Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Organization Shmorganization

I'm not really the organizer in our household. Heck, I'm hardly the "cleaner" (although when I get the urge, watch OUT! I do it to the nines, thanks to the Cinderella-sans-wicked-step-relatives upbringing my mother imparted on us). Dave prefers things organized, but not museum-like or dust-free, just pile-less...and it's not that I don't. I'm just not great at it.

So, what better way to waste time (and pre-baby time, at that! Yes, I started this post before Hadley arrived...heck, at this point I thought he MUST be a girl!) than to take a fun Better Homes and Gardens quiz about my organization personality. Of course, the description is pretty dead-on: 

I'm not sure the last time I "planned" a "party" (although I'd love to do that...I had to reel myself back in when I started planning our upcoming baptism get-together; gonna be very low-key with very few folks), but the "key traits" part of it is accurate. I realized that a lot of my decorating involves the "collector" part of this description. While I'm by no means a hoarder, I've got a kazillion antique items that I love to use to decorate. I'd say that I have a "collection" of various items, be they antique glass (especially milk bottles...yep, I have a soft spot for milk in glass bottles, but I particularly like to make the connection to my ancestral family's old farm - I do happen upon "Homestead Farms" bottles on occasion, and that's my bloodline!), cake plates, McCoy pottery (my maiden name, so, y'know),  I also suddenly thought, "Well, that's not really very simple. Why do I have this stuff, and why do I show it off the way that I do?"

Easily sidetracked? Yes, please.

Anyhoo, while Dave and I strive to live simply and attempt to simplify as much as possible - especially now that the baby's here! - the antique items I have hanging around are ones that mean something to me. No need to clutter the joint up with things you don't love. But, when it comes to decorating, I tend to put out "vignettes" (a sweet, professional way of saying "clumps") of stuff. I would like to work on how to implement a cleaner way of decorating with all these, erm, clumps. We'll see how I do with the upcoming

What I particularly like about this quiz (especially when searching for the energy and motivation I'm craving) is the fact that you can click "Get Guide Now" and receive plenty of organizational suggestions for your "personality". In my case, they simplify (there's that word again) the tasks and provide suggestions - some of which I already use.

Once a season (okay, a couple times a year - but it was about four during 2011-2012 thanks to Operation Maternity Clothes), I go through my clothes and donate what I'm not wearing, as well as switch out the seasons and store the non-season items. I also use books in decorating, and when placing books on bookshelves, I organize them but also switch their directions to add interest. And, no; there's no Dewey Decimal System in place. Let's just say that Beatles go with Beatles (there are a lot of those, so they get stuck together), old movie stars live with old movie stars, self-help books all co-exist, etc.; sometimes I go crazy and organize by color, though. Maybe because I can't do something so *crazy* at my work libraries.

So, if you're bored (ah, the luxury of time!), feel free to take the quiz and let me know what your personality style is. It'll be neat to see if anyone's as disorganized scatterbrained free-spirited as me!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Leaky Boobs is Right

If you're not into breastfeeding or think there's too much of an "ick visual" (I mean you, brothers :-)), please feel free to skip reading this post. Otherwise, be sufficiently forewarned that this is a TMI post. Thankyouverymuch.

I "like" a blogger/support group (although there's often more argumentation over whether folks are pro-formula, pro-healthy babies, pro-breastfeeding/anti-formula, etc -- it's still a good resource, though) on Facebook by the name of "Leaky Boobs." Gotta say...their name ain't lyin'. Those babies, on occasion and without any warning of any kind, will soak through a pad, bra and T-shirt. Can you say "wop wop" moment?! Thank goodness that it hasn't happened in front of a library full of students...yet.

When I started this post, Hadley was three weeks old and was not on a true feeding schedule yet. We've come a long way! There have been ups 'n downs, including fighting off the occasional blocked milk duct, but I'm currently claiming breastfeeding as a success in our household. (Please, karma, don't bite me in the arse on this one -- I know this can take a quick turn for the worse!!!) Here's the good, the bad and the ugly (so far!) for any of those interested in knowing --

The Good

The benefits! All the antibodies and kazillion other goodies that are provided in breastmilk? Fuggeddaboutit. Crazy healthy. Oh, and PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE know that I'm a total proponent of formula -- heck, it's FOOD made for BABIES, so it's MUCH more important for folks to keep up the growth and nutrition of their babies rather than NOT feed them enough over principle. (I kid you not, I heard of a woman who didn't feed her baby for DAYS after bringing them home, so stubborn was she over breastfeeding.) I know the guilt over not breastfeeding these days, and I would've been pretty devastated had I not been able to breastfeed, but ultimately what's most important is that baby. As with all things, remember that we all have our own minds and MUST use them, regardless of the strong "voices" that insist we "must" do one thing or another. You're the parent; do your own research and make your own decision. If you don't, I honestly fear for your kid. Oh, and raise your hand if you were formula-fed. You can't see, but my hand's up...you also can't see, but I don't have a third eye or hugely horrific underlying conditions. At least, not of which I'm aware. ;-)

He latched immediately. It was a miracle, and yep, I cried over it. (You'll see below that miracles can be fleeting.)

At three weeks in, I was finally able to pump, so I could share one or two feedings a day (before returning to work) with Dave. While I wasn't much for napping, it's mostly about seeing him be able to share in and connect with the lil' guy. (That's what we found to be most rewarding, at least.) Now that I've returned to work, pumping in the library's back room has been working out - although I always get a twinge of nerves over exposing my boobies in school (yes, it's secluded and locked, but I've been trained to be appropriate at work!).

Now, at 7+ weeks, it's become close to second nature. We're bonding more, although he's generally more concerned with staring off into space than looking at me very much. We still have the occasional fussy moment, but I've determined the two possible causes (more often than not, gas...or MAYBE a wet diaper, just maybe). Oh, and our secret weapon? The pacifier. More on that below. 

The Bad

While he'll fall asleep at the end of a breastfeeding session (woohoo!), for some odd reason he doesn't find sleep at the end of a bottle. Makes it tough for his babysitter/grandma. He also doesn't seem to be able to know when to STOP eating from a bottle, so he'll go through a full 5+ ounces. (Actually, more like 6oz. even these days.) He was doing this at 2 weeks old. That's ca-raz-ay! Chunkamunk!! (And, yes, while he was over 10 lbs. at birth, and is steadily increasing now, he doesn't LOOK like a porker. I am observing some porkier tendencies lately, though - ie arms 'n legs. Not that it's a concern. Newborns are SUPPOSED to eat. It's just something I have to continue to watch to know that he's getting enough.)

Ouch. That whole "it doesn't hurt to breastfeed" thing (for me, at least) seems to be a crock. The first time we fed, almost immediately after he was born, it didn't hurt - but I was numb from the stomach down and was pumped with painkillers. Since then, I've learned about the variety of pains that accompany breastfeeding. Hadley started off to be a bit of a "chewer/chomper/grinder", so I had lots of cracked/bleeding nipple issues. We now have this under control, but at 3 weeks he was still incredibly frustrated at times (which inevitably means he cried bloody murder, making his tongue shoot up to the roof of his mouth...taking forever to latch under those circumstances), so he'd still chomp from time to time. There was also a pinching sort of feeling at times, and often some soreness. And, of course, the pain of blocked milk ducts feels like a pinched nerve or pulled muscle, along with a lump or two or more. Way better than mastitis (which I'm PRAYING I never get!!!), but still obnoxious and, at times, unbearable. But, the pain is getting to be less and less, and some days not at all noticeable. It's like your nipples change sensitivity...weird.

Over-exhaustion + frustration = where the eff did I put my patience?! My oh-so-kind husband has said numerous times lately, "I don't know how you do it" (and sweetly says that I haven't lost my patience...well, maybe once or twice...ha!) I have surprised myself at keeping my cool, but I've thrown my head back in frustration more times than I could count. Reason #1 is when Had's either over-tired, gassy, or otherwise frustrated, hence gets overly aggressive and has a hard time latching. (Reason #2 is when he just WON'T fall asleep! Whether crying or not, when YOU'RE tired, it sucks.) At least I've got the hubby fooled into thinking I'm generally patient...mwahaha. ;-)

Pay no attention to the pump instructions.
After days of sending Dave, my parents and, finally, myself to search for a different piece for my breast pump (eventually determined that it's not MADE anymore), I realized that the instructions regarding nipple size, etc was a bunch of crap. It was a huge pain in the butt, especially in the midst of the exhaustion and trying to heal from the C-section. Damn you, Medela. Damn. You. To. Heck. Although, admittedly, the visual of my stepfather OPENING boxes of pump parts up at Babies 'R Us with his Swiss Army knife still dissolves me into a fit of giggles.

The Ugly

I wasn't raised in a very physical family. Not a lot of hugging or kissing. There's love, of course, but emotions weren't really worn on sleeves a whole lot. Needless to say, we were pretty discreet as far as nudity 'n stuff, too. Sure, my sister and I shared the bathtub and a certain member of the household peed with the door open, but that's pretty much where the line was drawn. So, no matter how I try to get my head into the "embrace public breastfeeding" game, I've got walls up. You can tell me a million times how okay it is to do and that people need to get used to public BF, but you just can't break down that wall. I don't feed in front of family (with the exception of Dave and my sister); not even my mom. This might change as time goes by, especially as it gets more streamlined and easier, and he fusses way less frequently. But, I should say that the places I've fed him so far include the mall parking lot, the Holland Farms parking lot (mmm, half moons), the Babies 'R Us courtesy room, Dave's bedroom from when he was a teenager, and a couple of other odd bedrooms. I'm sure it's only gonna get stranger.

So. Much. Stigma. Sure, some of it must be based in truth. But, in my case, we've been lucky and the bad things I'd heard about that would SURELY throw BF out of whack simply didn't. Maybe it's because we're publicly quiet about it. Regardless, the ugliness - be it from the "everyone MUST breastfeed, if you're not you're doing something wrong" side or the "I'm offended that you're using your body in such a disgusting manner" side - is a sad thing. Luckily, we generally don't deal with it.

Ouch 2.0. Sure, there's been boob pain, but a less-expected pain? The ol' back. Between leaning over a pack 'n play for everything from changes to sponge bath sessions (yes, he does get bathed in the sink, too) and general games of peek-a-boo and mimicry, a new parent's expected to have some aches and pains. Pile on the pain of wearing a bra 24/7 and the additional weight that these puppies now carry and it can be excruciating. I was big before (at times uncomfortably so), but this is...unpleasant.

Moo. I mentioned above the fact that I'm able to pump at work and when I'm not with Hads. It's great, it really is. If we didn't have the technology to be able to pump, I'm not sure Hadley would be on breastmilk at all. (I have yet to attempt hand-expressing.) But it is starting to feel normal to pump, and only because routine breeds a feeling of normalcy. Otherwise, there's anxiety of being at school, or the fact that I've caught my husband staring, half in awe, half in what seemed to be terror, as this heaving, sighing machine milked me like a cow. I've milked cows and never felt this weird before. Oh, and I even had "the opportunity" to try out the battery pack for it, pumping in the backseat of my car in a full parking lot overlooking lots o' city traffic. My first attempt was great. When I returned during my lunch hour, a woman was taking her lunch hour (apparently by sitting in her car doing nothing other than directly facing me). I'm used to putting on shows, but...yeah. It's definitely one of the "uglies" of BF.

Not all nipples are created equal. I've never been a fan of mine, but throw in the extra heft goin' on, they were bound to get...erm...bigger. So, all those shots that we see of a baby BFing but there's almost a sense of modesty to it since their head (or mouth!) is covering all of mama's *gasp*-inducing naughty bits...yeah, that doesn't really happen with us. It is what it is.

And on that TMI note, I leave you with a video that I recently viewed. While I don't use Luvs, I luv the vid (even though I'd never treat a waiter or other customer service provider this way!) I'm sure I'll be back for BF follow-ups, but, man it took me awhile to finally write this one!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Saint David

I don't go around handing uber important religious titles to just anybody, but my husband's behavior lately definitely merits it. Maybe a knighthood, too. We'll see.

Don't get me wrong - putting up with me and my (ahemmoodinessahem) idiosyncrasies day in and day out probably earned him sainthood before we even got married. Lately, though, he's got Super Hubby written all over him.

You see, this week was my Return to Work. (Yes, it's so important it needs full-blown capitalization. Be grateful I'm not messing with the bold/underline/italics toggles!) My first time being away from Hadley for more than a couple of hours at a time - and there were only two or three of those getaways, tops. It was agonizing, and I'm sure equally as agonizing for my husband.

For several reasons (not being on a great schedule yet, still seeming a tad "young" for daycare, finances, and more), we're lucky enough to be able to take Dave's mom up on her offer to watch him. Talk about saints, this woman also watches my sister's cutie pie, who's about to turn one year-old. Two babies, varying ages (ie varying needs...varying levels of activity and movement...varying insanity!). Whew!

Yesterday was my first day back, although it was a Superintendent's Conference Day (less hands-on work meant time to think about the baby and how he was doing), and today's the first day with students and classes (lots of work, ie distractions to keep my mind occupied...kind of). I can't tell which is worse. I'm progressively getting better, but the tears still hit occasionally, in random fashion. The thing getting me to push through it is the thought that millions upon millions of women have done this before me, and that I should suck it up and just get used to it. *sigh*

But, I digress. Why is my husband up for sainthood? I hate to brag, but he has ROCKED. Because his mom lives in the city in which he works (vs. 45 minutes from where I work), he has both dropped off and picked up the little guy. All I've had to do is figure out our schedule to get them out the door at the right time. Well, okay, I've done a tad more than that, but the hard part is really on Dave's shoulders. He not only got his work schedule adjusted, but has become instantly more confident in his parenting in the process. It's incredible.

Here's a sample of our morning: After Dave gets up to shower and get ready around 5:45 (neither of us is a "morning person", so this is miraculous to say the least), I get Hadley up at 6 (he's been fussing, but still asleep) for a changing and to settle in for a solid feeding. While I breastfeed, Daddy puts the final touches on what we've prepped the night before -- putting the icepack in the milk cooler to bring, throwing a lunch together (for BOTH of us -- this is perhaps the 2nd time he's ever done this for me, and I think it's the sweetest thing ever), making breakfast(!), scooping kitty litter, plus going through his own mental checklist of work stuff. They're out the door by 7am, so I have about an hour to get ready, having already eaten my yummy oatmeal (side note: he puts blueberries in it, and, in mine, maple syrup, brown sugar, and some cinnamon so it's almost like a blueberry muffin -- delish, AND it boosts milk supply!).

We do a lot of night-before prep, like making sure there's milk thawing for the next day in the fridge, taking a shower (I take mine and give Hadley a bath), washing all the breast pump stuff, prep lunches (today's was more complicated, though - reminiscent of my old, healthy, snack-inspired pregnancy lunches), etc. While the organization is helpful to my anxiety-riddled mind, I don't mind admitting that I'm giddy over the thought of Friday night, with its list-free schedule and some sort of easy take-out dinner option.

So, what else makes Dave so great? Other than, simply, what a great father he is, he's had a daddy blog since before I gave birth. Peruse through it and see if you can pick out the charms that have made me fall in love all over again since having Hadley.