Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Octopus SuperMom

I see you guys everytime I drop my kids off at preschool. Moms of 3 or 4 year olds, struggling to hold little hands, totebags, diaper bags, purses, school snacks, craft projects and often pushing a stroller or carrying a baby to boot. Let me let you in on a little secret. A secret that having a 3rd child, while my oldest was only 4, and my middle was almost 3, has taught me. They can do it themselves. They will do it themselves, if you let them. They SHOULD do it themselves. Now I'm not talking about Moms of two year olds. Two year olds can't be trusted. They are a menace, especially in a parking lot. But that 3 or 4 year old can carry her school bag, or put on his coat, or wait to spill their craft projects everywhere. By all means, hold onto those little hands, especially in the parking lot. But let them help you out. You don't have to do it all. I'm just sayin.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Nine Months and Irritable

Warning: The following is a discussion, (ok its at least partly a rant), on breastfeeding. I have no desire to be nor intention of being "delicate".

Full Disclosure: I am nine months pregnant with my 3rd child. (Read: CRANKY!) I am not "trained" in a schooling sense in the following subject matter. I am simply someone who's been doing it nearly nonstop for 4.5 years, with a few more to go.

I was lucky. For one, my first child was a nursing addict, and always hungry. It forced fast learning. For two, I had sisters who had done this before and were right there on either side of me when he was born. Someone asked if I wanted to nurse him, and I looked at them and said, "I don't know what to do..." and they made it happen. It helps when there are TWO sisters. One handled my breast, the other handled my son and poof! Just like magic, he was latched on and content. It made the hurdle into Dairy Cow Land much much easier.

I let my kids self wean, so I've been doing this for a long time. It means I've hit a lot of bumps and bruises. I've always found that other nursing moms are the best resources for tips and tricks and solutions to problems. Which brings me to my current rage.

My friend recently gave birth to her second child. She did not nurse her first and is determined to make it happen for the second, even tho he's a preemie. When she found herself in pain, and still well within the "postpartum" period, she called her OB, who promptly brushed her off as not having a "real" problem. So she contacted a lactation consultant, who diagnosed her with yeast, but can't prescribe medication. The consultant recommended a medicine and dose that the OB won't prescribe because they don't believe she needs that med at that high a dose. Between my friend's arguing experts she remains in pain and confused. Enter a second lactation consultant, who at least had the sense to check on the baby's latch, which seems to be ok for his preemie age. My friend is sent to a breast surgeon, who she described as "hearing aid old". He informs her, (I almost can't type this it makes me so angry), that there is no such thing as a yeast infection of the breast AND that since the baby is 6 weeks old, (which, BTW, does not yet take him to his due date), that he has gotten all the benefits that he possibly can from breastmilk, so she should just quit. Insert rage here.

So now my friend is udderly confused, (pun intended), and I am noticing that she doesn't seem ok. I don't want to pry, but I decided to put out some feelers and see if I could help. She fills me in on the story and it just doesn't seem like anyone evaluated all the possibilities here. When you have a first time nursing mom in pain, there are a few basic reasons to look into. Each "expert" looked at one or another, but no one went through the whole process with her. Not even the lactation consultants.

We get to chatting and I tell her about the problems I had and how I fixed them. I also told her, and I realize that no one ever says this, but they should, that it does hurt. Especially when you are first starting, and especially if you are doing a lot of pumping, (which you do when you have a preemie). This particular issue really bugs me. I see leaflets all the time spelling out all the benefits of breastfeeding, but no one ever talks about the pitfalls. I get that they don't want to scare people away from trying, but all the women I know who consider their nursing experience a failure were misinformed about what to expect on the con side of things. They all tell me that if they had known what they were experiencing was normal, they wouldn't have quit. We are not stupid. Paint us a complete picture!

Then I asked an innocent question. I asked if she was "lubing up" before she pumped. She had no idea what I was talking about. I cannot describe the shock I experienced when I realized that she had a hospital birth, with a lactation consultant on staff, hired two of them herself, is renting her pump from the hospital, and none of them presented her with a lanolin based nipple cream, (technically not a cream at all, but that's what people call it). I just can't believe they could all miss something so simple, and so necessary. How is this possible?

Now I lived off of this stuff. I just assumed that I was particularly sensitive, as everyone claimed that if you did it right it didn't hurt. Bull. It hurts, unless you spend your evenings hanging irons from them, your nipples are not used to this level of attention, especially the friction. It takes some getting used to. I remember being so sore that I couldn't bear putting the stuff on, and my lactation consultant showed me how to put it on my breast pad instead and then wear the pad. Such a simple little thing that provided SO MUCH RELIEF!!!

I decided right then and there that I would just have to bring her some, right now. The snowstorm of the century had begun, but she's not far away and there's a drugstore on the way. The thought of going through all that nursing and pumping and struggling COMPLETELY DRY was just too much. And MaryLou, my 14 year old Saturn with the squeaky belt, had always served me well. True to form, she got me to the drugstore, and my friends house, and home unscathed.

I feel much better knowing that right now, while we are all snowed in, at least my friend had a tube of relief in her possession. I realize there's no telling if that's the sole cause of her pain, but I guarantee you its a good portion.

So who is to blame? How do we fix this gap in postpartum mom's care? I don't know. For the first six weeks after you have a baby, you are really under the care of your OB. Are OB's trained in breastfeeding pitfalls and problems? If you develop a problem outside of six weeks postpartum, do you see your GP? Are they trained? I realize lactation consultants are trained to support breastfeeding, and breast health is a definite part of that, but since they cannot prescribe meds when needed, and they are often not covered by insurance, where does that leave mom? Midwives might be the answer, but they too are often not covered by insurance, or readily available in most areas. I suppose this is where La Leche League tries to fill the gap, and having a network of moms who have been there before certainly works, but that doesn't seem sufficient in today's world.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Big Room Share... Again

The whole take-a-nap-while-within-arm's-reach-of-your-sibling thing is not going well. Most of the time, if they sleep, its a very late nap. So far, that's not really disturbing bedtime too much, but most of the time, someone's not napping, usually the littler someone. And she needs it. When she doesn't take a nap at nap time, she either falls asleep on the floor just before dinner, (usually naked and covered in toys), or her behavior deteriorates to such a level that she can't survive dinner and has to go to bed. If the bigger one doesn't sleep, (and he's the one who wants too), his behavior goes to a destructive place. It's absolutely maddening when neither one of them sleep. The thing is, they are having a really great time playing together, until the dinner hour, when it all goes to... well... you know where.

I figure I have 2 options. Option #1: Continue to fight the good fight. I am trying, for 2 weeks, to scatter the naps. No more napping at the same time. If I can get LJ to fall asleep, (and she does get tired earlier), then I am sure RF would happily and quietly climb into bed and drift off to la la land. Unfortunately, LJ didn't co-operate today. I ended up separating them after 1.5 hrs of struggle, and that worked like a charm. Too bad RF is sleeping in MY bed. I think that may cause a secondary issue, but I'm hopefully that I won't give it the chance. If this fails, then I think it's on to Option #2: Mourn the loss of nap time. Now, I'm sure over time, their behavior will improve, and they will adjust to the new schedule. I could even convince myself that I could make that all happen before the baby comes. The hard part is that, without a nap, and considering that we have to be up by 7 for preschool, they would have to go to bed by 6. While I would just love to be child free by 6pm, and get so much more done, (and have baby and me time when the baby comes), my children will never get to see Daddy! That's no good for anyone. So... wish me luck!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Big Room Share

Maybe we are trying to do too many things at once. Who really knows? I've decided, with Baby #3 coming in a few short months, that the 4 yo boy and the 3 yo girl should share a room ASAP. My thinking is multi layered. First, I need the crib for the baby. Second, LJ is old enough for a toddler bed. Third, RF and LJ are only 19 months apart. So the way I see it, she should move in with him, as he has the bigger room, as soon as is humanly possible, so that they can learn how to room share and sleep at the same time, hopefully before the sleeplessness of new baby arrives. True, Baby Kangaroo will sleep in our room for at least 6 months, but I want LJ to "forget" that the little room is "hers". I'm trying to avoid her being displaced. Of course, in a few short years, if we are still in this house, one of them will be moving again. Depends on which variety of baby we get!

The kids were all for the idea. In fact, they wanted to share a room AND a bed. I nixed that idea pretty quickly. Got a bed. Check! Built the bed. Check! Moved all of LJ's things into the middle room. Check! So here goes nothing...

Day 1: Naptime
Ummm... Not going to happen. While I did not expect them to be able to lay down, LJ with the new found freedom of a toddler bed especially, and just quietly go to bed, I was also really irritable about the whole thing, probably because I am too pregnant to spend all morning building a toddler bed with no instructions and missing hardware! Still, I thought it best to take the opportunity to remove every single toy from the room. Oh well, at least they will be very very tired come bedtime.

Day 1: Bedtime
Its more than 2 hours before bedtime, and LJ's doing the I-can't-keep-my-eyes-open-head-nod while I read stories. I thought it was pretty important that she climb into that bed awake, so I whisked her off. We both squeezed in and sang a song, and I told her I would come back to check on her in 15 minutes. She was out cold right away. RF had no problem quietly hopping into bed and nodding off as well. But let's not go counting any poultry just yet.

Day 2: Naptime
Everyone is pretty tired. Its a Saturday and Daddy's home. These two things should make life a little easier. I tuck them both in, explain what I expect of them, and with only one or two reminders that its quiet time, they both sleep for a good 2 hours. Excellent!

Day 2: Bedtime
We all get ready together. We make a big deal of the big girl bed, and things go pretty well. There's the usual "Mommy I need..." nonsense, but all in all, not too shabby. I am starting to feel like a success. This feeling will likely be my downfall...

Day 3: Naptime
See Day 1: Naptime, only this time I had high expectations and other things to do. Two hours of constant reminders of quiet and revoking of privileges and attempts to not completely loose my head. All to no avail, except that our afternoon plans were now cancelled. Sorry Chuck-E, maybe next time.

Day 3: Bedtime
And here we are again, 1.5 hours early but everyone's tired and behaving atrociously. RF is laying on the hard, cold floor, crashing extra loud toys together. LJ is whining through the thumb she has glued to the inside of her mouth while she follows me around, pulling on my clothes. RF goes to cuddle with Daddy in our bed while I handle the terrible 2 yo. I get her into bed, sing a song, and off I go. Within 10 minutes she is up, crying, "But I awake Mommy I awake!" Well I think we are ALL aware of that one honey! Then comes the thrash and screech tantrum. I finally calm her down, get her back into bed, let her pick the color of the nightlight and tell her I will come back in 15 minutes to check in on her. I assume she is out cold, as I hear nothing. Maybe I should check. I'd hate to be counting feathers just yet!

Friday, September 18, 2009

And So It Begins...

School. Or more accurately, preschool. Most people, when they go "back to school" shopping, buy backpacks, sneakers, pencils and notebooks. I went "back to school" shopping, (well, really just "to school shopping, since this is my first time, as a parent anyway), and I bought none of these things. I still managed to spend more than I think most people spend on their back to school shopping. I know. You're wondering how that is possible. Well, so am I. Only I also know the answer, but I still find it hard to believe. I bought 2 sets of Epi Pen Jrs, 2 boxes of single dose Benadryl, one inhaler, one bottle of antibiotics, one medicine bag, a one hour photo, corn starch, baking soda, food coloring, plastic baggies, and 2 allergen free snacks. Those last 5 items amount to a whopping ten bucks. Its the first half of the list that breaks the bank. Mind you, I am only paying for the copays here, not the whole full price of the meds. (Its not even all the meds we need, but we had extras of the others already in the house.)

Luckily, my newly designated schoolboy already had shoes and does not need a backpack, or I might just have collapsed from exhaustion! All this for 5 hours of school time each week! Its all worth it though, because he loves school and I love picking him up from school!

Thats another interesting thing. When you are home with little kids ALL THE TIME, you don't get the chance to miss them. Likewise, they never miss you. Whever Daddy comes home from work, there's a HUGE production. Children running to the door, screaming with excitement. I imagine this is how Santa must be greeted everywhere he goes. And Daddy gets that every single work day, (and anytime he goes anywhere else for that matter). If Mommy goes out, the kiddies are asleep. They don't even notice I've left, and are out cold when I come back. Dropping Ronan off at preschool is no big deal. He waves when I leave while he's running towards the toys. Thats it. But when I come to pick him up, he barrels out for me like a bull in Spain, so excited to tell me what he did and show me what he made and tell me that HE MISSED ME!!!!! Makes it all worthwile, because, in case you hadn't figured it out yet, the kind of preparation involved in sending any child, (but possibly this one in particular), to school for a whopping 2.5 hours is not worth the time you get without them in return. Its the child you get back after those short few hours that make it worth the fortune we are spending on it!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

A Day In The Life Of...

Most people in my life have no idea what I do all day long. Admittedly, before I stopped working I had no idea how jam packed and busy my stay-at-home life would be. I was under the silly impression that I would have time for things like scrap booking! (Full disclosure: I have 2 scrapbooks, both completely empty. In fact, I think they are still wrapped in plastic!) So, here's an idea of what I do everyday. Maybe if I write it down I might realize before I take on another project that I have NO TIME!

(You'll find rules in here that might seem absurd. I have my reasons. I might even tell you what they are!)

7am: Permission for children to go downstairs and start the day. While they are awake well before this time, Mommy and Daddy still like to pretend we might get a few more winks in. Morning routine begins, and lasts about 2 hours. Here's how it goes...

7-730am: Mommy listens to tales of dreams and nightmares while forcing everyone onto the potty, finding everyones lost loveys, yanking out the clothes we'll need for the day, and securing the living / dining area, (getting rid of any dangers that were left out overnight, usually cups and glasses).

7:30-8am: Make and eat breakfasts.

8-8:30am: Wipe down kids, table and floor. Wash dishes. Toss in a load of laundry. Dole out vitamins. Brush kids teeth. Administer morning medicines. Pack Lunches.

8:30-9am: Get children diapered and dressed. Get myself showered and ready to go.

9-9:30am: Referee disagreements while packing diaper and food bags. Find everyones shoes. Attempt to leave the house without bringing as many toys as little arms can carry.

9:30-10am: Make, eat and clean up snack. This incudes more wiping down of children, surfaces and dishes.

10-1130am: This is developmental/educational/errand running time, which can include playdates, the library, the park, the post office, the supermarket, the bank, etc. It normally cannot include more than 2 locations.

11:30-12noon: Stop wherever we are and have lunch. This is usually where I realize I forgot to pack food for myself, and try to get by on whatever leftovers the kids don't want.

12noon-1pm: Head home to prep for naptime. This means a lot of whining, some tantrums, more wiping down of kids and surfaces, forced potty time, diaper changes, throwing wet laundry into the dryer, reading stories and singing songs until children are in bed!

1pm-2pm: Please please no one bother me "Mommy Time", which usually includes bill paying and cloth diaper disposal, in addition to email, etc.

2pm-3pm: My chance to do the things I cannot seem to get done around the kids, like loading or unloading the dishwasher, (they make every attempt to break it when they are around), and making phone calls, (mostly Dr's appointments and lab results).

3-3:30pm: Little girl is definitely awake by now, Big boy possibly as well. Change a diaper. Make and clean up after snack while desperately trying to finish up whatever it was I started before they woke up.

3:30-4:30pm: Playtime for kids while Mommy tries to fold and put laundry away, finish up dishes, and whatever else was abandoned during the day for a boo boo.

4:30-5pm: Go through the mail while I start to think about how to feed everyone this evening. Usually also involves reading a few stories of setting up train tracks, etc.

5-6pm: Make dinner for family with food allergic children. This is complicated.

6:15-7pm: Eat dinner together, under threats of nutrient deprived children not being big and strong enough to play at Monkey Joe's house.

7pm-730pm: Clean up after dinner.

7:30-8pm: Bedtime routine, including more potty time and diapers, teeth brushing and more medicines, pjs, stories and songs.

8-8:30pm: Get everyone quietly into bed. Attempt to rationalize passing out myself.

8:30-the wee hours: Finish up anything that didn't get done. Clean kitchen and living / dining room. Attempt to make headway on home projects, or go to the grocery store, or wash diapers, or put garbage out, or whatever else needs to get done that day.

Once a week we are forced to cut naptime short and leave the house in the afternoon for another commitment. Otherwise, we don't generally leave the house in the afternoon, as the time between naptime and dinner is usually full of disasters. Then, of course, you have to factor in the "non everyday" stuff like Dr's appointments, which we have all too many of, and special visits to or from family and friends, sick days, emergencies, etc.

And there you have it. The backbone of every single day of my life. Of course, Daddy helps out when he's home and weekends are all messed up. If not for the hour at naptime that I have granted myself to check my email, I think I would loose my mind. Let's not think about what happens when children start outgrowing naptime! Of course, knowing all of that, I still wouldn't trade it for the world... except maybe the whining. I could definitely do without the whining!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Master Cleanse 2, Day 1 and 2

I decided I would do the Master Cleanse quarterly, (so long as it doesn't run across a major holiday again), and it is time. I was much more nervous this time, maybe because of how well it went last time, (oh the pressure), but also I think because of all the junk we have been eating lately with all the visitors we've had.

Well it's not nearly as easy as it was last time. So far, on day 1 I felt pretty awful. I suspect its because of the combination of the SWF not really working right away, and the fact that I only drank half as much lemonade as the last time. I was hungry, but because I felt so crummy, I just couldn't be bothered to make more. Bad combination. So today, day 2, I thought I should double up on lemonades, which is how I got through it the last time. Well, you are supposed to wait at least 30 minutes between the SWF and your first drink, and I am not sure I did. Plus it was a double drink, and well... I didn't keep it down.

Come to think of it, I do feel much better now...