I'm passionate about philosophy, but after having my girls I'm even more passionate about Mommy Matters

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Easter, Love, and Other Good Things


     Easter always makes me reflect on how grateful I am for my life and the brother who saved me, Jesus Christ. Just 4 years ago I remember being blissfully unaware of the future I would end up choosing. For instance, I did not plan on getting married (especially before being at least 26 years old), I did not plan on having children (especially before being 30 years old), and I did not plan on being a stay at home mom (ever). However, luckily, I was flexible enough to change my mind and choose the path that felt the best and now I have more joy inside of me than I ever could have asked for.There was once a time in my life, those 4 years ago, when I remember feeling very lonely, despite my friends and all of the parties I went to. I found myself choosing seclusion rather than doing things with friends or family. I now know that the loneliness I felt was a consequence of turning my back on my Heavenly Father and my savior Jesus Christ, with them I never have reason to feel alone. I know how this sounds: simple-minded and ignorant to many people, I once thought the same thing and was very judgmental of all religions. Religion, I thought, was a way of micromanaging masses of people and "brainwash" (a term that I feel is too readily thrown around). Little did I know how wrong I was. I don't judge anyone else for not believing in the LDS church, or any other religion. In the end if you have found peace, happiness, and are striving to be the best person you can be then the rest will be taken care of. Heavenly Father, I believe, knows each of his children and their hearts.

“I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live” (John 11:25)
     This is why Easter is so special to me, based on both Pagan and Christian traditions, it is a time that celebrates life and the fertility it offers. Jesus Christ lives and atoned for all of us, giving us the chance to use our agency and choose the path that makes us the happiest throughout eternity. He made it possible for us to be forgiven our short comings and once again be at peace when we die. We will all be resurrected after this mortal existence thanks to Him. We can also live life here without fear and instead embrace hope thanks to Him.

Husband and I on our wedding day 
(August 6th, 2010) 

     Since I invited the atonement back into my life I have chosen a great man to spend the rest of eternity with, given birth to a beautiful little girl we will raise together, and have found affirmation as a woman by deciding to become a stay at home mother. Even with all of the harsh realities of life, there is always light and love somewhere waiting to be found.  
     I hope everyone else is uplifted on Easter, even if it is simply because you feel alive during the wonderful beginnings of spring time. I am enjoying watching my daughter grow as the flowers do too and finding life all around after a cold winter.

Husband & I 
Spring 2010 

Friday, March 29, 2013

To IUD or Not IUD?

     That is the question I am dealing with. My OB/GYN recommends having Mirena placed, an IUD, after having Squeaker. Birth control has many options and I'm not sure if this is truly the right choice for me though. If I choose to get Mirena then I would have it placed next week at my 8 week postnatal appointment. Birth control is also very personal, so forgive me if what I talk about is uncomfortable.
     I've always had issues with the idea of having something foreign inside of me, including tampons. I got over this issue and do use tampons, but a piece of plastic that remains for years inside of my uterus makes me cringe even more. The real issue I have, however, is that with all of the research I have done there isn't any consensus on the issue of using IUDs. Some people love them, don't notice it at all and haven't had any problems. Others have had serious problems and won't ever get one again. I fear the worst possible scenario, I will pull the IUD out inadvertently and go through a lot of unnecessary pain. It is also possible to get pregnant while having Mirena in place, as with any birth control there remains this possibility, but the child can become seriously hurt if Mirena isn't taken out quickly after conception. Mirena can also stop periods altogether, so how would I know that I am pregnant if I do concieve while Mirena is in place? I would hate for any harm to fall upon my next child if something like this goes wrong. I also found that Mirena contains hormones and have enjoyed being off of the pill, not taking any extra hormones, because I feel better. I am a pretty hormonal and emotional person at times without any help from anything else. I also can't take the pill while breast feeding anyway if I decided to go back on it instead. Condoms and pills would probably end up being more expensive overall because I would have to keep buying more every month as well. Condoms are also an extra thing I would have to think about and plan on having, which can ruin the mood if there isn't one around or I have to hurry and buy some because I ran out. Diaphragms and the ring have similar issues that make an IUD seem worth it. I seriously can't decide what to do. 
     Another thing I have been thinking about concerning an IUD: I don't know when Husband and I will want to have another baby. Do I really want to have to pay for an extra doctor's appointment to have an IUD removed and take the time to do that when it could be in just another year or two? 
     I feel a little insecure to admit this, because I have just barely started to feel recovered from having Squeaker, but I have become even more baby hungry/family hungry since having her around. She is so amazing and I can picture her running around with other children, taking them to the zoo and the library, going hiking and picnicking together, reading books to them, running through sprinklers in the summer. I want her to have a sibling, obviously not right away, but not any longer than 3 years from now either. 

     So, this post is a rant from a new mother who is indecisive and feeling a little stressed about something that should be an easy choice. I have talked to several women, but still no conclusion and would love more help. Anyone else have some advice or input?

Monday, March 25, 2013

Scheduling a Sleepless Baby

     Squeaker is a very fickle baby. One day she hardly naps at all (only sleeping around half an hour at a time), becoming fussy and difficult to console. Then there are days when I have to wake her up to feed her. 
     The nights have even more variation, sometimes she only sleeps 4 hours altogether. There was one night, however, when she actually slept for 6 hours in a row! This variation became even more unbearable when Husband, Squeaker, and I traveled to visit family. The long drives went well, she slept the whole time while in the car, but these drives also lead to her staying up all night! (I do not recommend traveling with a baby younger than two months and will try to never do it again) Husband and I spent the night trying to help her sleep, finally achieving the goal around 1am - only to be awakened 2 hours later. We were completely exhausted and I hated seeing how miserable Squeaker became as well, not getting the adequate rest she needed. 
     So, I began some intense research and found many sources advocating for demand feedings, while others demanding a strict feeding schedule that entails constantly watching the clock. On one hand the baby decides when he/she eats (and subsequently sleeps), but on the other hand we (the parents) decide and set a schedule for him/her to live by. I didn't, and still don't, feel completely comfortable with either of these strategies.  
     Up until almost 2 weeks ago I was taking the advice of the currently more popular view, demand feeding, which the La Leche League and WIC advocate for. I felt like I was constantly feeding Squeaker, if she wasn't asleep then I was pretty much feeding her. This is because I thought that whenever Squeaker was being fussy she wanted to be fed, I would of course check her diaper and try holding her for awhile as well. This then, I believe, inadvertently induced more issues because Squeaker would become too full and gassy. I didn't understand why she wouldn't sleep, she actually fought it (and still does sometimes). She would start to drift off, but then suddenly become more alert, crying, and act as though she wasn't tired at all. I didn't want to put Squeaker on a strict schedule, because I didn't want to tie myself to an inflexible schedule or watch her become hungry without feeding her if it wasn't time yet. Something I found in my research was a lack of explaining how to help a baby sleep exactly anyway, the articles made it seem like feeding the baby on demand or on a strict schedule somehow just magically made the baby sleep better too. They said things like, "Your baby needs adequate rest in order to learn and grow properly", but left out how to actually do that in explicit terms. 
     I was voicing some of my frustrations to a couple of friends who have toddlers and they recommended a book called, On Becoming Baby Wise: Giving Your Infant the Gift of Nighttime Sleep. One of them lent me this book and I read it as closely and quickly as possible, praying that it held the answers I needed. This book recommends a feeding schedule that is flexible and includes parental assessment, it is called PDF (Parent Directed Feeding). I am much more comfortable with this method because it includes helping my baby to get onto a schedule, but it isn't a strict one and includes parents watching for signs of hunger. If baby is obviously hungry then he/she should be fed! So far this approach has worked much better and I follow this general agenda:
  • Between 6 & 8am Squeaker wakes up- I feed her and change her diaper, which takes about half an hour (the book says this first feeding should be held at a strict time and I have yet to get it down because I hate waking her up when I still want to sleep to haha)
  • I then keep her awake, play with her, let her play in her bouncer while I get ready, have tummy time, etc. I then put her down for a nap (which lasts between 1 and 2 hours)
  • When it has been between 2.5 and 3.5 hours since the beginning of her last feeding I feed her again. 
  • This routine is repeated all day, until her last feeding around 10 or 11pm, after which I don't keep her up but lay her down to sleep for the night. If she wakes up during the night (Squeaker usually wakes up between 3 and 4am) I feed and change her, then lay her back down without keeping her awake again. 
     This method, like the others, does not magically make Squeaker sleep immediately when I lay her down for a nap or the night. However, I do not try to keep her quiet or console her crying by immediately feeding her because otherwise she won't ever learn to sleep on her own. The PDF method encourages the parents to let their baby fix their own problems, but also to not leave the baby crying longer than 15 minutes. If she does cry longer than this I go in and give her a pacifier, hold her and tell her she is OK, then lay her back down to try again. It is hard to do, but in the end I've decided this is the best for Squeaker and me. 
      I hope this arrangement will help us when Squeaker becomes a toddler as well, because she will be used to living on a schedule - listening to her parent's direction when it comes to feeding and sleeping (although her needs will be met and not ignored either).
      So far Squeaker is becoming more predictable and seems to be thriving better, even becoming more alert during wake times. It all happens in small steps, but at least it is happening at all. I also have been able to sleep more, getting into a routine of my own and having more energy.

      I plan on updating how Squeaker is sleeping when she is a little older, letting you know if this method has proven worth it in the long run. What have you done to not go insane and help your baby sleep better?

Friday, March 22, 2013

Unbelievably Believable: Confessions of a New Mother

Six weeks ago this little girl was born, a baby that Husband and I had been looking forward to having for nine long months. We had actually been trying to get pregnant for nine months before that as well. It is surreal to think that this culmination of emotions and expectations is in the past now. I still can't believe that Squeaker is here now, growing and learning outside of me. 
My last post was a little negative, so I decided to start describing my little girl and the wonderful life we have started with her in it. Breastfeeding, though difficult, is completely worth it. Everytime I feed her, change her diaper, play with her, or help her drift off to sleep I am filled with a sense of accomplishment and I know I am doing my best to raise her with love. She has started to talk, gurgle and mumble incomprehensibly, but none the less I love seeing her try to connect to the world around her and communicate. She has also begun to show visible signs of recognizing Husband and I, which is simply amazing. To look into the eyes of my little baby and see her look back, smile, and follow me as I move around has become my favorite part of motherhood so far. I can't wait to find more favorite things! My friend recently posted on her blog about how she raises her two-year-old sons, letting them be free to play, explore, and be messy on their own sometimes. I honestly am so excited for Squeaker to start playing like this and be creative
     I love having Squeaker home with us, even though she still insists on sleeping the best during the day and getting me up around every three hours at night. We're working on a better schedule though, which I will describe in my next post. No matter how much I love it, I still somehow can't believe that I am a mother and the little girl I hold in my arms will someday be a two-year-old too. I think it might come down to the fact that this seems to be the next natural step in my life. In a way becoming a wife also had a surreal feel to it and I would accidentally sign my maiden name instead of my new name, but now I don't even think about my maiden name anymore. There is a way in which these steps of life both feel natural and also take some getting used to. When I went to the dentist yesterday and I was asked, "What is your current occupation?" I almost instinctively said "student", only to remember that I am graduated and in fact I don't know what to say in response to that question anymore. "Homemaker", "Mother", ....? 

     In some ways it is weird to change, but I can't help but feel that this is what I'm supposed to be doing and I haven't ever been happier. I guess I'll keep figuring it out as I go and look forward to further confusion/surrealism.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Most Lactation Consultants Lie


     This is for all of you who have breastfed your children, you know how difficult it is. It is something that every new mother who decides to breastfeed goes through. I had no idea that my nipples would crack, bleed, and sting until I was in the middle of experiencing it. So, of course I kept reading things online written by lactation consultants and talked to lactation consultants at WIC, everything and everyone telling me that it shouldn't hurt and if it does then I am doing it wrong
     I recently talked to my cousin, who just gave birth to her second child last January and has breastfed both of her children. She actually made an appointment and talked to a lactation consultant as well, who said the same thing: "If it hurts, you must be doing it wrong." 
     How could this be when her babies and my baby are gaining weight beautifully and don't seem to have any other issues? Also, everyone else I talk to says that breastfeeding does hurt and most of them felt that they had to stop after just a couple of months because it was too difficult. It is simple really, lactation consultants lie!  It takes time for women's breasts to get used to being used in this new utilitarian way, as the food source for a little human being. It also should be noted that the first food source that the baby gets from his/her mother, colostrum, is very thick and the baby has to suck hard in order to get it out. There is no way to prepare a woman's breasts for this new activity, it just takes time to get used to. After what I have heard sometimes takes 8 weeks or longer, your nipples will heal and the pain will subside. Some articles I read even advised to continue feeding your baby even if your nipples are bleeding,  
    "Painful cracked and bleeding nipples are not a normal
    side effect of breastfeeding. Nursing shouldn't be painful
    in fact, pain is a warning sign that you have a problem
    that needs correcting... The fact that your nipples are
    cracked or bleeding won't bother your baby. She may 
    swallow some blood and you may see it come out in her
    diaper, but it won't do her any harm." (click here to see
    original source) 
This just seems ridiculous to me. If you need to pump instead and used other aids, even for weeks, I think you should just do it! 
     My pediatrician was good enough not to mislead me. She said that I needed to do what I could to in order for breastfeeding to be an enjoyable experience for me and my baby. So, feel free to pump and use bottles, I had to as early as the first week with Squeaker. I also had to use nipple shields and slowly let Squeaker use my breast again after the cracks had healed. 
     Another misunderstanding is this scary thing called "nipple confusion", which can happen and make it more difficult for your baby to latch onto your breast again. However, it turns out that many babies have no problem going back and forth between different forms of nipples, they can handle different ways of getting their food just fine. Only a very small percent of babies introduced to bottles early on have a difficult time going back to the breast. Even if your baby does have a hard time going back to the breast, wouldn't be better to use bottles and heal than continue torturing yourself, frustrating and confusing your baby even more? It's a personal decision that should be based on the mother's and baby's needs, not forced by misleading so called "professionals" and their advice.
     There was one lactation consultant I ended up talking to who was open and honest with me, she said that most lactation consultants do lie because they want women to not be afraid to breastfeed their children. In the end I think that we are all adults though, and well aware that having a baby is going to be hard. Why not just be up front and prepare us for the worst instead? I would have been a lot more content and self assured if I had known that the process would take time
     I am sick of hearing about, and experiencing for myself, a feeling of inadequacy that many mothers feel. The most important thing is that your child is fed the nutrients he/she needs, not whether or not you use a bottle. All of you mothers out there who feel this way or have felt this way, you are good mothers and are doing all you can. That is evident by the very fact that you feel inadequate and are genuinely worried about your little one. 
     I don't mean for this to be a personal attack on lactation consultants either, I just hope that some out their, like the one I had the privilage of talking to after days and days of difficulty, are honest and helpful instead of causing more grief and pain. 
     Anyone else out there have a similar experience? Or if you have a different opinion I would love to hear it