May 9, 2013

mothering, a tribute to the cause (jeannine)

Posted in Guest posts, Parenting at 3:05 pm by lifebytheday

PAIL Bloggers

This time of the year is all about honoring mothers. Over the next two weeks, we have International Bereaved Mothers Day (May 5), Birth Mother’s Day (May 11), Mother’s Day (May 12), and Step Mother’s Day (May 19). In recognition of this, we will be featuring a different post every day this week from a PAIL reader who has volunteered to share her thoughts about mothering. We hope you enjoy reading everyone’s posts this week! 


This is what I wanted, right?

Many women I know struggled a bit when they initially became mothers – even those who had planned and hoped and prepared for YEARS – with not knowing exactly how to “handle” a newborn, feeling like they didn’t know what they were doing, and spent much of the early days feeling stressed and out-of-control.

I was the opposite.  Of course, I had my moments, but in general, I…

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August 15, 2012

Book review – Bringing up Bébé

Posted in Books, Parenting at 2:33 pm by lifebytheday

I finally got around to reading Bringing up Bébé (I recently decided that I didn’t have much of an excuse to still be reading the crap that I used to read to “relax” while working/pregnant/etc.) and was extremely gratified to realize that I’m somewhere in the middle of the French and American contingency.  My goal in raising my kid(s) is like the French cadre – strict limits about certain things with a lot of freedom in between.

I believe strongly in independent play, manners, and helping your children become good eaters (more French than American per the author).  However, I’m a proud breastfeeder, and am also completely guilty of narrating A’s actions and praising their results (all good things I think, albeit more American).

I think the author does a good job raising questions and topics for discussion without making many judgments of her own.  And as anyone already parenting knows, all your great ideas and good intentions go out the window once you’re dealing with a real person and their personality. 😉

I still think that it is a good idea to have goals though.  A lot of the things I had already been doing (or trying to do), but the book made me realize how much I still rely on things like snacks and A’s pacifier to prevent shrieking and meltdowns while in public.  So that’s my new goal – help A try to get more words so he can express himself without screaming, and not just shove food into his mouth to shut him up. 😉  If you hear a toddler yelling from across the store or restaurant, think of me and wish us luck, okay?

Also, will all you readers out there send me some book recommendations?  Any parenting books that you’ve found particularly helpful or other new fiction/non-fiction that I should read.  Thanks!

August 7, 2012

14 mos!

Posted in Parenting tagged at 10:11 am by lifebytheday

I won’t even apologize this time…let’s just all agree that I’m a terrible blogger and move on.  There are some major psychological issues underneath my lack of blogging and I’m not quite ready to explore them.  And while we’re playing ostrich, let’s ignore the fact that I just finally acknowledged (on this blog) that my son is now a toddler. 😛  So ANYWAYS…what’s A up to at 14 months?!?

  • Not only do we have a toddler, we have a WALKER!  A took his first steps around 13 months, and was walking two weeks later.  Now we’re getting closer to running, which I am SO not ready for.  But now that he’s on his feet, grass doesn’t seem so bad. 😉
  • He’s starting to think and understand so much more now.  He understands (and obeys!) when I tell him to sit down, and now he’ll actually come into the kitchen and point to the fridge and then sit down on the floor while I get him his milk. 😉 He still doesn’t have many words (hi and dada are in main rotation), but he does a lot more grunting and pointing now.  And the cutest part is that if you guess what he’s trying to say, he does this cute little sigh thing, almost like he’s trying to say “yeah!” accompanied by a huge smile.  I spend a lot of time pointing things out and practicing words and sounds…I don’t want him to be short-changed stuck at home with just mama!
  • Now that A can MOVE, he has lost all interest in his toys – spices and pans and remotes are much more fun.  😉  And he gets bored with home much more easily, so we’re going on field trips a lot more often lately.  It’s so hot out (and A is so fair) that I have been trying to avoid just hanging out outside, but he definitely needs more entertainment now.  He hates sitting down in the tub lately, so the baby pool is out too.  But we got him a water table with his birthday money and he loves it!
  • A has been completely weaned for a few months now. After being paralyzed for a week or so as to whether to drop his morning or evening nursing first, one night he lost interest, and the next morning, my milk was completely gone.  I knew that I wanted to be done breastfeeding, but it was hard not to have a “last” time to enjoy.  Luckily, my little guy still loves to cuddle, and when he’s tired or sick, uses my hair as a security blanket.  It’s super cute. 🙂
  • Less than a month after being completely done nursing, I got my period – my first un-medicated cycle in YEARS.  I’m waiting to see what happens this month and whether it actually turns into a regular monthly cycle.  I’m trying not to get my hopes up, but it’s hard not to imagine the possibility of being “normal.”

That’s it for now…I won’t make any promises, but I hope to be talking to you again soon. 😉

We officially have a TODDLER!

Posted in Parenting tagged at 9:17 am by lifebytheday

I wrote this post months ago, but never finished or posted it…I’m pressing publish without making any edits so I don’t stall anymore.

I honestly can’t believe that a year has flown by already, and am having a hard time processing my emotions…especially when I think that we were still in the NICU at this time a year ago.  I wish I was one of those people who got more eloquent when filled with emotion (a poet I will never be)…instead, I become almost mute, with all of my emotions bouncing around inside of me, not able to put my feelings to words.  It’s annoying.  I love writing, and would love to be able to express myself (maybe even write a book some day), but I’m so much of a perfectionist that I become crippled with the need to formulate my thoughts perfectly.

Anyways…let’s talk about my little man!  And since there’s less pressure in bullet form, here’s what A’s up to at a year:

  • He finally starting signing “more” around 11 months.  Since we started it at meal-times, it has come to mean both “give me more food” and “I’m hungry”, so I’m now focusing on the sign “eat” when we start eating, and using the sign “more” as part of play-time.  Other signs that we’re working on are “all done”, “milk” and “water”.  In fact, signing “more” led to his first time standing on his own (since he needed both hands to make the sign)!
  • We started weaning at 11 1/2 months and it has happened pretty organically.  We started with milk at his afternoon snack and he sucked it down in his sippy cup like he had been drinking milk his whole life!  The mid-morning feeding was the next to go, followed by lunch.  He’s still not drinking much milk during the day (always does the best in the afternoon), so consequently our morning and evening nursing sessions have gotten a bit longer.  I’m having a hard time figuring out which one to drop next…he seems to want both for the time being…but we need to be completely weaned by the end of June.  S and I are leaving him with my parents for five days and taking a trip to California!
  • He has already started getting very stubborn and FRESH.  I noticed it around 11 months, it was like he flipped a switch and all of a sudden was a little boy with an opinion of his own!  The poor kid comes from two stubborn and feisty people so he never really stood a chance, but I’m trying to start being consistent with discipline before it turns into a real problem.  He’s already throwing food on the floor (holds it out until I look at him and say no and THEN throws it on the floor), pretending to kiss my shoulder and then biting me instead, throwing a complete temper tantrum during diaper changes (complete with a leg out to the side to kick me in the stomach)…I’m sure that we’re in for a wild ride. 😉
  • But he is equally one of the sweetest and happiest little boys you’ll ever meet.  He loves to cuddle, always has a smile on his face, loves people and will hold his arms out to just about anybody.  His Grammy (my mother) is one of his absolute favorite people, and he also loves his Uncle D (went to him at his birthday party and wouldn’t even come back to me)!  D is 6ft+ and he must have a better vantage point from up there. 😉
  • He doesn’t mind sand, but HATES grass.  Whenever we put him down on the grass to try and take a picture or whatnot, he literally picks up every one of his limbs off the ground and whines until we pick him up.  I’m trying to make sure that he’s not OCD like his mother, so that’s what we’re going to be working on throughout the summer.  Even if I put him on a blanket surrounded by his favorite toys, he’ll play with the grass but WILL NOT crawl on it.  It may as well be an alligator infested moat, lol!

May 18, 2012

May catch-up – allergies, birthdays, and more

Posted in Life, Parenting at 2:31 pm by lifebytheday

Fell off the bandwagon again, sorry friends.  May has been a crazy month…A’s first ear infection turned into his first allergic reaction, I turned 30 (gasp!) and had my first real mother’s day!

Did you know that a drug allergy can take up to two weeks to manifest itself?  I had no idea.  My parents kept A overnight (for my aforementioned birthday party) and he woke up with red rashes on his cheeks that slowly spread to the rest of his body, culminating in swollen cheeks and eyelids by bedtime.  ER here we come.  The ER doc called it a virus, gave us some Bena.dryl and sent us home.  Luckily, our pedi requires follow up appts for any infants who go to the ER, so we saw our doc in the morning who diagnosed it as an amoxicillin allergy.  A was completely MISERABLE for a good two days – as in, so miserable that he couldn’t sleep for more than 15 minutes at a time – but was back to normal in about a week.

My birthday ended up being a three part-er…which I think for three decades is totally reasonable! 😉  S threw me a fab party the weekend before my birthday (dinner and dancing with some friends), my family took me out to dinner the following weekend, and my actual birthday was pretty low key (lunch with a few close friends and meeting a new baby, then grilling out at home for dinner).  Just what the doctor ordered!  Honestly, 30 has never seemed that scary – people keep telling me it’s because I’ve got a pretty good life going 🙂 – but I have to admit, that it felt pretty surreal on my actual day.  I guess it’s just weird to think that 30 always seemed so old growing up, but now I still feel so young!  Like so young that sometimes I wonder if people think I’m the babysitter and not the mom, lol. 😉  No, just me?

Mother’s Day was the following weekend, and once again, S outdid himself.  I told him that all I wanted was to sleep in…as in, he gets up at the first peep out of A and takes him downstairs, so I don’t wake up so much that I can’t go back to sleep!  S was like, “umm, aren’t you supposed to spend time with your kid on mother’s day?”  NOPE!!  A ended up sleeping in until 7:30 (which is unheard of!) so S got off the hook, but then I got breakfast in bed, and S took A on an errand and he took his morning nap in the car, and I took an hour long bubble bath and painted my nails!  By the time they got home I was missing them. 🙂  Then we went to my parents for lunch, and ended the day with a family walk and dinner outside.  SO nice.

All in all, May has been a month of big transitions, that will culminate in my SON’s FIRST BIRTHDAY.  Don’t even get me started.  I think it’s just hard to process when I think about how different these milestones were last year.  My birthday and mother’s day were on the same weekend last year – a weekend that was book-ended by the appointments where we found out about A’s intestinal issue.  I spent the two days on pseudo bed rest, trying not to panic.  Fast forward to this year, I have an almost-one-year-old who is eating me out of house and home (and yes, I know what that means for him as a teenager!) and just the happiest little boy you’ll ever meet.

There aren’t enough words to express how happy and grateful I am – and once again, this is a case of my emotions rendering me mute – so all I have to say is, I am loving life right now, and enjoying every minute of a life that I know I am very lucky to have.

April 27, 2012

NIAW – Don’t Ignore Joy

Posted in Infertility, Parenting tagged , at 1:57 pm by lifebytheday

This week is National Infertility Awareness Week and the theme for this year is “Don’t Ignore Infertility.”  Bloggers have been given the charge to blog with the prompt “don’t ignore…”

I truly hope that I don’t come off as being a smug parent (in the vein of Bridget Jones) with this post, but I’d like to suggest to people who are parenting (or pregnant) after infertility – don’t ignore the joy of being a parent.  I feel like so many people in this community end up feeling so much GUILT after getting pregnant, that it starts to bleed into their ability to enjoy their pregnancy and even their child after they have arrived.

When we got pregnant, I made the conscious decision to enjoy every minute – partly because I didn’t know whether that would be my only chance to experience pregnancy, and partly to honor the baby that we worked so hard for.  And as most of you know, it was not an easy pregnancy to enjoy. 😉  Then once A was born, I was so preoccupied with him (and trying to fit in a shower here and there) that I made a less-conscious decision to step back from the blogging community a bit.  I still read all of my regular blogs – usually while BFing in the middle of the night – but I never made it onto my computer to comment.  Sorry friends!  (I actually still have a ton of posts saved in my reader to comment on…it probably will never happen, but hey, good intentions! ;-P)

None of that means that I have ever forgotten about those folks still in the trenches – I regularly send out prayers and wishes that everyone who wants to have a child is able to – but I don’t think that feeling guilty about the fact that we were finally able to have a child will make it happen any faster for anyone else.  And to be honest, it made me too sad to think about infertility every single day.  I think that my mind needed a break from the sadness as much as my body needed a break from all of the supplements and needles and meds.

My approach with A has been similar to how I treated my pregnancy…consciously focusing on enjoying every minute, and not wishing his life away or pining for what has passed.  Although, the latter goal is getting harder and harder the faster he grows up. 😉  (I can’t believe he is 11 months already!!  11 mo. post coming tomorrow…)

Anyways, all that to say…if you are blessed with a child, through birth or adoption, thank God and then enjoy the heck out of them! 😀

April 26, 2012

Sickness, separation anxiety and #2?

Posted in Infertility, Parenting tagged , , at 4:57 pm by lifebytheday

Phew.  Last week was a doozy…A’s first ear infection, which took until day 4 of a fever for the ped. to diagnose, and the simultaneous beginning of mommy separation anxiety.  Which was funny, and flattering, but exhausting!

I honestly thought that we had dodged that bullet, and had mixed feelings about it.  I knew that it was a common phase, and as his primary caregiver, I was kind of wondering why he hadn’t developed that attachment yet.  I chalked it up to the fact that my mom and aunt are his two other regular visitors, and we all have very similar voices and mannerisms…but I was secretly a little upset.  Then I got a little cocky thinking that he was just SO secure and probably wasn’t going to go through it at all, and boy did that come back to bite me.  With his ear infection he was the most uncomfortable when he laid down, so we went through four or five days where I probably held him for 20 out of every 24 hours.  I was EXHAUSTED, and surprisingly sore!  He’s a big boy. 😉  He finally turned a corner yesterday, and after (both of us!) took good afternoon naps, we were almost back to normal.

Yesterday was also my first time back at a regular gynecologist in I don’t know how many years…probably five?  Usually the RE would just roll in my pap with all of the other insurance-required testing, so I never felt the need to see another doctor.  I mostly set up this appointment to start building a relationship with the doctor I wanted as my OB “next time”.  I know, don’t burst my bubble.  But seriously, it was so refreshingly quick and easy!  And interestingly, my doctor pointed out that after I stop breast-feeding that I’ll be at my most fertile, and that I might even get in a few ovulatory cycles before my PCOS kicks back in.  I know that we’ve all heard that before, and that I really shouldn’t get my hopes up, but I was a bit surprised that he thought I might be able to get a few real cycles in.

I’ve always known that we’d try for a second at some point down the road, but thought it would be a while before I could convince S.  After the downs scare we had and everything we had to go through with A’s surgery, S was pretty sure that he only wanted one.  But the older that A got, the more and more S would make comments here and there about giving A a brother or sister…and finally a month or two ago, we decided for sure that we’d be trying for a second relatively soon.  We have two big weddings in September and October, and I’m kind of looking forward to having a few months “off” between breastfeeding and fertility treatments.  So right now, it’s looking like we’ll “try” on our own over the summer – it’ll be the summer of $ex, ha! – and then go back to the RE in September to start the pre-IVF testing up again.

I’m under NO delusions that it’s going to be easy this time around, but I honestly think that knowing that we are able to get pregnant will take some of the stress out of the whole process.  And at the end of every day, I get to come home and cuddle my little boy.  It all seems a little abstract right now, so for the time being, I’m just going to focus on weaning my little man and enjoying our summer!  There’s plenty of time for worrying later. 😉

April 16, 2012

What kind of parent am I? (April PAIL post)

Posted in Parenting tagged , , at 9:53 am by lifebytheday

This is my first month joining in the PAIL (parenting after infertility or loss) monthly theme post, and I’m super excited.  I found the group after last month’s theme (of breastfeeding) had closed, but I really enjoyed reading everyone’s posts and points of view.  And I think this month will be no exception.  Here’s the topic:

What kind of parent am I or do I want to be? If you’re already a parent, what kinds of things work for you now? Did they always? Has your view of what kind of parent you are changed? If you’re pregnant or TTC, have you given this topic much thought? What is your style likely to be? Are you a structure sort of person? Will you or did you cry-it-out? Will you or did you try to get your baby on a schedule? Did you or will you demand feed? Did you or will you subscribe to a method like Attachment Parenting or Babywise or some other method? Do you think you can spoil a baby by holding it too much?

I almost don’t know where to begin.

I think the easy answer is that I’m an “everything in moderation” kind of person, and that is (and was) my goal for parenting.  But that doesn’t even scratch the surface.

I’ve tried to write this post a few times but it just feels too big…too important.  I started to write a whole post about my “goals” in parenting, but I realized that everything I had initially been focusing on was for the early days (breastfeeding, immunizations, etc.), and while all of that is important, to me that’s not actually parenting.

It has been obvious to me for a while – since A turned 8 months or so – that our job has shifted beyond just keeping him alive to actually raising him.  My goal with A, and any other child we’re lucky enough to have, is to raise him to be kind, considerate, respectful, self-sufficient, and happy.  I also wouldn’t mind if he’s outgoing (more like his father than like me), because I think the world is easier for people not afraid to jump right into a situation.  S never went to college but now owns a very successful business and I’m very proud that A has that as an example, along with a mother who went to college and now works part-time out of the home.

Anyways…now that I’m viewing everything through the lens of what kind of man I want to raise A to be, every decision seems so much more important.  Whether that is getting him onto a sleep “schedule” or teaching him to be patient as I get his food ready, I feel like everything I do is a potential lesson, which is actually really daunting.  Especially since he’s not at daycare and there’s no one else (educated in child development!) available to help. 😉

I have always been a pretty “scheduled” person, but since meeting S almost ten years ago (wow…), his spontaneity has mixed with my planning for what I think is a nice little balanced life.  When A was born (after he got home from the hospital), we let him feed and sleep on demand, and continued letting him set the pace until it naturally developed into a rough schedule around 8 or 9 months.  My challenge now is to maintain that schedule without locking us up in the house or making all of our friends and family work around us.  I’m still figuring out exactly how to do that and how much I can push him without jeopardizing his overall sleep (and mood!), but I’m working on it!

Speaking of sleep, that was the one place where S and I have really disagreed.  Getting A to sleep well has always been a priority for me, because I think that well rested children are healthier, happier, and maybe even a little smarter.  (Don’t argue with me on that point – I have no proof – but I know that I think clearer and learn better when I’m not tired.)  A was a great little sleeper as an infant.  He literally only woke to eat – and yes, I know that we were super lucky – but around five months, his napping started to go south, and his overall sleep didn’t get back on track until he was nine or ten months old.

After trying a few different things, and eventually getting to the point where A was in our bed and no one was getting any sleep, I decided we needed to try to “cry it out.”  S hated hearing him cry, and we had more than a few heated middle-of-the-night discussions about who actually worked and needed their sleep (grr!), but I always insisted that the end justified the means.  Maybe it’s because of A’s NICU stay, but I know that there are certain things in life that are a necessary evil (shots, etc.), and that none of those things (have or) will affect our bond with A or his secure knowledge of our love and commitment to him.

[Sidebar – I always thought that S would be the tough guy and I’d get to be the softie, but as we’ve discovered, S is like an M&M (hard on the outside, and mush on the inside), and I’ve had (and will continue) to be the parent who sets boundaries.  As A gets older, I think I’ll probably do the daily disciplining, with the occasional invocation of “telling his father!” when necessary. ;-)]

I know that some people don’t agree with cry-it-out, and while it was definitely our last resort (and I absolutely didn’t enjoy it), I also didn’t feel like it made us bad parents or even for a second showed A that we didn’t love him and weren’t there for him.  We did the graduated check-and-console method (after making sure that all of his needs were met of course) and ended up with a little boy who can go to bed himself, takes two good naps, and sleeps 10-11 hours a night.

I also know that all babies are different, and that for some people things like cry-it-out simply don’t work, either because the baby gets him/herself so worked up that they puke, or the mom/dad gets so upset that it’s just not sustainable.  But it worked for us, and I think it’s a perfect illustration of the roots-and-wings theory.  Raise your child to be secure in their parent’s love and support and they will have the confidence to do anything.  That is my ultimate goal.  I also think that sleep is the earliest way of setting boundaries and promoting self-sufficiency, which to me is one of the most important things you can do for your child.  This is why I don’t understand or subscribe to attachment parenting, although I’m very interested to read about how it works for other people!

At the end of the day though, we’ve also just been lucky.  We have a really easygoing little boy, who enjoys playing by himself and with others, who has always eaten and slept relatively well, and really only cries when something is wrong.  Don’t let me fool you that he’s perfect though…he comes from two very stubborn and passionate people, and he’s already definitely getting an opinion of his own. 😉

April 12, 2012

More on breastfeeding, and questions about weaning

Posted in Parenting tagged , at 3:56 pm by lifebytheday

We’re still (happily) breastfeeding.  I ended up pumping during my trip to New York, realizing just in time that it would be a terrible idea to wean cold turkey while away from home.  Although I almost ended up weaning accidentally…as my train pulled into Penn Station I realized that I had forgotten the attachments for my pump!  I had bottles and the actual pump, but completely forgot the “nozzles”…thank goodness for friends of friends!!  I pumped kind of sporadically while I was there, which luckily didn’t affect my supply at all.

At this point, I’ve decided that I’m going to breastfeed for the full year, partly based on the AAP recommendation, partly to try and avoid bottles and formula and eventually wean directly onto milk, and partly in case any of the research on the cancer preventing benefits (in mothers) is true.  I know there are a ton of other reasons out there, but these are the ones that resonated with me.

I’m still questioning whether I’m going to miss the “bonding” aspect of breastfeeding.  I feel pretty confident that I’m still going to get my snuggles and cuddles and honestly, I’m pretty ready to have my body back.  Not my physical body, but ownership of it. 😉  I think it’s kind of going to be like being pregnant…I loved every second of being pregnant, but once A was here, I never missed having him inside rather than out.  Every day with him gets better and I have made a conscious effort through this whole process – of growing him to raising him – to enjoy each moment and milestone, without pining for what has passed or looking forward to what will come.

So now I’m trying to figure out how the weaning process actually works.  I don’t have any interest in extended breastfeeding (although I absolutely don’t judge anyone who decides that’s right for them!), so I’m planning to start weaning right around his first birthday.  I honestly think that he is psychologically ready for it now, so I’m not worried about harming him by “taking away the boob.”  He uses a pacifier and really doesn’t need the boob to settle down or go to sleep, which I have always been so grateful for!

My problem is finding some practical advice on how to actually wean, without judgement or guilt for not continuing through to two years or beyond!  From what I gather, you start with the feeding where you think they’d least miss it – so for us that’s going to be lunch – and offer milk instead.  Then once he’s comfortable with that, move on to another feeding (probably breakfast in our case).  So if all goes well, we’d get down to just the morning and evening feedings within a few weeks.  I’m thinking that the early morning feeding will probably be the last to go, and maybe that’s just solved by moving breakfast a little earlier and adding a mid-morning snack?

Does anyone else have any suggestions, success stories, or recommendations for reading material?

March 23, 2012

Breastfeeding, redux

Posted in Parenting tagged at 11:45 am by lifebytheday

Now that A officially has teeth, I’m noticing that breastfeeding has become much less comfortable.

Understatement of the century.

So now I’m starting to seriously consider whether I might start weaning him sooner rather than later…

I had hoped to get to a year and switch straight to milk, but I’m pretty certain that I’m going to want to make some changes when his top teeth come in.  At the point where he can actually bite down, I think I’m going to choose my nipple over his breastfeeding.  I’m just hoping they’re a few months away. 😉

I’m also headed away next weekend – my first time away from A overnight, and for two nights no less!  I’m going to NYC to see my best friend from college and celebrate her 30th birthday, and I’m just not really in the mood to pump every three hours while I’m there.

A is already using some formula – when I lost my milk after my gall bladder surgery, I never got enough back that I could pump for his cereal or for the occasional times we went out, so he’s been getting formula and does pretty well with it.  If he’s not hungry, he tends to not really be interested, and we had an issue with excema with one of the brands, but in general, I know that he can get what he needs with formula.

Now I just have to decide whether pushing through these next two months is more for his benefit or for me just to be able to say that I did it for a year.  I truly feel like he’s getting a large portion of his nutrition through solids now – my boy can EAT! – and that the BM/formula is more of a top off.  With the exception of the early morning, I guess.

So maybe I’ll wean him down to morning and evening BF and give him formula with his meals?  Thinking out loud here…  Any thoughts?

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