milk supply back up. I hired a Lactation Consultant to come to my house, fondle me quite a bit, and get me back on track. I ate dozens of lactation cookies, drank Mother’s Milk tea, took supplements, the works. Finally, we were up-and-running again. Ainsley continued to thrive the next two months. We were smooth sailing.

When she hit her three-month birthday, we experienced a week like no other. Note to self: Do not get on this girl’s bad side because she will make life miserable for all who cross her path. Jake and I could not figure out what was wrong with her that week. She whined and cried and fussed all week long. It was torture for all three of us. We were terrified our happy-go-lucky girl was gone and had been replaced by a miserable little being whose sole desire was to suck the life out of everyone she came in contact with.

And then it hit us. This was a total Mom and Dad fail. We realized… she was crying after every meal (although to our credit she was also crying the rest of the day too)… she might be hungry. Or tired. Or both. The girl would not nap. She would fight it and fight it and fight it and being the novice parents that we are, we would succumb to her tears and hold her. All day.

But on top being sleepy, the girl was hungry. Her cries screamed, “Feed me!” Sadly though, I did not have enough milk to offer the poor love. So here we were again, back to supplementing, only this time my mommy instinct told me it was all good. Baby girl got happy once her tummy was satisfied. Everything shifted again. Our sweet, joyful, smiley girl was back.

Sweet, Happy Baby

Sweet, Happy Baby

As the feeding saga continued, and little A continued to grow, I stopped being able to keep up with her needs and my milk supply began to dwindle again. After a couple weeks I was pumping like 3 oz. a day. Not nearly enough for one meal let alone a day’s worth.

And that leads us to where we are today. As of the four-month mark, she is exclusively a formula-fed baby. I struggled with this transition. I wasn’t sure how hard I should push to keep the nursing going. I was also a little embarrassed to admit that I had officially gone to the other side (no offense to you formula feeding moms out there. Just keeping in real. These were my struggles).

That said, we just had her four-month checkup and the doctor said she was thriving. She is smiling, giggling, oohing and aahing. She actually seems happier than ever. She is finally napping and eats way more than anyone would ever expect considering her size. I can only imagine the girl has the kind of metabolism the rest of us only dream about.

She can't believe she is 4 months old either!

She can’t believe she is 4 months old either!

Plus, I know plenty of formula fed babies that like never, ever get sick. It is kind of crazy. Like never. And as my friend and I discussed just this week, we were formula fed babies and obviously we are perfect in every way.

So I wonder why I struggle with these feelings? I think part of it is just me. If I am not wrestling with one issue it’s another. I am one of those people that can never be happy just being happy. Part of it also is my tendency to compare myself with others. Are other moms stronger than me? Do they have superhuman milk-producing powers that I don’t have? Does not nursing make me a bad mom? I know the answers to all of the above are no, no and no. But I still question. I still wonder.

All that to say, the decision is made and the milk is no longer. I am back to enjoying wine, cheese and broccoli again. Okay, maybe not enjoying broccoli, but I am back to eating it again.

Pasta Salad with... drum roll... broccoli!

Pasta Salad with… drum roll… broccoli!

As moms we can only do our very best. We do have a mommy instinct that kicks in for even the least maternal among us (i.e. me). We can research and seek the opinions of others but ultimately we all have to make our own decisions. No judgment. No comparing. And that includes ourselves.

Current and future moms – Are you (or did you) breastfeed or formula feed? What was your thought process when you made your decision? Leave a comment… I would love to know your thoughts.

The whole truth and nothing but the truth…

The transition of non-parent to parent is like going from (insert ANY profession) to… I don’t know… Cardiothoracic Surgeon overnight. You feel clueless pretty much ALL THE TIME. Your new workspace is filled with foreign objects that require a ridiculous amount of training to operate (moby wrap, what??). Your identity shifts drastically. Everything you used to believe about yourself (like that you are strong, competent, intelligent, to name a few) is flushed down the toilet. And don’t even get me started about the loss of freedom. You’re on call 24/7. Sleep is for wusses anyway.

This is not to say that parenthood isn’t worth it. You don’t understand true love until you are looking into your baby’s eyes and see that first sparkle of recognition or the toothless grin that lights up the room. Those moments can bring tears to the eyes of even the toughest dude out there.

But that’s not the point right now. My husband tells me I am on a Truth Campaign because ever since becoming a parent I have no problem sharing with anyone who will listen how hard things are at times. Sleepless nights, deafening crying spells and what’s a shower again? Very rarely does anyone tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth about what parenting is actually like.

I feel a bit misled. Yes it is joyous and yes it is oh so good. But I knew it would be all that. People tend to focus on the good stuff only and minimize the hard, crazy and weird details. Like, I had no idea that one day I would need to cut my daughter’s onesie off her because it was just that saturated with poop. Or that months would pass and I would never not feel narcoleptic. (My baby is four months old and I still woke up six times last night – twice to feed, once to burp and change her and three other times for reasons I am too tired to remember right now).

Aforementioned onesie that is no longer with us. RIP.

Aforementioned onesie that is no longer with us. RIP.

I think there are a few things going on. For starters, as time goes on we forget the hard stuff from the beginning stages of parenthood. When, I don’t know. But eventually these high stress moments from the early months fade away and we long to do it all over again.

It also seems though that we don’t admit the hard stuff because it would make us seem like we’re not cutting it in the overseers-of-tiny-humans department. And with the fancy, shiny images on Instagram and Facebook our babies all look perfectly aglow. Mine included. And while I do find her absolutely angelic on most days, some days are completely exhausting. There, I admitted it.

There is also this comparison thing that happens when you become a parent. Social media makes it hard not to believe that everyone else’s baby is perfect and every other parent out there is adjusting fantastically to their new reality as mom or dad. Don’t believe what you see people! Sure, we go out on errands and to Baby Rhyme Time at the library but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t hysterical crying the whole way there and the whole way home!

And then there’s the guilt. Oh the mom guilt. It’s what leads me to question whether I should even post any of this. It’s what also leads me to emphasize again, that my baby is precious in almost every way, almost all the time. We had a rough week recently, that’s all! Really, I love her with every inch of me! Promise! It’s all true… but so is the other stuff. Why should we feel guilty for being real with each other?

Why is this even important? Why start a Truth Campaign? Because when I know others are going through even a small inkling of what I am going through I somehow feel better. Not that I want you to struggle but knowing that you are… even a little… brings me a wee bit of comfort.

Moms, Dads, new parents everywhere… we are in this together. Let’s be real with each other and support one another and celebrate small victories. We are on the adventure of a lifetime right now and it comes with a cost. Every good thing does. So let’s not be ashamed to admit it.

Adventures in Parenting…

It’s hard to believe my baby girl is now four months old. Life looks nothing like it did four and a half months ago and don’t even get me started on six months or a year ago. Who can remember that far back?

4 months

To say I am a changed person since having a child wouldn’t do it justice. There have been plenty of bumps along the way and maybe even a mountain or two to climb but we seem to have finally plateaued. In a good way. Here are a few reflections from the first few months of my sweet girl’s life.

The good stuff…

  • This girl is a charmer. Her smile lights up the room.
  • She is just now learning how to sit up on her own. Her upper body can be likened to that of a bobble head but she gives it all she’s got. What more could a mommy want?
  • She has just discovered laughter. The sound bears a striking resemblance to the noises Beavis and Butthead used to make, but I could listen to it all day. (I may have recorded it on my phone and I may actually listen to it several times a day).
  • Every so often she will stare at me. It feels like we are having a staring contest. The girl wins every time. She doesn’t blink! I have to remind myself when things get awkward and I want to look away that this is her way of bonding with me and one day she may not want to talk to me, let alone gaze lovingly in my eyes. I have never cherished a staring contest more.

The hard stuff…

  • The beginning epitomized the concept of “hard stuff.” The first month of new parenthood felt like being stranded on an island. I felt isolated. People helped and brought meals but the anxiety was constant and the loneliness that accompanied the late night feedings was palpable. The thought of being alone – me and the baby – was almost unbearable. I wondered if I would know what to do if something went wrong. And how I would interact with this tiny human who had no means of communicating other than through tears.  Although I couldn’t imagine it at the time, God threw me a bone and life did get easier.
  • I have to admit, sometimes the whiny crying gets to me. I am all about building a strong attachment and meeting her needs by empathizing and creating a safe, secure foundation for her. But when the whiny crying drones on for hours I want to pull my hair out. If I am being honest with myself though, she is not the problem. The crying is not even the problem. The problem is my own frustration and helplessness in not knowing what’s wrong or how to help her. That is definitely going to be a challenge for me through the years when I either don’t know how or am unable to heal my baby’s wounds.

Some learnings along the way…

  • Babies lack object permanence so if you leave their line of sight for one second, they freak out and think you have abandoned them forever. Note to self: angle babies so they can view you at all times, even if you are two feet away.
  • When burping a baby mid-feeding they forget that mid-feeding burps occur at least five times a day and there is ALWAYS more milk left in the bottle. While in this state of amnesia, they cry and cry imagining a future without sustenance, until you bring the bottle back, reminding them that there is still milk left and the meal is not yet finished. Promptly, said crying stops and gulping resumes.
  • There can never be too many headbands. But when the flower on the headband is the same size or larger than the child’s face, it’s too big.

Who knows what will be in store the next four months. My guess is… more laughter, more crying, hopefully more napping, somewhat of a schedule, an earlier bedtime, more playing and many more family adventures.

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