Thursday, October 27, 2016

Henry, My Henry: 16ish Months

Oh, Henry, my Henry. 

As I gaze out the window at the gold and orange leaves on the trees, I wonder how it’s possible that I haven’t written in so long. 

Life with you is full. Full to the brim. Overflowing sometimes. So full that I find little time to do important stuff like write down our memories, have deep conversations or just think and even less time for unimportant stuff like cleaning the house. 

From the moment you wake until the 1-2 minutes before you fall asleep, you are constantly moving. Climbing, walking, running, sliding, playing. And I’m just happy to keep up. 

You are very, very determined. You know precisely what you want and will demand loudly (and sometimes physically) if you don’t get it. It was a few weeks after your first birthday when you threw yourself on the floor in a fit of anger. I stood there, stunned. Can my sweet baby already be throwing fits?? You may not have red hair, but you have the fire of a ginger on the inside. 

Every week we start to communicate more and more. Your first word was “yeah.” 

Do you want a snack? 
Do you want to go outside? 
Do you want me to change your diaper? 

I’m hopeful that after we build that vocabulary more, life will be easier. Most of your frustration is the inability to understand. Most. Not all. Some of it is just plain anger that I won’t give you what you want. That’s a good life lesson though. Trust me. 

Around the middle of June you started sleeping through the night, which was amazing. A-MA-ZING. And you continued to sleep through the night until mid-September. Three whole months of sleeping like a normal person. The girls were such good sleepers, I was unprepared for the zombie that I would become with you. And when you finally snapped out of it, I was unprepared for how much better life would get. 

But then mid-September came along, and it started again. At first, it was just about every other night or so. You’d wake up screaming in pain. Around that time, you started cutting five teeth (FIVE TEETH!) and I think had a virus. It turned into an every-night thing, sometimes twice a night. And here’s the kicker. Most of the time it took at least an hour to get you back to sleep. One night it was three — three straight hours of rocking you. I turned back into Zombie Mom and went into survival mode. Clean only the dishes necessary. Wash/dry the laundry, but folding is outside of survival mode. 

Today was the fourth-straight night that you slept through the night. I’m crossing my fingers that we turned a corner, but keeping my expectations low. 

Other than sleep, life is pretty good with you. You’re a champ eater. You love noodles, spaghetti, peanut butter sandwiches and all fruit. I have to make sure that I’m eating milk-free food most of the time because you always want to share what I’m having, which is refreshing following those picky sisters of yours. They still turn their noses up at my food. 

You LOVE going outside. It’s, by far, your favorite thing to do. I’m dreading the winter days, but maybe climate change will have at least ONE benefit  … kidding, kidding, kind of. 

Ornery is a perfect word to describe you. You are already pushing buttons to see what happens. At bath time, you will at some point try to pour your toy cup full of water outside the bath. You’ll look me directly in the eye and dump the water out. I really have to watch how I respond to certain things. Most of the time, if I tell you no, it just makes you want to do it faster and harder. I don’t shy away from saying no if it’s a safety thing. But if you’re sticking your dirty finger in your mouth to see what I’ll do, sometimes I’ll just ignore you and look the other way. It’s soooo counter-intuitive for me, but I can tell you need a slightly different parenting style than the girls did. 

You also love reading books. For some kids, a new toy or snack is the trick to calming them down. For you, it’s books. In fact, you have two books memorized and will say the sounds at the exact right time in the book. If you’re losing it in the car, I’ll just start “reading” the book and you’ll join in with me. 

Mom: A cow says …
Henry: Moo
Mom: A sheep says … 
Henry: Baaa
Mom: Three singing pigs say … 
Henry: La, la, la 

Which probably explains why most of the words you can say are animal sounds. You can say “Mama,” “yeah,” and one time said “Dada.” You can also say/yell Claire, which sounds like “Clll” and “Gr” for Grace. “Zo” for Zoey. You know the sounds for these animals: Cow, sheep, pig, dog, cat and horse. 

That’s a pretty good round-up of all the observable parts of life. But there’s one more thing before I go. 

I absolutely, completely, unconditionally adore you. You and I are together almost all of the waking hours (and sometimes the non-waking hours) and have become best friends. We know what makes each other tick. We know what makes the other one laugh and love to make the other laugh. I know what makes you sad or frustrated. You know what makes me say “yuck.” I know the difference between your mad cry and your hurt cry. You know that if I kiss the hurt, it will feel better. That spot on my hip seems like a perfect spot for you. The other day, I mentioned that I thought you were becoming more attached — crying when I leave, clutching my shirt if you think I’m going to leave. But if I’m being honest, I’m becoming more attached, too. It’s hard to leave you. Sometimes I need to — for work or an appointment or to recoup some sanity. But when we’re apart, it’s like part of me is missing. The part that fits perfectly on my hip. 

I love you, Henry, my Henry. 



Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Breastfeeding: My Story

So. Breastfeeding. Where do I even start??

I guess there’s no better place than the beginning. Many, many people have written about their personal experiences. I know this because I read them ALL during the first few months. So, why am I writing? Because if this reaches just one person who’s sitting at home quietly struggling then it’s worth it. 

So, back to the beginning. 

I tried to breastfeed the girls, but they were in the NICU for the first two weeks working on developing their sucking reflex and got used to the easy flow of the bottle. I also was stressed to the max about being a first-time mom with two babies in the hospital. I had no idea what I was doing or what to expect. So, I ended up pumping and supplementing with formula. Then when I couldn’t pump any longer, we switched exclusively to formula. My girls turned out fine!! Well, fine enough. Ha! 

Let me stop here and say I am a firm, firm believer in “fed is best.” There are pros and cons to your health and your bond with baby EITHER way you do it. Love your baby, feed your baby and do your best — that’s my motto. 

That being said, when I couldn’t breastfeed the girls, I felt inadequate. What does it mean that I can’t feed my own babies?? I was hopped up on hormones and exhaustion, so no doubt that played a part. But this wasn’t a logical thinking process. It was pure, raw emotion. Some mix of societal pressure and natural instinct to keep our young alive allowed these feelings of guilt and shame to take up residence. Once I accepted the circumstances, it turned out fine. The feelings of guilt and shame went away. I saw the rainbow of not stressing about pumping and started enjoying their babyhood more. 

But when Henry came around, there was a fire deep in my belly — I burned with determination. I was going to prove to myself (because it really wasn’t about others) that I could do this. 

The first few weeks were awful. I cried at least once a day. He could have had a bad latch or I was sensitive or maybe everyone feels like that. I often asked Scott to go to the store to get formula and he’d hesitate at the door to see if I was serious and I’d say “No, not really. But maybe later. Don’t go far.” But things got better. 

Then they got worse. For the entire month of September, I struggled with a plugged milk duct. It consumed my thoughts. It was hard to focus on work or sometimes even hard to focus on Henry. All I could think about was getting rid of it before it turned into mastitis. I was terrified of mastitis. I searched the entire internet for advice. I worked with a lactation consultant and my local La Leche League group. I had lists upon lists of advice and tricks. 

By week four, the milk from that side was almost completely blocked. I can’t describe how heart wrenching it is to try to feed your baby in the middle of the night and just have him scream because nothing is coming out. Enter the guilt. Here I am starving my child, so that I can prove to myself that I can do something. 

After that night, I went in and demanded that someone help me. The lactation consultant referred me to the OB. When I called the OB, they told me to call the lactation consultant. That’s when I threw a huge fit. Someone was going to freaking fix me or I was going to go all Hulk-Mom. I finally got into the nurse practitioner at my OB’s office. She diagnosed it as a breast abscess. Don’t Google it, but just know it scared the crap out of me. 

So, I drove to Topeka and went to the breastfeeding clinic. They disagreed with the abscess diagnosis and said they thought it was mastitis. (By the way, if you have any breastfeeding issues or concerns — call Stormont Vail’s clinic. THEY ARE AMAZING women.) 

A couple of rounds of antibiotics and everything cleared up. The infection. The plug. The obsessive worrying. 

After that, things did settle into a bit of a routine. My milk supply returned, he was better at latching — everything seemed pretty good. 

Until it wasn’t. 

In March, he was teething and the little booger bit me - not on purpose, of course. But man it hurt. This might be a little TMI, but I figure if you’re still reading, you’re in it for the long haul. This puncture wound was extremely painful. Maybe worse than the pain at the beginning of breastfeeding? It was starting to look infected, so I called my OB right away and they hooked me up with some ointment. It was still extremely painful though and when I asked my OB what to do, he recommended i just not feed on that side for a couple of days. 

Ha. Ha. Ha. 

This was my mastitis side — that was NOT going to happen. I was not risking that torment again. So, I nursed through the pain. It took a month for it to finally heal. Oh the relief. For a couple of days. Before he bit me again. I’m not even kidding. He bit me again as soon as the first wound healed. 

Repeat this same process. One month later, that wound had healed and things were back to normal. Better than normal. We were like a breastfeeding machine. He knew what to do. I knew what to do. My milk supply was on point. I was doing backflips (in my mind … I can’t really do a backflip, y’all). 

It was about this same time that we found out he was allergic to milk, so I was cutting milk from my diet as well. No cheese. No sour cream. Please tell me how someone eats a taco in these conditions!! Compared to everything else though, removing milk was cake. But not really cake because cake has milk. You know what else has milk? Pie. I love pie. 

Then he turned a year and there was talk of weaning. 

So, let’s recap. Extreme pain, plugged ducts, mastitis, two bites and diet restrictions. I should be happy about the possibility of weaning. Right? Wrong. 

I was so sad about it. The first few sessions were easy to kick. I cut one out every week or two weeks if I thought it was necessary. The last two were so hard emotionally. And the last one? I couldn’t even talk about it. I didn’t tell anyone for days because it was too emotional. Scott asked me some general question about when I thought I’d be done and I said “I can’t talk about this.” 

I don’t know if it was hormones or the fact that it signaled the end of a chapter, but it was intense. 

It’s been almost a month now and things are fine. Henry adapted like a champ and the freedom is unreal! I can go to movies and out with my girls and not worry about needing to be back to feed Henry. I can eat whatever I want (I definitely have). In fact, a few days after I finally fessed up that I was finished breastfeeding, my sweet, sweet husband brought home two pieces of homemade pie. I literally started crying in my kitchen. 

So, having done it both ways, I am here to tell you — FED IS BEST! You can do formula and feel bad about it and you can breastfeed and feel bad about it! You can do formula and feel more mental healthy and you can breastfeed and enjoy the physical health benefits. You bond with them either way. All that matters is that you love them, feed them and do your best. 

Friday, August 26, 2016

A Few of My Favorite Things: First Grade

Miss Claire

Favorite Color: Red

Least Favorite Color: Pink

Favorite Food: Spaghetti with butter

Least Favorite Food: Chicken

What do you want to be when you grow-up: Vet

Favorite Book: Pete the Cat

Favorite Game: Find the Gingerbread Man

Favorite Restaurant: Old Chicago

Favorite Animal: Dog

Favorite TV Show: Pokemon

Favorite thing to do: Go to the pound

Favorite thing about Dad: That he’s funny

Favorite thing about Mom: That she’s nice to me

Favorite thing about Grace: When she says sorry

Favorite thing about Claire: That she likes stuffed animals

Favorite thing about Henry: He’s cute

Miss Grace

Favorite Color: Pink

Least Favorite Color: Black, brown, gray, white, orange

Favorite Food: Donuts

Least Favorite Food: Green beans

What do you want to be when you grow-up: Farmer

Favorite Book: Barbie

Favorite Game: Crazy Eight

Favorite Restaurant: Varsity Donuts

Favorite Animal: Horse

Favorite TV Show: Barbie

Favorite thing to do: Swimming 

Favorite thing about Dad: He makes us laugh

Favorite thing about Mom: She’s nice to me and I have mommy time with her 

Favorite thing about Claire: She stays in the same room as me

Favorite thing about Grace: I love to be pretty

Favorite thing about Henry: He’s so cute and makes people laugh


Tuesday, August 16, 2016

First Day of First Grade

Today I sent my FIRST GRADERS off to school. No tears (from any of us), a couple of extra hugs and off they went. 

They both said they had great first days. A few after-school comments:

Grace: My teacher is AWESOME!

Claire: There was a fly in the class today. We had two choices. Kill it or name it. We chose name it. 

Grace: Mom, first grade is SO easy. 

Claire: I’m so hungry! We don’t even get snack in first grade. NO. SNACK.

Friday, August 12, 2016


It’s inching closer, even right now. By the time you’re done reading, it’ll be even closer.  

And I’m not ready. Except I am ready. But I’m not ready. 

I had a rough spring. At the end of April, my spirit was a hot mess. I was exhausted all the time, short-tempered, depressed. The lack of sleep night after night, the grumpy baby during the day — it was taking its toll. 

But then summer came. And my girls were home. And everything was different. 

Life with Henry was also getting better, so I don’t want to discount that variable, but having them here during the day made me feel whole again. 

Things were certainly more stressful with two more kids who never, ever stopped bickering. I still lost my temper here and there, but my heart was happy. 

It made me realize how much I missed them this year. With Henry and work keeping me busy, I wasn’t fully aware of just how much until they were back home every day. 

I loved watching them navigate school and friends and mistakes and triumphs. I was proud and nervous and excited all at once. But it turns out, I was also sad. 

School starts in four days. 

My house will be cleaner. The bickering will cease. But the days will most certainly feel emptier. 

So, I’m ready. But I’m not. 

Monday, July 11, 2016

A Firecrackin' Time

I love the Fourth of July. It’s so full of summer and energy and excitement. Since I was a wee one, we have trekked to a nearby town, rode carnival rides, ate funnel cake and watched the fireworks. It’s one of my favorite traditions and I love watching the girls love the experience. And eventually Henry, too!

He is still oblivious to it all, but this year he was less content to just be held while we enjoyed the festivities. He wanted down! Now! And to run away and eat stuff off the ground. That was less-than-fun, but the overall experience was just as great as usual.