Monday, June 30, 2008
Amanda: "I pulled Ada from daycare. It just wasn't working out and she wasn't adjusting to it."
Dad: "Well, that's okay. Sometimes it doesn't work out."
Amanda: "It's just stressful because it is really hard to get into a daycare in the city."
Dad: "You can always put her in a kennel."
After analyzing that statement, it makes perfect sense. I'd pay about the same amount on a daily basis, she'd get groomed, her nails would be clipped, she'd get to play with the other "kids", they'd pick up her poop, she'd be well fed, exercised, and would have plenty of one-on-one attention and time for naps. Not a bad idea.
Then talking to my boss about how daycare wasn't able to spend one-on-one time with her, wanted her to be able to play by herself and be more independent, etc.
Me: "I had to pull Ada out of daycare since it wasn't a good fit for her. They wanted her to play on her own and be an easy baby, nap a lot, entertain herself. My dad said I should just put her in a kennel but that seems to be too expensive."
My boss: "Well, if they aren't going to give her one-on-one attention and interact with her, you might as well put her in one of those storage lockers at the bus station. Aren't they just a quarter? And you could leave her there indefinitely. Just stop by every so often to change her diaper, feed her. That's way cheaper than $100 a day and she'd get the same treatment."
Moral of the story: It's always good to have people in your life who can find the humor in a stressful situation.
Being a parent makes you more sensitive to all the tragic crap that goes on in the world. National disasters, sad news about the loss of a child, what it would be like for a child to lose a parent and overall how precious life is. I'm more sensitive to the news and I try to be more aware of other parents, women with strollers, and ways I can be more helpful to new moms. It changes the way you see the world.
Having a child means your world is inundated with toys. Bouncy seats, exerscausers, swings, boppys, bumbos, playmats, blocks, stuffed animals, books, etc. Prepare to trip on all of it and get used to having bruises resulting from stumbling.
And speaking of bruising, keep an ice pack handy in the freezer for when you happen to bump your head putting the car seat in and out of the car. Or for when the door hits you in the elbow as you try to shimmy through it while wrangling the car seat and the diaper bag and the stroller through at the same time.
Do your best to get your rest. It's tough with kids but take naps when you can and go to bed early every once in awhile just to replenish yourself.
Moral of the story: Try to stay positive, watch where you are going, and get your sleep so your in the best shape for keeping up with your kid.
a big deal to make baby blankets for people who are having a baby. And an even bigger deal when the crafty person finishes the project before the intended recipient turns 25 and no longer needs a baby blanket. Many mothers have tried to make something for their children only to get caught up in life, never to finish the projects they started.
Ada is lucky to have a lot of people who are crafty who love her as she has a collection of homemade blankets. She has one from her great grandma Helen (who passed away just a few months before Ada was born, crocheted with a border finished by her great aunt Connie), her grandma Barb (crocheted), her mom's friend Cassie (knitted), her mom's friend Heather (a quilt with her name and birthday sewn on it), her mom's friend Lorraine (cross stitched), and finally me - her mom (knitted, seen above, and finished before Ada turned 7 months old - which is a big deal for crafty people trying to get things done on time). She also has handmade hats (Amanda, Rebecca, Sherry O), a poncho (Rebecca), sweaters (Sherry O, Barb, me someday hopefully), booties (Cassie, Rebecca), and even a sock elephant with a dress and a bow in her hair (Cassie).
The times when mothers made all of their children's clothes has pretty much passed us by. But I'm proud to say that I was able to knit a blanket for my baby to enjoy as a constant reminder that she is loved. I started it months before she was born and it spent hours draped across the belly that she called home for 10 months. Hopefully it will spend many more hours providing her warmth and a sense of security as she grows into a beautiful woman.
Moral of the story: The love that goes into a handmade gift for a baby is unmatched. If you're crafty, consider sharing that love with a little bundle of joy in your life.
The other day I compared having a baby to that contest radio stations have every once and a while to win a car. You know, the one where you have to have some part of your body touching the car at all times and the last person left touching the car in the end wins? Babies are kind of like that. Once they go to sleep, someone always has to be home. But you don't win a car in the end and you can get up to go pee or get a snack so in many ways it is better than the car contest. And you get a tax break for having a baby whereas winning the car you have to pay taxes...
Moral of the story: Find people that are willing to come watch movies or read books or just sit on your couch and stare at the wall while your child sleeps so that you can go out and do things after 7 pm. Even if you just use that time to run to the grocery store or go to a movie or get a bite to eat, it is good to get out of the house at night so you don't feel trapped.
The good news: Breastfed babies don't poop a lot. Some poop everyday, some poop once a week. It isn't like they poop in every diaper all day long and you won't be relegated to the bathroom to clean poopy diapers every five minutes.
The bad news: Poopy diapers stink. And you have to rinse them out before you wash them in the laundry machine - unless you use a diaper service, but even then you should at least remove the majority of your baby's handy work.
The solution: We've decided to change the poopy diaper, take it to the toilet, swish it around, flush the solid material while we hold the diaper in the water, then rinse the diaper in the sink and put it into the diaper pail. Since the diaper pail is smelling more funky than ever before, we're attempting to use a "wet pail" instead of a "dry pail" meaning that we fill the pail with water and let the diapers soak in it until it is time to wash them - which is about every other day. This is supposed to cut the acid of the urine and contain the funky smell a bit. If you have a top loading washer, you can dump the water in with the diapers when you do the wash. I have a front loading machine so I can either drain it in the tub and pull out some rubber gloves to transfer it to the machine, or I can run downstairs and wash them in the coin machine. Not pleasant but I'm doing what I can to save money and the environment.
I'm also going to try out the cloth wipes for when she has a poopy diaper. I think they will be easy to use and I can throw them into the "wet pail" with the diapers instead of throwing them into the garbage can and having to take the garbage out every time she poops.
Another tip -- we tend to use disposable diapers when we travel since we already have to take a gazillion things with us when we travel with the baby. Otherwise you have to take the diapers, covers, wipes, and a bag to transport all of the dirty diapers back home with you, and you may have to do laundry while you are out and about. We've done it both ways but find that for convience it is a bit less bulk to use disposables. That and I fear having to swish and spin in a public toilet.
Moral of the story: Cloth diapers are a bit more work and a bit more disgusting, unless you have a diaper service, but it really isn't that bad. You have to deal with the poop either way so just take a deep breath and try not to breath -- or be mature like me and yell "not it" as soon as you smell the baby bomb, then pass her off to your husband.
Nursing mothers are a delicate species. There are rumors that the women from La Leche are a bit hard core, some might say crazy, but I'd describe them more as passionate about nursing. Breastmilk, as I've covered before, is insanely good for your child. It has tons of benefits, nursing is a major bonding experience, and it's way cheaper than formula. Nursing, as an experience, changes a mother. I must admit, I was temporarily insane for a few hours last week when I thought I might have to stop nursing abruptly. It happens to the best of us. Now let me give the rest of the world a little bit of insight into the mind of a nursing mother and how best not to set them off.
When I became pregnant, I was hopeful that nursing would take, I'd be able to produce enough milk, Ada would latch on, it wouldn't be too painful, yadda yadda. There are a ton of issues that go into the decision to nurse. It is a very personal choice, and one that is highly influenced by spouses, a woman's workplace, friends, peers. And in the US, it isn't as popular or widely accepted as it is in foreign countries since somewhere someone decided that potentially seeing a little boob exposed in public was a bad thing -- definitely wasn't a man making that decision.
Lucky for me, Ada took to nursing and it turns out I have good boobs. Which was shocking since everyone made fun of me for being small busted as a teenager and I've been a bit self conscious ever since then. Now I'm a temporary C cup and don't know what to do with them. But I digress...
If you know someone who is nursing, the first rule is to be supportive of her decision. If you are uncomfortable with her whipping out the boob in your presence, you can mention it to her in private or leave the room when she is feeding. Chances of you seeing actual boob are not likely, and if you do, consider it a free scene from an R rated movie and get over it. It's part of the miracle of life. You'll understand one day when you have kids and if you don't, then you're weird.
Second rule is not to ever suggest that she switch to formula unless it is something she really wants to do and your position is one of saying, "don't worry that you have to supplement with formula/stop nursing. Babies are brought up on formula all of the time and it doesn't make you a bad mom. The fact that you tried nursing is more than a lot of people and something you can be proud of." This follows rule number one by being supportive.
Rule number three is never suggest to a nursing mother that she stop nursing and bottle feed the breastmilk to the baby in order to break the mother/child bond so it is easier for others to take care of the baby. That's just stupid. Babies need their mothers. It is their time together and I don't believe you can spoil your child by nursing them.
Rule four, don't ever suggest a mother supplement formula for breastmilk in order to make the baby less gassy once they are a few months old. The baby should adjust to the mother's milk after about a month so if they are gassy, it isn't likely due to what the mom is eating.
Rule five, if you aren't an expert on nursing, or haven't at the very least experienced it yourself, don't ever tell a nursing mother what to do. Just don't.
Rule six, don't ever tell a mother they need to go to the bathroom to breastfeed unless you are going to provide them with a comfortable chair and sanitary conditions for them to nurse privately. No one should be banished to a dirty public restroom in order to not disturb the other patrons. That's crap.
Rule seven, be sensitive to a woman who is weaning her child off the boob. It is a very emotional time. I've got it in my head that I will nurse Ada for about a year. That seems to be a common goal for moms. Some make it a few weeks, some go for six months, I'm shooting for a year since that is when she can switch to whole cow's milk. Mooo. One of my main motivations is that I don't want to pay for formula since it is so expensive. The other reason, which I realized only after my milk supply was threatened, is that I really like our time spent nursing because I have an excuse to cuddle with Ada. And if someone else is holding her, I have an excuse to take her back anytime I want because "she needs to nurse". It's great.
Rule eight, encourage your workplace and stores you shop at to be mom friendly and provide amenities for nursing moms. It's difficult enough to nurse but even worse when you have to try to find somewhere you feel you can whip out your boob in order to get your kid to stop screaming in public. Just adjusting to motherhood is tough but once you add nursing, you're on a whole new level in the game of life.
I will say that mother's shouldn't nurse their children to sleep, or should at least try not to since it can be bad for their teeth in the long run and they can get ear infections too. But it is easier said than done and takes time to change that habit.
And a mini lesson in milk production. Even though your doctor/lactation consultant/friend's-mother's-grandfather's-dog-that-has-since-passed-away-and-been-reincarnated-as-a-fairy-godmother says that you can go on a birth control with estrogen, even if it is localized like the nuva ring, there is still a good chance it will decrease your milk production, especially if you are thin. And stress can dramatically lower your milk production. And when your child starts solids, your milk supply will drop. So when you start nursing, it is best if you can pump a little each day to store in the freezer for when/if your milk supply dwindles. And if it does, don't worry. It can, and likely will, come back. In my case, I thought I was done for since I only had 3 oz left. But then I stayed home with Ada for a day and nursed, pumped like crazy, de-stressed a bit, got off the estrogen birth control and things have been much better. And it really helps to reduce stress if you just go out and buy a formula you'd be willing to give your child mixed with some breastmilk in case you ever run out. Then you know that even if things go poorly with your supply, your child won't starve to death for lack of milk, even if it is formula -- which isn't a four letter word mind you. It's just really expensive. :)
And as an afterthought to all of this, be sure you have friends who have nursed that you can ask all kinds of questions. I asked several friends what to do the other day and I got three completely different answers. It was a great way for me to realize that it is my choice whether or not I nurse, for how long, how often, etc. One friend said "stop nursing if it is too much work, too stressful, not enjoyable, etc." Another said, "Don't worry, you can get your milk production back up. You don't have to give up yet if you don't want to, but it is okay if you do." And yet another said, "You can always do a combo of nursing and supplement your milk with formula until you decide to stop nursing or continue full force. Some women only nurse once or twice a day for months and give their babies formula or cow's milk for the rest of their feedings." All of which was great advice and made me feel that I didn't have to make a drastic decision to stop nursing right away.
Moral of the story: Don't mess with a nursing momma, be supportive of the ones you know, and never give them advice unless you know what you're talking about.
My advice to anyone dealing with a similar situation - and the lesson I've learned from all of this is... You are the parent. Your decision and opinion is the only one that matters in the end. Get a spine and stand up for what you believe in. Listen to your gut, fight for whatever your gut tells you to do, and don't let other people boss you around when it comes to caring for your child. This is a hard thing to do, as I've struggled with it and finally snapped after about 3 weeks of knowing that things just weren't right for Ada.
As for the gory details, we had the meeting, listened to the daycare's suggestions for possible ways to make things better for Ada and her experience and it backfired - in my opinion. (This will lead to another blog on how to deal with a nursing mother and what not to ever suggest to them.) What we tried was only feeding Ada from a bottle, having a strict morning routine, and reducing the amount of time when we had physical contact with Ada (nursing, carrying, cuddling, etc.). We also learned that daycare wasn't feeding her to sleep, while I was -- even though I was trying to break her of that habit since it is bad for her oral hygiene. The good thing that came from all of this was that she doesn't need to be feed to sleep anymore and the morning routine helped get her into more of a daily routine and she seems to be happier with that. The bad news is that this new routine didn't really improve her behavior at daycare. Now I must add that we had this meeting on a Monday. They implemented their changes and spent more time with her that week. Then that weekend I implemented the changes on our end. Come the following Tuesday, I was a wreck. In the process of not nursing Ada in order to reduce the bond she had with me (I now know this is just asinine so don't even start with me - touchy subject) my milk production dropped. Low. As in I went from supplying daycare with 20 ounces or more each day to having 3 oz to send to daycare with her that Wednesday. Knowing things were bad, I contacted my lactation consultant and we had a heart to heart.
Long story shortened up a bit - see the blog on dealing with a nursing mother - I realized that things at daycare weren't getting any better and I didn't want Ada in a daycare that didn't believe in holding her, giving her the one-on-one attention that she needed, and suggested that I try to break my bond with her so that it is easier for her to be "dealt with" at daycare. It turns out that 6 months is a pretty critical time in a baby's life and one in which she really needs to have a strong bond with her parents in order to develop a sense of trust and to combat separation anxiety.
So the drama unfolded Tuesday night when I asked daycare to feed Ada a mix of breastmilk and soy formula on Wednesday since I didn't have enough milk. Ada had had a rotten day that day and the report wasn't good. Then daycare said they didn't want to be the first one to give Ada formula with her breastmilk on Wednesday. I didn't feel that was very accommodating so that was the straw that broke the camel's back. I got into the car to come home, called Rick and told him we were done. Then we called to tell daycare and we've been having friends and family watch Ada for last week and this week. And she is so much happier for it.
Moral of the story: Get a spine, be your child's advocate because no one else will, and follow your gut for everything in life.
Friday, June 20, 2008
Some of you may know I'm originally from Iowa. And I went to the University of Iowa for my undergraduate degree. My dad's been a football season ticket holder for as long as I can remember. And as a little girl, I slept with a herky stuffed animal every night. He played the Iowa fight song from a musicbox sewn in his torso.
As a mother now, it is even harder to watch the news without thinking "what if that were my family?" I saw a photo of a woman carrying a baby about Ada's size while she was on the second story deck of an apartment in Coralville that already had water halfway up the first floor. I can't imagine having to move into a shelter with your kids and then worry about getting diapers, wipes, baby food, formula, and clothing for them too.
Farms are destroyed, pets have been lost, families displaced, but it couldn't have happened to a nicer state of people. Iowa will rebuild, but unlike other disaster areas in the US, they'll have fun doing it. Being a marketing person, I worried that this would hurt Iowa's current campaign trying to draw people to the state because of how great of a place it is to live. Now I feel this whole situation will only reinforce that message by showing compelling stories of neighbors helping neighbors rebuild and get through the "Floods of '08". It will take time, but Iowa will be just fine.
If you are interested in helping with the relief effort, here are a few organizations that you may want to contact - Family Farm Disaster Fund - Mennonite Disaster Service - Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation - University of Iowa Flood Relief Fund
Friday, June 13, 2008
So the positives of having a baby...
Her smiling face makes it all worthwhile.
You get to take credit for all of the awesome things she does - like when Ada started sucking her thumb, albeit momentarily. Dad's pretty excited about that.
She's super fun to cuddle with. And when she holds on to you for fear of falling, it almost feels like a hug. It's pretty awesome to think that this little thing thinks you are the most important person in the world.
You are proud of every little milestone, and feel the need to share it with friends -"She's pooping solids! Yippee! We're so proud."
And when she whacks at the spoon as you try to feed her and sends food flying through the air you can make easy, quick jokes - "Her father taught her that." "She's in training for the 2020 Olympics. By then, Food Fighting should be a competitive sport."
The smiles and attention you get walking down the street with a baby.
Free time when she is busy entertaining herself on her play mat or in her bouncy seat.
Being bustier and able to eat a lot, from nursing.
Getting buff arm muscles from holding her and lifting her up and down.
Redecorating your house as part of baby proofing and making room for a nursery. (Note: I didn't say "remodeling" but "redecorating" instead.
Using the fact that you have kids as an excuse for having a messy house.
The feeling of accomplishment when someone compliments your parenting skills - "She sleeps through the night! That's awesome! You guys must be doing something right."
The feeling of good fortune when you realise how rare it is for your child to sleep through the night.
Forming closer relationships with relatives since they all want to spend time with the baby.
As a form of entertainment, babies are excellent performers. Watching her expression as she eats a food she doesn't like is quite fun. And the enormous smile you get just from shaking her legs or blubbering your lips can entertain for hours.
She's a great reason to get the camera you've always wanted - watch for the improved photos to be posted soon.
And how awesome is it that I created a new person to roam on the earth? I think that is the best part.
Moral of the story: Kids are a ton of work but they bring so many good times, memories, and laughs that it is all worthwhile a million times over. So get to procreating already!
Monday, June 9, 2008
I've only known half a dozen parents who have taken their kids to day care and I've never really known other parents who didn't have it go okay so I don't have any preconceived ideas about how it should or shouldn't be. And Ada has been really fussy at day care but I just assumed that was her teething or one of her colds or her sinus infection, or just a rough day. So last week I was a bit shocked when her day care said we need to find a strategy to improve her experience at day care. I'm not sure what that means and I feel funny admitting it but, we have a parent-day care conference scheduled for this week to discuss how things are going. At 6 months old I already feel like she's dragging me into the Principal's office. My goodness!
So far, I think I've been rather relaxed about day care and not too worried about what she's doing all day since I know she's in good hands and I trust her care takers. But since she has been having a bunch of fussy days and there isn't much consistency between how she behaves at home vs. day care, it turns out that this whole day care thing is really stressful. Because she isn't getting reports of having a lot of "Happy Ada" time, now I'm concerned that it might not be going okay. She might not be adjusting to it as well as I thought. Which, as a mom, makes me feel like I am failing her and I constantly wonder if she is crying all day while I am at work. I know when I'm home with her, she always has a reason for crying -- mainly her teeth are hurting--but I can run through the wet, dirty, overtired, hot, hungry, gassy, bored, teething, uncomfortable list and figure it out. Occasionally she just needs a cuddle but for the most part, I'd say 99% of the time she has a reason to be ticked off at this age -- unlike before when you really just never knew. So I'm extra concerned that she may be crying just because she doesn't like going to day care. Maybe she's secretly allergic to other kids... hmmmm... that would be bad if we have more kids huh...
So among all of the things I must learn as a parent, I now get to include how to make sure she is adjusting well to day care -- or the more scary alternative of finding an alternative to day care while living in the city. To add to my list of things no one ever tells you before you have kids... not only is day care expensive, but there aren't many options - all having pluses and minus - and they tend to have wait lists to get your kid accepted if you live in the city. If things don't start to improve with day care, I'll have to look into a nanny share, other day cares, another mom who is looking to take in another kid during the day, a college student who needs a summer job a few days a week, or becoming a stay-at-home mom full time -- which would be a serious last resort for me and financially not really viable.
And on top of the stress of thinking she might not be her happy self all day long, here I am with the feeling that my kid is the one that day care just can't wait to get rid of at 5pm. "It's Ada's mom, Thank God!" "Finally we can get rid of this screaming child!" I don't want to be that parent. I don't want her to be that kid who screams all day and is miserable. Not only do I not want the day care staff to look at me like I've brought a monster into the world, but I don't want her to be unhappy. She's my little monster, and I love her. I'll admit there are days where I think it would be nice to send her back or give her away, but I don't really mean it. It's just a nice fantasy to have when she has been screaming at me for an hour because her teeth hurt and she's tired because she couldn't take a nap because she was coughing and couldn't sleep because her teeth hurt and the Orajel wore off already and she's tired...and I'm tired of her screaming at me.
Moral of the story: This blog is to be continued... we'll see how it ends up. Either way, Ada needs to be somewhere she is comfortable, happy, and enjoys going to three days a week. Hopefully we'll be closer to figuring that out by the end of the week for her sake and for ours.
Pre-mommyhood, birthday parties were about going out to the clubs and getting crazy with friends -- or in our case, having our 30 closest friends come over for a crazy night in. It has typically been a day for me to get wild and free and be silly. This year however, I feel things have changed a bit. They didn't necessarily have to, but they did. Instead of a house party into the wee hours, I opted for a daytime BBQ and was in bed at 9. Instead of a small array of chocolate martinis, I had a few glasses of water... and several desserts. And instead of me being the subject of the photos, Ada took center stage. I don't think there are any photos of me at my birthday party. Granted, I also decided to do a shared birthday party with Ada since she'll be 6 months in about a week. (I'll have to blog on my belief that birthdays should not be overshadowed by holidays and I can set whatever traditions I want since the majority of Americans can't tell you why we celebrate most of the holidays we do... but I'll get to that.) So things changed a bit, but in a good way.
The party was a blast. It was great to see so many friends come out to celebrate. I ate some fabulous desserts and got to spend a little time with a lot of good friends. I think it was similar to a wedding or baby shower where there are so many people and you are the host, or just the one person everyone has in common, so everyone needs you to make decisions -- do we need more meat? do you want me to get more ice? should we put out more cupcakes? But it is a challenge to host your birthday party when you are busy playing mommy at the same time. I am blessed to have a child that doesn't mind strangers and can be held by many, and passed around pretty well, but I'm also still nursing so there were a few times during the party that I had to disappear into the nursery to try to get Ada to sleep. It's tough greeting your guests as they come in and leave when you're exposing your left boob. Maybe that would have made the party even more wild and crazy though-- I hadn't thought of that...
But that was yesterday. Not my actual birthday but the day before my birthday. And today, my actual birthday, I got to wake up to a messy house and a sizable list of mommy duties and chores. But I must say, it beats a day with a hangover hands down.
So in my reflections of turning a year older, I look back on 28 and have hopes for 29. I'm thankful for my girlfriends who took me to lunch and dinner today to celebrate in Rick's absence--he had to work late on my birthday. I'm thankful for my beautiful daughter whom I spent the entire day with and I must say, she took a nice morning nap, didn't fuss much, behaved well at lunch at a restaurant and while on errands, slept in the car and at Aunt Anne's house, ate well, and made a great doorstop as I managed the inner and outer vestibule doors today with the stroller and diaper bag-- venturing out twice. She pooped solid poops today since she started solids--happy birthday mom--and not once, but three times. And she didn't even give me grief about going to bed at 8:15 instead of her usual 6:30-7:30 window.
And, since it is my birthday, she even let me read my favorite stories to her before bed. How lucky am I?
Moral of the story: A lot of things change when you have a baby, but they aren't all bad. Sure you see friends globetrotting and spending lavishly on frivolous things, but I have a baby. And I wouldn't change that for the world. Her smile just before she went to bed tonight was worth every tough moment I've had these last 6 months, and I'd do it again in a heartbeat.