Wednesday, April 18, 2012

I am a good mom

I realize I’ve been kind of hard on myself lately. The only thing I want to do is be a good mom to my little girl, and even though I beat myself up about what I could do better, I think it’s wise to interrupt these thoughts and focus on all the things I’ve done in the last few days that makes me a good mom.

-I greet my baby girl every morning with the biggest smile I can, wanting her to be surrounded in happiness.

-I spend hours poring over the internet and baby books trying to figure out the best way to ___ (whatever it happens to be that day – for some reason I think I do this more at work than at home – if I were at home all day I seriously doubt I would spend this much time on the internet researching stuff – I would just do it!)

-During the 10 minute drive between work and daycare at the end of the day, I focus on taking deep breaths and letting go of all the stress of work, and remember to be present for baby girl. It takes a conscious effort to transition to the mommy part of my life, and let go of the professional woman part of my life, and I try to mentally transform before I pick her up from daycare.

-During the two hours of wake-time I have with Alex every night, I try to focus only on her. I feed her, change her, play with her, bathe her, rock her, tell stories to her, put her to bed. Close to the end of the two hours, her daddy comes home, and the three of us always have some nice moments of family time. Hubs and I have been focusing on her, and our little moments of time with her, which makes me so happy. My favorite moment is after the whole bedtime routine is done, I put her in her crib as I’m finishing her last song, and she looks up at me with this huge smile. I then bend over and kiss her good night, and our last memory of each other every night is staring into each other’s eyes, smiling.

-My MIL is coming to town today for a week, and I have been thinking of ways for them to spend quality time together. My MIL thinks the sun rises and sets on Alex, and I don’t want to do anything to spoil this!

-I spent a few minutes with the daycare lady this morning, talking about feeding Alex. They asked me to increase her food as she seems too hungry before eating, and is pissed when the bottle is done. So with the hope of getting to 3 hour internals (I was hoping to push it to 4, but they’ve been feeding her after 2.5!), we’ve increased the amount of formula to 7 ounces from 6. She still has 6 bottles per day – seriously, I think 42 ounces per day is too much! But we’re also trying to get her to eat solid foods, which she hasn’t been too interested in. So hopefully when she eats more solids, her formula intake will decrease. But if you use the 2.5 x weight = ounces per day formula, at 16 pounds, she should be eating 40 ounces. But it still seems like way too much… Anyway, the good mom part is I’m trying – real hard – to figure out the right thing to do with little Alex and make her happy but not overfed.

-Last night after weeks of patient trying, I got Alex to eat about an ounce of solid food – homemade pears mixed with oatmeal cereal. (I’ve been making all her solid food except cereal, and it’s so easy and economical!) The trick last night was to distract her with a toy in one hand, and then shovel food in her mouth in the other. I know this isn’t a good long-term strategy, but I hope this helps her learn again what this solid food thing is all about. We had about 3 days of good eating before she got sick, and then it all was thrown out the window. When she got well again, we had to start over. But I’m hopeful that with time and patience she’ll figure it out!

-Every night during bath time, I sing songs to her, and she alternates between playing with her toys, and staring at me with those big brown eyes, with a little smile on her face. Seriously, it’s that face that gets me every time!!!

The overall theme of all of this is that I try. I think this is true for a lot of us moms. Sure, we could beat ourselves up over stopping breastfeeding too early, or doing something at the wrong time, and unfortunately we do beat ourselves up. But what we need to remember is that if we’re trying real hard, and we love our kiddos with all our heart, the rest will fall into place. I know I will screw up at times in this journey called motherhood, but I hope at the end of the day I will remember that I tried my very best to raise my little girl in the best way I can. This little 16-pound bundle of goodness has completely changed my life, and I love her more than I ever thought possible. And that makes me a good mom.

Monday, April 16, 2012

PAIL Theme Post: What Kind of Parent Are You?

I’m an accountant. Most people think that this means I love numbers, and can do all kinds of math in my head. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Sure, numbers are ok, but if I don’t have my calculator, I can’t function. But there’s a different kind of accountant than those that most think about – the research kind of accountant. A large part of my job is to research accounting rules, figure out if my company is in compliance with those rules, write memos about why the company is in compliance with the rules (or how to fix it if the company is NOT in compliance), and then present my position to auditors or the board of directors. I enjoy doing this job – researching the rules, and then applying it to my company. It’s like solving giant word problems every day. I used to be an auditor, and auditors use something called a workprogram. It’s basically a giant to do list for each section of the audit. The workprogram is something that gives me comfort. I like the idea of going through each section, checking off what is complete, and knowing that once all the steps are checked off, I will be done.

I tend to apply this analytical process to the rest of my life. When I started trying to conceive, and it wasn’t going very well, I researched the problem, bought and read every book I could find, talked to many people, and pushed to solve the problem with my mind and analytical skills. As many of us IF veterans do, I gave myself medical training so I could speak with my doctors intellectually. I wanted to be a proactive and informed patient, and I believe that my eventual success is due to this. I could have just listened to what my doctor said, and keep trying, but I searched for better doctors, and insisted on additional tests, and then applied my new knowledge to insist on different treatment, which eventually led to my baby girl Alex.

When I finally became pregnant, and then started feeling a little more comfortable that I wouldn’t have another miscarriage, I realized I was about to embark on a new endeavor: parenting! I’ve never done this, and just like anything in my life, I did what comes naturally to me: I hit the books! Here is a list of parenting and baby books in my Kindle app (all of which I have read), in no particular order (not including the pregnancy or trying to conceive books): The Moms on Call Guide to Basic Baby Care; The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems; Baby 411; On Becoming Baby Wise (Parts 1 & 2); Bringing Up Bebe; The Working Gal’s Guide to Babyville; Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child; The Happiest Baby on the Block; What Babies Say Before They Can Talk; The Breastfeeding Mother’s Guide to Making More Milk; The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding; The Baby Book: Everything you Need to Know About Your Baby from Birth to Age Two; Baby Basics. Goodness, I didn’t realize I read that many! This is a bit absurd, I know, especially because there are about five others that are at home on my nightstand that weren’t available in Kindle form…

The Baby Whisperer book talks about different styles of parents, and one of them is called “by the book”. I guess this is what I am, as I’m always searching for that perfect book, the one that will make me feel like I know what I’m doing, and feel confident in my choices. This is different from another style of parenting: “confident”. I wish I was more confident in my parenting, and could rely more on my instincts. I wish I had more instincts! I hate that I’m like this, that I feel like I don’t know what I’m doing most of the time, but reading books and relying on the “experts” makes me feel more comfortable, and more confident. This is the researcher in me: I’m a rules-follower, but I don’t feel comfortable making the rules, I only feel good following somebody else’s rules. When I put it that way, this isn’t something that sounds very good…

As far as parenting method, after reading and researching everything from Dr. Sears to Ferber, we have implemented a somewhat loose schedule on baby Alex, and it seems to be working very well. We use a lot of the techniques in Baby Wise, at least the structure aspects, but we don’t follow the clock as much as we just keep the routine in her life. I guess this is more Baby Whisperer than Baby Wise. I personally can’t stand to hear my baby cry, so I couldn’t do real cry-it-out like Ferber would suggest. But we do let her cry for 10 minutes max, as Alex really seems to need some time to roll around in her crib and settle down before sleeping. Up until about 10 weeks, she was fed on-demand, but I had some serious milk supply issues, and I think I did that all wrong as she only got snacks, and never a full feeding. Once I started trying to give her full meals of both breastmilk and formula, things got a lot easier, and she got a lot happier. Now we have a 5-month little girl who regularly sleeps in her crib from 8:30 pm to 7:00 am, without waking. She takes 3-4 naps per day, and is incredibly happy unless she is tired or hungry.

If I were to stay at home instead of work, and if I felt like I could rely more on my instincts, I would really like to follow a more attachment style of parenting. I love sleeping with my baby, except I don’t ever seem to get much sleep with her next to me, and she seems to sleep more consistently in her own bed. I wear or carry Alex as much as I can on the weekends, figuring she gets plenty of time for alone play at daycare. But besides this I really like the theory of attachment parenting. I’ve spent a lot of time wondering about the bonds that babies form with their primary caregivers, and how this impacts the rest of their life. I was adopted at four years old, and prior to this I was homeless with my birth mother at times, and was in 18 different foster homes at other times. My adoptive mother tells stories of having a very hard time bonding with me, and we still struggle with this. I’ve always struggled with relationships, and forming bonds with others. I wonder how much the first four years of my life impacts my life, and now impacts my parenting skills. I think this definitely impacts my lack of confidence in my parenting skills, and my lack of instinct on what to do with Alex. So even though I like the idea of attachment parenting, I lack the confidence that I think is required for it. Attachment parenting requires the parent to be stronger and more self-confident than I feel most of the time. This is why I need something that gives me a formula, or a workprogram, on how to parent. Knowing this, I have gravitated towards establishing routines, and scheduling Alex’s life a little more than attachment parenting would prescribe. As I’m writing this, I don’t think I’m explaining myself very well, but I hope this makes sense!

Whatever we’re doing, I think it’s working, because Alex seems to be doing really well. I think the routines that we’ve established in her life seem to help her know what’s happening next, and they make me more confident as well. The days when she is at her best are the days when there aren’t a lot of changes to routine, and she has plenty of time to play and cuddle. She smiles almost all day long it seems, and her smile just melts my heart. I want to do the best for Alex, and so far, at least I know I’m trying my best! We’ve accomplished the early baby stage, and she’s sleeping well, seems happy, got over her first big illness, and is now learning new things every day! I love watching her explore her toys, and her fascination in everything. Speaking of, I want to learn more about how babies learn, and the best way to teach her new things. Does anyone have any good suggestions for books? :)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


I quit breastfeeding. After struggling with supply issues for five months, I quit last week. And I’m sad about it. My husband convinced me that there was something wrong with my milk, and that is the reason why Alex continued to throw up, long after a stomach virus would normally continue. I could have done an elimination diet, but I already was limiting most items that are usual suspects in dietary issues – dairy, spicy food, caffeine, etc. I could have, or should have, fought him more, and fought for continuing breastfeeding more, or at least pumped and dumped or froze the milk while we figured things out, but I didn’t. I gave up. It seemed to help Alex for a couple days, but she resumed throwing up so I know it wasn’t the breast milk… About quitting, I feel a little relieved, and a lot guilty. I’m disappointed in myself, but I’m trying to get over it. I’m trying to be proud of myself for lasting five months even with the supply issues. And learn for the next time, because hopefully I will get pregnant again, and breastfeed my child again, and last longer, hopefully for my original goal of one year. This is what I will do differently next time: pump more early, use herbs and maybe even domperidone from the beginning, rent hospital pump immediately, insist on lactation consultant help, get help from people other than my husband at home for the first couple weeks, and tell my husband to pound sand when it comes to anything about breastfeeding… Overall, I’m very glad I breastfed my baby girl for 5 months, I wish I would have done it longer, I hated the struggle every day about milk supply, I still don’t understand why my husband never supported me in breastfeeding, and I’m happy to have that chapter in my life OVER!

Now on to better things – my little Alex! I’m happy to report that she hasn’t thrown up since Sunday, and was able to go back to daycare yesterday. We went back to the doc on Monday, and the doc thinks that Alex’s sickness started as a stomach virus, but given that she was happy throughout it all, and would only throw up occasionally, that it may have transitioned into something else. We gave them a poop sample (digging around in a diaper for enough poop for a sample is something I never thought I would do, but strangely wasn’t a huge deal – the things we do as a mom…) and will get the results in a few days. But in the meantime the doc told us to try Enfamil AR, which has added rice and thickens in baby’s belly. Perhaps the thicker formula will stay in Alex’s belly better than other formula. So she’s been on that since Monday night. She hasn’t thrown any of it up, and she seems to like it, but she also seems very hungry! She gets pissed when she finishes a bottle, so I’ve increased the bottles to 6 ounces from 4-5, and I’m a bit hesitant to go over that, but I might tomorrow. In general she seems a bit grumpy – quick to be hungry, and angry when she’s done eating. She gets 6-7 bottles a day, at 5-6 ounces each – this is huge, right? She weighs a little over 15 pounds, and using the 2.5 times weight = ounces, it would be 37.5 ounces, so maybe that is right… I guess it’s good that she’s so hungry, it means she has her appetite back, and will gain some of the weight she lost while being sick. Maybe I should increase her bottles to 7 ounces and see what happens…

Before Alex got sick, she was starting to try solid foods a bit, and was figuring it out. We stopped solids while she was sick, so it’s been a couple weeks. I tried to give her oatmeal and squash last night, both of which she liked before getting sick, and she wanted nothing to do with it! I’m going to try prunes tonight, as I think the new formula is clogging her up – she hasn’t pooped since Monday, which could also be causing some of the fussiness. I gave her some apple juice last night and this morning to help with constipation, and she loved it! I know we should limit juice, but at this point, I just want her to poop! Or really anything so I can get my happy healthy baby back!!!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Just doing my best

This mothering thing is hard. And I’m not talking about my normal complaints of there’s so much to do, and not enough hours in the day, blah, blah, blah. I think I was expecting that part. The hardest thing about mothering is not knowing what to do, and feeling guilty and conflicted about the decisions I make. I wish I were more confident, and that I had stronger instincts. Some women talk about this mothering instinct that just takes over, but I don’t feel that, at least about the big things. I think the minute by minute stuff I can figure out, or instinct takes over, but what about the big things? Like getting your child to sleep at night, and when to start solids, or what I’m dealing with right now – why is my baby sick?

Alex was sent home on Thursday from daycare due to vomiting and diarrhea. She seemed incredibly happy still, just couldn’t keep everything down. Looked like your average stomach virus. And so we started a regimen of pedialyte and once she could keep that down for awhile, a little bit of breast milk or formula. Small and often meals, as directed by the doc. The last time she threw up was around noon on Saturday, and then the last time she had diarrhea was Saturday night. Upon the recommendation of the hubs (who, as a reminder, is not pro-breast feeding, and has been encouraging me to quit for months), we only fed her formula yesterday (Sunday). And she seemed fine. The daycare’s rule is she needs to be symptom free for 24 hours before she can return, so she was allowed to return today, but I chose to stay home with her and watch her. I wanted to make sure she was back to a full day of milk with no pedialyte before I sent her back to daycare. So I nursed her this morning like normal, except I made her take a break in the middle so she would have small and often meals instead of a lot of milk all at once. A few hours later, she threw up all over. And then an hour later, threw up some more. She seems to be reacting poorly to my breast milk. All the evidence over the last few days makes it look like she can keep formula down, but throws up breast milk.

And so, I’m thinking of quitting. I know I shouldn’t quit over a few days of maybe coincidences with a potentially sick baby, but it seems so odd. There’s no fever, she doesn’t act like anything’s wrong, except she throws up breast milk. I’ve actually been thinking of throwing in throwing in the breast feeding towel for awhile. I’m sick of pumping at work, and everything that is involved. I’ve spent five months (can you believe my baby is five months old???) fighting my low milk supply so she has always had formula as well as breast milk, and I’ve hated all of the supply issues, from the herbs to the domperidone, to the constant pumping. But I love knowing that I’m giving my baby immunities (yeah right – look how sick she is!) and I really like the physical act of nursing. I love how excited she gets when she sees my boobs and how she attacks me. I love how she looks up at me, and sometimes gets the biggest grin on her face, with milk spilling down her face. I love how if she wakes up in the middle of the night, all I have to do is grab her, bring her in my bed, give her a boob, and she drifts off happily to sleep. I will miss this so much.

But what if I’m making her sick? I called the doctor, and spoke with the nurse – she said it’s highly unlikely that I’m suddenly making her sick, that it’s a coincidence. But for the last five days, I’ve given her breast milk, and she pukes. And I give her formula, and she keeps it down. My husband of course thinks I should quit. He agreed to stay home from work tomorrow if she was sick, but now he thinks that it’s because I gave her breast milk, so he’s giving me a hard time about staying home.

I wish there was an answer, and that this decision was easier. I’m so conflicted. I want to do the best thing for Alex, but I feel like I’m poisoning her with my milk! At least with formula I know that it’s good for her. I think the most important time for breast feeding has passed – I got her through two rounds of shots, right? I thought I would fight stronger for breast feeding, but after infertility, and after my struggles with my milk supply, I no longer have confidence in my body to feed my child. In fact, I now think that I’m hurting her with it…