The Slow Down

This morning, during Hour 4 of the day, but what felt like it could have, should have really been Hour 14, I found myself nursing the baby and watching the other two play* while wondering, how in the world have I done this in the past? How did the long days of feeding a newborn while entertaining, or at least sort of supervising a toddler or two actually happen?

*by play I clearly mean, parallel play, and by parallel play I clearly mean each one pulling out as many random toys as they can possibly find and dragging them all over the house in ways that instantly destroy any order or cleanliness that I managed to create in the previous 24 hours.

To be honest? I can’t remember. I’m sure if I combed back through blog posts, I’d find a story or two about it, but as for now, my brain seems to have blocked that (which makes sense if this time around feels like the “easiest” go of nursing/working our way through the long winter/newborn days). I think the ease comes from a massive letting go on my part to be not too concerned about what the others are doing, even if that means they are spreading mixed up toys from one end of the house to the other and tearing the bed apart for yet another fort/sleep spot. They are happy and the being-fed baby is happy, so subsequently, I am happy.

More honesty? I really am happy and not just for the chaos acceptance.

Even though we have very much entered what I call The Slow Down where every day is pretty much the same, just with a slightly different feeding schedule, I feel content. This is a time with a newborn where the clock/calendar are sort of fuzzy details that you try to hold on to, but don’t always do so well with, that just happens to coincide with TSD of the school year. Jan/Feb are notoriously odd months in the world of education, so just as teachers are in the mode of “Have we hit March and all the long-weekend breaks, yet?” so too am I constantly amazed not only by the time on the clock, but the date on the calendar, as well.

So why so happy? Because I’m in this beautiful, privileged bubble of something I haven’t had much of in the last seven years since I went back to part-time teaching/last year when I did that AND started a small business which is to say: time to “just” be a mom. Of course that is laughable because there is nothing small about the task/role of being a mama, but right now I am not trying to juggle it with anything else outside of the house and I love that.

That doesn’t mean that I no longer love my teacher hat, but after the intensity of last year, and last spring semester in particular, it’s super awesome to go through my days now and know that I have no lesson plans to update, papers to grade, sequences to write, FB posts to schedule, or any other commitments beyond the seven people in this house. Instead I can nurse the baby while the little boys “play” around the house and the Bigs are at school and my biggest “how am I going to pull that off” is going to the grocery store (no, really. that’s actually kind of a big question right now because I sure as sh!t am not dragging them along with me but hate going at night, so how is this ever going to happen?), and the constant mountain of laundry.

The Slow Down may be a bit of a mind game and time warp, but right now I have to say, it’s also a major blessing. From here, our family moves forward without renumbering, so these sweet endless numbered days are a little buffer, a little grace-filled existence in which we get to continue settling, to not be pulled by outside influences, and to just be. As long as I eventually get to the store so my coffee supply doesn’t run out, time can go as slowly as it darn well pleases right now.

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2(mo) on the 2-2

Within our family, there is a lot of overlap, a lot of synchronicity, and that trend has very much carried on with Wilson.

img_9010For example: her birth date. November 22 means she shares a birth month with her sister and day of the month with her oldest brother (HD has started calling the two of them the 2-2s which is super cute). 2-2 is also connected to the two grandpas who literally share the same birthday in February.

Speaking of grandparents, another example: Wilson’s middle name was beautifully simple to pick because one choice meant both grandmas got a namesake, as both of our moms share the same middle name, Ann. See? Lots of overlap!

And what’s also fun on the homefront is that now I get to go through all those bins of girls’ clothes that I’ve been hanging on to for six years for a second time. I told Ben last night that I almost have the boys’ bins memorized in terms of what is coming out of each tote, especially after cycling through them on back-to-back babies, much less for the third time. But going through the Girl 0-3 stuff last night, it was crazy to see things and remember RL wearing them, and so amazing to be pulling them out for WA now. [Side note: yes, the night before her two-month milestone and I’m finally getting to the baby girl clothes in the basement instead of just cycling through the outfits that came during Omaha because Life as Seven is a little nuts, you know?] img_9028

So here we are: two months in, wearing Sissy’s clothes and connected to family members in fun and funky ways, but still very much her own little person.

At two months, Wilson is sporting a clean bill of gut health. She has Awake Days and Sleepy Days where she is either up and squawk/talking to us and feeding every two hours, or has to be woken up every three to nurse. She finally broke out of the swaddle blanket and now has to be in one of those velcro sleep sack things at night. The noise machine we got, by the way, is magical! When she’s awake, Wilson loves to smile and seems to know when it’s me talking to her. Her siblings still adore her and ask to hold/pet/kiss her all the time. Lincoln is especially sweet with her.

And mostly, we just hang out. Hunker Down Mode is still very much in effect and not just because we happen to have a snow day today. Although the kids are still doing all their school/church things, she and I are not. We only do the bare minimum of running around because going places is hard and exposure to as little as possible is good when it comes to germs and cold.

And really, this is all good. It’s OK to recognize that we are in a particular season right now and just like this cold and snow, it’s going to change. For now we take each day for what it is, Awake or Sleepy (for both her and us), and appreciate every smile that is sprinkled throughout them, even if they are hard to capture on camera. 😉

 

Milky Mama

As I tend to do after a birth, I find myself reflecting on all things nursing and breastfeeding related because wow, do those tasks take over pretty much all focus and function and time once Baby arrives. This time with Wilson is both no different and ENTIRELY different.

Because we knew right away that she had the omphalocele, we knew as soon as the on-call pediatrician came in that she would need surgery. That meant no food into her system which meant no popping her on the boob right away as has always been my tendency in the past during those first few hours with a new babe. And while I got to hold her and even do some skin-to-skin, this fact of no-nursing was just as hard (if not harder) to handle in that first hour as hearing that she needed both transport and surgery. That’s how important a deal breastfeeding is in my world.

img_8336To make matters more emotionally intense, as I held her there she was totally rooting around and smacking her mouth which would have been a lovely time to try nursing, but that just wasn’t in the cards for us.

Although I had my pump when we left Hastings, it was too dark and we were too tired to mess with that in the car and based on my history (if you look back at those old bfeeding posts, you’ll see pretty quickly that I am milky, milky mama and supply has thankfully never been a problem, at least not in the sense of having enough), I wasn’t too concerned about getting to it right away. I just wanted to get to her.

Once we were reunited in the NICU, WA’s nurse was able to get me set up with a hospital grade pump and as the rest of the day progressed I was able to start getting out my colostrum and getting questions answered by my Lactation Consultants both here in Omaha and back home in Hastings. Thank goodness for having lots of support and resources, eh?

We also managed to get a call in to insurance to verify that I could get a new pump for at-home because mine is an HD original and probably has seen better days/suction. So getting to Milk Works in Omaha was yet another part of the whirlwind known as Wonder Wilson’s very first day of life so I could make sure not to miss a drop of that liquid gold.

And while pumping instead of nursing would have never been my choice, I will say there have been some interesting silver linings to it, one of which was actually seeing my output change from colostrum to milk and my supply really come in, which it very much has in recent days.

Mamas, you know how they say the babies aren’t getting much volume-wise with colostrum in those early feeds? That is no joke! Those first few pumping sessions (15-20 minutes at a time, every three hours) were sparse (like 5mls sparse) but then after that, each one increased a little bit by bit until we hit the 20th pumping which is where they cut off counting colostrum. That’s some science + magic, too, because right about then was when the density and color had fully switched over and my milk came in.

From there, because, again – milky, milky mama – it’s been a little ridiculous. The last two days, for sure, have been fill somewhere between a 3.5-4 oz. bottle, from each side in less than 15 minutes, every time. OOF. That’s a lotta milk, my friends.

At this point, that’s actually a little concerning to me because I want to be very careful not to overdo it with the pumping because the last thing I need to do is widen the gap between what I am producing and what she can take in; this is already feeling Grand Canyon wide as I am so far ahead of her and getting our systems to sync so she can feed is VITAL to going home, so working to close that must happen.

The good news is, we got to start trying that process today!

Yes, that’s right. We got here this morning to find out that while yesterday meant 5mls in img_8405bottles (of which Ben got to give her three!), today they wanted to bump her up to 30mls (she took 20, which was still an impressive jump) and they also gave me the green light to try breastfeeding!

Talk about floored. It’s like every day we come in, she’s leaping over some new marker.

However…as exciting as that development was, today has definitely been not quite as Rah! Rah! Rah! as the last couple and that has been a little hard to handle.

Breastfeeding feels like it is on me. Because it is. And yet I know it is not because it also very much depends on the support around me which includes Ben and all our nurses, docs, and LCs. But still – my boobs, my job to get her to latch, so there is some (internal) pressure to make this work.

The verdict from today’s first attempts? Meh.

img_8431We got her to latch on at noon but she didn’t do anything, perhaps because her belly was still full from that big bottle jump or who knows. She just got suuuuuuuuper sleepy instead.

Then we tried again this afternoon and while it went better – she latched and actually sucked for about two minutes – it was not exactly what I would call a feeding by any means. And then more sleepy. Repeat again at 6:00p.

And did I mention that one of the hospital’s pumps just flat out died on me today when I was using it? It was a WTH moment, for both me and the nurses, for sure. img_8429

*Sigh*

It’s hard not be discouraged by this but after the dust from surgery settled and she pooped so soon after that, I kind of figured that getting nursing go might be our biggest obstacle. And it is a big one because until we get this, she’s not going to be gaining weight and progressing on her own which I’m pretty sure has to be happening before we head home.

Grand scheme of things, though? Well, I never thought we’d be attempting breastfeeding on Day Six, so we’ll take it and do our best to run with it in the most patient way possible. Sounds like a challenge, don’t you think? Thank goodness that in addition to being super milky, I am also super stubborn, because I know we’ll get this. But it will probably have to be on Willa’s timing, not mine, because, babies.

 

 

 

 

What a Wednesday

Y’all, it has been A Morning, and, for the record, as I start writing this it is currently just 9:34 a.m.! So why so frantic considering so little of the day has gone by? Well, we’re smack dab in the middle of a BIG week and today of all days, HD decided to get himself up but let everyone else keep sleeping, so from the time we realized this (about 20 minutes later than we should have, but c’mon – those of you with little Littles know just how precious/valuable/vital 20 minutes can be, especially in the mornings!), we were scrambling.

It also happened to be the kids’ second day of Walk to School and Lincoln’s second day of swimming lessons, so, enter: CHAOS.

For Walking Days (where we meet up with a 100 or so other Longfellow kids and walk to the school from the museum) we have to be out the door a solid 25 minutes earlier than normal. So if you are math-y (ha! not me!), I’m pretty sure that means we lost 45 minutes of prep time today, so no wonder we were a little frantic and frazzled! When you add in the fact that LT lost his ever-loving mind about having to put his swim trunks on, and then stood there in the kitchen for another solid 12 minutes refusing to put his arms in his sleeves so he could put on his coat and then his shoes, well, yeah – F.U.N. for all!

Best part? When he finally decided to cooperate, which was a good 4 minutes after we should have been OUT the door, I couldn’t find one of his shoes (because of course he refused to wear the pair that had two available shoes, ready to go). Bless the Bigs’ hearts – while I blanketed the toddler in the stroller, they went back in the house and magically found the MIA shoe AND got it on his foot so we could in fact finally rush out the door.

Friends, I thought I was going to send myself into labor trying to get the kids to their walking spot on time. Cardio, beyond basic motherhood and having a toddler, has not exactly been a part of my routine, so trying to walk super fast on streets we don’t normally walk (that have way more traffic) while keeping up with not-wanting-to-be-late school-agers and a still-dragging-his-feet preschooler (while pushing the stroller-contained toddler) was sweat inducing.

But, we made it. And the kids got their signs, and I got to walk behind HD and his buddies (last time I walked with Raegge) all the way to school before then hurrying home so we could load up the still-mad-about-swimming Lincoln to get him to preK (late, because, such was our morning). And then it was off to the grocery store with Truman, because, food, but going to Walmart was actually the easiest part of my day thus far, and that is saying something!

Why record all this? Because this is life right now. One frantic part to the next, and it is worth nothing that as crazy as it was today, no one (besides the aforementioned 4yo) lost their shit this morning. Not even me! Although, truth? It’s possible the youngest two learned their first 4-letter word as I definitely didn’t filter a couple of the shit!s that came out with my deep exhales in the middle of shoe searching/trying to get everyone everywhere on time.

And so it goes. We are going to have shit moments and we are going to have shit mornings. I’m working to check my anger and my privilege, because if the worst thing I have to stress me out right now is the clock and some effing swim trunks, then I think we are pretty darn fortunate in the face of all the other struggles and hardships and hurts out there. In fact, our radar blip today is nothing compared to the large picture, and stepping back to remember that from time to time is important.

Our experiences? Our emotions and reactions? They still matter. But I’m trying not to get so stuck in them as often because they pass, sometimes rather quickly, and to be aware of that is a good thing. The more we can sit (or keep running around like our hair is on fire because who has time to sit?!) with the hot discomforts that bubble up inside rather than shove them back down, the more we do to improve how we interact with and treat others and the ripple effect of that? The world needs it….

…even if we still let whispered 4-letter words come out as part of our steam-release.

Making It

In the just-shy-of-a-year since we began our Dave Ramsey journey, a ton has happened. A lot of that has been wonderful and a fair amount of it that was expensive (and a lot of that was unexpected). But, now, 12 months later we are getting close. SO CLOSE! With my extra work at CCC this semester, we are just months away from finishing up our debt snowball and moving forward to bigger and better Baby Steps.

All that said, there have been many times in the last year where the process has felt hard. Heavy. I know Dave says “live like nobody else, so you can live like nobody else,” but for crying out loud. When does that actually start? Because it feels like once we do get out of this baby step, we’re just going to be stuck in the next one forever and won’t ever actually get to do the so-called living.

For some reason, the example I keep using when talking about this with people is wanting to buy a dress. When do I just get to go out and buy a dress because I want to?

Isn’t that weird? I’m not a huge shopper and not even a huge dress girl (although that’s shifting in recent years, it seems). But this proverbial dress has become a symbol in my life of not having so much financial pressure, and I want the thing. Badly.

It’s funny how the universe hears you sometimes and responds. Although we are still very much in the Snowball Stage with our Baby Steps, today I got a peek of the other side with, yes, a dress.

After writing for HVFH for 18 months, I got news today that I finally earned enough to cross the threshold into paid writer! Maybe that’s embarrassing to admit because I’m sure plenty of writers on the site get paid (nicely) every month. Should I really be publicizing that my stuff just now got enough views to add up to payment minimum? Well, whatever – I am because I am happy and proud and thrilled with this milestone moment!

Since I quit drinking coffee, though, I realized I didn’t have my automatic What To Spend It On item, though, and had to sit and think for a minute about what I would do.

Cue other bloggers sharing awesome business pages and a lightbulb moment and VIOLA – I got an adorable DRESS for free thanks to my HVFH payment. No photo to post yet, but they’ve already shipped my order (wowzers!), so that update will be coming soon!

That is winning in my book. And it is definitely a sign of good things to come and light at the end of the dang tunnel!

Popcorn Moments

When a bump or booboo happens in our house, we use bags of popcorn kernels that we keep in the freezer to ease the aches and pains. They are cold but not too cold and mold to the shape of whatever body part needs the comfort. Perfect, really, except for when the owies we need to heal aren’t physical, and we have an off day.

To say that this week has been a little off would be a bit of an understatement. Somehow I managed to schedule All The Things, which resulted in my rushing off to yet another appointment every single time Ben got home from school, as well as no family dinners on the docket until tonight.

See? Off.

Unfortunately, HD had an experience at school yesterday that was also a little off. For the sake of privacy, I won’t say any more than this about it – the poor kid was not excited about going to school today (and this, on Pajama Day AND – of all things – Popcorn Sales day!). Now, he also came home yesterday with a raspy voice and we spent much of this morning trying to figure out if he was sick sick or nervous sick, and after talking, talking, talking (both of us with HD, me with a couple friends and the school counselor, bless their hearts), we worked it out to where yes, he was actually up to going to school for the day.

Naturally, this kind of stuff breaks my heart. I never want to see my kiddo hurting over the words of others, and quite truthfully, I wanted to keep him home today for his very own PJ & Popcorn day with me. But since we can’t live in a bubble, and he was up for going, to school he went, and, perhaps as a result of the circumstances, I’m pretty sure he took a bigger piece of my heart than normal with him.

Definitely because of the circumstances and the added hubbub of the morning, I spaced out the $.25 he needed to buy his bag of popcorn after school, and when I realized it at 11:00 a.m., I almost (for the 3rd time today) burst into tears thinking of his disappointment.

OK. I get it. It’s a quarter-bag of popcorn. Clearly he’d live without it. But the kid’s had a rough 24 hours and I didn’t want the messiness of the morning to have any more impact on him than it already had, so I quick formulated a plan to fix it.

Ben was already set to bring RL home from preK today, so when he showed up with her, I had a lunch ready and waiting to send with him that he could eat on his way, and this note to take to Harrison at school before heading back to the high school:

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Am I helicopter parent for doing this? Or a tiger mom? Or some other stereotype? Might be. Totally don’t care, though, because even though this is a tiny thing, I am hoping it brings a huge smile to kiddo’s face, and he knows – once again, always – just how important and loved he is.

And here’s hoping to many more years of popcorn being all we need to fix the hurts.

Steam Line

In a bold and brave move, I tried something new this morning – my first-ever (yes, not joking, even though I’ve worked there for years and been a member for at least a handful-ish more), I took my first group fitness class at the Y. That’s probably embarrassing to admit, but you know, I’ve been a little busy growing and popping out and nursing babies for the last 8 years, so group fitness just hasn’t been on my radar.

Except, now that I think about it, I’m not sure the class I took is exactly a “group” one. I mean, you are there with other people, but you totally get to do your own thing based on your skill level, which is good because my skillz are LOW and I definitely needed to not be worried about keeping up with the fast kids. I just needed to stay focused on staying alive.

Dramatic, much?

Yes and no, especially when you consider that this mysterious class I speak of was my first time in a POOL for lap swimming/lessons in 20-25ish years. You guys, I’m 34. That means that since my early years in the double digits, I have done nothing like what I did (at 5:30 A.M.!!!) this morning and I lived to tell the tale. Perhaps you’d maybe be a bit dramatic, too, in a similar situation.

So, the class. It is taught by my dearest friend and thank goodness because otherwise I never would have gone, or if I had, I would have burst into tears at just how poorly I did. As it was, she kept a watchful and nurturing eye on me the whole time and didn’t care one bit that I basically kept my head above water the whole time and didn’t even do half of the stream line lap assignments for the day. (The group is split into four skill levels/lanes and has a series of styles/skills to do for a set number of pool lengths, also based on skill level; in case you need clarification, I am a D, which is the slowest (but mightiest?) group, and clearly stands for Dang Right, I Just DID That and Didn’t Drown!). Because holy moly cow, I about lost my shit. And my cookies.

Honestly, I don’t know what happened. Beyond the whole it’s been a couple decades since I tried this and I have never been a “good” swimmer, I darn near had a panic attack in the pool this morning.

I got in for the warm up laps, trying to do the American Crawl stroke and my breath just freaked the eff out. As in, out of breath completely and not from being out of shape (well, maybe that was part of it), but because I was panicky. I swallowed water, too, which made my stomach feel terrible and queasy, and was another factor in the not doing the whole workout or even staying the whole time. Add some water up my nose, too, which I am totally still smelling, four hours and one shower later, and you get a whole bucket of awesomeness.

But you know what? I started. I tried something new and apparently terrifying and I freaked out and I’ll probably do it again. Why? Because I have a goal in January to complete in the Y’s Couch Potato Triathlon (you have two weeks to get in all the lengths of your three activities) and thank goodness I am starting to practice in the pool NOW because otherwise my January Quest would most likely be a bust.

I also gained a truck load of perspective for my kiddos this morning, and why they might balk at swimming lesson days for preschool. The water is no joke and apparently they don’t exactly come from swimming stock.

But again, I started, and everyone has to start somewhere.

img_4571This, by the way, is me in my car after leaving class early. I was totally trying not to hurl the whole way across the parking lot. And when I got home, three Littles – who weren’t supposed to be up out of bed yet – met me in the dark kitchen, so instead of collapsing in tears in the bathroom, I curled up in a ball on my kitchen floor (again – so not joking) and had them cover me up with a blanket where I let the fetal position help me regain my equilibrium until I felt OK enough to get up and shower so I could nurse the baby chlorine free.

Crazy? Perhaps. But worth it to see their not-so-little eyes get even bigger when I explained that I did something new and hard today? You bet.

I have no idea how I will feel about this later today or tomorrow. I’m sure I’m going to be tired and sore. But dang it, I started. That’s got to count for something.