Thursday, August 21, 2014

Winston is One Month

Poor kid. I just don't even have time to shower, much less blog. But I want to make sure I keep record of his first year just like I did for London, so here's a snapshot of Winston Dare's first month. 

Sleeping: right around a month, we started getting some 4h stretches of sleep which quickly turned to 5h. When I think about the nights that he was up every 25m, 5h straight is amazing! That's what London was doing at this age, too. It makes such a difference. I just need to do a better job of going down when he does! We normally do Jammies  & swaddle around 10pm and he'll sleep until around 3, then it takes a long time to get him back down (sometimes almost 2h) and then he sleeps another 2-3h. There's a skylight in his room and I think that may contribute to his morning waking, because he seems to do better on days when it's cloudy or raining. He is sleeping in the Rock 'N Play, which I hate. We were so big on only ever letting our kids sleep in their crib, but he spits up so much that he needs the incline. At least he's in his nursery - he is the noisiest sleeper ever so there is no way we could room share. Naps are a total crap shoot with this kid. Sometimes he falls asleep nursing and I'm able to transfer him to the couch / bed, or even the RNP, but rarely. He sleeps to prefer belly sleep for nap, which means I basically have to stand there and watch him the whole time. Car naps are a rarity and even more so that I'm able to bring him inside and stay asleep. He looooves to sleep in the ring sling - thank God for a sweet friend who loaned it to me because the kid lives in that thing! The days when he does nap midday (not on me) I try to kid a 30 minute nap while both kids are asleep. So needless to say, my house chores are being really neglected these days!

Eating: we are still using the nipple shield for all feeds, but are weaning away from the bottle so I'm thankful for that. At 2w our schedule was: nurse, bottle feed, nurse, bottle feed, pump - it took about 1.5h and I did it every 2.5h. Exhausting!! We are quickly moving to just using the bottle for bedtime feeds to make sure he's well fed before sleeping. I returned the hospital grade pump (that thing is awesome!) but I'm going to try to pump once a day most days, to help stock up for our trip in November. 

Weight: At two weeks, he was down to 7lb 6oz but had grown almost an inch to 21.6" long. We began the pumping / bottle feeding regiment that day and he started gaining weight immediately. We got his tongue & lip clipped shortly after that and his weight gain continued! A few days shy of one month, he was up to 8'12, a full pound over his birth weight. 

Activity: getting some sleep smiles, but not as much as I wish and no sleep laughter. I swear he's smiled while awake though! He enjoys and does well with tummy time, and has great neck strength - we're working with the chiropractor to make sure it stays even. He puts up with a ton of kisses from big sister and loves to be worn in the ring sling anywhere we go. He's been to church and out to dinner, to Marbles kids museum, library story time and parks. 

Clothes: he's already outgrowing the newborn onesies because of his length - gonna be tall & thin like his daddy! He's worn several things that belonged to London, a sleeper that was Tyler's, and even an outfit that belonged to Ben! London loves to pick out his bibs and insists he wear shoes. Poor kid, at least he'll be stylish! I do try to put him in bins every day because of all the spit up, poor darlin. 

Here's hoping the second month gets a bit easier, these were a tough four weeks! But I love this sweet little man and I can't wait to get to know him more. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Winston Dare: The Birth Story [part one]

Oh, second babies. You get shafted in so many ways. I mean, sure, there's the benefit that your parents are more relaxed and you'll probably get away with more stuff in the long run, but the downside of that is hand-me-down onesies with spit-up-stained necks and me popping your pacifier in my mouth after it falls on the floor instead of sterilizing it in a steamer. So, you know, I'm sorry. But I digress, it's a month (boohoo!) tomorrow since this kid was born and I have yet to blog his birth story. Or make a single entry in the baby book. I remember feeling guilty that I wrote about London's birth story too late and I think it was only two weeks. Yeah, second kid syndrome. Anyway, here it goes. May be a multi-part story depending on how long the kids sleep... Praise God for both kids napping at the same time, am I right?

My cervix started to dilate & thin out at my 36 week check-up, which I thought was a great sign considering it never did either of those on its own with London. As it turns out, it meant nothing, because I was somehow LESS dilated & effaced at my 39 week check-up (which was a Friday). I asked the doctor if she could strip my membranes, and was told my cervix was too high for her to reach, so basically "good luck, you're going to be pregnant forever!". She to me to expect some irregular contractions that day but that they meant nothing, so I ignored them for the rest of Friday and most of Saturday. Ben volunteered to take London out to his parents' house so I could run some errands & relax, so I spent Saturday leisurely getting ready and checking items off my to-do list, sans toddler, which was basically a Caribbean vacation at 39w pregnant. 

By Saturday afternoon, I noticed the contractions seemed to be coming a bit closer together. Ben was painting the changing table while London & I made brownies, when I told him casually I was going to start timing them. Eight minutes, ten minutes, sometimes twelve. I thought / hoped this was the very early beginnings of labor! I continued to contract as we went to a friend's house for appetizers and drinks (I even had a hard cider!) but was able to work through them so I knew I had awhile to go. When a friend of ours asked about the baby pool, I (only halfway) jokingly told him to pick tomorrow! We came home & put London to bed, and when the contractions started coming closer together, the on-call OB advised we come in to make sure he was head down. 

The problem with a second baby is that you can't just quietly sneak over to the hospital to see if you're in labor, saving yourself the false alarm embarrassment from family and friends. Someone has to sit with the first baby (who was sound asleep and oblivious to the impending arrival of her baby brother). We had friends come over while we went to Rex (I was tidying up the house before they arrived - should've known it wasn't the "real" thing!) and the doctor & nurse confirmed that there was no change from the day prior - too high to even check dilation, not in labor, you're going to be pregnant forever, etc. So frustrating and embarrassing for a second time mom who had been having regular contractions for eight hours!

We sent our friends home and got into bed, with the discouraging news that these quasi-contractions could last for days or longer! No sooner had I fallen asleep than an intense cramp woke me up. I couldn't lay down, couldn't stand up, couldn't find a comfortable position. It passed, I fell back asleep, then another one. And another. I asked Ben to help me time them because they were so intense - three minutes apart. I was sick to my stomach and had terrible cold chills, and I remember telling Ben, "If this isn't labor, I think I have the flu!". After a few hours of alternating between the bathroom and being doubled over our bed, he suggested I take a shower - I think it took me 45 minutes because I kept having to stop & brace myself on the wall. Each contraction, I prayed to let them be "real" (productive) or let them stop. Around 3:30am we decided to call the doctor back (who reluctantly instructed us to come back in) and Ben's parents (who drove 40 minutes to stay with London). At this point, the contractions had been around three minutes apart for close to four hours. They started to build, one right on top of the other. I could barely move, much less speak, and I thought for sure I was going to walk in and have them tell me I was 6 or 7 cm dilated. 

The drive to the hospital was excruciating (I remember asking Ben to drive carefully but quickly!). The look from the hospital security guard, knowing we had just been sent home a few hours earlier, was almost as painful! But when the head nurse, who was our angel delivery nurse with London, saw me come back in, she took us back to the room without any questions and could tell I was in active labor. This was encouraging, I thought ... Wrong. Three freaking centimeters. After two days of contractions I had progressed a centimeter?! But baby was head down and engaged, so that was something, and they were willing to let me stay even though I wasn't at 4cm yet (which is their normal policy). With that discouraging news, I began to heavily consider an epidural, which I finally got about two hours after getting checked. After hours of that intense pain, I just didn't want to do it anymore. I was hoping for a natural labor this time, but I was also hoping for the super quick second-baby labor the nurses & doctors kept talking about - so since that wasn't happening, I went ahead and asked for the drugs. 

[to be continued]

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Terrific Two's

London is so ... Two. She's defiant, stubborn, messy, and constantly negotiating with us to get her way. But she's also so clever and funny. Today, she was in the playroom with Ben while I was in the living room with Winston. She climbed up to the piano and gave the following performance:

"First, itsy bitsy spider!

The itsy bitsy spider went up the water spout. 
Down came the rain and washed the spider out. 
Down came the rain and washed the spider out. 
Down came the rain and washed the spider out. 
Down came the rain and washed the spider out. 
Now London knows my ABCs!"

Thursday, July 31, 2014

19 days into our journey

... Which could also be called "I get it now" or "a lesson in humility". 

I've posted before about how much I loved being able to breastfeed London. The benefits I found from it, the convenience and bonding it allows. While I tried very hard not to ever be too "in your face" about breastfeeding, I was open about it and also about how important I think it is. So it's only fair for me to be open about my breastfeeding journey thus far with Winston. 

I didn't understand why mothers chose formula. I knew that it was often not so much a choice as it was a Plan B when breastfeeding didn't go well for whatever reason. And I tried to be respectful and not overtly judge any mother for how she saw fit to feed her baby. But inside, I thought it was a selfish decision not to at least try to nurse. And I didn't understand why a mom would go straight to formula without really giving breastfeeding much effort. 

I get it now. 

It's easy to say "breastfeeding is hard" but it wasn't really that hard for me so it was an easy decision, for the most part, to stick with it and stay away from formula. I didn't fully appreciate how easy my breastfeeding relationship with London was. 

I get it now. 

I understand why mothers walk away from it. As I sat in my son's nursery at 2am, 5 days postpartum, delirious from feeding every 25 minutes all night, holding a baby who refused to be put down, crying from exhaustion and throbbing, cracked & bleeding nipples ... I would be lying if I said I didn't hate nursing a little. And no one would've blamed me for offering him some formula in that moment. 

Well, no one except for over zealous breastfeeding moms who say they don't judge, but secretly are a little bit judgey. Moms like me. The me from two years ago would've blamed me. And that's not cool. So I'm saying it here, not that any of you need any approval from me or anyone else, but I think it needs to be said: I'm sorry. 

I'm sorry if I gave you a disappointed look as you pulled up to the check-out counter in Target with Similac in your cart, while I purchased breast pads and lanolin. 

I'm sorry for shaking my head at the Facebook picture of your husband feeding your newborn a bottle, as I nursed my daughter for the 5th time that night. 

I'm sorry for assuming you didn't give it your absolute hardest try before making the decision that was best for your family. I'm sorry for assuming you didn't lose sleep over introducing formula. I'm sorry for assuming there wasn't an underlying factor that made it damn near impossible for you to continue a healthy breastfeeding relationship. And I'm sorry for even giving it a second thought because it's none of my damn business how you choose to feed your baby. 

But please know that I get it now. 

Winston latched immediately after birth. The nurses were impressed at the fact that he stayed on the breast for close to 40 minutes in our delivery room. The lactation consultant called his latch "beautiful" and offered little advice other than congratulating me on how much colostrum I had already. By day two, I was sore but my milk had started to come in, so I assumed all was well and normal, that the first few days of breastfeeding are supposed to be painful and I knew it would get easier. By day three, I began to suspect something wasn't right, and at our pediatrician appointment on day 4 I knew there was something off. But after our third pediatrician and two lactation consultants, as well as multiple hospital nurses, said everything was normal, I went home and waited for it to get better. 

By our follow up appointment on day 6, my nipples were cracked and bleeding. I cried almost every time he latched. The pain was toe curling, like he had a mouthful of razor blades and was chomping my nipple off. I took prescription strength Motrin around the clock to get through the next nursing session. I tried different holds, re-latching, massaging, everything I could think of to help with the pain. They offered to clip his frenulum, which was heartbreaking for me and offered no improvement in the nursing. The following week, he started losing weight. I got desperate. I introduced a nipple shield, and a prescription cream to help heal the sores, neither providing much relief from his bad latch. 

At his two week appointment, he was continuing to lose weight and I was devastated. I had cried every day since his birth. I felt like I was failing him as his mother, and I was frustrated that all my effort seemed to be for nothing. After attempting to finger / tube feed with little success, we decided to start a regiment of pumping & bottle feeding. So now, our routine is bottle feeding 1.5oz of breastmilk, nursing until he falls asleep , bottle feeding another ounce of breastmilk, nursing again, and then I pump to try to keep up with him. I'm still using a nipple shield to nurse, a special slow flow nipple to bottle feed, a hospital grade pump, and I'm up for an hour and a half every 2.5 hours. And while I am proud that he is still exclusively breastfed and finally gaining weight, it is HARD. If breastfeeding wasn't so damn important to me, I'd probably have thrown in the towel by now. 

So for those of you who have had similar struggles, or worse, or maybe not at all ... And you've chosen to stop breastfeeding ... I get it. And I'm sorry if I didn't offer you more support in your journey, whatever that looked like. 

Friday, July 25, 2014

[almost] two weeks with Winston

I really need to blog his birth story and my 39w update, but for now, here's a random collection of thoughts on where we are with this little man. 

I'll start by saying, he's adorable. So sweet and cuddly. Loves to be held or worn. Likes being swaddled and white noise. Doesn't like having his diaper changed or a bath. He's done really well with some of our errands so London is able to have some sense of normalcy in her life (we've been to story time twice and went to Marbles today!). 

Nursing him is one of the hardest things I've ever done. By Day Five, my nipples were cracked and bleeding and the pain was so bad I couldn't shower without crying. Every time he latched was torture. To date, we've seen four Lactation Consultants, three Pediatricians and a Chiropractor. We had his frenulum clipped last Friday in the hopes that it might help (it didn't) so, much to my dismay, I'm using a nipple shield and Newman's All Purpose Nipple Ointment to try to help the nips heal until his latch gets stronger. He's not effectively emptying the breast so I'm basically massaging the milk into his mouth at every feeding. I've had multiple clogged ducts already. It's a struggle, y'all. The good news is, I have such an awesome support system who has provided me a world of suggestions to try - I'm so fortunate that these difficulties are happening with a second baby because I know what to do and who to talk to. At this point, I would really appreciate prayers for solid weight gain at his 2w appt on Monday. Otherwise, I'm taking it one feeding at a time. 

In a related note [I think], he's sleeping horribly. I often fight with him for 2-3h trying to get him to sleep longer than 15m at night. He can't stay awake long enough to get a good nursing session, so he wakes up hungry a few minutes after I lay him down. I'm slightly embarrassed to admit he slept in the rock 'n play for most of the night but I got 2x 2h stretches of sleep so that makes it a little easier to swallow the fact that he's not in his crib. 

My recovery has not been ideal, what with a 2x second degree tear and the fact that I'm certainly overdoing it, chasing a two year old and trying to keep up with at least a little bit of housework. The uterine cramping has been much worse this time and my bleeding seems to be worse as well. I've been taking Motrin pretty much around the clock to combat the cramps & breast / nipple pain, and taking advantage of a 30m nap with the boy while L takes her nap. 

I'm trying to give him and myself some grace, since we are less than two weeks postpartum and having so many feeding issues, but it's hard. Real freaking hard. Add a wild toddler who's acting out and having lots of potty accidents and you can understand my patience is a bit thin, at best. Several nights I've only gotten two hours of sleep. But, again, we have an amazing support system of friends and family who have been feeding us and coming to entertain London so I can focus much of my energy on getting this boy fed, a blessing for which I'll be eternally grateful. All I can do is keep feeding the baby and thank God for each day we all survive! I know it'll get easier (at least I am clinging to that hope!) and that I'll miss this sleep-deprived, snuggly newborn days, but when you're in the thick of it, it's hard to remember that. 

Thanks to everyone who has wished us well, sent gifts or cards, brought a meal or cup of coffee, or just played with London for a few hours. We wouldn't be able to do it without you ! 

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Recipe: pizza pancakes

Can't really take credit for this one. Ben & his friend Billy found the recipe, I just brought it to the kitchen. It turned out well, makes for a quick and easy dinner, and you can modify it to whatever you would want on your pizza!

Original recipe found here:

2c bisquick baking mix 
2tsp Italian seasoning
1c milk
2 eggs
1/2c shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 tomato, diced
1/4 green pepper, diced
Handful of pepperoni, quartered (about 1/4c)

Combine baking mix & seasoning in a large bowl
Combine eggs & milk in a smaller bowl; combine with dry ingredients until just moist 
Fold in cheese and "toppings" (tomato, pepper & pepperoni)
Heat a greased skillet on med-low
Spoon mixture into heated skillet and let cook until bubbles pop, a few minutes on each side until golden brown
Optional: serve with warm spaghetti sauce 

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Letters to Baby: Hurry up and Wait

Dear Baby,

First, let me start by saying, I'm sorry you don't have a name yet. It's not that we don't care - quite the opposite. For some reason we are obsessing over weird details we never even considered when choosing your sister's name. It's hard to name a boy! Something strong & masculine, but not doesn't sounds like a pit bull or super hero. Something that goes with "London Claire" but nothing that rhymes, starts with L, or has geographic origin. What will your nickname be? Should we use a family name? Will people mistake it for something else? Will there be 4 others in your kindergarten class? It's a lot of pressure! But I promise, the names we've narrowed it down to are all pretty awesome and I know, soon, it'll just hit us which one is perfect for you. Maybe after you're already here, but I'm (finally) ok with that. 

Anyway, the point of this was that we are not ready for you to come. 



Beyond just not having your name picked out, your nursery is not even close to finished. Your closet is empty, the crib isn't set up, sheets haven't been washed. I don't have your coming home outfit washed. I have no idea if we own any socks for you. All of this stresses me out quite a bit. You see, your mama is what some people would call a bit of a control freak. Type A. Whatever. So to have all these things left undone is unnerving to me, and causes me to hope you stay inside for at least another month. 

But yet, for some strange reason (maybe because I hate being pregnant and I'm relatively sure if you don't come out soon you might actually break my ribs), I'm so ready for you to be here. I'm over analyzing every possible pre-labor symptom. I packed my hospital bags (sort-of) tonight. I RSVP to things in the coming weeks with the preface that we'll attend if you haven't made your arrival yet. So I guess as much as I am not ready for you, I am as ready as I could possibly be to meet you, and hold you in my arms, and stroke those sweet tiny feet that have been threatening to crack my rib cage for so many weeks now. From as much as I can tell, things are pretty cramped in there so I think you're ready to come out, too. 

And since I'm "full term" and you've been measuring plenty big enough, I'll just go ahead and give you permission to come any time you're ready. Which, we all know, by me saying that means you'll be two weeks late. But hey, maybe then you'll have some socks?

Can't wait to see your sweet face, and watch your daddy meet his son for the first time. We love you so much already. 

Your mommy