Friday, August 31, 2012

Watching my boys sleep

I love watching my boys sleep. I don't know what it is, and I don't know why it's different than watching my girls sleep.  Maybe it's just the fact that my girls are in a bunk bed and curled up under big blankets, so I can't see them well. But I love checking in on my boys at lights out or before I go to sleep.  It's complete peace and silence and sweetness. It makes me happy.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

And so it begins...1st Grade

Thoughts going through my head the day before my oldest child starts 1st grade:
1 - Kindergarten was just a prelude. The real stuff starts in 1st grade. We made it through kindergarten just fine. Hopefully 1st grade goes just as well.
2 - I think I'm more nervous than my daughter is for school to start. I remember how mean kids can be in school and the drama of friends.  I'm hoping my daughter doesn't have to deal with that yet.
3 - I'm going to miss my daughter when she's gone at school all day long. Some parents get excited for their kids to be back in school. I am not. This may have a lot to do with the fact that the other 3 kids are still at home. I feel bad that we get to go and do things every day while she is not with us.
4 - I'm really not looking forward to homework. And when in the world are we going to do it? She won't get home until 2:30, and I want her to still have time to have a snack, play, practice piano, and have some quiet/alone time.
5 - Schedules schedules schedules. I like having a routine, but not a set schedule, if that makes sense. I like having the flexibility to change when we do things. School doesn't really allow for that.

Thoughts going through my head after the first week of school:
1 - I keep thinking it's time to pick her up before lunch. (Kindergarten got out at 10:45am).
2 - My 4 year old had the meltdown the first couple of days, not my 1st grader.  He was so sad to not have his older sister to play with. When she came home, she wanted a snack and a little down time, and he had been waiting all day to play with her and wanted her to start playing immediately.
3 - My 1st grader finally had her meltdown on Friday night.  It consisted of sobbing on the bedding crying "I never want to go back to 1st grade.  I never get to play with [my brother and sister]. I never get to watch movies." It was just tiredness, and by Sunday night she was telling people she loved 1st grade and was excited.
4 - I guess I'm really a control freak. It's hard to know she's gone all day and not know exactly what she is doing at school. Better get used to it.

So, here we go.  School has begun. Let the fun begin.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Breastfeeding Trauma

I spent the first 6 weeks of my first child's life starving her. Really.  She was born weighing 5 lbs 6 oz and within the first two weeks she had dropped to 4 lbs 12 oz. This was despite the fact that I was feeding her every hour. Literally. We're talking feeding her from 8am-8:15am, then 9am-9:15am, etc. It was an absolutely horrible experience. I'm almost 7 years away from that experience, and I still have a difficult time thinking about it.

My plan when my baby was born was to breastfeed exclusively. Every book and article I had read talked about the amazing benefits and I couldn't think of any reason why I wouldn't or couldn't. I tried. Probably about as much as I possibly could. As I mentioned earlier, I fed my baby every hour, and yet still she wasn't gaining weight and was in fact losing some weight. I went to a lactation specialist to make sure she could latch on. I tried different ways of holding the baby. I tried pumping before feeding her to get the milk going. I tried herbal tea. I tried taking fenugreek. And I prayed and cried a lot. A lot. I'm pretty sure my husband has blocked those 6 weeks out of his memory as well.  It's amazing we ever had more kids after this experience.

Everything I had ever read seemed to say that everyone can breastfeed, it's just a matter of putting in the effort. Believe me, I put in the effort. I'm not sure I can adequately describe the feelings of guilt and inadequacy. "I'm just trying to do what's best for my baby. Why is it not working?" "My sister doesn't have a problem breastfeeding, why is it so difficult for me?" "This is supposed to be a beautiful experience having a newborn and bonding. Why does it feel like hell?"

I think my 3 sisters and mom saved my sanity. I don't know if they had some kind of schedule setup, but they would each call me and check up on me and see how I was doing, listen to me cry, and give me encouragement and advice.

Finally, after 6 weeks, my doctor told me "Look, I don't care what the lactation specialists are saying, this baby needs some more nourishment. You need to supplement with some formula." I felt like a failure. But I also felt completely and utterly exhausted. I "gave in" and bought some formula and started feeding it to my baby after nursing each time. Within 2 weeks she had gained about 2 pounds. She was a different child. She was sleeping better. She was not crying all the time. I was sleeping better. I was not crying all the time. I realized that my pride and reliance on book knowledge had caused way too much suffering for 6 weeks. We eventually settled into a routine of me nursing her, followed by pumping with a rented electric pump. I did this until she was almost 9 months old.

Not everyone can breastfeed. Regardless of what the "experts" may say. Regardless of whether even your other family members are able to do it. It is a great thing for your child, and I applaud people that can do it. My body does not produce enough milk. I've never known what it means to be engorged. I barely even change bra sizes when I'm pregnant and have a baby. My mom and 2 other sisters have had this same problem. It wasn't for lack of trying.

I no longer feel any guilt over not breastfeeding my other children. I tried for 2 weeks with my second child, but had to supplement the whole time as he was another small baby (5 lbs 6 oz) and had to spend 2 days in the NICU as they tried to get him to keep food down. I think he latched on once. I decided that it was better for my sanity and mental health to just use a bottle. I knew I would have to pump also, and nursing then pumping while also trying to take care of my 22 month old toddler and a new baby was just an overwhelming thought. My husband was willing to support me with whatever I thought best, but I think he sighed a giant sigh of relief when I decided to use a bottle.

Breastfeeding can be a sensitive topic for a lot of people. There is a lot of pressure and a lot of guilt and pain associated with it.  I think it's important for new moms to understand that and to talk about how it's going with someone. Don't be afraid to say it's difficult and to ask for help. And don't be afraid to use a bottle. My children are fairly well adjusted, healthy and intelligent. Most importantly, though, I love my children and family and have done what is best for them and for me. Isn't it great that we can all be different and have different experiences as we raise our families?

Friday, August 3, 2012

Be Prompt

I have a problem with New Year's Resolutions. When I sit down to make them, I usually end up with just a giant "To do" list full of things that I wish I had time to do. Most of them don't get done during the year, and it's a little depressing to look at the list the next year and see so many things not done.

This year I decided to do something a little different.  I have one theme for the year rather than lots of little goals.  My theme for the year is "Be prompt".  I've found so many different ways to apply this in my life. Be prompt at: answering emails and phone calls, sending thank you notes, going to bed, getting to appointments/places on time, etc.

One of the main applications of this, though, has been with regards to my children. Be prompt in responding to the needs of my children. Quiet time (my work time) will be almost over and the baby will start to cry waking up from his nap.  I'll think to myself "He'll be okay for another 5 minutes while I finish this up", which frequently turns into 10 minutes. I'll have to remind myself "Be prompt. Stop being selfish and go get him out of his crib". Or, I'll be eating breakfast and trying to read the newspaper when my children all start asking for another bowl of cereal. Once again I'll have to remind myself to "Be prompt" and put the paper down for 1 minute while I refill their bowls. 

I think of the scripture in Alma 9:26 that describes God as being "quick to hear the cries of his people and to answer their prayers". If I'm striving to be as God is, than I should try to do as he would do. This includes being quick to hear the cries of my children. I've got 7 months down on working on this goal, and a whole lot of work still left.  In fact, my children should be waking up soon and I need to "be prompt" in starting the day and getting ready now.