Thursday, November 29, 2012

You Get What You Get and You Don't Get Upset: On Respecting Our Children

            I first heard the phrase "you get what you get and you don't get upset" a few years ago.  A family I know said it to their daughter, and it seemed to end any and all discussions and arguments.  Since I had never heard it before, I wasn't sure if they made it up or not, but it seemed almost comical to my wife and I (Lilian was a teeny tiny, maybe two years old or less), and so we started saying it to each other in jest for the past few years in ridiculous situations.  I ran over a giant nail in my mother-in-law's driveway and my tire deflated at cartoon-like speed.  "Oh man [i probably used some curse word other than "man" here], I can NOT believe I got a flat tire today."   And she would reply, "You get what you get and you don't get upset," which would send us both into hysterics for a minute or two, before I had to face the reality of "we're not going anywhere with this flat tire, and we have stuff to do."  Disappointed with a Christmas bonus or raise at work?  "You get what you get and you don't get upset" always made the situation feel a little more ridiculous and hilarious, and took the sting away for a second.  It was an inside joke for us that always made a crappy situation laughable for a minute.

So when my 4-year-old daughter came home from pre-school one day and quoted at us "you get what you get and you don't get upset", well, I got a little upset.  I asked her where she heard that, since we joked about it privately, and certainly never said it to her.  She said that one of the teachers (not her MAIN teacher that she's had for two years and we love) said it to her.  She said they all got a piece of construction paper for a project, and she always does her projects in her favorite colors (yellow and orange, yuck!) and the teacher didn't give her the yellow paper, and when she asked for it, the teacher told her "you get what you get and you don't get upset" and walked away. (Note: Lilian is both very sensitive and very verbal for her age.  When she tells us about something that happens, 99% of the time it's true if we look into it.  She's not the type to make things up or get them wrong.  And when something upsets her, it stays with her for a while, and she usually tells us all about it.)  Because she had attended this school for a whole school year, and then two months into the second year and never heard this before, I was a little shocked and horrified that she was told that, and then was repeating it.

See, to me, the phrase "you get what you get and you don't get upset" translates to "take what I gave you, shut the hell up, I can't be bothered."  And that's not the attitude I take with children (either my own, or the ones I work for as a nanny or babysitter) and it's not the attitude I expect others to take with my kids, especially ones being paid (a lot of money) to work with her!  To me, the appropriate response is "Sorry, Lily, we're all out of yellow paper, you'll have to use pink."  Or "Today Abigail is getting the yellow, you can have pink or green, and it'll be your turn to get yellow another day."   Or "this is all we have today, we don't have any yellow."  I believe an explanation of WHY she can't have the yellow paper is appropriate and it hardly takes more effort or words.  I'm not saying that she should be given everything she asks for when she wants it (though if there WAS more yellow paper in the closet, that could have been a solution too), but I would appreciate her being the same courtesy and respect that an adult would be given with an explanation as to why she can't have her request.  My child is not a brat, she won't have a meltdown if she's told it's someone else's turn (she's good at sharing), so why the immediate dismissal of her question?

My mom has been a teacher for my whole life at various grade levels (first grade before I came around, nursery/pre-school when my brother and I were school age, and now at the elementary school level again) and so I asked her about this phrase.  She told me that she personally doesn't use it, but she wasn't surprised to hear it.  She said she's heard teachers, school employees, parents, etc use it.  Because we don't have many friends with children and this is Lily's first school experience, I wasn't sure about how commonly used the phrase is.  I certainly don't remember ever hearing as a child at my own home, school, or my friends homes.  I was a little concerned to hear that this is a message being given to the current generation of children.

I think if you were to sum up our parenting style in one sentence, it would be: "We try to teach our child, help her develop relationships, share our values and morals, all with a sense of respect and individuality."  For me, the offending phrase goes against everything I believe in.  Parenting/teaching shouldn't be a dictatorship, it should be a partnership.  I don't want to teach my child to obey, but rather to understand.  It's my job as a parent to help her develop and grow relationships with us (her parents), her peers, her teachers,  and society.    But I see it as my job to guide her, not to direct her.  She's not a little puppet, but a tiny human with individual thoughts and feelings.

I can definitely understand the frustration of having a child that is feeling picky, or moody, or especially stubborn.  All children have those moments.  But I think that lashing out with "you get what you get and you don't get upset" is never the answer.  You may have worked hard cooking a meal, and your kid may not want to touch it.  But a more gentle & respectful "well, this is what is for dinner, I worked hard on it and it's healthy" is more appropriate in my opinion, even if you don't want to offer a compromise or alternative.  (From what I can gather asking people about it, I think that this phrase is often used regarding food or meal choices.)  Children deserve explanations and logic and are more likely to respond positively if they can understand WHY their parents are insisting on something.  Maybe, dinner becomes less of a punishment then, and the child can understand why it might hurt mom's feelings for rejecting it.

And, for what it's worth, sometimes in life you do "get what you get", but it doesn't mean you shouldn't get upset.  Maybe sometimes, it's OK to be upset about something.  Who are we to invalidate our children's feelings?  I don't remember being four, but it may truly be upsetting to a four year old to have to make a pink  art project, when her "vision" is in yellow.  And though it may not be the end of the world, validating the disappointment should be important to us too.  "I'm sorry you can't have the yellow today, I know you wanted it."  Because invalidating our children's feelings is not a good way to build trusting and respectful relationships between us, and it doesn't teach them to respect others either.

I'm not sure how this phrase translates to a four year old, but I can tell you that it stuck with Lily enough to tell me about it at home.  And I know that it didn't make her feel good.  But I can only imagine that it's a matter of time, or maybe a matter of usage (how many times will she be told this) before she realizes that it translates to "i don't care what you want or how you feel about it"?

I know life isn't always sunshine and roses, sometimes we get handed a lemon.  And sometimes there isn't an explanation for it.  We can't always get what we want (or what we need for that matter, either).  But it's our right to have feelings about it.  Let's teach our children to recognize and handle those feelings, then move on. Let's try to give our children the explanations we'd expect from one adult to another, instead of just dismissing them.  And let's try to spread respect instead of a "tough shit" attitude.

The phrase rhymes and is catchy.  It may be an easy thing to toss out to children.  And it may seem to stop arguments before they even begin.   But I beg of parents and teachers - please THINK about this phrase and the message it sends before using it again.  Is this truly the message we want to be sending our future generations?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Contest/Giveaway from White Pages MAILER

Last year at this time, Lil Family Blog hosted a giveaway contest from White Pages to support their Run & Hug campaign.  I'm happy to again be hosting a contest on their behalf, this time to announce the new White Pages MAILER feature.  Enter to win a $25 gift certificate just in time for the holidays.

Just in time for the holiday card rush, White Pages Mailer helps busy people create a master address list for holiday cards, birthday invites, thank you notes, "Save the Date" cards and more by linking your Facebook friends to their mailing addresses.

People tend to keep their friends' and families' addresses in various places, and usually have to resort to reaching out to people on their mailing list via phone, text, email or Facebook posts to gather address info. 

With WhitePages Mailer, users can easily organize hundreds of addresses for designated friends, including organizing the data into groups that mirror how friends are segmented in Facebook (i.e. close friends, acquaintances, people I care about, etc.) or into customized groups, and the info will then automatically stay updated.

I know that every year, I end up emailing people asking for addresses, either because they've moved, or I've gotten a new phone and my contacts failed to move from one to the other, etc.  But with White Pages Mailer, all of your addresses are kept in ONE place, where you can't lose it, and with updated information!  You can also export the information to a spreadsheet or print them directly from White Pages Mailer onto your address labels.  This is a free service, and can help getting those holiday cards out (on time)!!!

An example from Mailer - click to see larger.

As a thank you for reading about their new Mailer services, White Pages is giving away one $25 gift code for Shutterfly to a Lil Family Blog reader.  Shutterfly offers holiday cards and photo books - both RIGHT in time for the holiday season.  One lucky reader can start their holiday gift shopping or order holiday cards.


In order to enter to win, you must leave a comment on this entry.  In the comment, please tell us one of your favorite holiday traditions.  Please remember to include your email address or a way for us to get in contact with you if you win.

To obtain extra entries, leave an ADDITIONAL COMMENT for each extra entry saying which of these you have completed:
1.  LIKE Lil Family Blog on Facebook (let me know the name under which you've "liked")
3.  Leave a comment on another Lil Family Blog entry (that isn't a contest/giveaway) - link to it.
4.  Follow this blog in either Google Reader or Networked Blogs.
5.  Share this contest on your Facebook wall (can be done easily with the "F" icon at the bottom near the comments).
6.  Add Lil Family Blog to your blogroll OR add a Lil Family Blog button to your website (code can be found on the right.)
7.  Click to vote on the "Top Mommy Blogs" (brown logo) and the Picket Fence Blogs (blue and green logo) boxes on the right side.  You can vote for Lil Family Blog once on each website.

This contest will end on December 4, 2012 at 11:59PM EST, no more entries will be accepted after that time. The winners will be chosen at random and announced within a day or two on the blog. The prize will be emailed directly from the sponsor companies to the winner within a reasonable amount of time. Please see my disclosure link on the top of the page for fine print.

Thank you for reading and entering, please share with your friends and family who may be interested as well!

Happy Holidays to Everyone!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Trip to the ER, On Co-Sleeping, and Diapering Decisions

This has been a very Baby-centric week.  Almost every day this week the UPS man came bearing baby gifts!  We got so many useful and adorable gifts.  Then the earlier part of this week, I spent obsessing about my anxiety regarding breastfeeding.  And Friday early early morning we ended up at the ER in the hospital, for what turned out to be nothing, but better safe than sorry.

I've written about before, how my anterior and previa double-lobed placenta makes it very difficult to feel the baby.  It's like she's kicking through a pillow.  But once in a while I feel a complete shift/flip in there (it kind of feels like when you go on a ride or down a steep hill and your stomach 'drops') and if i lay on my side when she's awake, I can feel some squirming on the side I'm laying on (where she gets compressed).  But in the past week or so, I started feeling some real kicks (and if i press back, I can feel a foot/heel or whatever) up very high at the top of the uterus, mostly on the left.  I guess she finally is longer than the placenta and the very top isn't padded by the placenta.  I feel her probably about 2-3x a day.  The notion of "kick counts" would be pretty ridiculous for me (you're supposed to lay down for an hour and count up to 10 kicks... i never feel 10 kicks in a day, let alone an hour) but I do usually feel a little something going on in there every 4-8 hours.
Well, this week on Thursday I felt NO movements from her - none whatsoever.  I tried poking, laying in different positions, etc.  Luckily, a friend of mine loaned me her doppler, so I listened and could hear a steady heartbeat, but I couldn't "find" the baby (any hard spots) and didn't feel any movement.  Then Thursday night I woke up in the middle of the night choking on stomach acid (nothing like waking up to a mouthful of bile... Mmmmm... this used to happen EVERY night when I was pregnant with Lily though, luckily it's only happened about 5x so far this time around) and then I couldn't really go back to sleep because I was nervous.  From 2am-5am I drifted in and out of a light sleep, but I mostly stayed awake with my hands on my belly, poking and rolling to see if I could feel anything.  Still nothing.  So at 5am Friday morning (I hadn't felt her since Wednesday evening), I got out of bed and told Missy (I didn't tell her sooner since she's prone to panic!) and she said we had to go somewhere... either my doctor or the hospital.  After some discussion, we decided to go to our local hospital (45 minutes away... as opposed to my doctor's office which is 1.75 hours away and wasn't open yet, or the hospital they work at and i'll deliver at, which is 2 hours away).
Making the decision to go to the hospital wasn't as easy as "let's get in the car and go", because Missy had work (should she come with me or go to work) and we had Lilian (should she come with us, or should we find someone to watch her - and will she go to school).  In the end, Missy decided to come with me, just in case there WAS some sort of distress and they needed to deliver the baby ASAP, she can't drive - and she'd have no way to get there.  And although we could have brought Lily (she's very well behaved), it was 6am and she was super tired and Missy's mom agreed to watch her, so we dropped her off there.
We got to the hospital around 7am and after the mandatory paper work, they took us in and up to Labor & Delivery right away.  There seemed to be no one else there (the ER only had ONE other person waiting and there seemed to be no patients in L&D) so we were seen quickly and it wasn't much hassle.  They tested my pee for protein (a sign of pre-eclampsia) and my blood pressure (it was totally normal, maybe even low for me).  Then they hooked me up to a fetal monitor (other wise known as a non-stress test) and we heard the heartbeat come out the speakers immediately.  If we didn't have the home doppler, I'm sure this would have been a major relief, but we knew there was no problem with the heartbeat, but baby can still be in distress.  Maybe about 5 minutes into the test, we heard a *screetch* out of the monitors and I felt a huge kick ... the baby literally kicked the monitor strapped to me.  After that, I could feel movement during the rest of the test.  I think they had me monitored for 30 minutes and they said the test looked perfect - no distress, perfect heartrate, etc.  As to why I couldn't feel her... who knows?  Maybe she was super sleepy?  Maybe she turned backwards and was kicking where I couldn't feel?  Maybe she spun and her feet were no longer above the placenta?  Still, they said I did the right thing to come it - they say come in if you don't feel movement for 12 hours, and I was at nearly 36 hours.  It's just so hard to judge ... am i overreacting, or is there a problem, because my placenta makes it hard for me to feel much at all.  The doctor came and spoke to us, and they filled out a whole chart on us, because although we don't plan on delivering there, if I have any sort of emergency situation, I could end up there, and this way they have a chart ready.  We were sent home soon after and Missy was able to get to work by 9:30, which wasn't too bad.  And we got some major peace of mind.
I got to go home, since my MIL called my SIL and had her come over to play with Lily (she didn't know how long we'd be)... and since she already made the drive, she wanted to keep Lily there.  So I got to go home and take a nap, I barely slept the night before.  When I work up around 1:30 PM, Baby Girl was kicking up a storm... and she literally kicked me until 4:30PM.  "So this is how it's going to be," I kept telling her.
So that was our exciting... hopefully first and last ... trip to the ER this week.

Getting ready for baby steps 2 and 3 are deciding our sleeping arrangements and diapering arrangements.

Lilian co-slept from the age of 8 months... until... last night!  She's still co-sleeping.  (We plan on trying to get her to sleep in her own bed soon, not because it bothers me to sleep with her, but because I'm afraid the baby will wake her up all the time, and she'll be too tired for school.)
Here's a blog post I wrote back in 2009 how we "discovered" that co-sleeping works for us:

 On Co-Sleeping

Lilian (7 months)

It was never an idea I was opposed to... it makes sense to me. "In the wild" all animals protect their young, and don't send them to a separate area to sleep, alone and unprotected. Of course, we have no predators in the house, but still, idealistically, it makes sense to me.

But practically, it didn't really seem safe or feasible in our house. We have a Queen sized bed, but ALLLLLL the dogs sleep in bed with us (4 chihuahuas + a dachshund), and they already fight over spots. Also, I was so afraid of Lilian getting smothered or crushed or whatever. She was just so little and so floppy and helpless, it was scary!

So, for the past 7 months, she slept every night (except for 3 weeks we did the "crib thing") in her swing. She went down with no problems, when it was bedtime, she'd get tired/cranky... we'd strap her in, give her a bottle and her little mini-blanket thing to snuggle... and she'd be out. Her first clip, she'd sleep 4ish hours (about 8-midnight), then after that, wake up every 1-3 hours. It would take a bottle and some convincing to get her to go back to sleep, and this went on all night long. Not much fun for the mommy sleeping next to her. Plus, drinking all that milk all night long also meant she needed a diaper change around 2 AM, and leakage sometimes happened. I couldn't believe Lilian was 7 months old and still not sleeping through the night (STTN) and needing to eat every 1-3 hours. I tried the crib every month or so, and she'd just sob & wail every time she woke up alone, and she refused to go back to sleep in there.

Well, on vacation, in our hotel room, my mom got us a crib. Well, Lilian didn't understand that cribs are for laying down and sleeping... she thinks cribs are the ultimate place to stand up and practice walking... and for playing. So, we decided she'd sleep in the King sized bed with us. She slept between us, in the crook of my arm. And boy was i shocked, when she woke up a few times throughout the night, all I had to do was "pet" her face and she went back to sleep in seconds. And the second and third nights in the hotel, I was even more surprised when she woke me up... at 7 or 8 AM - she slept about 9+ hours THROUGH THE NIGHT! Then at Christiaan's house (we slept there 5 nights) we all slept in a Full sized bed... and Lilian STTN every single night in my arm. NO bottles, no waking up except to change positions, and a dry diaper in the morning! I start her off sleeping on her back with my arm as her "pillow", but she turns herself over to sleep on her side, facing me, with my arm under her head. My shoulder ends up pretty sore in the morning, but it's a small price to pay for 8-10 hours of uninterrupted sleep! How can you argue with this?

So, when we got home last night, we all slept in our Queen sized bed, doggies down by our legs, and Lilian between her mommies in my arm. And she didn't wake up until 7, then she was awake and playing until 8:30... then she and I went back to sleep from 8:30 until 11 something.

I feel "safe" doing this now, because she's so mobile. She can roll from front to back and from back to sitting to crawling to standing, etc. When awake, she hardly stays still, she's all over the place! She rolls from back to side to back during the night and uses my arm/body as a pillow. And she's totally snuggly! I guess she feels secure and safe, that she falls right back asleep when she turns.

So, I guess we finally found a solution that works... and all 3 of us get to STTN. So for now, we'll be a co-sleeping family, without the 3-5 bottles and 1-2 diaper changes throughout the night. And we'll all be better rested and happier, I think.

So, although we didn't intend on co-sleeping, it was what worked for us.  Lilian has been an excellent sleeper ever since.  I'm not opposed to New Baby co-sleeping either, but I also have high hopes for a crib sleeping baby (which Lily never was.)  Because of this, we decided to set up the crib in the master bedroom, parallel to the bed (so I could smush them together and "sidecar" them if i wanted.)  I'm seriously hoping that by putting baby in the crib from Day 1, I can start a good habit and we can go from there.  We don't have a swing this time around, but we did get a Rock N Play (which didn't exist when Lily was a baby)... but apparently that's a fussy-sleep-baby solution!  Moms seem to love them.  And some moms use them not just for napping, but for overnight sleeping too.  So, if the crib doesn't work, we can put the Rock N Play right next to the bed too... and she can try that out.  As far as putting baby right IN the bed, I'm not sure that's something I'm comfortable with until she's a little more mobile/sturdy.  Though we do have (I think we still have it) one of those "in the bed" co-sleeper things.

The First Years - in bed, co-sleeper
But, basically, the plan is to have baby sleep IN her crib... which will be right next to my bed (so I can see inside.)  This of course assumes that she will be nothing like Lilian - my high maintenance colic baby (who couldn't lie flat on her back EVER until she was over 6 months old.)  We have the Rock N Play for naps... and we can try that overnight if the crib is a no-go.  But fingers crossed for an easy going baby.

Now the last part of that plan... is to actually assemble the crib!  It's in our basement in pieces, but it is a solid wood "sleigh bed" style crib (you can see it here), so there's no way I can carry it up myself.  We need to find someone handy to put it together for us.  If the doctors are really delivering this baby at 36 weeks, we're running out of time... 3 weekends left!  This weekend is half over, next is Thanksgiving and we'll be away, and then LAST weekend before baby is due!  We seriously need to figure this out!


This isn't so much a decision as an "argument yet to be had."  I am pro cloth diapering and Missy is anti.  For me, the reasons to cloth diaper are pretty obvious:  1. environmental (producing excess garbage makes me feel guilty and sick), 2. cost (yes, start up cost is higher, but it clearly is the cheaper option), and 3. Cuteness factor (yes, I think they're adorable and I love all the colors.)   I haven't really spoken about it to Missy recently (I've been putting off the inevitable argument) but if I remember correctly, her reasons for being against were 1.  Hassle factor  2. Smelly/Icky factor and 3. Start up costs.  (I could be wrong about those, because I'm remembering back a few years.  And maybe/hopefully her ideas have changed since then.)

We tried cloth diapering in 2 stages of Lily's life.  Two friends of mine gave me parts of their diaper collection before Lilian was born and so we had a pretty big selection to try out.  I tried her first cloth diaper when she was around a month old.  (Pocket style).   They worked for a while and we used what we had for a month or so.  Some of them were leaky, but some worked pretty OK.  We didn't have a "full stash" though for full time diapering, and we had mostly size small, so when she outgrew them, that was kinda the end of that.
We also tried gDiapers.  Missy was on board with the gDiapers decision, because she liked that fact that they had disposible liners.  During the time that we used these, I "stuffed" and prepped them, so she could just change a diaper like it was a disposible.  We had gDiapers in size small, and when she outgrew these, we ordered mediums.  We used these for a little while... but I found that they sometimes leaked pee out the sides, and I hated the velcro closures.  (I don't like velcro on any diapers, it sticks to everything, I MUCH prefer snaps.)
During this stage of Lily's babyhood, we weren't all that well off financially, so we didn't really have the money to lay out for any other cloth systems (it was easier to find $40 for a box of gDiaper refills or a box of disposible diapers than it was to come up with $150+ to buy a full time diaper stash), so when she outgrew all the size smalls and the gDiapers we kinda let the idea slide.

The cloth stash we got as hand-me-downs from 2 generous friends.
I think we still have most of these, if not all of them.

9/9/08 - Lilian, one month old, wearing a size small gDiaper.

When Lily was almost two, I decided to give cloth diapering another try.  I was SICK of buying case after case of diapers.  Through my blog, I ran a few review/giveaways and was able to acquire some to try out to see what we liked.  We tried Mother-Ease, Rocky Mountain Diapers, Wahmies, and DryBees.  Though I liked them all, Mother-Ease was by far my favorite... and so I took the plunge and ordered a "set" (a few covers, a few diapers, liners, etc.)  I used my small Mother-Ease set for a month or so and decided I loved them, and it wasn't a hassle, and so I ordered some more - and I had a full set of Mother-Ease (I had to wash every day - it was a small set, but still enough to full time cloth diaper.)  I found that a lot of pocket and all-in-ones were leaking on her (she's always been a big drinker and a heavy wetter), but the fitted + cover two piece system of Mother-Ease never leaked for me, even overnight.  So for about 6 months, I used these to exclusively cloth diaper Lilian.  I didn't mind doing the laundry and assembling the diapers, I thought they were super cute.  I loved not having to run out to Target every two weeks to buy giant box of plastic diapers and filling bag after bag with garbage.  Cloth diapering ended for Lilian when I went back to work full time (she was about 2.5 years old) and Missy stayed home with her, but she was potty trained 5 months later.

7/27/10 Almost-2-year-old Lilian modelling a Mother-Ease diaper.

Rocky Mountain diapers.

Wahmies one-size "hook" diaper.

DryBees diapers
When the Mother-Ease set I ordered came, Lilian put them ALL on!
9/1/10 (2 years + 1 month old)
So I know that the fitted/cover system worked for a 2 year old with no leaks.  But I'm not really sure what exactly works for newborns/itty bitties, since when Lilian was tiny, I only had 1 of each and I can't really remember what my favorite was.  I remember some were GIANT (the one-size ones probably) and SO bulky they looked ridiculous and didn't seem all that comfortable (like strapping a couch cushion to your butt).  And right now, I only have a few "small" diapers (the ones above are all larger sizes, Lily was 2 when she wore them), definitely not enough to cloth diaper full time unless I want to do laundry 3x a day.   I need to have a talk with Missy and see what we want to do/buy.
I figure that Pampers Swaddlers (what we used for Lily when she was tiny) cost $35 for a box of 96 (newborn size, when she gets to size 1, you get even less in the box) - and newborns use 10-12 diapers a day (babies 1-4 months old use more like 8-10 a day).  So we'd use a box every 7-10 days, and in a month, we'd need 3-4 boxes - that's $100-$125 EACH month on diapers for the months 1-6.  I could probably buy a cloth system in size small for about $150-$200 which would last until she was 6 months old (maybe a little longer) until she was in a size medium.  So I figure we'd save about $400-$500 doing cloth in the first size months alone.  (Yes, I know there are detergent and electricity costs to consider... we don't pay for water... but I think that's pretty minimal, and we buy detergent anyway).  But laying out $200 up front instead of $40 for ONE box of diapers at a time is a pretty big chunk of money.
So this is a discussion/decision we need to have/make... and if I can get her on board, then it's just deciding WHICH kind to get.

So... feeding, sleeping, diapering... these things will get worked out.  Now if only we can find out HOW (and when) this baby is going to be BORN!  Hopefully at my doctor's appointment on Wednesday we get some ANSWERS!!!  I'm feeling pretty ready to get this baby out safely.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Breastfeeding Anxiety...

Now that I feel more ready about having baby "things", I'm starting to stress about the stuff I can't actually control.  Like the birth: when and how.  And breastfeeding & diapering & sleeping.

Breastfeeding did not come easy to me with my first child.

Lilian and I in the hospital - One Day Old.     8/14/2008

Lilian's Breastfeeding Story (2008):
I was reading my blog from 2008 when Lilian was first born... and breastfeeding was a failure from the beginning for us.  It took 12 hours after her birth to get our first successful latch.  And Days 2 and 3 in the hospital, she would only latch about 30% of the time and fall asleep shortly after.   Day 6 (second day home from the hospital), I wrote this in my blog:  "Breast-feeding... still a challenge, and that's a nice way of putting it. It begins with tears (hers) and fighting (she shakes her head back and forth and kicks and screams), more tears (usually mine of frustration and guilt), her eventual submission, a latch & some feeding, then sleep (she falls asleep on the breast and then stays sleeping for 3 hours, and then we start over... with fighting and crying.) I had no idea it would be so hard. Why would a baby not want to eat? She acts like its torture, but once she latches, she'll stay on for a while and she eats and swallows. So why all the kicking and screaming first? Other than when she has a dirty diaper (she cries immediately) or when its eating time does she really cry.... but at eating time, its tears & misery. *sigh* It's very frustrating and sad for me."    I think I tried really hard to exclusively breastfeed for about a week - 9 days.  But Lily's weight kept dropping and on Day 10 of her life, I wrote this blog post:  " So, we decided not to breastfeed. By "we" I mean all three of us - me, Missy, and Lilian. I really wanted to, and I struggled with the decision not to, and dealt with some guilt and torn feelings... but now, we're all relieved by the decision and much happier.
Instead, I'm pumping the breastmilk and feeding her it from a bottle. I still want her to have all the advantages of breastmilk, but the "drinking from the tap" just didn't work out.
I always imagined breastfeeding my baby, I felt it was natural and beautiful. I think Lilian had a different idea though. Its not that she was unable to latch... she could, and she did. She just hated it. Which made me hate it. Instead of "bonding" I felt like I was torturing her, at least, that's what her screams sounded like. She wasn't eating enough, and everytime I held her, I was "supposed" to be feeding her... and she'd scream and scream, she'd turn bright red and shake her head like a demon. I'd force her head onto my nipple... and she'd spit it out and shake her head and scream. That would go on for 20-30+ minutes, she'd get exhausted, and latch and eat for about 5 minutes, then fall asleep. She wasn't eating enough and it was the opposite of bonding, she wasn't comfortable in my arms, she was constantly fighting me. I don't know WHY she hated it so much, but you can't always reason with a week old newborn. It left ME feeling guilty and awful and mostly ended in my tears as well.
I broke out the breastpump and pumped and tried a bottle with her, and she ate it like a champ, was all smiles before and afterwards (OK, not real smiles, babies don't smile), and full & fed she's a happy baby that loves to snuggle - and we have much more bonding time that way
For a few days, I felt like I had failed her and failed in a way as a mom... but I'm OK with our decision now. (Honestly, I feel that Lilian did most of the deciding, Missy and I just went along with her.) She's still getting the breastmilk and all of its health benefits, just with no tears from either of us.
Also helpful, is that now I can measure what she's eating. As it turns out, I'm not making enough milk yet. Her first few days she was a cranky baby... turns out she was just hungry all the time. The doctor said she should be eating 60-90 ml (2-3 ounces) every 3 hours. I'm only making 25-60 ml (half-2 ounces) at a time. Its getting better/more each day (earlier in the week, I was making 15-25 ml only), but still not enough for her, so we're supplementing each "meal" with formula after she drinks as much breastmilk as I can make. Hopefully, by next week I'll be making enough and we can stop with the formula (and not have to buy any... now we're using samples and a box my mom bought for us), but I'm relieved that I KNOW that I'm not making enough, and now she can gain some of her weight back. When the doctor told me that I was basically feeding her 1/2 of what she needs, I nearly cried from guilt. But the nurses in the hospital told me breastmilk is best, don't give formula no matter what, she'll take what she needs from you and your body will provide what she needs. Turns out, I need a little help. I'm dealing with guilt about this, I'm measuring my self worth in milliliters with each pumping. But it's getting better every day. And I have a MUCH happier baby now.
One of the nurses told me something at the hospital. She said that when you're pregnant, your body gives to the baby first, takes what SHE needs and makes sure she gets it, even at the expense of the mother's health. But now that she's out, your body will take what IT needs first and then use the rest to make milk, baby no longer comes first. That concept has me kind of sad. I still wish she'd come first. I'd give her all my nutrients if she needed them."   
Around 2-3 weeks old, I tried to breastfeed her at 3am - she woke up hungry and I was too tired to pump, so I said "what the hell"... and it actually worked, she ate and went back to sleep.  So I started nursing her a few times a day, but had to give a bottle when we were done, since i didn't have enough milk.  But maybe since she wasn't ravenously hungry, she was willing to try at the breastfeeding first.  By the time she was a month old, I was still breastfeeding about twice a day, and pumping 6x a day - but getting only about 1/3 of the milk she needed, so supplementing with formula the other 2/3  (I was only pumping 3-7 ounces for the WHOLE day, many women pump that much every time they sit down to pump!)  I tried every "trick" to try to produce more breast milk, but it just never really happened for me.  I was spending 3-6 hours a day attached to a breast pump, and only making enough milk for 1 or 2 bottles.  It was super depressing and I felt like a failure.  By 6 weeks old, I was able to pump 8-9 ounces (for the whole day) and she was breastfeeding maybe 1-2 times a day.  By the time Lilian was 2 months old, I was pumping around 12 ounces a day (still not nearly enough) - and around this time I starting using a double pump, and I discovered that my left breast was not producing... it was literally making about 1/8 the amount of the right (less than an ounce).  She was at about 60/40 breastmilk/formula by 2 months old, but I think with my "faulty" left breast, it may never have been possible to get the 100% she needed from one side only.   When she was 3 months old I got serious mastitis that spread to my bloodstream (required a trip to the hospital and serious antibiotics) and was MORE painful than my C-section (I literally was dry heaving from the pain the first two days).   Lilian sometimes breastfed from Sept-Dec, but sometime around the New Year, she decided it wasn't for her (again) and that was it.  At some point I tried taking rx drugs to increase milk supply (that I bought off the internet from Canada), but they didn't really do much.   At 6 months old, I was still pumping, not making more than 12-14 ounces for the whole day, and since 6 months was my original goal, considered stopping.  I considered breastfeeding a grand failure and did not enjoy pumping.  I wrote this in my blog the week of Lilian's half birthday (6 months old): "But there's a whole emotional side of weaning/stopping pumping. A side you probably won't/can't understand unless you've been a nursing mother. Even though I can't breastfeed, every time I feed Lilian a bottle of breast milk, I feel connected to her... in the same way I felt connected having her inside me. I feel like I'm still helping her grow, I feel like I'm keeping her safe from illness and infections, I feel unique and important to her. It's a physical bond that keeps us connected, that keeps making a part of me a part of her. I know I'll forever miss this bond, and I'll forever feel sad about weaning. Probably guilt too. But I think the sadness & guilt is already there from my failure to breastfeed and my failure to provide her exclusively with breastmilk. Can it really get worse? Is pumping a daily reminder of my failure? Will stopping and moving on help me to move past this stage and this sadness?"  At 8 months old, we took Lilian to California for my brother's wedding.  I brought along the breastpump, and continuted to pump while we were there.  By this point I was already down from 8x a day to maybe 5, maybe 3x a day.  My supply started to drop, and so 2 days after we got home from the vacation, I decided to put the pump away and end or breastfeeding journey.  Lilian got 8 months of breastmilk - somewhere between 25-50% of her daily intake (the rest formula.)  It was a huge struggle for me, and more often than not, a cause of heartache, depression, and tears.  I rarely felt accomplished for what I was doing, and mostly just wished for success and for it to come easy for us.

So this leaves me wondering how/what to do for #2.  What I really want to do is exclusively breastfeed, and I want it to come easily.  I see some people who it just works for from day 1, it seems so easy and natural.... I wish I could be one of those people.  I definitely learned from my mistakes ... like in those early hours/days in the hospital to BF every 2 hours and really stick with it - those first few days are crucial,  and don't give bottles until BF is established, etc.  I don't think I really had great guidance the first time around.  But I'm already wondering if this time there will be other obstacles - since I'm having an early/planned C-section with possible complications (wonky placenta), will she be a preemie?  Will they whisk her off to NICU right away?  Even if she's fine, will I be in any shape to try nursing right off the bat?  When Lilian was born, they refused to give her back to me for 4 whole hours - I still don't really know why, but I do know that that time was crucial in establishing breastfeeding (and they gave her a bottle without my permission before I even tried!)  And even if the birth goes fine and I'm able to BF right away, what if it wasn't circumstances that prevented it last time... but physical reasons (flat nipples, low production, and a faulty left boob).  What if it's just not possible for me?  How long am I going to struggle and when will I just make the call that it can't work for me?   How hard and how long will I really fight for it this time?  I don't have the answers yet, but I know I'm not going to spend 8 months crying over it this time around, and I don't want to spend 4 hours attached to a breast pump every day, certainly not with two kids at home.  I just want it to WORK this time.  So now that I'm feeling "ready" with having all our baby stuff... I'm having anxiety about breastfeeding.  I just remember all the frustration and daily crying, and I'm not really looking forward to that again - it's making me anxious already, and we're still 3-4 weeks away.

(Posts about diapering and sleeping arrangements to come tomorrow...)

Lilian, 13 days old.   (2008)

Monday, November 12, 2012

Showered With Love

This weekend we got showered with love... at a surprise Baby Shower!

Our dear friend, Ashley, (and I suspect her husband-to-be silently on the sidelines) planned and threw us the cutest baby shower!  It was at Ashley's mom's house, which is about halfway between where we live ALLLLLLLL the way out on the East End and New York City (where half of our friends were coming from), so it was a nice happy middle.  (We also had Lilian's 2nd Birthday party there - a pool party - Ashley's parents are super generous about opening up their home, and I thank them for that too!)

Because of Hurricane Sandy, mail has been delayed on the east coast, so some people didn't get their invitations until just a few days before the party, so were unable to make it.  And because of the resulting gas crisis in New York and New Jersey, a few others couldn't make it.  But there was a good turn out and most of the important people in our lives were there to celebrate with us.  It's always so nice to see that other people are (almost) as excited for your new baby as you are, and that she is loved before she's even born!

Here are some photos from the party:

The beautiful invitation.

Lilian with some balloons.

The dessert table.

Our good friends Val and Lizzie, and Mommy-to-be Missy in the center.

Ashley's dog Gizmo, hanging out with all the girls.

Craft time!  I've never been to a traditional shower, so this amused me.

Lily helped open gifts.  Lamp & mobile in our theme from Aunt Dawn (my SIL).

The first baby clothes purchased FOR New Baby (not hand me downs!)

A bouncer chair, Boppy pillow, calendar and brag book from Ashley & Robert.

Towels, washclothes, blanket, and onesies from Alyssa.

Presents for Lily too!

Lizzie hosted some Baby Mad Libs... and we learned we're not above Fart jokes.

We feel so grateful that we have such amazing friends and family.  All of Lilian's baby gear (with the exception of her crib which was still in her bedroom and her clothes which were in secure plastic bins) were destroyed in a flood in 2010 (you can read about it here.)  And we were seriously stressing how we were going to replace everything.  It was especially sad since we purchased everything in 2008 with the intention of using it for more than one baby (we even got gender neutral colors even though i LOVE pink because "what if the next baby is a boy?")  But our friends and family were extremely generous with us (especially considering this is our second baby), and purchased nearly every big item off the registry!  Besides what is in the photos below, according to the registry, also purchased was a Rock N Play (sleeper), Angel Care monitor, carseat/stroller combo, crib sheets/swaddles/linens, and other items.  We are completely set up for the new baby!  The only things left to buy is a changing pad/covers for on top of the dresser and diaper supply storage baskets, bath products (baby shampoo, lotion, etc.), feeding supplies (bottles, drying rack, etc), pacifiers, a few nursery decor items, a Swing, a Pack N Play (playpen), and diapers (haven't decided on cloth or disposible yet.)  Everything else is taken care of!  And of course, we have to assemble the crib (and all the new gear)... but besides that we're all ready to go!  We've got somewhere between 3.5 and 7.5 weeks to go (I'm sure it'll be closer to 4 weeks).

Gifts from friends and family.

Bouncer from Ashley, High chair from my dad & step-mom, blanket from Alyssa.

Boppy from Ashley, lamp from Dawn, clothes from Megan.

Bathtub from by brother and his wife, towels from Alyssa and Megan, mobile from Dawn.

Fingerprint painting from our baby shower.

One of my favorite things... is that Ashley made this adorable canvas for our New Baby.  She said she made it during the hurricane when she was stuck inside!  It has a hedgehog (cutest hedgehog ever) and owl that match our nursery theme.  And she left out paint at the shower for everyone to make a fingerprint "leaf" on the tree.  It's totally sweet and it just sums up everything I hope for our new daughter - I hope she has a life where she is surrounded by people who love her.

So thank you to everyone who came to our shower, sent gifts, and especially to Ashley for throwing us such a beautiful party.  We feel very loved.  I also finally feel "mostly ready" for baby now (although I won't lie, I'm terrified of the tests & birth process upcoming) and I can't wait to set up the crib and all the cute accessories in New Baby's Space.  But I'm 32.5 weeks now, and The Day is coming quickly!

Edited to add:  Lots more gifts arrived in the mail after the shower... we got the cutest baby stuff and MOST of the stuff off our registry!  (Registry #: 48805373 at Babies R Us)  
I wanted to show off the other gifts we got... because they're adorable, and I want to say THANK YOU to our loved ones.

Angel Care monitor (which we didn't have for Lily) from Brontis.

I'm sure these things have a real name (play yard?) but I like to call them Baby Cages!
Thank you to the Montclare family!

Bottle starter set from Mary & Adam. Thank you!  This brand didn't exist when
Lily was a baby, but it sounds pretty awesome.

Happi Tree crib sheet, owl Swaddle Me, and Happi Tree fuzzy blanket from Melissa G.
Baby Girl is going to be super snuggly.  Thank you!

Rock N Play from Christine & Ursula - Thank you!  Hoping New Baby is a good napper/sleeper!

Nemo towel from the Montclares also.  This towel is so cute, it makes me *squee*

Happi Tree crib sheet, owl Swaddle Me, and Happi Tree fuzzy blanket from Melissa G.
Baby Girl is going to be super snuggly.  Thank you!

Happi Tree crib sheet, owl Swaddle Me, and Happi Tree fuzzy blanket from Melissa G.
Baby Girl is going to be super snuggly.  Thank you!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Gas Crisis on Long Island

Shell in Amagansett - no gas!
  Well, we survived Frankenstorm... we had 2 days with NO power and got electricity back on Day 3.  People all over NY/NJ and elsewhere, people even IN our hometown just a mile away, STILL don't have power, going on a week.  We had no property damage to our (rental) house, car, or anything else.  So all in all, we made out pretty well.  We had to throw away the contents of our fridge, which totally sucks, since we don't have money to replace it all (we'll just slowly buy a few things at a time, like condiments and staples).   Halloween even turned out pretty decent, Lilian got a chance to go trick-or-treating in town and filled up her pumpkin bucket (partially thanks to Dylan's Candy Bar who was giving out 4 man-sized handfuls to each kid and filled her bucket halfway, so it made the whole bucket fill quicker, since half the stores were still closed due to no power or staff.)  So, I thought we were in the clear...

Then comes the "gas shortage."  Or technically is it not a lack of gas, but a lack of a way to DELIVER it to us?!?!   We had half a tank right before the storm... but we used it all the week of (back and forth to the shelter, Halloween, plus two days of Lily's school Thursday and Friday.)

It seems that half of the local news sources say that the gas crisis will be short-lived.  And some say that it could go on for days or over a week... or who KNOWS how long?  So basically, no one knows?

We went out Thursday night for gas, the closest station that wasn't sold out was over 13 miles away.  We waited in line for 75 minutes, and when we got to the front, we saw a tiny Post-It sized note on the pumps that said "cash only."  (You'd think they'd have a huge cardboard sign that you could see from the road saying "cash", so if you DIDN'T have cash, you wouldn't waste 1-2 hours waiting!)  As it turned out, we didn't have cash, the ATM inside was broken, but luckily there is a bank next door... so Missy ran to the bank ATM while I waited at the pump.  Then I went inside to pay, and on the counters there, there was a teeny tiny paper saying "$25 maximum."  Again, totally annoying that this wasn't posted anywhere else - $25 barely gets me 1/4 tank, and I was 13+ miles from home!  I'd end up getting home with just over 1/8 of a tank.  So I paid the $25, then Missy paid $25 separate - so we were able to buy $50 total, which got me over half a tank.

  I drove Lily to school on Friday, but instead of going home for the 4 hours she's at school, I went grocery shopping right nearby, then I waited at school for her, to save the gallon and a half it would take to go back home, back to school to pick her up, and then back home again.  It was a super long day!   This weekend, we didn't do much driving (just within town) and so I still have have a tank of gas.  But it takes about 2 gallons a day to drive Lily to and from school - so the half a tank will probably only last 4 school days.

Today (Sunday) I went out to look for gas (willing to wait 2 hours if I had to, to buy some) and there was none to be had.  From Bridgehampton to Amagansett - nothing but closed stations within a 20 mile circle.  So, until more gas stations get deliveries, I'm out of luck.

Other than driving Lily to/from school (almost 10 miles each way), I'd normally be pretty OK with staying in town for a few days or a week or whatever (we do that anyway, we only go out of the Hamptons once or twice a month to do shopping or visit, etc.)  BUT, I'm in the 8th month of pregnancy and can't get to my doctor!  I'm afraid to let my gas tank go below half a tank, because of the "what-if's"... what if I start bleeding, have my water break, or go into labor - some other emergency.  I need at least 1/3 of a tank to get to the closest hospital, more like 1/2 tank to get to MY hospital (where my OBs deliver.)  This is the sucky part of letting the tank run down and being able to stop on the way to get gas anywhere.  I suppose if it was an ACTUAL emergency, I'd have to just call an ambulance if I literally didn't have the gas to get there, but that adds a whole new layer of drama (and expense!) that no one needs - plus they won't take me to the hospital where MY OBs are.

I had an appointment for a sonogram (I get one every 4 weeks to check on my wonky placenta) and a regular prenatal checkup on Thursday.  They called me on Wednesday (Halloween) when we still had no power, to tell me that the office had no power, but the doctors were seeing patients at the hospital (65 miles away from my house, an hour and a half according to google maps, but usually takes closer to 2) instead.  I asked if they were doing sonograms and they said no, so I said I'd wait until power was restored and make a combined appointment (like I always do) for the sonogram and OB, because I couldn't make the drive twice.  Thursday, someone else called me and was a super-bitch about it.  She was all like  (condescending voice) "i read here that you are 60+ miles away and need a sonogram, but we REALLY need you to come in today or tomorrow to the hospital, it's mandatory."  (Like I was somehow being negligent or careless by not coming in).   I told her, if I spend ALL of my gas (and gas money!) driving to see the OB, i will be unable to come back in a few days for the sonogram.  To me, it made sense to wait a few days and combine them... and the sonogram is more important, the doctor can't tell ANYTHING that's happening in there by weighing me, measuring me with a ruler, or taking my blood pressure.  (That's seriously all that happens at my appointments.  Oh, they check my pee for protein too.)   I said, I understand her concern, but I was feeling fine and simply couldn't afford to make 2 trips in one week.  So she scheduled me for appointments for Monday instead, IN the office (which is what she should have done in the first place.)   But now it's Sunday, I have just under half a tank of gas, and I don't know when/where i can get more!  If i use the entire tank to go to the doctor tomorrow and can't get more - that means I can't take Lilian to school all week and it means that in case of emergency, I'm S.O.L.  (shit out of luck!)   It's ridiculous that I have to choose between all these things!  But it's only been 2.5 weeks since my last doctor's appointment and 4.5 weeks since my last sonogram, so if I can get there within a week, that won't be so bad.  (It's not like I'm going 6-8 weeks between appointments!)  I swear, if someone calls from the office and gives me a hard time about not being able to come tomorrow, I'm going to ask if they mind coming to my house to pick me up & give me a ride, because I simply don't have the gas.  And I drove 20 miles today looking for it, and there just is none for sale.  Being pregnant (and living in a rural/spread out area) adds a new layer of headache to this gas crisis.   If I can FILL my tank tomorrow (I have half, so get half more) than I can reschedule for later in the week, since going there will take half a tank, but then I'll still have half for the school trips and whatever.

This Hurricane B.S. is neverending.  And to think, we were super lucky!  The whole southern NJ coastline got flushed out to sea, and people are still without power.  One woman from our area was killed during the hurricane (she washed out into the ocean, then back to shore miles away, I think it was suspected that she was walking her dog.)   Still, this is annoying, and if anything happens (baby/labor wise), this gas crisis is going to make everything 100x more difficult than it needs to be.  So I'm going to take it easy and keep my fingers crossed that this baby stays put for 4 more weeks!  (I'm 31.5 weeks now)... because I simply don't have the means to get anywhere!

Getty in East Hampton - no gas!

Mobil in Amagansett - no gas!

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