Calista's Birth Day
As most of our close family and friends know, our third baby arrived on Wednesday morning, June 26. We've been lucky enough to have my mother-in-law in town for a week and I'm feeling inspired to share my birth story! So, read at your own risk... I'll try to share as much as I can remember, even the not-so-pleasant parts. :)
My estimated due date was 6/25. I went close to a week late with my first two, so I was expecting this baby to show up in July. Of course, with this being my third pregnancy, I had Braxton Hicks early on. I got bigger faster and for the last month, I felt a heaviness in my pelvis that I didn't experience with the first two children. As the end of June drew nearer, I was feeling very ready to have this baby!
At the beginning of the week, I felt very irritated with everyone. It was pretty hot outside and I ended up cleaning out my entire kitchen (scrubbing counter tops and floors, re-organizing cabinets, and wiping down my fridge). My older two happily played in the living room and at the end of the day, we made chocolate chip cookies together.
On Tuesday morning (6/25), I woke up to contractions. Nothing too intense but present enough to wake me up from a deep sleep. This was the first time it truly felt like a contraction. Not just a tightening but a discomfort that was sharp with a sensation that stretched across my whole stomach. This was around 1 or 2am, I believe. I eventually fell back to sleep and slept until 7 or 8am. Still feeling crampy when I woke up, I decided the kids and I would go and run our errands *just in case* something was happening. Before leaving the house, I went to the bathroom and lost my mucus plug. With my first two kids, I lost my plug a couple days before labor truly began. I figured it would be the same this time around, too. We made a trip to Target and the post office, came back and ate lunch, then set up our water table and sprinkler in the backyard for the afternoon. I felt pretty great despite the sporadic cramps. My husband came home and we ate a yummy dinner followed by DQ blizzards. :) I panicked a bit after eating mine thinking, "If I go into labor tonight and throw this up, I may hate them forever. That would really suck." Ha!
We climbed into bed around 10:30 and by 11:30, I was up again. The strong contractions were back! In my sleepy state, I really wasn't sure how close they were and I was not motivated to find out. I wanted to sleep! I thought, "Maybe I should download a contraction timer...." so I got an app on my phone and dozed as much as I could between surges. With every contraction, I would hit the "record" button and try to remember to stop it before falling asleep again. When I had enough sense to, I looked at the pattern and realized they were about 7-10 minutes apart. Very consistent and strong, so I figured this must be the real deal! Feeling excited and restless in bed, I decided I would head downstairs to eat a little something and watch Netflix in the living room to pass the time. I woke up my husband to let him know that I was having contractions but wanted him to sleep.
I ate a cookie or two and was finding it hard to find a comfy spot on the couch. I kept feeling the need to pee but whenever I would get to the bathroom I would get stuck on the toilet! I felt a lot of pressure and would lean over the vanity during contractions only to find myself back on the toilet in between. Also feeling a little nauseous and thinking the cookies were not a great snack idea. Plus I was burping up brussels sprouts from dinner. YUCK.
My mother-in-law, who lives two hours away, offered to come and help with the kids once I was in labor. Josh had a dentist appointment at 7am scheduled for Wednesday morning (why he did this I'll never know). I had an appointment at 11am with my doc to check in and see how baby was doing. A bunch of different scenarios popped into my mind for Wednesday's agenda:
A) Have Josh's mom come in the morning and then go to my appointment to get checked. If I'm dilated enough, I'll go to the hospital.
B) Have Josh's mom come early morning so that I have someone to hang with kids while I'm laboring. She can drop me off to Josh's dentist when he's done and we can head to hospital.
C) Call Josh's mom NOW and go to the hospital as soon as she gets to the house.
I went with Plan C. I called her around 2am and at about 4, I woke my husband up and said, "Ummm...I think we should go to the hospital when your mom gets here." He said, "Are you sure? Is this about getting checked? Are you scared? Are you trying to get the epidural ASAP?" I told him I wasn't sure and I just had this feeling and "just wanted to go."
I think we left the house around 5am or so and got checked in a little before 6. When we got to triage, the nurse checked me and my cervix was dilated 8 cm! I could hardly believe it. Actually when she said, "8 centimeters," I thought she said, "A centimeter." HA! My mind and self doubt playing tricks on me, I guess. No wonder I just wanted to sit on the toilet the whole time at home....I was nearing transition! Thank goodness I called my MIL when I did and we didn't wait to go to any of our morning appointments!
I knew I wanted an epidural as soon as possible and got a bit panicky thinking I may not have time for one. My midwife said, "I could break your bag of waters and this baby would probably slide right on out." But because I desired an epidural I think my body worked with me to keep this baby in! My body was pushing though and at one point in time I said, "I think I'm pooping?!" That was wild, because I WAS. Just pooping, in the bed. I vividly remember counting each contraction and waiting for my bag of fluids to be done so that the nurse could call in the anesthesiologist. My husband even looked at me and said, "I know you could do this without the medicine. You would be really proud of yourself." But I was like, "NOPE!" :) I was surprisingly calm for how far along I was and was even dozing off between contractions. I was cool being in the bed, which was interesting because I thought I would want to be up and moving around.
By 7am (?) the epidural was being administered and I was on my way to feeling some relief. I still felt lots of pressure but no contraction pain and was able to move my lower half somewhat easily. By 8am or so, I felt the urge to push and my midwife and doc were both there to cheer me on! I was in a side-lying position and the nurse and Josh supported my legs while I pushed. Babe's head popped out in no time but she got stuck for a second because her hand was up by her face. My doc and midwife helped me navigate when to break from pushing and guided baby out. I reached down to bring her to my chest and then, boom. She was here! Born at 8:46am and she had so much dark hair! I couldn't believe it! In no time at all, she was rooting around and latched on. That was a relief! We snuggled for a couple hours before she got weighed and measured. I didn't tear, which has made for such an amazingly easy postpartum recovery. I was anticipating a harder time since I'm also chasing around my older two but it's really been lovely. The kids love Calista so much. I don't know if it's because it's our third time around or because she's an easy baby, but Calista just blends right in with our family. We are over the moon about our baby girl and thank the universe for a healthy, happy mom and baby. What a fabulous experience! Thanks to the staff at Dupont Hospital and the care team with Fertility and Midwifery Care Center for being so knowledgeable and respectful. And thanks to my husband, who supports me in everything I do and is such a great dad.
Happy birth day, Callie Mae! <3
Gift Ideas for New Parents
It’s been one year since I’ve written a blog post. WOW. Between two children, work, and a new baby on the way life has been all over the place (in a good way!).
A friend in contacted me back in the fall and said, “My friends just had a new baby. I want to get them something but have no idea what. What would you suggest?” I got to thinking about it and decided to make up a list of options for her—things that I would appreciate as a parent to a new baby. And no, these items have nothing to do with baby but are thoughtful gestures to folks who are transitioning into their new roles as mom or dad.
Take a peek and let me know what you think! If you’ve got something to add, please feel free to post in the ‘Comments’ section below. J
Tips for the New Mom
Our culture places a large focus on pregnancy and birth, but what about the postpartum period? Unfortunately, mainstream media idolizes the perfect postpartum body and bouncing back rather quickly in the fourth trimester. So, how does a new mama survive? These are a few tips that came to mind as a perinatal educator and mom:
So, that's my list. What do you think? What really helped you with adjusting to your new normal in the postpartum period?
The Maxwells are Moving!
I really can't believe I'm writing this, but after one short year of living in Danville, we are relocating to Fort Wayne, Indiana! My husband has been working in northern Indiana since Spring 2016. We hoped his job would eventually bring him to central Indiana so he could be closer to home, but that never happened. After many conversations and lots of thought, we decided it would be best to put our house on the market and move up north to be with him.
It is bittersweet because we are in love with our house in Danville and enjoy the sweet simplicity of the town, but it's time to move into the next chapter of our lives in another city.
The best part? We'll be together every night!
Of course, I'm excited to explore a different area with new opportunities and meet new people. However, the most important thing to me and for Josh, too, is that we can be together on a regular basis. No more waiting until Friday only to see each other for two, very short days. We'll get to eat dinner together on week nights and sleep in the same bed every night! Okay, so Josh's snoring habit and our two small children may interfere with the sleeping in the same bed every night idea, but you get what I mean! It seems like a foreign way of living but I am yearning to regain our old lifestyle.
Aside from making sweet memories with our family of four, I am also looking ahead to what the future holds for Blissful Transition. It will be a while until I'm working full-time but I would like to jump back into assisting families- ones with babies and young kids, organizing and cleaning needs, and those who would like more support with everyday activities. I have an awesome friend who provides space for Mothers' Circles in Bloomington, and I love this concept. I would really enjoy branching off of this idea and bringing Fort Wayne mamas together to meet up, chat, and learn from one another. I have all sorts of ideas swirling around in my mind and am looking forward to connecting with other colleagues in the area to mingle and collaborate.
With all this being said, I do want to announce that I will no longer be attending births (at least until my children are school-age). I honor those special moments when I was invited to the birthing room with previous clients- I have such fond memories with you all and my heart is very much tied into each and every experience. However, this special type of work no longer fits into my life for practical reasons. I cannot spend long hours away from my little ones, especially in a new city with a husband who works long hours outside of the home.
I've decided not to renew my birth doula certification with DONA. Instead, I will focus my energy on providing families support during the postpartum period and other times of transition. I will continue to hold certification through DONA as a postpartum doula and Lamaze as a childbirth educator. I am excited for new adventures and what the future will bring.
Watch out, Fort Wayne. The Maxwells are coming for you!!
...And Baby Makes 4!
In true fashion, I'm late to posting my birth story for Baby #2. There's definitely not as much down time as there was when I was just a mama to one kiddo!
We are entering into Week #6 of life with Fran and it's been quite fun and, let's be honest, exhausting. Luckily, we've had so much help from family, even though we no longer live in Bloomington. BIG thanks to our loved ones who have spent time with our energetic toddler, helped me run errands, taken us in for overnights, fed us, and more. I often hear, "Wow, a newborn! How are you feeling? You must be so tired." And honestly, managing the newborn is a breeze- it's making sure my toddler is feeling supported that's quite tiresome and emotionally draining. "Wanna play with me, Mama?" are the sweetest words to hear but a difficult request to act on as I multi-task nursing, changing diapers, managing spit up, fixing meals, making sure the laundry pile doesn't get *too* big, etc. Solo parenting is no joke and every day I can't help but think about the single parents who do this regularly. My heart goes out to you.
As most of you know, my husband works out of town Monday-Friday. One week before my estimated due date, he surprised us by coming home a few days early. He was just as eager as me to have baby #2 and told himself he would come home early, I would be more at ease, and consequently our baby would make her appearance. HAHA!! Why do we trick ourselves into thinking we can control these types of situations? Our baby was *not* ready to meet us and during my doc visit that week, I was told my cervix was only 1 cm. dilated and "stretchy." I requested a membrane sweep, which hurt like CRAZY, and we went on our way. Our doc actually said something along the lines of, "Not sure you WANT to go into labor right now because a more favorable cervix will make for an 'easier' and more straightforward labor." The few weeks leading up to Fran's birthday, I had tons of Braxton Hicks contractions and was going to the bathroom (upset stomach) frequently. Like, a lot. I had this happen the day before I went into labor with B, but this was a very prolonged experience I was not prepared for. Every night I thought, "Okay, so these don't feel like contractions but this is my second baby so maybe these cramps are intense sooo...???" At one point, I thought I ate some bad food! I do think all the crampiness helped my cervix change but it was weeks before baby girl was born.
I tried most of the ways to induce labor at home. I ate two whole pineapples in two days, people. I also tried evening primrose oil capsules. It's hard to say what "worked," but I think a combo of choices did move things along a bit. On the evening of Thursday, June 15, I had been feeling pretty crampy. I stayed up too late watching Netflix (we're all guilty of this, right?) and around midnight decided I should go to bed. By 3 am, I was awake with more intense cramping (contractions?!) and thought I *might* be in labor. I had lots of prodromal labor with B, so I wasn't trying to get ahead of myself. I called Josh (who was 3 hours away for work!) and let him know things were happening. By 5am, I was downstairs on the couch watching HGTV and eating breakfast. B woke up around 7am and giggled at me while I draped my body over a yoga ball and tried to keep my cool during contractions (veeeeery funny, kid). I called Josh around 8am and he knew it was time to get on the road to come home. I arranged with my mother-in-law to take our toddler to Bloomington to hang with family. Josh arrived around 10am and our doula, who we had been in contact with all morning, came around noon or so. She did a quick cervical check to find that I was 4 cm. dilated, which made me super excited. I was so ready to have our baby!! I told her I wanted to try to get to 5 or 6 cm. before heading to the hospital- I figured I would want an epidural but was planning to wait until I was a little farther along before deciding.
My doula suggested I load up on water and Gatorade and to walk around for a bit. She left to grab a cup of coffee while we did our thing and when we called her to come back, I was REALLY feeling pain in my lower back. It's hard to describe but it felt like an intense stretch that wrapped underneath my rib cage on the left side. Nothing made it better. The shower, counter pressure, hands and knees...I was at a loss of what to do. I couldn't believe it, but it felt exactly like when I was laboring with B (and I thought I had pulled a muscle with him!) I think it was around 5pm when I asked her to check me again-- I was still at 4cm. I knew it would take a while to get checked in at the hospital and meet with the anesthesiologist so I was ready to get in the car and go! I called the on-call number for my doc and found out she was out of town (awesome) but her back-up, who I had never met before, was calm and listened as I talked to her between contractions.
By the time I waddled up to Labor and Delivery, I was throwing up and could barely move. The contractions were all consuming but the back labor hurt even worse. When I used the bathroom, my water broke (very subtly- not like those crazy scenes in the movies) and we had to wait for the anesthesiologist for about 2 hours. I think my epidural was in place by 8pm and around that time, the doc suggested breaking my water. I agreed to it but when she checked me, she couldn't find it (?!?) and that's when we suspected it broke earlier while I was using the restroom. Weird!!
The pain of my contractions went away almost instantly, but the back labor stuck around for about 20 minutes after the epidural was in place. Once it did wipe out the pain, I felt so much better. Like, a fog had been lifted and I could actually think and talk again! I hopped on my phone to update our people on labor progress and Josh watched a movie on his laptop. It was around 10 or 10:30pm when Josh said he was going to try to sleep and suggested I do the same. He happened to look up at the monitor, which was showing contraction after contraction. He mentioned it to me and that's when I realized I was very shaky. I buzzed for the nurse to come in-- she checked me to find I was complete and baby's head was RIGHT there. She called for the doctor and the staff got the room set up pretty darn fast. The nurses put a mirror at the foot of my bed and the doc and Josh supported me while I pushed in a side-lying position. Our doula snapped lots of photos and Baby Fran was born in about 3 contractions!! Just like I did with B, I was able to reach down and bring her up to my chest. She cried instantly and was ready to nurse as soon we were skin to skin.
I felt very emotional this time around when I pushed Fran out. I don't know if it was because I had done it before and was anticipating what to expect? I was still vulnerable to the experience and had all of these big feelings, but I wasn't as immersed in the shock of "OMG I'm becoming a parent!!" It felt very surreal to have her in my arms, especially after all of the wondering with timing and stressing about whether or not I'd go into labor when Josh was home with us. All of those concerns just faded away. I knew I was exactly where I was supposed to be and was reminded that labor unfolds in such a unique and unforgettable way. I was not prepared to experience back labor again but when those familiar sensations resurfaced, I knew that getting the epidural would help me cope. And I couldn't *not* cry when she latched. We later found out she was tongue tied, but to have an ambitious nurser who was ready to eat brought on such intense feelings of joy. I sobbed and told my doula, "I forgot what it feels like to nurse a newborn!" while touching my baby's wet, dark hair and studying her every move. And I think her behavior from the first second we met her still rings true to her personality at Week #6. Her cries are loud and distinct. She is a serious snuggler and wants to eat all of the time still (even after her tongue tie revision, too!). She's just like "BAM, here I am!" I like to joke she's a diva, the queen, the boss, etc. She knows it, too- and her brother is just as smitten with her as the rest of us are. Before she was here, I wondered how everything would fit together in the postpartum period. How would I love another baby? How could I mother two kids at once? But now I question what life was even like before we became a family of four. We wouldn't trade her for the world- Fran is the perfect addition to our family!
A Bedroom For Our Toddler
We've been hard at work transforming our old craft room/office into our toddler's new bedroom. I was excited to tackle this project, but knew it wouldn't be an easy feat. My husband and I chose to work on this room, rather than the guest bedroom, because it is right next to our bedroom.
When we moved in last June, we had actually already designated a room for our kiddo, B. It was at the end of the hall from our room. Plus side: it was big enough to hold his wardrobe, toys, and bed and had plenty of play space. Down side: It was pretty much on the opposite end of the house. This wasn't nearly as bothersome at first, because he was still sleeping on his mattress on our bedroom floor (or sometimes in our king size bed) when we moved in. But then we found out we were pregnant, and I began thinking of transitioning him into this bedroom at the end of the hall. I know it's just a hallway, but it felt *SO* long and far away. A couple of things that came to mind:
1) The bedroom was at the front of the house and close to the stairs (There is a baby gate but what if one of us forgets to latch it one night? What if he learns to open it? So many scary thoughts crept in...)
2) What will B think when the baby comes and is sleeping all cozy with us...and he's at the end of the hallway alone in this room?
It just didn't sit well with me. When I proposed to my husband that we make the craft room/office into our son's bedroom, he looked at me like I had two heads. But once I discussed why I wanted to change things around, he understood where I was coming from and we agreed it would be a good solution to our sleeping situation, especially after baby's arrival.
Deconstructing this room was quite the process. I wish I took a true before picture, because that photo would have shown the wall lined with cabinets and shelving (imagine it where the teal paint starts). We weren't even sure the cabinets would come out easily or if there would be hardwood flooring underneath. Luckily, there was flooring and my husband said that removing the cabinets wasn't too challenging. But that's when we discovered the teal paint on the lower half of the walls! So, we were working with covering up teal, purple, and gray paint....awesome.
We took the cabinets out to the backyard and set them up along the wall in our storage barn- which works nicely for my husband and all of his tools. I love that we were able to find another way to use this unit for storage!
My husband and I found a light gray color at Menard's and painted over the teal, purple, and dark(er) gray. The walls in the closet are still teal but who cares! ;) It took about three coats to get a nice, even layer which was a bit painful but so worth it. I'm always excited to paint but after the first coat, I'm always all, "Are we done yet? Why didn't we hire someone to do this again??"
After we painted the room, I touched up my son's furniture with a fresh coat of white paint. I used Rustoleum's chalk paint, which we also bought at Menard's. I really love it! We also repainted the knobs for the drawers a charcoal color (originally brown) to make them pop. I think the contrast looks nice against the light gray walls, too. Painting the furniture, like the walls, took me a while because of the multiple coats needed. I don't dare try to paint with my toddler around either (he would be eager to help but probably would not have been a helpful assistant), so I almost always waited for nap time or stayed up after putting him to bed to work.
Luckily, we had framed artwork (Check out Animalsleep on Etsy for some wild, amazing prints!!!) from his nursery in our previous house that we were able to keep in his big boy bedroom. I also created a canvas with song lyrics I love, and I think it really made the room feel complete. The teal curtains, gray walls, and white furniture have a very neutral feel and I would eventually like him to share this space with his sister. I don't feel like we will need to change much, except for the sleeping arrangements, in the future. We had planned on purchasing the KURA bed from IKEA but the nearest store was out of stock when we planned to visit. Darn! My son's full size bed is low to the ground though, and I don't worry about him rolling off of it as much as I thought I would. It's also great because we can store clothing totes underneath for the next size up! We have a twin size mattress, too, so when/if we do make the decision to buy another bed, like a bunk bed, we'll be set. For now, we plan to set it up in the playroom (my son's original bedroom...the one down the hall) as an extra place to sleep.
The last thing we needed to figure out was where to store our son's and the new baby's clothes. B started off with two dressers, but we ended up moving one to another room and putting half of his clothing on hangers in the closet. This really helped make his new (and smaller) room feel less crowded. There is also a HUGE bookshelf fastened to the wall in this bedroom. Originally just for books, we've now added blankets to the bottom and baskets at the top (mainly for his baby sister's onesies, pants, and diapers). I love that we were able to to repurpose the shelving so that we could eliminate a bulky piece of furniture. It feels more efficient and useful for it to hold many different items.
B is going on two months of sleeping in this new bedroom. Our bedtime routine consists of: taking a bath, taking vitamins, brushing teeth, reading books, and then resting together in his bed until he falls asleep. He almost always crawls into bed with us at some point, but at least he only has to walk one room over instead of all the way down the hall! I do think he enjoyed seeing the room transform into his own space, too. He loves the alphabet poster above his bed, the books right next to his sleep space, the fun pillows and bedding, and the glow in the dark stars we put up on his ceiling. I hope he continues to enjoy this space but still feels close to us as we adjust to becoming a family of four in the next two months. I would never want him to feel excluded or unimportant, and I think that, in a way, this room helps with that transition.
The Second Time Around...
As some of you may know, my husband, son, and I are expecting another family member in June (a baby girl!). While my estimated due date is less than three months away, I don't feel crunched for time. Well, I do...I don't feel like I have enough time to get everything done, that's for sure. BUT I don't feel attached to doing everything by the book. I'm giving myself a break this time, letting go of the things I can't control and really prioritizing what truly needs to happen before we become a family of four.
Now, this relaxed attitude isn't all rainbows and butterflies, and it's easier said than done. I don't exercise nearly as much as I should. Sometimes I eat a donut at 10pm. And those plans to meditate and be mindful for 10 minutes everyday so that I can connect with baby in utero...pffff. Yeah, that's not happened a whole lot. If I get a free minute (what's that?) I may try to do a quick yoga session or focus on my breathing, but in reality, that free minute looks something like this:
I've lowered my expectations. That may sound like a bit of a downer, but it's been quite freeing! I'm not saying I've changed who I am as a person (I'm pretty Type A), but I'm not going to hold myself to it if I can't get to everything on my to-do list. Having a less rigid perspective on things has helped me cope with stress, pregnancy, and chasing after my toddler. My husband works out of town Monday-Friday so a lot of of our day-to-day routine is my kid and myself enjoying each other (or, let's be honest... just dealing with each other. It depends on the day) and making it to bedtime. I don't have time to dwell on the things I didn't get done, and I sure don't want to waste my energy with negative self-talk. That can be so draining and toxic to my general well-being. A wise friend once asked me, "If you wouldn't say something like that to me, why are you talking to yourself like that?!" Good point.
I've been thinking quite a bit about my first pregnancy and how it compares to where I am now. This time around, my stomach has grown at a quicker pace. I started 'showing' faster, and my belly feels lower, too. Some of those pregnancy aches and pains crept in sooner. I developed perioral dermatitis and dealt with a nasty rash on my face for the first three months of pregnancy (thanks hormones). I was terribly sick until Thanksgiving or so, and it wasn't just in the morning either. Oh yeah, and I'm parenting a toddler (usually solo at that, since my partner works away from home). I'm starting to understand fully that every pregnancy is different.
I'm eager to see how labor and birth pan out, because every experience is unique. And with my husband working three hours from home, I'm strongly relying on my doula for support and my family for sibling support. Will my labor go faster this time? Will I get a decent amount of sleep before the whole thing begins? The plan is to labor at home for as long as possible, but I'm also entertaining the idea of an epidural. I had an unplanned epidural with my first, and while it made the experience better there is still some guilt about not staying home and going the unmedicated route.
But...but...I liked my epidural! It was pretty damn awesome. I've wondered if, as a birth professional, this is appropriate for me to say. But when it comes down to it, it was a comfort measure that came in handy when I needed it, and it brought me back to state of relief and happiness. After hours of feeling unsure, a little nervous and impatient, I felt like my body and mind could rest a bit. And I truly think that this was the missing piece of the puzzle to meeting my baby. So, will I get an epidural this time around? I'm not sure, but I definitely won't be feeling bad if I choose to get it.
I love how pregnancy and labor have caused me to look inward, to focus on my wishes and desires but to also learn more about myself. As an individual, a wife, a mother, a friend. Our babies change us. I would like to think my little ones make me a better person but sometimes it's in less obvious ways than I imagined. I'm morphing into a newer version of myself everyday- in the way I talk, act, and handle my relationships. I'm trying to think less of that checklist of things that need tending to. In the end, those things don't really matter all that much.
Here's to happiness, health, and keeping myself sane among the "coulda, woulda, shouldas." I hope you can do the same!
Remember when I wrote about breastfeeding and the learning curve a year ago? That was right around my son's 6 month birthday. He just turned 19 months last week and, yep, he still nurses.
Luckily, no one has ever said anything negative to my face about his nursing habits. Toddler nursing makes some folks uncomfortable- I'm not sure if it's a lack of education on the topic** or a difference in parenting style. One of the more popular things I've heard is, "If he can ask for it, he's too old to nurse!" Sorry, lady, but he's been asking to nurse since Day 1. As he ages, he learns how to communicate his needs in different ways.
When he was under a year old, he would cry to let me know something needed to be different- in most cases, it was because he was hungry. Around a year, he learned how to sign for milk. And now? He communicates his needs by using his words. Now, that's not to say that he doesn't whine for it or tug at my shirt when he's hungry (probably one of my least favorite toddler behaviors to deal with) but often, he is very sweet and says things like, "Milk!" or "Nurse, please." And his 'please' is more like , "PEAZ!" Come on, people. I can't say 'no' to that!
Okay, sometimes I say, "No." And that's because, like most nursing kids who are attached to their mothers, he doesn't just nurse when he's hungry or thirsty. He may want to breastfeed because he's bored, tired, sick, hurt, snuggly, etc. It can be exhausting, especially when he asks multiple times throughout the day only to hop on for 2 minutes and then say, "All done!"
That's another new thing that's happening, which I appreciate: the 'all done' phrase. Sometimes he doesn't use it correctly ( says 'all done' and then starts to get mad when I am putting my breast away), but he's learning and that is exciting and fascinating to see. Despite his attachment, his independence IS growing (I've heard people say before that extended breastfeeding hinders development. Ummm..sorry. But no.) In fact, once we settled into our new house we've been taking on some new rituals that are helping him establish autonomy. He has a full-size mattress on the floor of his bedroom as well as his crib mattress at the foot of my bed. During the day, he nurses to sleep in his bedroom. At night, he wants to nurse to sleep in his bed. Lately, he will nurse and say, "All done," then roll over and fall asleep. It's lovely! He usually wakes up anywhere from 3-5 hours later, so I pull him up into my bed where he nurses for 30 seconds and falls asleep again.
About three months ago, I was taking my first big trip away from my baby. A full 4 days in Florida without him! I was excited but nervous. I was also at my breaking point- I was ready to be done with nursing. My child had been extremely needy leading up to the night I left, and I was considering weaning him. I thought that maybe I would come back and he wouldn't think about nursing anymore. I wondered if I would be okay with that and if I was ready to let go of that special closeness I shared with him. I decided to play it by ear and see what would happen. I was told by my sister-in-law and mom that he only cried for milk right before bedtime- I think throughout the day he was distracted enough by playing, being around different people, etc.
To my surprise, I was SO ready to nurse him once I came back. I realized that I didn't want to throw in the towel as badly as I originally thought. The short getaway was just what I needed to recharge and truly appreciate how special our bond is. I got home in the middle of the night and shortly after, he woke up, kissed me three times, and then said, "Milk?" This made my heart so happy.
Is nursing a toddler easier than breastfeeding a newborn or a 6 month old? Yes, I think so. But it does come with it's own set of challenges. Sometimes I think about what life will be like when he's no longer nursing- a bittersweet feeling for sure. But like the old saying goes, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it!" It still works for us and while we've made some small changes to our nursing relationship here and there, I want to follow his lead on this one. I feel that he will self-wean when he's ready.
**"The American Academy of Pediatrics currently recommends that 'Breastfeeding should be continued for at least the first year of life and beyond for as long as mutually desired by mother and child..' * The World Health Organization and UNICEF recommend that babies be breastfed for at least two years."- La Leche League International
For more information on breastfeeding your toddler, check out Kelly Mom:
Being a Mom is Hard Work
There are some mornings I wake up feeling like a million bucks. My kid and I have a play date arranged for later in the afternoon. The fridge is stocked with *healthy* foods and my kid is actually eating them. Our living space is clean- I've stayed on top of laundry and even scooped the cat's litter box. Sorry, kitty. I forget about you sometimes since having a baby. The sun is shining and I take my kid for walks. He is sweet- giving me kisses, babbling, and doing all of the cute things a baby can do. On the perfect day, we eat a great breakfast, are active, I remember to pack snacks and diaper wipes, my kid takes naps, and we (both!) get to bed at a decent time. If I get to do things for myself during my kid's nap times besides household tasks, it's a double win. It's days like this that, despite my husband being gone 6 out of 7 days of the week, I feel like I have a hold on how to solo parent.
But sometimes, I'm at my breaking point. This is because my kid won't nap, and if he does it's only because we're driving from Point A to Point B. It's because the food I give him is thrown on the floor at meal time. When I finally get us dressed and out of the house, he throws fits and pushes at me, smacks at my chest, and constantly wants to nurse. AND HE DOESN'T LISTEN! After saying, "That's a no-no" and redirecting his activity multiple times, I raise my voice. I lose my shit. I put him in the crib as a 'punishment' where I hear him cry for a whole minute. And when I say cry, I mean CRY. It breaks my heart. So there I sit, crying in the hallway, feeling anxious, overwhelmed, and distraught.
See, when you become a mom, your whole heart completely opens up, and in a way that no other relationship compares. When you're at home with your kid more often than not, sometimes you feel like you're going bananas. Honestly, I blame this week on the full moon. And when you can't even carve out 30 minutes for yourself, WOWZA. No doubt, my kid picks up on my stress levels and in turn it causes him to 'act out' more. No, I don't think he's manipulating me but babies are like sponges and sometimes what is a bother to me is a game to him. He is silly and mischievous because he's testing his boundaries. He's learning. Sometimes I have to remind myself that he is a toddler, he's been earth side for 15 months, and no, he's not out to get me. Isn't that crazy- that we as parents get to that level where we're like, "Oh, hell no. WHAT?! NO! STOP!" You question if your baby is smarter than you or is maybe conspiring with the devil himself. Really, my baby is exploring, trying to understand, and taking in everything I say and do. The pressure is on. And just when I get to my breaking point, he comes up to open-mouth kiss me, plop down in my lap, and bring me a book to read with him. Tonight it was 'Llama Llama Red Pajama' and at the end I was all like, "Ahhh..I'm not the only one."
So, naturally, at the beginning of this week I felt like Supermom. I had play dates written down in our calendar. I bought groceries to fill the fridge (!) and even had meals planned. My laundry was cycling through and I even folded it all after it was dry! Y'all know how victorious that feels.
But, today....man. Today was different. It was Day 5 of solo parenting and I was just going through the motions to get through the day. I thought my husband was coming home from work today only to find out mid-day he has to work tomorrow, too, so that was hard to accept. It wasn't until noon that my kid and I were able to get dressed and out of the house. He fell asleep as soon as we got in the car so I went through the Starbucks drive-thru and just sat in the parking lot, drinking my coffee. Just sat and totally zoned out. We ran errands after he woke up and I let him run amuck in the mall's toy store. I was that mom. When it was time to leave, it started to downpour. Desperate, I bought a pretzel at Target's check out for us to split and kill time but he only ate the cheese dip. Go figure. When we got home, I tried to do a few things around the house but felt anxious, lonely, and knew if we stayed home I'd be in my head all night. So, I took my kid to a Chinese buffet. After we stuffed our faces, we walked across the parking lot where I picked up a few more groceries, including beer for myself and a lavender bubble bath for him. Surely, a full stomach and cozy bath will help him sleep all night?! One can only wish.
Now, as I type this and look up at the time on my computer, I see it's 12:01am. I made it. It's Saturday. My husband will be home this afternoon. I see a light at the end of the tunnel. I'm about to hop in the shower for the first time today (or does this technically mean I didn't shower for a whole day?), enjoy a beer, and go to sleep. I kept an active, kind of crazy, tiny human alive by myself for nearly a whole week. BOOYA.
Bring on the weekend...AKA the next 48 hours. And then I'll do it all again.
Blissful Transition is Moving!
Things are happening at warp speed for the Maxwell family. About two weeks ago, my husband started a new job. Shortly after accepting his position, we put in an offer on a house and GOT IT! We're leaving Bloomington. Like, we're moving NEXT WEEK. Woah! This is a time of mixed emotions as we were born and raised here. However, we're ready for this new chapter of our lives. And we'll be located in Greenwood, IN, only about an hour drive from our hometown. Lovely, right?
I'll be taking a break from my work as a home organizer and postpartum doula to move, keep up with my ever-changing toddler, and get a feel for our environment. I'd like to get back to this work soon though and will dearly miss all of the kind Bloomington folks who I've met through Blissful Transition. I hope you know just how special you are to me, and I hope to stay in touch!
If you have friends in the Greenwood area, spread the word that I'll be making my way up there soon. Don't forget that I'll be hosting a booth at The Woolery Market on Saturday, May 14th. I'll be selling upcycled goods, including organizational products and home decor. I'm really looking forward to it and hope to see you there!