Month: March 2012

Sixteen

There’s a new mayor in M town.

Or at least she would like to think so.

Little Miss thinks she’s running the ship around here and we are all to be at her beckoned call.

Sorry, hunny, things haven’t been that way since you were…oh… about six weeks old?

Needless to say, we are working on big words like obedience, come, and no.

And while this little training course has sucked some of the fun out of this month, now that we are nearing its’ end we have seen some very positive changes in MG’s behavior. Less tantrums, more compliance.  Less tears of frustrations, more smiles of joy (on both ends).  Less throwing toys across the room, more asking for help.  Cheers all around!

The biggest barrier seems to be communication.  She can’t tell us what she wants, so often conversations dissolve into fits and tears.  We can’t explain to her in toddler language why she can’t go in the street, so we have to tell her to stop and expect her to obey.  Just because we said so.  This is hard stuff, folks.

Plus, we’re at the height of stranger danger.  My friendly, happy-go-lucky baby now only wants Mama to do it and no one else may hold me, thank you very much!  The pediatrician assured me this was normal and said something along the lines of, “They all cry like this at the 15month and 18month well-babies.  It’s just this age.”  Phew.  Then as we were leaving she dropped this ego-buster on me, “Wow, you’ve got a feisty one there.”  Just what every Mama wants to hear after a long day!

Oh my little feisty one.  You certainly have a flair for drama!  You are mimicking everything we do: throwing paper in the trash (even paper that isn’t trash), clapping your hands along with the contestants on Wheel of Fortune, smiling cheesy smiles back at us, recreating noises that you hear Mama and Daddy make, slapping your hands on the ottoman to the beat of a song, attempting to dress yourself, pointing to every.single.object.on.every.single.page.of.every.single.book, blowing on the hot spoon before you put in your mouth, trying to feed Mama your leftover cheese, passing us the clean utensils from the dishwasher to be put away and more.  Each day is a new wonder with you.  And despite all of your feistiness, we’ve seen plenty of sugar and spice and everything nice from you too.

So let’s try and channel that drama a bit next month, shall we?
(Just because we’re your parents doesn’t mean we don’t have some learning to do too.  So go easy on us.) Otherwise, you may end up as an only child.  (this is not a threat)

Love ya bunches and bunches,

Photobucket

Our Lifestyle: Seedlings

I wouldn’t consider myself to have much of a green thumb.  Mostly due to laziness.
If a plant won’t survive with a little bit of water every now and then, then I’m okay with letting it go the way nature intended.  i.e. death.

I also hate worms.
And other creeping things that I prefer not to know live in my yard.

But I do love the way a nicely flowered yard looks.

And then I discovered Seedlings. 

 

It’s a wonderful system, really.

 

Every springtime around my birthday, I buy a bunch of flowering seed packets.  Most are around 20 cents, but sometimes I’ll splurge and buy the $1.25 ones.
I buy a variety every year.  Some annuals, some perennials.  This year, I ended up with an unfortunate amount of zinnias….and not really much else.  Not really sure how much “variety” there is in giant zinnias and thumbellina zinnias…but that’s what you get when you’re just randomly grabbing based on the lure of colorful pictures.

 

 

My grandpa would tell you to start the seeds around Lent and then plant them around Easter.  So that’s what we do.  This 72-pod tray does the trick at just under $6.

The instructions are all there on the box, but basically you pour warm water over the dirt pods and they begin to expand before your eyes (this little project is just begging to be done with children, I can’t wait until MG is old enough).  After expansion, you’ll see that each pod is actually good planting soil that will hold about 3-4 seeds (or if your me, 15.  Like I said, I’m lazy)
You carefully pour your seeds into each pod and then mash them down in the dirt a little.  Or “gently cover”.  However you prefer.  The provided lid acts as a greenhouse to keep the seeds warm enough to start their growth.
Cover and set by a sunny window and watch the science project unfold.

Within 24 hours, you’ll have condensation on the “roof”.  Greenhouse effect.

And, no kidding, within 36 hours (it still surprises me every time), you’ll start to have green.  This is wonderful for those of us into instant gratification. {myself)

 

Per box instructions, you water it every time the dirt begins to turn more “cocoa” than “coffee” brown.  Which is about twice a week.  Which is, coincidentally, about as high maintenance as I do.

Within a week, you have this:

 

 

As the seeds sprout, you uncover them bit by bit.  When they are tall enough to touch, you fully remove the greenhouse lid.

When you’re sure you’ve seen the last frost, you can begin a week of “hardening off” your little seed sprouts before they are permanently planted.  Set the box outside during the day and then bring in your little green babies at night.  You don’t want them to face the elements juuust yet  (insert mothering analogy ).

Finally, they are ready to go in the ground.  This is where Daddy takes over.  Because I just don’t do worms.

Depending on what you planted, they should bloom soon and often.

 

You’ve just saved yourself like $40 for flowers, if not more.  And avoided the ones you usually buy at the store that are already mature and blooming.  So you are able to enjoy your little seedlings for longer.

And it’s wonderfully fun.

Meanwhile, you’ve also just witnessed a lesson in creation.  The tiny seeds that you’ve watered and cared for became sprouts and then plants. When you look out in your yard and see those beautiful blooms you can take ownership in them because you know where they came from and how they got there.
The best part is: they are so low maintenance that they practically raise themselves.

Now that’s my kind of mothering.

Cause LORD knows, these days, I’ve already got my hands full with a little sprout of my own.

 

Photobucket

Friday

             was wet and rainy.
It was one of those rare days where we didn’t have anything planned except to keep the washing machine cycling…and due to that, we couldn’t exactly leave the house.

I sifted through my overstuffed supply cabinet, looking for an activity to suit a 15-going-on-16th month old.

Then it dawned on me, why not do as any good teacher and start with the basics?

I pulled out my trusty Crayolas (no RoseArts in this house!), some art paper, and a roll of masking tape.

MG sat in her high chair and I hastily selected a color: orange it was.  I demonstrated for her quickly, knowing she’s really into cause-and-effect these days; sure enough she too wanted to try to make that tangerine line snake across the paper.

She did it!

And then quickly reminded me:

that I’m potentially raising a Southpaw (just like her Granny & Aunt M).  We’ll give it another 6 months before we officially put it on the passport though.

Together we created a little terra cotta, tangerine and teal masterpiece to hang on the fridge:

By then the rain had cleared a bit and we found ourselves outside.

She was fascinated by the newly sprung dandelions (Daddy wanted me to be sure to let you know that they did NOT come from our yard)

And splashing through the shallow puddles with bare feet.

There’s nothing like that unexpected giggle of delight to make you see the world differently.  I have forgotten what it is like to splash through puddles (actually, I usually try to avoid them) and to pick weeds (usually I try to avoid those too).  But those chubby little fingers and toes are experiencing them for the first time.  And that is something to never be avoided, as much as it can be helped.

All in all, our rainy, wet Friday mostly consisted of weed picking, puddle jumping, worm avoiding (can’t quite bring myself up for that experience yet), dog watching, feet washing, giggle inducing, finger pointing, flower sniffing, and hand holding.  With a little bit of art on the side.

On this rainy, wet Friday, we used crayons to create art and the LORD used the rain to create this:

We are thankful for the little ways that God often reminds us that art and nature are so closely tied.
Photobucket

Our Story: Boy and Girl Go on a Date

So freshmen year was about half-way over.  I knew N liked me, he knew that I was interested in himWe both knew the ball was in his court.

He hashed out a plan with his roommate.  Together they created the most memorable date imaginable.  Now all he had to do was ask.

It was close to the holidays when the date card was delivered to my room.
I had just returned from seeing all of the wonders that the great Christmas open houses have to offer.  I was full of Christmas magic and holiday cheer.

There was a hand-drawn card on my laptop.

My heart beat rapidly as I nervously examined it.

On the outside: Magazine letters cut and pasted in such a way to put any ransom note to shame “YOu’Re InvItTeD To:”

Pages 1-2: Handwritten: “The ‘Best’ Date Ever” With stick figures and cartoon drawings surrounding in a Crayola rainbow of colors.  The drawings as best I can interpret (and this is coming from a future art teacher, mind you): a lobster, a boy and a girl on razor scooters, a money-sign with a slash through it, two stick figures at a picnic table, a car with an X through it, a paper-sack puppet with blond hair, and 3 cartoons that I still find indecipherable.

Back:

Handwritten (in a thick, black Crayola marker.)  “Oh by the way, {insert his name here} is going with you.  So remember that before you decide to go on the ‘best’ date ever.  Remember this is a date and I will proudly proclaim it from the rooftops if you agree.  And no, my participation in this event is not a variable.”
I mean, how could I turn down such an offer?

Fortunately he called the day  the hour before we were supposed to leave and told me not to wear anything I wouldn’t want ruined.  And “oh, by the way, my parents are picking us up.”  Off to an interesting start already.

I donned my nicest outfit and prepared to spend one-on-one time with his parents for the first time.  They arrived, as expected, at 10am.  It was a cold, January 11th day, but not to the point where we needed a coat.  Which was a good thing, because I actually didn’t own any coats that I wouldn’t want “ruined”.

As we loaded into the car, I’m not sure who was more nervous: N, myself, or his parents.  We were all trying to make our best impressions.  N did apologize for the last minute change of drivers.  And then he explained the date…somewhat.

“Did you notice that this is the ‘BEST’ date ever, with ‘best’ in quotation marks?  Because that is really important. My car really did break down, so that’s why my parents had to pick us up.  But it actually plays beautifully into my plan”

I was beginning to gather the “theme” of this date.

The one-hour car ride was actually really fun.  It was kinda nice to get to know his parents and learn more about this guy who was planning to take me on the worst date of my life.

Yes, that’s right, the worst and most memorable date of my life.  A freezing cold ‘picnic’ at a waste treatment plant, a surprise shower of water balloons thrown at us from afar (thanks to his high school friends), a movie matinee complete with a shower of soda and popcorn (once again, thanks friends), a wallet ‘left’ at home, a dinner date at the fine eating establishment known as Wendy’s and this was all before the grand finale.

The idea of the date was to have all the things that could possibly go wrong on a first date come true.  Some planned and some not so planned, but either way it worked out. You have to give him props for eliminating any first-date jitters!

The grand finale was actually supposed to be a nice walk downtown followed by a professional basketball game.  And you know what?  Even that didn’t go as planned.  We arrived past half-time and they wouldn’t let us in the door.  Neither of us really minded too much; N felt bad and apologized, but I was too full of first date euphoria to really care.

I will have to say though, the best part of the date was driving back to campus (minus his parents this time), having a sing-a-long to a mixed cd {containing a playlist filled with our mutual love for boy bands and Avril Lavigne [we should have known then it was a sign]} and ending up at an off-campus house.  This was no ordinary off-campus house, mind you, it was affectionately named the Bombshelter for a reason.  It literally had an authentic 1960’s bombshelter in the backyard.  It was rented by four senior football players {see, I knew N would be a good person to know -wink-} and so you can just imagine how ‘nice’ the inside appeared.  The “perfect” place to end a “terrible” first date.

It was here we talked and talked.  With a little competitive card playing intermixed (the loser had to drink shots of stale, salty, apple cider).  I laughed.  A lot.  And deep down I was beginning to get that feeling.  You know, that little niggling feeling like maybe, just maybe, this is the one?!

I think it was 3am before he finally dropped me off at my dorm, but of course he was a perfect gentleman as usual.  I mean, we wouldn’t want to rush into things, would we?

With that, the ball had officially been played.  But would this boy and girl now seal the deal and make it official?

Only time would tell.

To be continued…

And until then,

Photobucket

part IV

Last Night*

It was 10:20pm.

She’d been in bed for two hours, but in that time I had been in her room 4 times.

Pat her back, insert paci, cover her up.  Not every cry had been answered, some just lasted a second and then she would be silent for about twenty minutes. But even when she wouldn’t cry out, I could hear her shifting around in there, trying to get comfortable.   She was restless.

Now she was full-out crying.  I had a paralyzing moment of indecision:  pick her up and rock her or let her cry it out.  Neither was guaranteed to work and I was afraid of the guilt over failing.

My heart raced.  Her protests became louder.  What would Gary Ezzo say?  What would Dr. Sears say? What would Tracy Hogg say?  Be consistent?  Be flexible?  What would Daddy want me to do?  What would my Mom do?  We had never fully subscribed to a particular philosophy.  That worked for us most of the time but for this moment it only made life confusing….and I needed to make a decision before Daddy was forced to.

Rocking her wonLogic: 1) It had been at least a month since we’d had an episode like this, so we weren’t in danger yet of ingraining a bad habit (guilt-inducing because that had happened to us around month 10 and we were forced to end it by crying it out somewhere in month 11) 2) I’d had multiple nights in a row of good sleep…allowing me to stay up a little later than usual should this not work.  And those combined nights gave me the fortitude to try it tonight.  Consequence:  Either she would calm down and allow me to put her to sleep, or she would want to play and this would completely backfire.  I was fully prepared for either.

She was standing up with eyes locked on the door.  She immediately stopped crying when she saw me, but her face was wet with tears and snot.  I picked her up and she found the crook of my arm, just as she used to when she was a baby.

We sat in the chair and rocked.  Our bodies completely in tandem for the first time all day. She remained still but her eyes were wide-awake.  I closed mine, hoping she would follow suit.  She didn’t.  She kept looking up at me, her eyes never wavering, and I finally gave up trying to “avoid eye contact and over-stimulation”.  I stared back at her.  We have so few of these moments these days, afterall.

I was flooded with memories:
-the first time I saw her
-the day that she first truly looked back at us as if she were finally using her eyes for their intended purpose
-the first time she recognized Daddy
-the times when she would only lay on her back and gaze up at us for hours, just waiting for us to bestow attention on her

These days, she is such a busy little thing, I can hardly get her to look at me for longer than a second.
And now it is just the two of us, staring at each other in the dark.

I rub the side of her face with my finger, hoping the motion will coerce her to close her eyes.
She does.  Then she smiles and shivers.  It tickles.  Each time I pass my finger over, she closes her eyes in the half-pleasure/half-pain scrunch and gives me a little silent laugh.

I run my fingernails through her thin hair and across the base of her skull.  This motion is calming for both me and her.  I look at the clock.  Ten minutes have passed, then twenty.  She is still as wide-awake as ever.  But her breathing has slowed, her shuddering has stopped and her face is tear-free.

I stand up and peel her off of my warm body and lay her belly-down in her cold bed.  She pops her head up, but I push it back down and cover her up.  I work in haste, almost sweating, hoping that I can get her settled and she won’t begin to cry.

Fortunately but  unfortunately, we have raised a somewhat autonomous child.  Thanks to the all of the helpful books we read as young parents, we have a baby that puts herself to sleep, plays by herself (in small doses), feeds herself and needs alone time….So now the only way she can fall asleep is on her own, without any aid from us.  Usually I love her independence and encourage it, but sometimes, on these nights especially, I wish I could take back some of the times we’ve pushed her to grow-up.

Thankfully,  this time it works.  Even though she is still awake and carefully guards the door with her eyes, she doesn’t cry when I leave the room.

I tiptoe out and when I finally reach my bed, I realize that her sleep smell is still all over my hands.  And there’s a little patch of drool on my arm–the one that her cheek was nestled into.

I don’t hear from her again until 9:20am today.

Did I do the right thing? 

I’m still not sure.  Everyone warns you about the newborn stage and the teething stage and the terrible two stage.  But no one tells you about this stage.  The “in-between” stage.  Not fully baby, not fully toddler.  They expect and want independence at times, at others, they are crying at your ankles “up, up”–wanting to be held like the newborn they once were.  At times you are overwhelmed with how far they’ve come, at others, you are confronted with how little they can actually do on their own and how much help they truly need from you.

I guess the answer is: “For last night, yes.”  It’s a matter of perspective and chance, determination and personality.  When those things collide perfectly, then you have good fortune.

Don’t you sometimes wonder why the LORD allows us to be in charge of raising these complicated little creatures?

So if someone could tell me what to do about tonight, I would so greatly appreciate it.  Because that chapter seems to be missing in my books.  

*written before the events of last week

Photobucket

Points

After our little ER incident and illness, we are slowly recovering over here.

Yesterday was touch and go.

Low point:  Waking up at 7:30am after a restless night of sleep and multiple trips to the nursery to comfort our sick girl.
High point:  Getting new clothes for my gal and I at Old Navy.  Spent $60 got $30 back in ONbucks.  Went to CVS to pick up some reinforcements (Infant Advil, popsicles, nail polish).  Won $5 in CVSbucks on my receipt, enabling me to get that other bottle of nail polish I was eyeing.

Higher point:  It was 84 degrees here!!!  The sun was out.  We wore shorts.  We took 2 walks.  I can’t remember a March 15 this nice since my Mississippi days. 
Lower point:  MG got her first boo-boo when we she tripped on the sidewalk.  Oh it just hurts me to see that perfect little knee with baby-soft skin so scratched up.

Lowest point:  Catching Atticus vomit with a pair of my shorts from the laundry.  This sickness is welcome to leave our house now.
Highest point:  After her afternoon nap, MG’s fever finally broke.  Praise the LORD, our Comforter and Healer!

Today?  Today it is 80+ degrees out again.  I’ve got a sleeping baby, clean laundry, and a scoured house.  I’m wearing new clothes.  I’ve got the start of my summer tan.  I’ve got a Dove Gray and Coral Reef mani/pedi.

All points considered, we’re looking to be flying pretty HIGH today.
Photobucket

Midnight (-opposite word of-)Mayhem

If you had said the words “emergency room” to me prior to the early morning of March 14, 2012, I would have envisioned the following:

-a waiting room full of people in various states of traumatic pain & at least one victim of a severe bleeding accident; possibly with a severed limb
-doctors and nurses yelling orders to each other in moments of haste “we’re losing this one!”
-screaming babies and children with panicky parents waiting for hours in the middle of the night to be seen
-+something dramatic similar to an episode of Grey’s Anatomy.  Except, I don’t watch GA because even televised trauma makes me squeamish.

This is most certainly NOT what I envisioned:

My two sweethearts rocking gently in a quiet room.

Here’s how it started:
MG slept restlessly on the night of March 13.  Every time I went in to check on her, she felt a little warm, but I didn’t think anything of it.  You must know by now that she’s been teething so I wrote it off as another night for the tortuous molars.  By 8am, she was unmistakeably  awake and when I went in to retrieve her, noticed that she felt quite warm.  103 degree fever.  Ugh.  I gave her some Tyelenol (that’s been banned, remember? or has it?? I wish they would make up their minds) Advil and felt it was a good sign when she swallowed some applesauce for breakfast and played quietly with her toys.

Poor thing became less and less herself as the day wore on.  I finally phoned the doctor while she took a morning nap.  “Try to keep her comfortable and hydrated”.  She had been drinking fine, so I kept an eye on her.  We continued the meds, but her fever never dropped below 101.

She didn’t want to be put down the rest of the day.  My back was starting to kill me.  When Daddy came home, he scooped her up and rocked her to sleep for an afternoon nap. 

The night progressed slowly with our poor, lethargic sicky.  There was another frantic call to the doc when she began to turn blue and started shaking uncontrollably. This was followed by another spike in fever.  We watched her closely and were worried to put her to bed, but the doctor said that was exactly what she needed to fight this: rest.

I was finally ready to crawl into bed around 11pm after checking her like 15579815380 times, but the last time I checked on her, I just had a funny feeling. Call it Mother’s intuition. She was breathing hard and heavy, almost as if she’d been working out.  The doctor received another call and when I held the phone up to MG’s airway, she said, It’s time to take her in.”  In fifteen seconds, she’d inhaled 15 times. 

I woke up my tired sleepers and we piled in the car.  Fortunately, the closest ER is like a second from our house…but to say I was apprehensive was an understatement.

Halfway to the entrance, Daddy says, “Oh, I left something in the car, you go on ahead and take her inside.”  What, and wait in line behind the screaming gunshot victim?  No thanks.

But lo and behold:  inside it was quiet.  And calm.  There were ZERO patients in the waiting room…or lack thereof.   The Ice Queen receptionist DID nearly throw me off my already weak game, but Sugar Daddy-I-can-charm-anyone-into-a-smile melted her cool heart quickly.  The nurses oohed and aahed over our pitiful baby as they weighed her and poked and prodded her with about every instrument imaginable.  She really only cried when they swabbed her throat-via-her-nose for the RSV test.   The rest of the time, she spent taking turns between Mama’s, no Daddy’s, no Mama’s laps.  She just couldn’t get comfortable and she would reach out with both arms to the empty-lapped parent, “will you try it for awhile??”. 

Next up was a trip to the torture chamber AKA chest x-ray.  She only hollered a little and Daddy stayed right by her side the whole time.

I, in the meantime, stayed on high-alert for drama.  At some point, there was a crazy nurse commotion in the hallway,
Nurse: “Sir, SIR, you can’t walk around without shoes.”
Shoeless Man: “Uhh…I can’t??”
Nurse: “You cannot be barefoot.”
Shoeless Man: “But I left my shoes at home.” 

Shoeless Man: “Do you have some slippers I can borrow?”

Suffice it say, I was glad we missed the entrance with whomever cause Shoeless Man to walk out of his house, drive (illegally), span the asphalt, and pace the tiled hallways sans footwear.  Must have been pretty traumatic.

Finally, after about an hour’s wait, a dozing Daddy, and an exhausted little family, they confirmed she had strep + an upper respiratory infection.  One  Rx for amoxicillan later and we were being discharged.  

I have to say, my first experience at the ER was quite the learning experience.  Calm and drama-free (minus Shoeless Man, of course)?  Quick and easy?  It almost makes me think I could do this again someday.  Almost.  Maybe even by myself…if I had to.

The only thing I’ll do differently next time is just remember to throw an extra pair of slippers in my bag.  Afterall, you just never know what you’re going to see there.
Photobucket

Surviving Mamaland: Breastfeeding Essent.

As I relayed  earlier, breastfeeding was quite the learning experience for me.  I went into it with a great amount of desire and a lesser amount of preparation….

So consider me your guinea pig.  I gave everything the ol’ college Mama’s try and I came up with a list of my breastfeeding essentials.  (*of course I have to throw in my pre-disclosed caveat: that everyone is different, so this list is designed as more of a “helpful suggestion” rather than a “definitely must-have”.  In other words, take it with a grain of salt)

SMK’s list of breastfeeding essentials:

  • A good pump: you’ll be seeing a lot of this guy, so don’t skimp.  I loved my Medela and was so, so thankful when it was gifted to me at a shower…because everybody knows onesies are a lot more fun to buy…!
  • Lanolin: this stuff is a miracle worker!  Buy some pre-baby and even bring it to the hospital to use as needed.  I didn’t need it the first day, but pretty much from day 2-until the “damage” healed, I slathered this stuff on after every feeding.  The good news is that if you end up with extra, it also doubles as a hand moisturizer, chapstick, and baby lotion.  And that’s what I consider a win-win.
  • A comfortable chair with an ottoman/stool: you’ll be spending a lot of time in it, so make sure it’s comfy.  Also, an ottoman seems to take up a lot of space in the room, but it’s really important to have the right support for good posture when you are breastfeeding.  They even make special stools designed for just this purpose that take up a lot less space than an ottoman.  Bonus: We purchased our chair/ottoman from Pottery Barn Kids (for a steal, I might add, it was a floor model).  We wanted something that we could use in the nursery for a few years and then when the kid(s) are grown we could repurpose.  With a change of a slipcover, this chair could easily serve us in another room of the house.
  • Nursing bras/tanks: these are sort of obvious, but definitely buy them ahead of time when you have the energy/desire. I found the tanks to be really nice to sleep in.  I purchased mine from Target.  Also, buy these items bigger than you would normally.  Trust me on this.
  • Easy -to-access-shirts: pack some in your hospital bag and have some on hand in different sizes as your body returns to normal (?).  Ones with snaps are an extra bonus: they open and close in a flash.  Single-handedly. That’s important.
  • A Costco-sized water bottle: I think most hospitals send Mamas home with these…but they are a must.  Believe me, the second you sit down to nurse that baby, you are overwhelmed with a thirst unlike you’ve ever experienced in your life.  If your husband/mom/friend asks what they can do to help and you can’t think of anything else, ask them to keep the water filled for you.  Besides, a full-time breastfeeding woman needs about 100 ounces of water a day.  I’m getting thirsty just thinking about it.
  • Nursing cover (mine is Hooter Hiders brand, but you can find them anywhere {even homemade} these days):  This is one of those items I scoffed at (I mean, isn’t a blanket good enough??), but as soon as you try one, you will see the value in them.  Especially when that still, stoic little baby begins screaming. And flailing.  On an airplane.  That nursing cover will suddenly be your most coveted possession.  {Even if it does  have “Hooter Hiders” emblazoned across the front.} Yikes.
  • A good book (or two or three):  When you and that baby get the hang of feeding, and you find yourself doing it all day and all night, invest in a good book or two and then leave them by all of your nursing stations.  You can even try reading aloud if your baby isn’t highly distracted.  I recommend these….but that is a post for another day.
  • An iPad: If you don’t have one, but are thinking about it, now’s the time to get one.  Breastfeeding is precious bonding time between you and your baby, but when you are doing it 24/7, sometimes you need a mental break.  Keep an iPad handy and you can check out Facebook/Pinterest/Support sites.  Bonus: Download the Kindle for iPad app…become an Amazon Prime or Amazon Mom member and download books straight to your iPad…many for free!!  Double-bonus: Download iBaby Feed for $1.99 and keep a record of all of your feedings. It even sends you a reminder when it’s time to feed again so you don’t have to be a slave to the clock.  (cause believe me, you’re going to be doing a lot of other ‘slaving’)
  • A bassinet by your bed stocked with diapers, wipes, and a change of (footed) pajamas: I highly recommend keeping baby in the room with you during those first few weeks or months.  Not getting out of the bed multiple times a night was a sleep-saver for me.  Some people can’t do it because babies tend to be noisier sleepers.  I totally get that.  While it was a little frustrating losing sleep over a heavy breather, I certainly loved peeking over at my baby from the comfort of my bed at every whim. Love her.
  • A doula: Of course, not totally necessary, but mine also happened to be a former lactation consultant.  She helped us structure our birth plan to get the best possible advantage for a good start and then helped us get comfortable with it after we left the hospital. Well, I guess as comfortable as you can be with an 8lb barracuda attached to one of your most sensitive body parts.
  • A good support system:  This is a one-woman job, but definitely not a one-woman job. You need all the support you can get, whether it’s your hubby bringing the baby to you in the morning or a La Leche League support group or a visiting friend to talk to.  It is easy to feel isolated since you are the sole provider of your baby’s nourishment.  Don’t let yourself be, take and use all of the help you can get.

Things I tried but could live without:

  • Boppy:  I didn’t really find the Boppy all that helpful personally.  I almost needed two to get the baby where I needed her….and just found it awkward to position it correctly. I did, however, find the Boppy to be useful in other ways: propping the baby up during tummy time, helping her learn how to sit, and even I used it to sit on in my last days of being very heavy and very pregnant.

And finally, here are two things that I plan to do differently should #2 (or 3? or 4?) ever come around:

  • Make time to pump everyday: I was quite lazy about this with MG.  During her naps, I had a million other things I wanted to do rather than pump, so I only did it when it was necessary.  Then there was one time where my babysitter (Granny) almost ran out of frozen milk.  Oops.  I was also concerned that I would have a freezer full of unused milk and not know what to do with it.  Now I know that there are two good options: 1) use it in bottles during the weaning process 2) donate it locally.  Definitely going to make it more of a priority the second time around.
  • Build in a Daddy-only feeding time: If I pump more, this will allow us to have a surplus where Daddy gets to feed the baby too.  If we did this once a night, Daddy would get to have some of that special bonding time and there would be less aversion to the bottle when the babysitter comes around. Perfect.

Best of luck and Happy feeding friends,
Photobucket

MG’s Birth Story: The Day She Entered our World

March 11, 2010:  A day I’ll never forget. It was the first day we lived knowing that MG was coming into our life….And yet….we still had so much learning to do.

Once again, this pregnancy started like the last one.  I had symptoms nearly immediately, but wouldn’t let myself believe I was pregnant until I had proof.  I woke up early that morning after a restless night of sleep.  The very first thing on my mind was that I had a doctor’s appointment that day.  Since I suspected pregnancy, I wanted to have something firm to tell him so that he could give me advice.  I decided just to take the test, even though I knew it was early.  At least if it was negative, he might be able to give me hope.

After waiting the required five minutes, I stared at the test.  I tilted and turned it looking at it from every angle. Two lines stared back at me.  One dark, bold one next to a ghostly faint one.  Was this it?

N agreed to examine it with me.

He wasn’t convinced. Neither was I.  Deep down, I ached for it to be true.  But everything was different now.  There would be no tears of joy, no joyful celebrations until we heard with our own ears that tiny, beating heart.  The miscarriage had tainted everything.

I found I was even nervous to bring it up to the doctor that day.  I was too scared to admit it might be true.  He wasn’t scared for me.  He clapped my back and shook my hand and said, “Let’s check your blood work!”

We waited and waited for that phone call.

I’ll always remember where I was when I saw his number on my cell phone.  It was during the school day, but mercifully, I didn’t have any students at the time.  And he spoke those wonderful words, “You’re pregnant!  But just barely.  Come back in on Monday and we’ll test again to make sure your levels have raised.”

I couldn’t wait to tell N.  We celebrated, cautiously. On Monday, my levels had in fact risen and we scheduled an ultrasound.

We prayed and prayed over this new life that was forming in me.  Time c r a w l e d until that first ultrasound and every time I had to use the bathroom, my stomach knotted up wondering what I would find.  Each time there wasn’t blood, my heart did a little victory dance.

We were so “young” then.  We knew what we wanted, but we didn’t really know.  We knew that we loved this baby forming in my body, but we didn’t really know how much more we would grow to love her.  We knew we were ready to be Mama and Daddy, but we didn’t really know how much of us those roles would require.

Thankfully, God gave us MG anyway.

 “To know that I was known by a new living being, who had not existed until she was made in my body by my desire and brought forth into the world by my pain and strength – that changed me….I would feel milk and love flowing from me to her as once it had flowed to me. It emptied me. As the baby fed, I seemed slowly to grow empty of myself, as if in the presence of that long flow of love even grief could not stand.”   Wendell Berry, Hannah Coulter

Photobucket

part III

Surviving Mamaland: Baby Sales

Ahhh….
Can you smell that?
The plants are blooming, the windows are open…Spring is in the air (a little early this year, I might add, but you won’t hear me complaining)
Which means it’s also time for for the bi-annual baby sales.
Which for me = bliss.

I am one of those Mamas who looooves to shop for baby clothes.  I will go in any store and instantly gravitate towards the baby section with all of the cute, miniature dresses, tiny leggings and velvety sleepers.

I knew there would be no way I would wait to find out what I was having until delivery day because I could not wait to start shopping.  In fact, I didn’t quite wait until I should have and…well…ended up with a bunch of boy clothes.  But that’s a story for another day, and let’s just say…at least Kohl’s has a good return policy.

The first place I went after we got the “It’s a girl!” ultrasound was Old Navy. Partly because I had to return some boy clothes (yes, there too), but also to begin my baby girl’s closet.

For me, buying her clothes was a way to connect with her while she was still in my belly and completely unknown.

I would shop and shop and wash and wash and fold and fold and hang and hang and dream of the day I would get to play dress-up with her, just as I had lovingly dressed my babydolls.  My dolls may not have had neatly plaited hair or scrubbed, clean skin, but they did not go a day without their outfits being changed.  That was how we W girls rolled.

So then I discovered these baby consignment sales…and…well to this Mama’s bargain-loving, baby-shopping, Mama-may-look-like-trash-but-baby-must-be-always-dressed-with-a-bow-in-her-hair‘s heart, they are superb.

My very favorite is the one I went to on Wednesday night. Technically, it opens to the public on Thursday morning, but let’s just say I have some connections (…ahem…thank you, friend of C who donated their pass to help a sister out)…and got in the door at 5pm.

This is my second year of attending these sales and I have gained some important knowledge during them.  To not only survive these sales, but to walk away ahead, you must do the following:

  1. Come prepared.  Bring a laundry basket or huge IKEA bag (my shopping cart of choice) to tote around all of your items.  If you are lucky enough to get an early bird pass, have your wristband on and ready to go:  Minimizes wait time and totally gets you in the door before the Mom of 2 in front of you.  She will lose time trying to hastily secure.
  2. Walk in the door and immediately do NOT make eye contact with anyone.  Walk straight to the area you are most interested in and do not stop to make small talk…lest 30-something on your right gets to that bargain before you.  After you have thoroughly canvassed the area and filled your bag to overflowing, then you may chat up the salesstaff/vendors/your neighbor that you happen to run into there.
  3. Map out in your head what your priorities are: clothes, toys, big-ticket items, accessories, etc.  It’s easy to get overwhelmed and distracted and suddenly you are buying something you had no intention of when you walked in the door.  (“that’s how that $20 pair of patent leather cowboy boots got in there”)
  4. When it comes to clothing, shop the size you need and then search in the sizes above AND below.  These things are highly organized by gender and size, but sometimes people will put things back in the wrong area and you can find that gem that has been passed over because it is “too big” or “too small”.  And sometimes a shirt labeled “18 months” would fit my newborn and vice-versa.  It pays to be thorough.
  5. Bring cash.  Because that’s what Dave would tell you.  And it gets you through the line faster (sometimes there is a “cash only” line).  And that way you never spend over what you intended.
  6. Be discriminate.  Don’t pay more for something that you could easily buy on a clearance rack for cheaper.  The seller determines their own prices and some people really have no idea what their hand-me-downs are worth.
  7. When in doubt, bring a friend/mother/mother-in-law/anyone with a picky eye.  Someone who will tell you what they really think about that Juicy Coutre size 3 month velour jumpsuit.

This year I walked away with a huge pile of clothes,

 a line-up of shoes,

 
 a “Say Please” tea set,

 
& one (!) book.  All for a little over $100.

Most inspirational item:

 These bedazzled socks were $1/pair.  I thought they were so cute and they made me excited to try making my own.

Item with the most potential:

I bought this pack of assorted bloomers for $2.  I definitely see some monogramming and ribboning in my future.

Favorite outfit?

 Strawberry Gymboree dress set. Don’t you just love the strawberry tights?

Favorite/Most indulgent purchase:

Baby Uggs…it just doesn’t get much cuter than that.

I’d call that a pretty successful hunt.

Now that Miss MG is here, I still love to buy her clothes.  They certainly aren’t as cute now that they aren’t so tiny, but I still love dressing her up like my babydoll.  Besides, now I know what she looks like and what she looks good in and what makes her legs look way too short or won’t cover her belly.  We still connect over this.  And even more exciting: she’s now old enough to even appreciate some of my shopping:

 
So don’t plan on me quitting these sales anytime soon.
In fact, there’s one next weekend.
See ya there?

Photobucket

1 2