Monday, August 13, 2012

Same Fish, New Pond

I have exciting news! First, I want to say thank you for your readership and support of this blog. This will be the last post here, and most of the archives have moved as well. I've launched a new blog at to share all the excitement of our growing family. It will also offer advice and tips on topics relevant to young families. So follow me on Twitter, or at the new blog. With two under two it's sure to be an interesting story!

Friday, August 3, 2012

"Should we get some formula?" he asked.

This week is World Breastfeeding Week and a quick stomp around the internet will show you news about "Latch On NYC," a myriad of Mother's tales of breastfeeding woes, 100 ways breastfeeding is great, and (of course) nursing bra sales. I've shied away from blogging about the topic because my husband and I don't see eye-to-eye on the importance. As quick as he was to support cloth diapering because that's how he was raised, he's also holding onto his lingering support of formula because he "turned out fine." It's not my intention to share this to bad-mouth my husband, but rather to let other mothers who may encounter the same resistance know that they are not alone. If you'd rather read about David Beckham literally supporting VB while breastfeeding, I would encourage you to do that here. The story (and image) got me through many wee hours.

I imagine that my DH loves breasts just as much as the average man, but he cannot wrap his head around the value of their intended purpose. Unfortunately for my cause, the nurses at the hospital chose to immediately offer my daughter a bottle due to her early delivery. It's questionable whether this was necessary, and it is absolutely the route cause of many of my early difficulties with nursing and post-partum recovery. However, my husband relished the opportunity to feed our daughter her bottles in the early days since I was often hooked up to a breast pump. Who was I to take that bonding experience away from them? When we got home, my days were ruled by the cycle of nursing, pumping, feeding Hannah a bottle of formula, feeding Hannah expressed milk, and then the general newborn care. It was insanity and I can understand now why my husband pleaded with me to just give her the bottle time and again. Throughout the months I nursed, I spewed off La Leche League facts by the dozens and reminded him how quickly I lost the baby weight, but he countered all of them with support of the powdered alternative. The same man who glared at me each time I asked for a glass of water while stationed in my nursing chair, handwashed bottle after bottle so that I'd never be able to complain that I didn't have a clean set.

It took over a month to begin exclusively breastfeeding Hannah, and then several more months to find "our groove." Almost as quickly as I joined a support group and began to really enjoy nursing Hannah and feeling its benefits, I got pregnant again and everything changed. The physical demands of both babies resulted in me being constantly tired and hungry. It didn't help that Hannah wasn't sleeping through the night either. When I began to notice weight loss towards the end of my first trimester I started to wean her. Let me tell you, that pro-bottle husband of mine was the first person to run to the grocery store to buy formula, but the last person to hold our squirming, howling daughter as she fought the transition to a new meal. In general, weaning was awful. Although I did get my energy back, my breasts hurt to the point that I could barely lift Hannah for the first week after her last meal. On top of that, I felt guilty about weaning and I was no longer getting the reassuring oxytocin high from my body that I apparently really needed. Plus, Hannah didn't sleep through the night any easier in the long run. I finally understood PPD and learned that many Moms experience similar symptoms when they wean even if it didn't affect them post partum. Shortly after all this, the breastfeeding cover on the Times rocked the world and I immediately sided with the AP parents. Had I known earlier what I know now, I would have tried everything imaginable to continue nursing Hannah through this pregnancy and into the next years.

If you're lucky enough to have a husband that pampers you while nursing, offers continuous support through the nighttime feedings, and rubs your back to ease the pain in the early days, I salute you. But if you don't, you can still find success in nursing. Seek out a nursing mothers group or hang out at the Mother's Room in Toys R Us or Nordstrom until another woman arrives with her baby so you can talk to someone else. Just being in the presence of others who share their bodies with their babies can be a true comfort. Most importantly, as Mothers, we should never judge others for the way they choose to nourish their children. The people who breastfeed for 3 days deserve just as much respect as those who breastfeed for 3 years and everything in between. By supporting one another, we'll make a more welcoming environment for nursing.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Who's Elmo?

By today's standards I'm guessing nearly any other kid would consider me a mean Mommy. I don't let my daughter watch TV. But, at 13 months, she hasn't asked and we've been really busy. Don't get me wrong- I love kid's TV shows more than the average adult, but I planned for a TV free year before she was born and we're going to keep it up for her little sister that's on the way.

Avoiding the tube works for us because Hannah is a spirited baby with loads of opinions. We keep a pretty tight schedule each day because she blows the whistle to ensure I stay on track. I'm pretty sure that if she got in the habit of watching a half hour of Disney Jr. in the morning, a trip to the grocery store would be out of the question until the show's over.

Being 9 1/2 months pregnant and cutting back to one nap a day has made turning on the TV very enticing. Luckily I cancelled Netflix and our cable isn't due to arrive until the baby's due date, so I haven't given in to the "Babysitter." When I do need a break, I sit down in Hannah's room while she entertains herself with her toys. Unfortunately, if I lay on the floor I become a jungle gym, so I'm really glad we asked for the splurge glider since I spend HOURS in it.

Now that Hannah is listening and learning, it's really fun to help her explore her toys in new ways. She's got a neat set of boxes with color coordinated toys inside. As she opens them, I narrate her actions and ask her questions. She is best at answering "Ba(ll)"! The other day, we sang a song about Bears, so I let her stuffed Bear raid all the boxes in search of food. She laughed and laughed as he turned his nose up at the balls and crayons and then "devoured" the foods. When she finished playing, I sang the clean up song, picked up her toys, and commended her for making an attempt to put something away. We had a great time!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

13 Months Old

The past few months have literally flown by. It seems like every day Hannah learned something new. She's still waiting to take her first unassisted steps, but that doesn't keep her from getting into anything and everything. She can crawl or cruise on the furniture and climb stairs. The first time she found a set to conquer she pulled herself right to the top and said, "up!" As we play, she frequently climbs up my arms to give me a hug and babbles "yay yo yu," to repeat my, "I love you." Her Dad has taught her the funniest hissing and chortling noises, which she makes whenever he's nearby or approaching. Now she's starting to add kisses into her repertoire of raspberries and gurgles.  Does this little girl love to laugh and smile? Yes, she is a regular comedian! Nearly any repetitive action will enthrall her and she easily remembers the special ways each person she sees makes her happy.

A few days ago she did a great job singing and signing through Twinkle Twinkle Little Star with me and I'd love to get it on video, but she's way too interested in the camera to pay attention to the song.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The End of the Madness

Things have been crazy around here to put it mildly. I'm naively hopeful that this is the end of an era of madness, but something tells me that I will look back at this time nostalgically as the beginning of an era of chaos. Over the last few months my husband and I found and bought a foreclosed home with a VA loan and financed through Wells Fargo. We quickly discovered that this is the Bermuda Triangle of home purchases, which is why my little blog has taken the back burner for the time being. I know you've all missed the Hannah updates- and it has been absolutely delightful watching her grow and reach age one, but if you're interested in hearing the back story behind our wonderfully terrible decisions it's about to begin.

We scoured the market for a deal and finally found our diamond in the rough "rough in the diamonds." With aspirations as high as the ceilings at Lowes we planned our renovation budget and made our offers. At that point Audrey's due date was a solid four months out and it seemed completely reasonable that we could refresh our beautiful home-to-be and get settled before her arrival. We spent the next months dodging bullets of every size attempting to secure our loan and finally purchase our house.

If you're not familiar with the VA Loan program, it's a fantastic benefit for Veterans to be able to purchase a home with many special caveats. Most notably, you can put no money down without paying for PMI, so you end up saving about $100 each month. There are lots of other great aspects the VA covers in your purchase, but you have to do your research, secure your own documentation, and stay on top of the bank. For example, veterans that receive monthly disability compensation do not have to pay a mortgage funding fee and there is a new energy efficiency loan that can be added into your mortgage to help cover the cost of an updated HVAC or similar item. The best resource for any of this information is the VA itself. There are regional offices that you can contact in order to get details on your options. That being said, the VA does have restrictions on the property condition and it is nearly impossible to purchase a foreclosed home because of this. However, if you're willing to fight with every person involved in your loan, you may be able to set up an escrow account to cover the cost of repairs so that you can do them after you take possession of the property.

Our experience with Wells Fargo has been severely negative. I'm going to forgo the bad-mouthing on this blog and simply say that I don't recommend them for anything banking related. Unfortunately the "convenience" of online banking has made it so that swapping banks would be an utter fiasco if I even tried, so we're stuck. However, in the end (only three weeks past our intended settlement date), we did end up with the paperwork for a mortgage! You don't even get keys at a closing when you buy a foreclosure so it ends up being a very anticlimactic finale to a long, stressful run.

Now we have been homeowners for two weeks and my husband has battled numerous house wars with the help of family and friends. The light at the end of the tunnel is that we have a brand new beauty of a kitchen and I haven't gone into labor yet. Audrey is itching to get out while I desperately try to keep her nestled in the womb for several more weeks. So we're attempting to balance bed rest with care for a one-year-old and all the delights of moving. Never a dull moment in our house, but it still feels good to call it our own.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

10 Months Old

Hannah's 10 Month Day came and went on the 12th. I realized at that point I was 6 months behind in filling out her baby book (eek!) So I took the time I would normally dedicate to blogging and filled that in instead. Whew, glad I had the blog to reference.

Monday, March 12, 2012

9 Months Old!

It's amazing how much Hannah has grown in the last month. She's on the verge of crawling and is getting so mobile. Now that she rolls with ease and transfers from sitting to laying down she can get to anything. She shows her excitement by clapping, smiling, giggling, and even talking. Her favorite word is "Heyyy!" She can also say, "up" and "mama." It's clear that she understands a lot of the words I use regularly, too. Since she hears "all gone" at the end of each meal, she beams with pride and sometimes even claps.

Hannah was a little trooper for the longest drive we've taken yet. We traveled 17 hours down the coast with many stops over the course of a few days. Now that we're enjoying some fun in the sun and nice weather we can spend more time outside. The place where I notice how much she's growing is always the playground. Each time we go she develops an interest in a new activity. First she liked to swing, now she's interacting with other kids and balancing while I hold her on the climbing toys. It's only a matter of time before she swings along the monkey bars!

For now, there is so much for her to discover and explore, but it's all happening so quickly. It seems like every day she rolls a little further or pulls herself up a little higher. I can't wait to share in her excitement and enthusiasm for learning about the world around her as she continues to grow into a sweet little girl.