I still exist! More on that later.
I had been working on a post for the past month that had been sitting in my app in drafts, but it seems to have vanished so whatever thoughts I had recorded last month are gone. Luckily I have a few thoughts this month.
Bud turned three last month! Emotionally, this was harder for me than his prior birthdays. At three he is no longer a baby anymore. He looks like a little boy, acts like one, and talks like one. Everyone warned me it would go fast, but you can’t prepare yourself for how hard it hits you. We had his party at a local nature center and invited mostly friends from his class, and some parent friends we’ve connected with since having Bud.
It’s always been hard for me to make close friends. Part of it is because I’m an introvert, but I think that I must put something off inadvertently that keeps people at a distance. Who knows. Anyway it’s so much harder to nourish new potential friendships when you are both raising little kids. I don’t even have time to shower every day. The struggle is real.
Before Bloom was born the spouse and I made a pact to connect with acquaintances who have kids Bud’s age and seem to be good temperament matches. It went pretty well, we had a few play dates before Bloom’s birth and he hit up the birthday party circuit pretty hard this Spring-Summer. Bud loves being social, and Bloom can pretty much be toted along anywhere with little fan fare. Easy baby!
The latter part of the summer has cooled down in terms of socialization. We did go to a farewell cookout the other weekend for a social work friend of mine who has young daughters. The backyard was full of children ages 2-5. When you’ve had people attack you for your child’s behavior in social settings, you can’t help but be on edge and assess your surrounding to determine if you are with friend or foe and if it’s a child-friendly set up. This was great. Social work friend has really chill friends, some of whom are also social workers/therapists. The kids got to run free and be kids. The host was really great with kids and at different points built a fire and taught the littles how to toast marshmallows (Bud was a happy, sticky mess), and later towed them all around in a wagon hitched to his lawn mower. There was another little boy Bud’s age who was also a very active little boy. Naturally, Bud and the boy were drawn to each other. The mom came up to the spouse and I individually and told us to come get her if he was giving Bud any problems. We both assured her that his energy did not bother us and that our son is also very active. You could see her entire body relax after that, but she didn’t fully trust it because she asked a few more times. I’m going out on a limb to say she is also a mom who has been yelled at.
One interesting thing is, both boys completely on their own accord separated from all of the stimulation going on in the backyard and ended the night playing independently in the playroom. I found it interesting to observe (former play therapist, I can’t help it!) that they each separated themselves just before they got overstimulated. Bud played quietly and brought his energy level down. The other little boy lounged on the sofa watching Ice Age and brought his energy level down. No one directed them to do this, and they did it completely independent of one another, but around the same point in the evening. I just think it’s so cool to watch him self-regulate at such a young age.
Driving home from the cookout, I commented to the spouse that it was such a positive social experience and we need to make cool, laid back parent friends who we can have more positive experiences like that with. I suppose if I was better at making friends I would have connected with those parents who hosted the party and the mom with the active little boy, but you guys it’s sooo hard making friends! I’m so socially awkward, how do you say “since having children my small social circle has become almost nonexistent and I occasionally want to interact with another person whose butt I don’t have to wipe so lets please be friends!” without coming off as a total weirdo?
Well this post has been all about me pretty much, so let’s talk about the kids a bit.
Bud: Three is a sassy age, hence the term “threenager” being out there these days. He ran into my bedroom the other night, slammed the door and yelled to me “I gonna throw your clothes on the floor and make a mess, then YOU gonna clean them up!” This was of course one of his many expert level bedtime stalling techniques. Surprisingly he didn’t throw anything on the floor for once. I’ll take verbal sass any day over the raw, emotional outbursts of two years old. After Labor Day he moves up to the threes classroom. I’m sad to leave behind his teachers because they are so wonderful with him, and I credit them with fostering so much of his growth and development this year. But he is ready, most of his friends moved up in June because their birthdays were earlier in the year; now Bud is with a bunch of young two year olds who are not very verbal. He’s pretty bored and talks longingly about his former classmates who are now in the threes classroom. He had so much fun with them at his party, I’m glad he will get to reconnect with them soon.
Bloom: I can’t believe it’s been four and a half months! She’s belly laughing, smiling, looking all around, manipulating toys, and chewing on her fists all the time. She sleeps through the night and sucks her thumb in the morning which is sooo cute! She is so chill and loves her big brother. Bud is starting to interact with her more, but mostly ignores her. I’ll take it.
My cup is really full these days. I’m happy at work, it’s busy and I know I’m out of a job when the grant ends in three years, but for now it’s really good. Parenting is the most exhausting and rewarding thing I’ve ever done. My heart is exploding with love and admiration for these kiddos. My house may look like a combo laundry, dish, and toy explosion at any point in time, but it’s all good.
Popping in quick just to be a little bit petty (I can’t help it you guys this is just too good!) So if you recall six months ago we were at the first birthday party for our friends’ kid, and my friend’s father lost his shit at us and my son for basically acting like a toddler at a kids party that didn’t have any toys or child-centric activities. Since he didn’t think we deserved an apology for the way we were treated and had some of his own strong feelings about us, we parted ways. Flash forward to last week, I’m on a group message with my female friends from that friendship group who are trying to plan a girl’s night out, including the wife of my former friend. His wife responds that she is a maybe because she isn’t sure if her husband will be able to put their son to bed for the first time since he was born. She added that their son is teething and she has to make sure that her husband can “handle the nighttime upset for a bit.”
So basically Mr. Daddy Knows Best who chastised our son’s behavior and had us on an unknown probationary period while he assessed our parenting has never done bedtime with his son for the year and a half that he’s been alive. Not once. Nor can he handle being a little bit sleepy because of teething wake ups, which you and I both know he is not the one who responds to those.
The spouse and I had quite a good laugh at this, especially when the other ladies chimed in to tell her to stop cutting him so much slack. I did not say a thing.
You can’t make this stuff up.
Today I go into to work to introduce Bloom to my co-workers and drop off some paperwork to HR. Next Wednesday I go back to work full-time. I echo my old sentiments when I was going back to work after having Bud… it’s not natural for a mama to leave her tiny 3 month old for 10 hours a day! It’s actually worse because now Bloom is sleeping 8-10 hours a night, so that means I likely won’t spend any time with her before I leave for work so it will really be 18-20 hours of not being around my child out of a 24 hour day. Wow, I hadn’t thought of that until I just typed it and now I feel like crying. I’m the breadwinner and carry the health insurance so there really is no other option. I had more flexibility when I worked at a local non-profit. I was closer to home, it was only an 8 hour day- my schedule flexed based on my clients’ needs. Now I work an 8.5 hour day and deal with traffic. I have to go in early if I want to get home in time to make dinner and spend any waking time with my children. My mom asked if I have an option to telework occasionally, which I should now that I’ve been promoted, but it’s not something that really seems encouraged, so I’m not sure about broaching that subject right off the bat, plus I have to be trained for my new position and hire for three positions so I’ll be quite swamped when I get back.
In between paragraphs I had a mini-mental breakdown to my spouse and she helped remind me that even though it’s really hard, we’ll get into a new routine and adjust. Plus as Bloom gets older she won’t need to be attached to me all the time and the time we get to spend together as a family will evolve. I think her exact words were “one of us won’t need to be annexed to another room with the baby.” Which helps because it would be hard to juggle spending enough quality time with both in that four hour stretch after work before bedtime. In the past week alone, I’ve been able to put Bloom reclined in the highchair while I’ve cooked and when we’ve had dinner as a family. It’s wild, I put the highchair toy on the tray just so she had something to look at, and she somehow has the coordination to reach out and grab it. It’s crazy how fast they grow up and change!
The most reassuring part of course is that my spouse works from home and will take care of Bloom half of the day and my parents will have her the second half of the day. This is what we did with Bud from 3 months to just after he turned two. It worked out really well. My parents are looking forward to watching her, they had a test drive Tuesday when I went to get my hair done, and raved about what a sweet, easy baby she is. Bud wasn’t necessarily a hard baby, but he just needed more. Still does, funny how their little personalities are present from the beginning.
Since it’s been so long since I last posted, here are some updates I’ve wanted to share:
1, The beach trip was a major success! Bud is so social, he quickly made friends on the beach. He mostly played nice, but he might have kicked over a sandcastle or two. He came across the most wonderful 10 year old girl who was drawing a mermaid in the sand. He was very interested in what she was doing and started making lines on her sand drawing. She was so warm and had a smile in her voice when she thanked him for helping her draw the mermaid’s arms and encouraged him to help her draw the rest of the mermaid. She has a future in early childhood education for sure.
I had a last minute freak out about taking a newborn to the beach and preventing sun exposure and overheating, but I’m happy to report Bloom successfully survived with the umbrella, beach tent, rash guard, blanket, sun hat, sun glasses, and portable fan. And I’m not the obsessive compulsive one in the family. Even the spouse thought I was being a little over the top.
The most amazing part of trip was just how easy it was. We got an ocean front suite with a king sized bed. Bud went down easily at night; Bloom slept in the pack and play and was at the point of only one night time waking to eat. We didn’t have any major temper tantrums. We had nice dinners out. Bud chose his own souvenir, which was a giant slinky. I have great shots of the spouse and Bud walking down the Avenue each holding an end of the slinky. What comments he received!
2. Bloom and I started doing baby and me yoga last week. We’ll only get to do three classes total since I go back to work next Wednesday and the only class is mid-day on Mondays. It’s such a bummer that everything is geared for stay at home moms. I had the leave balance and flexibility with my previous employer to take Mondays off with Bud for three additional months. It was wonderful for bonding. This country’s lack of parental leave sucks, and while I’m lucky to be protected by FMLA, 12 weeks is nothing. I’ve also had to take two pay periods unpaid leave during those 12 weeks, which isn’t making paying the bills very fun.
3. I’m calling it, BUD IS POTTY TRAINED! We only use pull ups at night and when we were too nervous about using porta pots at Pride last week. We have dabbled in using the potty for the better part of the year, but none of us were that invested in it. He has been using the toilet at school consistently for months and they suggested we send him in underwear since he was staying dry. He was really upset about wearing underpants at first so we didn’t push it. Out of the blue a few weeks ago he told us he wanted to wear underpants to school and we just went with it from there. There have been surprisingly few accidents. I think the biggest key to our success was doing nothing lol. Now nothing will hold him back from transitioning to the 3’s classroom this fall.
4. And just a quick note about Pride, has anyone else noticed that their city/town’s Pride events are more packed than in previous years? We’ve been going to the Pride Festival in Druid Hill Park in Baltimore for the better part of the 10 years we’ve been together and I can’t ever remember it being so crowded. So many teenagers, allies, parents supporting their children… it’s amazing how much has changed in a decade. We think marriage equality has played a large role, but I also wonder if this year in particular when being out and proud is a political statement people found it important to show up (well it’s always been political for us, but perhaps with the resistance more allies and parents decided to attend?) Whatever the reason, it’s great to see such a positive, diverse event have such a large turnout.
If you weren’t following my breastfeeding travails the first time around, the long story short is no matter what I did I couldn’t make any milk. I tried every trick in the book and kept at it for almost six months- including a little over three months of pumping when I returned to work for a grand total of four ounces a day. I ugly cried every day for the first month and a half of my son’s life. I was depressed, it was not a good scene. All of the lactation consultants I met with had no answers as to why nothing made a difference and eventually after everything was tried ran out of suggestions. I don’t have any issues with formula feeding. For me the issue was I had wanted to breastfeed, it was my choice, and I wasn’t prepared that it wasn’t going to be an option for me.
Flash forward to a few weeks before my daughter’s birth. I didn’t have any grand illusions of being able to exclusively breastfeed her. I knew formula was going to be in our future, but I wanted to get the best leg up on breastfeeding as possible. I knew about the implications of tongue and lip ties on breastfeeding and had no qualms about getting it corrected early; I had my breast pump ready in the wings; and the doula had sent me the contact info for a highly recommended lactation consultant- who I later discovered happens to be an expert. The most promising sign in those weeks leading up to birth was being able to hand express colostrum.
Bloom latched on and breastfed shortly after birth. We could tell she had a lip tie, but the lactation consultant in the hospital couldn’t tell if she had a tongue tie. Nevertheless she seemed to be transferring milk due to the audible gulps we could hear. Something I never heard with Bud until we finally got his tongue and lip tie corrected after a month. She lost a little bit of weight each day in the hospital, but the pediatricians weren’t too worried about it because it hadn’t reached 10% yet. They kept a close eye on her though because she was at an increased risk for jaundice due to our blood types being incompatible. By the middle of the night on the first day home (day 3) I started to realize we were going to need to start supplementing. Her eyes had a yellowish tint, her diapers were barely wet, and she stopped having bowel movements. This was a Saturday, so we made it to the appointment on Monday and the pediatrician was delighted we were opting for formula. I wavered over whether or not to contact the lactation consultant and if I even wanted to continue to nurse. Ultimately, my stubborn side won out and I got an in home consultation booked for that Wednesday.
Ann, the lactation consultant and her intern came that Wednesday afternoon (day 7). She was a warm and friendly British woman with a soothing voice that I can best describe as Mrs. Doubtfire-esque. Immediately she was able to determine the cause of my extremely low milk supply was most likely due to insufficient glandular tissue. Basically during puberty my breasts didn’t develop the way they should. I had researched this the first time and had all but diagnosed myself, but the lactation consultants I met with the first time felt my breast tissue and said it was adequate, and the pictures online did not resemble my breasts. Ann was able to explain the features of my breasts that led to her diagnosis, but also wanted to have my prolactin levels tested to make sure it wasn’t hormonal. She spent two hours with me, and I can only describe her approach and personality as life-affirming. Even the spouse, who initially didn’t want a ticket on my crazy train this time, stayed and afterward expressed she got a lot from the consultation. Most important understanding pace bottle feeding and how much formula to give based on how much milk Bloom was transferring. At the first appointment she was only transferring half an ounce. She did have the lip tie, so we were able to get that corrected that Friday (day 9).
The most validating thing Ann said was not to fret over pumping after every feed to try to boost my supply. “By the time you are finished feeding and pumping it will almost be time to feed again, it’s madness.” That’s what I did the first time and it was exhausting. I couldn’t just enjoy snuggling my little baby, and it didn’t do anything. She did recommend doing a power pump day where I pump for 10 minutes at the same time every hour for 12 hours straight. This was hell, but I accomplished it. Not easy with a new born who doesn’t like to be put down, let me tell you. I don’t know if it helped, but at the follow up a week later she was transferring a little over an ounce.
Overall I’m happy I got some answers and did what I could to establish a supply in the first two weeks. I dealt with the emotional roller coaster the first time around, so after dealing with the initial frustration of my boobs’ shortcomings I was able to move forward with acceptance of the way things are. If she gets an ounce of breast milk a feed and we have a nice nursing relationship, I’m happy with that. The spouse gets to bond with her more through bottle feeding, I can get a little more sleep, and I am not feeling pressured to attach myself to the breast pump. With an active almost 3 year old, there is just no time to drive myself crazy. I don’t feel like my body has failed me; I worked through that feeling the first time around. It actually feels very freeing to know that the reason I don’t make milk is because of my body. It’s nice to have an answer and move forward with what makes sense for us. And that I am thankful for.
I will admit I have been pleasantly surprised at how the adjustment has been for us as parents to go from one toddler to juggling a toddler and an infant. This isn’t to say I’d qualify it as easy, I wouldn’t, but I thought it would be so much harder so the bar was set lower. As parents the second time around it’s been almost seamless to fall back into the newborn routine. We aren’t scared about every little thing this time, so we are venturing out of the house whereas with Bud we hardly left until he was vaccinated at two months. Staying cooped up inside with an active two year old is not an option nor good for anyone’s sanity.
Bud has adjusted much quicker than I thought he would and increasingly is showing the sweet, gentle side of his personality more. He brings her toys and books when she cries and shows an increasing interest in her. There has been some regression in behavior (i.e. biting, hitting, more tantrums) but it was mainly in the first few weeks. Honestly, it wasn’t that bad, but our lack of sleep caused us to reach the end of our ropes easier. Bud is super attached to the spouse. Her status as the preferred parent was cemented during my pregnancy when I was too sick/exhausted to do all of the physical work and play that he requires. When she holds Bloom he’ll say “no no no, that’s Mama’s baby. You don’t need to hold the baby!” We’ve been alternating being in charge of the bedtime routine, which seems to have helped some. Lately he’s been calling me by her name- I guess I’m more tolerable when he can pretend I’m her.
Little Bloom predominantly wants me to hold her all of the time. She hates being put down, but sometimes that must happen and when it does it is met with real tears and screams. At 7 weeks she is starting to show more tolerance for the swing. She preferred the rock’n’play which met an untimely death earlier this week when the spouse in a show of strength tried to open it without pressing the release button. We are going to take a shot at a bouncer with some remaining gift card money. We realized how small our house is the first time around with all the baby gear– throw in toddler toys to the mix and you are pretty much stepping on and bumping into something at every turn.
Bud is still going to school full-time despite me being on maternity leave. One, I couldn’t handle the two of them all day; two, he’d be bored out of his mind; three, he loves school; and four, I’m not losing his spot. No guilt. He’s been going in late every morning because no matter what time we wake up we just cannot get our shit together before 9 am. The spouse is beginning to worry how she is going to manage by herself when I go back to work at the end of June.
We are so fortunate that Bloom was a Spring baby, not that we planned it. We are still shocked that it worked right out of the gate on our practice try. We have taken full advantage of the nice weather (and even braved the rainy weather of late) to get both kids out of the house. In the evenings after school Bud loves to rule the court with the neighborhood kids (more like tweens). He’s such an extrovert and made friends by marching right up and joining in on whatever they were doing (basketball, riding bikes or scooters, catching wildlife). Now they come knock on the door and ask if he can come play with them. I think he thinks he’s 10 now. It’s all too sweet.
On the weekends we try to get out of the house before Bud turns into a pumpkin, which happens by 10:30 am. It is not too easy to get two adults, an infant, and a rambunctious almost three year old out of the house. Guess who takes the longest? In seven weeks we’ve gone to the carnival, a horse farm, arts festival, a Spring Fest at the local elementary school, two local farms, the playground, walked around the town’s lakefront, attended several family events, and two or three children’s birthday parties. We’ve even successfully had dinner at a sit down restaurant, which any parent of a toddler will recognized as a huge accomplishment. (We had sworn off restaurants after the Red Robin Fiasco of December 2016). This is already more mileage than we put on in the first five months with Bud. Gotta keep it interesting!
Wednesday we attempt the biggest feat of all, two nights at the beach. Stay tuned!
No, I didn’t go 24 days over my due date, I’m just delayed in announcing little Bloom’s arrival. The last you heard from me I had been sent home at 39 weeks for a false alarm after I thought my water leaked and had some contractions 8-10 minutes apart that stopped shortly after arriving at labor and delivery. I also thought I was going to be pregnant forever, thankfully I was wrong about that.
I did however stay pregnant another week, making it two days past my due date of April 3rd. I sadly went to work on my due date, which cruelly was a Monday. The security guard for my building just shook her head sadly at me and said “I really didn’t think you’d be in today.” Me neither hon, me neither. Monday night into Tuesday morning I had intense pelvic pain and pressure, to the point where I would jump up and have to stand after sporadic shooting pains. I didn’t sleep much Monday night due to the pain so I took a personal day that Tuesday and did all I could to try to induce labor- including having a nice (spicy) lunch date and a brisk walk around the mall with the spouse. Wednesday morning came, no contractions but some minor spotting. I decided to go into work and play it by ear. By 9:00 am, an hour and a half after coming into the office, contractions started. They were between 11 and 14 minutes apart on average. My worst fear was going into labor and being stuck in the city, so after it was clear the contractions weren’t stopping and the spotting was still occurring I decided to leave. I was in my car by 10:15 am and home by 11:00 am. By this time the contractions were any where from 11 minutes to 18 minutes apart. The spouse and I decided to call the OB office by 1:00 pm if the contractions didn’t start coming closer together. I checked in with my doula, walked the dog, bounced on my birthing ball, and had lunch.
Around 1:30 pm I spoke with a nurse at my OB practice; she got me a 2 o’clock appointment for a labor check with the Greek OB who delivered Bud. We grabbed our hospital bags just in case and headed over to the office. 2:00 pm the Greek OB checked my cervix and announced I was 5-6 cm dilated, 100% effaced, and should head over to the hospital because I was going to have a baby today! The spouse texted the doula, and as I scooted off the exam table, my water broke. The spouse, who had apparently not seen my water break with Bud, rushed into the hallway and announced to the OB and nurses “HELP! Some stuff is coming out of her!” They just laughed and the nurse brought in a chux pad to help me fashion a make-shift diaper so I could waddle out of the office with some dignity intact. The spouse frantically texted the doula that my water broke since she knows how fast my labors are, while I called my mom to ask her to pick up Bud from school.
Got across the parking lot to the hospital around 2:40 pm. I’m not sure why they have you pre-register, because they sure do take their sweet time checking you in. A lady who was clearly not in the active stages of labor with amniotic fluid gushing into a chux pad was being checked in when we got there, so we had to wait 20 minutes, 3 or 4 intense contractions, and 2 gushes of fluid before a nurse brought us back. The nurse let us know she was just covering for a nurse who was on her lunch break, but would get us started. We explained I labored fast with my son and I needed to start IV antibiotics asap due to testing GBS positive. She got the IV in painlessly on the first try, unlike the two nurses during my previous false alarm. My contractions were coming closer together- 4-5 minutes apart and I was already having that “I have to poop” feeling that means baby is on her way out. The doula, who must have flown around the beltway, arrived at 3:15 pm and suddenly all was right. I must admit though that I was a little scared because my labor was so fast and intense. To go from mild contractions 10-18 minutes apart for hours to intense contractions coming one right on top of the other in such a short period of time was overwhelming. I felt she was coming and I couldn’t believe it was happening so quickly.
The OB on duty came in and let me know that the change in shift was happening at 5:00 pm and that the next doctor would come in and do my cervical check at 6:00 pm. Maybe 15-20 minutes later at 3:50 pm I was laboring standing up next to the bed and felt the urge to push. The spouse ran into the hall to get the OB and nurse who both thought they would not be on shift for my birth. As they ran in the door, I shouted that she was crowning. Everyone rushed to help me back into the bed. I made it mostly on the bed in a weird diagonal position and two pushes later my baby girl was born, 4:00 pm on the dot. Just one and a half hours after my water broke in the OB office. Like I said, intense.
She was placed on my chest and was absolutely beautiful! I couldn’t believe how tiny she was at 7 lbs 4 oz and 19.5 inches long. She had a little sprinkling of brown hair and wide blue eyes. My mom and sister-in-law came to the hospital shortly after she was born and got to spend some time with us in the labor and delivery room which was nice.
My recovery was not as bad as I remember from the first time. I had two stitches, but not the pain I had the first go around. My dad brought Bud to the hospital the first night, but he was really thrown off so it wasn’t the magical photo op that played out in my mind. What is with a toddler though? The second evening in the hospital, my parents brought him again to visit and he knew what to expect from the night before. He was more interested in checking out the baby.
We got home that Friday morning and started the adjustment to life with a newborn and toddler. This is an entirely separate post all together. 22 days in, I can say that I’m happy, in love, and incredibly exhausted.