Friday, April 20, 2012

Serenity NOW!

     I wake up this morning early before the kids are awake and decide to make some fresh coffee and enjoy a little alone time before the chaos begins.  I love sitting on our screened in porch in the morning watching the sun rise, listen to the birds singing, trees swaying in the breeze and the beautiful smell of cedar and forest.  Except this morning as I sit down, take a deep breath and take it all in, I am struck by a horrible smell.   "What smells like Sh&t????"  I turn around and sure enough there's a big pile of turds in the corner.  Twinkle our cat, for some unknown reason, has decided to take a gigantic dump on our porch.  My special ME time has now been replaced by cleaning up poop!  Then cruelly followed by having to unclog our toilet from trying to flush it all down.  I swear that cat sh&ts as much as a toddler!! 
       How do some mothers make it look so easy?  You know, the one's you encounter at the park or Early Years Center, who have 4 kids, one in a sling breastfeeding, another on her hip and two in tow, wearing designer clothes and makeup all while making it look effortless?  What about the ones on my facebook account?  Every picture of their child has perfect hair, no stains on his or her shirt or food on their face?  I'll find myself sitting down for a moment to look at friends pictures, then looking over at the mirror and my hair is a mess, no makeup, puke on my over sized t-shirt from high school while my toddler runs around with peanut butter on her face.  I admit it, it's not easy, my husband is away 3 or 4 days a week for work and I am mostly on my own and I do struggle a lot some days.  I even post pictures of my daughter with a face full of peanut butter.  How else am I going to capture those beautiful moments that seem to happen when you least expect it?

     However, I do try not to judge others, and I hope not too many judge me.  Maybe that perfect mom from the park goes home everyday and drinks a bottle of wine, or yells at her kids whenever they aren't in public.  I'm the type of person who puts myself out there as real as I am sometimes, but even I fall victim to putting on makeup to go for a hike, knowing we will be posting the pictures.  I want to share my life with my family overseas and those that don't get to visit often because I am proud of my family.  Maybe some even look at my pictures and think I have my act together all the time.  If it wasn't for me verbally throwing up my feelings through my blogs, how else would anyone know?

    This blog seems to be all over the place today (not unlike my daily life) so I think I will stop there.   Stop yourself next time you feel like judging someone and think hard.  You have no idea what is going on behind closed doors and you yourself aren't perfect, no one is.  All us mothers out there are in this together, we should offer our support to one another not just our sometimes cruel opinion or judgement. 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Most Natural Act...Yeah Right!

The first time I was introduced to breastfeeding was in my prenatal class prior to the birth of our first daughter Byllee. They showed us a video in the class, of a beautiful new born baby lying on her mothers chest, slowly descending down and instinctually latching on to her nipple. How beautiful, I thought and how natural is that? This should be a piece of cake I thought. I even prepared myself further, getting library books out on the topic, checking out Jack Newman's website and videos and also going to a few La Leache League meetings. I was confident I was ready for this responsibility.

With the image of the baby naturally latching on to her mother still in my head, I attempted my first time, minutes after birth and this is not what I experienced at all. God bless the mothers that do experience this, however from my experience and speaking to other mothers in the groups I've attended, the majority have a complete opposite experience in fact. The video they should have shown in my prenatal class was me with my second daughter screaming her head off as I forcefully tried to shove my boob into her mouth, all while crying myself...over and over and over again. This was reality! You would think after breastfeeding my first daughter for 11 months I should be some sort of an expert at it. Every baby is different and my second daughter was not nearly as "easy" to teach as my first. I found neither experience easy or natural in fact.

The first few days after my first daughter is really a complete blur, so I will talk about my second daughter, which was only 3 months ago and counting. I believe prenatal classes should have a complete segment on the first 48 hours after birth and breastfeeding (or however long it takes for your milk to come in). This has to be the most challenging time of all. Thankfully my second daughter, Jorja slept most of the first 24 hours. However once she "woke up" from birth, boy was she hungry and I felt I had nothing to offer her. The nurse that was coming off her shift that evening kept trying to offer me formula to fix the situation. If there is ever a wrong time to give formula, my guess would be this time. Unless there's a medical reason, the so called "nothing" you have to offer is probably the most important thing you could give the baby. Colostrum is full of antibodies, and nutrients that the baby needs at this critical time in his or her life. With this in mind, I politely declined her offer, however she left it on my bedside table and I just stared at it while my baby screamed for more. Once the my regular night nurse came on duty and it was 2am, I was at the end of my rope. I'll never forget how she came in after I rang the bell yet again for help with latching, and told me all the mothers she sees as patients look like me on night two. It's a necessary evil to endure, and she encouraged me not to give up. Simply pointing out that fact to me was enough to give me the strength to keep on going. Why didn't they mention this in birthing class I thought?

An unlikely form of support I found during the first few days and weeks breastfeeding was my husband. I suppose from watching me go through this with our first daughter and listening to all the advice with a more clear head then me, made him some kind of expert himself! The first time I noticed, was during a particularly hard time trying to trouble shoot with the nurse, why my daughter would not latch on to my "other side". My husband, Scott suddenly spoke up and said "why don't you try the football hold, that way her head is in the same position and it kind of tricks her into thinking its the same side". The nurse and I just stared at him in amazement...What a great idea! It worked wonderfully, and soon our on going joke was he should have become a lactation consultant. Finding humour in a time like this felt wonderful, so we kept going with the jokes and decided to play a joke on the new daytime nurse that never met us before. She walked into our room and asked if the lactation consultant had come in to see us. I replied "Oh, you mean the nice man that was just here?" Her face dropped and a look of horror came over her, we burst into laughter for quite a while over that one. I still chuckle when I think of a male lactation consultant. Unless your name is "Jack Newman", I don't think males would be too popular in the birthing unit at the hospital. Maybe I'm wrong, but I think I would feel strange having a male man handle my boobs like the female nurses do when they are trying to help you.

Anyway, I am 3 months into round two with my second daughter Jorja and we are still having the odd issue believe it or not. I pump my milk a lot more then I did the first time thanks to a close friend who gave me her high end breast pump! It makes all the difference, compared to using "El cheapo" version the first time, when I finally said "to hell with this". I have no problem introducing formula at this stage, however with my over supply in the freezer, I haven't found the need yet. Last time, I felt like I had something to prove as a mother and demanded myself to exclusively breastfeed her for 6 months without formula. Looking back it seems so silly, but there really is a pressure to prove yourself when you are a first time mom. It doesn't help when its 3am and you have a screaming baby you are trying to latch, enduring intense pain and the "Good Start" baby formula commercial comes on T.V. You know the one that says "Happy babies makes happy moms"? The commercial shows babies giggling and laughing. That can really play on your mind when you are sleep deprived and you have a screaming baby. I know it did for me.

I suppose my message and point of this blog is only to encourage mothers what they are going through at the beginning is normal. Its suppose to be hell, and it's usually hell for all of us. Remember, colostrum is not something you can find in a bottle so if you can only hold out for 2 days and give that to your baby, you've done your job. Even if you can't, that doesn't make you any less of a mother, there are a thousand different scenario's and medical conditions that prevent mothers from breastfeeding. The point is, there's a thousand and one different right ways to do the same job and its up to you to find the one that works for you!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

So what's your plan?

One simple answer from me when I am asked this is: survival! That’s my “plan”. I am on my second baby this time and things for me have been a lot different than the first time around. I’ve read all the books: What to Expect the first year, Baby whisperer and listened to every single piece of advice from other mothers I can get. One piece of information I was told the first time around, which was very important, didn’t seem to register until my second child. For me, it’s been my guide for how I have made my game plan this time, if you could call it that. I was told, when the baby comes everything in your life changes. Now, when I heard this the first time, I thought, “yeah I know that...and??” Then the baby came, which I had been preparing for, for 9 months so no shocker there, however as soon as that first cry was made, NOTHING in my life was the same. Every aspect of my life and the way I viewed it was different in a matter of seconds. Wow, that’s a lot to handle in one day!

Not only is the new reality of your life hitting you in one moment, you get to enjoy it while you go through the monumental hormone crash of your life the first 10 days after birth. How lovely! I remember sitting in the hospital bed looking at my beautiful baby girl, who was a stranger to me really, and realizing the awesome responsibility I suddenly had. Trying to survive the first few weeks on sleep deprivation while learning to breast feed with your baby and enduring tremendous pain that goes along with it, makes any new mom what to curl into a ball and cry (thanks hormones for the extra kick in the ass when I needed it least). What happened to my wonderful relationship I was enjoying with my husband during pregnancy? Nothing pops the “babymoon balloon” phase quicker, then fighting over who is doing more or who changed the last diaper. Books and birthing classes don’t really warn you about this challenge that most couples encounter, and sadly some split up after the first year of having a baby.

So again, I think to myself, so what’s my plan? This time around I have found it to be a lot easier then the first. Here are some things I am doing differently:

  • Taking much better care of myself! Feeding and drinking water as much as possible to keep my energy going.

  • Forget my old life, wipe the slate completely clean and make it up as I go. For now, my life is about feeding and caring for my children and of course myself. It isn’t very exciting, but it’s all I can manage without overdoing it and I know in time, it will get better. 
  •  Taking shifts with my spouse. Instead of trying to do everything together, we take turns and let the other spouse sleep. I don’t get to see him and spend as much time together, however because of this change we aren’t both tired at the same time, which means no fighting and are more useful to each other then last time around. This has made us one happy couple 

We are almost at our 6 week milestone and I am so proud of how well we have done. It hasn’t been easier then the first time, but it is going smoother and we are all happier. I’ve had some dark days at the beginning (sleep deprivation is true torture, no matter who you are), but I keep telling myself on those days....”I can do this, I can do this, I can do this.....and it will get better because I have done this before and actually know it’s true.
I will leave my blog at that for today and re-evaluate my survival plan for the next 3 months in another blog as I will have a whole new set of challenges and stages to navigate....but it’s OK, because I CAN DO THIS!