Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Baby Things

Two people gave me their lists of baby necessities and I still have it in my baby book. It was so nice to hear from some experienced mommas on what they found most useful.  I've definitely done some things differently with Walker than I did with Simon. I wonder how many babies I would have to have before I got the newborn stage down.  There are so many newborn nuances it can be very overwhelming.

  1. My Favorite Newborn books: 
  •  Baby Wise:  I have definitely found this book to be frustrating at times. Neither of my boys have been Baby Wise perfection but I love the idea of following a routine. I am a routine person. We also looked that the parents that we really respect and many of them used this book so we took that as an encouragement to check into it.
  • The Baby Whisperer: This book is very similar in many ways to Baby Wise. It has some awesome graphs for eating and sleeping needs at each development stage. The author has some ideals about getting babies to sleep that we did not follow but I use this as a resource consistently. 
  • Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child: Another great sleeping resource. I have never had the courage to try to just let baby sleep how they want for the first 12 weeks. I am always too afraid of developing bad habits.  But I will say that I worked hard on sleep training Walker and it took him exactly 12 weeks (from his original due date) to get into a regular napping rhythm. This is more of a research based approach to sleep.
  • The Happiest Baby on the Block : This is such a simplistic approach, one that we just pull out when we need to. The five S's. Suck, Swaddle, Shhhhhhh, Side and Sway/Swing (motion).  There are times when one or more of these 5 S's save the day.

     2. All Things Nursing/Feeding
  • Madela Pump. Someone once told me to not skimp on a good pump and I believe that is great advice! That being said I am on my 3rd used pump, aka hand-me-downs.  All three have worked great for me. I don't work full time so I don't use it as much as others might. I have heard you can go to a clinic and have them test the power of your pump motor to ensure it's powerful enough.  
  • Any nursing cover that has a built in wire.  Mine is a Bebe Au Lait.
  • Lansinoh Breast Pads are my favorite and once my milk was more regulated I started using non disposable breast pads that I found on Diapers.com for daytime when I am less likely to have leakage. This has saved me a lot of money this time around.
  • Madela Breast milk storage bags
  • Madela Quick clean bags are so awesome!!! They didn't have these when I had Simon. I still wash all pump parts but then occasionally throw them in a bad in the microwave. Steam cleaned in 3 minutes.
  • Boppy pillow with a nice and soft cover which is usually not what comes with them. I use the one that comes with it to but much prefer the softer cover. It's definitely nice to have two of these when one is in the wash. (I've heard great things about the Breast Friend but never bought it)
  • Old cloth diapers make the best burp cloths. 
  • Use Born Free bottles. Haven't had any issues with them.
   3. Stuff: a brief entry on stuff because, well, I'm not big on stuff
  • One play mat/play gym. This is also easy to borrow. They don't use them for very long.
  • One bouncy seat--An absolute necessity. I like one that can lay flat or adjust to sitting up for the different stages. 
  • I skipped buying a swing and borrowed my sister's. Very expensive item that many ppl never use.  Both of my boys barely used it.
  • I have adapted two different shelves into changing tables. Just put the big changing pad on top of a hip height book shelf. Built in storage. 
  • We have the Bjorn baby carrier and a ring sling. Like both.  Walker took so many naps in the ring sling early on.  
  • Strollers: When we had Simon we used the Graco Ipo umbrella and the Snap n Go.   We have gotten so much use out of both. My sister and a friend borrowed the Snap n Go. Perfect for short errands because it's lightweight and you don't have to move baby to put them in.  Now we most use the Baby Jogger City Select with two seats. Holy Cow: It is deluxe!!!!!  We love it!  (We got a major discount from a friend hook up through Zappos and are still pinching ourselves b/c we usually don't have "Nice" things). We have a single and double Baby Jogger running stroller.  Love them both! Got one used for free and one off craigslist. 
  • No strong opinions over things like cribs, high chairs, etc other than don't overspend.
  • If we had it to do over we would have gotten a nicer pack and play because we noticed that the more expensive the better cushion on the mattress. Ours is more like a piece of card board with a little cushion over it but it still works. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Parenting Survival 101: Establish Mom Friends

Having Mom friends is nothing I ever thought about until I became a stay-at-home Mom to Simon. I was so excited to stay home with Simon in many ways and yet scared to death. I crave structure and predictability. I thrive on working with people, hello Extrovert.  It only took me a few days of being a Mom to realize there is little structure and hardly any predictability.  And yes, trust me I still try to achieve it! You can only do so much to get your kids to conform to your structured schedule.  In addition to those challenges, I am the not- so-typical woman who does NOT like to spend money and I dislike running errands and shopping.  To this day I strategically run errands by combining trips so as to limit my time running around. So much for buying time running errands and shopping!

In the beginning of my time at home I can remember Eric leaving for work on many days and just feeling a pit in my stomach. Oftentimes, I would cry. If I was feeling very resentful and Eric would wish me a good day I'd shoot back "You have a great day working. I'd do anything to go to work!" On some of Eric's not-so-smart moments he would respond saying "I'd do anything to stay home with Simon!'  Not a good thing to say to a very lonely and struggling new mom.

Here I sit though, almost three years later, and I can honestly say I am so blessed to stay at home with Simon, and now Walker.  The Lord has been so faithful to me and has continuously laid a fruitful path before me.

I have even gotten to a place where I have had to strip back our activities and play dates so that we could stay home more.  Some days Simon just wants to stay home in his pajamas and not be rushing out the door all in the name of a "play date". He can say that to me now, so I listen. I wonder how many times he would have asked me if we could just stay home before he had the voice to.

Even though I have a supportive husband and a loving community, I needed to develop more Mom friends.  It was one of those things that I had no idea I needed until I was desperate.  Who else wants to hear about poop stories, failed attempts to get kids to sleep, how do I get my body back, nursing struggles, lonely days, etc. Rest assured, the whole world doesn't need to hear it on Facebook.  But good Mom friends do care to hear your experiences.  Good Mom friends offer encouragement, even when you are being 100% irrational. Good Mom friends bring spontaneous coffee and food deliveries! (Yes, that's happened to me and it was amazing!)

Two years ago I felt a prompting to seek a Moms group and at that time my church did not have one.  When I inquired about it at church I was offered the privilege/task to start one.  After having Walker I realized that over half of the meals we received were from families we met through the Moms community group. What a huge blessing of community that Moms group has brought to me.  I have connected with so many women through this Moms group. And recently have begun to see the joy of extending those connection to our whole families.

Moms, do whatever you have to in order to develop your Mom Friends!  We need each other!  

Friday, June 29, 2012

The Entitled Parent

An innocent brief conversation with my good friend Lisa led to another brief conversation with my Mom and then they worked their way through my heart.

After having dinner with our families Lisa and I were cleaning up the dishes (meaning rinsing them and putting them into the automated dish washer). I made a comment, which I now find embarrassing, "Can you believe I lived in an apartment for five years without a dishwasher?" Terribly rough life.  Then Lisa said her Mom with four kids never had a dishwasher. I asked her if she ever complained and Lisa said No. Hmmm, we both paused slightly.

A few days later my Mom was with us for the day and we got on a similar subject.  We were talking about husbands helping out with the kids.  To sum it up, it would appear that many husbands are helping out at home with the kids and housework more today than ever before and yet I often feel unsatisfied. And I know I'm not alone in this. Stay at Home Moms are the worst culprits. It's almost like we want our husbands to pay because clearly we are paying for it (dang it!).

The truth is I couldn't ask for more from Eric. He walks in the door, rushes upstairs to change his clothes and engage with the family. Many times he takes Simon upstairs with him to help give me the chance to finish up dinner or to take care of Walker.  Typically after we eat, he engages the kid(s) while I clean up so that we can do something as a family before bedtime.  Some of our dearest friends shared with us long before we we became parents that the Dad took on the bedtime routine. We chose to do that as well, particularly to allow some good time with Simon and Eric when he was a baby since I was the one who did 95% of the feedings. It gave them a chance to have "their" time.

Why do I throw myself a pity party when I don't get to drink hot coffee? Why do I huff and puff as I clean up the dishes for the third time in the day? Why do I feel a sense of pride and desire acknowledgement for doing my daily tasks as a Mom?  Upon further reflection, I believe I've bought into the entitlement bug. I spoke about this in a previous post without realizing that I am not out of the woods on this struggle myself.  While being a Mom is hard work, it is my primary role right now and yes, most days it is anything but glamorous. Since I am in newborn land again I am feeling the pull even more as I'm trying to find a new routine with our new addition and struggling to even get a shower.

Many of us Moms tell each other we deserve our "ME" time and we deserve a break. Our husbands should help. We don't get a break, so why should they?  While breaks are very healthy and often necessary, feeling entitled to certain things seems to cause destructive thinking.  Oh dear, I guess I should just be completely honest. Why do I get upset when Simon won't nap? Because I DESERVE A BREAK!" I've got to find a way to embrace my role as a Mom, with the good, bad and the ugly because when I become overwhelmed I typically become resentful and that is not helpful for anyone, including me.  And I don't want my kids to remember me huffing and puffing while I do the dishes.  And I don't want to model entitlement by claiming my own time or my own special things.  And just because I have hard days, doesn't mean I need to project my frustration onto my husband.  (He's going to enjoy reading this admission!) 

I want to be done with the entitlement. If you are with me and hear me start talking like this, please shut me up!  No, I'm serious. (Even you Mom and Eric!)

Monday, April 30, 2012

Walker's Birth Story

* Please Note: This is not a blog post for everyone.  This is definitely written for myself, Walker and all my Mommy friends who love hearing birth stories. 

Ouch...still hurting

I love this picture of Eric and I. I think I'm saying, "Did that really just happen?"

Finally able to smile for the camera

Simon meeting Walker for the first time

Our New Family of Four!

In love with this sweet boy!

Coming Home!!

* Please Note: This is not a blog post for everyone.  This is definitely written for myself, Walker and all my Mommy friends who love hearing birth stories.

A little background:
My firstborn was due on April 15 and was born on April 11, four days early.  I woke up at 4 a.m. with contractions, lost my plug around 10 a.m. went to work in labor from 1-5 p.m. and worked through the contractions. On my way home from work I realized I am really starting to have some pain here.  Decided after regular contractions to head to the hospital around 7 p.m. Got the epidural by 11 p.m. or so and delivered at 2:30 a.m. Easy breezy delivery!!

Simon was due on September 17th and was born on September 27, 10 days late. Three days before he was born I had my membranes stripped to try to induce labor. I also walked about two hours the day before he was born. I was three days from our scheduled induction (the midwife practice would not allow me to go past 14 days late) and I was getting desperate to meet my baby.  Simon was posterior and I was in hard painful labor for 8 hours. Those 8 hours Eric was putting pressure on my back constantly. The pain was constant even between contractions. I chose a natural birth with Simon and it was to date one of the most rewarding experiences I've ever had. Eric and I proved to be an amazing team together and we experienced a new level of bonding. It was incredible! The labor was very tough but when the pain got to be too much, I dug so deep within and went into "the zone" and I felt super human when it was over.

Walker was due on April 10 and was born on April 22, 12 days late.  I was having very regular Braxton Hicks contractions for Walker for six to eight weeks prior to delivery. I was walking almost every day about 2 miles. I was ready for Walker's arrival at least a month prior to his birth.  Waiting is not my strong suit and when Eric started getting anxious I knew this was not good b/c he has the patience of a saint.  One week passed and we were headed into the second week overdue and were contemplating an induction at 10 days overdue so that we could take advantage of a weekend birth.  We decided though to wait the weekend out and would look at an induction on day 14 or 15 overdue.  On Sunday, April 22 I woke up at 7 a.m. with regular contractions, but I had learned not to look into that too much because I had experienced a lot of regular and even painful contractions before. But I did start praying and I text my Mom, Rachel and Sarah and said we need to pray for a baby today. I struggle with praying theologically. My prayer has been for peace and contentment and surrender for a plan bigger than my own. Who am I to ask to have a baby on a specific day? I really believe that baby's come when they are ready but as we continued to crawl past our due date, I lost sight of that at times.  On Sunday, I was ready to start praying for the Lord to bring baby Walker and at 8 a.m. my water broke! Yes!!!!

I called Dr. Bowen and we decided I could either come in or wait it out a bit. I had Group B Strep so we had a window of time to play with before we would need to get me in to start antibiotics for the GBS. My parents came and Eric and I started walking. As we walked contractions picked up in pain level and frequency. We decided to head on in around 11 a.m. By 12:30 we were in our room, meds administering for GBS and non stress test going. We then walked the halls for a while and labor began to pick up. Our friend, Sarah arrived around 1-1:30 and she was there to help support us and she also took all of the amazing black and white photos above.  My parents arrived around 2:15 and as they were coming in I was starting to have some painful contractions.  At 3:05 I had my nurse check me again and I was at 6 cm. She said I had a lip on my cervix that had not given yet on my right side and that if I would lay on my right side it might give way.  Thank goodness for her wisdom!!! The last thing I wanted to do was lay on my side but I did it and I never got up.  I was pushing at 3:35 just 30 minutes later.  Once I got on my side the pain intensified incredibly and I lost it. I never got into "the zone". I felt and acted out of control. I kept telling Eric and Sarah that I could not do this.  If I had known I was going from a 6 to full and ready to push in those thirty minutes, I would have been fine mentally but the pain was so intense so fast I was scared to death. I really did not think I could endure that pain for too much longer.  All of a sudden I felt something hot coming out and I knew it was blood. Eric paged the nurse and when she came in she called to break down the bed and it was GO TIME! I was yelling during contractions, "He's coming right now! I can feel him coming!" It was so insanely different from Simon's natural birth.  I was in so much pain I didn't think I could move from my side. The nurse wanted to check me and I remember clamping my legs together as hard as I could. I couldn't bare the thought of being touched. At this point Eric had text my Mom, Dad and Rachel (who were down the hall in the waiting room) and told them to come NOW! And about 6 more medical personnel had joined the room. I remember asking what we were waiting on and the response was my Dr. "No we aren't!!!," I said. We're doing this NOW! From this point, I felt like the room erupted into chaos. And this is the part of Walker's birth story I don't like. His heart rate dropped and I felt like everyone was yelling at me to push. At some point they put oxygen on me.  I was pushing but I was fretting. The resident OB was standing away from me looking like a dear in headlights and the bed wasn't broken down. No one was taking charge in the room. Some loud nurse to my left kept saying that I need to push now. We need to get the baby out NOW. And then I was asking if he was ok. Ugh. I believe my Dr. would have calmed down that room in 2 seconds.  He did come in while I was pushing and coached the resident on how to catch baby Walker.  Whew! (On a sidenote: I wish I had waited for my Dr. in hindsight. But in the moment, the ring of fire was saying I had to push right then!!)

When the labor was over, I didn't feel relief or accomplishment like I did with Simon. I think I was in shock for a while.  Once all those crazy back ups got out of the room and it was just my calm and collected Dr., my beloved natural birth momma Nurse and my support folk, the room took on a lighter feel and I could begin to relax.  I really don't know how dangerous things got but the very last thing any natural birthing momma needs or wants is chaos in the birth room.  Yikes! I wished I had been in the zone and calm and level headed but I was not this time. I was scared and it was not a calm environment but he is here and he is beautiful! And I would have another baby tomorrow! It's so worth all of the pain and ALL of the WAITING! If I am able to have another baby, I should know to just scoot my due date back a few weeks next time :)

They say every birth is different and that could never be truer for me. My mom has always been nervous about me getting to the hospital on time because she had me in the car.  Similar to my experience with Walker, if I had waited until the pain was unbearable I would not have made it to the hospital. Never have I been more convinced than now that the baby's position makes all the difference in a delivery. Walker was in great position and it didn't take as much time for him to come.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

An Orphan Heart

Our church recently did a series called "A Place at the Table". This series was largely based on the book From Spiritual Slavery to Spiritual Sonship by Jack Frost. I had the privilege of attending a Leadership event at our church in January and we all received a copy. This is an excellent book and a concept that I believe many long-term Christians have not accepted. We are all God's spiritual Daughters and Sons. During one particular service they interviewed a mom of three biological children and some adopted children. My heart is very sensitive to adoption and I was blessed by her story.

My thoughts were all over the place. As we continue to approach baby boy's due date and my firstborn's birthday (they are the same!) my heart is tender around so many subjects.

I have a story about an orphan heart too. Part of having my firstborn daughter, who was very unplanned was actually a part of my healing through my orphan heart. I had been going to counseling for about 8 months when I found out I was pregnant. My primary concern was an eating disorder, better described as a very distorted body image. Two of my closest friends approached me and suggested that it was time to get help for my eating disorder and they were right. At that time, I had only three different meals I would eat very rigidly. I was running almost daily, training for a half marathon but also largely accepting an excuse to exercise in excess. I was relieved at their confrontation because I really knew it was high time I found some help. The help I needed wasn't really about the eating disorder, although I did also participate in a Body Image Support Group at that time that was helpful. My greatest need was addressing my orphan heart. My counselor who I will forever cherish was central to leading me toward healing.

At that time my orphan heart looked like: trying to earn God's favor by doing good things and attending lots of worship services, competition with others, distrustful at times of authority. I was in bondage to spiritual slavery and had not yet known what freedom in Christ was. I worked so hard to please others which is just exhausting. You never feel like you win when you constantly seek others approval. I had no idea that I was on the cusp of being laid completely bare. I was about to be stripped down from all of my armor during my healing process. It's so ironic that I truly believe this period of time through counseling and allowing God to heal me that I actually abused that freedom and paid a very high price for it through my unplanned pregnancy.

During a successive service in this series, the theme stripped down completely kept coming to my mind. I have had so many worldly successes and a very blessed life. In fact, success has been something that has come easy to me on many different fronts (school, work, friends, opportunities, etc). There have been many times over the past 10 years that I have felt completely stripped down and humbled. My adoption story was the first. About five years ago I was really enjoying singing on "main stage" at my church. I got married in July 2007 and July 2007 was the last time I ever got asked to sing on "main stage" again. I felt so rejected and stripped down, left wondering what in the world I did wrong to be cut from the list of singers after serving on that team for two years. I still don't know the answers to any of my questions but I do know it led me on a spiritual journey forcing me to face how much of my identity was involved in that singing position. Feeling rejected hurt me bad but as always, there is room for growth in the pain. I now sing at one of our satellite locations and my ego no longer needs to be filled by having the opportunity to sing on a big stage anymore. There are many levels of growth that came from that rejection.

In recent years, I failed a counseling licensure test not once (which is somewhat common) but twice (which I have yet to find another person who had the same experience). The second time I took this licensure exam some of the residents at CCU made a good luck sign for me and I was so humbled when I had to come back to tell them I failed, again.

When I had my miscarriage last February I felt completely stripped down again. I felt like my body failed and I took on some sort of responsibility for this.

I still have days when I really want to please people. I still have conversations I walk away from second guessing myself and if what I said was perceived as it was intended. I still struggle to be humble, though I've come a long way. But I can say, without question that I have accepted my place at the table of the Lord as His daughter. I believe He loves me unconditionally and accepts me. I believe He continues to discipline me out of love and I accept that. There will no doubt continue to be pruning in this area but what I really felt throughout this series at our church was gratitude for the ways the Lord has healed my orphan heart.

As a parent, I want to model love from a daughter of the King and not from an orphan heart. I don't ever want to model conditional love no matter what obstacles we may face as a family. I want them to see me respecting and submitting to authority so that I can teach them how to do the same. I want them to see me accepting of others' weaknesses and faults.

I have by no means arrived but thank God for the journey and for a church that leads me towards more healing and growth.