Tuesday, May 31, 2016

One of "THOSE" Days

Ever have one of those days that just wasn't meant to be? I am in the middle of one.

It didn't start out as a bad day. The baby woke up at 6:30am (that's sleeping in lately) and although he had wet through his disposable diaper, pj's, sheets AND part way through his wet pad, nursed himself back to sleep for another 20 minutes. That's a rare thing after that much clean up activity so I'll take it!

I woke up to someone shaking something rather close to my head- sounded like legos, but (thank goodness) we don't own any of those yet. Then it dawned on me,in my state of not yet awake-ness, that I hadn't put the gate up in the hallway to catch our toddler. Actually it's more of a slowing down the toddler as he mastered how to operate (or push through in dire circumstances), the gate early last month. OH NO! Although usually sweet and well behaved, this kid can devastate an entire house in five minutes and I had no idea how long he had been awake. I had just bought a container of oriental crackers on sale the day before; they were now mostly gone. Except the orange half moon shaped ones, those were spread all over. The dog had started the clean up process, but even the dog has some OCD issues and was collecting them to her favorite spot above the stairs before eating. I just let her continue. There were cars spread throughout three rooms, but otherwise no other damage. Celebrate and get going on the day. The I hear the baby grunt- twice and I just knew it wasn't going to be good. It wasn't. Rinsed everything off, bathed the baby and stuck the pj's out to drip dry outside until they could find themselves in the wash.

Boys were great, both eating some hot cereal happily and I was feeling pretty good. I needed more coconut milk, so I got the blender my brother gave me out of the dishwasher. Unknown to me, a piece had broken off during the washing process. It seemed fine. I measured out the coconut flakes while running the water to get it good and hot. Added 8 cups of too hot to touch it water, and turned it on. Something was wrong- a little water was trickling- BLAM- the dang thing basically exploded all over the kitchen. Crazy hot water and coconut flakes all over me, the floor, the sink, running into the open dishwasher, the rug, the backsplash and everything on the countertop. The kids were fine, safely away. After dealing with that we moved to morning nap because that is how long cleaning it up took.

Set up Gabriel with some books, turned on the "Rain for Sleep" sounds, and sat. Now Tristan is a sweet little second born who hates to miss out on anything. So if he hears his brother's voice, he wakes himself up and is ready to go. Just as he was almost asleep, Gabriel ran in the room announcing himself- this happened three times.

Baby asleep, time to get lunch for Gabriel. How has this day gone so fast?! Gabriel's eating happily, I pull out the immersion blender and make my coconut milk slowly, three cups at a time till I reached a gallon standing on leftover wet flakes I had missed during clean up. Okay, this day will be fine. I run a load of laundry and then it's time to read. This is usually a lot of fun for Gabriel and I, but he started ripping the pages. After a time out, we decided Curious George dvd was a safer bet for today. So we snuggled and had a good time watching and snuggling. Tristan woke up, we all hung out for two hours playing and attempting to do homework. At one point I had to handle a situation with Gabriel and unknown to me, Tristan decided to give me an assist with my homework. I turned around, panicked silently, and came back to find it all deleted. Swell.

I'm taking a break from wedding planning for a while (maybe forever as a full out business) and am selling some of my wedding stash. Someone picked up a few items just as I was ready to put the boys down, this worked well. She asked me to give me directions as her gps wasn't working with our address, and after sending a detailed list while nursing a baby who hates it when I don't focus and throws his hands all over my touch screen messing it up repeatedly, I heard her pull in as I hit send. Well, that's annoying. Oh well, this woman is paying me to take away some of my clutter. It's fine. As I put the baby down he grabbed my hair and ruined what had been a decent pony tail. I grabbed my box, headed outside and met one of the most put together mom's I have ever seen in an adorable skirt, blouse, sweater, tights, and cute hair/makeup.

Someday I'll have my act together again enough that I can actually blow dry my hair and put together an outfit for myself, right? For all the insanity that can go on in my day to day stay at home mom life, I wouldn't trade it for the world. Its so much more demanding and tiring than anything I've ever done- but it's easily the best and most rewarding thing as well.

Tristan's birth story

Regular contractions began at 35 weeks. NOT fun. They weren't always painful, but they were annoying and tiring. Tristan hated contraction almost as much as I did, knowledge that one was on it's way came through him pushing against them before I could even feel their onset. Something from the first time I had given birth was off in my pelvis, so there was a lot of pain from that as well, which limited what exercises I could do as I didn't have a pool available to me. I still was in the healthy range of weight gain, but 27lbs, healthy range or not, is a lot for a shortie like me to carry around. I only gained two tiny stretch marks toward the end of the pregnancy, not that I mind them- I thought there would be more as that was a full 9lbs more than I gained with Gabriel.

My 38 week appointment, I was over being pregnant, just wanted him out and in my arms. We were all shocked when Feb rolled around and I was still pregnant. We had one false alarm where things progressed until we arrived at the hospital. When we left they told me not to come back until I couldn't talk and breathing was difficult. That panicked both Shaun and I, because when I hit that point with Gabriel, I went from being dilated at a 3 to a 9 1/2 in less than half an hour! Thankfully my Dr was amazing and calmed us, just adding a second hour to how long she wanted contractions to be going on unless the pain was intense. 

I enjoyed lots of mini "dates" with Gabriel as we paced isles of stores while I contracted along for weeks. I had a manager of one store I visited jokingly ask me to hurry my shopping along so my water wouldn't break there in the store. It's a good thing he was as nice to Gabriel as he had been and such a help to me, or I might not have taken that as well as I did. January and February are known in Omaha for being months of a lot of snow, but we hardly had any, so we joked that the first snow storm would be when the baby decided to come. The exercise ball was one of the only things that helped some of my pelvic pain, so I bounced, rolled and stretched lots of miles on it.

Super Bowl Sunday arrived, inspired by the commercial of Arron Rogers catching a baby in a commercial,  we decided to try to get things rolling. I had my membranes stripped (for the second time), took primrose oil, ran stairs, bounced on the exercise ball, and kept those contractions moving. When we hit two and a half hours I called my Dr, who said to go to the hospital. We put Gabriel to bed and called his godmother to come over and stay with him. Off we went, continuing to time things- I was nervous that things would slow down again and I would have pulled a Father of the Bride Part 2 on everyone with lots of false alarms. 

Back to room 15 of Bergin Mercy's Labor and Delivery Ward. We were monitored for an hour and allowed to stay! Things did calm down a bit, but we were ready for Tristan to be born, my body was ready, so we went ahead.

Here is the timeline I kept throughout his birth. Just facts so I could come back and write in detail the actual story. But it kind of tells the story even without embellishment.

7pm started bouncing on exercise ball, ate a whole pineapple
8:00 put Gabriel to bed
8:10 ran stairs with Shaun
8:30 started timing contractions
10:12 had Dr Pakiz paged
10:18 spoke with Dr Pakiz
10:20 called Beth to come over, when she arrives Shaun tries to get sympathy and attention from her talking about how much his hands are going to hurt from needing to rub my back for hours on end. I almost leave him behind. Almost.
11pm arrive at hospital
11:30 they officially check us in
12a iv and antibiotics begin, shaun attempts sleep
2am cervix at 5 80% (shaun throws up)
3:15a epidural applied (shaun almost faints, lays on floor till four or five nurses help him to bathroom via wheelchair. He keeps saying, "it's not the needle" and how sorry he is to me while I have one nurse holding me in the right position and the anastesiologist helping me and helping him calm and rest instead of getting back up on his own)
3:30a pitocin started
3:49 allowed to sleep!!! Yay!
4:30 soooo nauseated,  threw up a little. shaun helped like a rockstar even while sick. Tristan's heartrate dropped. I was moved to my left side and put on oxygen until it rose.
5:30 nauseated again, not as bad however. Checked me, at a 5. still .
5:30 back on left side, peanut ball between legs to try to help him move down into my pelvis more
Rested, dozed a little.  Nurses in and out, machine kept misreading and going off. Legs hurt from being numb and cold with that fell asleep needles feeling.
6:50 woke up, moved peanut ball away, checked- at a 9 and they see his head!! They started getting things ready. Called Dr and nurses without leaving my side just in case.
7am Shaun wakes up mid snore with nurses in and out and all the busy activity that I remember being much slower last time. Overheard nurse say I was at a 9 and shot up into sitting position and had nurse confirm he heard right.
7:30 dr arrives, checks me, confirmed we're ready to go (at a 10!) and gets scrubbed up, shaun dresses.
7:45 in position, everything in place. Bag of waters and baby's head already coming out. Broke my water and pushed for two contractions/5pushes- after one contraction of pushing she said, "okay, this next contraction you'll have your baby!" Cord wrapped around neck once, no complication from it however.
7:51am Tristan Raphael McAfee is born! Slid out so fast all at once that the Dr had to catch him and passed him to Shaun right away who was ready to catch him sitting next to her but already said he would need her help this time. He held him for a minute and gazed at Tristan laughing at how fast he came out. placed him on my belly for skin to skin.

New policy dictated 1 hour skin to skin, everyone guess weights. Dr. Said 6.5lbs. He is beautiful! Rubbed him down, squeezed out the fluids and got to stare at him. He has brown eyes! I had to confirm it several times, couldn't believe it! He nursed both sides- really did pull himself army crawl style until he was in position. I handed him to shaun for a bit too and broke the one hour rule when no one was there.
9am nurse comes in to get stats and tests on Tristan and clean me up. 20in 7lb 4.8oz brown eyes perfect and calm. Loved the heating lamp.

Hold him a little more, Shaun holds him, we all 3 sleep sleep- finally!
Dr. Dulak comes to visit, no concerns- does mention T has big feet ;) but no concerns!!
11am I get really sick. Lightheaded, throwing up, have to use the bathroom almost pass out.
Noonish we are moved to room in recovery. Meet our nurse become an official "fall risk"
Everything hurts. Cramping so much worse than last time. Taking tylonal 3 after they were convinced I wouldn't throw it back up (everything hurts!!!).
Tristan is a rockstar nursing and so sweet. Exhausted but so happy and thrilled not to have had the NICU mentioned even once. Healthy and sweet little newborn.

Snowstorm we predicted for his birth begins and doesn't stop for days. Gabriel is with his godparents loving his "vacation" but isn't able to see us. Shaun visits him once but is so sick they send him home and keep Gabriel another night. Gabriel doesn't seem to miss us with all the love and attention he is getting as we do him. So grateful for Mike and Beth in our lives and how they love our little man and send me pictures to calm my momma worries of how he is doing.

Taken at exactly 24 hours since birth, watching the snow and enjoying his little grins and newborn smell and noises. Sweet and content little newborn, and a good little eater!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

37 weeks 1 day

Term! Such a short but beautiful word. It's all up to Tristan now, he is safe to come whenever he pleases.

37 weeks brought on some strange things for me. I'd prefer he waits until the 21st selfishly, so I can get a lot of things completed for my internship as a FertilityCare Practitioner before the baby arrives. However, every day that passes, the less important that seems. With Gabriel, I felt like I was going to rip in two with my skin across my belly so tight. I felt anxious to be done but didn't act on it. This time I don't feel anxious, but I am acting like I am. Having hardly any discomfort before my water was broken last time is to blame- any regularity in contractions and I start timing them just in case. They are uncomfortable enough to keep me from sleeping, not terribly painful, thankfully, but not at all fun and rather draining.

I have been timing them for an hour now- and they are all over the place. 7-17 minutes apart lasting anywhere from 40 seconds to over two minutes (yeah, I have long braxton hicks contractions, it was this way with Gabriel as well). Tristan hates these eviction notices, pushing, kicking, what feels like scratching even (!) until they squeeze too tight and he has no choice but to sit still. 

I really don't think he is going to wait around for February. There are several things that still should happen before I know it's around the corner, and I would love for him to be another Valentine baby, but I really don't think he will hold out that long. I'm okay with that in the long run, he will come when he is ready as long as he stays healthy and keeps gaining weight the way he needs too. Gabriel was born two weeks early due to the placenta running out of nutrition early, so I am on progesterone to support that as long as possible. I have gained so much more already then I did with Gabriel, that I am not overly concerned. This is the point where I hadn't gained anything for a couple weeks with Gabriel and my weight is growing at a slow and steady (healthy) pace.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

39 weeks

I have realized that my blog is really just a journal for my pregnancies. As soon as I have a baby, life picks up and insomnia is replaced with someone who needs to nurse thus taking up my blogging time.

The past month my Braxton Hicks Contractions have really picked up. Nightly they range from 5-20 min apart and three weeks ago I thought for the first time we might be heading to the hospital. They stayed at 5 min (or under) apart for 45 minutes- and then went to 40 min apart. Back to bed! Tristan HATES them. I always know one is coming on because he pushes his feet out hard on either side of my ribs about 20 seconds before I feel the effects of it. Sometimes it even feels like he is scratching me with his fingernails in attempt to stop them- the length of those fingernails will be one of the things I take a look at within the first hours of his life outside the womb. He's going to be a little fighter!

Thursday evening I started timing my contractions around 7pm. Friday they were still going strong, so I took Gabriel out shopping to get some walking in (walk that baby out!) and errands done while Shaun worked on homework at home. I let Gabriel run around the toy isles, pulling toys off the shelves to try out and put back until I couldn't handle bending over to pick up the ones he forgot to put away himself anymore. He had a blast. We left the toys after picking up his big birthday present from Shaun and I, and continued down the sports isles. You would think he had knowledge of just about every sport by intuition. He found a volleyball and hit it up in the air. He found a set of tennis rackets and handed me one and started bouncing a tennis ball trying to hit it to me. Then a baseball glove- which he had no clue what to do with as it was wrapped in plastic- so he sat on it. Next was a soccer ball (which he threw- guess he's a goaltender...). The best deal I found all night were on roman shades to block the light out of the boys rooms- $10 each!! I'm pretty excited about them, especially as it means I can get curtains for their rooms that don't have to be the drab blackout ones. I also bought several "my first Christmas" stockings on sale from $20 each to $1. After a baby's first Christmas, I plan on covering over that part with some removable white fur material and having their names embroidered. Shaun and I don't have a set number of how many kids we would like to have- we have decided to make that decision as the time comes one baby at a time to see how we are handling what we are already blessed with in all areas of our lives (kids we already have, our relationship, financial, emotional, time, physical... etc, etc.)

Walking, resting, sitting- I was having those contractions regularly and they were building in pressure over the hours. Back home, I put Gabriel to bed in a disposable diaper just in case we ended up going to the hospital. I kept timing things on my little app (which I have grown to love after trying several and hating them), took a shower and gave Shaun a warning that it looked likely that we'd end up heading for the hospital. I called my Dr. when we hit 1 hour and she told us to head in to monitor things- especially with how things went with Gabriel's labor and delivery. We called Gabriel's godmother (who had only gone to bed an hour before, God bless her), and did a few things around the house to make sure it was set for me to be gone for a few days if this was it. We left fairly quickly after she arrived, but not before Shaun tried to steal Beth's attention from me onto himself talking about how much his hands were going to hurt because I would make him rub my back (don't worry, she gave him no sympathy- and he never would have done that if I were in pain at the time). We got to the hospital passed midnight and they got us set up in suite 15. They checked me- I was still only at a 3 and 60% thinned- not cool. So we weren't officially checked in until they were sure what was going on. My contractions slowed down to 6-8 min apart (not encouraging) and we began walking the halls and doing lunges together as we walked (first lunges I've done since pelvic pain set in back at the end of Sept). After an hour, nothing had changed and they sent us home. DEPRESSING. I thought the next time I went home it would be with our babies in carseats across from each other sporting the matching outfits I got for he and his brother for the big homecoming. As my contractions where at the magic number, I received new instructions: come back when you have a hard time breathing, communicating and moving. That sounds fun! Shaun looked just as shocked as I felt when we heard that. Last time I hit that point, I went from a 4 to a 9 1/2 in an hour.

I have panicked at least three times over the fact that I might not get the epidural that has to this point kept me happily sane when thinking of labor and delivery. In fact the thing I have dreaded the most is staying on a super uncomfortable bed for a couple nights after delivering and being away from Gabriel and Shaun overnight. That's not the case anymore. Slowly I have come to accept it and place it back in God's hands.

It's come to be a blessing in disguise that Tristan didn't arrive that night. Shaun was getting a cold on the day we went in, and the following two days Gabriel and I have caught it as well- that would have been awful to handle with a newborn learning to nurse. Praying we are totally healthy soon so that when he does decide it's time (and I can't breath, communicate or move), we will all be ready to meet him without the need of facemasks. I have cooled it a little in trying to induce myself by racking up some miles after realizing how sore and tired I am from the lunges, contractions and being sick. Especially the contractions. Once we are all healthy again, Gabriel and I are going to be adding some more miles to that single stroller. Even without that, the contractions are still at a steady pace of 10-20 min apart most of the day, with spurts of closer together and every now and then 40 min apart. My body is definitely gearing up and I feel swollen in my face, belly and my lower back, legs and pelvis are amazingly sore at all times (I look like a true pregnant woman getting up after sitting or laying down- having to push myself up with my arms as I need the balance and strength).

I have an appointment today as I am now 39 weeks along (Gabriel was born the day I turned 39 weeks with him). Crossing my fingers that all these contractions aren't just good for making me really sore and worn out, but that things have progressed some. So I leave this post with many things going on. I am so excited for my second son to arrive!! I am so gratful God's timing was to wait until we passed through being sick. I have lived my fear of being sent home with a false alarm (Father of the Bride II, I blame entirely for this silly fear). I thought I was big last time, but this time I am way bigger- so adding to that, I relate with ladies who reach that point of "very pregnant" and total strangers have actually look at me and say things like, "you look ready to deliver at any moment." I even had a store manager jokingly ask me to hurry up and pay while at the cash register so that I didn't chance having my water break in his store! Fun times!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

on the 12th day of Christmas... wait... there are 12 days?!

December 21st- 4 more days till Christmas!!! Tomorrow we light the final candle on our Advent wreaths before the white candle in the center (which a lot of people don't do, but I love) on Christmas day.

Last year I realized I was doing Christmas in a way that was actually robbing me of a rich experience. Not that I was completely missing the reason for the season, I would never say I've actually done that thanks to how my parents brought my siblings and I up.  However I will say that until this year, I missed a depth and richness that comes with Advent- because I wasn't really observing Advent outside of a little calendar filled with chocolate and... yep... that's about it.

My husband and I are Christmas freaks. If you were to look in our storage space under the stairs you would see that other than baby clothes waiting to be used again, almost the entire thing is boxed in red and green rubbermaid bins. We start celebrating in November, when TSO has their first concert of the season here locally. We start with a winter village, eventually the tree comes out- and although we wait for anything truly Christmas-y until the day after Thanksgiving, we really have very little decorating to do in December if any. We love it, we love the baking, the movies, the scented candles, the fires in the fireplace, the lights, the music, the ministry, the events, the parties, the gift giving and receiving- really the only thing that brings us stress year after year is stringing the lights on the tree (why is it that every couple I know runs into this? God bless the person who invented the pre-lit Christmas tree).

So what's different this year from last? Well, I can tell you that if anything we are more busy than we were last year. However our perspectives have changed. We are realizing that our vocation is marriage and our family, and we are stronger than ever viewing it as the sacrament that it is(although we still have our weak and ugly moments, we're human after all). We try and view things from a Kingdom perspective, making choices that will make an impact in our lives and the lives around us over things that will simply keep us busy. We still did our decorating the way we like too, we still carry on with our baking, music, movies, ministry and events, but this year would be different if only that I was going to seek my Savior in a new way, anticipating that He would make an appearance in my life in a deeper way.

Gabriel eats, mom prays
This year I decided to just dive in. I wouldn't do everything "right", but neither would I miss everything. I rearranged my thinking after learning the historical calendar of Christmas over the retail world/ABC's 25 days of Christmas version. Advent is the beginning, a season of preparing our hearts and drawing closer to God as we anticipate reliving the coming of His Son and our Savior, Jesus Christ, in the most miraculous and humble of ways. I found a great daily devotional online through Creighton University that really challenged my heart to draw toward God in deeper ways, and was in today's language. I wouldn't let the business of the season rob me and mine of that this year. We purchased an Advent Wreath last year and have been lighting the candles every Sunday (except one where we were out most of the evening, so we waited until we had an hour or two to do it right later that
St Nicholas visited!
week). I wrote down things we really didn't want to miss (the live nativity at our Church, St. Nicholas Day, daily chocolate advent calendar, riding around to see the lights neighbors have put up as a family, making time to pray every morning before Gabriel wakes up or while he is eating breakfast if he wakes early, making Gabriel's yearly ornament, a few baked goods that it wouldn't be right not to have on Christmas day, giving to local charities, getting Asian food at some point the week before Christmas, mail out family gifts, wrap presents, etc.), and have given myself permission to think of everything else as extra. My pintrest account is full of fun ideas- but that doesn't mean we need to do all of them, I have years to pull from these ideas. If we find ourselves with the time and desire to do something that didn't make the "must" list, that's fine, but I'm not going to stress out and attempt to be super mom and ruin the things we are doing in the process. Which brings me to my next lesson learned.

I discovered last year that the 12 days of Christmas actually begin on Christmas day. Wait, what?! Now,
most people may already have known this, but somehow it had escaped my knowledge for 27 years. Gone
are the post-Christmas-day blues, we have 12 days to celebrate Christmas, enjoy the tree, the Christmas magic, bake things that didn't get made prior to Christmas, listen to music, watch movies, remember and teach about Christ's birth with activities and fun stories- gone is the pressure to do everything in one day and tear everything down immediately feeling like failures if we didn't remember everything we wanted to do or ran out of time!! If we decide we would end up stressed trying to do it all in one 24 hour period (minus 8 hours for sleep, 3 hours for toddler naps=13 hours), we can wait until the next day/evening- or even week. If someone has a melt down or something goes just completely wrong, that's okay, there are 11 more days that can go right! Now that doesn't mean we are going to torture our kids, gifts will still be given and opened on Christmas morning. But wow, what an eye-opening relief!

So how is this year different? I am more rested and at peace, I am not pressured or stressed, my heart is in an amazing place with my Savior, all the extras aren't weighing on me, I have time to nest and prepare for my own little baby's upcoming birth and thus identify even more with Mary and appreciate her in new ways as she didn't have anything to nest with except some swaddling blankets and hopes that Joseph would find a private place in a town or along the roadside when she delivered. Advent, Christmas (all 12 days), and all the activity within are now a beautiful blessing instead of a never ending to-do list, and that has made this little experiment worth every bit of effort that it has taken not to give into the temptation of trying to be super mom instead of working with the talents, skills, and limits that God has blessed me with in myself and each member of my little family.
"You will seek me and find me; when you seek me with all your heart" Jeremiah 29:13

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

An Autumn Update

3rd trimester has arrived! I am 29 weeks along today- which sounded awesome until I did the math and realized that's only 1 week short of three months left. So not encouraging- but that's okay because I have a lot to do before Tristan arrives and between a new part time job, being a full time wife and mom, and holidays it's going to go by fast with any luck.

First of all, I have to tell you about my new favorite thing- Essential Oils. I was a total skeptic, but one of my friends swears that she is fending off her 3rd trimester insomnia with it and I was tired of being tired all day. When another friend offered me some samples, I decided there was nothing to loose. A week later they arrived. I put one drop of lavender on my fingers and massaged it onto the bottoms of my feet before- I have not slept that soundly or woken up that rested in I can't even tell you how long! Same thing happened the next night- except added bonus, I had a headache and rubbed a little into my hairline as well (almost instant relief). So then I skipped two nights of using it- was awake again both nights. Night four my little guy had been up twice due to teething (I was up anyway, so it didn't effect my lack of sleep), so on night five I used Serenity on myself and lavender on his feet- HE ACTUALLY SLEPT THROUGH THE NIGHT WHILE TEETHING! The next day his teething hit him hard, so I put a little oil along his jawline and the fussing and crying went away within 15 minutes (although the need to be held constantly remained). I keep experimenting to make sure what we are experiencing isn't coincidence, and I am becoming a believer.

nature walk!
I am experiencing some brutal heartburn (Tristan showed no signs of hair at the ultrasound Nov 3rd- old wives tale: debunked again) which often aids the insomnia I had been going through. After experiencing true sleep deprivation after Gabriel's birth, I decided to switch my attitude to seeing insomnia as a positive thing, at least I could get some projects done during that time! I am just careful to double check the clock a lot (because last time I was pregnant I forgot what time of night it was, thought it was day somehow and woke Shaun up with my noise. He came into the room I was in and scared me to death- I asked him why he was home from work so early thinking it was early afternoon, and he couldn't help but see the humor even past the inconvenience of being woken up- pregnancy messes with your brain, people!) Exercising has become a lot harder, I'm experiencing some round ligament pain for the first time ever, and hip and pelvic pain I didn't experience until my last month pregnant with Gabriel are already settling in. I contacted some friends who experienced the same issues and stayed active through their pregnancies for encouragement. Thank goodness for good friends who are so encouraging. Nesting is hitting hard as well. Although my house looks awful as I pull everything out one at a time from storage to go through, clean, organize and purge- I have one project going in every room just in case I end up stopping there for a break or to let Gabriel play. I even deep cleaned and set up the tree- um, like three weeks ago! (In my defense, all the other decorations are still in waiting.)

Tristan is such a good baby. He can be active enough to wake me up while I'm sleeping when he gets going, but he also seems to really crash when he rests. When he is active he is all over the place and moves much faster than Gabriel did, but he is easy (he is already head down and locked and loaded- as far down as he can get without making my body think it's time to evict him). So far no complications, he is perfectly healthy, measuring right on target for his age, has long legs, heartbeat is strong, and does great during ultrasounds. We got to see him move all over during his ultrasound at the beginning of the month; yawn, kick, move his arms, flip around. Confirmed he is most definitely a boy, and an active one at that. This pregnancy has hit all the milestones I had with Gabriel much earlier. Heartburn, insomnia, soreness, pelvic pain, itching, big belly, hips spreading, braxton hicks, and several other unmentionable things- my body recognizes what's happening this time around and hit hyper drive or something. My Dr. changed some things around with my progesterone pills, so at least I'm not tired for that reason anymore! We are still working on finalizing a middle name. We have a favorite (sticking with the Archangel theme: Raphael, which means "God has healed") we will likely stick with, but might add a second middle name. Shaun gave me the first name I was in love with and he liked, so I told him the middle name was his to decide as long as it sounded good and didn't have some horrible meaning.

Gabriel is all over the place, mastering new things with little or no fear, and always ready to have fun. The only time he is clingy is when there are big changes, he is sick or teething. I no longer worry about him climbing or descending stairs, but what other things he might deem climbable are the new concern. I use gates more than ever if I need him to stay in one room so I don't have to run after him to see what new exploration he has decided to embark upon. He has an easy laugh, is picking up on sign language and words super fast all of a sudden, and loves to "run"
Helping mommy set up the tree
which is really him bouncing from one foot to the other as fast as
possible. He is fast, but I'm pretty sure at full speed he is gaining just as much vertical air as he is covering ground in every step. Dance parties are one of his favorite things (especially after Dad comes home), loves reading and playing, but the only consistent thing he wants to do repeatedly everyday is play hockey and do anything outside. One of his new words is "shoes" and he will go to the closet and get all of his out for me to put on him so we can go outside. He is starting to act more and more like a 2 year old, learning the world doesn't give him exactly what he wants when he wants it a lot of the time is a tough lesson to learn. Potty training is taking steps in the right direction. He can hold it all through awake time and usually only goes in his diaper while sleeping, so that is a challenge as I'm not willing to break good sleeping habits to potty train. He has begun loving his little potty chair though, and even initiates sitting on it. We are down to one nap, which frees up my mornings for doing errands, and causing me to rearrange my house cleaning schedule.

Shaun & I at the opening for TSO
Shaun is amazingly busy- I have no idea how he keeps up everything he has going. It's exhausting to watch. Full time job, full time school, involved in several church programs, setting himself up in the world of Church theology and apologetics, being a husband and father, helping around the house as I move slower and slower, taking care of Gabriel so I can get out of the house for Bible study every other week, ladies night once a month, and work one (sometimes two) full evenings a week. Then he has a ton of hobbies along with all that. Painting, hockey, reading, sports, video games, his blog,  keeping up with our favorite tv series with me, and he wants to start working out again.

Sitka is hanging around outside most of the time, and begging to go back outside half the time we have him indoors- which means I haven't had to vacuum nearly as often. Mollie is loving my new status of pregnancy that has me piling work I can do while sitting in the living room for when I need a break from the pelvic pain standing causes. She naps more than ever curled up against my belly whenever possible. Gabriel has really taken an interest in Mollie lately, which has been an adventure for her. He is good with her most of the time, although I caught him going over facial features the other day, pointing at his nose and then hers, pointing at his ears and then hers, pointing at his eyes and then poking her right in the eyeball- hard! She yipped and ran over to me while he laughed until he cried at her funny noise. Little meany. We are working on being "soft" with Mollie.

My new nametag!
I received a scholarship to attend education courses to become a Fertility Care Practitioner Intern teaching the Creighton Model System of Fertility Care, so last month I attended an 8 day course of 12 hour days for the first part of my education. I passed, amazed at how intense the course was- that's a lot to learn, especially for someone who has no medical background. I just found out tonight that I have passed all my pre-client exams and am ready to take on my first clients! I have to take on six clients before the next education phase in April, so when you add maternity leave in, it's going to be a busy and wonderful couple months before Tristan arrives! I don't think I could ask for a better more family friendly job opportunity. It's only about 10 hours a week and it will be mostly during the time Shaun is home so Gabriel and dad will get some good bonding time while I get to focus on a job that is more like a ministry than a regular job. If I have to go in during the day here or there they love seeing Gabriel and are even willing to let me bring Tristan in with me to appointments (as I will be breastfeeding him) either until he gets too disruptive or until Shaun can handle him without me as I will be pumping again to build up a good stash should I need it for whatever reason (if I get sick, need to take a medicine, so I can sleep for a few hours straight while someone bottle feeds him, etc). Soon I will blog about my journey of using various birth control methods and my decision never ever use them again which has lead me to becoming an instructor myself- but that's another blog for another day.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Encouragement! My breastfeeding experience with my firstborn

Breastfeeding- the word in our culture brings forth strong emotions. As well it should, nourishing an infant is a BIG deal as it sets them up in life, with any luck, for good health (emotional, physical, mental, etc).

When I was a teenager I read a fictitious novel wherein a woman gives birth and nurses her baby for the first time- and it was glorious, relaxing, amazing- and obviously written by a man. As a single young woman I thought of all the benefits for the baby as well as the mom, getting to eat more, burn calories while sitting doing nothing, and HUGE health benefits (breast cancer less likely, etc) as well as bonding that would of course happen with anything that gets it's life source from you. I got all my friends boppy pillows and beautiful nursing covers for baby showers and was truly excited for my friends when they found non-hideous nursing bra.

After getting pregnant I attended a courses and I talked with friends who weren't afraid of the "weird questions" and was lucky enough to receive encouragement from all of them- those who successfully breastfed and those who weren't able to for whatever reason. This was a huge help as I decided, much like my birth plan, that it was something I couldn't set my heart on but rather do my absolute best and let what needed to happen happen for Gabriel's safety.

After he was born, Gabriel didn't want to breastfeed as much as he wanted to explore the world around him content and alert. When he did latch on, he nursed for 15 minutes and then fell asleep- and apparently that's all he needed for a while. No matter what we did, he wouldn't stay awake when he did latch on. When my milk came in I was one of the "lucky" ones who overproduced and waiting to pump for two weeks was not an option (better than under producing but comes with it's own challenges). It ended up working out beautifully for Gabriel. He would eat a little at the breast and then daddy would take over with a bottle when he couldn't resist falling asleep overwhelmed by the familiar warmth, sounds and smell of mommy.

I was always grateful, but couldn't say I enjoyed breastfeeding. It was weird feeling, became painful with poor latches, and draining not just in the literal sense- there was no just sitting there, it felt like a marathon when coupled with lack of sleep. I started setting small goals for myself just to reach that safety zone of six months. But then something wonderful happened, three months in Gabriel figured out the correct latch- it didn't hurt and I realized I was actually enjoying nursing him! That he looked into my eyes and smiled his beautiful gummy smile at me while continuing to eat and my heart burst with joy and thanksgiving.

As we approached Gabriel's first birthday, we talked again and our mindset had changed from doing what we had to to wanting to continue. Gabriel had his first cold when he was a year old and had decided to drop several feedings for more solid food. That just confirmed in our minds that we should keep going for his immune system. After getting a positive result on a pregnancy test when Gabriel was 15 months old and still breastfeeding several times a day, we researched and decided to stick with it as long as it didn't effect the pregnancy in a negative way. Gabriel again self-weaned to only before naps and bedtime feedings by July, and then to only before bed in August. I knew it was going to be soon that he decided he was done, and honestly my body was just ready to be done as well. Hard to describe, it just was done. Emotionally I wanted to continue, but physically after going through three months of morning sickness and chasing a toddler, my body wanted a break.

Early Sept. is when it happened. Oddly enough, Gabriel and I both had colds and he didn't ask as his custom was. I put him to bed thinking he would be up for a nighttime feeding (being sick and all). I woke up in the morning and he had slept through the night. When I walked into his room I wondered if he would be freaked out or fine- I walked in and he smiled at me so big- he was just fine. He hasn't asked again since, but has been perfectly healthy and confident. It's been easier for me than I thought it would be as well. Bedtime doesn't take 45 minutes anymore, it's about 15 and I get that extra half hour to hang out with my hubby. This time is especially meaningful to me as we will be welcoming our second son, Tristan, into the world in just a few short months and will have to figure out a new bedtime routine that will take both of our efforts and joyfully consume our time.

Breastfeeding is one of the most challenging, rewarding and overall satisfying things I have ever done or worked at. The breastmilk chunky baby is by far one of the cutest things that graces this planet, and the bonding and confidence that I watched it impart of my little guy is invaluable. Once we hit that three month mark, it became something that helped me stay sane in the middle of my crazy 16 wedding schedule that season, grounded me when I felt like I was being torn in too many directions, something I looked forward to because I could only focus on him while nursing. It's how he stayed so healthy for so long, helped me shed the baby weight much faster than I thought (although when Gabriel started weaning, my weight did fluctuate a little as he would or wouldn't randomly use the calories himself at different points), helped Gabriel and I bond as mother and son, gave him a solid confidence and way to ground himself if things got overwhelming, it's how I learned to put him first, learned a lot of character lessons, realized I was pregnant again, and how I have started learning the letting go process that comes with being a mother.

It saddens me to think of the stress, judgement and pressure that comes with breastfeeding in our culture. In other cultures it's worse, in some it's an honor- in this one it doesn't matter what you choose, someone is willing to get in your face about it. That's what comes with being a multi-cultural country. It's not easy for most, not even possible for some, it's undesired by others, and the only way for a good amount of women. I am one of the lucky few who had solid support from my husband, family and friends while breastfeeding- although I did receive several strange looks if I mentioned I was going to feed my little guy after he turned a year, no one actually said anything. Several told me after being around Gabriel and getting used to the fact that I did feed him still it made them realize that it was okay, there wasn't an unhealthy overly emotionally attached mommy thing going on, and I hope that it won them over enough to prevent them from giving the look to another mother in the future.

Wouldn't life be easier if we women would stop the judgement, realize that there is an ideal but it doesn't always work out (whether by free will choice or inability), and instead work on encouraging and being a blessing in each other's lives? Let's tell the culture by our lives that it doesn't matter what the media says, we choose to live in joy and encouragement instead of defensive judgement and change the world around us by "paying it forward" to just the handful of women and men (yes, it's important to encourage them as well- husbands are the first, strongest and most important support and protection for the breastfeeding mother and child) around us.