Saturday, June 23, 2012

MILF

I used to judge "frumpy" moms and think to myself "I will never be a frumpy mom". Now, I don't want to be one of those moms who is really cute but who is trying too hard and is not age appropriate but I do want to be put together. Hahahahahaha!!! Little did I know...

I like to think I'm pretty low maintenance to begin with. I do my hair and nails but wear minimal makeup (just eyes) and I'm not very trendy or stylish but I know what fits and looks good on my body. I keep it simple but I do enjoy good quality clothes and accessories. And of course cute shoes! Style sort of went out the window with pregnancy but I did my best to look decent. I couldn't wait to give birth so I could look normal again. And wear my cute shoes...

Well, I'm lucky to get a shower these days, let alone follow any sort of beauty routine. And my jeans & shorts don't fit yet and I have to wear tops that allow for easy nursing so my wardrobe is pretty limited. I also haven't managed to wear anything but flip flops.

It's almost impossible to have any kind of beauty routine right now - when I do get a shower it's a short one and the time I used to spend on lotions and makeup I now use for nursing pads, nipple cream, and panty liners (yup, still have lochia, that's fun...) my hair is now almost permanently in a ponytail.

My nails, however look fabulous! I normally can never grow my real nails and wore acrylics for years. But thanks to pregnancy & prenatal vitamins my nails are so long & strong that they look like acrylics. I love them! Sadly, my son is squirmy and I end up scratching him a lot so it's time to cut them off. I've taken some pictures to remember them by since I doubt they'll ever grow like this again.

My hair is also the longest it has ever been and despite the fact that Ryder loves grabbing onto it for dear life I refuse to give in and get a "mom cut". Nor that I have time to style it these days...

One new skill at a time

So after a month of breastfeeding we've added pumping and cloth diapering to the arsenal. My goal was to have breastfeeding well established and a daily routine down by one month before adding anything new but the routine part is still a work in progress. I guess I'm batting .500 so I shouldn't feel too bad.

I started cloth diapering this past week and I think I like it. My only complaint is that when he's wet the cloth gets cold so if it is nighttime he won't stay asleep as long. Mike isn't a fan (he hasn't quite mastered it) and RPM doesn't seem to care either way so we'll see how long it lasts.

I also started pumping yesterday. I was a little intimidated by the pump and all the parts but I finally tackled it last night and it was actually very easy. I was able to get 2oz and Mike was able to feed Ryder for the first time. I think I've got a plan for pumping moving forward but if motherhood has taught me nothing, it is that my plans may be great in theory but may go to shit in practice so we'll have to see how it goes.

Next on the list - getting back to the gym/working out. Now that Mike can feed RPM I will try to go in the mornings when he gets off work. Easier said than done considering that is usually the only time I get to sleep for more than an hour at a time. I guess adding a bedtime for Ryder to the list should really cone first...

I continue to live by my new mantra - one day at a time...

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The great debate

Whew! The last 2 weeks have been rough ones. Ryder must have hit a growth spurt right in between weeks 3 and 4 because he was eating practically every hour on the hour. We sort of mellowed into a routine but then he got circumcised on Friday and it all went to shit.

He did really well with the circumcision - it seemed to only hurt for about 18 hours and then he was just kind of fidgety for a day and back to normal by Sunday. (I was in tears the whole time though, I think it may have been rougher on me than him!) However, he ate every hour on Friday and Saturday and didn't want to be put down so as a result I did not get any sleep for almost 3 days. Not to mention how hard it was to hear him crying from pain. He has a few distinct cries and I hope to never hear that one again (wishful thinking, I know). Every time he would start screaming I would burst into tears, it was horrible. And I dealt with it all alone since Mike slept during both days and worked both nights. He came home late on Saturday morning after his Friday night shift and I could have killed him! He normally gets home around 4:30am but didn't get home until almost 7am that day. He felt bad but I was livid. I was up all day and night with our poor little boy after his procedure and desperately needed a break and some sleep but because he was late I didn't get that until Sunday and I was not a nice person to be around. He made it up to me and all 3 of us obviously survived the weekend but it was not fun. So glad that is behind us!

Part of what made that whole weekend so hard is we are not using a pacifier. This is something Mike and I have fought about since about the minute we found out we were pregnant. He is totally against them and while I do think some parents abuse them, I think they can be necessary and definitely serve a purpose. We've fought about using one many times, including most of last week. Mike thinks they are a crutch for parents and that they teach the baby bad habits, encourage oral fixations (which he thinks leads to over eating and smoking) and can mess up their teeth and speech development. All of these things can be true but I think only if the parents let them happen. I believe (and am backed up by research) that babies have an innate need to suck and that the pacifier can provide comfort for them. I think the parents need to use them sparingly and wean the child off of them early but that they can still be effective and helpful to both the baby and the parents. I agreed to try not to use one but always maintained that it might be necessary one day. Everything I read said not to introduce one until the baby was a month old and breastfeeding was well established so those were my benchmarks. For the most part Ryder rarely needs one but there were a few times, and especially during the growth spurt and the circumcision recovery, when he needed one. Both of our families kept asking why we weren't using one but I backed up Mike's decision not to use one, even though I felt Ryder needed it. I finally got Mike to agree to discuss it with our pediatrician at RPM's 1 month appointment.

I am with Ryder 85% of the time since Mike works nights and sleeps during the day. He comes home and takes Ryder for a few hours so I can sleep (although there is usually a feeding or two during that time so I don't get a complete break) before he goes to bed. Then he gets up and cleans the house, cooks dinner, etc. before going to work. Typically he is awake to help me with the baby about 4 or 5 hours a day. The rest of the time it is all me. All day. All evening. All night. And since we are exclusively breastfeeding, I handle every meal. I like to think this qualifies me to know what my baby needs. And sometimes, not often, but sometimes he needs a pacifier. He is usually a very good baby, super alert and only fusses when he has a reason - wet/poopy diaper or needs to eat or burp. But each evening he would get fussy and end up using me as his pacifier. We'd go all day with a good pattern of eating every 2-3 hours and then at night he'd go to every hour or so and most of the time he wasn't eating, just wanting my boob in his mouth. I was starting to feel chained to the couch and very frustrated. There have a been a couple of times where he was really gassy and was pretty inconsolable (unconsolable?). And then there was the circumcision recovery. Unfortunately, Mike was not around for most of this. If Ryder is fussy around Mike he usually hands him to me and says "I think he needs to eat, he's trying to suck". Even if I knew he didn't need to eat I'd end up giving in and sitting there with him on my boob just to calm him down. I'd try to tell Mike he wasn't eating but it would just lead to another fight so most of the time I'd just sit there feeling angry and frustrated.

Don't get me wrong, Mike is an AMAZING dad. He is super hands on and Ryder just loves his daddy. Mike wants so badly to be a good dad and tries so hard to only/always do what is "right" and "best". I really admire him and am thankful for him. But this pacifier thing was starting to really strain us. We spoke with the pediatrician today (I love our pediatrician btw) and she was fairly neutral but she did back me up and she explained to Mike that if we did use one, we were in control and that it wouldn't cause all the problems he worried about if we didn't let it. After we left I told Mike that I had supported him for this past month but that moving forward, since I was alone with the baby most of the time, that if I felt he needed a pacifier I was going to use one; he needs to trust that I wouldn't abuse it or use it just to "shut him up" but that I would be thinking of my own sanity and for the comfort of our infant son. He said he would support me with this moving foward.

Today was a really good day with Ryder. He was happy during the times he was awake and back to eating every 2 hours. But after eating at 7:45 for 30min and again at 8:45 for 20min he was very fussy and after 30min of him crying (and me making sure he had a clean diaper and knowing he did not need to eat again so soon) I finally decided to try the pacifier. He took it with no problems and instantly settled down; he was asleep in my arms within minutes, happily sucking away making those cute contented baby sighs. He has been sleeping peacefully for the last 2 hours and even spit it out after about 20 minutes. I was able to actually get stuff done and am as calm and peaceful as my sweet baby boy.

I have to say, I am proud of myself for supporting Mike for so long because I feel like it proved to him that I really value his opinion and parenting skills but I also feel bad that I deprived my son of something that obviously comforts and soothes him, especially during the trauma of recovering from his circumcision. I think I also deprived myself in a way because I think he and I could have had more of a schedule down by now and I'd have a little bit of my life back. But that is all behind us and now we can move forward. It is really too bad babies don't come with instruction manuals and we have to figure this all out for ourselves. I can see how relationships and marriages can suffer when kids are born if both parents aren't on the same page about things. I can also see how kids can suffer when parents don't care enough to try to work through their differences (or don't care about doing what is right/best for their child but that is another topic for another day...)

On a side note, we started cloth diapering and while I love the idea of it, I'm not sure how I feel about it yet. It definitely takes longer to complete a diaper change and this may seem stupid but I hate how bulky it makes his cute little butt. I'm already sad he is growing out of his newborn clothes and with the cloth diapers now they definitely don't fit. (I know, I know, that is a dumb thing to be upset about). Ryder doesn't really seem to care either way so we'll see how long it lasts. Sometime in the next few days I will attempt to start pumping but after the last 10 days, I'm not sure I'm mentally ready to tackle anything else new. Wish me luck!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

ABCs of RPM

Ryder is 3 1/2 weeks old and time is just flying by! Here are some current highlights (yeah, we're going to go with highlights, even the negative ones)

Adorable - I have the cutest son EVER. I might be a little biased but he is seriously cute and I am totally in love with him

Breast feeding - see previous blog. Still having a hard time with this one and apparently it will suck even worse during the 6 week growth spurt but then will get better. So they say...

Circumcision - poor little guy gets his tomorrow. We didn't do it in the hospital because the pediatrician says his foreskin was too tight and we are seeing a pediatric urologist. I wish it was done already. I cry thinking about him being in pain that we purposely caused.

Daddy - Mike is seriously the best daddy ever. He is so involved and I can tell he and Ryder have a special bond already. It still brings tears to my eyes watching my love interact with our son and it is not the hormones!

Episiotomy - yup, the doctor had to cut me. For some reason I was more scared of this than any other aspect of childbirth; I was terrified of tearing or needing to be cut and even begged the doctor not to do it. But it really wasn't that bad. It wasn't pleasant but I was numb for the first few days and then mostly just sore for about 10 days. And now I'm all healed and practically good as new.

Fluids - poop, pee, puke, blood (me), we are still dealing with it all on a daily basis. Diaper changes are like little mini obstacle courses/races against the clock - gotta get him cleaned up and a new diaper on (and on securely so it doesn't leak) before he poops and/or pees again. Usually we "win" but when we lose it can get ugly! Apparently this only gets worse with boys. Fun times!

Growth spurt - I swear we are in the middle of a growth spurt. This child nurses for a half hour every hour to 90 minutes. We had been going 2 1/2 to 3 hours between feedings but not anymore. Plus now he spits up and is fussy at night and the boob is the only thing that settles him down.

H - my current cup size. I spent a small fortune on nursing bras (I was able to find 3 that fit) because I have to shop at Nordstrom. Ryder and Daddy both love my boobs so I guess I shouldn't complain but an H is just unnecessary if you ask me.

Innie - RPM has a perfect little innie belly button. His dad has a cute little outie which I think looks pretty sexy with his six pack, but I'm happy with how Ryder healed. My innie, on the other hand, may never be the same. It never "popped" during pregnancy, it just seemed to get wider & deeper. I used to joke that Mike could have had sex with it if he wanted. Let's hope it goes back to normal!

Judgmental - I find in some ways I am less judgmental of other parents now that I am one but in other ways I'm even more judgmental now than I was. I have very definite & strong opinions about how children should be raised. Luckily my friends are all great parents who I very much admire and respect so they are safe from my judgement.

Kung Fu Panda 2 - I've seen this move every day, or at least every other day, for the last 2 weeks. I've also seen Toy Story 3, Tangled, How to Tame Your Dragon, and the last 2 Harry Potter movies at least daily. I watch a lot of movies and TV these days since I am chained to the couch

Love - I never imagined how much I would love my son and love being a mommy or how much more I would love Mike. It overwhelms me sometimes. I've loved people before but never in that fairy tale/happy ending/country love song kind of way and it is new for me to be such an emotional and sappy person but I actually kind of like. I am so in love with the 2 men in my life!!!

Marriage - the burning question is when are we going to get married. And we are. Mike is saving for a ring; it is very important to him to do it the "right" way (which is debatable since we did just have a child) and we both want a real wedding, not a courthouse wedding, so it will be a while. But it is definitely in the works and I look forward to the day when I can say I'm married to my best friend and the love of my life.

Name change - it's official, Mike's last name is now Martin. We had the court date Tuesday. Now we can get his name put on the birth certificate (don't get me started on this... in FL they won't put the father's name on the birth certificate if you aren't married so right now it says Father: unkown which infuriates me. There is a form we have to fill out to have him added so now that the last name will match the one we gave our son we can get this taken care of)

One day at at time - this is my mantra. This is also new for me. I am a planner, I organize and plan things for a living and I'm good at it because it is my nature to be that way. I keep 3 calendars and make lists and have thins scheduled and planned weeks and months in advance. That is all out the window now. I don't even plan for the next day until today is almost over. Hell, I can barely plan meals or to take a shower! I have a really hard time with this one but we're making the best of it. I'm sure this is the topic of a future blog post

Pacifier - the debate rages on. Mike and I have fought about this since we found out we were pregnant. He is strictly against them and I think they have a purpose if used properly (not just as a mute button but during times when he is truly distressed or at night when he just wants to sleep with my boob in his mouth for hours). Mike thinks that pacifiers are evil and that by "allowing" one we are showing RPM that we are "giving in" to him. I think that is ridiculous and that a newborn has natural needs, one of which is sucking, and that he is too little to understand anything other than his needs being met. This argument causes me lots of anguish but luckily Ryder is a good baby and there have only really been 3 times where I would have even given him a pacifier, if we were using them. We are going to talk to our pediatrician about this.

Questions - I have a million questions about this mommy/baby thing, with new ones every day. I'm so grateful for my mom, my friends who are great mommies, and the internet. Our pediatrician is also wonderful but I know I can't call her 35 times a day. Too bad kids don't come with instruction manuels

Routine - try as I might, I am unable to establish a routine. Some days I think we're getting there and then the next day it all goes to shit. I guess we have a little bit of a routine - RPM is happy and awake and alert in the mornings so we play and cuddle. We also go to bed around midnight and he lets me sleep a good 3-4 hours. Then Mike gets home and plays with him until his next feedings. But the rest of the day is a crap shoot and the evenings are where it all really falls apart. Oh well, we'll get there one of these days. Until then, refer to the letter O.

Sex - I miss having sex with Mike. A lot. It has been 7 months since we've had normal sex. We had sex a dozen or so times during the pregnancy but it was always doggy style in the shower. I'm ready for some spontaneous sex, some love making, some true bonding with Mike. But we still have to wait about 3 weeks. And I'm so uncomfortable in my body right now that who knows when it will happen. Between my milky boobs and my stretch marks and that fun post-baby pouch I feel less than attractive. I worry Mike doesn't see me sexually anymore - between my pregnant body, watching our son be born, helping wrestle my boobs into his mouth to feed him, and my post-baby body, I just can't imagine him finding me attractive. He says he does so maybe it is all in my head. I guess we'll find out in a few weeks.

Tummy time - my son is super strong. He has been holding his up since birth and he is super alert and aware. During tummy time I swear he is getting ready to crawl away! He rocks forward onto his arms and his little legs are going a mile a minute. Again, I'm probably biased but I think he is really strong for his age and wouldn't be surprised if he rolled over, crawled, and walked early. He was super active in the womb and spends a lot of the day awake, moving his arms and legs so I know he'll be a super active toddler and child. Hopefully I can keep up!

Unproductive - This is a mental war I wage with myself every single day. My to-do list is a mile long and keeps growing but I get nothing done on a daily basis. The first week I could barely move from giving birth and the last two weeks I've been stuck on the couch due to my son's voracious appetite and lately him just wanting to be held. Each morning I think "I'll try to accomplish A, B, and C (or sometimes just A!) today" but inevitably I'm lucky just to get meal and bathroom breaks. A shower is a major accomplishment. I have a really really hard time with this and I had a mini breakdown a few days ago over it. But again, I refer back to letter O...

Vaccines - I wasn't sure how I felt about vaccines and considered the delayed schedule but after talking to our pediatrician we've decided to go with the recommended schedule. Living in Tampa we have a lot of immigrants and who knows what they've been exposed to. We are very close to Disney and Tampa itself is a bit of a tourist spot so we are exposed to millions of people from all over the country and the world on a regular basis and again, who knows what they've been exposed to. Not to mention I work in a building that holds 20,000 people on a nightly basis (at least 200 nights per year) and hockey attracts fans from all over the country and the world. Measles broke out just a few months ago. Better to be safe than sorry so our little guy will get all the shots, starting with his first ones next week. I don't know what upsets me more - thinking of him getting shots and being in pain or knowing he will be a month old already!

Weight loss - 10lbs to go to pre-baby weight and 15 to 20 lbs to go to goal weight. I'm excited to get back to the gym and I even signed up for a 5k in December to keep me motivated. I know my body has changed so I don't know what to expect but I'm excited to get back into a pattern of working out. Of course, we need to establish a daily routine first and I refer you back to letters O, R, and U.

Xhausted - I was pregnant for 9 months, working crazy hours the whole time (including being in labor my last 2 days of work), gave birth, and have a 3 week old baby who nurses constantly. I don't think I need to say much more about this one.

Yellow seedy poop - somehow we've become obsessed with Ryder's pooping. He's pretty good at it too. He poops about 8 times a day and you can hear it every time he does. It's quite explosive! We've gotten pretty good at recognizing the signs and it cracks us up to see his little face go all calm and then to hear that explosion. Which ever one of us changes him announces to the other the color, consistency, and amount of poop. We'll even announce when we think he is or we know he has just pooped. I never imagined caring so much about poop. I have quite the champion little pooper!

Z - GGZ, GGKate, Grandma Beth, Grandma Jane, Grandma June - This kid has more grandmas and great grandmas! He has 2 grandpas and GG Jack too. (I think it is so cute that the great grandparents have dubbed themselves the GGs). He also has tons of aunties - only one of which is an actual blood relation - scattered all over this country. Ryder is one very loved little boy

Friday, June 8, 2012

Breast feeding is one big adventure...

It was important to Mike and me to try breastfeeding but I wasn't sure I would be able to. The PCOS can make it so your milk doesn't come in and my boobs are so huge I wasn't sure my son would latch. Well, once again this little boy proved the doctors wrong! My milk came in perfectly and Ryder eats like a champ. But it is still a daily struggle. Something so natural and essential to the survival of a species should not be this much work!

In the hospital we could only get him to latch to the right boob; he wasn't interested in the left one at all. And getting him to latch took 2 people - I just didn't have enough hands to hold him, support his head, and maneuver the boob into his mouth. Once he did latch, he would only eat for about 5 minutes at a time and sometimes he would go 4 hours without eating. Like most new moms, I of course freaked out but the nurses and lactation consultants were great and very encouraging. They said he was normal, it was a learning curve for mom and baby, and that they were confident we would both get the hang of it.

Once we got him home, it was more of the same - I needed a 3rd and 4th hand to help get him latched on and at one point Mike and I were cracking up because it looked like we were playing Twister because we were all tangled up on the couch wrestling the boob into RPM's mouth. He still would only take the right boob and the best position was if I was laying down. I could not imagine going through this 8-12 times a day for the next 3-6 months! Despite how huge my boobs are, my nipples aren't that big and it seemed like he couldn't tell when my nipple was in his mouth so he wouldn't start sucking without a LOT of help from us. Lucky for us Nichole suggested a nipple shield and it made all the difference in the world - and was probably the difference between us continuing to breast feed and going to bottles. The shield made it to where he could feel the nipple in his mouth and latched right away. He even took the left boob (finally!) and started eating for longer stretches of time. My milk came in after that and for a day (and thank God only for 1 day!) my boobs looked like footballs sticking off my chest. They settled down after the first day and are still huge but not quite as cartoonish.

So after that getting him to eat wasn't quite as hard. He still only really ate well if I was laying down and it took over a week for the us to have any success using the boppy. Now I try really hard only to feed him laying down at night or if he is particularly fussy and I want him to sleep. Otherwise we use the boppy. He still doesn't do well if I'm just holding him unless I can get into a position where my boob is basically falling into his mouth which makes feeding out in public kind of awkward. After a week we started keeping a log of when he ate, for how long, etc., trying to establish a pattern/routine/schedule. Some days we do really well and some days it all goes to shit. We tried to get him to eat every 3 hours but realistically it is every 2.5. But then there will be stretches of cluster feedings where it is every hour. The other night he ate every hour on the hour for 5 hours straight - all I did was nurse and change diapers until we both just passed out.

Ryder is a really good baby. He only cries when something is wrong and tends not to be fussy. I can pretty much tell when he is hungry and when he needs to poop. Every now and then he'll cry because his tummy is upset and I can usually pinpoint what it is I ate that is bothering him; call it mother's intuition or just the fact that I'm usually just as gassy as him. We are trying really hard not to use a pacifier and mostly don't need one but there are those times when he is crying at night and I think he can't possibly still be hungry but the boob is the only thing that settles him down. I don't know if he really is that hungry or if he is using me as a pacifier. His dr. is happy with his growth and weight gain so I guess there is no harm in feeding him as much as he wants but it really frustrates me because I end up spending hours on the couch or in the bed feeding him and doing nothing else. (We have every single movie channel offered and I think I've seen every movie at least 5 times now)

Surprisingly, I do enjoy breastfeeding. For so long (since jr. high) I've been "the girl with the big boobs" and for stretches of time I've felt like that was all anyone saw me as or the only thing I had to offer. I've struggled through phases of showing them off, covering them up, loving them, hating them, and feeling like I was just a giant walking pair of breasts. It is refreshing to me (and something of a relief) that they are serving the true purpose they were intended for, feeding my child. I take pride in the fact that I'm successfully nourishing my son. I love the bonding that occurs when RPM is eating. I love seeing his little eyes looking up at me, I love watching his little cheeks while he is drinking, I love holding him in my arms, and I love when he throws his little arms around my boobs like he is hugging them. I love the little faces he makes after he is done eating, that "dairy drunk" look is so adorable! And I love when he falls asleep on my chest, totally content with his little life. I also love the hormone release that makes me feel peaceful and drowsy right along with him.

The problem is, I love all of this 4 or 5 times a day. The other 4 or 5 times I am just frustrated and annoyed and impatient because it means I'm not eating or using the bathroom or cleaning or accomplishing anything. Some days I feel like all I do is feed this kid while Mike does everything else. Or I will set a goal, like "after this feeding he'll fall asleep and I can get up and do laundry/take a shower/eat lunch/clean the kitchen/finish thank you cards/go to the gym/etc. and by the time he is done I am either wiped out or he won't sleep and just wants to be held and then a whole day has gone by and I've managed none of the things I wanted to do. I'm lucky to get a bathroom break. So I try really hard to lie there with him and just enjoy the experience while I can (I know he won't be this little forever or I won't have the luxury to lay around all day for long) and I get very upset with myself for feeling so annoyed and impatient with him and I end up cranky and exhausted. The whole process wears me out!

The other thing that bothers me is feeding him when we're out in public. If I'm visiting family or friends it isn't so bad but if we're at the store or mall or running errands there are no good places to nurse. The first time we were at the mall and Ryder needed to eat we went to a restroom at a dept. store, thinking it would be nicer than the regular mall bathrooms. And it was. Sort of. It was still a restroom so I felt kind of gross just sitting there. And listening to people go to the bathroom and flush disgusted me. I just kept thinking "I don't eat in a bathroom, why should my son have to?" and the longer we were in there (which was a while because invariable he pooped right as I finally got him latched which also took forever since we could do any of the nice comfy positions that make it easy to feed him) the more upset I got. I vowed never to feed him in a public bathroom again if I could help it but that just makes it even more impossible to get up off the couch and have a life while breastfeeding because now I have to think about any place I want to go and how long we'd be there (which is always longer than you think with a baby...) and will I be able to nurse him? So even on days where I get more than a 40min break between feedings (not counting burping and diaper changes) I'm nervous to try going anywhere. Which of course just leads to more frustration. Ugh!!!

I know I'm not the only woman to go through this. And I know that I'm doing what is best for my son. I also know I'm lucky to have a partner who supports breastfeeding and is willing to pick up my slack everywhere else in our lives. But I can totally see why women would give up and switch to formula. Trust me, I've been tempted! And I'm totally stressed out about pumping which we were going to try once Ryder is a month old. I even had an anxiety dream last night about trying to figure out how to use the pump! We're just taking this one day at a time, and when I lay there early in the morning snuggling my little boy while he eats I remind myself why we're doing this.

Next month we'll tackle cloth diapers....



(this is my enormous boob and my tiny son)