Posts Tagged ‘ real talk ’

Update: Breastfeeding, Post Birth, Being the Mother of Two, and Other Random Overshares

Monday, February 25th, 2013

The other night I asked Harper, “What can baby Finley do?” She precociously replied, “She can take a pooh!” Nailed it.

If naming the short list of Finley’s achievements is paramount to adjusting to being a big sister, Harper is doing fine. Juuuust fine.

Lesbehonest, the first few weeks months after having a baby are all about low expectations. I know this blog is called Great Expectations, but to survive the postpartum mayhem of emotions, change, and sometimes downright chaos, I’m remembering that I have to be kind to myself and someday I’ll be like Stella, and get my mothering groove back. For now, we’re just trying to take it slow as we adjust to our new life.

Even though I’ve only been a “mother of two” for a little over two weeks, I thought I’d share a little of how me, my favorite 2T, and our teeny tiny are adjusting to life.

Let’s get down to the nitty gritty first: breastfeeding round two.

Finley knew her way around a boob from the minute she was born. Hallelujah. Unfortunately for my girls, the engorged C-cup wonders, she took lessons from a piranha on the art of suckling.

Knowing in advance that breastfeeding hurts worse than the humiliation of the 80s bangs I rocked until the year 2000, I have not been detoured. It’s hard out here for the mother of a baby piranha though.

In the spirit of full disclosure, the info you don’t want to know but need to know, my lovely lady lumps cracked so bad my white bras turned crimson and my teeny tiny was gulping pink milk. If she grows up to be a vampire, I’ll only have myself to blame.

Crisis averted though, thanks to my savior, the nipple shield, and even though I’m still curling my toes a bit at the initial latch, breastfeeding is going well. Rest assured that the only pink milk my littlest girlfriend will get in the future is strawberry.  I overshare this info as encouragement. Breastfeeding is rough at times but doable.

In fact, until I started nursing again I didn’t realize how much I missed it. I missed tiny, wrinkled hands grabbing at my shirt, pulling me closer, asserting to the milk, “Get in my belly!”

Newborns are ravenous, grunty little things, who carry an intoxicating smell of spit up and showcase adorably gassy smiles. Sigh. I love me a newborn. Especially my little piranha.

Nitty gritty overshare numero dos I’m happy to  report is not as graphic: the aftermath.

There was less of an explosion in the ol’ baby parts and recovery has been much less difficult. I’ve already said goodbye to my love, the donut, (but not stool softeners, we’re bros for life).

I took a friend’s suggestion to rock an ice pack from dawn until dusk and I believe it’s made all the difference. Sure this road less traveled by requires I wear an adult diaper and the hospital’s version of an ice pack, a newborn diaper packed with ice at all times. With two diapers strapped to my chonies, success is mine. Although you can hear the sound of my diapers coming from down the hall, I have the last “my stitches don’t even hurt when I laugh” laugh.

Thank you friend for the advice and you’re welcome for the tip to the two people still reading this overly informative post.

Now onto the real star and the person I get the most questions about: Harper.

Harper is adjusting well. She’s interested in the baby when she wants to be and the rest of the time just goes about her toddler business. She has realized mom’s hands are a little more full with the new babe so that means her toddler business now includes running around naked and untamed as much as possible. Her mantra, everything is better nudie.

Honestly, the girl sure is sweet to her sister. Sure, she’s going through a little “all the attention all the time” detox, but she doesn’t have a mean bone in her body. Instead, she calls Finley “my baby.”

Finley was crying the other night when I asked Harps to come to dinner. She replied, “I can’t. My baby needs me.” Shoot girl, you sure know how to make your post-birth hormonal mama cry even more. What can I get your sweet little heart? Cookies? Ice cream?

The first night Finley was home Harper woke up and immediately asked, “Where’s my baby?”

Even though I’d like a little credit for birthing this baby, I’ll take her protectiveness and baby hoarding over resentment any day.

She chatters to her in the car, which again, cues the tears, and is really not safe for driving. Whoops. How am I supposed to hold it together though when Harper is telling her sister, “It’s okay my baby, we’ll be there soon. Don’t cry.” You would cry too if it happened to you.

I welcome the tears for the sweet, thoughtful, birthday suit rocking big sister Harper is becoming.

Finally, I wanted to share a little about how I’m managing my newly divided attention.

Right now, two feels overwhelming at times, but each day we’re trying.

The moment I dreaded the most, when my girls needed me at the exact same time, happened. It’s actually happened several times. Occasionally, this moment of not knowing what to do and who to help first has left us all crying. It breaks my heart not being able to have enough hands for both of them. Sure, I’ve mastered the art of the one-hand, nurse while eating, cooking, cleaning, dance partying, and mail grabbing but sometimes, that’s not enough.

As both girls lay sleeping in their beds tonight, identical snores escaping from their rooms, I remembered that even though I don’t always have enough hands, I do have more than enough love for the both of them. That’s really what they need.

It is difficult to relearn how to balance my time and attention between the people I love the most. I am trying to set my expectations low. There are a lot of things that can wait. At the end of the day, the things I need to get done are to take care of myself and my family.

There will be a day when “routine” is a word in our vocabulary again, when sleep is not interrupted, and I’ll feel less frazzled by which crying babe to help first.

Today though, I want to welcome the fact that I don’t have all the answers about how to mother two. That’s the crazy, hard, wonderful part about motherhood; it is a constant learning process with new dilemmas each day. It requires growth, uncomfortableness, tears, love, forgiveness and a lot of laughter.

Being a mother to two is stretching me in new ways. For as many times as I’ve cried exhausted, helpless tears the past few weeks, they’ve been matched by joy and gratitude for our new life.

We’re taking it one day at a time over here and so far we’re surviving. Actually, we’re doing pretty swell.

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What I Love About Pregnancy

Monday, January 28th, 2013

38 weeks/9 months

While wrapping up an interview with a psychologist for a pregnancy related article I’m writing, I kept coming back to her advice, “Just like a good wife never complains about her husband, a good mother never complains about her pregnancy.”

I’ve often heard that saying in regards to husbands, it’s one I subscribe to, but I’ve never heard it applied to pregnancy before.

With my pregnancy nearing the end and this unique opportunity to chronicle so many aspects of pregnancy, I can’t get her words out of my head.

I think back to the posts I’ve written and the way I’ve captured pregnancy and I hope that while honest and humorous, it’s also been positive.

There are only so many times a woman is pregnant in a lifetime and it seems cavalier, even detrimental to spend it complaining.

While some may find it arguable, I think it true, a good mother never complains about her pregnancy. Not because it’s easy or she’s being inauthentic, but because like with a marriage, what good comes from it?

The thing is pregnancy is finite. Not even a year in the long span of years we call a life.

Sure, this is the hard part. At 37 weeks, it’s uncomfortable, it’s mentally tough, physically excruciating at times but then, before I realize, the miracle will be over and there is nothing like the miracle of pregnancy.

I am truly grateful to be pregnant. I will miss this belly.

There are a limited number of times a mother feels her baby kick. There are a limited number of times a mother watches her body grow a baby. There are a limited number of times a mother gets to hold her new infant for the first time. These are the moments I want to remember.

All I’ve wanted to do is focus on the things I like about pregnancy. I’ve been afraid to openly say, “I love pregnancy” because I care too much what people think of me. “She’s annoying.” “She’s naive.” “She’s hormonal.” “She’s not being real.” “Her pregnancies are easy”…etc. But I don’t care anymore.

I am a woman who loves pregnancy.

For me, pregnancy is the grandest example of the body’s amazing capacity to grow life and the soul’s ability to love someone without ever meeting.

While this may be the last time I am pregnant, I hope that it is not. Regardless of what happens in the future, I want it written, documented, remembered, the things I love about pregnancy:

Baby kicks. The feeling of a life, a being, a healthy little babe inside of me is something I wish I could box up and save for the rainiest of days. It cannot be recreated and it is hard to conjure when pregnancy is over, but it is the most incredible sensation.

A constant companion. I love the fact that where ever I go, she goes. She’s with me day and night, sharing secret indulgences, silent tears, and sweet movements. To carry her is to love her.

Talking baby. I love discussing the new addition with family, friends, and even strangers. I love discussing how excited we are to meet her and hearing thoughtful congratulations. Babies are to be celebrated and the best way I know how is to talk about how much we already love her.

My husband falling in love with our baby. His worries indicate just how much he already loves our daughter. He’s protective and thoughtful. There are few things more beautiful than a man loving his children.

Envisioning our future family. I am hopeful when I think of our future. I look forward to the noise and chaos of multiple children. I welcome milestones and find fulfillment in the thought of trying to raise happy, helpful, compassionate children.

Picturing my daughters together. I find so much joy in at the thought of my daughters loving each other. Their shared kisses and toys and secrets is one of the things I look forward to the most.

As I’ve focused more on the things I like about pregnancy, I’ve realized how much their really is to love about it.

Image: My 37 week, full term belly

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Pregnancy Cravings: Get in My Belly

Monday, January 21st, 2013

37 weeks/9 months

Ladies,

What is it about pregnancy that makes food one million (said in my best Dr. Evil voice) times more delicious (or sometimes disgusting, wha-wha)? As I’m rounding third base for home this pregnancy, I feel like eating is my sport of choice and having to breathe between bites is really hindering my game.

Sometimes, when I’m downing my third bowl of cereal or eating a whole sleeve of peppermint Joe Joe’s, I wonder if I’m alone in my pregnant indulgences. I try, bless my heart, to eat healthy, but sometimes, the come hither call of ice cream is too much to ignore. My body tells me I need it.  I’m wrist deep, three serving size spoonfuls in before I’ve “come to” from my ice cream eating blackout. No shame.

The thing about cravings are that they life-like in their demands and they must be met. How do I explain it for the non-pregnant crowd?

It is an insatiable desire for a particular food so great that in order to get it, one would willingly trade unnecessary body parts on the black market. Comprende?

I know it’s a pregnant stereotype to eat nonstop, but this pregnant face feeding train doesn’t care it’s cliche. It cannot be stopped.

The 90s television star with an unfortunate mullet put my current feelings about food so eloquently. Take it away Uncle Jesse, “have mercy.” Cereal, candy, ice cream why you taste so good?

My greatest pregnancy craving thus far: breakfast food. Unfortunately, not the steel cut oats and egg whites kind of breakfasts. More like the candy for breakfast types of food: waffles, pancakes, french toast. My desire is so great I cannot confirm or deny that I may walk around the house chanting, “What do we want? Waffles! When do we want them? Now!”

I know there are legends, of the urban type or sometimes real, about sending husbands out under crazy conditions to retrieve certain craving. In my case, my legendary tales involve a zombie-style, overly familiar autopilot, not sure how I got here until I did, drive to Chick-fil-A. Waffle fries. So wrong and so right.

I asked my pregnant posse who didn’t mind being outed for some dish on the dish that made them body part trading hungry during pregnancy.

My favorite confessions:

“I ate 6-9 long johns a week with my first. With my second, I had a thing for Costco polish dogs…embarrassing but true. I wasn’t a member back then, but I’d stealthily sneak in the exit for my fix. I felt like a criminal, but my body spoke to me; and it said “polish dog.’”

“Canned refried beans.” With her caveat of  “don’t judge me.”

Girl, you know I don’t judge it. This is a safe sharing environment with no repercussions. Let she who has not eaten some canned goods throw the first stone. I’ve downed one too many bags of gummy bears and sour patch straws to be pointing any crystallized sugar-covered fingers.

Let’s hear it ladies. Divulge that craving. Whether it be a bowl of dandan noodles, an In-N-Out burger, a rack of ribs, or copious amounts of sour skittles, help me live my last few weeks of pregnancy to their indulgent fullest by sharing those craving confessions.

Image: Documented cravings. Yes, I’m talking about the celebrity gossip too.

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Is There Anything to Gain from the Pain of the Cervix Check?

Thursday, January 17th, 2013

As I inch, or should I say centimeter (I slay me), my way to this due date, there’s another milestone that must be discussed.

The cervix check. Whoomp, there it is!

This is the point when pregnancy stops being polite and starts being real.

Call me dramatic, it’s my trademark, but the cervix check is worse than childbirth. I don’t know what they taught in med school back in the day, but it must have been something along the lines of, “if your patient doesn’t cry when you check their cervix then you’re doing it wrong.”

I don’t want to call my doctor out too much. Her bedside manner is impeccable and she’s listened to and assured an awful lot of hormonal tears from me, but dang gina, dem hands is rough.

My first pregnancy, I wasn’t prepared for the ol’ cervix check. I mean I’d had a pap smear and while not my best friend, no tears were shed. The cervix check though, ov vey. It was definitely a “like a virgin moment” and I don’t mean that in the way Madonna tries to spin it. There was nothing enjoyable about it.

The cervix check is not my favorite activity…but it is my least favorite activity.

I pity the fool who like me, so unassumingly, gets the most painful feel up of their life.

We’re not strangers my doctor and me. She brought my pride and joy, my darling first daughter into this world. Please ma’am, understand we’re close now. Next time, warn me if you’re going to do anything that will make me loathe you for an entire week.

Now that we’re all aware of how much I truly, madly, deeply hate the cervix check, let’s talk the dilemma.

The slightly wussy lady in me who despises pain, wants to opt out of all cervix checks until labor is literally taking my breath away.

However, the curious, glutton for punishment part of me wants to know, is there any reason to suspect, hope, dream that this baby might be coming early? Have the floodgates opened?

The problem is the dilation status messes with the ol’ head. It adds another level of crazy to the waiting game. Just because one dilates does not mean one immediately labors. It can take weeks.

I hear tales of women who walk around dilated to a 5 for weeks. WEEKS! I hear of women who go from 0 to 60 in 5.2 (figuratively speaking of course).

Theoretically, the cervix check means nothing. Like babies, cervixes do what they want, when they want. Maybe I’m a glutton for punishment, but I’m curious, oh so curious if anything is happening. It might not make a bit of difference in predicting her arrival to know the dilation digits, but maybe, just maybe it might?

I can’t get you outta my head cervix check.

Is the pain worth it to find out if my business is doing any meaningful business?

Image: Gloved hands via Dan Kosmayer/Shutterstock.com

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Boobs: My Breast Friends

Friday, January 11th, 2013

Boobs.

Please commence giggling like a seventh grader at the mere mention of the word. I know I still do.

As the boobs I was dreaming of in the second trimester have returned to their “squeeze them together just so and there will be cleavage” status, I’m very aware that soon they’ll actually serve a purpose besides filling out my shirts.

As they’re about to move from sexy to functional, and at the news that many insurance companies now cover breast pumps and other nursing support free of charge, I can’t help but reflect on the breastfeeding process as I prep for my re-commitment to the boob.

Breastfeeding is baptism by fire. The body starts the milk making process no matter what a lady decides to do and that process ain’t easy. Holy engorgement I’m talking to you. The fiasco that is the milk coming in is one I remember all too well.

If someone had said, “you’re going to be sobbing, sweating, and topless on the floor while your jugs are as hard as rocks, huge, real, and not spectacular,” I would have wondered if there was another way. No amount of pre-ruffage of the nipples or cabbage leaves assuaged the pain. Endurance was the name of the game or “this too shall pass.”

The actual nursing part hurt for a much longer haul. It took six weeks for my bits to stop cracking and bleeding and feeling like a tiny piranha was gnawing them off. I’d been warned about the actual time it takes for nursing to stop hurting, but it still didn’t stop me from crying every time my daughter latched in an odd mixture of happiness that she was getting it, and silent expletives at how bad it hurt.

There is just so much to breastfeeding. It takes planning: easy access clothes, a place to nurse, timing, paraphernalia (nipple shields, hooter hiders, whatever a lady fancies). It’s hard to be at the beck and call of the boob. Nursing boobs themselves are awkward lumps of milk, leakage, and unpredictability. They, like most of us in the middle school years, need a while to work their awkward out.

Also, I nursed in isolation for much of the time my first go round and that my friends, is enough to send a lady to the loony bin. Listening to everyone in the other room yuck it up made me more than a wee bit lonely. This time, I know better.

I refuse to let my hangups about nursing in public or in front of others hold me back. Boob schmoobs. Ain’t no thing. I’m feeding my kid when I need to and if somebody sees something in the process, lucky them.

After the initial six week transition, breastfeeding got easier and enjoyable, but at times it was still just plain endurable.

Nursing is not always ethereal, natural, toplessness in fields of flowers (actual images retrieved when searching “breastfeeding” on the stock photo website). Sometimes, it’s simply primal grunts, guzzles, and slurps. I think something in that is incredible though. It’s doable. And even, lovable.

Despite the difficulty it was to nurse at times, I really did love it. It was just more of a frenemies to friends, to lovers kind of relationship. More romantic comedy/horror than straight romance.

I’m an advocate of breastfeeding but not because it’s easy or I loved every second. I’m no La Leche League member, but I am a believer and supporter in what the body can do. It’s amazing. And sometimes ridiculously hard.

It can be rough for so many reasons but I’m hoping with my Bachelor’s in breastfeeding, I’m ready for my Master’s this go round. I hear it’s typically easier the second time. I’m optimistic about a smoother transition, but I’m not afraid to be a little bamboozled by the girls again.

I’m praying with my previous experience that my boobs will be bigger, better, faster stronger at this nursing thing.

Image: Mother nursing a newborn via Zurijeta/Shutterstock.com

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