Saturday, September 18, 2010

Whose Life is This?

We've been in Switzerland for close to 4 years and this is one of the first years I've had where I feel like our life has dramatically changed. Everything was quite ordinary, even once we had a new child, until we returned from the States. Suddenly we are up every morning at 6:45 (both of us, including PC who is notoriously bad at getting up early). I eat a small breakfast, then make a znunni for Julian, and get his breakfast ready, and on certain days of the week, I prepare the milk and formula that we take to Krippe for Emily. Then we all drop Julian off at school which is a stone's throw from home and proceed to the Krippe across town where Emily goes. Since Julian started school, we've been forced to be a lot more structured in our day. This leads us to be totally exhausted in the evenings and weekends. It's not a BAD thing certainly. I realize now that, despite our working and taking our kids to daycare, we were still very spoiled, sometimes getting up late during the week, or just taking super long vacations whenever we felt like it. Now our whole existence revolves around Julian's school schedule. Normally we like to take a big fat vacation that lasts a whole month or more. Now I find myself pondering a short vacation to take during Julian's herbstferien time. It has to be short because we only have a few days. So it must be close by.

It's amazing how one small thing can change one's life so dramatically.

Monday, September 13, 2010

What a Difference Three Months Make

2,191 little hours. I'm reading back over my posts and sort of shaking my head at how far we've come. Or maybe not far, but where we are compared to then. Emily drinks from a bottle. In fact, she only drinks from a bottle because she is no longer breastfed, except occasionally at night. I had a huge work project which required me to be in the office from 8-8 every day for 3 weeks (SUCK!). I managed to pump the whole time and Emily was in the Netherlands with her grandparents, but as soon as she returned, I shunned the pump. Just thinking about the pump made me get jittery. I didn't even want to look at it, I was so DONE with pumping. I said I would breastfeed only in the evenings which has been ok for at least not drying up, but I have nowhere near what Emily needs. And once you decide you will no longer breastfeed every time your baby needs to eat, it's pretty much a slippery slope to no longer breastfeeding. And I'm ok with it. I wanted so much to breastfeed and to do it right, and I did. Despite a lot of difficult circumstances, I exclusively breastfed Emily for 5.5 months. Now we're all busy with other things and life has gotten a little more hectic - it is time for me to let it go, and so I have. It's been good for all of us.

Only one complaint - the SLEEP. I have no idea whether this is related to the breastfeeding, or the jetlag, but girl has the worst sleep ever now. I am totally pooped. I don't even want to put her back on the Contented Baby Schedule because I am TOO TIRED TO FUNCTION. Putting a baby on a schedule requires work. I'm just crossing my fingers this will also pass once she cuts her teeth. Maybe not...

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Four Months

So krippe is going as bad as I expected. I have to run to the daycare at noon to feed Emily. What kind of daycare requires the parents to come in and take care of the kid? This is like a restaurant where you have to cook your own food - ridiculous. If I had the spare time to just blow off work I wouldn't need daycare.

On the bright side, Emily is 4 months old, which means I can start solids if I want. I'm not sure we're going to start because she doesn't seem ready. She's always fussing and gassy, which makes me wonder if her digestive system is mature enough to handle solids. Also, she isn't interested in eating as evidenced by her aversion to anything but a breast in her mouth. The only advantage would be that at least the daycare people can feed her if she starts solids. I'll give her a spoon of rice cereal today and see how that goes. If she hates it, I'll wait one more month.

Despite his sleep problems, I really miss taking care of Baby Julian, who would eat just about anything in sight.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Emily Photos

She is my pride and joy.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Breast is Really Best

You know, I wanted breastfeeding to go well so badly that I think I may have doomed myself. I never thought this would be a problem since Julian took to the bottle so well and so easily, but Emily will not eat from a bottle. No way, no how. The minute we try it, she stiffens her body, flails her arms, gags, coughs, screams, and turns her head. It's like we're torturing her, only you can tell she's hungry because she starts rooting and sucking on her fist. She absolutely hates bottles and believe me, we have tried every bottle under the sun. I thought at first it was a matter of finding the right nipple or the right flow but now, after using every bottle between Europe and the US, we are pretty sure she's just a little too smart and willful for her own good. This is what we have tried:

  • First Years Soothie bottle (she won't take the Soothie pacifier either. Oh why did I order that starter set that came with 8 bottles?)
  • Playtex Drop-Ins Latex AND Silicone Nipples (good thing I ordered 16 bottles of these, eh?)
  • Playtex Orthodontic Nipple
  • Nuk Orthodontic Nipple
  • Bibi Orthodontic Nipple
  • Tommee Tippee
  • Avent
  • Medela
  • Playtex Vent-Aire
  • Dr. Brown's
  • Nuby (the nipple with the weird little bumps? Dunno why I thought that would work)
This kid is NO JOKE. I can't believe the amount of money and time we have spent on bottles. There doesn't seem to be a bottle brand left to try! And it pains me so much because after hours of screaming, if I just breastfeed her? Her eyes roll back and she acts like she is eating a Boston Cream pie after dieting for 8 months or something. It is really strange. I am also very nervous as I have to go back to work and she has to go to daycare. Ahahaha...sorry krippe people. I'm so so sorry...

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Things No One Likes to Hear

If you're a parent, you should just never talk about the following:

  • How great your child sleeps
  • How much sleep you're getting
  • How smart your child is!
  • How they're already solving quadratic equations
  • How much weight you've lost since having the baby and how you're back to your pre-pregnancy size
I'm not saying these apply to me or my kids necessarily. I just hate hearing it from other people. Other than the weight thing, I'm convinced that how well a child behaves and how well it sleeps is not an accomplishment. It's not the same as "Hey, I climbed Everest!" These sort of things are all dependent on luck, in my opinion. To some extent, even losing all the baby weight is a bit dependent on luck (provided you haven't gorged yourself all through pregnancy) because of things like genetics and metabolism.

My point is that all too often, parents tout the qualities of their child without realizing that this sort of talk sends other inexperienced and perhaps slightly more unfortunate parents into a panicked frenzy. "Wait, so and so's daughter sleeps all night already? But mine still wakes up every hour! Oh no, I have failed already as a parent!" A difficult baby does not equal failure. I can see from how different my kids are that it is not due to lack of effort or attention that sometimes kids are difficult. My first is a very different creature from the second. He was always, from the moment he was born, spirited. He was anxious, impatient, grumpy, and would fly into a rage if he didn't get what he wanted. As an older child, we have to work to get him to control these impulses and that, in my opinion, does warrant some praise. However, his tendency to cry at the drop of a hat, wake up non-stop up until he turned 1.5, and his, let's say, overzealousness (he could never sit still, especially when we went out to eat) are due to his personality, not anything we did (although we did contribute the genes, so in a sense it is because of us but there's nothing you can do about that). Having a second child who is much calmer, I realize that this too was not a result of anything we did, but just luck.

Monday, April 26, 2010

This Morning

I took my lukewarm cup of coffee and my daughter in the Baby Bjorn and stood on my back porch. I drank my coffee and listened to the sound of the rain falling and birds chirping. It was a good morning...

Sunday, April 18, 2010

I suck

Yes, I suck at blogging. Nothing is wrong - Peter came home and it's a bit of an adjustment changing schedules once you've gotten everything settled. Today, the whole schedule was f*ed. We went for a hike and she slept the whole time in the sling. I don't mind this and I didn't get too stressed about it. Hopefully we can get back on the schedule next week when Peter goes to England. The thing is, we never followed the schedule EXACTLY. We were always off by 30 minutes to 1 hour. The true joy though is that Emily goes to bed every night at 7. She sleeps all the way until we wake her up at 10:30-11. Depending on how well she feeds, she goes back to sleep until about 2-3:30. Once she even slept until 5 am. This week she has a bit of a sniffle so we're letting a few things slide.

I hate to say it, partly because I'm afraid I'll jinx it, but I think it's working... when and if I ever go to England, I will buy more of Gina Ford's books.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Day 3-4

Day 3
Morning nap from 9:00-9:45
Afternoon nap with 1-2 wake-ups from 12-2:30
Mid-afternoon nap from 4:15-5:00
Sleep from 7:30 on with 1-2 wakings
Woke her up at 10:45 pm and she ate while sleeping (could not get her awake no matter what I tried) and she woke up at 3:30 and 5:00 and 7:30

Day 4
Morning nap from 8:30-9:15
Afternoon nap from 12-2:30 with 1 waking
Mid-afternoon nap from 3:30-4:30 (she was really tired, so I let her sleep)
Now she's asleep with 2 wakings from 8:00 on

The wakings never lasted more than a few minutes and I just put her straight back to bed after soothing her to sleep. She's tired. So am I - hence why the crappy post.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Day 2-3

Day 2
I realized I wasn't very detailed about what happened on Day 2 but that was most likely due to losing steam once I got to that part. It's amazing how crappy my writing gets the later in the day it gets. Also, Peter is in Sweden, which makes me 100 times more tired because I have to clean up after myself. Being grown up sucks. Ok, so yesterday was very good. She slept from 8:30 to 9:30. That was a bit longer than it should have been considering the tight schedule Ford recommends, but again, I'm adapting the schedule and because I needed to take Julian to daycare, it worked out well for me. I can't deal with her screaming in the car so a nice peaceful baby made for a nice daycare drop off, which is sometimes a little stressful anyway. The afternoon nap was from 11:30 - 2. I actually had to wake her up at 2. The difficult part I always have is keeping her awake from 2 - 4:00 because she eats just fine but she won't stay still in her bouncer or on the boppy pillow so I have to carry her on the Bjorn, which puts her to sleep. So, it's basically 2 hours of Bjorn, set her down, wait until she wakes up enough to cry, pick her back up, put her in Bjorn, repeat. By the time it is 4, she is basically passed out. She slept from 4-4:45 and again I had to wake her. I picked Julian up from daycare even though she was awake the whole time (but not crying) and as soon as I got her home, we began our evening routine. It takes a good hour, hour and a half to get her down for her 7:30 sleep. But I lucked out again. She slept from 7:30 - 10:30, when I woke her to feed and then put her right back down. I know I should get too excited or arrogant, but holy crap, this actually works! Yes, it won't work all the time and there are days when it will be a total disaster, but the last few days have been great. Even something resembling structure and order has made my life so much better.

Day 3
Just a quick update. She slept from 8:45 - 9:30. It was a real struggle to get her to stay awake to 9 but she slept really well and I had to wake her up again. The lunch nap was more difficult. She managed to stay in her room and sleep for the most part, but after I put her down at 12, she woke up briefly and needed to be rocked back to sleep twice. She woke up on her own at 2:30. Now she's awake, bright eyed and fed. She's just sitting on her Boppy pillow for a little while. Maybe I'll take her to the store so she stays awake until 4:00. Or...maybe not. Today is a super lazy day for me.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Sleep Experiment

When I found out I was pregnant for the second time, I made several promises to myself. One, I would succeed at breastfeeding. Two, I would cherish every smile, burp and coo. Three, I would avoid all of the sleep disasters and bad habits we acquired in desperation when we had Julian. Julian was a really bad sleeper. From the beginning, it was constant crying and fussing. If we put him down, he would cry instantly. Getting him to sleep always involved complicated gymnastics, with patting, rocking, swinging, flipping - we were practically doing cartwheels with him to get him to sleep. We co-slept and gave him food to get him to sleep. We did all of the things the books say not to do. I realized how stupidly we approached sleep training when, at the age of 1.5, he slept through the night and stopped drinking milk. We were feeding him milk before he went to bed but when he started sleeping on his own, he refused to drink it, meaning he never needed it in the first place.

Emily is like a completely different species of baby. She is capable of falling asleep on her own. If she cries, she can calm herself down and go back to sleep (which I found out once when I was using the restroom and couldn't get to her right away). Once Julian started crying, he would escalate his crying until he got to the point where he was absolutely hysterical and took forever to calm back down. Seeing her sleeping habits, I wondered if we could at least implement some sort of sleep training early on. She would be more amenable to it than Julian would, certainly. She was also quite flexible and easy going so I thought I'd give it a shot. I have read two books now: the No-Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley, and The Contented Little Baby by Gina Ford.

Now, I'm not one for saying there is a 100% fail proof solution to sleep problems for all babies. I know that babies are very different (as apparent from watching Julian and Emily). I also think that a highly regimented approach simply won't work for us because we have very busy schedules and we travel all the time. I'm not following any one book to the letter, but adapting them to our lifestyle and Emily's own personality. For instance, I like the No Cry Sleep Solution's approach of not letting the baby scream and cry it out. I personally can't stand the crying thing even though that is eventually how we taught Julian to fall asleep on his own. I know it works but I just don't want to do that, especially now when Emily is only a few weeks old. However, I don't want to wait until she is three months old to start sleep training because I really believe that setting habits now is crucial. I like Gina Ford's schedules because I like to have a more regimented approach to sleep training. I know I should probably make a log of when she eats, how much, when she sleeps, etc (like the No Cry book recommends) but I'm too busy to sit and record those things. With the Contented Baby book, finally here was someone who would just say "Do this!" and supposedly it would work. Yes, a starting point. I take Ford's schedules and I sort of adapt them. For instance, I don't only feed when she says to, but also whenever Emily wants to. Sometimes when I sit down for a feed, she doesn't feed properly or doesn't eat enough, so keep at it until she's gotten enough. Plus I'm afraid of my supply dropping if I don't feed on demand. I'm also not so strict about the times, either. For example, this morning we all got up at 7:30 instead of 7. I just refuse to wake up at 6 if I don't have to or want to. If she wants to let me sleep a little bit longer in the morning, I have no problem with that, regardless if it offsets the rest of the schedule.

I also try to schedule outings around the time when she is supposed to have her short naps (9:00 and 4:00) because I know she will sleep in the car or the stroller. It's a good idea to combine the Contented Baby book with the No Cry book because one expects you to put your baby in bed while they are drowsy and not to assist them by patting or rocking, but doesn't give any advice on how to do that. The No Cry book has some great suggestions for that (which I use a lot). I can't say whether this will work perfectly in the long run, but really it's ok if she doesn't sleep all night long. I just need her on a schedule so I can better plan my day and do other things. So, here goes a log of our sleep experiment.

Day 1
Emily responded really well to the schedule. Perhaps she was already on a schedule which resembles the one Ford has, but she seemed to fall almost right into the time periods which were given. She napped from 12 -2:30 and from 3:30 - 4:15. The most difficult part of the day was between 5-7 when she seemed to hate the bath and wouldn't fall asleep right away. She almost always has bad evenings. Some nights she would cry and fuss from 6-10 pm. We couldn't figure what the problem was, but now I think she was really tired. Once I put her to bed at 7, she woke up once and needed a quick feed before falling asleep again at 7:30. Then she slept all the way to 10 pm. This was AWESOME. It was like a revelation. Duh, she wants to sleep so let her sleep. I actually had a real evening. I got Julian fed, bathed, and to bed without any problems. Then I surfed the net and watched tv until 10. I even had to wake her up at 10 to feed her. I just wanted to make sure she had a long stretch of sleep after I went to bed. She woke up at 2, 5, and 7:30. The night feedings were just fine - she ate and then quickly went back to sleep.

Day 2
So far, so good. She had the standard naps, and I even managed to put her in bed a few times while she was still pretty awake and she fell asleep on her own. I'm perfectly happy if she doesn't sleep all night, but as long as she keeps this schedule for a while, I will be a happy camper.

Friday, April 2, 2010

The Stash

I think the breastfeeding is going well now.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Breast is Best

It's only been 5 weeks since I gave birth but already this whole breastfeeding adventure has been a huge strain on my body and my spirit. I promised myself that this time, breastfeeding would go well. I'd be one of those women who could miraculously produce gallons of milk in a day with just the simple act of pumping, minus the flailing arms, hysterical cries and constant frustrated feeding sessions I had with Julian.

I had two major problems with my first go at breastfeeding. One, I never made enough milk to keep Julian satisfied. He was always in the 95th percentile in everything - weight, height, pain-in-the-butt factor. And no matter how many times I fed him, at one point just trudging all over the house in nothing but a nursing bra, it was never enough. I supplemented him the very first time with formula at about 8 days old. First it was a bottle a day, then 2 then I was lucky to get a ratio of 4:1, formula vs. breastmilk. When I went back to work, I could get about 8 oz with 2-3 pumping sessions per day. Then it went to 5, then 4, then 2. The only thing my body kept doing was making breastmilk at night so that he could sleep-nurse. However, sleep nursing was absolutely killing my sleep. I know it's supposed to be more relaxing and give both mom and baby a peaceful sleep, but my experience was that I would wake up every hour or so to nurse and he would just keep sucking for comfort for 20-30 minutes. In the end it made for hellish sleep.

The second major problem I had (related to the first, of course) is that I didn't really enjoy breastfeeding. Once you make the choice to breastfeed, you're conceding that you're going to be tied to this one person all day long, and if you have a huge baby who needs constant food, you're pretty much tied to them and nothing else. That leaves no time for eating, relaxing, going out, walking, napping, or any of the other things new moms need to do to stay sane. Plus I was going through some post partum blues and having to deal with the fact that my life was irreversibly changed. Given my lack of enthusiasm for it, it was more than easy to just say, ok, let's make a bottle. So I did. And my supply dropped, which was horribly depressing.

I was really down on myself about my first go at breastfeeding. I told myself that I should have tried harder and sacrificed a bit more (this from the mouth of a person who is perfectly comfortable in her role as a mom NOW and more than willing to sacrifice for her children). So I was determined to make my second try better. I nursed each and every time Emily wanted to. I read all the books. I got an electric pump. I bought all sorts of breastmilk storage containers and bottles. I even drank that foul Stilltee (breastmilk tea) they give you with each meal at the hospital. I was really happy with my progress and by the time I got home (7 days postpartum) I was making a lot of milk and Emily was really thriving.

Then about 2 weeks postpartum, my supply started dropping for no reason. I couldn't even squeeze out 1 oz from the pump after sitting at it for 40 minutes. I couldn't figure out why this was happening or what I had done wrong. I was getting decent sleep, I ate enough, and I was feeding her each time she was hungry (about every 2-3 hours). Then, the same day I started worrying about my supply, I was rushed to the hospital for massive hemorrhaging. It seemed that was the reason I was losing my milk (more on that later). After my surgery, they told me that it was possible I'd dry up because I lost so much blood and I was now severely anemic. I was so upset - to work so hard and lose my milk for something so totally out of my control. On some level, it should have been easier to accept if it wasn't my fault - and my mom did point out that after all, breastfeeding is hard and it's not such a bad thing if we had to switch to formula. After all, kids are sometimes raised on nothing but and they all grow up just fine. That night, Emily had her first bottle of formula.

I woke up that night completely engorged. I became suddenly elated because, huzzah, the surgery must have knocked something loose and my milk was back! I was so happy - now I could go back to only feeding breastmilk. Screw formula! We don't need no stinking formula! If that bottle was still there and if it wasn't made of glass, I would have thrown it across the room for emphasis. The next day, the lactation consultant stopped by and asked how it was going. I was so enthusiastic about the return of my milk (btw, this makes me think of this song). She smiled and then said "Yeah, you need to take some medicine to prevent further hemorrhaging. This will most likely dry up your milk."

It's a good thing there were no objects that I could throw nearby. I couldn't believe it. One thing after another - it was super depressing. First the anemia, then this medicine. I just couldn't win. It's not like breastfeeding is super easy anyway, but all these roadblocks being thrown my way made me feel like I was running the hurdles while people were shooting flaming arrows my way. Plus, I was being told repeatedly to REST but come on. Who can rest with a brand new baby?

So, now 3 weeks on and I'm still breastfeeding. In fact, I'm pumping as well. I won't say it's going perfectly. There are still days when I think I'm drying up again, but for now, it seems to be going ok. I just drink a lot of water, eat a lot (like I needed arm twisting for that), and make the whole thing a matter of pride, rather than an obligation. I can do this because I was told I couldn't. I will persevere because I am strong.

Being a mom is does that to you.

Easing into It

Hmm, I used to have this blog. It was a good blog but I realized at one point, I was no longer blogging for myself, but for other people. I was too concerned with making sure I didn't offend people I knew, or even people I didn't know, or how many comments I was getting - all of which had nothing to do with writing for myself. That was, after all, the reason I started blogging in the first place. But I do miss it. I'm just going to kind of ease into this blogging thing. I don't have a ton of time to do it. I have two kids now and barely any time.

I'm now 5 weeks post partum. I was actually going to start exercising the other day before I realized, yeah, I should probably wait. They say you should resume normal activities after 6 weeks, but I had massive hemorrhaging and surgery after 2 weeks, so I assume I need to wait another 2 weeks, no? Not that I'm itching to exercise - just would be a nice way to get some energy.

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