A good one

2014 was probably one of the quickest years of my life.  I feel like I was sitting here, in this very spot, at this time last year.  Only it feels like that was last week.

I haven’t had a lot of time lately to reflect upon my year or to think about the year to come.  I’m not really one for New Year’s resolutions anyway.  But, I don’t need to think very hard to know that 2014 was a really good year.  One of the best, in fact.

January and February were a bit tough, with bad weather, finishing up work and wondering when Baby Bo would choose to make his entrance.  Those months were also memorable, though, because they were our last months as parents of one.  We did some special things with Littleman before he became a big brother and his world was completely turned upside down.

When March came around and Bo still wasn’t here, I started to get anxious.  Then, on March 6, he arrived, our sweet little babe.

My mom and I were talking this morning about how, when you’re pregnant with your second child, you wonder how on earth you could possibly love another human as much as you love your first child.  But then that child arrives and your heart grows, making plenty of room for all the love that rushes through you.  (OK, that sounds cheesy, but I swear, I just really, really love these two kids!)

The rest of March was blur of cracked nipples, infection, illness and sleep deprivation.  It kind of sucked.

After that, though, we hit our groove.  The weather warmed up.  Littleman loved his brother.  Bo was a happy kid.  I went for walks.  I started exercise class.  I spent time with friends who were also on maternity leave.  We hung out at the farm with my family and my baby niece.  I taught myself to run and did a 5K.

Sure there were some blips this year, but mostly, I’ve loved every second of my maternity leave.  Knowing that it will be my last, I’ve tried to savour every bit of it.  Looking back, I feel lucky to have had such a great experience this year.  I also feel a bit sad that all the things I was looking forward to are over.  I know there will be lots of other good times ahead, but it will be hard to top a year like this one, where we welcomed our lovely Bo and watched our Littleman grow into a smart and strong almost-four-year-old.

I know lots of people are looking forward to a new year, with its promises of a fresh start and new opportunities.  Me?  I’m kind of dreading it.  I have two months of maternity leave left before Bo starts daycare and I return to work.  It’s going to be tough and I know it’s going to test my ability to stay positive.

So, in the absence of New Year’s resolutions (which I hate), I think I will set myself a couple of goals this year: try to stay positive (or at least limit the negativity!) and find some time to do some things for myself.  Going back to work will make both of these things especially difficult but it will also mean that they will be extra important.

Whether you are looking forward to or dreading the arrival of 2015, I hope it turns out to be a good one for you!

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Cold season

I know I’ve said this before, but there’s really nothing I hate more than seeing one of my children sick. Poor little Bo has managed to catch one bug after another this past month and I feel awful for him.

We only had a few clear days following the stomach virus before he developed his current cold. He obviously felt a bit crummy over Christmas (he wasn’t his usual happy self) but it really hit hard two days ago. Fever, snot, cough. General misery.

The only positive thing is that he’s managing to sleep a lot, which has to be helping a bit. Especially because he’s very unhappy when he’s awake.

The rest of us (knock on wood) are healthy and enjoying our family time at the farm. New toys, games and movies are keeping us busy since the lack of snow means we haven’t been able to take advantage of our other new Christmas gifts (snowshoes and sleds!)

Fingers crossed that this cold passes soon and leaves everyone else untouched. It would be great to start the New Year healthy!

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Peace on earth…

…or at least there’s peace in my living room right now.  Our Christmas was lovely but it was anything but peaceful.  Six adults, a preschooler and two nine-month-old babies made for a pretty rowdy Christmas morning.  We woke up and opened presents at the farm with my family.  Then, D and I rushed around to clean ourselves up and get the kids ready, whip up some mashed potatoes and drive an hour and a half back to the city to have Christmas dinner with his family.  A long afternoon of gift-opening (they open gifts one at a time, oldest to youngest, can you imagine?!) followed by dinner, and then we were back in the car driving up to the farm again so we can spend the rest of the holidays out of the city.

So ya, not peaceful.

But right now, at this very moment, I am alone.  The other adults are out for a walk and the three kids are napping.  The sun is setting over the neighbouring cornfield.  No toys are making noises.  There is a turkey in the oven for tonight’s dinner (since we didn’t get to have “Christmas dinner” with my family yesterday) and it smells divine.

I will enjoy this small window of peace before the gang returns and the children awake.  And then I will enjoy the rowdiness, too.  Because, for us, that’s what Christmas is all about.

Peaceful or rowdy, I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas.

The things we do

Sometimes, after a particularly tough day of parenting, I step back and think about how I never would have imagined myself in some of these situations.  This past week has been an excellent example of that.

We’ve been dealing with a whole lot of barf.  Feel free to click away now if you are squeamish.

Littleman started first, coming down with some sort of stomach virus after attending a Christmas party last weekend.  Being almost four, he’s getting a lot better at signalling that he’s going to be sick, but he still doesn’t have the speed and/or control needed to make it to the toilet every time.  Enter the barf bowl.  After spending a horrific night up to my elbows in vomit while cleaning the bathroom and all Littleman’s bedding (alone, since D was working night shift!), Littleman finally got the hang of using the bowl that I’d place strategically beside him wherever he was playing.  After 24 hours of illness, Littleman was playing while I took a shower.  D was hanging with Littleman until Bo woke up from a nap.  Both us parents were upstairs when we heard Littleman calling for us.  I bolted down the stairs and saw him, standing on the bottom step, barf bowl in his arms.  I was so proud!  “Way to go, buddy!  Did you get any on you?” I asked.  “No,” he said.  “But my feet have pee on them.”  Oops.  Poor little guy had peed his pants when he threw up.  Oh well.  You win some, you lose some.

After a few days in the clear, Bo got it.  After his first nursing session of the morning, he promptly spewed it all back out on me.  Kind of gross, but nothing like cleaning up after his brother.  Or so I thought.  Later that evening, I took him upstairs for bed.  He’d nursed well throughout the day, so I wasn’t really worried about it.  Then, boom, he hit me again.  I jumped up out of the chair and called for D to come help me clean up.  That was when the real barf hit.  OMG.  It felt like someone threw a bucket of puke at me.  My bra was soaked through my clothes.  My belt was covered.  My jeans.  My socks.  I gingerly stepped out of my clothes as barf ran down my belly.  Oh god, it was disgusting.

It’s funny when you’re thinking of (and hoping to) become a parent, you picture yourself cradling a sweet infant or playing at the park with a smiling preschooler.  You don’t, typically, envision yourself covered in someone else’s vomit.  Or with someone’s poo on your arm.  Or standing in someone’s pee.  But, as it turns out, I love these two boys, bodily fluids and all.  Let’s just hope they can keep it to a minimum for a while… this mama needs a break!

Breastfeeding my second baby – part three

A summary of my breastfeeding experience so far wouldn’t be complete without talking about how my baby’s personality played a role.  Thinking back over these past nine months, it’s really quite amazing how much our breastfeeding relationship has evolved as Bo has gotten older.

Aside from the pesky tongue tie issue (and subsequent bleeding nipples), Bo actually latched on right away after he was born.  I remember making D take a photo of us because I was so amazed that my brand new baby was actually feeding the way he was supposed to.  It was so different from the first few days of Littleman’s life.

As we got into the swing of things during the first few weeks of Bo’s life, I remember struggling a bit to get him to latch on when he was hungry.  He would straighten his arms against me so that I couldn’t get him close enough to my breast.  It was frustrating because he was obviously ready to eat, but wouldn’t allow me to position him properly.

After that phase passed, we moved into the assault and battery phase of breastfeeding.  Around five months or so, Bo took to hitting, pinching, slapping or punching me while he ate.  It was mainly my chest or my face that was on the receiving end of his abuse.  Fortunately for me, it didn’t last long.

Of course that brought us to the distraction phase.  By seven months, I could no longer feed Bo anywhere and everywhere.  All of a sudden, he was aware of his surroundings and would forget to eat.  Gone were the days of being able to feed him in the living room while chatting with a friend or playing with Littleman.  Now, I have to feed him in his room – the darker and the quieter, the better.

Something I’ve always found quite amazing is Bo’s ability to communicate his hunger. Pretty early on, he developed a sort of laugh/cough/pant that he does to tell me that he wants to eat.  If I don’t respond quickly, he can get quite frantic with it.  Lately, he’s started smacking his lips before I feed him, too.

One thing that has pretty much remained the same the entire time is the speed at which Bo eats.  He’s pretty quick.  Most feeds are five minutes or less these days, with a longer feed right before bedtime.  Even as a newborn, when he ate more frequently, I remember being amazed that most of his feeds were only about 7 minutes long.  His older brother could eat for 30 minutes, sometimes from each breast!  It felt like I was feeding all day long.

Yesterday, we took Bo to the pediatrician for his nine month check up.  He’s doing great and growing well (21lbs 14oz!) so I know that what we’ve been doing is working.  The doctor told us that Bo can start drinking cow’s milk anytime now, which made me realize that our breastfeeding days are nearing the end.  I nursed Littleman for 14 months and hope to do something similar with Bo.  I know that we probably have a few more months to go, but I’m also seeing how quickly he’s growing up and realizing that he isn’t going to be my baby much longer.  Regardless, I’m so happy that I had the chance to breastfeed this baby and to share this experience together.

Breastfeeding my second baby – part two

I have an app on my iPhone that I use to track my baby’s sleep and feedings.  I intended to use it for the first few weeks to make sure we were on track when it came to number of feedings, wet diapers, etc.  But I quickly fell in love with it because it helped me remember which side I had last fed from and gave me a sense of how long Bo was going between feedings (which was super helpful because my post-baby short-term memory is awful!)

The app also provides summaries, which I find quite entertaining.  For example, in the past seven days we’ve had 62 nursing sessions for a total of 10 hours and 37 minutes.  The average duration of a nursing session was 10 minutes.  As suspected, Bo spent almost an hour longer on the left side than he did on the right (see yesterday’s post!)

Anyway, here are a few more observations about my current breastfeeding experience:

The girls

One of the trickiest things for me when it comes to breastfeeding is covering my breasts.  For the first few weeks, my boobs were ginormous and uncomfortable.  I had saved my old nursing bras, but even they couldn’t contain the ladies.  I hated to spend money on bras that I would wear for such a short time but I gave in and bought a couple of humongous ones.  Of course, as predicted, my milk regulated itself and my breasts shrunk down to a more manageable size.  I was able to fit into my old nursing bras again, which helped.  However, after all that use, they started to wear out (and imagine my surprise when an underwire poked me in the chin while I sat down for lunch one day!) so I ended up purchasing a few more new ones.

I also do a couple of fitness classes each week and took up running this year.  This required more than just a normal nursing bra.  Of course, even if I could squeeze my bosom into my regular sports bras (yeah right!), I wouldn’t have been able to feed Bo, who accompanies me to my classes.  I managed to find some nursing sports bras that I really like.  They aren’t perfect but they do the trick.  They are fine for exercise class.  If I’m out running, I usually layer them with a tight tank top to keep everything supported nicely.

Positioning

One of my “must haves” when Littleman was a baby was my nursing pillow.  I was totally dependent on that thing and I loved it.  Littleman seemed comfortable and I could nurse him pretty much hands-free.  It was great.

So, of course, it was one of the first things I packed for the hospital when it was time to deliver Bo.  I used it for the first couple of days after he was born.  Then, due to pain and bleeding nipples, I made an appointment at our hospital’s breastfeeding clinic.  The lactation consultant looked at my pillow and then suggested gently that I consider trying some different nursing positions.  I was game to try just about anything and when she showed me the “laid-back breastfeeding” position, I was hooked.  Instead of sitting upright with my shoulders hunched and a pillow strapped around my waist, I learned to relax, lay back and make myself comfortable on the couch with my feet up and my baby laying on me.  It was fantastic.

With Littleman, I always got out of bed and carried him into the nursery to feed him in his glider during the night.  With Bo, I scooped him up and fed him in bed.  Divine.  Ditching the pillow also meant that we were totally comfortable feeding just about anywhere, which leads us to…

Discretion

I never felt very comfortable nursing Littleman in public places.  I had a nursing cover, but didn’t try using it early enough so neither I, nor Littleman, ever felt confident nursing with it.  Blankets always slipped out of place and, since we always used a nursing pillow at home, we were already out of our comfort zone when nursing anywhere else.  Basically, I did whatever I could to avoid nursing in public.

The second time around, I approached it all differently.  I tried using the nursing cover right from the beginning.  That helped a lot.  But also, I just didn’t worry about it as much.  The truth is, sometimes I think the cover draws more attention to us than using nothing.  And until recently, I could nurse Bo just about anywhere and feel pretty comfortable doing it.  Now, though, the kid is just way too distracted by his surroundings.  If I use the cover, he flails around until he can whip it off.  If I don’t use a cover, he pulls off to look around, leaving me exposed (and possible spraying milk everywhere!)  No good at all.

Now, I do whatever I can to avoid nursing anywhere but home.  It’s much more efficient – and less stressful – to fill his belly before we leave home.  And, luckily, he can go much longer now between feedings so it isn’t much of an issue.

Coming up next: Bo’s breastfeeding style.  He really brings his own personality into the whole experience!

Breastfeeding my second baby – part one

Bo and I are nine months into our breastfeeding journey and I’ve been thinking about our experience a lot lately.  One of my friends is struggling with cracked, bleeding nipples as she nurses her second child and my heart goes out to her because I remember being in that same place just months ago.  Although things started off a bit rough for us, Baby Bo and I managed to sort things out and I feel very lucky to have had a really good nursing experience so far.

Supply

I think this is pretty common, but I seem to have a stud and a dud.

Even before getting pregnant, my left boob has always been a bit bigger.  My first son, Littleman, always seemed to have a preference for nursing on the left side.  Of course, that only served to make Lefty even bigger.  I tried to balance out the feedings, but, in the end, I never managed to feed him off the right side as often.

With Bo, I’ve noticed a similar trend.  He always nurses for longer on the left side and is more likely to pull off and latch back on multiple times on the right side.  This got me thinking and I noticed something else.  Righty has some serious force.  If Bo pulls off during a feed, my milk shoots out like a fire hose.  Seriously… I could hit a target across the room.  Multiple targets, actually.  I suppose this could explain why he feeds longer on the other side.  Maybe Lefty’s letdown is a lot less forceful.  Or maybe Righty is just more efficient, resulting in faster feeds.

Now I don’t really know who is the stud and who is the dud.  Is Lefty the stud because Bo likes him better?  Or is Righty the stud because he so strong and fierce?

Ouch!

Breastfeeding my second baby started out a lot differently than my first.  Bo latched on immediately and seemed to feed really well, right from day one.  He gained weight like a champ over the first couple of days of his life and my milk came in quickly.  However, like my first breastfeeding experience, I was in severe pain.  And even worse?  This time I was bleeding.  There is nothing like seeing your newborn baby spit up blood that came from your nipple.  Gross.

Luckily, our pediatrician discovered that Bo had a tongue tie very quickly (at his first appointment) and we were able to get it clipped right away.  A little over a week later, I was all healed and nursing ceased to hurt.

I’ve also been luckier this time around when it comes to blocked milk ducts.  It happened to me five or six times throughout the 14 months that I nursed Littleman.  This time, it’s only happened once.  It hurt like hell but Bo and I managed to clear it pretty quickly through excessive massage and force feeding.  Yay for teamwork!

Dump the pump

One area that I hoped to be better at with my second child was pumping and bottle feeding.  After following all the recommendations to “wait until breastfeeding is well-established” in the hopes of avoiding “nipple confusion”, we ended up waiting too long and Littleman flat out refused to take a bottle.  Ever.

Of course, while I wasn’t offering a bottle, I was still busy pumping away to  “build up a freezer stash”.  I’m not exactly sure why I felt a freezer stash was necessary (I was on maternity leave for a year) but it seemed like it was the thing that everyone did.

We wasted a whole lot of frozen breastmilk trying to get the kid to take a bottle and ended up using some of it to mix with cereal when he started eating (and ultimately, hating) solids.

Take two.  We offered Bo a bottle much earlier and, at times, it looked like he might cooperate and actually drink from it.  But, in the end, he agreed with his brother that the breast was preferable.  Since pumping is something that I generally hate and would only do if I absolutely needed to (i.e. when I’d wake in the night about to burst but baby was still sleeping), I didn’t bother filling my freezer with bags of milk.  In fact, I can probably count on one hand the number of times I pumped for this kid.

This is where I need to give props to all those moms who pumped in order to feed their babies breastmilk – either because nursing wasn’t working or due to returning to work.  You are amazing.  Truly.

As I reflect on our breastfeeding experience so far, I realize I have so much more to write about.  Stay tuned for the rest…