The day before daycare 

Geeze–all I feel like doing is screaming, crying, jumping up and down and slapping every stay at home mom I can find (Ok, maybe not actually slapping–but at least cutting them a dirty look).

Tomorrow EJ starts daycare part time (3 days a week) while Machelle and I both are back at work full time. We have transitioned our schedule to both still work 40 hours a week but just longer days so we can both have an EJ day and she will only have to be there part time. 

I know that we are paying them to watch our child–and we like them–but nothing compares to having someone at home with EJ. She’s so freaking adorable, starting to become extremely interactive and now for part of the day–these people at daycare are going to get to spend that time with her. 

They don’t do cloth wipes, like we do at home–and in all reality, it’s difficult to find any daycare that truly supports cloth diapering and breastfeeding. I know, somewhere deep down, that for right now we are making the right decision for our family. It may not always be the same decision that we stick to–but it’s what we have to do right now. Does that make it any easier to know that tomorrow will be the first time she is away from one mom or another for longer than a few hours? No. Absolutely 100% no. 

I keep trying to remain positive and not get bogged down in the negative–especially when Machelle is around because I know she is hurting just as bad if not more than I am. 

I also know that this daycare is full of good staff and the babies are always interacting with someone when we go in there. I try to think that this will make her going to kindergarten easier–because by then we will be old pros at this. I try to think about the tons of children who have gone to daycare and been absolutely fine. 

In the car this afternoon Machelle tells me she hopes that EJ didn’t inherit the biting that Machelle was guilty of while she was in childcare. 

Great. Here’s to hoping we win the lottery.  

    
    
 

Token of Accomplishments

I’ve (thankfully) never needed to be in “in recovery”- but I like the idea of how they pass out “tokens” for milestones. Little bits of accomplishments you can carry around in your pocket.  “2 months sober” type of thing.

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They should make those for breastfeeding moms.  Like, every time you go to our version of “AA” (La Leche League Meetings, Breastfeeding USA meetings, or Mother’s Milk Support Groups), if you’ve held your shit together for another month, you get a shiny new token.

Literally, they seem just like AA- I mean, it is peer support.  “Hi, my name is Machelle, and this is Emerson.  She’s 11 weeks old and nursing is going well but…”

Sometimes I half expect the other moms in the room to say in unison, “Hi Machelle…”

I’m pretty fortunate, I don’t have any terrible problems.  But it’s the same stories every week:
“My mother in law is pressuring me to give formula…”
“I have mastitis…again!”
“My nipples feel like they are going to fall off…”
“My husband wants to give a bottle to bond but I’m not ready to pump yet…”
“My father got upset when I breastfed at a restaurant…”
“I don’t have supportive family…”
“My baby was in the NICU/premature/had surgery and now won’t latch as well…”

I didn’t really grow up “seeing” breastfeeding.  Honestly, the first and last time I saw someone nurse a baby (before I was actually pregnant myself) was about 4 years ago.  Mary’s cousin, who also happens to be a LLL leader had just had her 2nd child, a son.  He oldest daughter was still a toddler.  We met them at a bar (okay, that sounds bad- but its like a family-friendly craft beer establishment).  She nursed her new son, without a cover, in public.  (GASP).  And then, she nursed her toddler (DOUBLE GASP!!!) I wasn’t offended, or embarrassed or anything- I was honestly amazed….and wanted to learn more without being the creepy lesbian wife of your cousin trying to figure out “exactly what you are doing…”  I was curious, because I hadn’t “seen” nursing before.  I was honestly trying to workout the logistics of how it all worked in my head.

When I was about 7 or 8 months pregnant, I went to a birth circle, and saw nursing for the 2nd time in my adult life.  There were 3 or 4 moms there and all of them just whipped out their boobs and fed their child like it was nothing.  Again, I didn’t want to stare, but I was mystified.  I was half tempted to be like, “Look, I’m about to have a baby in the next month or two, and I’m not trying to be creepy, I’m trying to watch and learn…”

You know, like the way you watch a cooking show and figure out how to do something.  Or the way you learn to dissect a frog in anatomy.  You watch someone else more experienced do it before you give it a go.

When I was pregnant, I had two co workers that pumped at work.  I asked them for advice.  They were exclusive pumpers, not “to the breast-feeders”.  They asked me about what cover I was getting- but I had already heard that so many babies hated eating in the dark with something on their head.  I casually said, “I’m not sure I’m going to use one.”

GASP!  You would have thought I said I was going to run naked up and down Wrightsville Beach.

“IN PUBLIC?!?!?!”

Uhhh…yeah.  I guess so.

The first 6 weeks, I tried to use a cover.  Honestly it is way harder than it looks, its hot, EJ hates it, and I think it draws more attention to me.  I hate the cover- it works for some, and good for them.  There are times when I want to have a bit more modesty- but I’m slowly getting to a point while I’m nursing that you really can’t see anything, even if I don’t use a cover.  EJ and I- we are getting to be pros at this.

A new store in Wilmington has started selling nursing shirts for us plus-sized ladies, and Mary got me two- they are freaking awesome because I can nurse more discreetly without a cover.

So, I’ve somehow become one of those women I stared at.   Half of Wilmington has probably seen a little flash of my boobs.  Sometimes I see women, often they are pregnant, sort of looking- and I know why.  They too didn’t “see” nursing growing up- and they’re just trying to “watch and learn”.

A girl I met who I know is breastfeeding her 10 or 11 month old son just told us she is expecting.  She was so excited.  Which means, it gave me hope that one day I might find myself tandem nursing two babes…I might have to watch and learn how she does it  (with 2!) a little more.

Anywho, the reason I felt the need to write about “seeing” someone nurse:
Last weekend, our original plan was to meet our friend (a photographer) for some outdoor holiday pictures.  As luck would have it, it was raining that day.   So instead, we went to her house for some pictures in front of the tree.  And of course EJ got hungry.  She had mentioned taking some nursing pictures, and I’ve seen others have them on social media, but the thought of someone photographing you while nursing seems a little…well, weird.  So what was supposed to be an outdoor Christmas party photo session, turned into an indoor one with a side of nursing.  But I’m so glad it happened, because they make me feel like I’ve accomplished something, like I’ve reached a milestone of success.

My breastfeeding “token” of accomplishments I can carry around in my pocket.

 

 

2 Months of Bliss

Yep– I (Mary) am going to be that Mom.

I am going to be the one that talks about how wonderful everything is and make you wonder why your baby isn’t as perfect as mine.

Emerson Jane turns 2 months old today and I love her more than I did the day that she was born.

When I have to go to work in the mornings, it still stings–but it is getting a little easier. I know that she is at home with Machelle and that they are having a blast. Machelle is the best mom that I have ever been around. She is so incredibly loving and I fall in love with her a little more every day too.

Emerson loves baths (except for the one she had last night). She loves her other Mom’s new baby carrier and she loves going places. She loves to ride in the car and is generally a happy baby. She also loves to watch the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers are 8-0 going for 9-0 this afternoon against the Titans. I know kids are not supposed to have screen time before the age of 2–but spare me the lecture please–I do not care. Her sneezes are adorable–hell, even her poops are adorable.

Even when she is not happy, she is still perfect. She is starting to smile, babble, coo, and interact more with the environment around her.

Machelle’s aunt came to visit us this weekend and we were so happy to see her! She lives in Virginia and were so thankful that she was able to take time and come meet Emerson!

We were walking downtown this afternoon/morning and we stopped on a bench so that Machelle could breastfeed. The sun was shining, it was gorgeous and I couldn’t help but notice the incredibly peaceful and beautiful moment that was taking place between Emerson and Machelle. They were both so relaxed and so one with each other–it was wonderful. It still amazes me that Emmie can be completed sustained on the milk that Machelle’s body provides.

Between the breast feeding and the cloth diapers, I told Machelle this morning that EJs ecological footprint is pretty much non existent. I am not huge in to ecological footprints–but its pretty neat to think about.  Machelle takes EJ to an outing almost every single day–between play groups and baby yoga–and she is just wonderful. I hear other Moms say that they are cautious of when they take their baby out because they are sleeping–that has never stopped us. If she is sleeping, she comes along just like she would if she were awake.

While Machelle’s aunt was down, we watched the videos of when EJ was just born in the hospital and although it has only been 2 months, the videos still make me tear up. We talked to Machelle’s aunt about feeling like we were waiting for the bottom to fall out because everything just seems too perfect. She basically told us to stop doing that and focus on what is going well right now–I appreciated hearing that. She also told us that Machelle’s other aunt had told her that Machelle and I were 2 of the best parents that she had seen in a while. I am not sure if she will ever know how much that meant to me. When people tell me I am a good parent, it is the most rewarding compliment that I could ever receive.

Emerson’s 2 month appointment is tomorrow–so that means shot time 😦 I know that Machelle will be fine because she used to work in a Pediatrician office and is accustomed to what will happen–but I am a little nervous.

After her appointment, we go to the daycare that EJ will be going to in December. We will be able to ask the questions that we may not have known that we had when we toured about 6 months ago. I guess we will need to make sure that we ask the correct questions, but I am not that worried about her going to daycare. I know that this place will be taking excellent care of her–it just won’t be at home.

I don’t have too much else to say this afternoon–because I would rather be staring at my perfect daughter.

Oh–I think that I can see a date night on the horizon–stay tuned for that :-D..

I’ll just leave these pictures right here…
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It Doesn’t Matter How You Feed Your Baby…It’s Wrong.

I (Machelle) have determined that if you are a mom feeding your baby in public- you’re doing it wrong.
Breastfeeding?  How dare you expose a small portion of your breast in public! There are children!  My husband might see your nipple!  This is a restaurant and I’m trying to eat!  
Feeding with a bottle?  You’re being judged- I promise.
“I hope that’s breastmilk in there!”  “Are you aware of the risks associated with formula feeding?!?!”  “Don’t you want the best for your baby?!?!”
So I have determined, it doesn’t matter what you do- you’re screwed.  I read an article over the weekend in which one mom who uses formula would try to arrange her schedule so that her baby wouldn’t need to be fed while out.  Or she would go out to the car to give her baby a bottle because she didn’t want to be judged by other moms.
Oh wow.  Doesn’t that sound familiar?  Because I nurse in the car all the time.
Its like its impossible to just feed your baby in a way that works for you unless it’s done at home,  in the car, in the bathroom- out of the public eye.  Which is hard to do when your baby wants to eat every 2-4 hours while awake.  That’s barely enough time for a meal or a trip to a store.
You know whats more distracting and disturbing then a little boob showing or a mom giving her baby a bottle?  A screaming, hungry infant.
I have to have faith that all parents want whats best for their babies.  Just let mom’s feed their babies how they see fit.
I apologize for the rant.  Here’s some cute pictures of EJ to make me seem less jaded.
In other news:
1. She passed her hearing screen (yay!)
2. She officially has hit the 6 week fussies.
3. We start Mommy & Me yoga tomorrow.
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Coming Out…of the Crunchy Closet

When I (Machelle) worked at a local pediatrician’s office as an MA, I could spot the “crunchy” moms when they walked in the door.  I didn’t have anything against them but I didn’t always understand them.  My only experience with pediatrics was what I had learned on the job. 

They were easy to spot.  They’d walk in “wearing” their babies.  What did they have against just bringing in the car seat?

I’d bring them back to a room and ask them to undress the baby while I started asking the routine questions.  How often is she nursing?  How often does she have wet diapers?  Where does the baby sleep?  Daycare?  What questions or concerns do you have for the doctor?

I left that job over a year ago and could still rattle off the age-based questions from memory, grade a developmental questionnaire in my sleep and try as I might, I still can’t forget the vaccine schedule.

The crunchy moms had babies in cloth diapers.  They were cute, I agreed, but I didn’t get why they “made it harder on themselves”.  Their babies nursed on demand instead of on a set schedule, they co slept, they wanted to discuss the vaccine schedule.

I respected their decisions, but “Why don’t they just make it easy?” I thought… Feed your baby every 3 hours, sleep train, use disposable diapers, and put that kid in a crib.  Why are you crying over your breastfeeding struggles?

Yeah.  Okay, I think we know where this is going.  Then I became pregnant.

Look, I’m in grad school- I finish the MBA in May, but in the meantime I need to pinch pennies.  Textbooks each semester sometimes cost $200 EACH.  How can I save houndreds of dollars so I can get the books I need and finish the program before she starts walking?  Cloth diapers.

Plus, they’re kind of fun.  Need more?  No need to run to the store- just do a load of laundry.

I became committed to breastfeeding success.  Went to several classes while I was still pregnant and take advantage of every breastfeeding support group in the Wilmington area.  We go to at least 2 a week.  I don’t always have questions, but sometimes I just need to be around other people who know what its like to nurse a baby 24/7.  So far, so good.  (Plus, its cheap- also making textbooks more affordable…)  The the lactation support groups get me out of the house and prevent post partum depression…double win!

Baby wearing?  Well hell, that’s just convenient.  I love having two hands available while out and about with her.  And if you’re getting up every 2-3 hours to nurse a baby why in the hell would you put it in another room?  Might as well make it easy on yourself and keep her within arm’s distance so you can nurse and go back to sleep as soon as possible.

So, for a long time, I was denial about my “crunchiness”.  I mean, I just want to save money, not get depressed, get more sleep and have two hands available at Target.  I’m not crunchy…

That’s the thing.  Crunchy sneaks up on you.  And before I knew it- Any ailment anyone in the house had I’m convinced can be fixed by squirting breastmilk on it. Diaper rash, baby acne and eczema can be magically cured by breastmilk- I’ve seen it happen with my very eyes.   “Why don’t we just bathe in this stuff?” I thought.

And then, a lady told me about this woman who will take your breastmilk and turn it into bar soap.  Wow!  This will help her baby acne and my eczema!

And when I forked over $25 to have my breastmilk turn into soap it hit me.  Shit.  When you get to the point of turning breastmilk into soap- you’re crunchy…no doubt about it.

So here we are.  We wear cloth diapers.  I love our Ergobaby carrier.  We exclusively breastfeed on demand.  The baby sleeps with us.  And apparently, we are going bathing in my breastmilk.

I’d write more…but we have a busy day today.  “Boob Club” (Lactation Support group) starts at 11 🙂

Oh yeah- one other sort of “crunchy” thing I did this week- made her first Halloween costume…She’s a “Very Hungry Caterpillar”.  I did the cocoon and the antennae and a friend made the red cap, eyes and nose.

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A month of Moms

So as of last week we have been Moms for a month. And what a month it has been. I can only hope for a million more months like this one.

I (Mary) am now back at work and Machelle is still home with Emerson Jane. We call her a multitude of things–EJ, Emmie Jane, Emmie, Doodle…it’s safe to say that she has a lot of nicknames. She is such a good baby. She doesn’t cry unnecessarily and is not fussy for no reason. I have no doubt that this may change in the next few months, but for now–it seems to be pretty much perfection.

From my standpoint, I sleep pretty well. Machelle was up for the first 4 weeks with her every 2 hours–almost like clockwork–but this past week she has settled in to sleeping 4-5 hours at a time. We are well aware that this could change next week–or tomorrow for that matter–so for now we enjoy it.

Machelle has been spending the past month developing a support system that is awesome! She goes to new mom meet ups and breast feeding support groups a lot of days of the week. As someone who works in mental health, I know that developing these support systems is so important. You have got to surround yourself with people going through the same thing–I mean think about the principles behind Alcoholics Anonymous. She and Emerson both enjoy the support groups and I have even made it to a couple of them. Sometimes it is a little strange for me because I am not the “birth mom” and I am not breast feeding, but most of the things they talk about I can relate to.

It is not as difficult as I thought it would be to not be the birth mom. Don’t get me wrong, there are times that I feel disconnected from Emerson and like I have no idea what is going on with her–especially since I have gone back to work. But Machelle has recognized this and makes sure that I spend time with her doing things like bath time and wearing the baby. There is still this feeling of where is my group–the non birth moms–but we have been very fortunate to have met some pretty awesome people.  We met another couple who just adopted a little boy who is about 3 weeks older than Emmie. He is adorable and we enjoy spending time with them! We are lucky to have them in our circle of people!

Emerson is now 10 pounds 4 ounces and growing like a weed. Machelle is doing wonderful with breast feeding and truly, we are blessed. Machelle said to me the other night, “I think we have this whole adulting thing figured out.” I know that “adulting” is a relative term and (actually a made up word) and next week we may feel completely hopeless–but for now–we are good.

It’s amazing how fast your life changes when you are not the partner of someone who has given birth. You see their belly growing over the 10 months that the baby is developing, but it doesn’t directly affect you a whole terribly lot–until they get that 3 am weird craving and you are on the way to the store;-). But as soon as I saw Emerson, my life changed. There is absolutely no way to describe it and there is no way to put it in to words. You love something more than you love yourself and you have to make sure that person is safe from all things–even things that you have no control over.

Machelle’s grandparents came to visit us the last weekend that I was on leave for 4 days and it was very nice! They live in Illinois and this is their first great grandchild. They said that they loved seeing her and we had a great time. We went to eat at a beach front restaurant one day and it was pretty chilly, but it was still delicious.

Emerson has also met her great aunt on my side–she was able to see her this past weekend. She lives in South Carolina and had come up to see my mom for her birthday. We went to a street festival and hung out around my parent’s house. EJ spends lots of time with her Aunt, Grandma and Grandpa. They love her so much and I know that they wish they could see her every day!

There’s not a lot to talk about in regards to me going back to work–I cried all day the day I had to go back. Every time that someone would ask me how I was doing, I would tear up. It is so hard to leave something that you love so much and that you were fortunate enough to spend a whole month with. I have started working 4 ten hour shifts so that I have one day off a week that I am able to spend with Machelle and EJ. Machelle brings her by my work sometimes to see me and eat lunch with me. EJ magically makes everything better. If I have had a particularly stressful day, just a few minutes with her and I am relaxed and peaceful. She is like a tiny little zen baby that I can look at and find peace. I hope to take a week off in December when Machelle has to go back to work so that she doesn’t have to think about EJ being at daycare the first week. She can just focus on being back at work. I imagine that this transition will be much harder for both of us than the transition back to work for me.

Machelle is doing awesome…she was made to birth, feed, and care for babies. She is an amazing woman and I am so lucky to be married to her.

I will leave you with some pretty cute pictures of Emerson and the knowledge of having a baby does change your life, but it is for the better. It is not some terrible, armageddon of an event..it is amazing, wonderful and so fulfilling. I pray that this baby high or honeymoon period never ends. DSC_0089 DSC_005312107215_10101332896437056_3680930859072440105_n 12108991_10101340727358826_1405525898369501334_n 12109140_10101335371117776_5839065538450227924_nmach 5 weeks machelle 5 weeks Mom 1 month

Our First Week As Moms

I’ve (Machelle) been throwing ideas around in my head.  I want to write what the labor, birth, and what our first week of motherhood has been like.

The thing is…its been wonderful.  Absolutely a fairy tale dream.  But I feel guilty for saying it- because sometimes I’m surrounded by people who had a very different experience.  And when they ask my “how I’m doing…”  I don’t want to tell the truth.  I don’t want to gloat.  I don’t want to jinx myself.  I keep waiting for the bad to happen.  I’m not even sure I can verbally express how happy we are and how good we feel.

I didn’t even think I could get pregnant…but then I did.

When we found out we were pregnant, I doubted that it would “stick”.  I didn’t want to get attached to the pregnancy, because I knew 20% end in miscarriage and my progesterone levels had dropped in the past…. but then the baby stayed…and I watched it grow.
I was afraid I’d get gestational diabetes…but I didn’t.
I was afraid I’d gain too much weight.  So I worked out my entire pregnancy…and I didn’t.
I had an amazing pregnancy.  I loved every minute of it (well, until the last two weeks).  I didn’t have bad back pain, swelling, hemorrhoids, constipation, I felt energized, I loved my growing belly- secretly I even liked it when the toes got wedged in my ribs- it meant baby’s legs were long!  Everyone told me how hard of a time they had during pregnancy- and I didn’t know how to relate.
I was afraid I’d need to get induced…but I didn’t.
I was afraid I couldn’t handle contractions and would need an epidural- but didn’t.
I was afraid there would be major complications with the delivery- but it was perfect.  Everything I wanted.  I labored at home for a long as possible, got to the hospital, was able to do it without any medications, my wife was amazingly supportive, we had this beautiful, healthy, big baby girl.  Our birth experience was truly magical.
I was afraid we’d get home, and post partum would set in.  That the fall from the “pregnancy high” would be hard.  That I’d be tearful.  That I would have breastfeeding struggles.  That I’d be so sleep deprived.  That I’d hate my body, my nipples would be falling off, Mary and I wouldn’t know how to adjust to this new life, that I’d never eat or shower…
For the first 3 days I was afraid to feel anything.  Afraid to let myself just “feel” motherhood.  What if “feeling” would feel like sadness, depression, or darkness?  But Thursday night, while watching Mary give our baby girl kisses and talk about how much she just loved her, I decided that if I didn’t just let myself feel it, I would miss it.  So I stopped caring about “what if I get depressed” and started letting myself feel happiness.

Everyone told me about this baby “Armageddon”.  And I know that I’ve only been a parent for 8 days…but truthfully- its been just a wonderful as the pregnancy and the labor.

She’s beautiful.  She’s got these cheeks that steal my heart.  She latches beautifully, she eats until she gets “milk drunk” and the sleeps for 2-3 hours.  We get up every 2-3 hours during the night, nurse, change her diaper, swaddle her, and repeat in 2-3 hours. She loves going for a drive.  The dogs are being so well behaved.  I am so lucky to have a spouse who can stay home with me for the first month.

Every morning, she usually takes a feeding around 6 or 7- and I give her to Mary.  Mary cuddles with her while I take a shower, get dressed and blow dry my hair.  Then, while Mary is getting ready I strap her to my chest with the boba wrap, go downs stairs, get breakfast and get ready for the day.  She has even started rockin’ the cloth diapers a little!

But I can’t tell people- because they think I’m gloating.  I feel bad for saying how good I feel when others are having a hard time.  But then I think, “Is that why no one told me that it could be good?!?!”  Because others were afraid to speak up that they actually enjoyed it?  Not one person told me that loved the first few days.  No one said they had the type of birth experience they really wanted.  All I heard was the horror stories.

Look, I’m a realist.  I get that there are situations beyond our control.  People get low amniotic fluid levels, hypertension, gestational diabetes, low fetal heart tones, go past 42 weeks and need to be induced, etc- and that can cause labor to go in a less-desirable direction.  Babies sometimes have latching problems, women have inverted nipples, colic, low milk supply, less than supportive spouses, and trust me when I say that I whole heartedly believe post partum is a true illness- there are all sorts of “what ifs…”

But so far I’ve avoided them.  And I get that it might not always be this way.  I get that motherhood could wear us down, and in 2-3 months Mary and I might be eating our words.  But for now, I just want to soak this in, because its been perfect.  And other people need to know that it could be perfect for them too.

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