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. 

 

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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I’m not down with OPPC: Other People’s Parenting Choices

I wish that wasn’t true. I wish I was very zen about other people’s parenting choices (OPPC). But I’m not. And it’s probably the biggest surprise to me since I became a parent.

Understand when I say that  “I wish I was very zen” I don’t mean that I’m out there berating parents who make parenting decisions I wouldn’t make or that I think my choices are the gold standard of parenting or that I’m perfect. Just the other day, I decided to keep Stella out of the dogs’ water bowl by giving her her own bowl of water. Shockingly, SHOCKINGLY, I ended up with a mad wet baby and a puddle of water on the floor.

What I mean, and what’s been a huge surprise to me, is how much seeing other parents make choices I wouldn’t bothers me. I suspect OPPC upset me because I just don’t understand. 95% of the parenting choices I’ve made (and Sean has agreed with), I made because my instinct told me to do it that way. Stella slept on my chest for the first three weeks of her life because it felt like the right thing to do. We practice baby led weaning because my instinct told me she didn’t need purees at 4 months old. I wear her a lot because keeping her close feels right. I think because my parenting “book” is just my instinct, I don’t understand how or why people make other choices.

A lot of parenting choices I make aren’t exactly mainstream. I know the way Sean and I parent isn’t for everyone and that all parents do what they think is best for their child. Hell, other parents probably even have different instincts. But. That doesn’t make me feel less sad when I find out a friend gave up on breastfeeding two weeks in because they didn’t have family support.  I hope that the intense… feelings I have about OPPC will fade with time. Or that at least I’ll get so used to it being there that I can ignore it. Right now though it’s raw. I know I’m not the first mom in the history of the world to have this problem, so any suggestions for dealing with this?

Five Months

Guys. It’s been five months (and a little more) since Stella was born.

DSCN0226Stella’s first time in her high chair 

Being a parent is awesome and overwhelming and hard and easy and wonderful and terrible and… all that and more all at once. Most of the time I’m in awe that I made a person and that that person is not a tiny baby any more. I mean, she is a tiny baby (even now at 5 months she only weighs a little more than 12 pounds) but she’s learning things and developing her own personality. It’s hard to accept and amazing to realize that she’s not just an extension of me. That she is actually an individual.

So what does this little individual like to do? She likes to grab things. She likes to put everything in her mouth all the time. She likes sitting up and rolling over and “petting” the dog.  She likes to make noise and she loves going for walks.

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Most of all, though, she likes me. Don’t misunderstand. She likes Sean too, but I don’t think there’s any dispute that I’m her favorite.

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Oh. And she love love loves her foot. Loves. It.

I’m simultaneously shocked that Stella is already 5 months old and shocked that she’s only five months old. She’s changed so much in these five months. She’s gone from a sleepy little new born to a wide awake active infant. Sigh. Excuse me while I go play with my infant and mourn the newborn she used to be.