Thursday, June 28, 2012

Breastfeeding: Grab a Maxi-Pad for Your Bra (Nursing Pad Thoughts)

So. Continuing on with the breastfeeding information train, nursing pads. They're basically maxi-pads for your bra, to catch the leaking breast milk. Go buy some. 


Yes, sometimes, depending on your bra and shirt, people might be able to see the outline of them, but I promise, that looks better than the suspicious, giant wet spot on your shirt, right over your breast. Because when you least expect it, your boobs will spring a leak, like when you're in public and someone else's baby cries and that sound triggers a let-down. Or you're running behind and your boobs are getting too full and spring a leak to ease the pressure. I found nursing pads to be a great option over looking around and asking, "Is anyone thirsty?" while fluid ran down my stomach.


I loved the Lansinoh and Medela disposable ones. Loved them. They were nice and big but super thin and abosrbant, and they had the sticky pads on the back so they could stick to my bra without moving all around, which turns out to be a crucial benefit.



Way back when, I read a bunch of reviews on various nursing pads, and many women who have smaller breasts said that the Medela and Lansinoh ones were too big for them and stuck out of their bras. The pads of those two brands ARE big but they're really thin, and the other brands were smaller but way thicker, which did make them more obvious through shirts. And, not all of them had the sticky spots on the back to adhere them to your bra.


Several women also said they loved the various reusable/washable cotton nursing pads. I thought that they were okay and I was only able to use them after like, four or five months of breastfeeding, when my supply had waned and I wasn't leaking so much. If I had any kind of big let-down, then the washable pads were useless (leaked right through them), plus they don't have the sticky pads to adhere to your bra, either, so they'd move around and go off the bull's eye, if you know what I mean. 


I'm sure you do.


Another option is to cut actual maxi pads in half and stick those in your bra, especially if you're just hanging out at home.


Oh, and I suggest tossing a few extra sets of nursing pads in the diaper bag, purse, and breast pump... you never know when you'll saturate them while out and about and need a change!


What were/are your favorite nursing pads/leak solutions?



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Monday, June 25, 2012

Breastfeeding: Engorgement Blows Sometimes

Let's talk about boobs. Specifically, your boobs on breast milk. I'm going to talk a lot about boobs on breast milk in the coming month because I had a lot of things happen when I was breastfeeding three kids, so I want to share them, in the hopes that if someone else comes across any of these issues, they'll be armed with some info, or at least be able to say, "oh, I've heard of this happening before, it's okay". 

Before though, I feel the need to make a disclaimer. I can tell that some hardcore breastfeeding advocate might read this and get all pissed off and think that I am doing some huge disservice to women and babies everywhere because by talking about the difficult, stressful times, I could be putting women off of breastfeeding. 

Actually, my intention is exactly the opposite of that. While I couldn't care less whether or not a woman chooses to breastfeed, I believed in it for me and my babies and went through hell several times over in my determination to break through the tough times I had from getting the hang of breastfeeding. So, in writing these posts on breastfeeding, it's to bring awareness to others that it's not all peaches and cream and good times and easy, but you can get through it. And go on to have a successful breastfeeding relationship, should you choose to keep on that train. I fully believe that awareness is crucial, and that somebody is more apt to power through a tough time if they are aware of the obstacles and know how to combat them, instead of being surprised and lost and discouraged.

And, I am not saying that what I experienced is going to be the case for everyone, not even close. You may or (hopefully) may not experience any of this, and some people have a WAY easier time getting the hang of breastfeeding. Some people have absolutely zero problems with it. I wasn't one of them.

Moving on, it's come to my attention over the years that not many people are willing to offer up to pregnant moms what exactly happens to your boobs after you give birth and the milk comes in. Well, I'm willing. And trust me, the baby books can gloss over what really happens and kind of under-exaggerate the severity of what some moms go through.

One under-exaggeration being that when your milk comes in, your boobs will be "full" and "tender" and "uncomfortable" and "some moms find them to be a little painful". The truth: Your boobs can turn into excruciatingly painful rocks. Like, lumpy boulders full of swollen, burning pain, sitting right there on your chest. This is called engorgement and let me tell you, it is NOT fun. It typically happens about 4 days after birth, but everyone is different, and the milk comes in sooner the more babies you have (with my third, it only took two days). 

We obviously saw lots of family in the first weeks after each child was born and of course everyone wants to hug the new mom. And, the last thing I wanted was a hug, because the slightest whisper of a touch created ungodly amounts of pain and sometimes even triggered a painful, stinging, gushing let-down of milk. (A let-down is when your milk begins to rush out of your nipples to drown the baby for baby to more easily eat.) And the pain from the hugs made me want to first scream out OH GOD THE PAIN and then karate-chop the person in the face, so they were lucky I was incapacitated by pain from their touch and the c-section recovery. It's best to just politely beg off the hugs during engorgement.

Another under-exaggeration in all the baby books is that engorgement only lasts for 24-48 hours.

FUCK THAT LIE.

Mine lasted for THREE WEEKS. Yes, THREE WEEKS. Now, I'm not saying that you're going to have the same problem and I hope to God, you do not, but you should just know that it can and does last longer for some people. And no, I was not perpetuating the engorgement by pumping all the time and therefore telling my breasts to make more milk. I was just a super-prolific milk-maker and apparently, my body thought I had birthed 10-month-old triplets and needed that much milk. Apparently, my boobs are slow learners. 

I did, however occasionally pump for just a minute or two because after a while, the pain from 8-10 ounces of milk hanging out in just one breast (not an exaggeration) for hours and hours would become too much (baby can only eat so much and only so often). I would actually start to feel nauseous, nearly in tears, and literally incapable of movement, the pain was so bad, so I finally had to hook up to the milk machine just to get some relief before I cut my tits off with a chainsaw. Or started offering to nurse random babies in the neighborhood like a creep. The trick is to only pump in extreme circumstances (which hit about once or twice a day) and for only a minute or two, just to ease off some of the pressure. Because breast milk works on a supply and demand cycle, so the more you tell your boobs to make, the more they will make. So be careful with the pumping during the engorgement period. 

To ease the pain, I've heard that ice packs do wonders, but I was more a fan of the warm compresses and showers. But really, for me, nothing worked. I had had c-sections, so I was already on some pretty serious pain meds, and they didn't even help. So I was up shit creek without a paddle and just had to power through. If you feel comfortable taking it, ibuprofen helps reduce swelling and may work for the less severe cases. After the hard-core pain wore off from the c-section and I didn't need to take the serious drugs for pain anymore, I switched to ibuprofen, which was recommended by my doctor, and it didn't really help out my boob situation; just the incision pain.

I asked for tips for easing the engorgement period from other moms, and this is what they provided (some are what I've talked about but I'll list them anyway just to have a comprehensive list):


1. This one was mentioned several times - Cold cabbage leaves in your bra; change when they start to wilt. But one person provided this additional info: Don't do this too many times a day or you will dry up too much. Do it maybe 3 times a day, 30 minutes at a time. *UPDATE* AND, be sure to wash the cabbage leaves and/or your breasts after using them; an awesome reader (thank you, Lindsay) commented that her friend's baby got an infection and had to be hospitalized, and the doctor said it was from bacteria from the cabbage leaves.
2. Bags of frozen peas on your boobs.
3. Hot showers (the warmth stimulates the let-down reflex, easing some of the pressure).
4. Warm compresses.
5. Pump only for relief.
6. Tight sports bras

Cabbage leaves: not just for your mouth!
photo credit: stockphoto.com


Also, during the engorgement period, when I would be nursing baby on one side and get the let-down, the other side would turn into a faucet, leaking and straight-up spraying breast milk everywhere (I'm sorry for that visual). And NO nursing pad could hold all that gushing milk, so I had to stuff a cloth diaper/burp rag into my bra, and it would get absolutely soaked. The entire thing. So keep some of those handy.


My boobs hurt from writing this. 

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Thursday, June 21, 2012

It's a Special Day

Today is June 21st. It's usually the first day of summer, although I think this year it was yesterday. It's my friend Jill's birthday (Happy birthday, girl!). It's my friends' Carlton and Dion's anniversary. It's Go Skateboarding Day.

It's also the day that I married Nate. Nine years ago, we said "I do" in front of 80 people at a gorgeous resort and spa overlooking the ocean. 

If I was ever on Jeopardy and had to submit my mundane and weird story to tell after the first commercial break with the rest of the contestants, it would probably be the one about how the night before our wedding, at the rehearsal dinner, I realized that we not applied for a marriage license.


Yeah. Go, us.

I mean, here we had the fucking flowers, but I forgot to get the actual crux of our wedding. Awesome.

Obviously, we didn't call off the wedding, we just went ahead with the day and kind of skipped over the signing of the license part. I should have busted out a napkin and signed that shit, just for fun. We realized that we would just have to obtain the license after we returned from our honeymoon. 

So a week after we "married", we got our license, and were technically, legally married on the street in front of our house. Because we know how to rock that shit. Thankfully, Nate's brother was the pastor who married us (twice, now) and came over to do the deed as soon as we had the paper. 


So we're "special"... how many people do you know have been married twice without ever divorcing? Ha. Ha.


And if you're wondering if we acknowledge the legal marriage date as well, the answer is no. We acknowledge the date that we (and our families) spent an absurd amount of money, made our vows, and had a hell of a good time on.

We also had very non-traditional wedding cake toppers - they were two honey nut Cheerio plastic bees on scooters. The bee on the right was literally the very first gift Nate ever gave me when we were dating, from his box of Cheerios. He wrote his nickname for me on it and when I later saw that he had another one in his bedroom, I wrote my nickname for him on that one and we put them together and they've hung out together ever since. Naturally, we would use them as our cake toppers.



So yeah, the very first gift I ever got from my future husband was a toy from a box of Cheerios. Top that, fuckas! 

Looking back over the marriage, since we've only been married 9 years and not like, 90, I don't have much wisdom to impart. I would definitely say that when you plan your wedding, DO NOT plan to leave for your honeymoon right away, first thing the next morning. YOU WILL BE EXHAUSTED. Take a day to rest and decompress after the shitstorm and general emotional toll-taker that planning a wedding can be. 


And, after the ceremony and before the reception, grab your new spouse, a bottle of champagne and take off to somewhere private and alone for 15 minutes or so. No, not to go get it on or anything, but to just sit for a few minutes, breathe, and say, holy fuck, what did we just do?!? Nate and I did that and it was really nice to just have that time together as husband and wife. And crack jokes about how we technically weren't husband and wife. The photographer also stalked us and wrangled us into taking some photos in our cozy little spot. 


The next thing I would say is understand that no matter how strong your marriage is, it's just going to suck sometimes, especially the first year or maybe more after marriage. Hang in there. Nate and I still marvel that we're still married, and that we made it through the first few years that were not really easy for us. Perhaps it was pure fucking stubbornness that prevented either one of us from giving up, perhaps it was more; we'll never know.

A year or two into the marriage, Nate's brother invited us to a marriage seminar at the church he pastored at. We went, even though we don't really attend the church. There were several couples who spoke at the seminar, and it was almost shocking the level of shit they talked about having gone through and were still together in spite of. But one of the women made this analogy that really struck me. She asked the audience to imagine their marriage as being like two pieces of paper that were glued together. Then she said to imagine trying to rip the two pieces of paper apart. The papers wouldn't separate cleanly; they would tear and shred, and in the end, you wouldn't have two whole pieces of paper. They would be destroyed. They would not be the same as they were before being glued together.

I'm not one who condones remaining married if it's unhealthy or if your spouse does something that's totally unacceptable, but I like the paper analogy. It's just something that made me stop and think in those early days. 

So, happy anniversary, Nate. I know I'm not always a walk in the park to be married to, but neither are you sometimes. I guess that makes us perfect for each other. 

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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Tales From The Darkside

I'm going to divert from my usual mom/parenting stories and tell a couple of what I think are funny as shit (pun intended... you'll see) stories from before I had kids. They are from when I worked at a restaurant in college and I love them. For me, there was little joy in serving people in restaurants and so I cling to these stories like Titanic survivors clung to life rafts (too soon?).

* I waited on a table that consisted of two couples in their sixties. Maybe fifties. Maybe seventies. I was 19 or so at the time, so everyone over 50 looked old. My judgement was probably off. Anyway, we went through the entire dinner and when I dropped off the check, one of the ladies asked me "Where are the dancing boys?" I was shocked as I thought they were asking where the strip clubs were and didn't know what to say. But finally, my bluntness and lack of shame propelled me to say "Are you asking me where the male strip clubs are? Because I think there are a couple in downtown Portland, but I don't really know for sure..." 

Everyone at the table started cracking up, and while I stood there like an idiot, wondering if the old folk were fucking senile, finally one of the ladies said, "Oh, you must be too young to know, [gee, no shit] but back in our day, when you finished eating at a restaurant, some dancing boys came out and sang to you at the table, as a thank you and goodbye." I laughed it off and probably made some stupid and completely inappropriate remark. But I will never forget the time that I thought some old ladies were asking me where the male strip clubs were.

* There was another table that I waited on, comprised of two middle-aged couples, and one of the women disappeared to the bathroom for quite some time. Like, so long that eventually the other woman said she would go check on her. It was obvious the chick was dropping a deuce, so I dropped the check to the guys, they cashed out, and I thought the day was done as far those patrons were concerned. 

Shortly after, my shift was over and I went to tip the hostesses, and they were talking about the woman who had asked them for a change of clothes because she had shit all over herself. They rummaged up a bag for the shitty clothes, and an extra chef's uniform for her, and she promised that she would bring it back the next day. THEN, she told them she left a mess in the bathroom that needed to be cleaned up. And she didn't even apologize. 

When they went to check the bathrooms, they discovered that not only had the woman shit all over herself, she had shit all over the fucking bathroom stall. Like, ALL OVER. Apparently, your colon is capable of exploding, and you'll still live. Poop was sprayed at least three feet above the toilet, on the floor, and on the walls to the side of the toilet. And it smelled like death. It was so bad that the manager of the restaurant could not find it within herself to send the busboys- who typically did the clean-up jobs- in there to clean it up, and cleaned it herself. I put two and two together and figured out that it had been the woman from my table who had done the deed. That must have been a fun car ride home, with a bag of shit-saturated clothes stinking up the car.

The next night, one of the hostesses that had been present during the shit fest the night before was on shift when I went in. She told me that the woman had come back to return the chef's uniform. I was like, "Oh my God, how did she act? Was she super embarrassed? I would DIE having to bring that thing back after the mess I left in the bathroom. Did she send her husband in with it? I would have!" She looked at me and said that not only was the woman seemingly not embarrassed, she handed in the uniform like it was the most natural thing in the world to possess a chef's uniform from a restaurant, and said something like, "I had to borrow this last night, and I washed it and and am now returning it." No apology, no apparent shame.

* The restaurant I worked at was in Oregon, which has extremely strict liquor control laws. Like, we had to card people who looked thirty, for Christ's sake, or risk losing our jobs, losing our OLCC (Oregon Liquor Control Commission) cards, face jail time, and the restaurant would be fined $5,000. Or maybe it was $50,000. Either way, stiff penalties. Fuck serving the minors. So one day, some chick came in with her dad and her little brother. She ordered an alcoholic beverage. I asked her for her i.d. She flipped out. She pointed to her brother across the table and said, "How could you possibly card me when I am here with my son!? He's nine! I think I am old enough to drink!" I said something like, "Good for you, but I thought he was your brother; that's how young you look. You should take that as a compliment. Show me your i.d." She huffed and puffed and blew the straw house down produced her i.d. I looked at it. She was twenty-four. 
Twenty-four, with a nine-year-old son. Excuse me for thinking that was your brother, and that you weren't old enough to drink. And after spending some time serving the table, I figured out that "dad" was actually her boyfriend. Or maybe her husband. Who knows. I'm not judging. I swear. To each their own.


* A disclaimer before this one: I love old people. I have nothing against them. They can be funny as shit. However... another time, a busload of elderly people came in one afternoon and I was the lucky one who got to be their server. There were probably about 20 of them. I went to the table to get drink orders and tell them the specials. They were old, and deaf as Helen Keller. And their brains didn't quite work as well as maybe they used to at intaking and processing information. And, they ALL wanted to hear the specials. Well, for them to hear, I had to literally lean down between two of them at a time and yell the specials, speaking at the pace of molasses so they could process what I was saying, too. It took me like, thirty fucking minutes just to tell them the specials. I'm pretty sure a couple of them fell asleep and one may have died by the time I was done.
The kicker? None of them even ordered any of the goddamn specials.


~~~


There are many more, like the time the pregnant woman's water broke mid-meal and she leaked amniotic fluid on the foyer floor when rushing out, and the other time the old lady died (not from choking, probably natural causes) on the floor of the foyer, but I think I'll stop at these four. Those other two aren't really funny, anyway. And sorry if you didn't think the four I told were funny, either. :-) 


Be nice to your server, my friends.


xaxor.com
Funny, the restaurant I worked at was a seafood restaurant....






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Friday, June 15, 2012

To The Great Ones

Happy Father's Day, dads. I mean the dads who pour their heart and soul into raising their kids and don't leave the child-rearing to the moms. 

I mean the dads who change diapers, play with their kids, put them to bed, brush their teeth, bathe them, and teach them about life. 

I mean the dads who split child-rearing as equally as possible with mom, because they realize that they're a parent, too, and the fact that they work doesn't take away from the fact that they are also a father. Working moms still take care of their kids, so why shouldn't working fathers? Work should not impact one's ability to be a father at home. They are two completely separate things.

Happy Father's Day to the dads who split the sleeping in with mom, and who take care of mom and their relationship because they realize that a happy, healthy relationship is one of the best environments a couple can provide for their children. Happy Father's Day to the dads who don't let their wives run themselves ragged day after day while they chill out and watch, not lifting a finger to help, and then ask their exhausted, spent wives for more, more, more. 

To those laundry-folding warriors who also know how to dress their kids and get them ready for the day, cheers to you. To the dads who are capable of and proficient at caring for the kids so mom can go do her thing without having to worry about the lives and limbs of her young, double cheers to you. 


An extra-special Happy Father's Day to the dads who can't be with their babies because they are serving their country. Be safe, and may you return home safely. Thank you for your sacrifice.


Happy Father's Day to the dads who are no longer with us, and to the dads who no longer get to hold their babies, except in their hearts and memories.


Photo credit: allquotes.com


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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Kid or Animal?

I seem to be in an animal/insect mode right now so I guess I'll continue on with it and write about some similarities I've noticed with raising kids and having pets. I became aware of this the other day when Brandon was standing up in his high chair, asking for more "chee". I was standing on the other side of the counter that separates the dining room from the kitchen, and I told him to sit, and after he did, I tossed him the cheese. And of course I thought, "wow, that was just like training a dog." And of course, then my mind wandered and I started thinking of all the other ways that kids and pets are similar.

1. Potty training a kid, house training a pet. Either way you're dealing with accidents and cleaning up piss and poo from where it should NOT be.

2. Kids cry and the annoy the shit out of everyone within earshot, dogs bark and annoy the shit out of everyone within earshot.

3. We've received photo Christmas cards of kids. We've received photo Christmas cards of pets. 

4. Both kids and pets get treats for being good.

5. Both kids and pets are "trained", and taught to sit, roll over, etcetera. 

6. Both kids and pets beg for food when they're not hungry.

7. I swear to God, there have been times when I've heard a cat fight, and discovered it was the baby crying. Likewise, there have been times when I thought I heard the baby crying, and it was a cat fight. They sound eerily similar. When Connor was a baby, he snored and snuffled a lot in his sleep. When he'd be sleeping in the bassinet next to our bed, it sounded like a farm animal in there, I kid you not. It was weird and actually pretty funny, all at the same time. Kids can sound like animals.

8. A drooling dog and teething baby: Both capable of saturating your shirt in seconds.

9. Both dogs and small kids cannot roam free in public. Leash a dog, some people leash their kids. We've managed to forgo the leash somehow, using hands, shopping carts, and a couple of underwear changes for me, but I in no way judge people for leashing their kids. Keep 'em safe, that's the top priority. 

10. Butt focus abounds in both: Dogs and cats lick their butts, sometimes for an inordinately long time; well after it's clean. My kids play with theirs. Let's hope mine keep to licking the bathtub, and don't devolve into licking butts. 

11. Speaking of butts... Both kids and pets sleep in their parent's bed and annoy the shit out of them. Or is that just us that find the mule kicks and elbows to the jaw annoying? However, at least THIS has never happened to us:

Primarily because we don't own a dog. Photo credit: http://epiclol.com

What other similarities are there? Come on, I know I'm missing many more!

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Saturday, June 9, 2012

Way #1078 That Motherhood Has Changed Me

I HATE spiders. They're so disgusting and creepy and freaky and gnarly and I can't stand them. They scare the bejeezus out of me, and yeah yeah yeah, I know they are tiny creatures who are more scared of us than we are of them, but a phobia is a phobia, people. Reason doesn't come into play there.

All my life, as soon as I've seen a spider in my house, it's been squashed and tossed. I can't leave them be because I have horrid visions of it making its way to my bed and crawling on me in my sleep oh jesus I am freaking out just writing that. *SHUDDER* 

Well. Last  night, I was getting into the shower and I saw a big ugly brown fucker at the top of the bathroom wall. It was out of reach, so I figured it would probably come down while I was in the shower and I'd squash it then. After the shower, I saw that it was in reach above the light switch and thought oh yeah you creepy disgusting bitch, you're going down.

But something registered in my murderous brain and I looked again at the spider. Then I looked up where I had last seen it and it hit me: There were two spiders. OhGodohGodohGod UGGGHHHH. But something made me look at the second spider a little closer and I realized that it was a baby spider, and it was learning how to "walk". It was putting out its two front legs and feeling spastically around before trusting itself enough to get a grip and move forward. And occasionally it would lose its grasp and tumble a bit, but would always catch itself and start over.

And the other disgusting spider, the giant one, must have been mom (or dad) because it waited patiently at the top of the next wall for baby to make its way up to her. And it was odd: mom would stay in one place but was moving her legs all around, and occasionally would wiggle the butt part of her body. I assume she was somehow communicating with the baby spider. It was oddly fascinating. And as I stood there and watched this for several minutes, I found myself making a few mental transitions.

The first was, I can't kill the baby in front of the mom. That's just horrific. So I'll wait for the mom to come down, smash her first, then take out the baby. 

Then I watched them a little more, and I found myself actually cheering on the baby. With each tumble, I mentally rooted for it to recover. When it reached the corner and needed to cross over to the other wall, I was curious as to whether or not it was going to make it or fall down, and rooted for it to cross successfully. When it did, I actually smiled and felt proud of the disgusting little fucker. 

And I realized that for the first time in my life, I couldn't kill the spiders. I had totally humanized them while watching the baby learn to walk. Or maybe not have humanized them, but my own experiences at watching my babies grow and learn allowed me to relate to the situation and relationship I was witnessing, and prevented me from killing them. It was just some mom watching her baby learn how to make its way through life, sending encouragement and patiently waiting for it to succeed.

After realizing that I couldn't kill them, I thought about what to do with them. I didn't really want to leave them, but the alternative was to try and catch them to throw them outside.

Fuck that. My compassion extended to letting them live and that's where it ended. No way in hell was I going to touch them, or risk touching them by a trapping gone bad. Because the second one of those creepers touched my skin, I know I would flip the hell out and smash it to smithereens, and then have to spend ten minutes un-creeping myself out and smacking at my skin and hair while shuddering uncontrollably. 

So I left them. They were gone this morning; I don't know where they went and I don't want to think about it. But I'm adding this to the little scorecard I keep in my head that tallies the ways motherhood has changed me. 

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Thursday, June 7, 2012

Public Service Announcement #2

I find it very fitting that this PSA happens to be #2. You'll get it soon enough.


Nate took the two older boys (and a kid we don't really know from Ethan's class - proud of you, dude) to the park the other day and a certain event reminded me of another public service announcement that I would like to make:

Dog owners: PICK UP YOUR DOG'S SHIT.

In case you haven't figured out what the certain event was, Connor stepped in some dog shit at the park. Ever since Ethan and Connor have been old enough to walk, they have continually stepped in dog shit, and we don't even own a dog. It has happened so much that I'm starting to wonder if they are dog shit magnets, in spite of us teaching them to be on the lookout for stinky brown piles of dung.

I mean, come on, people. I don't let my kids shit on the sidewalk and leave it for you or your dog to step in. Be responsible for your pets. Pick up their crap. If you forget a bag, find a big leaf and scoop it up the best you can, or find a stick and spear that fucker like a piece of meat, all caveman style, then throw it somewhere that people are not going to be stepping. Common courtesy doesn't apply to you? Then step in it your fucking self and spare the rest of the world the frustrating, gaggingly smelly agony of digging your dog's shit out of the thousands of crevices in their shoes.


Thanks!


I made this one for my kids:





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Monday, June 4, 2012

One Crazy Story, Part 6: Three Kids vs. Two. Crazy As Shit.

Uuuuugh. SO GLAD to finally have gotten the emotional train wreck that is the story of Brandon on here. When I started this blog, I knew I was going to tell it but wasn't sure when. I knew I had to tell it because I make no secret of how stressful having the boys is and maybe people might be thinking, "Well then why did you keep having kids, dipshit?"


I totally get that sentiment. 

Now you all know that the third one wasn't exactly a conscious decision. Neither was the first, actually. So, now we have three kids and I have to tell you, three is what has tipped the scales for me as far as craziness, sanity, and chaos goes. I truly underestimated how big of a difference that a third child makes in a family.


I frequently see articles and blog posts from moms wondering if they should have a third child. I rarely see the ones wondering if they should go from one to two children or from three to four or more. It seems that instinctively, moms know that the third child makes for some seriously significant differences, more so than anything else. Three tips the scales.

They're right.

Moms, dads, if you're considering a third child, I beg of you to read this post thoroughly and really think about what it contains. It's going to be long, I can tell already, because three kids bring that much to consider. It's really not a decision to arrive at lightly. Many of the considerations have to do with money. Maybe you're very wealthy or at least very comfortable, so those points won't apply to you. But the emotional components probably will.


THE HUNGER GAME
Don't underestimate the food costs that a third child brings to the grocery bill. The extra few cups of milk a day, the extra breakfast, snack, lunch (half of which is ignored) afternoon snack, cup of juice, dinner (half of which is thrown on the floor) and treat or whatever bribe you threw out in sheer desperation to make him/her behave in public since you now have more kids than arms (I'll get to that next) and are willing to resort to near-prostitution to just. get. through. the. muthafuckin. day, really adds up. I'm not kidding. In the span of a few months, we went from like, a $650 a month grocery bill to about a $1000 a month. And I'm a cheap-ass bargain shopper, too. And yes, about $150 of it is booze to deal with the kids. And cheap booze, at that.


Yeah, kids kinda do that to you.


PRACTICAL ASPECTS
1. Can I get another set of arms and eyes in the back of my head? Out in public, if your kids are all close together in age and on the younger end, it's stressful to keep an eye on all three of them. That third kid really tips the scales as far as keeping track of them go. I mean, walking in a parking lot or taking them to a busy park sheds about a half a day off of my life each time. 


2. Do you really want to go through teething and potty training again? Diapers and "ass wipings" according to Nate? Three butts is a whole lotta poop; a whole lotta ass wipings. Sleepless nights? Gigantic, swollen, rock-hard, leaking breasts? (Did you think 'breasts' was going to be something else? Pervert.)


3. How are you going to handle it if all three kids are crying at once? If you do it like us and have them back-to-back-to-back, with a just-turned 4-year-old, a two-year-old, and a baby, shit like that is going to happen. I promise. And someone is going to get the shaft. It was usually the one with the less pressing problem, although many people offered up this nugget o' wisdom: When faced with multiple crying children, comfort the one who is old enough to remember that you did or did not comfort them... I still say to deal with the ones with the more pressing issues first. Screw their memories. Just add the perceived slight to the long list of things they'll take to therapy with them.


4. Another kid to get haircuts for, 20 more nails to trim (close your mouth when doing so, unless you're hungry for some clippings), another kid to bathe, to dress, brush teeth.... Takes time, people. And mental anguish.


5. Don't underestimate the noise that the third child brings. Do you have the sanity to deal with living in what is basically day-care-level noise all the time


6. Don't even think you're going to easily run errands with three small kids. GONE are the days of making a quick stop at the post office, running in to grab the forgotten milk, pretty much anything. On the plus side, having multiple children does make you more efficient and organized. Otherwise, you die.

THE SPACE CASE
Cars
Do you have room in your car? Seriously, depending on the age of your kids and car seat necessity, can you somewhat comfortably fit the extra kid in your car? Not to mention the strollers and other gear, a friend of theirs/carpool stuff. If not, can you really afford to trade up? We bought a 7-seater SUV after the 3rd was born, only to discover that the second row didn't really fit three car seats very well. And we weren't really planning on utilizing the third row unless absolutely required (we need it folded down for the cargo space), so that isn't an option for seating the 5-year-old. Five people take up a lot of room in a car.


House
Does your house really have enough bedrooms/space for a third? If not, are you truly in a position to move/trade up? Think of all the crap that you accumulate with a child.... the clothes, the gear, the toys... we are currently storing (since we have all boys) the full wardrobes of not only the size that the three boys are IN, but the in-between sizes for hand-me-downs. It's a hell of a lot of clothes.


We got lucky in having all boys and close together in age because we've just thrown them all in the same room. It's like a dorm in there. Smells like one, too.


Do you have a dining room table that will fit the fifth wheel person? The space to extend your 4-seater table to the six-seater with the extra leaf in the middle? 


Do you have space in your refrigerator for all the food a family of five consumes? Unless you want to go to the store every other day (which I swear to God, you will not have the time or especially the inclination to do), you will learn to buy big and minimize the frequency that you have to grocery shop. And you'll need somewhere to put the food. We lucked into an extra refrigerator that we shoved in the garage and it has been a lifesaver. Since I now buy 4 gallons of milk at a time, the giant 5-dozen brick of eggs from Costco, six 6-packs of yogurt, the "institution-size" double bags of bread (It always cracks me up to see that stamped on the bag of bread because I really do feel like I am living in an institution. Of the insane variety.), several gallons of juice... you get it. Takes up space. 

THE TIME MACHINE
Laundry
Do you have the time and inclination to do the extra load or two of laundry a week? The money for the added detergent/water costs? We went from doing like, 3-4 loads to 7-8 a week. There's extra bedding, towels, clothes, messes to deal with... and we also went from having the gigantic Costco-sized box of Tide last for nearly a year to a couple of months.


Doctor's Visits / Co-Pays / Health Insurance Premiums
Do you have the time to schedule those extra doctor's visits and well baby/child check-ups, not to mention if the child has health issues? The extra money for health insurance premiums and co-pays? 


School / Sports and Extracurricular Activities / Birthday Invites
What about when #3 enters school and starts getting those invites to the birthday parties? Now you not only have three kids receiving party invites, and have to juggle those (and the expense of the gifts) but what about sports and other extracurricular activities? The cost of lessons, sports fees? You have three kids in three different leagues with three different birthday parties and two different recitals and a study group, all on one weekend.... 


Fuck me. Bye bye, weekends and evenings!


But I guess, this is where the kids learn the art of sacrifice and picking what's important. Or, they learn that mom and dad will drive themselves up the wall to fulfill every "need" their children present.

THE BABYSITTER'S CLUB
Do you realize that it's a lot harder to find people willing to babysit three kids over two? Look at who watches your children and think about whether or not they'd be capable of AND willing to watch another child. I'm talking about for the date nights and overnight trips (if you can even still afford them), not necessarily daycare, although, that's a consideration, too. Can your daycare take on another child, and a baby at that? Can you afford the cost of another child in daycare?


For date nights and overnight trips, when we had only two, it was much easier to convince family members to watch them. Now with three? Our options dropped off significantly, as our need to get away increased. Shitty. We now only have my mom, who lives out of state, and Nate's dad and stepmom, who live an hour away and have lives of their own. Our primary sitter, Nate's mom, can take two of them without issues but when it comes to all three... She will occasionally and in extreme circumstances do it but it's not really an option.


So yeah, we kinda fucked ourselves there.


Actually, she's gotten more willing since Brandon is getting older and a *touch* easier to handle.


ENTERTAINMENT
Next, the movies, zoo, amusement park, concert, ballpark, season passes, theater, museum, water park, general entertainment cost-of-admission tickets. Add another ticket price/season pass into the already exorbitant costs, and it may become prohibitive. 


So instead of having the financial freedom to have season passes to the local favorite amusement park/museum, being able to see a movie once a month, attend some major sporting events, and go out to dinner, you might be able to see a play at the reduced-price multi-ticket family discount night at the local theater once a year, and have a family pass to the local museum, and never see the inside of a restaurant nicer than McDonald's for many, many years.


National Lampoon's Vacation
Are you used to going to Disneyland, or Hawaii, or somewhere else fun every year? Can you afford the third plane ticket? How are you going to do the sleeping arrangements in the hotel?  Most have two beds, which is great when there are four people. Might be tough sleeping three kids in a bed or dealing with who has to sleep on the floor. How are you going to configure the seating on the rides? There will always be an odd man out. I realized this when we went to Legoland when I was pregnant with Brandon. The other two boys were too small to ride most of the rides by themselves and will be for some time, and Nate and I were able to split sitting with them, except for the ones that preggos can't go on. But if we'd had the third with us then? We would have had to take twice as long going through everything twice to allow the third child the chance to ride. So it looks like we won't be returning to those types of amusement parks until at least the two oldest can ride together.

THE LOVE BOAT
Do you really have the time and emotional capacity to invest in another child? Like, really really really? Are you already feeling kind of tapped out? A third child is only going to make that worse, way worse. You're already splitting yourself between your spouse/partner, yourself, and the other two kids. Do you really have the reserves for another child? Can you truly invest the time for another child? Can your marriage/relationship afford the distraction, time requirements, and stress of another child?


It takes a hell of a lot of yourself to raise EACH child you bring into this world. Yes, the more kids you add, the more you can utilize siblings to help with each other, but when one child is sick, or struggling with stress or emotional upheaval, or dealing with whatever issues arise at any given moment, it falls to you, or dad, to deal with it. Most things siblings cannot (and should not) take care of. So you really need to ask yourself, "Am I capable of divesting myself for yet another child? When I am splitting myself between the two kids, my spouse, myself (yes, yourself; you count as much as anyone) and the rest of my obligations, do I really have enough left over for another child? Am I prepared to sacrifice the time I do have with the two kids for another? Am I going to feel guilty for taking the time and energy from my other kids?"


So in conclusion:


I was already crazy with just the two, but now I have one foot in the loony bin and the other on a banana peel. Three kids are hard. It's really crazy. It really does tip the scales from manageable to... I don't want to say unmanageable....


Chaotic might be a better word. 


We are friends with a couple who have four kids. They were over for a birthday party one day and the dad was talking to me and of course I got distracted from the conversation by a kid,  apologized, said something like, "man, three kids is fucking nuts", then realized that I was telling some dude who has four kids that three is crazy. He responded that three is no different than four. He got it. He was like, "Once you have three kids, it's all over. Four isn't any different." Then he cracked that we should have another kid and I wanted to punch his nuts up through his throat.


Yeah. NO THANKS.


Some of these things may seem really small (I mean really, I threw out the extra laundry detergent costs to consider?) but together, they all add up into one big thing. Those tiny expenses really, really do add up. Trust me, they do, I know for a fact. The time required for the care of a third child adds up, too. More than maybe one would think.


I have realized that I will always want a baby. But I don't want another child. Babies are my thing; I absolutely love those warm and snugly tiny sacks of poop and gas. The desire for a baby may never go away, but that doesn't mean I should keep having kids to sate it, because it will never be sated. So really ask yourself if you just want to have another baby, or do you really want to add another member to your family? In a lot of the articles and posts that I read, many of the authors just talk about how much they want a baby, to hold a baby, to smell a baby, etc., and they never really say they want to have another child, have another family member. This scares me a little because it doesn't appear to me that they are realizing or considering the difference, and I'm not always sure that they are taking into consideration the fact that the baby only is a baby for a too-short period of time. It will turn into a toddler. And then, a teenager. Remember that.





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