Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Marco's Birth Story

I can't believe Marco has been with us for over five months now! It seems like just yesterday we found out that we were expecting our surprise baby! These past five months have been amazingly chaotic, and we can't even remember what life was like before Marco joined our family!

I love reading birth stories. Everybody's experience is so unique and beautiful. Even my three experiences with giving birth have been different, and I love having these anecdotes to share with family, friends, and eventually my kids. I hope you enjoy reading about Marco's birthday!


The entire week leading up to my due date (February 16, 2018) was filled with days and nights where I thought baby #3 would come early. I’d have a couple hours’ worth of time-able contractions and then suddenly they’d stop, and for the rest of the day, I wouldn’t feel anything. I was beyond uncomfortable and becoming increasingly impatient. Even though we had an induction scheduled for Monday, February 19, I was hoping that he’d come in his own time, before the induction. Despite this being my third baby, this could’ve been the first time that I went into labor naturally after being induced the first two times. I really wanted to experience that rush of “this is it!” panic, for some reason.

I was extra-prepared the entire month of February for us to go into early labor: I had Max’s school schedule delineated on a calendar, complete with specified “leave by” times for drop-off and pick-up; I had detailed “instructions” for the kids, describing bedtime routines, favorite meals, and doctor information (and a hand-drawn diagram of our baby monitor with instructions on how to use it); I labeled tupperware containers of leftovers in the fridge in case whoever was taking care of the kids wanted to eat/serve them. I had all my bases covered.

On Sunday, the day before the induction, we all went outside to play in the fast-melting snow that fell over the weekend. I thought for sure that baby would decide that all that running around was too much for him and he'd want to high-tail it out of there. I even had significant contractions overnight and thought that we'd be heading into the hospital before the induction arrival time, but just like always, the contractions stopped after about an hour.

Last day as a family of 4!

Since this baby was extra cozy inside my belly, he had to be kicked out on Monday, February 19, three days after my due date. Victor and I arrived at the hospital at 7 AM and got checked into Labor and Delivery. I changed into my hospital gown and my nurse, Barb, got me settled in the bed and hooked up to the contraction and heart rate monitors. She tried to get an IV into my left wrist, but just like my first two deliveries, it was a no-go (almost passed out again), so she just put the line in the crook of my right arm, my “Old Faithful” vein. By the time I was hooked up to Pitocin, it was close to 9 AM. The nurse practitioner from my OB/GYN practice came to check on me around that time since my OB was seeing patients; I was dilated between 2 and 3 centimeters (I had been 2 cm dilated for the past 2 weeks) and about 60% effaced. Victor and I settled in and started watching some shows on Netflix (I don’t even remember what we watched, to be honest. I do know we watched some of the Winter Olympics on TV).

My contractions started almost immediately once I was on the Pitocin, but they weren’t too terrible. Around 12 PM, though, they started getting pretty intense. At around 12:30 PM, my doctor came and broke my water; at that point, I was “a loose 3 cm” dilated, in my doctor’s words. With that news, I silently predicted we’d be welcoming baby around 5 PM; it was honestly a shot in the dark, but I had a hunch that we'd get to see his precious face by early evening.

I got my epidural around 1:30 PM, and my blood pressure dropped pretty significantly (that’s never happened before), so the anesthesiologist gave me some meds to bring it back up, after which I was fine and feeling no pain. Victor went to get some lunch and I watched some episodes of Parenthood and took a nap. A nurse came in to set up the delivery equipment during that time. My nurse, Barb, gave me a “peanut ball” to put between my legs to help bring the baby down. It was basically a yoga ball shaped like a peanut; I’d never heard of the thing before but Barb swore by it (I was told by the charge nurse that Barb is so experienced and such a trusted nurse in their unit that they often refer to her as their "on-site textbook"). Sure enough, within 2.5 hours, I was feeling some significant pressure, though it was more along my pelvic bone in the front as opposed to in the back, like I was used to. I wasn’t convinced that it was time to push because the pain and pressure was so different from my other two labors.

Another nurse came in to check on me at around 4 PM while Barb was busy with another patient. She had been watching our monitors at the nurse’s station and noticed that the baby’s heart rate was dropping a bit during my contractions. She decided to check me and found that I was 9 centimeters dilated! (Barb was right, that peanut ball WORKS!!!) They called my doctor over from her office and got everything ready for delivery.

Once my doctor was suited up and everything was ready to go, she told me to wait until my next contraction to start pushing. We waited..and waited...and waited...probably for close to 5 minutes before another contraction weird! Once it started, I began to push and baby’s head came out almost immediately. My doctor said, “Oh my, I don’t think I can deliver through that,” which made zero sense to me at the time. She told me to stop pushing, then instructed me to do “half-pushes” for the rest of the delivery. He was completely out at 4:30 PM,  before the contraction was over (just like I predicted!).

And this is where things get scary. They put my precious baby on my chest, and his head was completely blue. He wasn’t moving. He wasn't crying. He wasn’t even breathing. Barb tried to stimulate him by rubbing him vigorously with the receiving blankets but nothing happened. She took him over to the warming table and as she lifted him from me, I saw him shoot what looked like snot (but was probably amniotic fluid) out of his nose, so I thought he started breathing...but he didn’t cry. I kept thinking maybe this was normal, that it simply took some babies a little longer to get the hang of life outside the womb. At the warming table, they kept trying to stimulate him to no avail. Another nurse called out “We need a doctor in room 7! We’ve got a floppy baby!” After this announcement, Victor and I locked eyes (we had both been staring at our baby up until this point) and the fear was palpable between us. This was definitely not normal.

Several people were crowded around my baby at the warming table, so I couldn’t see what was happening. My doctor was tending to me, delivering the placenta and then stitching my tear. Despite the commotion around my baby, the room felt somber and silent. I think I was in shock and frightened to react in case something terrible happened; I didn’t cry or really say anything. I just kept silently praying that everything was ok, and time seemed to crawl at a snail's pace.

Victor hesitantly walked over to the warming table to see what was happening. The baby made some weak cries and started breathing on his own, and after an initial Apgar score of 1, he scored a 9 on his 5 minute Apgar test. The room began to burst with activity again once Marco started crying, and they weighed him and measured him. Barb asked me to guess how much he weighed and I guessed maybe 8 and a half pounds (that's what the ultrasound tech predicted if he made it to 40 weeks). They placed him on the scale and announced that he was 8 lbs 15 oz and 21 inches long! I was shocked that he was so big; both Max and Louisa weighed 7.5 lbs and just over 7 lbs, respectively. The doctor who ran in when the nurse called told us our baby looked great despite his scary entrance into the world. One nurse was charting everything on the computer and I heard Barb say, “I bagged him for a minute and a half.” Barb gave him “room oxygen” through a bag valve mask until he started breathing on his own. Until this point, I had no idea that he needed to be resuscitated at all. Once the baby was cleaned up and considered stable, they wrapped him up and gave him back to me. At this point, Victor and I were finally calm enough to tell our family that Marco Emilio had made his debut, so we made the necessary calls to share the great news. Everyone was especially curious if we had created another redhead...which we did!

Once everything calmed down, my doctor filled me in on what happened during the delivery. Once Marco’s head was out, she noticed the cord wrapped around his neck once. She told me that as long as the cord wasn’t wrapped too tight, they could typically try to “deliver through” the cord, meaning they move the cord away from the neck to allow the baby to be delivered safely through the loop. As she attempted to move the cord away, she felt two more tight loops beneath it; the cord was wrapped three times around his neck! At that point, she made the statement about not being able to deliver through it, so she quickly clamped the cord and cut it to get him out safely. We thank God every day for my OB's and Barb's swift actions during Marco's delivery, because had it not been for them, we might be telling a different story today.

As they were preparing us to move over to the Mother-Baby unit a few hours after Marco's birth, we were told that since Marco needed to be resuscitated for longer than one minute, he would need to be observed in the NICU for 6 hours, which was protocol for the hospital. They thought that perhaps since he was doing so well--nursing great, breathing fine--and had been with us for almost 3 hours, he might only need to stay in the NICU for 3 hours, but in the end, it turned out they needed to keep him for the entire 6 hours due to hospital policy. There were no immediate concerns that anything was wrong, but just to be safe, they wanted to monitor his oxygen levels, heart rate, and breathing. We didn't protest him being taken from us, but I was so distraught inside. I kept reminding myself that it was just protocol, that most likely everything was fine, and that in the off-chance that something was amiss, they'd notice it faster if he was in the NICU. A NICU nurse came and wheeled him out of our delivery room as we got our belongings together to be transferred to the Mother-Baby unit, and it took all I had in me not to cry.

Once we were settled in the postpartum room, my new nurse offered to bring me some food. My biggest craving after giving birth has always been a simple deli sandwich, ham or turkey, on soft bread, with some cheese and little bit of mayo. I avoided deli meats throughout all of my pregnancies (it's one of the foods you're not supposed to eat, even though I know many people still do), so enjoying one of those sandwiches was a long time coming. Despite being from the hospital cafeteria, it was delicious. I hadn't eaten since midnight the night before, so I was starving.

By the time I had finished my meal, I only had about an hour left before I had to go feed Marco in the NICU. I tried to rest, but I just felt incomplete. I had waited so long to meet my surprise blessing, and now I had to wait even longer to fully embrace him and enjoy him. Those couple of hours after he was born weren't enough for me. I ached to have him with me all the time. Even being with him in the NICU wasn't enough; he was attached to all kinds of wires and machines, so holding him to nurse was challenging because his sensors kept coming off and setting off alarms. But he was doing so well. His oxygen levels and heart rate were perfect, and he was happy sleeping there while he was being observed. I came to nurse him twice while he was in the NICU, and each time I lingered long after his feeding was finished so I could snuggle him and marvel at his perfect little face.

I took this photo after one of his feedings in the NICU

I kind of feel ridiculous for being so distraught about Marco's super-short stay in the NICU, especially since he was absolutely fine and was only there for observation. I know many people have to leave their babies in the NICU for much longer, and some even have to go home without their babies while they stay in the NICU to grow stronger and healthier. We are so blessed that Marco didn't need any extra intervention; he left us around 8 PM and was returned to us by 3 AM with a clean bill of health.

Once Marco was back with us in our room, I was finally able to relax...although I didn't get to rest much with a newborn in the room. None of that mattered, though. I was blissfully sleep-deprived and exhausted, and I had my baby right next to me. I slept for a few hours here and there, in between nursing, diapering, and snuggling my big boy. Victor's parents came to visit in the late-morning hours on Tuesday before going to our house to take over watching Max and Louisa so my sister could come meet her new nephew (she was up from Mississippi to help with the kids while Marco was born; she arrived the previous Thursday, February 15--the day before my due date--and was scheduled to leave early in the morning on Wednesday). Children under the age of 12 were not allowed to visit the hospital due to heightened flu concerns, so Max and Louisa had to wait a bit longer to meet their baby brother, so they had to settle for a FaceTime introduction.

(my sister took this photo of Max and Louisa as they waited for us to answer their FaceTime call)

We were told that we would be discharged by noon on Wednesday, so Victor and I set out to enjoy the last few hours alone with our newest baby. Victor had to be in court for work on Wednesday morning, so he went home early to shower and drop off most of our things while I stayed with Marco in the hospital until discharge time. By 11:30 AM, we were headed home with our newest bundle of joy. Max and Louisa were thrilled to meet their baby brother and were immediately taken with him.

Max chose Marco's "going home" outfit.

Thankfully, Marco has shown no signs of any complications as a result of his tumultuous entrance into the world. We're hoping that continues to be the case as he gets older. Our pediatrician assured us that since he did not need any further intervention beyond what was done in the delivery room, he likely will have no issues moving forward. He hope and pray daily that this rings true in the future. And to this day, I still cringe whenever I catch myself or someone else describing anything with regard to Marco as "floppy," whether it be his flailing arms and legs, his head when he was still developing his neck muscles, or the rolls of skin on his chin. That word takes me right back to the delivery room, desperately searching for signs of life and vitality in our newborn, who very well could have never made it home with us. For this reason, I continue to stress that we are finished having babies...I don't ever want to experience anything like that again, and I'd rather not tempt fate by giving it another go. Victor keeps thinking we should go for 4. I guess only time will tell. Things are pretty close to perfect right now, if I'm being honest.

In case you're new here:

Thursday, July 26, 2018

"I am proud of all my friends today." -Chandler Bing

My husband and I went to Chicago this past weekend to attend the wedding of one of my good friends from college. I was so excited to go, but also super anxious since we'd be leaving our kids at home. We've left Max and Louisa for an extended amount of time (once for our anniversary trip last year and once when Marco was born), but I've never left a baby overnight while I was breastfeeding, and I truly contemplated smuggling Marco along for the trip as I put him to bed the night before we left. Deep down, I knew they would all be fine, but I'm a worrier and a control freak, so I really had to psych myself up before we left for the weekend.

I had a wonderful group of friends in college. I'm so glad I found them freshman year because they were the perfect fit for me. Those four years at Miami were some of the best of my life, and I have this group of extraordinary people to thank for that. I always say that you couldn't pay me enough to go back to high school, but I'd 100% go back to long as all of my favorite people went back with me.

Let me tell you, this past weekend was exactly what my soul needed. I've seen a couple of my friends from college within the past couple of years, but I haven't seen most of the other friends that were at this wedding since graduation in 2007--11 years ago! SO MUCH changes in eleven years. And I didn't think it was possible for this group of people to get any better than they were back then, but they far exceeded my expectations.

These wonderful people are still just as down-to-earth, fun, kind, hilarious, intelligent, and caring as they were the day they graduated...probably even more so. Back then we were just kids, 21 or 22 years old with no idea what our lives had in store for us. But last Saturday, as we danced the night away, we had somehow morphed into husbands, wives, parents, teachers, doctors, lawyers, engineers, CEOs, entrepreneurs...I was awestruck by how much these friends of mine have accomplished since we crossed that stage eleven years ago. I must've said at least ten times that I couldn't believe how grown up we all are. How are we old enough to have experienced so much?!

Friends, I'm so proud of you all. I'm honored to be your friend, and I know you're all going to continue to do great things in your lives. Even those extraordinary ladies who have married into the group: despite only knowing you for a few days now, I'm so inspired by you, and those boys (technically they're men, but several of them were pants-less by the end of the reception, so yeah...still boys) are so lucky to have you by their side. You complement them perfectly.

(photo quality is garbage since we were in a dark bar, but I still love it so)

And while I'm bragging on people, I can't forget to mention how proud I am of myself and Victor for going on an adventure as "Rachel and Victor" for once instead of "Mom and Dad." It was so rejuvenating to get pampered with my girlfriends, walk around the city without worrying about missing someone's nap or feeding anyone other than ourselves, stay up late and enjoy some adult beverages without fear of being woken in the middle of the night to baby cries or toddlers with bad dreams. After talking to several people who left their kids home for the weekend, it sounded like all the parents were in need of a weekend away to let loose and recharge. I had to leave the reception for about 30 minutes to pump, and I had so much FOMO while I was gone...I didn't want to miss a single minute of fun with everyone! I returned home with such a full heart and happy soul. It was exactly what we needed.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Life Lately | Returning after a L O N G hiatus

I can't believe it's been over a year since I've published anything on here! Life has changed a lot in the past year, so I'll give a little recap for those of you who don't follow along on my Instagram.

In June 2017, we found out we were expecting baby #3, which was the most wonderful surprise we could ever imagine! In September 2017, we found out baby #3 was a boy, and in February 2018, we welcomed baby Marco to our family! (I plan to share Marco's birth story soon, so stay tuned!)

Max started preschool last fall and loved learning so much! He also completed a Pre-K language program (speech therapy) through our local school district to help him better develop his articulation skills (pronunciation of sounds/words), and he has made so much progress! He will return to his same preschool for the 4-year-old class this fall.

Louisa turned 2 in May and is becoming quite the little spitfire! She is so silly and adorable, but she also doesn't take any nonsense from her big brother. She's a delight and we love watching her grow and learn.

The hubby and I just celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary last month, and later this fall we will celebrate 10 years together! It's amazing how much your life can change in just a few short years; it's true when they say that the days are long, but the years are short!

Can't wait to get back to sharing more in this space! Leave a comment and let me know what you'd like to see me share on here!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Currently | May 2017

I'm baaaaaack! It's been nearly a month since I've posted here, and almost two months since my last Currently post. So much for making it a monthly occurrence! I've been quite busy lately and making some lifestyle changes, which has led to less face time with my ol' computer and even less time for blogging. I've missed this space, though, and I'm hoping to get back here regularly. What better way to get back into the swing of things than a Currently post? Here's what I've been up to lately.

Needing |  To get crack-a-lackin' on the kids' birthday party details. The party is on the 20th. Today's the 9th. I've done next to nothing. I think I'm in denial that I'm going to have a 3-year-old and a 1-year-old next week. NEXT WEEK! 

Loving |  Working out every day. I never thought I'd ever say that before, but it's become a necessary part of my day. Some days it's been tough to fit it in, but I haven't missed a day since I started my first round of 21 Day Fix on April 3. I'm even squeezing in a second workout each day this week! I was successful yesterday and today; let's see if I can stick to it the rest of the week! I think it helps that I don't mind wearing workout clothes all day, and it's also not the end of the world if I can't get a shower immediately after working out (except after cardio...I earn that shower after cardio!)

Giggling |  At my kiddos. Max is so cute with his imaginative play. He takes a bunch of stuffed animals and lines them up on a blanket, then makes them talk to each other, complete with different voices. Or he'll pile a bunch of stuff on the couch (I don't particularly love this activity), cover it with a blanket, and then sit on top of it, saying he's The Grinch (he's currently obsessed with the old cartoon version and wants to watch it every night). Louisa is cruising everywhere and giving big cheesy grins whenever you catch her eye. She's all over the place, and her new favorite thing is the dishwasher.

Photoshoots are rarely successful these days. They're always cute, though.

Listening |  All the John Mayer. He gets me through my chores. He's an old fave of mine; I went to at least two of his concerts in high school and college. He'll always hold a special place in my heart. Plus, his lyrics and guitar skills are amaze.

Reading |  The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer. A friend lent it to me years ago and I'm finally reading it. It's really good! I'm not a big history buff, but I really enjoy reading books about World War II. This one takes place shortly after the war, and it recounts people's experiences during the German Occupation. I'm loving it.

Watching |  Last weekend, Victor and I watched Manchester by the Sea on Amazon Prime. It was really good! Quite sad/melancholy, but such a good film. Highly recommend it. We also watched Gleason (also on Amazon), a documentary about a former NFL player who is living with ALS. Very inspiring. And last night I watched the series finale episode of Parenthood on Netflix (I've been watching the entire series over the course of the past couple of months...this was my third time. I love it so much!). That final episode, guys. I'm pretty sure I cried through the entire thing. I said it after it aired on NBC and I'll say it again: they wrapped up that show so beautifully...although I wouldn't be opposed to it returning sometime. Also, Zeek Braverman is starting to remind me of my dad, and I'm convinced that if my dad were still with us, he'd be the kind of grandfather Zeek was. Pass the tissues, please!

Sipping |  Two coffees each day. And water. I'm trying to drink at least 100 oz per day. Some days I make it, most days I don't. I'd probably have more luck if I dropped one of those coffees...nah. There's water in coffee, anyway. ;o)

Cooking |  Lots of veggies and lean proteins and zero junk. My 21 Day Fix meal plan is a bit of a change from what I'm used to, but I'm enjoying it.

Cringing |  At the enormous gray hair that fell out of my head the other day. I know I have grays. I didn't know they were that long. Holy moly.

Dreaming |  Of having a house that is organized and clutter-free. Is this possible with two small kids? We have way too much stuff! And toys are STILL everywhere, even after I did a toy purge a few weeks ago! We're in trouble after this birthday party...although I think I'm going to implement a "one in, one out" policy: they have to get rid of one toy for every toy they receive.

Celebrating | Mother's Day this weekend. Max's 3rd birthday on the 17th. Louisa's 1st birthday on the 19th. And their combined birthday party on the 20th. Lots of cake to be consumed!

Hoping |  Louisa's top teeth come in soon. For Pete's sake, it seems like she's been teething for months. If a new tooth doesn't pop out in the next week, she's going to turn one with only two teeth in her bitty mouth! That's crazy to me! Max had 8 teeth by the time he turned one!

Wondering |  If Max will come around to potty training soon. He was doing really well and then regressed big time. Now he's saying he'll use the potty when he's three. One of my friends told me that her greatest life accomplishment was potty training her son (this above earning two Bachelors' degrees, teaching first grade, getting married, and giving birth to three kids). I might feel the same way once Max is finally out of diapers!

I hope you're having a wonderful week!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Mama Heart | Something's gotta give

Y'all. I know it's not Monday, which is when I usually post for Mama Heart. I also know it's been eons since I've published a new post. Life has been kicking my booty lately, which has inspired today's long-overdue Mama Heart installment.

If you follow me on Instagram and watch my rambling, often pointless Instagram stories, then you know that I've recently started Beachbody's 21 Day Fix program. I joined a challenge group on Facebook and have been doing daily 30-minute workouts, drinking Shakeology, and ramping up my water intake. It feels really good to take care of my body with daily exercise (something I haven't done regularly since I was preparing for my wedding 4 years ago!), but I'm not sticking to the program 100%. There's a clean-eating component with strict portion control, which I'm not yet implementing since I'm still breastfeeding. I don't want my milk supply to drop.

I'm especially worried about my milk supply since I've stopped nursing Louisa and am exclusively pumping to give her bottles of breastmilk throughout the day (she only nurses right before bed, but I might start giving her a bottle then, too). I've mentioned this a lot on my Instagram stories because I have to pump around 4 times a day, often for at least 30 minutes at a time (sometimes more). I've been doing this for over two weeks now, and to put it bluntly, I hate it. 

Louisa was never a lover of the bottle, which was fine until a couple of months ago, when she became super distracted while nursing and would pop off the breast after just a few minutes unless we were alone in a quiet room where she couldn't hear any other noises. It became very frustrating and nearly impossible to complete a nursing session. And forget about nursing in public/covering up to nurse; I'd be flashing everyone and squirting everywhere within minutes (#sorrynotsorry for the visual--I keep it real here). I began offering her a bottle or two during the day, and once she got used to them, I started giving her bottles for all of her daytime feeds. She slept through the night for the first time in her life that first day of all bottle-feeds (and every night since), which I think is due to her finally getting enough milk throughout the day. She's satiated. And we're both finally well-rested.

However, pumping several times a day is wreaking havoc on my life at home. I'm tethered to an outlet for 20-30 minutes, 4 times a day, and I have two mobile, active kids at home; I have to be available to intervene whenever things start taking a turn toward "unsafe" with them. My house is a mess. Max isn't napping anymore so I'm getting no break from him during the day, and he's also turning into a doozy of a threenager before my very eyes. Despite working out everyday (which I've been doing early in the morning before everyone wakes up), I'm becoming more irritable and stressed because I can't seem to manage this new pumping lifestyle in addition to all of my other responsibilities as a stay-at-home mom. I have to keep the same schedule of pumping if I want to keep the same output of milk, but I still have over a month to go! Something's gotta give. I can't keep this up for 30+ more days.

Louisa will turn one on May 19, which is when she can switch to whole milk. I spoke to her pediatrician yesterday, and he said I could do bottles of half breastmilk/half whole milk starting at 11 months, and keep that up until she turns one. In order to maintain my sanity and some semblance of order in my home, I need to drop at least one pumping session a day, which will for sure lower my supply. I know I won't make it to her first birthday with my stash of breastmilk.

So Louisa will be switching to formula.

Just typing that leaves me reeling with guilt...

...which is ridiculous because Max switched to formula at around 11 months. He became a distracted nurser, too (although he was also biting me regularly), but I only pumped twice a day and my supply dried up within two weeks. I had to switch to formula. But I know better this time, which is why I've been pumping four times a day to keep my supply up. I feel like I'm taking the easy way out with Louisa if I intentionally cause my supply to drop.

I also have 3 good friends who each exclusively pumped for the entire first year of their baby's life. I only need to do it for a little over a month. If they can do a whole year, I can do 6 weeks, right? But for those friends, it was their first baby. They didn't have another kid running around at home while they tried to pump all the time. Two of them worked full-time, so they got to do most of their pumps at work. Sometimes I think that if I were working outside of the home, I'd be able to keep it up. 

I've been battling this guilt for over a week now. I've finally decided, though, that I need to forget about the guilt and do what I think is the best thing for myself and my family, which is gradually introducing formula while simultaneously decreasing my milk supply. 

Sitting around, for me, begets more sitting around. It zaps my energy and my motivation, which leaves my house in shambles, which leaves me resentful and overwhelmed. I refuse to quit working out every day; I'm creating a healthier, stronger me for my family, which is so important. Fed is best, and Louisa will still be fed. Just not from my body anymore.

My guilt is purely self-generated. I'm not being pressured by any outside sources to continue pumping despite all the evidence that this isn't working for me and my family. It's all me. I don't want to feel like I'm giving up or taking the easy way out. I don't want to feel like I'm the only one benefiting from this change (no more pumping; no more cleaning pump parts; I can wear whatever I want and not have to worry about whether I can easily attach my pump; I can soon return to sleeping on my stomach; I can devote myself fully to the 21 Day Fix meal plans). I know other people have persevered through exclusively pumping, so I feel like I should too, but I'm taking advice from Amy Poehler: "Good for her! Not for me!" Just because someone else is doing it doesn't mean I have to do it. I take that stance in every other area of my life; why should I make an exception now when it's clear that trying to make it work isn't working? Bottom line: this is what's best for me and my family. And even though I am sort of taking the easy way out, I have very valid reasons for doing so, and I have to be okay with that.

As moms, we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to do what we think society wants us to do or to do what's most popular. But just because it's the popular choice doesn't mean it's right for you. You're the one living your life. You're the one dealing with your family's schedule and needs. You're the boss of your family and how you get through the day-to-day. Do what you gotta do, Mama, while still maintaining some semblance of sanity. Let's also encourage all the other moms out there who are working their hineys off just trying to make it to bedtime. We've all got our own battles to fight and hurdles to clear; let's not add "defending my choices to the Sanctimommies" to the list. Let's build one another up and kick the mom-guilt to the curb.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Mama Heart | When Mama Needs a Minute

I had big plans for today's naptime. Lately I've been able to get about an hour of kid-free time in the afternoon when Max and Louisa's naps overlap (Praise the good Lord). Last week, I watched Ellen during that time since I was feeling pretty icky with a cold, but this week, I planned to be more productive. Today I wanted to work out, maybe do some laundry, and get started on filling some of the wall frames I've bought over the past two months. I also needed to tackle the breakfast and lunch dishes that were cluttering up my kitchen.

But after I got Max down and then Louisa down, I decided that I just needed to take a minute. Most days, I'd feel guilty about taking this selfish downtime, worrying about the piled-up dishes and the stacks of dirty laundry and the other tasks on my never-ending to-do list; normally, I'd feel so guilty that I would force myself to get up and tackle all of those tasks instead of taking a breather, hoping to get some time to relax once I took care of all my chores, only to have someone wake up right as I sat down, which would inevitably frustrate me and put me on edge.

Today was different, though. I sat down with a blanket, my book (Necessary Lies by Diane Chamberlain), and a glass of ice water and devoured chapter after chapter while the kids and the dog snoozed (the book is so good!). I had zero guilt. I knew all those chores would be waiting for me later. I'd get to them eventually. I needed to recharge, to have some quiet time alone. So I took a minute (or sixty, but who's counting?!)

I'll tell you what, I'm so glad I took that time today. Max woke up from his nap and was inexplicably angry with me, so thanks to my quiet time, I had more patience to deal with his moodiness and eventually calmed him down.  After Max was settled with some toys, I cleaned up those dishes in the kitchen...and I also wiped down the table and counters, put away a bunch of dishes, organized my coupons, and started a load of laundry. My little recharge gave me more energy!

I know I could find tasks to fill every second of my day. There's always something that needs to be done. But one really important thing I need to be sure I'm doing is taking care of me. My evenings are pretty jam-packed with making, eating, and cleaning up dinner, giving kids baths, putting kids to bed, and spending quality time with Victor. Louisa is on her third week of awful sleep, so my nights are far from restful. Currently, I'm finding it necessary to take a minute pretty much every afternoon, during that glorious naptime overlap. Some days that minute looks like it did today, with me curled up with a great book. Other days it might include a workout, perhaps some crafting, maybe watching a show or taking a nap. Eventually I'll get back to tackling chores--uninterrupted--during naptime, but for right now, mama needs to take a minute regularly, and that minute needs to be a selfish one.

Don't be afraid to do the same, mamas. Some days, we just need a minute.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Currently | March 2017

It's time for another Currently post! I can't think of a better way to get back into the blogging swing of's been a while!

Needing | To clean my floors. Louisa's crawling everywhere and the state of the knees of her pants at the end of the day are indicative of how badly my hardwood needs a bath. Don't judge.

Loving | That Max is so excited about going to school. Last Friday, he had me pack his lunch in his lunch box so he could practice for school. Then yesterday he loaded a bunch of instruments into his backpack and waited by the front door, saying, "Fool bus, where are vou?" Never mind the fact that it was 5 PM...or that it was a snow day...or that he will be walked or driven to school...or that he won't even start school until September. He's ready NOW!

Giggling | Over Max's pose after Louisa got her newest set of passport photos taken on Monday (I had them taken back when she was just a couple of months old, but then we never applied for her passport, so we needed to take new ones). I had to have my foot on the stool and have Louisa sit on my leg to get a good photo, so Max thought that was the way everyone got their photo taken there. Too cute.

Louisa was about 2 months old on the left and nearly 10 months old on the right!

Wanting | New couches! We have leather-ish reclining couches right now, and while I love how easy they are to clean (just a quick wipe down does the trick!), I think they're ugly. One of the recliners on the big couch is broken, so we're looking into getting it fixed, and if that doesn't work, we might replace everything. I'm thinking something like this or this. I just have to convince Victor to get non-reclining couches. And that hasn't been going so well.

Listening | On Sunday while Louisa was napping, Max, Victor, and I hung out in our home office and watched Michael Jackson music videos on YouTube. Max loves "Beat It" and pretty much any other song that has a great dancing beat. He's even starting to sing along to the song!

Reading | I just finished All Fall Down by Jennifer Weiner last night. It was okay; I've enjoyed other books by Jennifer Weiner more. I started reading Necessary Lies by Diane Chamberlain, and it's already got me intrigued. I always try to update what I'm reading and what I've read on Goodreads, so find me there if you want to follow along!

Watching | I watched the finale of This Is Us last night. There were tears. I'm so glad it's on for at least two more seasons! Victor and I watched Mike Birbiglia's latest comedy special, "Thank God for Jokes" on Netflix last weekend. I thought it was hilarious. I've always loved his stand-up. 

Sipping | All the coffee. Louisa's sleep has been awful lately, so I've been downing the caffeine. I also bought a bottle of watermelon wine for the snowstorm and had instant heartburn after just a few sips. So much for trying to let loose lol

Cooking | I made spaghetti for dinner last night, which Max refused to eat. He's refused it the last several times I've made it, which is discouraging because the kid used to put down two plates full in one sitting before. I also made Astleigh Hill's Shepherd's Pie on Sunday (highly recommend) and for St. Patrick's Day, I'm making baked fish and chips from the Skinnytaste Fast and Slow cookbook. A week of good eats!

Look at that enthusiasm. This was taken exactly a year ago yesterday, March 14, 2016.

Dreaming | Of Louisa only waking once throughout the night. Lately she's been waking up screaming 4-5 times. I'm wondering if she's about to cut another tooth, although I don't see any evidence of one popping through. Hopefully this terrible sleep phase ends soon.

Celebrating | The kids' birthdays in May, which means it's time to start party planning! I want to do a joint birthday party with a puppy theme because #crowdpleaser, but Max keeps saying he wants a dinosaur party with a dinosaur cake. I keep trying to convince him that a puppy party will be more fun, but he isn't buying it yet.

Swooning | Over everything Joanna Gaines touches. The kids and I watched a few episodes of Fixer Upper yesterday, and I've decided that Jojo just needs to come and work her magic on this house of mine. Seriously, Jo, take all my money and make my house beautiful, please and thank you.

Going | Nowhere notable in the foreseeable future, and I'm totally okay with that. I need to get this house in order and get my kid potty-trained, so staying close to home is exactly what we need!

Amazed | At how much Louisa is changing and learning lately. When we went to Arizona on March 1, she was crawling at a snail's pace. While we were on vacation, she learned how to sit herself back on her bottom from crawling, and she started pulling up on low-lying surfaces. Now she's a super-speedy crawler, and if you try to sit her down on the floor, she'll refuse to bend at the hip and instead tries to take steps while you support her. She's also becoming very independent and loves to crawl to find whatever strikes her fancy at the moment. I can't believe she'll be one in just a few short months!

She found Supergirl in a sea of Ninja Turtles and other superhero guys.

Hoping | This snow melts and the trees start blooming again. After having late-spring-like weather at the end of February and spending a week in Arizona at the beginning of this month, I am SO over winter!

Wondering | Which of my neighbors received my latest shipment of Chatbooks, because despite what the tracking info says, it most certainly was not delivered to my mailbox on Saturday. We get other people's mail at our house all the time, more here than anywhere else I've lived (which leads me to believe it's an issue with mail sorting at our post office/our mail carrier), and it's super frustrating. Hopefully I can track them down. I've already been in touch with Chatbooks and they're being super helpful, but I think the USPS needs to take the fall for this one. Or maybe whoever received the package by mistake can get it to me soon. Is that having too much faith in humanity? I mean, what random person wants 5 books full of photos of my family?

Hope you're having a warm, wonderful week!