Saturday, March 30, 2013

News & Notes, Holy Saturday Edition

We're in North Tonawanda for most of the weekend, our first overnight roadtrip with Carter.  Craig is still in Rochester for the Knighthawks game tonight, and will join us tomorrow morning.  We'll do church and breakfast with my parents before heading to Craig's side of the family for the rest of the day.  We came in yesterday afternoon in time for my family's traditional prunes and noodles dinner.  Amazingly, as crazy of a day as it was, I pulled it off.  It took a revamped packing list, a lot of bags, and probably a little more time for Carter in his swing and vibrating seat than I would have liked.  Jacob was home, too, which added a whole extra time crunch.  I was making a dessert, gathering up last-minute items to bring with us, and coordinating one more treat I was bringing to the dinner.  We somehow managed to get out of the house around the time I hoped, which was nothing short of a miracle.  We also managed to fit everything in the car, which was another miracle.  Hauling bottles and formula, not to mention Easter stuff, takes up a lot of space! 

We had a lovely prunes and noodles dinner and both my treats got rave reviews.  One was a jalapeno cheese pull-apart bread, and the other was a pineapple-marshmallow-jello treat with a graham cracker crust.  Carter got to meet the family, and Mommy got to have her first alcoholic beverage in ages!  We went off to church afterward, Carter had to eat while we were there, and he does not eat quietly so we spent most of the service in the crying room.  Jacob was very good, though!

All three of us slept in the same room, which was a bit of a challenge.  Carter woke up to eat at 3:30, and one of his cries woke up Jacob for a while.  At 5:30 he started fussing again, but fortunately the pacifier chilled him out until 6:45.  I opted to take that feeding downstairs to let Jacob sleep and pump myself.  Fortunately Carter got in three more hours of sleep after that, and since Grandma and Grandpa could keep Jacob occupied, I got a little more rest in myself.  Ahhhh.

The weaning process is done, so I'm back on dairy after about five days off.  Carter is now fully on bottles, though I still have a ways to go before I'm back to normal.  He's eating from the bottles pretty well now, which is nice to see.  While I will miss breastfeeding, seeing a baby happily eating away, no matter the source, is a nice feeling.  I'm grateful to be eating dairy again (my pizza for lunch was fantastic, as was everything last night!), and I'm happy to have Carter feeling better.  He's not perfect yet, but he is so much more content and sleeping so much better.  He's still very grunty at times and still has some pretty significant spit-ups, but he is so much better than he was, by far.  It makes the formula price tag much more tolerable since we know it works!  His new issue is a nasty case of diaper rash, which could be caused by some changes in his diet, and therefore his poop, I suppose. 

He's getting much more aware of things and having longer awake periods at times.  He's looking around everywhere, and I swear he's on the cusp of awake smiling.  He's making some fun little noises and getting to be so strong.  He can practically climb up my chest sometimes!  His face is definitely chubbier these days, and slowly but surely he's outgrowing the newborn clothes.  The 0-3 month stuff is still pretty big, but he's getting there.  His Easter outfit is super cute and it is a 0-3 month size, though I think it runs a little smaller than a lot of the stuff he has. 

It occurred to me last night that we've now been in our house for three years.  The other day I was trying to figure out why the date was significant in my memory, and it finally occurred to me that it was our moving day.  I guess it's more significant this year since we actually have the baby we were anticipating when we moved into a bigger house.  I realized in the fall of 2009 that if we wanted kids three years apart, we'd have to move ASAP so we weren't doing it when I was pregnant.  Luckily we managed to get the house ready and sold, and found a new one, all within a few months, and I couldn't be happier with the result.  We ended up putting off baby #2 for an extra year, then needed another year to actually make it happen, but he's here now and our bedrooms are finally fully occupied.  I like knowing that all of our bedrooms have full-time occupants...it makes things feel much more complete.  What a crazy three years it has been, though.  Hard to believe Jacob wasn't even two when we moved, and now we'll be registering him for kindergarten in a couple weeks!  I still remember the first full weekend after the move house was Easter weekend, and an abnormally hot one, at that.  We had a great time.  How times have changed!

I can hardly believe I only have a week of maternity leave left.  Part of me is happy to go back and help out my co-workers, who have been crazy busy without me.  As usual I'm sad when I think of leaving Carter, even though it's easier to trust daycare this time since Jacob has been there for so long.  I think I'm really just dreading the hustle and bustle of the morning and evening rush.  It's going to be hard to get up extra early each morning, put together bottles, get Jacob and Carter ready, along with myself, and get us all out the door on time.  I'll be sad to miss out on Carter all day (since I'm so accustomed to spending so much time with him), and then evening is such a rush anyway with dinner and bedtime that I'm worried about finding enough time to spend with both kids.  In addition there's housework and bottle washing to do, along with laundry and bill paying and whatever else.  I'm sure I'll be tired on top of it, so these first few weeks especially are going to be a challenge.

Before any of that, though, we have Easter tomorrow.  I still only have one thing for Carter's Easter basket, but Jacob will do pretty well.  We're looking forward to church and the Easter breakfast, as well as the annual Easter egg hunt (a.k.a. candy free-for-all) afterward.  It'll be a busy day of family fun and great food.  Hopefully there will be some pictures to share on Monday...Happy Easter in the meantime!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Such a process...

Weaning Carter is quite a process, in more ways than one.  There's a physical process as well as an emotional one.  On the physical side, engorgement is a bear.   I'm slowly trying to cut down Carter's nursing, but it often means I get a bit full, which can get uncomfortable.  Last night I gave him a bottle before bed (since it seems to keep him full longer, which equals more sleep), so I woke up a little engorged (okay, a lot), and then he didn't do a full feeding on the one side so the next time I woke up it was really bad!  During the day I do five-minute pumping sessions if things get too full.  It takes the edge off without doing much to stimulate milk production.  My goal is to switch over to bottles completely by Friday so I can eat what I want by the weekend (sorry, Easter is a great food holiday, so if I have to do it anyway, might as well do it before).  I wouldn't want to leave us in limbo for too much longer anyway.  If my milk hasn't dried up enough by then, I will just pump in shorter sessions until it's gone.  Just typing that makes me a little sad, actually...but I'll get to the emotional process in a bit.  In the meantime I'm concerned about avoiding mastitis, which can result from decreasing too much too soon.  But I do want to get this done before I go back to work, so we've got a couple weeks to work on it. 

On Carter's end of things, I worry about how he will respond to his rapidly decreasing nursing sessions.  I don't want to stretch this out too long, because the sooner he's on formula, the sooner the rest of the cow's milk protein can get out of his system and make him better.  He does seem to be doing better already, by the way, though he's still spitting up here and there.  He seems a lot more comfortable, though.  I've avoided dairy for a few days now, and am becoming more confident in the fact that this diet would have driven me nuts.  I've done okay, but my options have been very limited so I know I'd get sick of it all very quickly.  Just trying to figure out where to eat out with my mom for our day out tomorrow has been challenge enough!  Anyway, I don't want to cut Carter off too quickly because I don't want him to feel abandoned.  When he's taking a bottle, I try to snuggle him just like when we nurse.  It seems to work better that way.  I look him in the eye, kiss his head, and talk to him, then cuddle him as much as I can afterward.  Doing that seems to make the feedings easier for him.  I'm still trying to figure out how much he needs to eat, because sometimes he only seems to need three or four ounces, but sometimes he still seems fussy.  With formula this expensive, waste is a bit of a concern, so I'm trying to be conservative.  I think bottle feeding in general is a learning process for both of us, and after lots of nursing experience on both our parts, this is a change that will take some adjustment. Overall, I just want him to feel loved and be comfortable enough that his nutritional status doesn't suffer at all. 

But the emotional toll is a challenge as well.  Jacob and I barely had to deal with any of it last time since we weaned so gradually.  This time it was completely unexpected, so it's hard to deal with.  There are so many experiences and emotions I didn't expect to deal with for another year.  The other day I was looking and Carter and feeling sad because I felt like he was having to mature before his time.  Jacob had this connection to me until he was a year old, and now Carter is losing his at six weeks.  It feels like I'm sending him out into the big, bad world without protection only a mommy can provide.  It breaks my heart.  All I've ever known is having a breastfed baby up through their first birthday.  Readjusting my expectations of Carter's first year has been a challenge.  Willingly letting my milk try up this early is so hard for me mentally and emotionally.  Heck, just spilling a little breastmilk in the past was heartbreaking, and now I'm dumping entire pumpings.  When I was pumping the other day, I felt like I was cheating on Carter.  On one hand I know my milk isn't ideal for him, but on the other it feels like letting my milk dry up is robbing him of months of special nutrition. 

On one hand this process seems like such a short one, and on the other it seems like the longest week ever.  It needs to be over so quickly, but it's such a step-by-step process that it seems to be taking so long.  I'll be very sad when that last planned nursing arrives (planning on Friday morning), but I will be relieved to finally be able to eat what I want again and know he's on the road to a happy body.   I just never thought we'd be here.  At least not now. 

Monday, March 25, 2013

Looking on the Bright Side

Beyond losing out on the health benefits of breastfeeding, there are certainly some other bummers about giving it up, particularly this early.  We'll miss the bonding, no doubt.  All I know is what it's like to nurse a baby for 14 months, and I have no idea how it might impact Carter in the long run to not have this sort of connection for that long.  The cost is obviously a concern, too.  Not just the formula, but I was hoping to stretch out the cost of our breast pump into a second nursing stint.  We have vitamin D drops made for breastfeeding that won't get used up, and most likely Carter won't need the rest of the expensive gripe water once he's officially switched over.  Oh, and I also spent a few bucks on a clearance nursing bra since I hated the ones I had.  Turns out I won't get the use out of that that I'd hoped.  I will miss the extra 500 calories a day, and I'm not looking forward to stinky spit-up and poop.  Even if I can't smell it myself, Craig can, and I won't know if I stink of spit-up when I go out in public.  Annoying.  I'm dreading dealing with engorgement as we ease off, because it is so uncomfortable and I'm not sure I know how to do this without dealing with it to some degree.  I'm dreading having to pack for traveling this weekend.  I've rarely had to deal with packing bottles and formula, so I have no idea how that will go.  And you know what's funny?  This is my second baby, and I feel like the most awkward bottle feeder ever!  I can probably count the number of bottles I had to feed Jacob on a few hands.  I had a week of medication that meant I had to pump and dump and just do formula, and beyond that there were probably a few bottles I fed him when we were out in public...but not many.  I feel so awkward doing it!

But for all the cons, there are a ton of things I'm looking forward to.  I need a big bright side here, since I know what I'm giving up is significant.  And yes, the dairy-filled diet is a big one, but it's nice to have some extra bonuses. 

1) Easy to feed in public - I know it's not hard to breastfeed in public, but it's awkward at times.  I guess it's always good to know you can do it if you have to, but you know, I rarely did.  I'd rather rush home with a crying baby than attempt it at a store or restaurant.  It's much easier to whip out a bottle and go to it.  No more hiding in another room or struggling with a blanket over my shoulder.

2) My clothes will fit - I don't have to worry as much about dressing myself when I head back to work because my chest should go down and most of my clothes should fit like they used to.  My stomach needs a bit of work, but heading back to the gym should help that soon enough.  The chest issue was a big one last time, and I'm relieved to not have to deal with that for much longer.

3) No more nursing-friendly clothes - I love wearing dresses in the summer, but nursing always made that hard.  Even this coming Sunday, Easter, I was worried about wearing a dress since I would have had to nurse.  Now I shouldn't have to worry about that.  My nursing bras also didn't always look right under some outfits, so I won't have to work around that either.

4) Freedom - Obviously when you're breastfeeding you are the sole source of nourishment for your child.  As a result, you're on the hook for everything.  Even if you're pumping and leaving milk, you need to make sure that everything's accounted for and you can make sure you will be comfortable if you're not nursing.  I went to a wedding once when Jacob was six months old, and while his needs were taken care of, by the time we got home I was so engorged!  One way or another you're either tethered to your baby or a breast pump, and it's hard to manage in some situations. 

5) Working out - On a related note, I'm looking forward to getting back in the gym.  I'm relieved that I don't have to worry about pumping beforehand, or having a bigger chest.  I'm looking forward to getting back to running, and I was concerned about calories in-calories out in that situation, to ensure that I wasn't burning too many calories to make adequate milk.  I also heard somewhere that too much lactic acid from working out could impact babies, too.  Guess we won't have to worry about that.  Of note in my mind is the Chase Corporate Challenge, which I ran in last year and wanted to get back into jogging shape for this year.  It's in late May and I was already thinking about pumping beforehand, and having full boobs by the end of it, and how all that would go.  Now that's not an issue either.

6) Bonding with Craig - Carter hasn't had much time to bond with Craig.  Between Craig working and being on roadtrips, and near-constant nursing in the evenings, Craig hasn't had to deal with Carter too much.  He's more preoccupied with Jacob, who requests Craig's attention most of the time when he's around.  Because I won't have to be the only feeder now, Craig can give Carter a bottle while I deal with Jacob.  The first bottle didn't go so well, but hopefully it'll get better as we go along. 

7) Bonding with Jacob - Per the point above, I need more time to spend with Jacob, and not having to be the sole nurser will help with that.  Even just Jacob's perspective of how much time I'm spending with Carter should improve.

8) Pumping at work - I'm relieved that I won't have to set aside a couple 20 minute breaks in my day to pump.  Inevitably there would be a meeting or something that would get in the way, or I'd be so busy that it was hard to get away.  It was always a little awkward to be pumping in the handicapped bathroom and washing out my equipment in the kitchen.

9) Breastmilk vs. formula bottles at daycare - I always found it very awkward to send some breastmilk bottles and some formula.  I could never pump enough for a full day of feedings, so I had no choice.  I was always nervous that they'd misuse the breastmilk or something.  Now it'll just be a bunch of formula!  Not sure how that will go, however...

10) Overnights - I won't miss the cold of night hitting my belly as I pull up my pajama top to nurse.  It may not be that cold in Carter's room, but it feels that way!  Also, when I go back to work, Craig can take a share of the night feedings, for the first time ever.  Let's hope by then that we don't have to worry about it--at least not for long--but the help would be nice!

11) Travel - My parents offered to take care of Carter for us when we finally do our make-up trip to Disney in the fall.  I wasn't so sure, because if I was nursing it would be easier to have Carter there than to pump and keep him fed all week.  However, now that isn't an issue, so perhaps we will take them up on the offer!  Same goes for weekend trips away and things like that.  Way less planning involved!

12) Birth Control and S-E-X - I'll now be able to go back on regular birth control, rather than the single-hormone variety that's used for nursing mothers.  In addition, my hormones will get back to normal sooner, which Craig will benefit from as well.  Last time I was characterized as having a post-menopausal vagina (I know....ewwww) because the hormones in my system made things very unaccommodating down there.  It was pretty miserable.  And, of course, the chest area was off-limits as well!  That shouldn't be an issue for too much longer!

13) Other medications - I will be able to go back to taking allergy medicine sooner, and if I get sick, I'll be able to take whatever I want.  I was pretty lucky through my pregnancy, but with two kids in daycare, I have to think that streak won't last!

14) That bottle of wine on my buffet - There has been a bottle of my favorite wine sitting on my buffet for a year.  I never drank it because we were trying to get pregnant, and then I was pregnant.  I am excited to drink it, along with the Mike's Hard Lemonade that's been taunting me at the grocery store and any other fun beverages that show up at family functions or other parties.  I'm not a big drinker, but it's nice to be able to partake when the opportunity arises!

Of course, all of this is assuming that Carter takes to the new formula okay and we can get things changed over all right.  He's fought us on a couple of the bottles and spit up a ton.  A couple of them have been fine, though, so it could still just be the milk proteins from my milk working their way out of his system.  He's spit up after breastfeeding, too, so who knows.  Part of me wants to rush through this weaning process to get the proteins out ASAP, but I don't want to shock him too much since he's fought bottles a bit so far.  I don't know if he's confused by going back and forth, though...that he's fighting bottles because he'd rather breastfeed, so he'll hold out for that instead of drinking his bottle.  I don't know if that's the case or not.  It's so hard watching him fight the bottles and hard to see him spit up afterward because sometimes it's such a large amount (but not large enough to concern the doctor, of course). 

Speaking of which, I'm thinking now that insurance won't cover the formula.  While they said they would (for $70/month), the doctor's office said that our insurance company almost always rejects the claims even with the doctor's approval.  I found some documentation that makes it sound like they will only approve it if the baby needs it to sustain life.  The insurance company mentioned something about growth charts, which I'm guessing they look at to see how the baby is faring.  The thing is, despite his issues, Carter has continued to grow.  However, my milk wasn't healthy for his digestive tract and it made him incredibly uncomfortable.  Yet they will think something else will work for him.  Ugh.  I'll keep looking into it, but I'm not getting my hopes up. 

So, for all the good, there's a little bad, and vice-versa.  We're working through the weaning, though, and we'll just deal however we can.  It's best for all of us.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Difficult Decision

I don't know what it is about the formula vs. breastmilk issue that pushes me to emotional breakdowns, but for the second time (the first being in the first few days of Jacob's life), I ended up absolutely destroyed by this whole dairy-free situation yesterday.  Friday night ended up being a rough one for Carter despite a dose of gripe water, so it became apparent that would not be the answer.  On Saturday, I was pretty good early in the day, but in the afternoon I had to go to the library to return Jacob's books and figured I'd take out some dairy-free recipe books to try to give myself some ideas.  I'd had a few Facebook friends give me some helpful suggestions, and I thought that if I could fill out a couple weeks' worth of meals, maybe we could just stick with that rotation and see how it went.  Well, as I was paging through the books in the library, I just had this impending sense of dread that none of what I was seeing would work for us.  Between the rather plain tastes in this house and the boys' hesitancy toward vegetables, nothing seemed like it would work.  I took out the books anyway and drove home.  On the way, it just started to get to me again.  Carter's rough night on Friday (uncomfortable and extra spit-uppy) had me on edge, and the fact of the matter is that this diet has to be followed very closely to avoid relapsing to where he is now.  In addition, a friend had explained how hard it is to eat out, and a scan of my kitchen was sobering.  It all just started to hit me how hard this would be, and I broke down a bit while I was driving.  It continued at home, pretty much for the rest of the day. 

I was so pathetic that I sent the boys out for the night (even though they had been out Friday night, too) so I could cry it out without Jacob here.  Being alone didn't sound too good in that state, but it was better than freaking out my older child.  I cried a lot, did some research, and in the end I decided that I had to give up breastfeeding and switch Carter to the obscenely expensive formula.  I decided that my mental well being was important, too, and I didn't want to spend the next year tortured by cooking dinner, frustrated by the food I couldn't eat, and worried that I'd slip up, even accidentally, and make Carter uncomfortable.  It takes weeks for the protein to exit the system, so it's not just a matter of day or two of discomfort if something goes wrong.

I suppose part of this comes off as selfish.  What kind of crappy mom am I that I can't sacrifice for my child?  What will I do if this turns out to be a permanent thing (which it shouldn't), or he ends up with a real allergy to something else down the road?  If I can't do this, what will I do then?  I guess all I can say is that we'll cross that bridge when we come to it, but in this case there IS another solution that is perfectly acceptable, so why kill ourselves right now of we don't have to?  The financial burden is tough, but he'd be having some of this formula every day anyway since I was never able to pump enough for a full day, and we'd probably be spending extra on replacement foods, too, which aren't cheap..  There's a chance our insurance might cover at least part of the cost, but I need to look into that further tomorrow.  I know they often cover formula that's one step above what Carter would be on (I think that stuff is for kids with an actual allergy, not just a sensitivity), but I'm not sure if our insurance would do it, or if this level of formula could be covered.  It is a bit of a financial hardship, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

So, yeah, selfish.  This is something I could possibly do for a week, or maybe a month.  I'd drive myself nuts in the meantime, but if I had to I could.  The issue is that I don't know what to feed us for dinners, and I don't have the time or energy to make something separate for myself.  Tonight I made pizza with Daiya "cheese" on my portion.  It was sort of weird.  Passable, I guess, but weird.  But I can only substitute so much before someone's not going to like it.  We only have a rotation of a few acceptable vegetables, and the lack of dairy-based pasta dishes (i.e., Hamburger Helper, mac & cheese, or creamy pasta side dishes) leaves me at a loss for sides.  So many recipes in the books I got from the library were elaborate--lots of ingredients and very time consuming.  If I didn't work full time, maybe it would be easier.  But when I have about 45 minutes to get dinner on the table before dinner starts encroaching on Jacob's playtime (which he needs) and bedtime, I don't have time for fancy recipes.  That's why we use so many processed foods as support for our dinners.  And when time or energy is really short, we usually go out a couple times per week (maybe once during the week and once on the weekend).  The dairy-free diet makes that really difficult because you need to know exactly how the food is prepared.  I'll be honest--I couldn't fathom a year without take-out pizza or Taco Bell (which, as you recall, is my special place with Jacob), or birthday cake or summer ice cream.  I couldn't imagine not eating real chocolate or mac and cheese.  And this may seem counter-intuitive, but I think my lack of smell and taste made it even harder.  You'd think that because I can't really smell or taste much, I wouldn't care about replacements that don't taste the same or not being able to eat certain foods.  But in reality, I think I already feel that I've lost so much in that realm that giving up certain restaurants or foods that I like seemed like even more of a sacrifice.  I like eating and this just seemed to steal my last bit of joy from that.  Everything I'd see in commercials, on Pinterest, or in recipe emails I receive was full of foods I couldn't eat, and it broke my heart every time.  Parenthood is hard enough without missing joy from that part of my life, and I didn't want to end up resenting Carter or parenthood in general because of it. 

I had a couple moments during the worst of it where I questioned our decision to have another child and questioned my ability to be a good mom.  When you get to that point, you really have to take a step back and think as logically as possible to find the best way to move forward.  It almost felt like this plunged me into some sort of postpartum depression, where I felt detached and almost hopeless about the next many months, and I did not want to spend the next year wishing time away or getting frustrated when things didn't improve.  Switching to formula seemed like the only way to ensure that Carter would remain healthy and I would maintain my joy and sanity, too. 

I feel so terribly about cutting off breastfeeding so early, both because of the health benefits for him, and the bonding benefits for both of us.  Jacob had that for 14 months.  Carter is barely going to make six weeks.  Breastfeeding is such a special thing, and for all of its challenges, I really ended up enjoying it last time.  This time around has been a different sort of challenge, mostly because Carter has eaten every two hours for most of his life and it's hard to be trapped on the couch when you have a household to manage, including a four-year-old child.  However, I was totally on board to keep going as long as we could (or until I thought we were risking having trouble weaning), because the way it ended with Jacob was so lovely.  We worked ourselves down to only the night feeding, then did a short one on our last night, and that was it.  No engorgement and no issues with Jacob wanting it again.  We finished on my 30th birthday and his baptism day, and that was it.  Perfect. 

This time around I'm not even sure how to go about weaning.  I'm trying to do it this week, just because the dairy-free diet is a pain and I'd like to be eating normally by the weekend, since it's Easter and there will be food temptations everywhere.  And really, now that I've made the decision, I just sort of want to plow through and get it over with.  I mean, I love breastfeeding and will be sad to finish it, but knowing that it hasn't been the most comfortable thing for Carter has been hard.  I don't like the feeling of feeding him something that's going to make him sick.  But it makes me sad that this is the end, that stopping breastfeeding is so final--it's not like I can change my mind once it's done.  Anyway, we're trying to replace one more feeding each day with a bottle, which should get us up to about seven of nine-ish feedings by the end of the week, and by then hopefully he'll be so used to it that sneaking in one more here or there to officially transition shouldn't be that bad.  We're just going to work our way down, and I will be pumping here and there to relieve my discomfort without pumping enough to stimulate production further.  If I have to pump for a few days beyond the official transition, that's fine.  Whatever leaves me with as little pain as possible...because God knows this is hard enough without that pain and the reminder of all that we went through to get breastfeeding up and running to begin with.  It makes me sad that we won't get into the comfortable groove that comes around six months, that we won't have those moments where he smiles at me around the nipple or shows visible, conscious comfort when nursing.  I'll miss my extra 500 calories a day and the crazy weight loss that hits within the next few months.  I guess that'll mean I have to hit the gym more! 

I noticed in the past couple days that I'm really dying to have Carter be a little more responsive and interactive.  I'm waiting for the first real smiles and hoping for some sign that he knows we're there.  I know he knows me, but there's just a certain point where you can dangle a toy or make faces and he gets it.  Right now when he's awake and content, I'm not sure what to do with him.  I talk to him and try to interact, but I just get a blank stare back most of the time.  And now that we're not going to have breastfeeding as a special bond, I think I'm craving acknowledgment from him even more.  I just want a way to interact and share special moments with him, to know that he still loves me.  And yes, I know he does, but it's a crazy hormonal mom thing.  Trust me.

This has been such a tough decision, and I know many people will question it.  I'm sure our doctor will be disappointed, since she was a big breastfeeding booster.  But formula is not the devil, and kids turn out just fine with it.  Heck, as my mom reminded me tonight, I transitioned over to formula pretty early myself and I'm okay :)  It breaks my heart on a lot of levels, but there are a lot of good things about it too, which I hope to outline in another post as a reminder to myself that this is not an entirely bad thing.  All I know is that the torture I dealt with yesterday was more than I could handle and I couldn't keep myself in that place without it impacting everyone else negatively at some point.  While it may not be the perfect solution, it is the best solution all around for everyone.  And as important as Carter is, everyone else deserves some consideration, too.  Myself included.  Maybe this round of parenting is a little more selfish on my part, but perhaps I'm just more aware of the danger of losing sight of myself.  I can't be a good mom if I'm not taking care of me, so for better or worse, this is just another example of that. 

I'm sure I'll have more thoughts on this in the days and weeks to come, so stay tuned...

Friday, March 22, 2013

Darn You, Dairy...

So...today was another well visit for Carter.  He gained another 11 oz. since last week, so he's rapidly approaching nine pounds!  He's grown two inches, as well.  He got one shot, which he did not enjoy.  Overall he's doing great, with the exception of the fussiness and spitting up we've been dealing with for a few weeks now.  The doctor and I were discussing the reflux issue.  It's hard to tell whether the Zantac is helping.  We had a couple good days, followed by a couple rough ones.  While we were there he pooped a bit, and she noticed that there was some mucus in it.  I've always looked for it, but honestly, breastfed baby poop all looks sort of mucus-like to me!  She took it to check for blood, which would indicate a cow's milk sensitivity since it inflames the digestive tract.  It wasn't visible to the naked eye, but it was there.  So...yeah.  I'm bummed.  The doctor suggested a three-week trial of dairy-free eating to see if it makes a difference, as it takes that long for the proteins to exit completely. 

I'm sort of at a loss, because dairy is in so much of what we eat.  It's not just milk, cheese, and ice cream.  It's in so many things under different names.  Eating out is almost impossible.  I have a hard enough time figuring out what to feed my family, since the boys aren't big on veggies and I try to keep things relatively low-ish in fat and not spend a ton of money.  So much of what we eat has some element of dairy, from cheesy or creamy sauces in pasta side dishes, to cheese on things like pizza, sandwiches, salads, and tacos, to snacks with chocolate.  The thought of cutting that out is almost impossible...and the amount of food in this house that I can't use accounts for a pretty significant sum of money right now.

The easy answer would be to stop breastfeeding and switch him to formula.  He'd be fine and I could eat what I want.  The problem is that I generally like breastfeeding and know that it has a lot of benefits for him.  In addition, the formula he has to be on is ridiculously expensive.  It's about $36 per large can.  As estimator I saw online says that if the baby drinks 12 oz. per day (which may be about what he has to consume anyway once he starts daycare to supplement beyond what I can pump), we'd need 1-2 cans every two weeks.  So we'll already be spending that much even if I continue breastfeeding.  Just imagine if he was drinking that for every feeding! 

Here's the thing.  I obviously don't want Carter to be uncomfortable.  I don't like the thought of blood in his poop.  The spitting up and gassiness is certainly annoying.  BUT...based on the fact that his symptoms aren't that hardcore, I'd have to think he's on the lower end of the spectrum.  Given lots of patience, we'd get through.  My guess is that Jacob had the same issue.  I gave up milk in my morning cereal and gave him gripe water, and we all survived.  He wasn't even on reflux meds at the time.  Carter could be different, certainly, but like I said, he's had good days here and there, and I've only been giving up some dairy.  I've been using rice milk in my cereal, and certainly could use that in other recipes if need be.  Because it doesn't seem to be super-serious, it makes it tempting to give up what I can and try gripe water in hopes that it gives him comfort where I fail.  It seemed to work when I gave it to him a couple times prior to the reflux meds, and if it needs to become a daily thing, that's fine.  But is that bad?  Does that make me a bad mother that I can't sacrifice for his comfort?

The thing is, it's not just me sacrificing.  Craig and Jacob will have to deal with changes, too, and that stinks.  And there's always the stress of trying to figure out what to cook for them, because that's hard enough for me right now without these limitations.  We've (unfortunately) relied on a lot of processed foods, particularly for side dishes and quick dinners, and a lot of those have obvious or hidden dairy.  I don't have the time to cook multiple meals.  Even with dozens of suggestions from friends of mine via Facebook, I'm not even sure where to begin.  Part of me is thinking that I should use the gripe water for the next few days, use up as much of the dairy stuff in my pantry as possible, do some shopping to replace what I can and plan some dairy-free meals, then give it the best shot I can for the next few weeks to see what kind of a difference it can make.  Everyone's insisting it's not too bad once you get into it, so I guess we'll just have to give it a try and see.  Hopefully little bits here and there won't cause much of a reaction and I won't have to give up everything, but it's definitely going to be a challenge. 

This situation has mom guilt written all over it no matter what I do, but for Carter's sake I need to give it a shot and hope it helps him.  In the meantime, it's becoming clear to me that I'm going to have to fight wishing away the next ten months or so, in order to get to a point where this intolerance might fade away, which it should.  And for that, I know we're lucky.

Sigh.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Current State of Affairs

I guess it's been a while since I've done a general update.  I'm nearly five weeks through my maternity leave, which is crazy.  I have one more week of leave plus I'm taking one week of vacation.  Hard to believe that in two weeks I'll be handing my sweet baby over and spending my days at work. I had a little panic moment yesterday thinking about it, with the fear of losing my spot as the center of Carter's world.  I am pretty much it right now, particularly since Craig has been sick with a cold and eye infection for the last few days so he's been keeping his distance.  The thought of someone else spending all day with him, the thought of someone else potentially getting that first smile, that's the stuff that bothers me about daycare.  I know that in the end it's cool to have other people that love your kid nearly as much as you do, but making that transition is tough.  I'm also not looking forward to the added stress of having to be up extra early despite being up a couple hours in the night, then spending all day trying to focus on my work in between pumping sessions and sleepy moments, then coming home to make dinner and squeeze out a little time with my boys.  Yuck.

Carter is adorable as ever, but he's a challenge at times.  He's been on the Zantac for nearly a week now, and he can almost get it down without gagging.  It's hard to tell if it's working.  For a few days he seemed pretty good--less spitting up, more comfortable while nursing--but since yesterday he's been a little off again.  I did have some rather cheesy mac and cheese for lunch yesterday, so perhaps it is the cow's milk protein issue.  Boo.  But still, when he's bothered, the symptoms match reflux.  I'm trying not to do the gripe water at least until tomorrow's doctor's appointment, but depending on the results there, I'll be tempted to go back to using it more and see if we can find a good mix of treatments that make even the reduced amount of dairy I take in less of an issue.  It's hard to pull it all out of my diet, and I know eventually with Jacob we found a good happy medium where I didn't have to give everything up, so I'm hopeful. 

He has a couple gassy periods a day, and a couple periods where I think he's just extra tired.  He eats every couple hours on average during the day, but periodically naps long enough to push off to three hours, especially if we go out somewhere and he sleeps through it.  At night he's usually going 3-4 hours between feedings, which means I average about 5-6 hours of sleep per night.  It's manageable, but night feedings are still hard and I need to force myself to bed around 10pm if I want any shot of feeling decent by the time he first wakes up.  I'm hoping for a miracle by the time I go back to work, that he'll drop a feeding so I can get a good span of sleep in there somewhere.  I'm still convinced that longer spans of uninterrupted sleep are as important as extra hours of sleep. I'd also like him to eat less frequently during the day because I know I can't pump nearly enough for five (!) feedings.  I don't even think I have enough for three.  We have to consider working formula into the mix at some point soon, but I feel very conflicted about it for some reason (hello, did I learn nothing from last time around?), and the cow's milk protein issue makes formula feeding a little more complicated and potentially a lot more expensive.

Napping during the day is a bit of a challenge for him at times.  He'll sleep on me, or sometimes in the Boppy next to me.  He will fall asleep in his swing or vibrating seat, and usually his car seat knocks him out hardcore.  He sleeps like a log when we're out, most of the time.  He doesn't usually sleep well in the pack and play, which I think is a reflux thing since he has to lay flat.  I think swaddling offsets that a bit at night, but I choose not to do that during the day because I want the swaddle and his crib to signal night for him, so he sleeps best then.  He's sleeping on me in the Moby wrap right now, and he did a whole outing to Craig's big fundraising event in the Baby Bjorn the other night, waking up only at the end.

An issue that surfaced in the last couple days is that I think he has a blocked tear duct.  His eye looked a little extra watery and yesterday it got a little goopy, too.  We were a little nervous because of Craig's eye infection, but the blocked tear duct makes sense.  Hopefully we can massage the duct and use a warm washcloth on it and it will clear up.  I feel like Jacob might have had one of these, but I don't think I ever blogged about it to know when it was or how long it lasted.  Between that and the constant peeling of skin on his forehead, he's a bit of a mess at times.  But he's so sweet.  Exhibit A...

Seriously...does it get any better than this?
He's still a tiny little peanut, but I can definitely tell he's getting bigger.  His face is fuller and his diapers are definitely not having to be cinched as tight.  However, he still doesn't fit in his 0-3 month clothes, aside from the Gerber onesies that he's been wearing from the beginning under his newborn outfits.  The newborn stuff is starting to get a little tighter in the length and the sleeves are getting shorter.  The transition into the bigger clothes might be a little awkward since his pants are still so big!

The other issue right now is that he cluster feeds at night.  From about 6-9pm, he usually eats every hour or so, which makes dinner and Jacob's bedtime a little challenging.  Nursing in general is better, at least when he's not having trouble with reflux or whatever.  His latch is improving and he is getting downright cute at times when he's eating.  He'll sort of attack it sometimes with this eager face, and it totally makes me laugh.  He'll suck away contentedly with his eyes wide open, and it's moments like that that remind me why I did this for 14 months last time.  But the cluster feeding is exhausting, and when he's not nursing well, it's hard to sit there for a half hour of putting him on, taking him off, burping him, and catching spit-up.  I keep myself occupied with my iPod Touch--lots of games and social media--and my laptop and TV during the day, but it's still a challenge.

Jacob is ever-so-slightly better.  He's still pretty much ignoring Carter and we're still getting some questionable reports from daycare, but once in a while he'll at least refer to Carter in conversation or ask a question about him.  He's still battling us on things, but I feel like he's a little better than he was about everything.  I still think he'll get there once Carter can respond to him, and hopefully a few years from now they will be best of friends and we'll be laughing at how brutal he was when Carter first arrived.

Overall, things are good.  We're looking forward to Easter in another week and wishing that the weather would start improving.  Spring started yesterday but it's not going to feel like it anytime soon, which is a huge departure from this time of year the last couple years, when we had great weather right around Easter time.  We're managing the sleep deprivation and dealing with the challenges of life with two kids.  I'm trying to savor these last couple weeks off and appreciate this precious time alone with Carter, despite the issues he's having.  He's still an adorable, amazing little man in spite of those issues, and I'm so grateful for this time, because before we know it, he's going to be running around and we'll wonder where this time went!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Final Verdict on a Winter Baby

I mentioned quite a few times here that I much preferred to have a baby in the spring or early summer.  That was the goal with both kids.  We got it with Jacob, though I did have to endure some 90 degree weather before he arrived.  With Carter, we tried for a year to get pregnant with no luck, and once we went the fertility route, we knew that starting treatments when we did meant we could end up with a late winter baby.  There was no guarantee that the treatment would work for us, so it seemed a little risky to purposely put it off.  Turns out he was even earlier than originally hoped, but we're just happy to have him! 

Having a winter baby has been different.  And honestly, it's probably less of an issue than I thought it would be.  There are definitely some pros I didn't anticipate, as well as some unexpected cons.  Here's a rundown:

Cons

1) Bundling up - It's hard to know when your baby is at the right temperature, and it's a little nerve-wracking trying to guess what level of bundling is sufficient when going out of the house in the winter.  This is an issue no matter the time of year (see pro post below on dressing the baby), but the extreme cold seems scarier than summer warmth.  Plus, it's just a lot more to think about just to get ourselves out the door, between covering up the baby, Jacob, and myself! 

2) Weather - It makes me nervous to drive in bad winter weather, particularly with the kids in the car, and walking through ice and snow while pregnant or carrying a tiny baby isn't much better.  I was so nervous when it snowed like crazy when I was pregnant and convinced I'd go into labor at any moment.  I couldn't shovel myself out, and the bad weather could have caused problems if we needed to get to the hospital quickly.

3) Cabin fever - I think I was most worried about feeling trapped in the house with a new baby.  While it hasn't been nearly as bad as I feared, it would be nice to get out for walks to start getting back into shape and get us both some fresh air. 

4) Germ season - The fact that Carter's immune system isn't exactly strong during peak sickness season does make me nervous.  We're more likely to be in confined spaces because it's cold out, and people around us are more likely to be sick.  Because we still have Jacob's needs to attend to, sometimes it's just not an option to stay holed up in the house, so there's more of a risk simply because we do have to go out more--and to extra germy places like daycare, no less!

5) Dressing myself - Near the end of my pregnancy, the swelling was pretty bad and most of my shoes hurt my feet.  It was hard to put on socks and shoes around my big belly, too.  I would have loved to just slip on some flip flops or sandals and go!  I also had the awkwardness of dealing with a winter coat that eventually wouldn't button, meaning I had to get a bigger one (thankfully, one of my older ones worked), but I looked huge!  It was actually a funny moment post-pregnancy when I realized my coat actually fit again!  I'd also venture that winter maternity clothes are a lot less cute than summer ones, but I'm sure one could argue that both ways.

Pros

1) Covering up - Right after Jacob was born, I had a hard time finding clothes that worked.  I was ill-equipped on the flattering nursing bra front, and it wasn't easy to dress my postpartum body.  Since it was summer, I was pretty limited to t-shirts and shorts or capris that showed every flaw.  It was misery.  This time around I've had the benefit of layering--sweaters and hoodies--and jeans, which are generally more flattering than other bottoms.  I feel a lot more comfortable getting dressed, which helps my perception of being a "together" mom a lot at this point.

2) Not having to go out - We do sometimes have to go out, but there's less pressure to do so the rest of the time.  It's not so bad just hanging out at home and enjoying my baby.  I don 't feel guilty about not taking advantage of nice weather, and there are less events to feel like we're missing out on.  And since I haven't actually been cleared to work out yet, I'm not panicking about wasting away the few good weeks of outdoor workout weather we get.  It's a good time of year to be lazy, and maternity leave fits that perfectly as well.

3) Dressing the baby - Jacob lived in onesies for the firsts couple months of his life because our house was so hot.  I think by later in the summer we had some decent outfits for him, but most of my early pictures of him are in nothing more than a onesie.  Winter has given us some different options--mostly adorable sleepers.  Also, I definitely feel like it's easier to make a baby warm than keep a baby cool.  The only downside to a more bundled baby is that cute things like baby toes are covered most of the time!

4) Winter goes quicker - Being pregnant, delivering a baby, and hanging out around the house during the prime of winter makes this time of year a little more tolerable.  I was more preoccupied with the last minute preparations and feeling like crap than I was with the worst of January's and February's weather.  The first month or two of having a baby is a blur anyway, so it might as well blur the crappy weather, too.  I can avoid the last of the awful commutes, and I don't have to go out into the bad weather any more than necessary.  Right now we're all cranky because the cold weather is sticking around far longer than it should.  It was in the 70s and 80s during this week last year, which was extreme, but we've hardly had any good weather to date and there's nothing decent in the near future.  It's discouraging, but at least I can hide in the house to avoid it.  In general, it's been nice to have a distraction from winter, and I guess in the years to come we can be distracted by birthday party planning and gift shopping, too!

5) The holidays to come - Let's face it, most of the fun in any given year happens later in the year.  Yes, Easter is fun, but summer, Halloween, and Christmas are better...at least as far as kids are concerned!  By the time those three things arrive, we'll have a fun, functional baby boy!  He'll be perfect to tote around to festivals and sports events in the summer, he'll be adorable and aware by Halloween, and he'll be a lot of fun at Christmas, at the perfect age for some for new toys for a newly mobile little boy! 

As a whole, the winter baby thing has been far better than I thought.  I am a little bummed I can't go out for walks right now, but I should have plenty of time to get back in shape by the time summer comes.  I'll probably be cursing birthday shopping when we're doing it two months after Christmas, and panicking about bad weather for Carter's birthday party, but let's face it...we have an awesome little man and we wouldn't change a thing!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

A Year Ago...and Some Pics!

It's always fascinating to me when I can look back and know exactly where I was and what I was doing a year earlier.  I don't know why I find it so interesting, but I always have.  This weekend is an interesting case, for many reasons.  A year ago this weekend was St. Patrick's Day.  Last year it fell on Saturday, this year it falls on Sunday.  That Saturday was a fun day.  First of all, it was 70 degrees!  That began a long span of amazingly warm weather.  It was so nice, and I'm dying for a span of weather even a little bit like that while I'm off on maternity leave.  The boys went out to the city's St. Patrick's Day parade with the Knighthawks contingent, and I headed out with my cousin Lori and her friend Mandy to Babies 'R' Us to help Mandy with her baby registry.

Helping with her registry was a lot of fun, and it was a nice preview for when I finally got to browse baby gear for myself again.  The trip brought back a lot of memories, and got me excited to do it all over again.  Of course, at the time we were in the midst of our fertility concerns so I wasn't sure how it was all going to play out.  I was so happy for all of the people we saw in the store that day, but there was a little tinge of worry that we might not find ourselves back in that position as soon as we hoped.  But for one day it was fun to celebrate with someone and be the voice of experience.

Here we are a year later.  The baby we were shopping for will be a year old in a couple more months.  And, of course, not only did I get pregnant, but our baby is already a month old!  It's quite a shift in the matter of a year, and I am so grateful that we were able to make it happen that quickly.  I got to do a mini-registry of my own a few months ago, and while it didn't really get used for much more than organizing my own wants and needs, it was a fun little project to do, particularly in light of having helped with that registry a year ago.  It was a pleasant reminder of the excitement of a first baby, and it made me that much more thankful to be able to do it again the second time around.

That day stands out in my mind as a great day, thanks to the fun we had and the gorgeous weather we came back out into.  Hard to believe it was a year ago already, but what a year it has been!

And now, as promised, a few photos.  I got a bit behind, but here are the highlights of the last couple weeks.  We spend a lot of time hanging out on the couch, in case you couldn't tell...
Wide awake and content!

Sleepy boy...

One of my favorites so far...

And finally, my favorite outtake from the one month photo shoot--prior to his wardrobe change due to a massive blowout!  Look at that pouty bottom lip!
Grandma is here today to keep us company (Grandpa is sick), and Jacob and I will be heading out to the Knighthawks game tonight for a little mother-son time.  I'm currently trying to figure out the best way to ensure Carter will be well-fed while we're gone, and ensure that I'm not going to feel like my chest is going to explode by the time we get back.  It should be interesting, but it's a good exercise in adapting to our new existence and giving me a little freedom where I can get it.  Tomorrow we're off to Buffalo for Craig's mom's birthday, which will be Carter's first road trip and the first time he'll meet most of that side of the family.  It should be fun, but wish us luck in packing up for the day.  Traveling with a baby again is going to take some getting used to!  Happy weekend, everyone :)

Friday, March 15, 2013

One Month

It's hard to believe, but Carter turns one month old today!  Granted, it's a bit of a cheat since February is shorter and his "one month" is two or three days less than it would be had he been born in any other month, but in any event, he's still four weeks old at the very least!  And now, officially, here is his one-month shot...


I didn't do these monthly shots with Jacob, probably because that was pre-Facebook, pre-Pinterest, pre-mommy blog reading, so I don't think I was even really aware of that trend at the time.  As the first-born, there are a lot of advantages Jacob has had...but I suppose the second-born gets the benefit of anything we think we need to do better, and this is one of those instances!  I had him in his adorable coming-home outfit today, partly in preparation for this picture, but he was too sleepy earlier in the day so I didn't have a chance to take it.  We went out this afternoon to pick up Jacob and take a trip to Target, and the second we got home, he did a massive blowout up his back.  I did snap a few pictures quickly before I changed the outfit, but he was miserable so we did a re-take later in the outfit I hurriedly picked out while cleaning up the disaster that is currently soaking in OxyClean in the stationary tub.  Perhaps some of the outtakes will show up in another post, since I'm way overdue for some photos on here.  Sorry about that.

Anyway...If you would have asked me at any point in the last few weeks how I felt the first month had gone, I would have told you that it went really, really well.  Obviously he started out healthier than Jacob, and the sleep deprivation and overall frustration with having a helpless, new baby was minimal compared to what we experienced last time.  Aside from Jacob's lackluster response to his little brother, I couldn't have asked for anything more.

However, the past few days have been challenging, to say the least.  I don't know what changed, but all of a sudden the minor discomfort that Carter had been having turned into a major problem.  Previously he'd just be upset if he was hungry or if he was having one of his twice daily gassy periods, but suddenly he was miserable most of the time--including during feedings and when he was trying to nap.  He was spitting up a lot, as well, which was getting to be awfully frustrating for both of us.  Since his next doctor's appointment wasn't until next Friday, I called the doctor yesterday morning to see if they would be willing to get him going on reflux meds now, so we'd have some idea of how things were working by next week.  They asked me to bring him in, and while he looks good and is still gaining weight (he's up to eight pounds--big enough for the Baby Bjorn and the Moby wrap!), all of the symptoms I described indicate he's not comfortable, so they started him on Zantac.  Jacob was on that for quite a while, as well, though he didn't start it until he was probably around eight months, as I recall.

Jacob was miserable pretty early on, but I think at the time we thought it might be a cow's milk protein sensitivity, and maybe a touch of colic.  We used gripe water back then, which seemed to help, but the reflux didn't get diagnosed until far later.  A bout of bronchiolitis around eight weeks started a cough that lasted from August until May.  They kept telling us the cough would hang out for a while, but it never did go away.    I think we went to the specialist and did all the testing in February, and that's when they told us he had slow stomach emptying and reflux, which was causing the irritation in his throat that caused the cough.  That led to a couple years of medication, and he still has issues with coughs lasting longer than usual.  Hopefully this time around we're just dealing with reflux (and not all of the respiratory issues), but there's a chance it could be the cow's milk protein sensitivity, which means that I'd have to give up dairy so it stops showing up in my breastmilk.  The thought of that kills me, though I have already switched to rice milk and I'm trying to avoid ice cream, yogurt, and other dairy in large doses for the time being.  We'll see how things go with the medication before I go nuts with that, though.

The first couple doses of Zantac have been hard to get down.  I don't know if it's the taste or if it's just that he's not used to swallowing anything that he didn't suck out himself.  He spit up right after this morning's dose, and last night was horrible, so I decided to give him some gripe water, which I've used a couple times already in the past few days, just to try to maintain some sort of sanity today.  Hard to tell if anything's making a difference, but he did seem a little more peaceful while eating after the gripe water.  I know that I can't rely on that, at least not yet, since we need to see how the Zantac does by itself, but it can't do any good if it's not in his body.  So, gripe water it is.

As I said, last night was pretty horrible.  I made the mistake of staying up a little later than usual, and he woke up a little while after I went to bed.  So, I probably didn't get to bed until around 1am, and then he was up at 3:45, and again at 6, and again at 7:30.  I tried to sneak in a little more sleep after that feeding, but managed maybe an hour before he was up again.  Each time it got harder to get up and get him, and I'll admit by the feeding after my little nap, I was miserable.  Hence the gripe water.

He spent some time the last couple days snoozing away in the Moby wrap.  I seem to have mostly gotten the hang of tying it (in case you're unaware, it's one GIANT strip of fabric that you tie into a carrying apparatus), and so far he seems nice and cozy in it.  I feel sort of "earth mothery" in it--baby wearing is a very granola thing to do--but I can see it coming in very handy.  I still have the Bjorn and will probably feel better using that for certain things since it's a bit more structurally sound, but the Moby is a little comfier for hanging out around the house.  I even made some simple three ingredient cookies this afternoon while wearing him.

Anyway, I'm coming off the first month feeling a little (or a lot) discouraged by the last few days.  It's such a shame, because the first month really was pretty great, all things considered.  It's just hard when you felt like you actually had a pretty decent handle on your newborn, and suddenly you feel like you don't know him at all.  I know that's the nature of parenthood--that things are always changing and everything is just a phase--but it pains me to see Carter so miserable, and I feel so powerless to help him.   We'll see if the Zantac and/or gripe water continue to do the trick, and hopefully month two can be just as successful as month one.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Thoughts on Three

As I've mentioned, I've been spending a lot of time watching "A Baby Story" while I've been home on maternity leave.  They feature all sorts of families--first baby, second baby, sixth baby (!)--and it's definitely been food for thought in regards to the dynamics of different sized families.  I've been pretty adamant through most of this process that this would be it for us, which is why I was extra disappointed about not having a girl.  Now that we have two boys, I still have a lot of mixed emotions.  I love Carter so much, so I wouldn't change a thing, but I still have moments where I wonder if it would be worth it to try for a girl.  I see so many families on the show that have two kids of one gender and finally get opposite gender on their third try.  They're always so excited and so fulfilled by it.  Of course, there are also the people who try and try again, only to get another of the same gender.

And that's the tough part.  If we could guarantee that number three would be a girl, I'd be very tempted to try again.  But since we can't guarantee it, it would be a huge risk to try.  Because ultimately, I don't really want to do this again.  All I could think as I was going through the agony of labor and the discomfort of the immediate aftermath was that I was never going to do this again.  I've found relief in that throughout, from the rough pregnancy to the late-night feedings.  I'm not sure I trust my body to do this again, since it had such a hard time this time and I'm only getting older.  The mental and physical challenges of getting the house ready, attending to a new baby, and dealing with Jacob's adjustment haven't been easy, and it's been a relief to think that we don't have to worry about it again. 

But it would be amazing to have a girl.  And even if it's another boy (God help me), babies are so precious and it's such an amazing experience to get to know another child and see their personality.  But a girl...it would just be so different.  I guess my biggest sadness is that if my boys get all that I want for their lives, inevitably it means they will grow apart from me.  If they grow up and get married, another woman will be the most important in their lives, and I don't want to be that mother-in-law.  If you have a girl, however, it's easier to grow that friendship forever.  There's no conflict or competition there. 

But reality is that we can't pick the gender, and having a third child changes everything.  We'd start running out of room in our house, we'd need new vehicles, and we'd no longer fit at the average restaurant table (or our kitchen table, for that matter).  It would cost that much more money for daycare.  And as I get older, we'd either face higher risks for birth defects, or we'd have to have another one pretty quickly, and I'm just not sure how I feel about that.  One thing that I've definitely taken from "A Baby Story" is a sense of relief that Jacob is as old as he is.  No, his response hasn't been great, but at the same time, the thought of managing a newborn along with a super-needy toddler gives me major anxiety.  I'm so happy we're past that point now, but if we were to have a third, that's probably a scenario we'd be facing.  The amount of stuff that goes along with a new baby can be overwhelming, and I can only imagine how much worse it would be when we'd get all new girl stuff.  It's felt good to reuse the boy stuff, but I've felt like even the newborn clothes we had to get for Carter are almost wasteful.  We needed them, of course, but they'll only get a month or so of use and chances are we won't reuse them.  Imagine an entire wardrobe of girl stuff and a full set of girl toys!

I'll admit I felt a little sad about starting the process of putting away my maternity clothes (bye, skinny jeans, it's been fun!), because chances are they'll never be used again.  I'm debating keeping a few items as part of my normal wardrobe (mostly fitted tank tops and t-shirts), but I don't want to wear them out in the event I do need them again.  Now that I know my body tends to flip babies the wrong way, I can't help but wonder if that could be prevented and if I'd discover labor doesn't have to be the torture it has been the last two times.  A third go-around would be less daunting if I knew that part could be easier.  But the thought of going through another pregnancy and risking an even earlier delivery scares me a lot.  I feel lucky that we have two healthy kids and wonder if it would be asking too much for a third.  Not to mention, nothing is guaranteed and you never know what challenges might lie ahead with the kids we have. 

Long story short, while my heart would love a third child and the prospect of having a girl, the rest of me knows that it's probably not logical, practical, or advisable.  Part of that makes me sad, and part of it gives me peace.  One of today's "Baby Story" episodes featured a mom that got her girl after a couple boys, and she said something to the effect of, "Now that I have my girl, it's time to stop this [meaning, one pregnancy after another] and start enjoying my life."  I totally get what she means.  Instead of planning and dreaming of more, it's time to live in the moment and invest in what is before you.  Part of me knows that I need to just get past the girl thing and embrace my role as a mom of boys.  I can always hope for great daughters-in-law, right?  And granddaughters beyond that?

It's not always easy, though.  I love my boys, however, and wouldn't have it any other way right now.  When people ask me if we'll have a third, my answer is, "Not unless God decides differently!"  And that is certainly the case.  We would most likely need medical assistance to make a third, but if we randomly got pregnant without that help--whether or not we were trying--it would certainly be an act of God.  And if that's the case, who am I to argue?  But for now we're done at two.  I still hesitate to say that Carter completes our family, but he's definitely another piece of the puzzle and we're ecstatic to have him here. 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Fears

Having two kids is an interesting experience.  I don't think it's quite what I expected, to be honest.  I haven't really obsessed over the added responsibility as much as I thought.  Perhaps that's because I've been more preoccupied with Jacob's issues, but other than juggling the simultaneous needs of two kids at certain moments, the two-kid situation hasn't been that bad.  For example, Carter wants to eat all evening, which makes Jacob's bedtime a little bit difficult. 

However, I do have some random, odd, unfounded fears that have been nagging at me since Carter arrived.  Even though most of this experience has been relatively easy-breezy compared to how I felt the first time around, I suppose there is always some fear and irrationality that goes along with being a parent of a new baby.  I haven't let the fears get the best of me, mind you, but they do go through my mind more than I'd like.  My biggest fear is obviously something happening to one kid or another.  I pretty much insisted through most of this pregnancy (and particularly after labor) that this was the last time I'd go through all of this, but if something happened, I'd definitely have to consider doing it again.  I don't want that declaration to come back to haunt me.

One of my biggest fears as a parent is SIDS.  It's something that we're ultimately powerless to stop, no matter how many precautions we take.  We have a smoke-free home, I breastfeed, and Carter is put to sleep on his back.  Even with all that, SIDS could still strike and there's nothing we could do about it.  It's always a little bit of a relief to hear baby noises after a long stretch of sleep, and I'm always relieved whenever I come back to where I've left Carter for a bit and all is well--whether I've let him nap in the swing while I showered or check on him in his car seat after a bit of running around where he slept peacefully the whole time.   I worry about him slipping out of my grasp because he's so tiny and squirmy, or losing my grip on his car seat when I'm carrying it around. 

I worry about Carter suffering from the same issues that plagued Jacob, from the reflux and possible milk protein issues (still not sure on that), to the breathing issues that Jacob had dealt with.  Even worse, I worry about what bullets we dodged with Jacob that we might have to deal with with Carter.  Every time we made it past a certain threshold with Jacob where we didn't have to deal with something (say, he never got into pacifiers or thumb sucking, so we never had to give them up), I breathed a sigh of relief and considered us very fortunate.  Of course, I never thought ahead that we might have to deal with it this time around.  There are illnesses, bad habits, and less-than-glorious parenting moments that we avoided previously that we may have to tackle with Carter.  I'm already dreading having both kids puking at once, and I won't lie--every time I hear about a kid with cancer or some other horrible illness, I cringe and wish there was a "safe point" we could get past where those illnesses wouldn't be a threat.  But there isn't, and that's scary.  Having another kid opens you up to another chance at those problems, and it's a risk you have to take when you have another child. 

The thing about having two is that you have "before" and "after" on display.  The beauty of a newborn is that they don't talk back.  They're perfectly innocent despite their capability to exhaust able-bodied adults.  It's part of what makes the new baby period so magical.  As they grow, they disobey and acquire the ability to actively frustrate their parents.  It's easy to forget the early perfection amidst that, but having two kids you get a vivid reminder of what you once had with your older child, in contrast to what you have now....and it's a preview of what might be to come with your new baby.  And given Jacob's recent behavior, it's been sort of a sad reality of how far we've fallen.  I don't want to make the same mistakes twice, assuming I can figure out what those were. 

Whenever I see some sort of troubling news story, like all the recent mass shootings, I think about the perpetrator's parents.  Once upon a time, this person who is now the embodiment of evil, was their perfect, precious baby.  I can't imagine their sadness and how they must replay everything in their minds, trying to figure out where they went wrong.  I'm not saying I expect that sort of extreme scenario from my boys (God forbid), but I'm sure even the most normal parents have those reflective moments when they don't see eye-to-eye with their kids. 

When you have a new baby, it's evident what a precious gift you've been given.  They're amazing and helpless little miracles, and they only stay tiny and perfect for so long.  They're always the center of your world, no matter their age, but those early days are unique.  It's easy to consider them a bit of burden (albeit a welcome one) later on when they make you pull your hair out, in sharp contrast to the gift they were in the beginning.  I remember blogging a while back about the realization that I was a happier parent when Jacob was a tiny baby, as opposed to the frustrated parent I became as he grew up and got defiant.  You'd think the parenting experience should only get more rewarding as your child grows, learns, and begins to express their love for you.  There are moments, certainly, but it's not always like that.  The first time around you don't realize what may be ahead, but once you have a second child, knowing where you've been and having an idea of where you could be headed changes perspectives a bit.  The experience has certainly been different than I expected.

Still, I have moments where I'm so hopeful.  We're heading into spring, my favorite time of year.  I still have a few weeks off with Carter and I'm looking forward to Easter.  I'm hoping for a little more sleep and some real smiles in the weeks to come.  I'm hoping that Jacob will come around soon, and I'm looking forward to a fun-filled summer.  I'm excited for another set of milestones, and lots of fun holidays with two boys to share them with.  I look forward to eventually watching them interact with each other, since so many parents count those moments among the best part of parenting.  We haven't had those moments yet, so it leaves me with a lot to look forward to.  I know there are many hard times to come, but for now I'll focus on the good.  I'm blessed, and there's no denying that as I look at this tiny little boy sleeping in my arms. 

Thursday, March 7, 2013

March 7th

Well, it's finally here...my official due date!  As I look at my nearly three-week-old baby, it seems laughable to think we could have ever made it this long.  Just visiting my office yesterday reminded me of how horribly uncomfortable I was there, and made me extra grateful I didn't have to go through three more weeks of it! 

It's funny that this date was ever so significant since I had an inkling so far out that I'd never make it this long.  The joke in my office was that my due date was February 21st, which would have been two weeks early.  Turns out I didn't even make it that far.  Oops.  I had originally wanted to make it to March 8th because it was my grandma's birthday, but I would be going nuts right now. 

Instead, we're nearly three weeks into this adventure.  And so far, it's been mostly great.  There's still a lot of adjusting to do, but we're past the recovery and the initial insanity, so were settling in a bit.  It'll be interesting to see how Carter does now that he's technically full term.  It's hard to say how different he would have been if he was born on time, because he probably would have grown more efficiently in utero and wouldn't have had his big weight loss yet.  It's hard to know what systems might have benefitted from more development time in utero, and what's still evolving a bit now.  He still has so much of the hair he was born with on his arms, legs, and back, and often that falls out before birth, so I don't know when that's going to happen now that he's up to his due date.  He's definitely shedding a layer of skin right now, though.  It's hard to tell how he's growing, though I think the 0-3 month onesies he's wearing are fitting a little better.  The newborn stuff still fits, however, and good thing--we got a bunch of newborn stuff at Craig's office shower yesterday.  Hopefully he'll get some wear out of it all.  I think his face and belly have definitely chubbed up a bit, and he hit a big milestone today--he did his first up-the-back poop!  Ha.  Not my favorite skill, but my stain removal abilities still seem to be up to par!

Looking back at the blog around the three-week mark with Jacob, it appears life was very much the same.  The main difference is that Jacob had already been pretty uncomfortable for a while.  I was just starting to remove milk from my diet at that point, too, like I am now.  He was having trouble napping, which hasn't been an issue this time around yet.  It's interesting to look back and see how I was feeling and what we were experiencing, and for the most part it's similar to what we're dealing with now, which I guess is good because we're right on track, right?

Today could have been a very significant day in our lives.  Instead it's just another day, the day before Carter turns three weeks old.  His timing was perfect, though, and I'm so happy he's here.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Pity Party

It's been a rough 24 hours or so.  Yesterday I ended up having to do a little work, of all things.  I know that's probably not allowed, but under the circumstances it was the least of the evils.  I did my darnedest tot train our research assistant prior to my maternity leave, but Carter's early arrival meant we didn't get as many test runs under our belt as we would have liked.  One of the more technical things I do is mapping, and while we did some basic stuff, she had a hard time with a project that came up, and it was for a new client and the account rep was extra picky and they just couldn't get it to work.  So I did it.  It only took a couple hours, and Carter was a super napper while I did it, but no, it wasn't exactly how I wanted to spend my day.  On top of it, Carter wasn't eating very well.  He was fussy and grunty.  He's been spitting up a lot lately, too.  I'm beginning to worry that he's getting reflux or that he's got a cow's milk protein sensitivity.  Jacob definitely had reflux (though we didn't know about it until after he had RSV and spent months coughing) and we suspected the milk protein thing.  I gave up eating cereal for breakfast, which kills me because I LOVE cereal.  I probably should have given up other dairy as well, but cutting out straight milk seemed to help. 

Anyway, Carter spit up a lot and I think it took a bit out of him because he slept a good chunk of the day.  Which meant that between too much sleep and not enough eating, he had a rough night.  At one point I was up with him for two hours, at which point I pulled Craig into the mix, which I try not to do during maternity leave since I have the ability to nap and he doesn't.  During that time I decided I need to try to give up milk and see how it goes.  I can't watch Carter be so uncomfortable.  So, we'll see how that goes.

Craig was extra tired this morning so I got up and tried to help out with Jacob this morning.  Mind you, last night at bedtime I went in to read him his stories and he whined that he wanted Daddy to do it.  When I told him I was, he told me he hates me.  So, he got no stories.  This morning when I walked into his room, he was banging on the door somehow--he was in his lacrosse shoulder pads and helmet, so perhaps he was running into it with those on?--and when I tried to pick out his clothes he had a tantrum and said he wanted Daddy to do it.  When I dragged him into the bathroom, he kicked the stool into the vanity and continued to be annoying.  I tried (for what seemed like the hundredth time) to chat with him about this mess--why he's so mad at me, what we can do to fix it, why he thinks it's funny to make me so angry and sad--all to no avail.  Craig did suggest to him to come in and apologize and give me a hug, but I know we'll be right back to the same behavior tonight. 

It's so frustrating and sad.  I never imagined that adding another child would so horribly damage the relationship I had with my first child.  It absolutely breaks my heart.  I'm sure sleep deprivation isn't making things any easier, and perhaps this is just a tiny blip in the radar, but I can't help but be worried right now.  I had hoped it would get better over time, but it's only gotten worse.  I love both of my children, but I almost don't recognize Jacob right now.  It's like we're strangers in comparison to the buddies we were (at times) before Carter was born.  I know things were far from perfect, but we had some great moments...and now I don't seem to know how to relate to him at all.  Trying to make him feel special seems too much like a reward considering how difficult he's been, but taking the hard line isn't working either.  He just laughs it off and continues...and probably feels like he's being rejected yet again.  Ignoring it, lecturing him, talking about it rationally...we've tried it all.  I've tried spending time with me and he either refuses or sabotages it.  I can't give up all of my time with Carter because I'm obviously his sole source of nourishment, but I am considering trying to have Craig spend some sustained, exclusive time with Carter so Jacob has no choice but to come to me...or at least muddy some of the good parent/bad parent labels he seems to have going on in his head right now.  We'll see.

On the bright side, we had a nice day out today.  Craig's office had us over for lunch since we never got to have the shower they'd originally planned but had to postpone when the organizer had a family emergency in Oklahoma.  We got a bunch of gifts and a fantastic meal from Dinosaur Bar-B-Que.  I felt guilty being downtown and not stopping by my office, so afterward we went there for a little bit.  We hung out with my department and anyone else who happened to wander by.  I didn't do a full-on tour since I get nervous about having him around so many people, but it was good to see some friends.  I was able to change up the decor in my cubicle and pick up the food I left there in my rush to leave.  Carter slept through pretty much the whole outing and only started crying on the way home, since he was way overdue to eat.  It was nice to get out. 

Oh, and one of my normal pairs of jeans fits again!  I got a lot of compliments on my figure today.  I'll admit that I don't look too bad considering I just gave birth less than three weeks ago.  It's nice to lose 20 pounds in three weeks, but I still have a long way to go body-wise!  I still think my nursing boobs look a little sloppy (no bra seems to help that sufficiently), but there isn't much I can do about those.  Hopefully they'll tone down a bit soon.  They make my shirts all look too short, so it makes dressing myself a little tougher.  Doing it in winter is still easier than it was in the middle of summer, though!

Anyway...I'm on my own with both boys tonight so the rough 24 hours could extend a bit.  Wish me luck.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Big Brother Battle

We're still dealing with the hesitant big brother issue.  We forced the issue again yesterday because my parents were here and I felt like they deserved the chance to get pictures of two of their grandsons in the same frame.  It's like pulling teeth to get Jacob to hold Carter.  It seems wrong to bribe and/or punish him, but I feel like the end justifies the means.  We need to de-mystify it so Jacob gets used to being around Carter.  I know that he will probably warm up to Carter once Carter responds directly to him with smiles or laughs.  At worst, Jacob should enjoy it when he can finally play with him, but I'd rather not have Jacob walk around here for the next few months ignoring his brother and resenting the fact that I have to spend so much time with him.  There's no reason I can't cuddle both of them, right?

Anyway, here's a shot of Jacob holding him...

And a full length size comparison, though Carter is cheating by pulling his legs up...


And a sweet picture of Carter that I couldn't resist including...


Jacob and I battled all weekend while Craig was on his trip to Denver.  We did have a bright spot when we went out on our own while my parents were visiting.  Of course, when I told him that we could go out on our own without Carter, he initially said no.  When I brought up going to Taco Bell for lunch, he changed his tune.  We ended up doing lunch and a trip to the library.  The trip wasn't bad, and it was nice to spend time with him, but near the end there was a hint of the snark we've been dealing with for the last couple weeks.

The rest of the weekend was difficult, though.  Jacob has been argumentative, rude, and purposefully difficult.  You could tell him that the sky was blue, and he'd argue about it.  You can tell him to stop doing something and he'll continue doing it with a smirk on his face.  Tonight he whined about everything!  Whether it was dinner, his bath, or cleaning up Legos, he whined and cried about something.  He blamed me all day when he couldn't find things, despite the fact that I hadn't touched any of his stuff.  I admit that I don't have the most patience at times--Carter wants to eat every hour or two during the evening and cried a lot tonight when he had to wait--but when it's been two straight weeks of disrespect, it's hard to maintain any level of patience with him.

I'm just not sure how to fix it, either.  I've tried to talk to him about it and explain that it won't be this way forever.  I know he's bothered by how much time I spend with Carter, but right now I don't have a lot of choice in the matter.  And even when I do spend time with Jacob, inevitably we have issues.  Sigh.  I did have to snuggle him last night for a while when he had a bad dream and woke up crying, and we can have nice moments, but they never last long enough these days.  I can't even tell you how many times he's talked about one of us not living here anymore or about how he hates me.  I try not to let it bother me, but it's hard to see how bad things have gotten when I remember that once upon a time Jacob was my sweet, innocent baby just like Carter is now.

Like I mentioned, Carter wants to eat all the time.  I don't mind it as much during the week, but when Jacob is home it makes for quite a challenge.  Carter cries when he's hungry and during diaper changes, but he's still a good little boy, all things considered.  I do wish his feedings were a little more consistent (he gets sleepy) and featured a little less spit-up sometimes, but it could be far worse!  However, I am tired by 10:30 without fail and as it is now 11pm, it is officially past my bedtime...even though I'll probably be back up in another hour or less for a feeding.  Ugh.  It's all worth it, but it doesn't mean it's not difficult!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

News & Notes, the Two Weeks Old Edition (with pics!)

Carter turned two weeks old last night.  I can hardly believe it.  I'm technically a third of the way through my maternity leave, though I'm taking an extra week of vacation so I'm not quite there yet.  I'm really appreciating maternity leave so much more this time.  Perhaps it's because I'm not sitting in a sweltering house with a baby who won't nap--in fact, it's practically the direct opposite--but regardless, I feel like there's so much more of an ease to it than last time.  I don't know if I was more worried about being tired, or if Jacob really was that much harder, or what...but this time has been downright blissful in comparison.  I'm a little worried it's going to be way harder to go back this time.

I can't even describe what a relief it is to feel comfortable in my own body again.  Because I was never that uncomfortable last time, I think I missed being pregnant more last time.  My belly felt empty without the kicks and the constant (quiet) companionship.  This time, I think it was such a relief to not feel so ridiculously uncomfortable that I haven't really missed being pregnant at all.  I mean, I have moments where I'm sorry that phase is over because it is such a unique experience, but I'm okay with it being done.  There are still moments where I can't believe it is over--that over eight months of build-up (plus more than a year before that of trying) was over in twelve hours of craziness!  I don't know if I was expecting more or if it's just that I was still sort of expecting to be pregnant at this point, but once in a while it just catches me off-guard that I'm not pregnant anymore.  But I so appreciate being able to move around and sleep comfortably.  I can lounge with Jacob on his bed at night, stand at the sink without a sore back, bend over without discomfort, and sit without having aches and pains from one body part or another.  It's so amazing to feel so good, particularly now that I'm feeling so much better after the delivery.  Most of my discomfort is gone, and I'm also having considerably less engorgement discomfort, too.

Watching "A Baby Story" a ton while I've been home has been sort of an interesting thing.  It gives me more of an appreciation for what I've been through.  It's given me the opportunity to relive the moment Carter was born quite a bit, because it was such a great moment.  With Jacob, I was so exhausted and in so much pain.  I was expecting a lot of relief the second he was born, and it didn't happen, which was disappointing.  It was awesome when he was born, but I was so disoriented that I don't think I really got to enjoy it.  This time I was still in a lot of pain, but there was a definite decrease in pain when Carter was born and I was conscious enough to enjoy the moment when they put him on my chest.  It was pretty amazing, and if I'm sad about anything having to do with not having more kids, that's probably one of the big things I'll miss not being able to experience again (however, the hour that preceded it was pretty miserable and I will NOT miss doing that again.). 

Yesterday was Carter's two-week checkup.  I was very nervous about his weight, since he didn't feel any heavier to me and didn't seem to be fitting into his clothes any differently.  He'd also been a little hot and cold on feedings in the days leading up to the appointment.  But when they put him on the scale, much to my surprise, he'd gained nearly a pound!  He clocked in at 6 pounds, 12 oz., which blows away his birth weight by over half a pound!  Now he's pretty much the size Jacob was when he was born.  The doctor checked on his belly button, which has been oozing blood a bit since his stump fell off, but she said that should be fine within another week or so.  His circumcision has healed as well.  Everything else checked out perfectly and we don't have to go back for another three weeks.  It was so good to hear he is growing and everything seems to be exactly as it should be.  Because he was early he will be measured by his due date for the next two years, so it won't be a surprise if he doesn't hit milestones when they'd normally be expected for how old he actually is based on his birth date. 

And now for a few pictures...starting with Jacob holding his brother for the first time.  We had to bribe him.
Do Jacob's legs look a mile long, or what?

A look at how Carter still wants to be in utero.  He wants to be all curled up!

A look at him in just his diaper after his first real bath, which he hated...which isn't surprising considering how he still screams through diaper changes.  I liked having pictures like this of Jacob because the changing pad was a good measure of how he grew.
Look at the chicken legs!

And a sleepy shot with a smile...I love having my iPod with me constantly so I can catch shots like this...

Life is good right now, despite Jacob's continued disinterest in his brother and the fact that Craig is on a roadtrip for the weekend.  My parents are here today, which is nice.  Jacob and I had a chance to go out by ourselves for some lunch and a trip to the library.  Hopefully he appreciated the solo time!  It's too bad it's so rare right now, but it won't be like this forever!  I'm just trying to appreciate each moment for what it is, while it lasts.  I know how quickly it goes!