The Big 4-0

I’m not where I thought I would be 20 years ago.

But.

It wasn’t until 10 years ago that I learned the meaning of wanting to spend the rest of my life with someone.

And it wasn’t until 7 and a half years ago that I realized I wanted to be a mother.

And it wasn’t until 6 years (and three more children) later that I realized I wanted to be a mom.

So thinking of where I could be and knowing where I am — and being happy with that — is probably the greatest thing about today.

Call it wisdom.

The next years are going to be even more incredible as I continue to raise my children, strengthen my marriage, write my thoughts, and develop my career.

I may even go back to school.

In the meantime, I’ll be taking myself and two of my three children to lunch. Kate wants to buy me Hersey kisses (with caramel) for my birthday, too, and who am I to stop her?

Bottle Shock

I hate bottle feeding.

It’s messy, inconvenient, and expensive as hell. It’s time consuming — all that washing, sterilizing, and preparing. And pumping.

But it’s what I have had to resort to to feed my son.

For the record, I’m not impuning formula or formula feeding. Hundreds of thousands of babies are successfully formula fed every day. The important thing is to have healthy, growing babies. I pump and use formula; I have breastfed successfully and used formula in the past.

I am disappointed that breast feeding was such a bust this time around. Again, for the record, I am not blaming myself or my son for our lack of success in bf’ing. Michael had a poor latch — he still has a poor latch. Everyone and everything I consulted regarding his latch had pretty much the same advice for me: give him all my time and attention so that we could get the latch done the right way.

Unfortunately, this level of time and attention would have required the constant presence of another adult in my household to tend to everything else while I tended exclusively to Michael. In theory, this was fine with me, but in practice it was completely unrealistic. As it is, it’s a good thing my older children are moderately self-sufficient. Someone would have starved to death by now if they couldn’t get their own snacks. (Hyperbole alert.)

I never make the claim to be a “single” parent. Yes, I do a lot of things, especially regading child care, on my own, day after day and night after night. Dan works a lot of hours and is in the midst of starting his own practice. When he is here, he helps out a lot, with the kids and otherwise. No one cleans the kitchen better, for instance. Dan comes home every night, is there every morning, and his income keeps us in diapers and pays bills. (My income helps, obviously, but I’m not back to work yet.)

So, it’s been the bottle for Michael for a while now. I’m resigned to it. Sometimes I still nurse him, especially when we’re waiting for water to boil to warm a bottle. I’m not sure it’s the greatest idea, because he’s shredding my nipples, and I have no idea if he’s getting much in the way of milk. I continue to pump even though it’s hard. I’m still of the mindset that some breast milk is better than none at all.

A couple other things that bother me about bottle feeding: Michael’s a snacker, so he either sucks down 8 ounces at a go (usually the first bottle of the day — and yes, that seems like a lot for an eight-week old to eat to me) or he has two ounces every 15-30 minutes over the course of two hours. It’s just not as instinctive as breast feeding seemed to me. Later in the day, as he’s snacking, he often dozes off. Babies’ enviable talent: eating and sleeping at the same time. So efficient!

Also: smelly poop.

I cannot wait until Michael is eating cereal and baby food. I look forward to the world of finger foods and spoon feeding. Only four to six months to go!

MIA

I sit and think of things that I want to post about.

The anxieties of being the mom of an infant again. All the bad television commercials I see. The inconvenience of living in a messy house.

But instead, I clean what I can when I can, and spend a lot of my time staring at this guy.

Can ya blame me?

Random Thoughts: Six Weeks Edition

I know that I’ve done this two other times, but honestly I have forgotten EVERYTHING about having a baby. For example, when can I expect M to get on a schedule? When will he start going to bed around 7 p.m. and sleeping until 6 or 7 a.m.? (I realize the answer to that latter question may be never, but I’m being optimistic.)

I think I may have to get a baby book from the library for review. Talk about repressing things!

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We have discussed many possible nicknames for Michael. Dan calls him Murph. I call him Junior, which is ironic because he’s not a junior. Kate calls him Luke. We can all agree though on “Fussass” because that’s what he is, especially in the evenings. Oy.

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Speaking of evenings, they are probably the most difficult time of day for me, especially when Dan isn’t home. Which is most evenings. It’s just chaotic when the girls come home from daycare: feedings, bathings, entertaining, putting to bed. We watch too much television, and meals are catch as catch can. If Michael is awake, which he usually is between 4 p.m. and 8, 9, 10 p.m., he’s fussing and/or crying.

I wonder sometimes if it’s womb memories (if there are such things). Evenings when I was pregnant with M were hard for me, especially the first and third trimesters. The first I was too tired/nauseous; the third I was too tired/ungainly. So I was extra stressed trying to care for the kids on my own. If that has carried over to M and his attitude in the evenings, that sucks. And I am sincerely hoping it ends soon. Because doing the evenings with two kids and pregnant on my own was much easier than doing it with three kids, one of whom is crying inconsolably.

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The good part about Michael and his crying ways is that I am spending a lot of time on the stability ball with him. He finds it soothing — a least for short periods of time. I am going to have a killer core!

Pump Up The Volume

Feeding an infant is a lot of work.

Even when breast feeding, I have always felt this way. Although nursing has been for me the easiest option, it certainly takes up a lot of time.

And when it doesn’t work, it’s even more time consuming.

After struggling these past two weeks with latch issues, I finally started pumping on Saturday. Michael is now 100 percent a bottle baby. He’s getting breast milk and formula, and, frankly, I’m relieved. His does well on a bottle, although even now, he takes his dear, sweet time about eating. Except at 5 a.m., when he wakes up long enough to take about 3 ounces, and then falls right back to sleep.

It’s a lot of work making bottles. I’m pumping every three to four hours (except for night time), which is fine. It’s all the sterilizing and prepping. I have boiled more water in the past week than I did all of last year it seems. And then the bottles need to be warmed before I give them to him — and sometimes, he really doesn’t appreciate waiting! I’m getting about 2 oz. a pump, sometimes more, sometimes a little less.

His last bottle of the day is usually about 10 p.m., then I pump when he falls asleep, and then we usually get up at 5 a.m. (technically speaking, he’s sleeping through the night), I feed him, pump again, and go back to bed if I can. Dan’s doing the morning routine with the girls, which I know is hard for him.

I like pumping and having bottles to go. I was never comfortable nursing in public. I feel like I’m being judged sometimes, even when I am feeding him breast milk, but no one has ventured to say anything to me. I’m doing what works best for us. My pediatrician is extremely supportive. And as I have a now 9-pound infant on my hands, I would say it’s really working out for Michael.

Of course, because he never latched well, my nipples didn’t exactly get used to nursing, and now the left one feels like the pump is going to tear it off. I hope that passes soon!

Turning the Corner

Dearest Kate: You are 4 years old today.

It’s the end of year 3, and thank goodness. It’s been a tough one, not made any easier by my pregnancy and your brother’s birth. You are, now and forever, my middle child.

You walk the line between dependent and independent, breaking free and holding back in equal measure. You often want company when you are going to the potty, yet you will attempt to pour yourself a drink on your own. That latter usually ends up messily. I am trying to be patient.

But I understand it’s hard to wait, especially when I am otherwise occupied, which happens so much these days. I hope you will be patient with me and with Michael, and know that when I am able, I have all my attention for you.

You are a wonderful child and a frustrating child. You are sweet and goofy and loving, and you love to make people laugh. You are also volatile and strong willed. You want to be included in everything, but I have also watched you play on your own. You are nurturing in play, tending to the needs and comforts of whichever dolly or stuffed animal you have selected for the day.

You are exactly everything a little sister should be. That is affectionate and playful, as well as frustrating. You know exactly which buttons to press with Flora. You are a curious and somewhat careless big sister, always wanting to see your brother and know his where abouts, but tending to squeeze a little to hard when holding his hand.

You are Kate, a personality onto yourself. And I love you so very, very much. Happy Birthday, my Kate.

Happy New Year: 2011

I celebrated the New Year on my couch, with my husband, a kiss, a glass of Asti Spumanti, and a sleeping infant on me.

Hey, I’ve had worse New Year’s Eves.

The past two weeks I have been struggling with “baby blues” and/or post-partum depression. The slightest thing can make me cry — even good things, like Kate sitting in my lap at the end of the day, declaring that “this” — sitting in Mommy’s lap before bedtime — is her favorite part of the day.

Most of the struggle has to do with the fact that I sincerely feel I cannot take care of my family. I’m quite overwhelmed, and a number of mornings lately I have debated about getting up at all.

As I told my husband, if the morning comes that I decide I’m NOT getting up for nothing, then I’ll consider medication.

So far, I have gotten up. I even have showered almost every day!

I guess it’s good that I recognize how I am feeling. And I know I have the resources to do what I can do. And I have a good husband who can hear me and help me.

So: Here’s to a new year, and a new start.

Cheers.