I need to not be needed

The last few days have been really rough for me and my little family. Stella had some sort of stomach virus that lasted for almost 2 full weeks. She didn’t feel bad, she just had explosive… well, just explosive everything. And she needed me. Not all the time. Sometimes Sean would suffice. But when she felt really bad, she needed me. When she was tired or thirsty or hungry, she needed me.

That’s fine really. I’m used to being needed. It kind of comes with the “mom” territory.

What I’m not used to is being needed by two people. Marci needs me too and since she’s still in the fourth trimester, I’m really the only one that meets her needs. With Marci touching me for what feels like 24 hours a day and Stella needing comfort those same 24 hours a day (not to mention the dogs needing food, etc), I just need a break from being needed.

For me, easily the hardest part of transitioning from 1 child to 2 children is that they both need me so much. I know, I know. That sounds horrible. But hear me out. I have 2 kids under the age of 3. Both of them need me and one of them needs me pretty much 24/7. I have to make some choices that I didn’t have to make when Stella was a newborn. I have to prioritize the needs of each child and I don’t like that.

It’s hard, this parenting thing. No one says it’s easy, but no one can really tell you how hard it is to be needed all.the.time. Parenting is one of those things that legitimately cannot accurately be described. Being needed so much is just exhausting. Mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausting.

It’s not all doom and gloom though. Even though all the neediness is exhausting me right now, I’m overjoyed. That word is really inadequate to describe how it feels to know that you made such awesome little people, but it’s the best I can do in my exhausted state. That’s what being a parent really is: a mixture of being overwhelmed by the needs of your offspring and being overwhelmed by the joy your offspring bring you by just being themselves. And maybe a dash of just wanting to finish your hot beverage while it’s still hot. 

 

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Naming it is the hardest part.

I’ve got several blog posts mapped out just waiting to be written. This post  isn’t one of them. I’ve succumbed to Stella’s most recent daycare cold and, even though I feel the need to write, I just don’t want to give short shrift to any of the posts I’ve mapped out.

So, here we are.

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My sick station

 

I’m sitting on my couch with some terrible sinus pressure, a runny nose, sore throat and a newborn. A newborn who also has a runny nose. I know this is just a cold, but Stella didn’t get her first cold until she was almost 3 months old. A three week old with a potential cold really freaks me out. I’m waking up every time she makes a noise, I’m sleeping with my hand on her chest or with her on my chest, I”m nursing her as often as possible and hoping that she’s getting antibodies from me.

I’m sitting on my couch, feeling pretty terrible myself, and feeling anxious that my newborn also feels terrible. This feeling–the feeling that you’re more worried about someone else than yourself–really only has one name.

Motherhood.

I’ve felt it before. Of course I have. I have a two year old. It’s new and different now though. Feeling it for someone other than Stella is new and different.

Motherhood is old and new all at once.

Spring has sprung!

Here in Kentucky, spring has finally made an appearance. Of course, it is Kentucky. So, even though the last several days (maybe even the last week!) have been absolutely gorgeous, it’s entirely possible that winter could show up again at any moment. The changeability of Kentucky weather really makes those of us who are native Kentuckians live in the moment. You have to enjoy nice weather because it could, and does sometimes, change within minutes.

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My little family has been outside enjoying the warm weather for days now. I’ve gotten into the habit of taking an afternoon walk with Marci and later going to the park with Sean and Stella. Both are my favorite for different reasons. When I walk with Marci I get a little alone time (perfect for recharging my introvert self). Sometimes I spend this time just listening to nature, but mostly I listen to audiobooks. I discovered my love for audiobooks when I started commuting longer than 10 minutes andnow I listen to them all the time. It’s a great way to get things done while also “reading.” But I digress… These peaceful walks with just my thoughts or a book are a sharp contrast to walking with a toddler. Walking with a toddler is so much fun. Stella is amazed by everything. Puddles, grass, flowers, worms, birds… they’re all new to her and watching her discover all of the newness of the world is so gratifying. Her amazement makes me appreciate and see things in a new way. Her discovery of all the newness is the real spring.

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Parenting books that don’t suck

After Stella was born (and let’s be honest, before) I bought and read A LOT of parenting books. I mean, like a lot of books. This time I pared down the list significantly. Why? Because before I read a lot of parenting books that, frankly, suck. To save you guys time, I’ve made a list of my favorite parenting books… you know, the ones that don’t suck.

So, why did I pick these 10 books as my favorite parenting books? Because they’re actually useful, easy to read, and offer intuitive advice. It’s that last one that’s most important to me. The books I read that I hated gave advice that went against everything my intuition told me to do. I read books that told me to fed my baby on a schedule, to only let the baby sleep in a crib, to let the baby cry x-amount of minutes before picking them up, to introduce solids to make the baby sleep through the night, etc. None of those things felt right to me. The books on this list reinforced what I naturally felt I needed to do to care for my baby and gave me confidence that I really needed as a first time mom.

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From top down:

1. Baby Led Weaning, Rapley and Murkett, $8.44 at Amazon.

If you’ve never heard of baby led weaning and have an infant, you have to read this book. Baby led weaning is the easiest and least stressful way to introduce solids. The idea is simple: you follow the baby’s lead in introducing solids. First, you wait until baby is old enough to grasp pieces of food. Then, you give them age appropriate food and let them play with it/feed it to themselves. The overriding rule is “food before one is just for fun.” This book really helped me not stress about whether and how much Stella was eating… and it’s so much easier than trying to spoon feed purees. Basically, this is the lazy parent’s way to introduce solids.

2. The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, La Leche League International, $12.55 at Amazon.

This is a new book for me this time around and I love it. I wish that I had had it when Stella was still nursing. It’s fantastic and addresses pretty much any question you might have about breastfeeding in plain language. Plus it has these tear out sheets with helpful information for the first few weeks.

3. The Breastfeeding Book, Sears and Sears, $14.37 at Amazon.

I got this one when Stella was about a month old and I wished I’d had it before. Like “The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding,” it has all the information you need to have when you first start breastfeeding. As you can see from the picture, it’s shorter than “The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding.” The length makes it an easy read for the first time really exhausted mom.

4. Baby Led Weaning Cookbook, Rapley and Murkett, $11.07 at Amazon.

This is a companion book for the Baby Led Weaning book. I’ll be honest, some of the recipes aren’t great. BUT there are some good ideas for meals in here and a lot of the recipes can be made a lot better with a few alterations. The issue with the recipes that aren’t great is that they’re a little bland for an adult palette, so that’s an easy fix. What I really liked about this book though was that it had ideas for meals that I wouldn’t have thought of (like oatmeal sticks) that Stella loved.

5. Mother Food, Jacobson, $20.38 at Amazon.

If, like me, you spent several months worried that your milk supply was low this book is a life saver. It has lots of info about foods and herbs that are good for increasing milk supply and recipes that include those foods and herbs. Once you’ve read the book, it’s easy to incorporate them into your diet. Oh, and bonus, it has also has information about special diets while breastfeeding.

6. Sleeping with Your Baby, McKenna, $12.17 at Amazon.

I never intended to bed share, but it happened and is unexpectedly awesome. This book, which is a really quick read, tells you how to bed share or room share safely. It also includes information about the developmental benefits of co-sleeping (however, you choose to do it). The author, James McKenna, researches infant sleep at Notre Dame’s Mother-Baby Behavioral Sleep Laboratory.

7. The Baby Book, Sears, $16.14 at Amazon.

I literally can’t say enough good things about this book. It has so much information and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve consulted this book at 3 am to decide whether I’m crazily overreacting or if there’s an actual problem. (Spoiler alert: I’m always crazily overreacting.) It has everything from how to treat a fever to developmental stages to normal baby sleep.

8. The Discipline Book, Sears and Sears, $12.70 at Amazon.

This isn’t a baby book. It’s more for toddlers, but it’s been so helpful for me. It really helped me understand how toddlers think and why they do they things they do. Hint: It’s not just to annoy me. There’s a lot of information about discipline techniques in there too, but the best thing for me was learning why Stella does the things she does.

Not pictured but also don’t suck:

9. The Vaccine Book, Sears, $11.97 at Amazon.

Vaccines are a hot topic these days. If you’re on the “I’m so confused about vaccines” side of things, this is the book for you. Dr. Sears is very pro-vaccine (like most doctors), but the book includes plain language information about all vaccines on the CDC vaccination schedule. There’s a recommended alternative vaccination schedule that ensures kids get all the vaccines on the CDC schedule at a delayed pace. I don’t use the alternative schedule, but did use the information in the book to develop a different schedule with our pediatrician.

10. Beyond the Sling, Bialik, $12.88 at Amazon.

This is really a parenting memoir, not a parenting advice book. I really like it because it’s an honest portrayal of life, with some helpful tips, when your parenting style is not exactly mainstream. I’m not as far out of the mainstream parenting as Bialik is, but I do share a lot of her “crunchy” parenting attributes. It was really refreshing for me to read about how she deals with other people’s opinions regarding parenting choices. ‘Cause everyone has an opinion about how you parent and when you do things other people don’t (like nurse a toddler) the comments can be a little hurtful.


Hopefully this list will save you some time and book money. Comment with any additional parenting books you think are must reads!

 

Pregnancy Update: The I’m not pregnant anymore edition

Welcome to the world, Marcella Novelle!

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Baby Marci joined us at 6:54 am on March 1st. Full birth story to come later. For now, enjoy some cute baby pics!

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And one of Stella and Marci. Stella loves her so much that she actually can’t stop touching her. I love it and am so freaked out by it at the same time.

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Pregnancy Update: Still Pregnant

It’s been a long time since I did an update. In fact, it looks like the last time I did one I was 25 weeks pregnant. That’s not even the third trimester! Well, now I am in the third trimester. Like the super third trimester.

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According to the guesstimate, I’m 40 weeks and 2 days pregnant. Not only is this the most pregnant I’ve ever been, but I have a stomach virus… Thanks Stella. So, here’s hoping I stay pregnant for the next 24 hours or so.

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Typhoid Stella



How far along| 40 weeks, 2 days. Still haven’t picked a name.

Baby’s Size| My midwife guesses about 7 pounds… same as Stella 

Weight Gain| I actually lost 2 pounds since last week. This is almost definitely because of the stomach virus. Because I’ve definitely eaten a large number of girl scout cookies since last week… like a LOT.

Sleep| According to my Fitbit, really well.

Cravings| Any food. I’m so hungry and so afraid to eat…

Food Aversions| Pretty much everything.

Symptoms| Back pain, contractions, etc.

Movement| Lots. Mainly in the form of punching my bladder.

Belly Button| Weird combo of half-innie and half-outie.

Baby’s Position| Head downwaaaay down.

Highlight of the Week| Last day of in-office work! From here on out, I’ll be working from home in my yoga pants and sweatshirts.

What I miss|  Stella not using my belly as a step stool.

Stella’s Birth Story

Now that Baby 2 is just weeks (or even days!) from making her appearance, it seems like a good idea to finally finish writing and post Stella’s birth story. I started writing this in March of 2013 when Stella was just a couple of months old. I haven’t finished it because I’m having trouble editing. I want to include everything, but if I did that this post would be roughly 10 pages long. So I’m left with trying to include only the most important parts, which is impossible because it’s all the most important part.

What I really want to say is this: Stella’s birth was the most amazing experience of my life. It was hard and, at times, not the most comfortable thing that’s ever happened tome. But it was worth it. And not just because I got the best baby ever at the end. It was worth it because it taught me that I’m a strong person, mentally and emotionally, and showed me what my body is capable of. 

Here’s the rest of the story… 


 

I’ve been writing this post in my head since Stella was born, but haven’t been able to put in down on paper (or, more accurately, computer screen) until now. It still seems a little unbelievable to me that she’s is really here and that her arrival went even better than I had imagined it would. Well. That’s not quite true. Part of me thought I might have an hour long labor like my mother did with me. That part of me was off by about 10 hours or so… But I’m getting ahead of myself.

I woke on January 23, 2013, Stella’s due date, with a cold. Sore thought, stuffy nose, headache, body aches, but no I’m-going-into-labor-today feeling. That morning I felt bad; I was tired of being pregnant, I was sick and I just wanted to stay in bed. But I knew that I was  going to have a baby sometime within two weeks of that day and I needed to do a couple of things at work before that happened. So I went to work. A few hours and an entire box of Kleenex later (not to mention completing the very last project I needed to complete),  I threw in the towel and decided to go home for the day.

When I got home, I treated my cold with tomato soup and grilled cheese, then decided to take a nap. As I was arranging my pillow nest and settling in for what was going to be the best nap in the history of naps, I felt… something. I froze for a minute, then realized my water had broken. As luck would have it, Sean had just texted me  to see if I was feeling laborey. I told him the situation and he excitedly (anxiously?) called to say he was on his way home.

Needless to say, I was too excited to finish my nap and spent the time until Sean got home excitedly pacing. Once he got home, we went to my midwife’s office, just to be sure that everything was a go for spending lots of time laboring at home. It was and we headed back home to hang out for a few hours. I should add here that being in a car while in labor isn’t super fun. At all.

To speed things up here, let’s just say I spent the next few hours doing things and stuff. Mainly walking, yoga-ing, watching TV, and bouncing on my yoga/birth ball. Around 7 p.m., Sean couldn’t take it anymore and suggested (forcefully) that we go to the hospital. So, we gave our parents and our doula a call, learned the doula had the flu and would have to call in her backup, and we headed to the hospital. Our new doula (who turned out to be awesome!) met us there and my parents showed up about an hour later (despite us telling them not to come yet)…. just in time for us to leave again. Because we were there too early. Which is something I told Sean before we even left the house.

Anyway.

We drove back home. And I cannot stress enough here how uncomfortable it is to be buckled into a moving car unable to move when you’re in labor. So. Uncomfortable.  Ladies, do not, I repeat do not, let your nervous husband talk you into going to the hospital when you know its not time.

Once we got home, I went upstairs to do some hypnobabies in bed and took a bath. Sean kept trying to feed. Pro tip: Your in labor wife isn’t going to eat the leftover tomato soup and grilled cheese she had for lunch. To be honest, though, I wasn’t really that hungry. In the end, I let him feed me a banana and some saltines.

While I was upstairs, relaxing and hanging out, Sean was downstairs convincing my parents to go home. My dad did go home after a bit, but my mom stayed around, cleaned the house, did some laundry, and started reading a book. BEST IN LABOR PRESENT EVER.

After a few hours of this (maybe around 1 a.m.-ish? I don’t know. My sense of time is really skewed here.), I started feeling panicky and nauseated. When I got off the bed to go vomit in the toilet (childbirth is a beautiful and magical time), my water broke. For real. Not just a little leak  like earlier in the day, but like I was suddenly standing in a puddle broke. Of course I took that opportunity to vomit. In the hall. It was fantastic.

And that, ladies and gents, is when you know its time to go to the hospital.

Again, in the interest of speeding things up, Mom and Sean did necessary cleanup, I changed clothes, dogs got walked, doula got called, Mom drove us to the hospital (again, car rides in labor are excruciating), I declined a wheelchair, requested a room with a tub, spent 20 terrible minutes confined to the bed on a fetal monitor, made it to the tub, and decided to never leave the tub. ever. again. Seriously, I was ready to call in a decorator and make that tub my home. I won’t bore you guys with details and honestly, I don’t remember that much of the next several hours (thank you, oxytocin and other birthing hormone cocktail), but around 5:45-ish, Sean and our doula convinced me to get out of the tub to go on the fetal monitor again.

While I was on the monitor, transition happened. This was easily the most difficult part of birth. It happened so suddenly I didn’t have time to prepare and this was the only time during birth that I was convinced I couldn’t do it. I remember thinking “Oh. This is why people schedule c-sections.” I couldn’t focus on my breath. I asked for an epidural and meant it. And then our doula said “It’s too late for an epidural. You’re at 9 cm.” Just as suddenly as I was convinced I couldn’t do it, I knew I could do it. I was almost there.

About an hour later, at 7:00 a.m. exactly, I pulled my daughter onto my chest. Unfortunately, there aren’t any safe for the internet pictures of that, so here’s one taken a  couple of hours later.