Monday, May 31, 2010

Julianna's naming ceremony

We had Julie's official naming ceremony on Saturday. If she was a boy, we'd have had her bris (hands down, worst day of Sammy's infancy for me) on the eighth day after she was born, but for a girl, it's a little more relaxed on the timing. Marc had gone to the synagogue on the Shabbat after she was born for her first naming, but this one was the big one, with all the family and production and hoopla that goes along with it. She was an angel girl, as per usual, slept thru the whole thing so peacefully. She's such a good baby.

Her Hebrew name is Il'yanna Rut Cohen. Il'yanna means "God has answered" and the rabbi made a special point of talking about the name that we chose for her and how incredibly wonderful it was to use it as her name, because she is such an incredible answer to our prayers for a child. It was a beautiful ceremony and very meaningful. At least that part of it was - as a convert to Judaism, the Hebrew portion of the service (and since we attend a Conservative temple, the Hebrew is a a big part of it) was mostly lost on me. And Sam is just wretched at services, he's nowhere near old enough to sit thru a service. Temperment wise, it's just not a good fit for him. At his age, Jess loved going to services, and would sit patiently on her daddy's lap, listening and absorbing everything. Sam spent most of the time clinging to my leg and begging to go home. Which really isn't an optimal situation for me to enjoy the spiritual meaning of the ceremony, mostly I was just embarassed.

Then we went down to my hometown, Maynard, and went to the cemetery. My grandmother and cousin are buried in Maynard, and I wanted to bring the kids down to see it. Sam, unfortunately, slept thru it, as did Julie (although in her case, it was nice that she slept thru it because I was able to really focus on Jessica). We talked about the stones, and the poety my grandfather had engraved on my grandmother's stone, and made plans to come back and plant flowers.

After that, we crashed a cookout at our friend Tricia's house. She hadn't seen the kids in a long time, and had never seen Julie, and it was the nicest afternoon. The kids all played, we got to talk and chat, Julie played Pass the Baby, and was an angel girl throughout the whole thing. It's a situation where the fact that she's a nursing girl works out great, because I never go for very long without holding her because she nurses every hour or so :-)

Friday, May 28, 2010

One perfect month

My last little baby girl is four weeks old yesterday, and hits her one month birthday tomorrow. Already, she's grown so much, her cheeks are getting chubby, she's smiling more and more, and she's so gorgeous and amazing that I can't stop admiring her. I'm a tiny bit wistful, it went by so incredibly fast, and she's not a newborn anymore, now she's a baby and I know that this stage will fly by too.

Julianna is still very calm, she's a very easy baby, as long as you understand that her rightful place is in my arms. Or someone's arms, at least. She way prefers to be held, but since I really prefer to hold her, it works out well for both of us :-) She's got the same big, big eyes that Jessie and Sam have, and the same pointed little chin. She's got a dimple in her left cheek and one in her chin. Her hair is still delightfully fluffy, she loves her bath. She gets offended if she's in a dirty diaper, and demands a diaper change immediately. She'll also cry if she needs to burp or be fed, but other than that, she's a sunshiney happy baby. She's getting so big, more and more of her clothes fit her these days, and I'm already thinking that she might be starting to outgrow some of the tinier outfits. Like those little bag type night-gowns? I've got a bunch of them, and loved them for night time, but then we had several really warm nights in a row and she's been sleeping her in her onesie tucked up next to me, and I fear she might be too long for some of them now. She's not as skinny scrawny as she was, she's getting little fat rolls around her thighs, but her arms and legs are still stick skinny.

We worked thru our nursing issues. It took a while, including that very bad Sunday - a day that I'll never forget. The potential loss of the nursing relationship, and in my eyes, the suggestion that she might not get the mothering love that the other two got from me as a result, was devastating and it's taken a while for me to relax into our relationship. I'm very happy to report that Julianna loves me just as much as the others did - she calms immediately when I pick her up, or even just the touch of my hand on her face if she's crying in the car. She's already sleeping thru the night, which shocked me. She'll go for a good five or six hours, waking once but not actually nursing. She just seems to want to know that I'm there, and refuses to latch on, she just likes to have her back patted and she falls back asleep. She'll then nurse every hour or so during the day, taking one or two longer naps, in the morning and late afternoon. I'm just starting to notice some oversupply or overactive let down during the day, she has to pull off sometimes to avoid choking and I get engorged a lot because she is such a frequent nurser. She squeaks in her sleep, and when she's awake. Very vocal (although in this family, that's not surprising). She's my love bug, and I can't imagine now what life was like without her.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Jessica Mary

She turned seven back in February and she's still a little girl, but you can see glimmers of the woman she'll be one day, and she's going to be amazing :-). She's gorgeous, with soft, silky baby fine brown curls and big brown eyes, and the most perfect little nose and mouth. She's got four freckles that form a line from her ear down to her mouth.

Her favorite color is purple, her favorite food is ice cream. Any kind of ice cream, really. She'll eat salad by the bowlful, likes all kinds of veggies. Still won't eat sandwich bread, or grilled cheese or mac and cheese. Has reluctantly started eating pizza but only thin crust. She's a little cuddle bug, still, her preferred place to sit is right beside me. She's still a lover of baby dolls, arts and crafts, and stuffed animals. She's started taking showers just recently, graduating from the bath. She loves being read to, and even though she can read on her own, will always choose Mommy or Daddy reading to her instead.

Jess is my drama queen, all the time. Even though she's happy and doing well at school, she still needs to have the reward system in place to get her out the door without tears, and frequently, she'll stage a temper tantrum when she gets home, just to decompress from holding it all in all day :-). She'll exaggerate and pretend to make a story better, seems to have an innate sense of what makes for a good story and isn't afraid to rearrange facts to make it more exciting or dramatic. She's my little chatterbox, and frequently when someone says "guess what Jessie told me," I hold my breath, just a little, because you never know what she might have said.

She'll fight with her brother, just for the fun of hearing him yell, but can be so caring and protective of him. She adores her baby sister, and believes with her whole heart that if she's home, there's no good reason why Julie shouldn't be in her arms. She's a huge, huge help to me, literally. She's an extra pair of arms to hold Julie, she'll get drinks and even on one memorable occasion, got dinner for everyone one night (granted it was cold cut sandwiches and microwave hot dogs but still a huge help). She's the classic oldest child, and I see so much of myself in her that sometimes it's scary. I know that Julie is going to adore her, she's literally going to be Julie's second mother and I'm just a little scared of giving her too much responsibility. But mostly, I'm just happy for both of my girls, that they have each other. And Sam is so close to her, she's his first example of how to be a big kid. And there's nothing he likes more than writing in her diary and taking her stuff - because if it belongs to Jessie or if Jessie does it, it must be super cool.

She's one of my favorite people in the whole world. Our relationship is so complicated and layered - she's struggling to figure out who she is, separate from me, and sometimes she gets so angry at me, it's alarming. I worry sometimes, because she seems to make her life so much harder than it has to be, I want for her to be able to relax a little, to not put so much pressure on herself about every little thing. But her intensity and passion is what makes her who she is, and as much as I wish that sometimes she'd be little easier with herself, I wouldn't change a single tiny iota of who she is. She's my angel girl, my first baby, and my little love bug. Jessica turned me into a mother, played a huge role in making me the woman I am today, and I thank God every single day for bringing her into my life.

Monday, May 24, 2010


I've got some family issues. As do most people, I imagine. And mine aren't all that dramatic, after all, I've heard way worse. But my parents had a messy divorce and I was raised as the oldest child of a single mom with four kids - and for a long time, that was the most defining characteristic of mine. The biggest piece of my identity. And it seems odd and strange to be catapulted back into that role, when, in so many ways, I define myself so differently now. Haven't I moved past this? Haven't I already done this? I've got a husband, a marriage, THREE kids of my own - why am I still pondering my role as the oldest child of my parent's?

There's a lot of research on what divorce does to a child. And a lot more speculation on how it affects them. And for me, I can't say how I'd be different, had I grown up with my parents' marriage intact. I know only that I made my peace with my childhood a long time ago. My dad tried his best, I think, but he was very young, by the time I had had my first child, my parents had had their fourth and were on their way to divorce court. And he wasn't around much, when he was, it was complicated and sticky and hard. I felt like I was in the middle a lot, trying to make them both happy, trying to protect my younger brothers and sister, and not doing a really great job of any of it. I knew he loved me, but I also knew he wasn't very good at it. Being a parent just seemed to come naturally to my mother, I always knew that I could lean on her. My dad? Sometimes I felt like I was more capable than he was, and I don't mean that as insultingly as it sounds. Just that I was very aware of how to take care of my younger siblings, and felt as though I was really in charge, and I felt like he was doing his best, but really wasn't very good at having four kids running around.

When he stopped calling, it wasn't a huge loss, in a lot of ways. I had a fully functional parent, a large extended family that loved me, and honestly, it wasn't like I had a lot of choice in the matter. He was gone, and the best thing I could do was be okay with that. Mourning the loss of a father who had just walked away seemed ... at best, a fruitless sort of thing to do. He chose to leave, there's no point in feeling bad about being left, better to just accept it and move on. So that's what I did.

Only now... he's back. Sort of. Not really, but a little bit. And I have no clue how to handle it. How to handle his extended family - people who, from my perspective, walked away from us a long time ago. People change, and people can really regret actions. And after all, if I'm thirty six, this all started thirty years ago. That's a LONG freaking time ago.

I'm still struggling with balancing things. Balancing out my mother's feelings, my desire to protect my baby sister, her desire to not be alone in this, balancing out how my father must feel, and how responsible I feel for the whole situation. Because that's part of my own issue - I tend to feel responsible for every little thing. Like it's my job to make it okay for everyone, to make my parents feel okay about this, to make my siblings not feel stuck, to somehow manage the situation so that everyone comes out of it okay. And I'm finding that I'm no better at it now than I was as a child. I can't fix this - I can't make it okay for everyone - and what's more - it's not really my job to do so. This is a choice that everyone involved has to take ownership for - to get involved again, to maintain my distance, to somehow navigate this tricky terrain.

And I guess that I have to make my way thru it - because hiding from it isn't going to make it go away. But I'm much happier in my role now - as a wife and a mother, it's a lot easier than being six, seven, eight, etc, and trying to work this all out. And there's a big part of me that would rather pretend that none of this is happening and just focus on my husband, my kids, my life now.

Speaking of my life now - all three of my cherubs are asleep. And if I could finish all the damn laundry, I could go to sleep too - but Julie spit up all over her big sister's dress that she was planning on wearing tomorrow and I promised it'd be clean for school so I'm still waiting for the wash to finish before I toss it over into the dryer.

Busy, busy weekend

Let's see... Friday night, Marc went to the Mixed Martial Arts fights with a couple of his friends, and I stayed home and watched Grey's Anatomy. I sat on our big comfy chair, with Sam asleep next to me, Jess passed out on the couch and Julianna nursing to sleep on my lap. It was so INTENSE. I was watching it solo, except for the sleeping kids and had to call my cousin Becky twice to get reassured that nobody I really liked died.

Saturday morning, we got up bright and early and Julie and I went to Rockport with my mother, sister, aunt and cousin. We wandered and had lunch and puttered. I got a gorgeous pram for Julie, one of this old fashioned princess baby carriages and she sleeps in it so beautifully. We stopped by Salem for a while, poked around the stores there too. The weather was beautiful and it was such a great day. Julie is still so tiny, so she didn't have the loveliest of times, she didn't like being in the car for that long. Plus her preferred nursing schedule is really to nurse for about fifteen or twenty minutes on one side, go to sleep, and do the whole thing again an hour later on the other side. Which isn't a problem, because I'm at home with her, but when we're out and about, it's a tough schedule to keep going. But we managed, she slept so well in the sling, she loves being close to me.

Sunday - we puttered around the house all morning, doing laundry and cleaning. With three kids, the house is in shambles pretty much non-stop. Constant vigilance, that's what's required to keep a house clean with small children and quite honestly, I don't practice it. I clean in a mad flurry and then take several hours off from cleaning. Which means that my next cleaning flurry is busy, busy, busy because the house is destroyed from the several hours that I went to the park, or read a book or nursed or cooked or did whatever it is that I do all day. I've got some major laundry issues right now, one of my pet peeves is dirty laundry (also dirty dishes bug me). So I wash, wash, wash, but folding and putting it all away is a task that I frequently decide can wait. As a result, my entire dining room is awash with clean clothes...

Went to dinner last night with Marc's extended family - and Julie was SO good. She played "pass the baby" and was a little angel girl the whole time. When we got to the restaurant, I sat in the car and nursed her for a while, changed her and popped her into the sling. She slept thru dinner, and then woke up just in time to see everyone. It was so sweet - my kids were the only little ones there, so there was a lot of attention and baby cooing going on. I love that they've got such a big extended family that dotes on them.

Friday, May 21, 2010

cute Sammy stories

Sam will almost always wear clothes now - although he does LOVE being naked, and will frequently claim that his little penis needs fresh air :-). But when he does get dressed, he almost always puts his underwear and shirts on backwards. I point it out to him every time, and each time, he calmly explains that it's "backwards day." And then tries to convince me to go along with it and put my clothes on backwards as well. I almost never do :-) I've given up on trying to get him to change, and just accepted that there's probably a bunch of people in Worcester who honestly believe I'm an idiot because my three year old is frequently walking around with his shoes on the wrong feet (because he likes it that way) and his shirts on backwards.

Last night, we were trying to get ready to go out shopping (got a new cordless phone with two handsets, so I can actually answer the phone now if you call when I'm nursing the girl) and I told him to go put on his shoes. He said he wanted to wear his spiderman shoes, his sneakers. I lobbied for his sandals or crocs because they're easier to put on, but he was adamant that he wanted the sneaks. So I told him to go pick out socks. I've fallen way behind on matching socks (not that it's ever really a high priority for me) and have just resigned myself to keeping them all in a box and having the kids pick thru to find a pair when they need them. Sam went to the box, picked out a Buzz Lightyear sock and a blue Barbie sock belonging to Jessica. He came back into the living room where I was nursing Julie and started putting them on. I suggested that maybe he get TWO Buzz socks, why not wear matching socks once in a while, right? But then he explained that he wanted to "switch it up" and wear two different ones. He further explained that because his sister was wearing flip flops, all of her socks were sad, but "Super Sammy" was going to fix it and wear one of hers to alleviate their grief over not being utilized. I was impressed not only with his mastery of language (he literally said "switch it up"), but also with his empathy for the neglected socks and his impression of himself as Super Sammy, fixer of hurt sock feelings. Feel as though I'm doing a nice job raising him :-)

Jess has started packing her own lunch to go to school. Sadly, with only a few weeks left of school, I have FINALLY realized that she's more than capable of doing it herself, and more importantly, likes doing it and will eat the food if she puts it in there. Not that she packs anything differently than I do, but for some reason, she'll eat it if she does it. So now every night, she packs her own lunch. Saves me a ton of time and aggravation, all I have to do it scrawl a note to her telling her to have a sunshiney day and that I love her. This morning, I was trapped on the chair, nursing, and didn't even do that, Marc did. She's not as fond of his notes, his handwriting is hard for her to read :-). She's getting so big, all of a sudden, her legs are suddenly super long and she's so much taller.

In other news... have some family stuff percolating, but I need to think more about it before I can blog about it, I'm not sure yet how I feel... I'm going out tomorrow to Rockport and Salem with my sister and mother, bestest cousin and her mother and of course, the baby girl child. Very much looking forward to it - I'm bringing my sling, but with five adoring women there, don't expect to be able to put Julie into it, she'll spend the day being passed back and forth :-) And have to state again - THANK GOODNESS that she's nursing so well, it's simple and painfree and so easy now.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


Feeling a bit pensive this morning...

All is well here, kids are all healthy (although not for long, if I keep forgetting to give Jessica her antibiotic - just realized that she didn't get it this morning). Julie's thrush is all cleared up, and nursing is virtually problem free these days. Sam is still sleeping (ironically, I've got one child who likes to start the day at five a.m., and one that'll sleep until 10:30 on a good day), Jess had a rough morning because all of her clothes (all of them) looked "stupid" with sneakers and she has to wear sneakers for gym and she hates gym and her life is horrible. Sobbing hysterically on her bed, it was ugly. She did pull it together with a minimum of lecturing on my part, and left for school on time with a teary hug and tremulous smile, but she was clearly unhappy about it.

But the sun is shining, the birds are singing, the flowers are blooming. It can't be too awful... I'm going to give Julie a bath this morning - I like to make Marc do all the baths (I hate bathing children, don't know why, all other parenting chores are kind of fun for me, but bathing is the worst) but he's been slacking and my girl is grubby. She's not, really, but a bath is still a good idea. Then I'm going to take Harrison and Sam out and about, probably to the park and then to the store.

Jessie's dance recital is coming up soon. We had dance class for her yesterday and the mom's were allowed in the watch them dance (which doesn't happen all that often). And I got all misty, as I always do. She's been dancing since she was two, and every single time I watch her dance with her class, my eyes well up. There's something about it - she's so beautiful and so exactly what I always wanted in a daughter. I think it's the combination of seeing her so independent, doing something so separate from me in a class full of other girls her age, and the thought that if I could have known, in my mid-twenties, that one day, I'd have this gorgeous girl for my very own child... I wish I could somehow send a picture back to myself, to let my younger self see how rich my life would be. If that makes sense..

Baby girl peeping - have to go :-)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


And why it means so much to me :-)

Julie is WONDERFUL at night. Really. I've been really lucky, all three of my kids have always been really good at night. I co-sleep (these days with everyone, it seems - Jessie keeps ending up in bed with me) and I'm sure that's why - once Julie mastered nursing in the side-lying position, my nights got so much better and easier. Most nights, I nurse her around ten thirty or so, and she's good until three-ish, and then back to sleep until around five.

This morning, for some reason, I could NOT wake up. I got up at five, started coffee, nursed her, changed her, cooed at her a bit. Choked down one cup and then Marc got up. He got me a second cup of coffee, which I drank, and then took the girl child. I dozed until she started to fuss, and then nursed her again. Then fell back asleep on the chair in the living room until just before Jess had to leave for school. Usually, I'm BUSY in the mornings. I pack her lunch, supervise breakfast, sometimes I do the dinner dishes, I generally throw in a load of laundry, etc. This morning - nope, nothing. I slept. Jess picked out her own outfit, got her little self dressed, Marc made her breakfast, she packed her own lunch. Julie and I slept in the chair in the living room. I finally hauled myself up, poured yet another cup of coffee (seriously, Julie is going to be SO addicted) and was able to write a quick note for Jessie's lunch (thanking her for doing everything this morning and letting me sleep) and kiss her goodbye before she left.

I think I'm just still operating at a sleep deficet from the first week or so with Julie. And any time it can, my body will snatch the opportunity to catch up.

In other news - I think the thrush has cleared up. I ended up going back to the shield on my left breast for a day or so, just because it hurt too badly to nurse on it. And it gave the nipple a chance to heal, because now nursing is virtually pain free. Thank goodness. It was a rough start to breastfeeding, but I'm really optimistic that we're over the worst of it :-)


It's the Jewish holiday where Moses received the Torah. And the wheat festival, apparently. But the main reason why we make a big deal about it is because it's also when the Book of Ruth is read.

Last night, Marc made a fabulous dinner, chicken and cheese (so not kosher) calzone with ice cream for dessert. He told the kids the story of Moses and why we celebrate the holiday and then we read those beautiful quotes from the Book of Ruth to each other. We had wine (well, Marc had wine, I really don't like wine) and Marc serenaded me with "I love you just the way you are" from Billy Joel. It was beautiful and I got all misty. Marc and I danced, and the kids came and snuggled their way into our embrace and it was just one of those moments when your heart is so full and you can't believe how incredibly rich and blessed you are.

"Do not ask me to leave you, or to turn back from following you:
For wherever you go, I will go; And wherever you live, I will live;
Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God.
Where you die, I will die, and there will I be buried,
For nothing but death will ever part us."

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Three kids

It's wonderful - really. I love having three children, I love each one individually, and together. My Angel Girl Jess, with all her empathy and passion, my Samilicious, with all his little boy rough and tumble and sweet little Sammy Snuggles, and my Julie, my tiny, adorable, squeeky little baby love. Separately, they are each amazing, but together? It's like my life is filled with these amazing blessings, and I still can't quite believe how lucky I am to have these three children. But holy moly, is it hard sometimes.

Julie had a rough day yesterday - she's started spitting up. And fussing. Sam's infancy was difficult, because he had colic and reflux and my memory of it is him crying constantly, unless he was nursing. And yesterday - I was really stressing about my poor baby girl, because she was nursing constantly, spitting up and fussy - thinking in the back of my mind that we might be starting down that path with her. Every time I put her down, she'd cry, and I wasn't able to do much more than just take care of her. Which is a problem, when you've got other children who also deserve time and attention. Poor Samilicious went to bed grubby, without brushing his teeth, because I just didn't have the time or ability to put him in the tub or supervise teeth. Thank goodness he's potty trained, because he went on his own, but slept in his shorts that he'd been wearing all day. And then he cried himself to sleep next to me because I was nursing the baby and couldn't soothe him effectively. I did slightly better with Jessica, because I was able to read Harry Potter to her while Julie slept on my lap, and direct her to put on jammies and brush her teeth and she could do that on her own.

I know this is just a particularly challenging time - and it'll pass fast. Too fast, because I'm going to miss this time - when I had my last little baby who needed me 24/7. But last night, I just felt so overwhelmed, I had burned dinner because I forgot I was cooking, Sam had eaten half a banana and scattered the rest of it all over the living room, opened two containers of yogurt and eaten half of each, Jessie needed a bath and her hair washed and there wasn't anything I could do about any of it. My breast was so engorged (I had started using the nipple shield on the really painful breast because I had reached the point where I just couldn't force myself to nurse her, the pain was excrutiating - but that meant that she wasn't fully emptying the breast), I couldn't pick Julie up and hold her without it hurting.

I just tried to meet the most immediate needs, which were feeding my baby, making sure Sam had shoes on before he went outside with the neighbor and in my spare time, slogging thru Harry Potter. I feel extra guilty about Harry - because Jessie LOVES being read to, and I used to be able to snuggle up to her and read and discuss it. And ever since Julie was born, she's lucky if she gets half a chapter every other day. And last night, I was stuck in the rocking chair, with Julie asleep on my lap and wasn't even able to snuggle my big girl.

The guilt is at time overwhelming. I feel like I'm on the ball handling everything very rarely, and mostly feel like I'm playing catch up, and no matter what I do, someone is getting the shaft. Julie might fuss more than I want, Sam might miss out on a warm bath and some snuggles, and Jess might never learn who wins the Triwizard Tournament. I'm worry that I'm not the mother that any of them really need, because I'm spread so thin. Then I remind myself of how much they love each other, how Julie calms down instantly when Jessie coos at her during diaper changes, how Sam talks about his big sister Jessie when she's not here, and how Sammy likes to give Julie "little pats" to make her happy. It really is amazing and wonderful to see your children together, and know that you've created these bonds, or that you've started the seeds for your kids to build these bonds. Sibling relationships are endlessly complicated, I know that from personal experience, but I can only hope that my children love each other and trust each other - and that in the end, all the work, the guilt, and the stress will result in relationships with each other that bring them all joy and comfort and fun.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Your average, every day weekend

And things are a little different now, but not too much. We had all the kids here on Saturday and by that, I mean that I had my three, plus my stepdaughters, Lilli and Sarah. Then our friend Arlen and his daughter Jordyn stopped by - I've been watching Jordyn since she was ten weeks old and she's one of Sam's best buddies. We had my friend Annie's daughter Glennys here as well, and Harrison and Julia came over last night. Busy, busy, busy. But the kids had a wonderful day, they played outside for the longest time, and then came in and played Wii and barbies and superheros. It occured to me that they really do have a pretty great childhood, and will no doubt have wonderful memories of hanging out at our house on long, lazy Saturday afternoons.

I went to bed last night with my girls - Julianna nursed to sleep in bed, and Jessie came and crawled up against me while I nursed it. It was wonderful - and I loved having them both there with me. Every now and again, I still look at Julie and say a silent thank you that she's outside of my body and not in it. As much as I loved the idea of being pregnant, the reality really wasn't that much fun. I like it so much more now ;-).

Nursing is going a LOT better. It still hurts like someone is stabbing needles into my nipples (how's that for an analogy?), but I've learned coping mechanisms (lamaze breathing, and I count too) and usually before I reach thirty or forty, the pain has lessened enough so that I'm not ready to kill myself. I still dread latching her on the left side, but it's getting better, and the right side is perfectly normal. And I always remember how terrible it was just two weeks ago, when I didn't think she'd ever nurse, and then when I was afraid I'd have to use the nipple shield forever. We're so much better now than we were, as a nursing team, so I can only assume that we'll continue to improve.

Marc is over at his parents right now, moving furniture - and without being asked, he took Sam with him. Which is such an enormous help for me. He's been wonderful all weekend, doing the dishes and cooking and really staying on top of the kids. I forgot how much sheer work a newborn is - just in terms of time spent nursing and burping and changing - having him home makes such an incredible difference. Plus he just lights up around the kids - I've never seen a man who LOVES his children the way that Marc does. He's happiest when all five are on top of him. I love that about him - not just for my sake, because it's wonderful to have someone love your kids as much as you do, but also for their sake. Growing up without a dad makes me appreciate having him so much more. I wonder if I had had an involved father, if I had grown up expecting it for my kids, if I'd be as grateful for it. But I grew up with a single mom, so I'm constantly blown away by how MUCH of a difference having a dad makes for the kids. And for me to have a partner, someone who's so completely on my team and shares my goals - it's truly so much more than I ever expected.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

SEriously - remind me that I WANT to breastfeed this child

Because really - I DO. I do, I swear. The formula constipates her, gave her horrible gas. I love nursing. I'm not seriously thinking about giving up, but it's crossed my mind a couple of times (couple being a bit of an understatement). My left breast is super sore and now bleeding. I checked with some of my internet nursing buddies (thanks again JoEllen for the advice) and am hoping to work my way thru it, but nursing has been so much more of a battle this time around.

With Jess, she just latched on and went. Sometimes she'd fight the breast, but I could trick her with the pacifier and then whip it out and latch her on to get her to feed. It wasn't a problem with her. We had thrush, but it was just a little blip, no big deal. And she nursed great until she was about eight months.

With Sam - he was just a nursing champ right from the beginning. Always latched on, always nursed great. The first time he slept thru the night, I got mastitis, but it cleared up fast. I had a blocked duct once too, and thrush. But they both cleared up quickly, and my biggest problem with him was oversupply because he nursed so consistently that I was making oceans more milk than he needed.

With Julianna - I feel like it's one battle after another. No sooner did I get her nursing than we get thrush and this time, it's so incredibly painful and I'm afraid that I'm going to end up with mastitis because I'm scared to nurse her again on the bleeding nipple.

It's a good thing she's so gorgeous and wonderful and sweet and I'm achingly in love with her. Because breast milk is best, and I want that for her and for me. I'm not missing out on this with her - she's my last little baby. We're GOING to have a successful nursing relationship - even if it makes me crazy getting there.

Stuffed animals

I've got several thousand. All of them were gifts, and all of them were loved intensely, but briefly. And they're taking up a ton of space and never get played with. But I can't quite bring myself to get rid of them. Even though I KNOW I should. Even though I KNOW that I have NO space in this tiny little apartment and can't afford to sacrifice space that could be put to better use by keeping a ginormous box of stuffed animals that never get touched.

I'm trying to talk myself into it, but it's hard because they were all gifts, and they were all passionately loved for at least a little bit. I should limit it to five or six per kid, and get rid of the rest, right? Especially because I've got a new baby, and she's going to be collecting her own stash of them soon enough.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Settling in

I feel like me again. Marc told me over the weekend that he felt like he had gotten his wife back, and I think he's right. Between the pregnancy and the first week home with Julianna, I was not myself for a while there, but now feel as though I'm waking up. If that makes sense. I can bounce out of a chair, I've got a lot more energy. I almost (not quite) fit into my old clothes, I smile so much easier and more often. I'm more in control of my life, feel as though I can fully handle the house, the kids, the marriage, etc. It's so much better than it was - I'm blissfully happy with this baby girl, and still can't believe how lucky I am.

Julianna has completely gotten over her nursing issues. We haven't used the nipple shields in several days, and she's started nursing in bed at night with me, which means that I'm getting so much more sleep than I was at first. We are dealing with thrush - but the medication is making a huge difference for her, her little mouth looks so much better. I'm still in some serious nursing pain, but called my OB today for a stronger rx because the liquid the pediatrician prescribed for both of us is obviously working only for the baby. She's sleeping better at night as well, longer stretches, it's not unusual for her to go four hours or so at a time. I nurse on demand, so she eats a ton during the day and less at night, which I LOVE. She's a very calm, peaceful baby. She fusses only when she's hungry, needs a change or a burp, and sometimes she's start to fuss if she's a little over stimulated. The kids ADORE her, and I can't tell you how many times I've chanted "She's not a doll, please leave her alone and let her sleep." When she gets a little fussy, literally all I have to do to calm her is to pick her up, once she's in my arms, she stops immediately. She also calms down when I plop her on Marc - just removing her from the kid activity is enough for her to gain back her equilibrium.

Jess has another bout of strep. She came home from school yesterday crying with a fever and a red throat, so back to the doctor's we went. And got a stronger rx, hopefully this will clear it up entirely. Sam is doing great, doesn't seem to have thrush or strep, which puts him light years ahead of his sisters, health wise.

I'm good - I'm relaxing into this new phase of my life, with three kids. It's still an adjustment and I still struggle sometimes trying to balance out time for everyone, but it's getting easier - and there's something so magical about watching all three of my kids together.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Somehow - we're just complete now

She's not even eight pounds yet (although back to her birth weight according to the doctor's scale today - YAY for breastfeeding), but somehow Julianna just completed the family. It feels perfect now. I don't know that it felt as though she was missing before, but there's a different feel to it now. I spent the whole day with Marc and the kids, and it was the nicest Mother's Day that I can ever remember.

Julianna let me nurse her in bed last night for the first time, and it was so perfect. So instead of getting up at three o'clock for an hour or so, I just latched her on and we both fell back to sleep. She's still up every two hours to nurse, but I went to bed at nine and slept until 11, was up until just after midnight, slept until three, latched her on and went back to sleep. Then we got up around five for an hour or so, and then went back to bed until NINE. It was literally awesome - I got so much sleep, it's 8:21 p.m. and I'm still coherent and pleasant.

Marc and Jess brought me breakfast in bed and then my in-laws came over for brunch, and we had Lilli and Sarah here as well. Marc made everyone omelets and then everyone left and it was just the five of us. We took Julianna in for a quick appt with the pediatrician - I could see that it was thrush (and feel it whenever she nursed) and the doctor confirmed it. So we've got a nice rx for her, and then we went to Target to get Jess new shoes and some diapers, etc. Julianna slept in the sling and then we walked across the parking lot and got dinner.

After that, we just came home. All the kids got a bath, including Julianna's first official in the water bath. And her hair is delightfully fluffy. Marc's been relaxing and playing on the Wii, and the kids had a nice, peaceful, relaxing sort of afternoon. I did a little housework, some dishes, some laundry, but mostly I just sat and read and rocked and nursed and it was lovely.

I feel so much better, so happy and so peaceful.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom

It takes guts and brains to be able to handle four children under the age of six before you're thirty. It takes all of that, plus so much more to do it as a single parent. I have three children, and a completely involved loving husband and there's a lot of the time when I feel completely overwhelmed. I can only imagine how my mother must have felt all the time. And somehow she managed to make us all feel safe and loved and like we were the most important thing in the world for her.

I hear her voice in the way I talk to my kids, see her smile on my daughter's face, and watch her sense of humor and irony develop in my son. I see her when Jessie snuggles her sister the way I snuggled mine, and hope that one day, my daughters will be the type of mother that she is. She's my best friend, my first morning call, my reality check and the woman I most hope to emulate.

Thank you, Mom, for all that you've done, for all that you do, and for the way you still inspire me every day to be a better mom for my children. Thank you for coming over when I was sick and pregnant and rearranging my house. Thank you for the nights when you take Jessica and paint her nails and make Mickey Mouse pancakes and let her stay up far too late. Thank you for the tickling Sammy and trying so hard when he was such a crabby, colic-y baby who cried every time you looked at him. Thank you for getting up at the crack of dawn to be with me when I was induced and sitting beside me when I gave birth to Julianna. Thank you for all the cupcakes and coffee and flowers and fun that you've bring into my life and the lives of my children.

I love you so much, Mom. I couldn't ever imagine my world without you.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Baby bliss

Is there anything more amazing than a tiny baby? With huge eyes, a little pointed chin and a look of perpetual confusion on her face? She's alternately confused or indignant, with the sweetest little smiles and coos sprinkled in between. I can't stop holding her and have to talk myself into putting her down to sleep for her naps. At least once a day. Because really, it feels right that she be in my arms constantly. And if I'm not holding her, I'd rather her daddy be holding her, or her brother or sister. She's perfect in every way, so gorgeous it takes my breath away and fits so perfectly into the family, I can't imagine how it ever felt right without her. I looked at her this morning, laying between Jess and Sam on the couch and thought to myself - "oh I'd do this again in a heartbeat." All the nausea, the itching, the aches and pains, the tears and the irritability - it was all so incredibly worth it. And as much as I think that she's probably my last baby, intellectually, I think pregnancy is tough and it's hard to give each kid enough time and attention with three... it's hard to conceptualize never having another baby. Because this one is so wonderful - how could anyone not want to do this again?

I'm having a blissful day - yes, you guessed it, she slept for four solid hours last night and nursed really well this morning. That's really all it takes to restore me to wide awake happiness. Yesterday, I felt like I was in a fog all day, she had been up most of the night and was sleeping thru feeding and falling asleep every time I tried to nurse. But last night, she slept from 9-12, and from 2-6:30, and has nursed like a champ all morning. No nipple shield (although we used it off and on all day yesterday and last night). As much as I hate it, if she won't latch without it, she'll usually latch with it.

We're still figuring it out - with Sam, nursing was his end all, be all. If he fussed, the only thing that calmed him down was nursing. Because he didn't fuss, he screamed. And he'd always latch on, always. So that's my first instinct, and it's confusing to me that she doesn't always WANT to nurse. Sometimes she wants to be rocked, or snuggled up on my shoulder or just laid down on a blanket to contemplate everything.

Sam fell asleep last night at six thirty and slept thru the night until seven this morning. He's still my champion sleeper - and when he's tired, he simply crashes early and catches up on all that he's missed by staying up late to play with Marc. Yesterday, he was holding the baby with the boppy pillow. He held her for about twenty minutes, and then asked me to take her. I picked her up, walked to the couch and glanced over at him, and he had laid his little head down and passed out. So cute - and I envy him the ability to simply decide it's sleep time and do it. He gets it from Marc, and I so wish that all of my kids inherited that tendency.

Jessie went out with Yvonne yesterday afternoon, and came home after Sam fell asleep. She took a bath, played with her new webkinz, and snuggled the baby girl for a while. She's so funny - she just flat out ADORES this baby. It's the quickest way to get her up in the morning, and as long as I make sure that she gets some baby love in the morning, she's so much easier to get off to school. She fell asleep on the couch last night while I nursed Julie and slept thru the night as well - in her own bed. Major score there, as she's been in my bed most of the last week, simply because I've been too tired to put her to bed in her own room.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Happy Birthday Julianna!

One week old today - and I feel like it's been initiation by fire in a lot of ways. The breastfeeding battles have subsided, for the most part. Julianna's doing so much better, in terms of latching on. She's nursing every hour, or hour and a half, falling asleep at the breast each time. It's not perfect, not yet, but it's so much better - no constipation, no disgusting smelly gas - and I can't ever take it for granted, every single time she nurses, I'm grateful to whatever diety answered my desperate, tear soaked prayers that I be able to nurse her.

I'm still bleary-eyed and exhausted. All the time. I'm now at the point where I just doze off whenever I sit still long enough. I've given up on being able to read an entire Harry Potter chapter to Jess, I manage about half before falling asleep on her. But last night, Julie latched on while I was still in bed, so I'm hopeful that eventually, the night feedings will be simpler and less disruptive. At this point, I still get up and go into the living room, flick on the television and nurse her in there. But on the upside, I don't think I've ever been as up to date about current events, because I watch a ridiculous amount of news these days. The light is so bright at night, so I don't read, I just watch CNN.

The other two kids are adjusting fairly well. No resentment towards the baby, no aggression - they both appear to be fully in love with her. Jess believes with her whole heart that if she's home, there's no good reason that she shouldn't be holding her. In fact, if she's not holding her, she's pretty bitter about it. We've had some behavior issues, and at least one temper tantrum where she cried because nobody loved her anymore. But for the most part, she's been wonderful with her. She holds her and rocks her and coos at her, she's born to be a big sister.

Sam is also doing well - he never calls her anything other than Baby, which I think is adorable. He holds her at least once a day, but never for very long. He likes to coo at her, and gives her what he calls "little pats." But he's very proud of being a "big brudder" and tells strangers on the street about her. He's also been a little more prone to meltdowns over little things, but mostly he's been great about having her. From the very beginning, he just very gracefully sort of transitioned a lot of his needs over to Marc. He's very clingy with him, wants to spend all of his time with Daddy, not in a way that makes me feel like he's mad at me, but more like he's just very sensitive to the fact that Julie needs me now, and it's easier for him to get immediate attention from Marc.

All in all - it's been an incredible week. The hormone-soaked Sunday, where I sobbed just all day long, that was the day that I realized that I loved this little girl with all that I am, the same way I feel about my other kids. Having done this now three different times, for me, it's always a shock - how MUCH you feel. How suddenly, your whole world boils down to what your child is doing or feeling. If she's sick or unhappy or screaming like a mad woman at the prospect of nursing - it's devastating. And although I've bounced back in a lot of ways, gained some emotional equilibrium, I still feel very vulnerable re: Julianna. It really is like your heart is just out there, and it's so scary sometimes. She's so tiny, and so fragile - and I don't know that I'd survive without her. I'm constantly trying to balance out time for the other two, making sure that I've hugged and snuggled them enough, provide them with love and discipline, not to lose myself in this newborn baby love. I feel outnumbered now in a way that I wasn't before. With two kids, you can still mostly meet both their needs, maybe not 100% of them 100% of the time, but close to it. With three - it's a lot harder. With one of them being a nursing infant with feeding issues, it's close to impossible sometimes, and I'm beginning to think I'll just always being running slightly behind, trying to compensate for making them wait.

But I wouldn't trade this past week for anything. Having Julianna is everything I hoped it would be and so much more. I can't wait for the rest of her life - watching her, and the other two children grow and develop is making me happier than I've ever been. And I'm so blessed to have these children, and this husband - this life.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

I'm making a list

I started writing down everything this child does. And even though I've only been doing it for half a day so far, it's already helped to set my mind at ease. With Julianna, I'm only as good as her last feeding - and the nursing sessions last night were really hard. She cried for almost an hour, arching her back and struggling to get away from the breast at one point, I cried right along with her. She nursed three times, and all three were miserable for both of us.

But this morning has been much better, and by writing it down, I can see and actually track how long, whether she uses the shield or not, how long she fights, wet versus messy diapers, etc. And really, it's not as bad as it sometimes seems. She's nursed three times since five o'clock this morning, two wet diapers, one messy - and each time she's nursed, she's latched on with minimal or no struggle, with the shield twice and once without.

I'm so sleepy - and just came in from sitting outside with the kids. Julianna dozed in the sling and Sam and Jordyn built a "campfire" out of leaves and sticks and then spent the next half hour sitting on it to protect it from the wind and talking about the marshmellows they wished they'd had. The sunshine is so gorgeous, and the street we live on is so pretty, with all the trees and the flowers. I feel a little sun drunk, you know what I mean? Between the sunshine and the lack of sleep, I'm in this bleary, confused, but happy state of mind.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Last two feedings with no nipple shield

I'm unbelievably thrilled - she still fights it, but she's nursing without the little plastic shield. I'm so happy :-)

Nursing battles - or how I learned empathy

I'm somewhat of a breastfeeding snob. I know this about myself, am not thrilled about it, but on the same hand, I nursed Sam for so ridiculously long and had such a hard time with most of my family, everyone thought I was insane for continuing. So I sort of earned the right to be a little defensive, a little "a good mother nurses her children." It's not nice, and I feel bad about it, especially after the past two days. I know now why a mother would quit breastfeeding, or stop trying. Because honestly? If I hadn't KNOWN how good breastfeeding is, how incredibly healthy, how awesome and amazing it is to know that you have that incredible bond, how simple it is once you get past the first few weeks - if Julianna had been my first, I'd have thrown in the towel absolutely - and thought I was doing what was best for her.

Julie latched on just after birth and was nursing GREAT until midnight on Saturday night. I put some lansinoh ointment on my nipples, because she was nursing for literally hours, and they were sore. When she woke up at three - she started screaming when I put her to the breast. Screaming. And this was my peaceful, calm baby - I had never heard her cry before. By six o'clock, I was sobbing, I couldn't figure out what was wrong with her. And it was complicated by the fact that she had lost more than 10% of her birth weight and the visiting nurse and the pediatrician (who demanded I bring her into urgent care to get checked after hearing how much weight she'd lost) stressed that everything would be okay - AS LONG AS I WAS ABLE TO NURSE HER AS MUCH AS HUMANLY POSSIBLE. So when she started screaming thru feedings, refusing to latch on, I was panicking. And hormonal and miserable... I was devastated that she wouldn't nurse, what was wrong with this child that she wouldn't nurse? How would I be able to mother her, if my primary method of mothering was taken away from me? If I couldn't soothe her immediately, if I could be replaced by anyone with a bottle - how would she know that I was her mother at all? I know it sounds crazy - but that's where my head was. I cried all day long, as did she, because she was so hungry.

I gave her a bottle with two ounces of formula around noontime, because she hadn't eaten in twelve hours. And sobbed thru the whole thing. My milk wasn't in all the way, so pumping wasn't going well, plus I was so wrecked emotionally, I wasn't really in a position to pump anyway. I finally found someone from the LLL in the area (thank goodness for google) and she suggested that I try nipple shields. Because once Julie had the bottle, she LOVED it, and was that much more adamant that she wasn't going to latch on.

And they work - they do. But nursing is a constant struggle, she never latches on easily or without a fight. She hasn't had any formula since yesterday morning, and hasn't had a bottle either. After talking to the pediatrician, he confirmed that her weight was back to a good level, and he said to just stop offering bottles altogether and if she missed a feeding or two, it'd be okay - and that she might have to do that in order to get the message that it was breast or nothing.

But what I love most about nursing is how easy and simple and loving it is. And with Julianna, at this point (and I keep telling myself that she's only five days old, and it'll change), nursing is a battle, she cries and fights before latching on every time. I'm confident that we'll work thru it - and thank God that she's nursing now, and not getting formula (she was constipated for two days - and had the worst gas I'd ever smelled). But I know now why a mom would stop trying to nurse. And I never really understood that before. Because I could so easily make the argument that it just wasn't working with Julie, and I'd be at least half right. I'm going to get her back to nursing, we're already there, really. I would love to ditch the nipple shield altogether, but for right now, it works, and I'm not risking rocking this boat any time soon. But this was a battle I never anticipated - and it was really, really awful.

She's my girl though - and we're learning our way thru this together. I've learned that I can soothe her immediately not by nursing, but by putting her up on my chest and whispering in her ear. I've learned that I can power thru her crying - and that I'm the one who decides how to feed her, and I know that breastfeeding is best and she will eventually latch on. She usually fusses for less than ten minutes, but sometimes it's longer. She cried for an hour, off and on, earlier before finally conceding and nursing. But she loves me, and is content only when she's being held, and I know that she knows that I'm her mother. I'm in a much better place emotionally than I was on Sunday (the day we now refer to within the family as "the REALLY bad day).

Monday, May 3, 2010

Love letter to Marc

I have much, much to post about, and no time yet to do it... but wanted to make this first one after Julianna's birth be for my husband. Not only because without him, I wouldn't have any of this - my beautiful Jessica, my sweet, sweet Sammy or this amazing baby girl who I already love so, so much. But because yesterday, I had one of the worst days of my entire life. Julie wouldn't latch on and suddenly, I was facing not being able to feed my baby, and I completely lost my mind. Could NOT stop crying, to say that I was devastated is putting it mildly. Breastfeeding is so incredibly important to me, it's such a big part of the way I mother, I couldn't conceive of NOT doing it, but Julie was really underweight and slightly jaundiced, and yesterday, it was critical that she NOT miss feedings. So we had to bottle feed with formula, because my milk hadn't come in yet (expect another lengthy post about that) and it was so incredibly hard for me.

And Marc was right there, all day. He supported me, he held me when I couldn't stop crying, he took care of my children, my poor Jessie and Sam who were so confused, they had never seen me like that, and poor Julie, who was so upset - I had never heard her cry the way she did yesterday. There were numerous occasions when all four of us were inconsolably sobbing - and if Marc hadn't been here, I can't imagine how we would have handled it. He was amazing - so thoughtful and supportive and loving and doing it all on very little sleep. I love you so much, honey, and I don't think I'll ever be able to express how much better you made yesterday - because of you, I was able to work my way thru the emotions and the hormones and the tears and the heartache.

And - after all that, Julie is latching on and nursing again, not all the time, but more and more. She's got some nipple confusion now, and on the advice of the LLL leader, I bought nipple shields which worked beautifully for the last feeding, so I'm really optimistic that we're done with formula. And now I've got three loads of laundry to do, lunch to eat, floors to vacuum and a little girl to love - but I'll try and post again soon - I have the BEST delivery story (two pushes, and I was laughing thru them).

On a side note - I HEART BABY WEARING. This little girl lives in her sling when she's not being held in someone's arms, and it makes my life so much better.

I'm so happy right now - I feel like my family is complete now, we're all here, and this baby is so beautiful and so perfect - and watching her with the kids and Marc makes me happier than I would have thought possible.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Gorgeous girl, crazy nursing problems, best delivery EVER, blissfully happy

Many, many posts to make, much, much to talk about - but no time to do it yet :-). Julianna is BEAUTIFUL, amazing, gorgeous, I'm completely in love a thousand times over. She was born at 2:01 pm on Thursday, after two pushes and the best labor and delivery I could have imagined. Seven pounds, eleven ounces, twenty inches long. We're working thru some nursing issues - turns out that she HATES Lansinoh lotion and has to coaxed back into nursing after I put it on last night. I'll post more very soon, and hopefully add pictures once I get to download the camera.