Now You Know.

We’re not looking to move anytime soon, but if we were to move again there are some things I would be on the lookout for in a new house.  Things it never crossed my mind to think about before I had a mobile child.  I thought I would share my house wisdom so others will know what to be on the lookout for.  Things like this:

Doorknobs – The round, turny-kind that require a decent-sized hand and a firm grip are not toddler-friendly.  Instead look for handles, not knobs.  A handle ensures your child will be able to open doors as soon as they take their first step.  And there are no child-proof safety latches for these kind of handles that I’m aware of, so just keep a good eye on the bathroom door!  Having a baby is like having a cat or dog, they all like to play in the toilet water and with the toilet paper.

Fireplace – Definitely look for a home with a fireplace.  It will teach your child soooo much.  It’s a great tool for teaching:

  • How to be aware of your surroundings – As in, “Don’t play on the fireplace!  You’re too close to the fireplace!”
  • Textures/sensory – “Oh, honey, the bricks are hard!  When you fall on them you get hurt.”
  • Science – “When you crack your head open it bleeds.”
  • Pre-med – “We’re going to the ER because you need stitches.”
  • Colors – “Good job!  You’re right, the baby gate in front of the fireplace does have red and yellow on it!”

Outlets – You never know when or where you’re going to need an outlet, so it’s good to make sure there will be enough for all your electronics and floor lamps.  You know you have enough when you have to buy THREE packages of outlet covers for safety.  And that doesn’t cover the outlets that are always full/in use.  That would take yet another package.  So you want to look for a house that has enough outlets to need four packages of outlet covers, or, about  60 outlets.  That should just about cover everything.

Dark Walls – Dark walls are super great because they show every little scratch and mark.  This will be beneficial to you because you’ll know when you need to wipe down walls (every day), bust out the magic eraser (once a week, but be careful not to take paint off!), or just repaint (ideally every month or so.)

Fences – A fence might be a need if you have a pet, but a fence will only hold your child back.  A fence prevents children from going up to the neighbors back door and peering in.  It prevents a child from wondering into a neighbors yard and picking their flowers.  Not having a fence allows them to run out of the yard and explore the world around them at every opportunity giving both of you exercise as they run down the street and you chase after them.

Butterfly-friendly landscaping – It is so nice to be outside with your little one, especially when you have beautiful flowers around the house to enjoy.  Not only will flowers attract lovely butterflies, but their friends the bees, in the honey and bumble forms.  Yay, nature!

So there you have it.  Plenty of tips for what to look for when buying a house with children.

Got any ‘tips’ you want to share with other parents?  ;-)

Amos’ Birth Story

Whew!  Here it is finally.  Not sure why it took me song long to write this, but it did.  And I’m glad I’m done writing it.

Monday, January 21st I woke up just as I had the past few months, achy and sore from tossing and turning all night because at almost 38 weeks pregnant, it was hard to stay comfortable in one position for any significant period of time.  But the big day had arrived!  The day Andrew and I would say ‘goodbye’ to Malachi for longer than ever before, and head to the hospital to say hello to our second son, Amos.

The morning was a bit weird, my parents were there to take care of Malachi while we were gone, so we were out of our normal routine as I tried to show them where things where and give them an overview of Malachi’s typical routine.  I spent the morning snuggling Malachi and making sure I had everything packed that I might want.  A freak snowstorm popped up right as we were leaving for the hospital and we were worried we might be late so we left a bit early even though I didn’t want too.  I didn’t want to leave Malachi any earlier than I needed too!  I knew I was going to miss him so much!

On the way to the hospital cars were siding off the road right and left.  We made it safe and sound and even found a decent parking spot which was good since I don’t pack lightly and I we had quite a few bags. :D

We went up to the maternity ward and were checked in at noon, and then taken to a prep room where we signed a lot of papers and then more waiting.  And waiting.  Every few minutes there would be a part in the clouds and the sun would come streaming in, and then a dark snow cloud would cover the sun and there was an instant whiteout.  So weird.  Amos was coming during a freak snow storm and Mali arrived amid tornado sirens going off.  My kids certainly have interesting timing!  Eventually nurses started coming in to take my vitals, get me hooked up to IV’s, get antibiotics started, and do various other things.  Just like any time I have to have an IV or get my blood drawn, the nurses had a lot of trouble finding a vein since my veins kept ‘moving’.  After four blown veins a nurse finally got it and then said I was done with that.  And then another walked in and said, ‘Ok, now we have to put in an extra IV in case you need blood because of your previa.”  Great.  That one hurt so much I was light-headed while they tried to get it in, but at least it only took two tries.  As with Malachi’s birth, getting my IV’s in was the most painful part of the entire birthing process.

Waiting, waiting, and looking very pregnant!

Waiting, waiting, and looking very pregnant!

Eventually the anesthesiologist came in and explained what he was going to do, but I must confess I was getting a bit distracted so I have no idea what he said.  I was watching his mouth move, but it sounded like the teacher on Charlie Brown.  Wawawa wawa.  I even remember thinking while he was talking, ‘I have no idea what he’s saying…’  I wasn’t nervous or scared, and I definitely was not looking forward to going into surgery, but I was getting anxious to finally meet my baby!  After two hours of prep they wheeled me into the OR to administer the epidural while Andrew went to get scrubs on.  Getting the epidural, the part that scared me most about a c section, was about to happen.

The operating room was freezing.  I’m still not sure if I was shaking from fear at the thought of the epidural or shivering from the cold.  But then the funniest thing happened.  You see, I’ve only ever seen women getting an epidural on TV pregnancy shows like TLC’s ‘A Baby Story’.  All of those women were in lots of pain.  I figured it was because there was a needle being stuck in their spine.  It never occurred to me that their pain was from contractions.  Seriously.  And I never asked questions about it when I was faced with a c section because I didn’t really want to know the details.  So I was expecting some serious pain when I got the epidural.  But get this: they use local anesthetic before they give you the actual epidural.  And I honestly didn’t realize this till the anesthesiologist told me he was all done.  I was still trying to get over the fact that I just had an epidural and I was fine and not crying from pain when things started moving quickly.

Andrew is ready to meet Amos!

Andrew is ready to meet Amos!

Andrew and Dr. Lane came in, and then it’s all kind of a blur from there.  Dr. Lane and the nurses were talking about vacations and their kids’ spring break schedules, and every once in a while the anesthesiologist would pop over my head and ask if I felt ok.  I could feel myself being moved around, but it was like when your foot falls asleep and you touch it.  You know you’re touching it, and you can feel it a bit, but not like normal.  Andrew was peeking over the curtain taking pictures and then the baby nurses started getting ready and Dr. Lane said, “Here he is!  Hi, little one!”  I started feeling overwhelmed and like I might cry!  My baby was here!  He was born at 2:13 pm and weighed 7 pounds 3 ounces.

AH!  That is my stomach.  So, so creepy! (At least I didn't post the picture with blood squirting out!)

AH! That is my stomach. So, so creepy! (At least I didn’t post the picture with blood squirting out!)

Here he comes!  Nice and cheesy!

Here he comes! Nice and cheesy!

The baby nurses whisked him over to the bassinet to check on him and then things started getting scary.  Dr. Lane had said that they couldn’t put the baby directly on my chest but that Andrew would be holding him within minutes and by the time I was stitched up (5-10 minutes) I would be able to hold him as well.  But the nurses never handed Amos to Andrew.  They were administering oxygen and sucking fluid out of his lungs.  I could see his little hand and feet when he would kick them up, but then more nurses came over and asked Andrew to move back and basically formed a wall around the bassinet.  At this point my happy tears began to change to scared tears because I could tell something was not right.  Andrew wasn’t holding our baby, and I could hear Amos was having trouble breathing.  I could tell Andrew was trying to be calm and positive for me.  They started wheeling me out of the OR and Andrew asked where I was going and I replied I didn’t know, but I wanted him to stay with Amos.

Poor baby.  :(

Poor baby. :(

I was taken to my room a few doors down and thankfully Andrew and Amos (and his entourage of nurses) soon followed.  But they didn’t stay for long.  Amos was having a hard time breathing and at the rate he was going, he would quickly wear himself out and he wasn’t strong enough to nurse.  They needed to calm him down and get a feeding tube going just in case.  Andrew, Amos, and the nurses all left to go one floor up to the NICU and I called my dad to ask if he or my mom would come sit with me.

My sister Hannah and my dad came, and eventually dad went home and Hann agreed to stay the night to help me with pumping and anything else I might need.  Hann was an awesome help.  She’s gone from being freaked out about nursing when Malachi was born to helping me pump with Amos was born.  She was such a help that first night when Andrew was with Amos.  My nurse that first night was also very sweet and helpful.  I think it was around 8:00. maybe 9:00 pm when I was finally able to stand up and get in a wheelchair so I could finally go see my baby!

Hannah complained of a sore back the rest of the week.  Not sure why since she got a good night's sleep while staying with me.

Hannah complained of a sore back the rest of the week. Not sure why since she got a good night’s sleep while staying with me.

The NICU was a sad place.  Lot’s of tiny, tiny babies.  Lot’s of moms and dads who had been there for so long and had so much longer to go.  We had to wash our hands for two minutes before we could enter the NICU and by the end of the week our hands would be raw and cracking from all the washing with the harsh antibacterial soap.  Amos was hooked up to a few different monitors and had a feeding tube.  But he was mine and he was beautiful.  And the spitting image of his brother, only with dark brown hair instead of blonde.  The nurses explained to me that Amos had TTN, transient tachypnea of the newborn.  They expected him to better and breathing on his own within 72 hours.  That meant there was a chance we would still be going by Thursday.  It was bittersweet seeing my baby for the first time.  The nurse told me not to touch him much as touch ‘excited’ him and raised his heartbeat and quickened his breathing pattern.  I just wanted to hold him and comfort him so bad.

My precious boy.  Look at that cute bum!

My precious boy. Look at that cute bum!

The next few days alternated between speeding by and dragging on.  Amos was making slow progress.  We had a pattern of two steps forward, one step back for a day or so.  I was up with Amos as much as possible, pumping in his room every two hours, and then coming back down for pain meds as I needed them.

I'm gonna be ok, Dad.  Just hold my hand.

I’m gonna be ok, Dad. Just hold my hand.

Andrew and I were able to see Mali a few times when my parents brought him to visit, usually so we could all have dinner together.  It was nice to see Mali and nurse him for his sake and mine as he was missing his mama and milk and I was feeling cheated of snuggle time with one baby in the NICU and the other at home.  Thankfully my parents and sister were a great distraction for Malachi and he didn’t seem to miss us too much!  We wouldn’t have been able to see Mali at all since the hospital had restricted visiting rules in place due to it being flu season but Andrew’s papa bear came out and he told the nurses that was going to be a problem because Malachi was still nursing!  I was so proud of Andrew for fighting for our family and my ability to nurse!   He demanded to speak to someone in charge and 30 minutes later we had a paper stating Malachi was allowed to visit!  I was so proud to call Andrew my husband. (Don’t worry, I still am!)

Daddy and Mali having some buddy time.

Daddy and Mali having some buddy time.

Wednesday I finally got to hold Amos, and on Thursday I was able to nurse him.  He latched on right away and proceeded to nurse like a pro!  I was sooo relieved we didn’t have any trouble with breastfeeding, I had been really worried about that!  On Friday Amos’ various monitor levels had been steady for 24 hours and we were discharged around lunch time.  It was such a relief to be going home and I was so ready to break Amos out of the NICU!  I am beyond thankful that his stay there was so short and he doesn’t have any lasting complications.

Finally getting to hold my baby!!!

Finally getting to hold my baby!!!

I get to go home!

I get to go home!

Since bringing him home Amos has continued to eat like a champ and as a result has grown.  At 3 1/2 months he’s currently wearing 6-12 month clothing and is practically as big as is brother!  We might have had a rocky start but Amos is a pretty chill baby like his brother was.  I’m so happy to be his mama!

Meeting for the first time.

Meeting for the first time.

 

Tandem nursing.

Breastfeeding Malachi was a piece of cake.  I mean, we went through a period a learning where I was pretty sore for a week or two, and when he was teething he would occasionally bite me, but other than that we have had zero issues.  No supply issues, no latch issues, and nothing scary like mastitis or thrush.

When I found out I was pregnant with Amos Malachi had just turned one a week before and while my original goal was to nurse him to 12 months, it was clear there was no stopping him and I didn’t want him to miss out on such amazing nutrition!  For a while it was really painful and I literally had to grit my teeth and distract myself on my phone to resist pushing him off my lap.  I seriously thought about quitting every time he nursed for weeks.  And then, magically, the discomfort went away and nursing was fine again.  I made sure to take my prenatals, eat a healthy diet, and drink a minimum of 100 ounces a day.  I did not want my milk drying up!

And then Amos was born and in the NICU for five days.  I was only able to nurse Malachi twice while I was in the hospital due to visitor restrictions (it was flue season) and the fact that I was in the NICU most of the time trying to pump for Amos.  Plus, it’s just hard to have a toddler in a hospital not touch anything and stay fairly quiet.  Even though I only nursed him twice, my colostrum and milk took a while to come in, so I was never engorged and (thankfully?) Amos wasn’t able to nurse yet so there wasn’t a problem there either.

When I came home everything changed.  My milk came in and it was nice to have two nurslings because it really helped when I did become engorged.  So much better than pumping, which I really don’t care for.  Amos had a great latch and anyone who’s seen him lately can certainly attest to the fact that he is getting plenty to eat!  ;-)

But then everything changed again.  Suddenly I didn’t like nursing Malachi.  It made my skin crawl.  It wasn’t necessarily physically uncomfortable, but mentally I felt like I was being touched all day, I was nursing all day, he was still adjusting to a little brother and acting out more, and especially at night, I dreaded nursing him.  I didn’t want him touching me.  I was worried Amos would need to eat soon and wouldn’t get enough.  Nursing Malachi was like listening to nails on a chalkboard.  I don’t even know how to describe it other than it was weird.  Still is.  And my own thoughts about the situation kinda creep me out.

Am I ready to wean him?  I know he isn’t ready.  Am I just going through a phase?  Is my body/mind trying to tell me it’s time to stop?  How uncomfortable will I let myself get before I decide to end it?  Isn’t nursing supposed to release oxytocin?  The ‘love’ and ‘calming’ hormone?!  Instead I feel like it produces a ‘fight or flight’ panic attack!  Some days are worse than others.  Some days are totally fine and I still enjoy nursing him.  On the days that are bad though, I just set a timer on my phone, or, if it’s really bad, I just go as long as I can and then stop.  Usually he’s ok with some snuggles if we have to stop early.  And I feel horrible that these feelings only occur when I’m nursing Malachi.

I’ve been wanting to write a glowing and beautiful post about tandem nursing but I’ve been putting it off because I didn’t know how much longer we would be tandem nursing.  It’s been getting better lately though.  I have noticed these feeling have a direct connection to how stressful our day was.  I try to keep that in mind and it seems to be helping.  He is getting more and more accepting of the fact that Amos eats first and needs milk a lot.  And he has to be patient and wait his turn, and sometimes mama nurses Amos and Malachi has big boy food instead.  But he still loves his milk.  I realize if it gets bad again it’s ok to wean.  We’ve made it to two years and that’s twice as long as I thought I’d ever nurse!

Have you ever tandem nursed?  Any suggestions for me?  What has been the hardest thing about nursing for you?  Any dads want to chime in?

 

Stickers and Chocolate Chips.

One chip, two chips, three chips, poop!

One chip, two chips, three chips, poop!

It’s been almost one month since we started putting underwear on Mali.  I hate to call it ‘potty training’ since elimination communication is supposed to do away with the ‘training’ part, but in all honesty, it’s not getting any better than it was a month ago.  Seriously.

Maybe my first mistake was to start the week after we were all recovering from the flu, some stomach bug, and pink eye.  Maybe it was just too much.  I figured it would take a few days for him to get the hang of of telling mama he needs to potty before he goes.  But then the second week came and he started refusing to go on the toilet at all.  After I found myself forcing him onto the toilet like you would force a cat into the bathtub, I decided maybe we needed a break for a few days.  The next week I was ready to go at it again and it was just like the first week: I needed to take him every 15-25 minutes all day long and even that didn’t guarantee dry underwear.  This last week he’s had the runs and, well, it’s not really his fault that he’s had so many accidents when his tummy is acting up again.

So this week I decided I would let him drink as much as possible and continue to take him to the bathroom as much as possible, and, sigh, reward him for going and keeping his underwear dry.  Again, this completely goes against everything I read about elimination communication.  I shouldn’t have to be potty training my kid!  I shouldn’t have to be rewarding him with stickers and chocolate chips!  I feel like it’s more a bribe than a reward.  But it appears to be working.  I have been really bad about taking him today, and I’ve been letting him drink as much as he wants, and yet he’s only had one tiny accident all day long.  Is this the turning point?  I sure hope so.  It’s exhausting to drop everything when the timer goes off every 20 minutes.  Everyday.  All day long.  And nothing to show for it.  I’m not sure how much longer I can go on like this.  (This is also why posts have been few and far between.  It’s hard to post when you’re constantly running to the bathroom.  And washing out dirty underwear.)

But I know he knows what he’s doing.  He likes to hide when he’s going, so I often catch it before his pants are wet.  When he was on his toilet strike the second week he would hold it for an hour at a time till he just couldn’t physically hold it anymore.  He also shows great skill in starting and stopping himself in the act.  I know because he likes to do that while he’s sitting on the toilet. (Apparently when you’re almost two it’s really funny to make your pee stop and start at least twenty times each time you’re in the bathroom.)  (Or maybe the funny part is how annoyed your mom gets.)

Either way, I know he can get this. Unfortunately, it’s now apparently turned into a battle of wills.  But I will win.  ( I mean, I have to eventually win, right?  At some point everyone gets it.  Right?!)  I have more patience.  I have stickers and chocolate chips on my side.  And I’m not the one that has to sit in wet underwear to make a point.