We have been working on a lot of developing at my house. Luke recently got his first 2 teeth and Noah just got his first loose tooth. Luke has been trying to crawl for months but has only ever managed a hefty scoot. Well last night, he officially crawled on his hands and knees while chasing after a football. And Noah has his first flag football game this weekend.
We are busy.
Well, last night, Luke also tried meat for the first time. I have been looking for ways to help him sleep a little bit longer at night because he still gets up 3 to 4 times a night to nurse. Gerber makes all kinds of flavors of pureed 2nd-stage baby food that includes a little bit of meat for some added protein. Luke tried turkey and sweet potatoes and seemed to love it.
I watched him closely for a little while after to make sure there were no adverse reactions, Matt and I gave him his bath, and he went to bed right on time. Good night, right?
Well, Luke wakes up at about 11:30pm, which is normal for him. He wasn’t showing his regular signs of being hungry. He was fidgety and wiggly- basically full of gas. Most nights, if he nurses for a minute, it will help him to pass the uncomfortable gas but that just wasn’t working. So, I did all of my gassy-baby tricks. Nothing worked.
Then, when I decided to just give up and snuggle with him, he let out the biggest, wettest, loudest, explosive shit ever and it made Matt sit straight up in bed. Turns out, Luke’s tummy was not a big fan of the turkey and sweet potatoes.
There was yellowish-brown liquid poop all down his leg, and into the footie part of his pajamas. It was everywhere. We get him onto his changing table and he is still squirming a bit. We peel his PJs off him, trying not to cover anything else with poop (failing miserably as we go along), and get his diaper off.
Of course, as Murphy’s Law would have it, the Diaper Genie is full beyond capacity so we have nowhere to put the poopy diaper and the wipes warmer is out of wipes so we have nothing to clean the poop with.
At this point, it’s starting to be hilariously funny because it feels like this stuff only happens to us. We get the wipes refilled, Matt changes the diaper bucket, I get Luke all cleaned up, applying some diaper cream, and then……. Luke has another massive blowout poop all up my arm, all the way to my elbow. Awesome.
Matt takes over and gets Luke another diaper and cleans him up while I get myself cleaned up. We get him in new pajamas and I start rocking him to get him back to sleep. Next thing I hear is another loud, foul-smelling, wet explosion. This one was mostly contained in the diaper but did seep out a bit requiring another pajama change.
It’s well after midnight now and Matt and I are basically giggling at the absurdity of our situation. We get it! You don’t like turkey and sweet potatoes. No need to make such a big deal about it. Surely you’re done (famous last words).
Luke has quit squirming. Seems like the gas and diarrhea are gone. Luke starts sucking on his hands and showing signs of being hungry. He starts to nurse and I see his eyes close as he falls asleep. I can finally let my guard down and relax. Nope.
Luke proceeds to projectile vomit all over me, my pillows, the bed, the headboard, everything. Then, he just falls asleep. Almost like that was the last thing he had to check off of his to-do list for the night.
Meanwhile, I had to change all of my clothes, strip all of my pillows down before finally realizing that it soaked all the way through to the actual pillow, then had to find a new pillow. I could have changed the sheets but we still haven’t washed the other set of sheets from the last time Luke spit up all over them so I just laid a towel down over the mess and went to sleep.
Luke might be a vegetarian now.
The first thing I need to tell anyone who is thinking about having a second child is that the transition from 1 kid to 2 is so much harder (and more complicated) than the transition from baby-free to 1 kid. It is still wonderful and rewarding (and a lot of other things too) but I was not prepared for the insane degree of difficulty that would be involved when trying to navigate a newborn/infant/baby and a young child all at the same time.
When Luke was brand new, he was what some people might call a “Velcro baby.” He had to be attached to me at all times. The moment I set him down, even for a second, he lost his freakin’ mind. He was the happiest baby imaginable as long as I was holding him. Add that on to the fact that Luke is hungry constantly, nurses to soothe himself, and nurses for his snacks between breastfeeding, and I didn’t get a lot done. And, it made it especially difficult to be even a halfway decent parent to our older son, Noah.
To deal with this, Matt and I just went with the “divide and conquer” method of parenting. Noah became his kid. Luke became mine.
Now that Luke is older, he likes to be put down some times so he can play and he doesn’t eat quite as much as he used to (sort of), so Matt and I are able to alternate kids a little more regularly. But it is still overwhelming.
I feel like I can only be a great parent to one kid at a time or a sorta-okay parent to both kids. And I miss my one-on-one time with Noah.
Matt is the one now that knows the kindergarten routine inside and out. He knows which shorts Noah likes to wear to bed and what his favorite TV shows are these days. Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad I don’t have to watch Odd Squad every night but I do miss the snuggles that come along with late night TV.
And while I am the main parent for Luke, that means Matt gets to swoop in when he’s being all cute and adorable and I get the late night feedings and the tearful daycare drop offs (my tears, not Luke’s).
But, Matt can’t parent Noah by himself. It makes it extra difficult because Noah is a high energy kid. And not in a “oh my kid likes to run around a lot” kind of way. Noah has to run around a lot ALL THE TIME. He only has 2 speeds- 90 mph and asleep. There is no middle, no range of energy levels. When we go to trampoline parks or bounce houses, he doesn’t fall asleep on the way home. These kinds of activities just add fuel to his already high-intensity fire.
But, like all things parenting, we are learning as we go. Matt and I have never strived for perfection. Our mantra has always been “do what works” and so far, what we are doing is working. I am sure we will continue to struggle. And we may have a few successes here and there.
In the meantime, we will continue to try to manage on 5 hours of sleep and minimal conversation.
When a kid starts at daycare, one of the things you can most definitely expect to happen almost immediately is that they are going to get sick. The extent to the illness varies but, inevitably, temperatures will rise and someone is going to get puked on.
As I have mentioned, my new baby Luke started daycare about 3 weeks ago. He loves it, I’m still struggling with it- I don’t see that changing any time soon.
[Side note: I can make it all the way to my car now before I start to cry. And sometimes, I don’t cry until I get to work. Winning!]
Well, after the first week, Luke started sneezing more than usual and started sounding like a little pig when he slept. That eventually turned into a drippy nose and runny eyes. He didn’t have a fever and he was acting just as happy as always so, no big deal.
Saturday rolls around, we go through our normal sleep routine of nursing before bed. I swaddle him super tight, kiss him goodnight, and place him in the cosleeper. Matt was down the hall putting Noah to bed and reading bedtime stories.
Luke started to shift a little bit but, nothing out of the ordinary.
Then, out of nowhere, a geyser of spit-up shoots into the air. This giant spit-up fountain is spewing about 18 inches skyward and plummeting back down onto my sweet baby’s face and all over the bed.
A wave of shock and fear falls over me and all I can think to do is shout “Oh no! Oh no! Oh no!” over and over again as I try to clean spit-up out of Luke’s eyes and ears while also trying not to drown myself in this milky, smelly mess.
Seriously. I have never seen this much spit-up ever. There is no way he drank this much. He had to have been storing this in some secret spit-up compartment for days in order to produce this much. He didn’t even seem all that upset about it. If anything, he had a look of pride in his eyes as I grabbed blankets and burp cloths and rags from everywhere I could think to grab them to clean this mess up. He looked almost as though he did it on purpose to make sure I was paying attention.
After what seemed like forever (probably only a minute or 2), Matt heard my panic and came running down the hall. He, too, was astonished at the volume of spit-up. He also seemed to be more upset that I had just changed the sheets on our bed that morning and the other sheets were still dirty on the laundry room floor (oops!).
I never thought that taking a shower would be such an ordeal. I never imagined that along the way I would forget taking care of myself used to come so easily. But having a baby changes things.
Since I got home from the hospital with my perfect, healthy newborn, I have remembered that life with a newborn is always a new adventure to be navigated.
The shower, for example:
1. My boobs hurt! You would think that when the warm water hits my boobs that it would feel good. Lies! All lies. It hurts! In fact, when anything hits my boobs it hurts. It doesn’t matter if it’s warm water, cold water, or anything else, it hurts. Even when I dry off after the shower, the towel itself feels like sandpaper on my incredibly sensitive breastfeeding nipples.
2. My boobs leak. I forgot along the way, over the past five years, that any and everything makes my boobs leak. Just thinking about my boobs leaking makes my boobs leak. After the shower, if you wonder what that wetness is dripping down on your feet, it’s your boobs leaking.
3. I feel like I need to get permission to take a shower. I know that this is not the case. But in order for me to take 15 to 20 minutes off in order to take a shower, I have to check in with all parties to make sure that they can watch the baby while I take a shower. Then while in the shower, I hear the baby cry and I feel like I need to rush my shower in order to take care of the baby. My husband suggested, after I told him I felt guilty, that I wait until after I put the baby to bed for the night to take my shower but, that means I could sleep even less than I’m already sleeping. No thank you.
4. I just feel so gross. Between not being able to shower on a daily basis, wearing the same clothes day after day after day, and having another human being attached to me non-stop, I feel gross. There is no rhyme or reason to this, I just feel gross. Being pregnant sucks for a lot of different reasons, but at least I was able to shower on a regular basis. I might not have been able to see my feet or my downtown region but I was able to shower daily. Taking care of a newborn eliminates that possibility.
You never really think about the importance of a shower until you don’t have one. It doesn’t really feel like one of those first world problems until the ability to take a shower is a luxury. And then comes the mommy guilt because at the end of the day, I’m complaining about a shower when I’m responsible for another human being’s existence. I feel like a terrible person because I want to put the baby down and take a frickin shower. But then the baby screams and cries and wants to be on the boob and now I’m a terrible person who selfishly just wants to be clean.
Maternity leave should be called dirty mommy leave. Or something else similar because… I’m tired and dirty. What was I talking about?
Yesterday, I posted a link about the costs of breastfeeding. It really got me thinking about my experiences breastfeeding Noah. I was so very lucky to have the support of my husband, family, and friends during what was, I can honestly say, the hardest thing I have ever done. I was also lucky that my job as a family counselor, allowed me to make my own schedule. I stayed home with Noah during the day and worked in the evenings after my husband got home from work. It made it possible to nurse for the first full year of his life. This was great, because he refused to drink from a bottle after he was 3 months old. All that liquid gold that I pumped (and man did I hate that horrible pump) went down the drain. With that aside, it takes loads of support and encouragement to breastfeed, no matter how long you choose to do so. That first month is so unbelievably hard and you think about quitting a hundred times a day. I want this Brutally Honest post to provide a little insight into what breastfeeding was really like… for me. It could be the complete opposite for everyone else. I just know that, as prepared as I thought I was, I was nowhere near prepared for reality.
A little bit of background on me- I am a Type A personality through and through. When I was pregnant, I researched everything, read all the books and literature, cover-to-cover. I read What to Expect about 4 times; I read Ina May’s Guide to Natural Childbirth (with horror and appreciation); if it had a picture of a mother and baby on the cover, I read it. I also took the classes- Childbirth 101, Breastfeeding Basics (more about this little “gem” later), etc… And with all of this preparation, I don’t think anything could have prepared me for how hard breastfeeding actually was.
Noah had to be the hungriest infant ever born. He breastfed for the first time just 20 minutes after being born, and he latched on instantly. I would have been so excited because you constantly hear horror stories about how some babies just can’t figure out how to latch, but I couldn’t get past the absolute and unexpected pain that came the minute he started to suck. And, let me just say, I have an incredibly high pain tolerance. Completely drug-free, all natural childbirth had just happened moments before. But this little baby could suck like nobody’s business.
In the Breastfeeding Basics class offered at the Women’s Hospital (just a few floors down from where I was currently suffering), a class full of incredibly pregnant women and scared-to-death dads were told that if you experience any pain while breastfeeding, you are doing it wrong. LIES!!! Noah was nursing so often and so effectively that my milk came in in full force in less than 36 hours. With that incredible efficiency came chapped nipples, cracks and bleeding, aches and pain in my abdomen (breastfeeding stimulates oxytocin which helps your organs and muscles get back to where they need to be), and a big fat lesson in how no amount of research can prepare you for what breastfeeding was really like.
Now, please don’t take this as an attempt to scare you or anyone else out of breastfeeding. All the pain went away after about 3 weeks and my boobs kind of got numb to it. And a few months after I stopped breastfeeding, all of the feeling and sensitivity came back. I just wish, in that stupid Breastfeeding Basics class, they didn’t lie about it. I actually wish that I could give the class myself. One of the first things I would do is throw away that silly fake boob they pass around so you can practice how to hold it while your baby latches on. Seriously- we have our own boobs. We don’t need a fake one to “practice.”
The class was presented in Power Point format. Each slide listing a different “Rule” about the best way to breastfeed your baby. Now, I will admit, I was extra sensitive and emotional and my perceptions may have been a little over-dramatic at the time. But the class is for pregnant women who are all overly emotional and sensitive. The “rules” they laid out were about alternating between boobs, making sure the baby is on each boob for no longer than 20 minutes, waking the baby up in the middle of the night to make sure he is eating on a schedule, etc… And with all of these “rules” came scary and intimidating consequences like, “your baby won’t get enough nutrition,” “your baby won’t figure out how to bond with you,” “your baby will pick a preferred boob and the other boob will quit making milk.” All of us soon-to-be new mothers were already anxious and scared, and now we were being made to feel like not doing it the way this Power Point says to do it will make us bad mothers. We have enough pressure from the media and the celebrities to make us feel like bad mothers. We don’t need a class in our hospital to place judgments on us too.
The truth is, every baby and every mother are different. Noah nursed every 90 minutes for 45 minutes each time. I literally had to plan my day in 45 minute increments because I had the “My Breast Friend” pillow strapped to my waist for nearly 12 hours a day (as a side note- the My Breast Friend pillow is the greatest invention EVER! I used it for the entire year that I breastfed and for a few months after that just to make it easier to rock Noah to sleep on rough nights. Buy one! Put it at the top of your registry! It’s amazing!).
But you develop a routine, you get to catch up on all of your favorite shows, you finally find out what kind of shows come on throughout the night (I watched a lot of HGTV and ABC News), and you get to watch your beautiful baby lay in your arms, fall asleep with a full belly, make the sweetest suckling sounds, and look at you with the warmest and most amazing look of gratitude and love. It makes me tear up now thinking about how those times are over for me as Noah runs (literally runs- the child went straight from crawling to running) and only lets me hold him and rock him when he is sick.
Breastfeeding is a choice. It should be made with all of the information possible; it should be made with both parents involved; it should be made with support and without judgment. I found it helpful to talk about my struggles with anyone who would listen. I really loved talking to other moms about what I was going through and hearing their stories and their struggles. You are not alone in this process- even though it feels that way sometimes.
And, while I can laugh about it now, when Noah would wake up during the night to nurse, I would strap on my nursing pillow, climb back into bed, get him all situated and happy, and look at my husband, all fast asleep and comfortable, and think about how bitter I was that he gets to sleep and I have a baby attached to me. Now, he gets up when Noah has “one of those nights” and refuses to sleep. It totally makes up for it!
Mothers, remember that you are so much stronger than you think you are. You are the best mother that you know how to be and that is enough. Love your baby and love yourself. You don’t have to be perfect, there will always be critics, and other people’s rules are crap. Follow your own rules, or don’t. And, most importantly, find supportive people to talk to. If you can’t find anyone, email me!