Our birth story–Kate Abigail

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well played, warning tag..
Hello! Well. Although I’m nine months late to this, my recollection of this incredible day does not grow dim. This girl. Our Kate. Born on a rainy Saturday morning in January.

My feelings toward birth this time around were on a whole, a lot less stressful. Maybe because our we had enough to worry about in our lives at the time? Most likely yes. But across the board, all I wanted was an anxiety, stress, tension free birth. That’s sort of a tall order when you write it out like that–sorry Kate! So stress-free meant that for the first seven months, all I considered in regard to this birth is that James and I would be present. I didn’t really think about too much past that, except signing off on the VBAC agreement and pinning a few hospital bag ideas.

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Happy Maja’s day!

Gosh I love these kids. They bring me so much joy, even when they’re doggin’ (Kate). Then there are days that I am counting down the minutes to bedtime because my brain/body/mind/soul can’t keep up with the crazy and we might not make it 🙂

And then after the quiet and bedtime cuddles, and as the TiVo begins “ba-beep, ba-beep”-ing, I start to miss them (well, Kate is still in my lap at this point usually:). Parenting colors us all a certain shade of crazy, right??

Mother’s Day in our house is kind of just another day right now. We’ve got diapers and breakfast and baths and outside time and walks and and coffee and then some more 🙂 Today I’m laying low with the kids while James holds it down at church. Luke is recovering from pneumonia and currently ribbit-ing and crab walking at my feet. But what I do love about today is that it gives me time to reflect on all the mothering gone by.

A few months back, James and I were going back and forth about some mindless thing having to do with butter. Luke was waiting patiently as he could in the other room for his toast, while we were passionately discussing the protocol of who gets butter out and when and what temperature it needs to be before we do breakfast in the morning. Because God forbid, we have to spread cold butter on our toast (I will say it isn’t my favorite way to do it) As much as I could say it was “blah, blah, blah” now, at that moment we were entirely engaged in this, and for whatever reason, I had the thought to just blurt out, “it’s just butter!!” .. we laughed and came to our senses. What we realized is there are many other moments like that for us, involving things that we really need not waste our time on.

That moment sort of hinged on an important new season in our lives. Not sweating the small stuff (easier said than done, hands down). Moving past things that just cause unnecessary strife, stress and anxiety. We’ve come to the idea that life really is too short to get caught on these things. I say “really” because I’ve read/heard/listened to this sentiment time and time again, but I wasn’t really able to start working it out until I came face-to-face with it. In my case, butter.

So my reflection on motherhood today is wrapped up in this. And I want my kids to feel it most of all. Life is too precious to get caught up in the stress of things. I don’t do well every day and it stinks when I’ve caught myself in that act again, but I hope that they feel it. Being able to laugh at the chaos, the crying tantrum at the store, the stained/broken/ripped/cracked clothes/belongings/phone/etc, the blowout as soon as the roadtrip begins, the mess that’s back as quickly as it was cleaned up. All of that is butter. And I’m not going to stress over butter anymore 🙂

Motherhood

In these weeks leading up to Mother’s Day, the day I became a mother keeps running through my mind. There had been so much anticipation and after so much emotion, so much exertion and physical exhaustion, there was this little boy, so tiny and squeaky in our arms.. he made our hands look huge. We just kept looking at one another like is this real.. we have a child, we have a little boy. And now we are hungry, very hungry. And a lot of can I sleep for four days, please feelings.

Last year, I don’t think I quite understood Mother’s day in a personal way. I knew it was a day for me, and I had so many celebrators (thank you, celebrators!), but I was so new to everything and barely coming out from hibernation of the newborn era. I was remembering what it felt like to sleep again, or hold a somewhat intelligent conversation (fancy that!).

I thought of my mom, I thought of my grandma, I thought of sisters and mom-in-laws and aunts and friends. I thought of all the other mothers. Curious when I would feel within my gut what it’s like to be a mother, you know.. that undeniable, roaring, bear-like, deep motherhood, that somehow seeps ooey and gooey love with a homemade casserole on the side?

But then comes the day. The day when you find yourself in the restroom (and on the restroom, hmm, yes.) and reaching reaching to hold all the cabinets closed, tossing a handful of cheerios in the opposite direction to distract the child so he doesn’t rip open every drawer and eventually find and consume all the bar soap. Yes, I wouldn’t have gone to such lengths to prevent such occurrences in my pre-mother life.
Or the days when you’re so dog tired that you can’t ignore his pitiful yet constant whinnying from the crib anymore (why is the sun out already?! why do we not have a live-in nanny in this house!?) so you take him out, plop him on the rug with the iphone and lie there starfish (actually thinking that maybe you’ll sleep..nope). Or the days when James lies there too, so we can supervise between snores. I suppose that covers the roaring (if we’re talking about the open mouth snore..).
There’s the first day that another kiddo decides to push yours, and you see it in naughty child’s eyes and wiped across his face as he deviously plots how to take his basketball, not realizing that my littler kiddo would happily hand you the ball and chew on your shoelace with no objection. Still though, for a moment there, certainly feelings of bear.
And of course, I guess the ooey gooey was always there, since the first day I held our little squeaky creation, with such unbelievable compassion from a new place in my heart, alongside the reverence and disbelief that this little thing was ours, all ours. Then there are all the poop stories. Yes, we all have them, and they’re all voraciously disgusting and gooey all at once!
So this year, I can proudly say, yup..I feel like a mother, a mommy, or as Luke refers to me, as a mum-mah. And I pray I get to continue to feel and love and respect this incredible role I’ve been given, and that I uphold the name well 🙂

My nursing adventure

Today, my nursing story is up in the ‘Adventures in Breastfeeding’ series (thanks to Danielle at missverse). I am so excited to be included because her collection of stories were a haven for me throughout these past months. Especially at the beginning, I’d pour over all the accounts of how things went for each one, the pushing through, the changing directions, all of the different decisions you come across.

It’s been quite a journey for me as well and I’m really thankful for how things have gone. It’s been quite difficult at times, so I’m happy to add to the accounts so that even more mamas can be encouraged and heard and related to. Hope you enjoy!

Here it is..

I am so thankful to share my breastfeeding story (thanks sweet Danielle!) because this whole process has been so completely life changing for me—and I’m only four months in, ha! I am so indebted to the many mothers who’ve shared their stories, especially in this space, because I read every last one voraciously during Luke’s middle-of-the-night feedings looking for someone to relate to, for someone who made it through. And I found that here! Over and over again, no matter the journey or outcome, mamas who persevered for their babies and figured out their best way to cover and love them. It was such a hopeful place for me in the midst of it all. Let’s keep sharing mamas!

When I was pregnant, many people asked how I’d approach feeding Luke and I always said that I hope to breastfeed, because I did. But wow!—I had no (no!) idea what it would look like. There were close people in my life who’d breastfed, but I think some of it just glossed over me. I’d read so many books too, all about pregnancy and what was happening to my little boy inside my tummy, but I seemed to just skip the breastfeeding sections, or it was non-existent. I really had no idea what to expect and prepare for.
Then on that wonderful day when we got to meet our little boy Luke, I was completely changed. My time in the hospital was scary and surprising, and in a moment, both Luke and I were in enough distress to warrant an emergency c-section.. not part of my plan, but now a part of our story. The recovery was more grueling than I was ready for.. I had a big incision and didn’t react well to the heavy drugs given for pain relief. My husband was my rock during this time, bringing Luke to me for every feeding, changing every diaper, helping me constantly.
Being in the hospital was a blur. I had no idea how valuable that first feeding would be and I want to hug the nurses that were fighting behind the scenes to get Luke to me for that moment to feed after he was born (he was in the NICU for 45 minutes due to being in distress, I’d already gotten to cuddle him, but not feed him). So as soon as he was in my room, James (my husband) brought Luke to me and what an incredible moment it was! My baby boy felt so familiar there on my chest and as I stroked his skin, it almost felt like I should feel that stroking, like his skin was my own. He was beautiful! As he laid in the center of my chest, he began woodpecking towards my left side to latch (wood pecking is what we called his little head bobbles looking for milk :), and he latched like a champion. I realized how much I longed to do this! But that came along with a lingering sense of feeling so unprepared, unknowledgable and inadequate.
Over the next five days, I grilled almost every nurse and lactation consultant within any vicinity to my room. I felt a little bit at the mercy of whatever anybody told me, and however helpful each one was, it seemed everyone had a different opinion and varied information. I had yet to feel confident about what I was doing and changed my methods hour-to-hour, based on what advice was given. I also didn’t have that full (engorged/milk in) feeling until probably the last day in the hospital (although Colostrum was there) and even though that small amount of milk was coming, I had the feeling it wasn’t enough (although it really was!). And to top it off, when you are in the hospital for five days, they weigh your baby incessantly, and even though they said it was normal to lose some weight, nobody treated it like a normal thing (although it was!). I was stressed beyond belief but I wanted to keep at it.
Over the next weeks and months, I’d experience the engorgement, the rawness, the sensitivity (I truly never thought I’d shower again, yikes!). My husband is all too familiar with the breastfeeding aisle at Target—the creams, hydrogels, the hot packs! I needed it all and I couldn’t understand how I could continue for the whole year much less another month..this was no cakewalk! But I wanted to push through and give Luke the best start I could muster. I wanted to fight for this. I read and read, from articles online (ps: the internet is littered with garbage info about breastfeeding, bah!) to books, but by far the most helpful were these personal stories. I needed to know that the pain was normal (it just hurts at first!) and that it will get better. Because it did—it did get better!
I was finally feeling like we’d figured something out and at around two months, my happy, content and alert little Luke was filling his diapers like a champ but gaining pretty slowly. At his two-month checkup, my doctor let me know she wanted to see more bulk. Oof..all those feelings of inadequacy soared in (on top of already feeling insecure about the c-section at the time). I don’t have enough for my son was ringing through my head constantly. She suggested supplementing with formula if I felt comfortable with that, and I assured her I had no problem and of course I’d do it, if it’s best for my baby. I didn’t want to be foolish or stubborn about it all (I now know that I wouldn’t have been, even if I’d told the doctor no). So I went home with bottles of formula and after nursing him, fed him the extra bottle, which he gobbled up so quickly; I wept the whole time. He was hungry. Was I being selfish and starving this boy in order to nurse? I just wasn’t ready for this to be our answer. I wasn’t ready to budge on our nursing relationship. I wanted to do everything possible in my power to make things work.
So I did more research**, tried to get informed and proclaimed myself on a nursing vacation. My last ditch effort. Over a period of a few days, I canceled all my plans and rested with my whole heart (no busy work!), feeding Luke every two hours (or earlier) and removing all fake nipples (bottles or paci). Anytime he looked hungry, I fed. I fed and fed and fed. It was definitely painful at the time (rawness returned) and it was a stretch for me physically. I couldn’t believe that he’d be happy to eat so often! I learned and watched carefully for his cues and prayed that we’d hit our stride together. And you know what?—We totally did! In those days, something special happened and I gained a confidence in my role with my baby boy.
So many things are 20/20 in hindsight. Now I realize (and so does my doctor) that my little boy is on the littler side (just like my husband was!). I also know that he’s an every two hour babe, even at four months, he’s just a hungry little hippo (just like his parents were/are!). I also know that, despite what everything I’ve read says, he will not make eating his priority, and will not make himself loud enough to tell me he is hungry in the night (so I still wake him). Oh how I’d wish I’d known all of this ahead of time!
There was a lot of trust involved in nursing for me.. Trusting that what I had was getting to his belly, trusting that what I had was enough and would adjust appropriately. I wanted so much to be able to be calculated about it all, but I couldn’t. And there were just things I didn’t know about Luke at the start! My mantra nowadays—don’t overcomplicate breastfeeding!! I learned that babies and breastfeeding aren’t a formula (no pun intended..), it’s a somewhat messy, somewhat painful at first, beautiful expression of love and bonding and comfort (yes, I nurse him for his comfort!). I am so grateful that I’ve been able to breastfeed these four months and deeply desire to go far into his first year. Will it look like I plan? Ha, probably not. But it’s another part of this incredible adventure that I’m so grateful to have a chance to take!
**I wanted to note that the main resource I used for breastfeeding info was Dr. Jack Newman’s site (www.nbci.ca). There are so many videos and info sheets on what a drinking baby looks like. It was and still is an answer spot for me, an invaluable resource in my opinion! And read his article on the myths of breastfeeding, don’t let people over complicate it for you (what to eat, what to drink, etc etc), breastfeeding is a gift 🙂

 

My nursing essentials

Wowza—what an adventure (to say the least) nursing has been!! I had no idea what to be ready for and if only those millions of pregnancy books I thumbed through had a huge caution page about nursing, I would’ve been a little more prepared.. maybe.

This has been one of the things I have had to work the hardest at in helping little Luke grow these last three, almost four, months. From “do I schedule” to “I hate schedules” to “okay, maybe a little bit scheduled,” I am pretty sure I’ve felt all the feelings and tried to stick to my guns with this all. It is not easy but I do feel like it’s been rewarding.

Anyways, a few wonderful friends passed down a few of these items to me, and I found a few for myself as well. If I could, I’d send every new nursing-hopeful mother a basket of these things, along with a link to http://www.nbci.ca/ and the adventures in breastfeeding series (by missverse.com), in addition to lots of prepared meals and a hug 🙂 But since that’s a little out of reach, I give you these. May your experience with nursing be incredibly rewarding!!

My essentials:
1) lanolin: miracle jelly for le tatas. apply liberally.. it was especially helpful in those first two months!

2) nursing bras and tanks! this bra is my overall favorite (target basics’ stella nursing bra) but I’m really happy with my tanks (target basics’ felicity slimming tankgilligan & o’malley nursing tank) as well. I totally avoided these to start but now I’m so thankful for the brainiac who decided these would be helpful to life and sanity.

3) bebe au lait nursing cover: nice and easy-breezy if you’re not quite ready for “hello world” exposure while feeding your babe 😉

4) medela harmony manual pump: whether you’re pumping to increase supply, or pumping to store if you’re going back to work, this one is the most simple/easy one I’ve found. Sure, there are the hospital grade ones as well, but for me I was just doing a little extra side pumping and this one has definitely done the trick!

5) medela tender care hydrogel pads: a nurse handed me a pair of these when I was in the hospital and I had never known such sweet, sweet relief! These hydrogel pads (another option: soothies) are the coolest, relief-iest miracle invention. These are also a great item for the first month (especially in the hospital!).

6) boppy pillow: i have three of these and couldn’t be happier. perfect nursing pillow. also the perfect holding pillow.. james has grabbed it more than a couple times, hehe.

7) lanisoh gel relief (warm or cold!): these were great for times of rawness or engorgement. stick these babies in the microwave for forty seconds and you’ve got these heavenly coverings on yourself, restoring you to all your nursing glory!

happy nursing my friends!

For the new mama

There are a couple things that really got us through that first month hump that I have been wanting to share because seriously.. cold spash-a water on da face, people! We just had no idea what to expect (yes.. even though there’s a book) and you read so much about pregnancy but then—boom!—you’re not pregnant anymore.. you’re a for real parent and things just got real. So when the things get real.. this is what got us through 🙂

1) water bottle: seems obvious maybe but ice water (or water in general) was/is/will be a huge part of my life postpartum!! huge! If you are breastfeeding, you will be thirsty all the time. at least i was, and tons of other mamas i know. so be sure to have gallons stored up (twenty gallons in a week, sooo not joking).

2) swaddleme swaddle by summer infant: swaddle swaddle swaddle! your life will be easier. promise. we still swaddle luke so he doesn’t kick his blankets off, we just leave his arms out and put his little baby mittens on. we tried swaddling with the muslins from the hospital the first week and we got used to it but if we’d only thought to bring a few of the velcro swaddles we had at home, there would have been a few less cries from broken swaddles (mama and baby cries..).

3) bamboobie pads: these are wonderful! i have a ton of the daytime pads and a few sets of the nighttime ones. i’ve learned that leaking has nothing to do with your supply, and can happen at any given moment.. and especially helpful overnight (he’s sleeping 5+ hours) when i wake up in a puddle (fun). so when i found these reusable lovelies, i was elated. and they get softer with each wash, woohoo for bamboobies!

4) sleep sheep: stick this sucker anywhere and instant white-noise. another thing i would’ve loved that first week (we kept using our iphones which was a hassle). this sheep can go in the crib, on the car seat and beyond. love it!

5) high waisted american apparel leggings: anything that pulls it all in after birth without being too tight are my favorite and these high-waisters are awesome. as high as the pregnancy pants and great for the in-between being-a-huge-balloon-to-deflated-balloon-back-to-normal-tummy times. and way better quality than most i’ve found.

6) eat sleep poop by scott cohen: this book is awesome! i’ve read lots of stuff but this book is ah-maze-ing because it’s written from the perspective of a pediatrician, who’s also a first-time parent. gold, right?? so i’ve loved it. it’s extremely practical (common sense stuff) as well, which we all need a little of when we’re first time parents. okay maybe a lot!!

A few things i’m hanging onto as a new parent

There are so many things people told me, shared, implored with me about parenthood before it all went down (it being birth). Some of those things, I can honestly say you guys, in hindsight, just noooot helpful. But then there are a few that I’ve hung onto, that have girded me up as a mother and made me feel like I may actually (okay, actually actually) be cut out for raising this little boy.

A lot of this is all tied into my faith, and from the standpoint of what I believe God has entrusted us with in our baby boy. No, these aren’t the practicals or what you need to put on your registry (although I’m drawing up something like that at the moment so hang on to your hats people!), these are the personal things. The little voices that come knocking in the night and want to steal away the preciousness of parenthood and tell you that you suck, and you’re not cut out, and oh you got angry? You’ve royally blown it. That stuff.

Yup, I’ve heard that crapola too, and even listened intently at times. So however you’ve decided to approach parenthood, I think we all deal with this on some level (to those who don’t know what i’m even talking about, bless you) and I hope some of this can be helpful to you! Because we all need a little lot of encouragement, and I want to be a voice that lifts up my fellow mama comrades, and not the opposite.

1) you are the best parent for your child
a friend of mine has kindly reminded me a few times now that god has chosen me to be luke’s mama. he is ours and our make-up, personalities, inclinations are all the best fit for our little man. yes, i’ll make mistakes, need a lot of prayer and advice, but i believe that god didn’t make a mistake in our little family.

2) take some time for you, it’s really okay..
the first time i was away from luke was to drive a few minutes away to the nail salon. it took some will power to make myself get away, but i was so glad i did. and yes, i missed him in that short span of time, but me being mentally healthy and treating myself makes for a better mama. so i’ll make time for it. oh yeah and eat cookies. or green smoothies. whatever floats your boat.

3) spend time with your significant other
by week two, james and i had slept in separate beds for a week (me in my fancy hospital getup) and we were giving away every ounce of energy and care to this little baby (obviously). i remember sitting on the couch after putting him down for the night and just as we nestled in to get cozy, we hear him flip out in the other room and james says “luuuuke, this is my time man!” so even though it’s hard to come by, get time with your spouse as much as you can!

4) receive help
you wanna clean my bathroom? yes you may. clean my dishes? twist my arm. truthfully, it’s harder than it sounds (for me) but i’m eternally grateful to my friends who’ve brought dinners, cleaned our home, stopped off at the store for us and cleaned our humongous pile of dishes. they are angels from above, and i’ve gotten over the feeling that we look like piggies in the process, which we do. i should post a picture of our dish pile on a daily basis so you all feel majorly better about your lives 🙂

5) they won’t remember you crying in defeat at 3am
rest in it, people. amen, glory, hallelujah.