Lesson in First Time Motherhood #2: Routines are Important

I truly underestimated the power of routines in a baby’s life. I’m the kind of person that loves to have every day a little different and likes the surprise. The surprise loses its luster when you go from an 8-5 job to 24 hours per day job. I was so tired I thought I was going to die. My husband was so frustrated he couldn’t think straight. How did Charles Dickens put it? “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.” We were so thankful for our little bundle of joy. She made the most amazing little noises and warmed our hearts to the maximum extent. Now, if she would only sleep.

I didn’t read any parenting books and I don’t regret it, my philosophy is “my baby didn’t read that book” however, I do love a good research project. I research A LOT and that includes using the parenting books I have on my shelf. I do consult books and I Google. I Googled and found some sample schedules on Babycenter.com. I found the one that was the closest to what my baby was doing right then and just went with it. I also ask A LOT of questions as stated in the previous post of my sisters as well as my mommy friends.

A bedtime routine will save your sanity. My child loves to sleep. (I know I’m pretty fortunate) But I think she loves to sleep because she knows what’s coming. When it’s time to sleep through the night she gets a bath, a story, and a nighttime prayer all before she is laid down to sleep. Every night. The time of night can sometime vary depending on what we are doing but most of the time it’s at 7 pm. This whole routine queues her to knowing that it’s time for bed. My mother told me to do this and it was genius.

20140721-133652.jpg

 I love when she sleeps. Zzzzzzz…

Lessons in First Time Motherhood: Lesson #1 Breast Feeding is HARD!

I was asked “What is the most difficult part of being a mom so far?” Breastfeeding. Hands down. No arguments. My husband agrees with me and he’s not even the one doing it!
Breast feeding was one of my non-negotiables going into parenthood. I planned to be a stay at home mom which means that my role changed from making money to conserving it. It was and is important for me to keep my milk flowing to conserve finances. Formula isn’t cheap!
Before I gave birth I spent countless hours watching You Tube videos, reading online forums and asking questions to my lovely sisters about breast feeding. I’m so very glad that I did. You can ask my sisters, I asked and continue to ask A LOT of questions about breast feeding and quite frankly I’m still not an expert.

The #1 lesson I’ve learned is: Breast feeding is something a Mom and dad have to be proactive about. (yes I said dad too) There is a small window of time where you can fool your body into thinking your baby needs more milk than it does. I found this little supply and demand trick extremely useful as I had to give Moriah a bottle to supplement her feeding because she had a hard time latching on for the first few weeks of her life. When she was first born I never gave her formula. I stocked my freezer full because you never know what could happen. And if you’re planning on going back to work after you have a baby and want to give your baby breast milk you REALLY need to be proactive!
My little bits of advice for first time mom’s is buy all the supplies. Get it all. I had a Brest Friend AND a boppy and I used them both. I had wonderful sisters who stocked me full of things I didn’t even know what they were and it was so wonderful to open up my drawer and see everything that I needed just waiting for me. I had no idea what a nipple shield was, or storage bags, or covers, or pads, the list goes on. I have used every single bit of it. True, I used a majority of it in the first 3 months of her life but I used it all. In my opinion, breast feeding supplies are not where you want to conserve your baby budget.

20140702-133301.jpg

Daddy: the champion bottle feeder.

Another lesson I’ve learned in this new motherhood experience is: Daddy’s are a big deal. I never thought I would have needed so much help from my husband and I’m very thankful for my husband’s servant heart. I would never have succeeded in breast feeding if it weren’t for his constant support and encouragement. I really thought when it came to breast feeding the responsibility would fall completely on my shoulders and I couldn’t have been more wrong. He was right there with me. While I held our upset hungry daughter he was right here to keep my frustration at a minimum. The lactation nurse taught him how to put together the breast pumping equipment and how to clean it while we were still in the hospital. She also taught him how to suck up the colostrums that I pumped out into a syringe and then expel it into my breast shield so that Moriah could eat it with little effort on her part. It came to a point where trying to eat was burning too many calories and she was losing weight at a rapid pace and needed to be bottle fed. Bottle feeding was his responsibility as I was again, hooked up to the mechanical parasite (aka breast pump).

Another shock: babies lose weight after they are born. I didn’t know that, but it makes sense as they are learning how to eat. One of the nurses on the night shift felt my pain as I struggled to feed my baby and went to get me a breast shield and I’m so thankful that she did. Most mothers don’t even know what a breast shield is and that’s a good thing. It’s really a last resort type of thing, and that’s because you will have to re-teach your baby how to breast feed if you use it as regularly as I had too. Moriah was small, had a shallow gag reflex, and wasn’t born through the vaginal canal. All things that were stacked against us, thankfully she was never jaundice. That was really the only thing working for us. That was truly a miracle.

Despite all that was mentioned above one bit of advice I got was spot on. It’s totally worth it! I was going to breast feed her if it killed me (and I think it almost has several times, but that may be another post). There’s nothing like the bonding time you get with your child. It’s a little piece of heaven on earth when your little one stops feeding, looks up at you and smiles as milk drips down both sides of her face. It’s like she’s saying “Oh wow, my mommy is so pretty and I love her so much.” After 3 visits to lactation consultants after we left the hospital and two visits to the chiropractor to give Moriah adjustments to get her to have the sucking reflex. She’s now 8 months old and breastfeeding. She’s distracted, but that’s because she’s 8 months old. Breast feeding is messy, painful, frustrating and can be incredibly difficult but I still maintain that it’s totally worth every hurdle you may face. Now if you’ll excuse me I need to get back to drinking my Mothers Milk tea.

 

20140702-133448.jpg

Milk Coma’s are so adorable.

Lessons in First Time Motherhood: Intro

I’m a first time mom to a wonderful little girl. Recently, I’ve been getting more questions from my friends who are about to embark on their first experience in motherhood and I realized I’m not a very detail oriented person when I’m talking. I always remember something else I should’ve said or mentioned when I get home. I’m a blogger. Why not write some posts about things that I’ve learned or words of encouragement that have helped me along the way? I’m new to this motherhood job so I have no doubt that (Lord willing) after I have another one my thoughts will change but we will cross that bridge when we get there.
Now that I am a full time mom I see my role as trying to conserve funds rather than make them. That means breastfeeding, cloth diapers, making my own baby food, and wisely spending. It is very easy to overspend on children and I’m hoping to be as minimalistic as possible.
Yes, I realize I have an incredibly laid back approach to parenting. There aren’t many situations where I was proactive and “ready to go”. I don’t freak out often. I’m pretty relaxed but I will admit I have had some meltdown moments. Parenting is not easy even when they are adorable little babies. It has definitely pushed me to my limits and breaking points. But I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat! I realize there are a lot of different opinions on parenting and what I write is what worked for me. It may not work for you. These are just my thoughts on being a first time mom. I know one day, years from now I will read this and laugh at myself. Let me start out by saying; I do not have all the answers. These are just my thoughts (and some opinions).This is my journey and the job that God has called me to in this season of life.

20140702-132930.jpg

Moriah’s Birth Story Part 2

I called my mom and got her voicemail, called dad, sister, brothers, and in laws. Called Mom again and it went to voicemail. Called my Grandmas, sent a text message to my friends, and then called Mom to once again get her voicemail. There’s just something about having a baby that makes you want to talk to your mom and all I got was her voicemail. COME ON! She did finally call me back after my sister in law chased her down.

After the doctor’s office we went back to work to let our employers know what was happening. My husband really needed to keep himself busy as the surgery wasn’t scheduled for a few hours. After a while I went home to “get ready”. I think this mainly consisted of me wandering around my house not really doing anything. I needed a few minutes to myself to think and pray. I don’t cry in front of people much but when I’m alone I let her rip. The tears flowed and flowed. I sat in her room and touched her things. I’m not sure there’s anything more terrifying than being a parent and the reality of that fact was hitting me hard in that instant.

I remember saying her name over and over while I cried and rubbed her little head up in my ribcage. And then I heard his whisper, “Joanna why do you want to name her Moriah?” My answer, “Because Moriah is the place that you chose to be your holy place.” “That’s right. I chose her. She is mine. I’ve got this.” “Okay Lord, with you in charge, I can do this.”SAM_2906

A few hours later we were in the hospital and I was more nervous than I had ever been in my life. I can’t imagine what my face looked like at that moment when they handed me the hospital gown and showed me to my room. I was so terrified they couldn’t get my IV in my arm. I was calm on the outside but on the inside the waves were rocking and the storm was moving in. My doctor came in and there was just something about having MY doctor there that calmed my nerves. I asked him if I would be able to watch the C-section and he said “SURE!” They walked me into the operating room and the less than glamorous process began. My doctor set up a mirror and I was able to watch my daughters little body emerge bum first out of my belly. It was still the most magical moment of my life even if it wasn’t at all what I had planned.SAM_2909

Moriah means “The Lord is my Teacher” and I have a feeling the Lord is going to use this little girl to teach her Mama. Her birth was only the first of many lessons he will be teaching me. I learned that parenting is all about trusting the Lord. I can’t control anything. I can’t control how she was born and I won’t be able to control her future. The power of a praying Mama is one of the most powerful forces in the universe. And I have to trust that he will always know what is best for my sweet little princess.

My first look at my sweet little Mo. :)

My first look at my sweet little Princess Mo. :)

Moriah’s Birth Story Part 1

It is time to post it! The long awaited birth story of my first born.  Honestly, there is so much emotion wrapped up into that experience that it’s hard for me to sort out my thoughts and write it all out. But I guess I’ll start from the beginning and see where it takes me. That’s what blogging is about, right?

My Mom has always told me that I’ve never done things “the way everyone else does”. I tend to march to the beat of my own drum, however, when it came to childbirth I was perfectly fine with the experience being just like everyone else. I wanted to go into labor, have contractions for hours and hours, have a baby emerge from my nether regions, and then recover. Lynn and I had planned it, the doctor was on board with our plan and that was just the way it would be! Yes, that is how this is going to go. HA!

Prior to the main event I was doing my research and asked my sister to tell me her birth stories of when her boys were born. I wanted to have some examples of what I might be able to expect. The best advice I got was from my sister in law, “don’t expect anything, be flexible, and just go with it.” I remember telling my sister that I wasn’t afraid of the pain or the labor. My biggest fear in the world was a Cesarean Section. I just didn’t want that. The idea of it freaked me out and why anyone would actually want one was beyond me.

I went in for my 36 week appointment and everything looked great. Baby was positioned perfectly but she still needed to keep cooking for a while longer. A few days later I came down with a nasty fever. I have to say that being sick while pregnant is miserable. I only had a fever but man I was shocked I survived. I spent most of that week on the couch.

My 37 week appointment came. Fever had finally broken a few days earlier and I was back to just feeling huge and pregnant. My super awesome doctor came in and did his measurements, poked around my belly and decided that all was normal. He went to check the heartbeat, those of you that have been following my blog know that hearing that heartbeat is a big deal to my husband and I, at every appointment I think both my husband and I hold our breath until we hear that gentle thumping. Then a sigh of relief would escape our lips when it was there. However, this time the heartbeat wasn’t easy to find. Every other appointment the doctor rarely had to search to find it but this time it couldn’t be found. I saw my doctors face change from happy and relaxed to concern and confusion. He moved the wand all over my belly and finally after what seemed like an eternity found her heart beat up in my ribcage. She had flipped and was now breach. That wasn’t all; the fluid levels in my uterus had dramatically dropped. Time started to move really slow and yet my mind was moving really fast. The doctor left the room to see if he could get us in for an ultrasound. My husband started pacing and I tried to remain calm. I prayed, “Jesus, just so we’re clear, I’m really okay if you don’t use childbirth as one of those teaching experiences to grow my character. I would rather you wouldn’t.” But that’s not how Jesus works and I knew that I would have to find a way to trust him.

The doctor came back in and informed us that the ultrasound department was busy so he took us to a back room and did an ultrasound on what I assume is one of the “old” machines. His suspicions were confirmed, I had 2 cm of fluid. At this point in my pregnancy I should have 15 cm of fluid. After hearing that I stopped listening to what the doctor was saying. He continued to talk “doctor talk” to my husband for several minutes while I laid there in an almost passed out state. After a few minutes,  I broke my zone and asked the doctor point blank “do I need to have a C-section?” Which followed by my husband asking, “Doc, are we going to be parents today?” With a slightly disappointed look on his face he said “Yes, we need to get you in today or there could be further complications. I’m sorry these things just happen. I know it’s not what we talked about.”

At the time I didn’t ask what he meant by “further complications” the thought of it made me very uneasy. The doctor left to get us scheduled at the hospital while Lynn and I stayed in the little room, prayed, and shed a few tears. We reassured each other that she was okay and we were going to be parents today! I tried very hard to focus on the excitement of the situation, but I was terrified.

The doctor came back and we were scheduled to become parents early that evening. As we were walking out of the doctor’s office I looked at Lynn and said, “I better call my Mom.”

Pinterest Gone Mad!

Pinterest Gone Mad!

Now that I’m a stay at home mom (SAHM) I have more time to let my creative juices flow. I have dipped into all of those “pins” and pulled some of them out that I want to get done! My … Continue reading

A Baby’s First Lesson in Sharing

 

After I heard the doctor say Cesarean Section my first question was “Can I still breastfeed?” I had told myself over and over during the pregnancy that I wasn’t going to have a C-section so I never researched what happens or how that procedure would affect my ability to make milk for my daughter.

The advice for first time mothers that I give is “decide which things are the most important to you and focus on those”. There is a lot of information out there about child birth and raising kids so I find this to be helpful advice. It is easy to get overwhelmed, if you decide what is important to you then focus on those items. For me, it was breastfeeding. I was going to breast feed my daughter if it killed me. I was determined and hearing that I was going to have a c-section freaked me out! It turns out that having a C-section in no way inhibited me from breastfeeding my daughter. I had other challenges, but I was determined.

After several meetings with lactation consultants, a chiropractor (for the baby), and constant support and encouragement from my family, I am now able to breastfeed my daughter, which brings me to the reason I’m writing today.

After my final lactation appointment the nurse suggested I look into milk donation. I started researching and the stories tugged at my heart. I couldn’t even imagine how helpless I would feel if I was (for whatever reason) not able to produce milk for my baby. I want to give her the best and knowing I couldn’t would make motherhood that much more challenging.

So today, the little miss and I head out to make a donation. I’m so thankful I have the ability to ease another mother’s worry by providing her baby with my milk.

20140225-150756.jpg

20140313-074023.jpg

 

All in all, Mo and I donated a little over 5 gallons of milk that will go to babies who need it. I’m so thankful that I was able to donate.

The Due Date- Round 3

Since there is so much construction going on in our house right now Moriah and I decided to take a little vacation. I am tired of living in a hotel or in a construction zone. We booked a flight and spent 8 glorious days with family in Minnesota. While we were there my sister gave birth to her third child. My parents were on duty to take care of her two older boys and Moriah and I were excited to have a sleepover with cousins at Grandma and Grandpa’s house. Since I live far away from my family these occurrences are few and far between for me. I will cherish those special moments I got to spend with my nephews for years to come. As I was going through my pictures and telling my husband all about our trip the past came back up from the depths of my soul. Like a hammer hitting me straight in the face. I don’t always remember or think about it but sometimes my heart stops and I remember the child that was lost.

One of my nephews is one month older than my child that was lost of miscarriage and my niece is one month younger. Of course I don’t know for sure as I was only 9 weeks pregnant at the time but in my heart I feel that child was a boy. As I was looking through my pictures and the memories of our mornings together my sweet nephews blue eyes struck me: he (my child) would be the same age.

Every morning Moriah would wake up in her crib and I could hear her sweet cooing before I was fully awake. And every morning when the boys were there someone else would greet her. My bedroom door would slowly open and I could hear quiet footsteps as the morning sun poured into my room. I would open my eye just a sliver to see that my nephew had heard my daughter in her crib and he would sneak in to gently touch her. One morning he was petting her head the next holding her hand. The picture I was looking at was one morning she was up early and woke up wanting some breakfast so she was in bed with me when he came in to check on her. He decided to climb over the footboard and into bed with us for his morning greeting.

At the time I thought it was adorable that my nephew was so gentle with her. Excellent practice for when he went home to his newborn sister, and that’s where my thought process stopped. But the other day, while looking at this picture I was reminded of my son, who I can only imagine was blonde and blue eyed; and my heart broke. I truly can’t wrap my mind around having a 2 year old along with my 4 month old daughter. That would be a handful. So today, I let the pain of loss wash over me again and I think about what would have been? Would he reach into her crib and hold her hand? Would he sneak into my bedroom and pet her head as she jabbers away? Would he reach out his arms with longing in his beautiful eyes as he asks to hold her one more time before bed? Would we be counting his animals and mimic the sound each one makes? Or would we be in a potty training battle full of 2 year old tantrums and “no,no,no’s”?

Probably.

Sometimes I let the grief and heartache bubble up to the surface because it’s in these moments that I am reminded of how grateful I am to have known this kind of loss. It’s in these moments where I’m reminded of Christ’s blessings. I did not lose a child in vain. God had and has a plan. And for that I’m eternally grateful.

The Little Blue Dress

Sometimes I need a reality check. I posted before about a pipe break in our main living area. I’ve been walking on concrete floors for a little over a 2 months now. I realize it takes time to coordinate repairs but walking out to see my main living space in such madness has been wearing my nerves thin.

Last night my sweet baby woke up at least 5 times wanting to eat. I walked downstairs in a dreary fog at 7 am greeted by my musty smelling floors I was going to wake up. I proceeded to finish the feeding ritual and watch the morning news while I tried to find some ounce of strength to start packing boxes so the new floors could one day be put in. Then my husband calls to tell me that the production schedule will be pushed back into February and I feel my nerves are about to burst! Out loud I prayed “my baby isn’t sleeping well, my house is a mess, and my milk supply is dwindling. How am I supposed to feed this baby in all this madness?! Help me Lord!” Anxiety took over and what I thought was starting my day turned into me pacing a cross the cement floor. I found myself staring out the window blankly. The baby was sound asleep and my home was quiet. “I need fresh air,” I thought.

I grabbed my keys and walked to the mailbox to find a package from Target. “What did I buy?” I walked back to my house and opened the package to find a little blue dress, I didn’t buy anything, someone else bought my daughter a special dress.

Melittlebluedress

Me sometime around 1984

The tears started to flow. It was definitely a special “mommy moment” for me. When I was little I had a very special little blue dress. It was made by a neighbor and given to my parents when I was little. It was MY dress and when you have a younger sister there are very few times in life when something is yours and doesn’t have to be shared.

Our family dedication was in January. My mom asked if she could get my daughter something special to wear. I told her to go ahead and pick out something special for my daughter to wear. I trust her judgment. The package came and it was a little blue dress. I’ve been trying to plan a special party for our family to commemorate this wonderful occasion but all of my plans kept falling through. Nothing was working out the way I wanted it too and on top of that my house was in such disarray that I could barely think straight.

Now I sit, in a fit of tears realizing that I don’t’ need a party. I’ve been extra hard on myself since the pipe broke. I want to be a great stay at home mom. I want to clean my house and make everything look perfect. I want to have everything in order when my husband gets home so that he can just focus on our daughter. But so far, that hasn’t happened. This little blue dress has helped me see the important things in life. I have a wonderfully supportive extended family, amazing friends, a new baby girl and a husband who showers our home with love every day. And now, a little blue dress. God is good.

Picture 12

She may be laying on our new floor. :)

 

The Saga Continues

The repairs have started on our home. We started by tearing everything out of the downstairs and moving all of our furniture into a container parked out in front of our home. 20140206-161910.jpg This is one of our wonderful friends who came to help us out. No he does not know I took this picture and the chances of him reading my blog are slim to none so I think I can use this picture and be okay. :) 20140206-161920.jpg Yes, my husband is requesting that we change the color from my beautiful yellow to a more neutral color you see on the wall by the stairs. 20140206-161930.jpg Then construction started and we no longer had access to our kitchen. That’s a pretty big deal when you are a stay at home mom and you have an infant. 20140206-161938.jpg 20140206-161944.jpg With our floor covered in paper my suspicions were confirmed that our dishwasher was leaking something fierce. Even if I wanted too, I could no longer run our dishwasher. Thankfully, my wonderful husband had already purchased a new one that was sitting in our garage waiting to be installed. 20140206-161955.jpg 20140206-162003.jpg 20140206-162011.jpg I really thought I could handle it. But 1 hour in I freaked out and called my husband. I couldn’t take all the pounding, sawing, strange men coming in and out…etc. So my wonderful husband booked my daughter and I a flight back to Minnesota. He was ready to let us fly out the next day but I couldn’t be away from him that long. I thought I could last a week and then fly out the following week but I couldn’t do it. Back to the insurance company we went and requested a hotel room for the baby and myself. 20140206-162022.jpg 20140206-162031.jpg Huh, so this is what it’s like to live in a giant trash bag. 20140206-162044.jpg While in the hotel a blizzard hit. No folks, I’m not making this stuff up! It rarely ever snows in Portland so this is a big deal. Instead of only staying a few days in the hotel the blizzard pushed back the repairs on our condo so we stayed 6 days in the hotel. Even if I wanted to leave the hotel there was no travel advised so thankfully our insurance company came through and approved us to prolong our stay. 20140206-162059.jpg But the good news is, we are safe and sound in our hotel room. This experience is giving me time to spend with my daughter and to update some stories about her first year. Never a dull moment in the King-dom! 20140206-162108.jpg