Wednesday, October 23, 2013

When Attachment Parenting Backfires

So, I'm not really an actual Attachment Parent (that's with capital A, capital P). But, I do the whole "natural birth, extended breastfeeding, cosleeping" part of it quite well, so for the sake of argument, let's pretend this is our Parenting Style (cap P, cap S).

Parenting Style backfire this weekend. Here's why.

My dear friend from college got married Saturday night. I got to be a bridesmaid! Yay! So, wedding festivities commenced Friday evening *but really Thursday for me, when I got to make a late night trip to the airport to pick up my college/weekend roomie*. My mom came and watched Ellie while we were gone, but we took Dash with us. The night went fine for them, minus some crying while we left.

Keep in mind that Ellie's going through a MAJOR separation anxiety phase, coupled with the reality that there have only been a handful of times in her short life where someone other than me has put her to bed.

The night went fine. Enter Saturday - bridesmaid prep started at 11am.

Oh friends - I was quite anxious about this day for some time leading up to it. I've never left my baby that long, and I've certainly never left both kids for that long. All told, I was gone around 12 hours, which isn't unreasonable, but is substantial.

My fabulous sister made the trip up from Portland to help with the kids as my mom was busy that day. I'm so incredibly thankful she did this for me, as I know with certainty that my day and night would have played out much differently had I not had such confidence that the kids were in such loving and capable hands.

Have I mentioned that Dash doesn't really take bottles?

Anyway - I had a blast. I drank champagne all day! I wore heels! I wore my hair down! The bride was lovely, the party was fabulous, and it was a very relaxing day getting ready.

The kids and babysitter however... that's another story. There were (apparently) lots of tears, bottle refusal and napping strikes. I heard a rumor that the babysitter took a shot of the only alcohol she could find on our shelves as soon as the kids fell asleep. I don't blame her! I feel bad for my sister (obviously), but honestly - whatever. Those kids have been giving me heck for a while now, and I deserved a day off. Now yesterday of course, the day after the wedding, they made me pay big time. Way clingy, way unhappy, refusing to nap (again), and generally out of control. They made sure to see to it that I will not take another day off in 2.5 years (if they receive me back the way they did yesterday, I'm confined to the home until they're off to full-day school).

Totally worth it though. Plus, we got to climb up on top of a fire truck for pictures. In heels. And short skirts. Can't do that with babies around! :)

Thursday, October 17, 2013

My Baby Boy

My baby boy turned six months old yesterday. Or the day before. Whatever, I don't know what day it is right now, but he turned six months on 10/15. :)

He is now rolling, sitting unassisted for short periods, and last night he chowed down THREE helpings of oatmeal, for his first ever real try of solid foods. This should surprise no one. He's such a rock star.

He's come so far, and I'm so proud of him. I love him more every day and it scares me to think of how much I will love him when I'm old and he's grown up.

I was talking to my mom the other day about Dash's beginnings and his birthday, and admitting that his birthday was not one of the happiest days of my life. Nor was his coming-home-from-the-hospital day.

Want to see one of the happiest single moments of my life though?

 This is the first real time I got to hold him (except the brief moments after delivery where he was on my chest, prior to going to the NICU). He was three days old here, and my arms were aching for my baby. I think that morning, or the night before, I had had a breakdown - just yearning for my baby. If I remember, this was the day my milk came in, and I had visited the Baby Boutique our hospital had to find a new nursing bra to help with the, uh, situation. :) I had seen a couple there with a lactation consultant, and the mother was trying to breastfeed her newborn, and I went home and broke down.

Later in the day when we went back to the hospital, the nurse said I could finally hold him. They left me like this for probably two hours. Peter left, and I just sat there, held my baby, and sobbed with all the emotion in that moment. I'm not a crier, but I was just so overcome with joy, gratitude, exhaustion, sadness and bewilderment of being in that situation. I wish the picture was clearer and more focused, but it's still perfect the way it is.

But mostly, it was pure joy. This is me falling in love with my baby.

It wouldn't be long until he was released from the hospital, and what seems like two days later, he's six months old. He's so happy and healthy and content, and he fits so perfectly into our family.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Challenges and Gratitude

obligatory baby picture. stinking cute.
I feel like my emotions these days are stuck between two extremes. On the one end, I find myself so extraordinarily and deeply grateful for what I have. A healthy, hardworking, loving husband, with whom I just celebrated our wedding anniversary. Two beautiful, healthy and thriving kids, who came to us easily and without the heartbreak that so many experience along the way to parenthood. My eyes have been opened to some heartbreaking losses recently - the kind that take your breath away - so the knowledge that my babies are here, on this earth with me, is something never far from my mind.

On the other hand, parenting right now is so challenging. So, so challenging. It's stretching me, and pulling me, and trying me so deeply. Some days, I wonder if I'm even cut out for this work. And, it's so physical - I just ache at the end of the day. Parenting these children takes every ounce of physical energy I have to give, and then somehow continues to find my reserves, suck that energy, and so forth.

Dash is a great baby - he really, truly is. He's so easy. But, he's 6 months old and he's starting to be aware of what's going on and show his preferences. Nursing him can be a challenge lately, if he's in a place where he'd rather watch what's going on than focus on the job at hand. And, he's SO big - he's literally making my body ache so badly. My neck and back, which are still recovering from the accident, seem to have no strength left at the end of the day to lift him. My arms and wrists ache. He's over 20 pounds now, but he's still such a baby, that all 20 of those pounds need to be supported by me. A lot of kids are walking or crawling or somehow mobile at 20 pounds, but he hardly even rolls over (like, once a month, maybe). So, I carry him. Everywhere. And, he's out of his infant carseat now, but can't sit up, so when we go somewhere (grocery shopping, etc), I have no choice but to carry him. It's a lot. He's heavy. And, he's had a cold this week, which has made him extra uncomfortable and really needing the physical contact, extra nursing, lots of holding, rocking, swaying and soothing. Ouch.

And Ellie. Oh, sweet Eleanor. She brings me such joy, but SO MUCH frustration lately. This girl is strong willed, she knows what she wants, and she's having such a hard time these days. Her own joy - her jubilance which is such a trademark for her - is the flip side of a girl who feels things deeply. She's 2 1/2 now, and she wants things how she wants them, when she wants them and where she wants them. And if she doesn't get her way, what used to be tears is now screams of anger and frustration and angst. I made her sit in the cart at Costco yesterday. She screamed through the whole store (she wanted to walk. Fat chance). She had her worst meltdown to date this week, over me rocking and nursing Dash. We're talking 45 minutes of screaming as loudly and sorrowfully and angrily as possible. Eventually she climbed on my lap and hyperventilated herself into sleep. And while I want to soothe her and comfort her, this behavior has me stuck. I can't give her what she wants when she behaves this way, so on principle, I must stand my ground because of her behavior. I may have locked myself in the bathroom for a minute or so while this tantrum was happening (and boy, did she let the neighborhood know she was not happy with that) while I took some deep breaths to collect myself.

And sleep is a nightmare. Bedtimes, naptimes - we've regressed fully to baby status it seems. No longer content to put herself to sleep happily in her big girl bed, she's now demanding that I (only I) rock her to sleep all the way (or snuggle her to sleep in her twin bed). If I do not, she will scream and shout and cry and sob, and because she's in a bed now, she refuses to stay in her room (or I'd  wait it out). Nope, she's in my face doing this, usually while I'm bouncing my 20 pound baby boy, trying to get him to sleep (see a problem here? No one is going to fall asleep while this is the background noise). And I can't put Dash down while I rock Ellie for 45 minutes (or he'll cry, and rightly so). Having Peter around at bedtime helps (he's not always able to be here, with his work schedule), but both kids want/need me. Dash needs to nurse, and Ellie's attachment is deep these days. Last night, after several (yes, several) hours of this crap, Peter put the crib railing back on the crib in a move of desperation. Perhaps she'll sleep better if she's back in the enclosed crib? (I didn't mention that she's been getting out of bed nightly and crawling into bed with me. And Dash. Poor Daddy get's the couch...). It seemed to work, and she slept through the night until 8:30 this morning, happily in her crib. So, we've regressed. And now, to get her to fall asleep on her own (something she used to have no problem with).

So that's where I've been, and hence the blog silence. Stuck in the parenting trenches. Incredibly happy to be here, but boy, are these days trials.

How about some cute before & after annual photos to lighten the mood? My stepdad plants potatoes in their garden, and for the last two years has harvested them with Ellie. Behold:

The bounty. 17 months old.
Last weekend. 29 months.
Digging in the dirt
2013 bounty.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013


Ellie in purple jammies, 8 months
The jammies are back! Dash sporting the purple - 5.5 months
I'm 99% sure we're done having babies. To be perfectly honest, I love the baby stage, I adore newborns, I love basking in the postpartum period, I even love giving birth! I love almost everything about having a baby. But, I do not do pregnant well. I do not have an endless supply of patience, which is tested daily. I do not have an endless supply of space in my home, nor money to raise said children, nor energy. Maybe if we were a lot wealthier, had a much bigger house, could hire regular help and were 5 and 25 years younger we'd go for it. But, probably not.

(case in "I don't do pregnant well" point: I re-stressed my foot stress fracture I got almost a full year ago this weekend. Now I can barely walk. Yet again - another joy of the lovely hormone relaxin, which makes the whole "loosening of ligaments so your pelvis will widen so you can give birth" thing happen).

Anyway, I'm pretty sure I'm done, and I'm at peace with that. And when friends around me continue to have babies, I am very happy for their growing families and love meeting their new little ones and marveling at their newness and smallness.

But. I simply cannot believe that my little Dash was ever that little. It's impossible for my mind to fully register the fact that a mere 4 months ago, he was as small and squishy as some of these new babies around us.

I know they say that time goes by fast, and even faster with your second, but I'm pretty sure "they" are referring to a normal growing second baby - not a monster child who is growing out of his 18 month clothes by the second.

He was little for the first six weeks. He was even in newborn clothes for six whole weeks - that's twice as long as Ellie was! I found myself thinking "enough of this newborn stage already!" And then - he exploded. Literally - I mean - within a month (so, by the time he was 2.5 months old), he was wearing 6 month size comfortably, even 6-12 months very well. Now, at 5.5 months, he's leaving the 12-18 month size and entering the 24 month size. I pulled out pjs I retired from Ellie THIS SUMMER and put them on Dash the other day. He was quite comfy in them.
6 weeks old
This morning
"playtime" today
So. My baby is a giant. (And - still 100% breastfed! Kid has zero interest in real food - despite the "tastes" Ellie gives him of things and the one mushed up bite of carrot I fed him this weekend. No wonder I'm so exhausted - and hungry!).
The gentlest, sweetest giant in the world
At this rate, he'll be beating Ellie size-wise before the year is up (2013 that is - he'll be lightyears ahead of her by the time his first year is up). And, he'll probably never learn to sit up, crawl or walk because he'll be too big for his muscles (which are quite strong) to hold himself up. On the flipside, my arms will be very strong, and I'll be a size 4 because of all the breastfeeding. :) Sounds okay to me!