Friday, July 27, 2012

A Little Taste of Freedom

Last week, my grandmother passed away and I went back to Oregon for her funeral. The travel arrangements worked out to where I was able to catch a free ride to Oregon with my dad, who happened to be visiting during that time, then fly home but it meant that I had to leave a few days earlier than I really needed to. Note that I said needed, not wanted.

Therefore, I spent 5.5 days away from the boys. Because "free" trumps all. Now to some moms, it would be a horror to spend that much time away from their children. 

I'm not one of them.

This is where, depending on which camp you're in, I either look like a raging asshole of a mom, or you're thinking, yay, someone who admits that she is a human being with her own needs and personality and life outside of her children!

Either way, for those 5.5 days, I was free. I was my own person. I was responsible for nobody but myself. I got to be spontaneous. I got to relax. I got to sit in one place for longer than 15 minutes. I repeatedly walked barefoot across my mom's floors and didn't step in anything sticky. Not even once.

I got to have uninterrupted, relaxing, adult conversations. Over and over. So many that my voice was hoarse the entire week. I got to listen to people, with 100% of my attention, and respond without once losing my train of thought. Without hearing an errant scream. Without interrupting them to grab a pair of scissors out of a toddler's hand or to tell the boys to be quiet or go play somewhere else or stop hitting or to stop interrupting... oh, the irony. 

I got to visit with some of my best friends. Just us. Just adult women, catching up on life and laughing. Not being moms. Being us. Being Elizabeth, Jenny, Heather, Venessa. I went to a high school friend's birthday dinner, which basically was a mini high school reunion, and it was awesome. I didn't have to try to find a sitter, and then bow out because no one could do it. I didn't have to be back by a certain time. I could just go.

I got to connect with my extended family as me, not as my mothering self.  I got to focus on themI watched my cousin chase after her three kids, and it didn't make me think, "oh, I miss my babies". It made me think that I was happy to not be the one doing that for once. Just this one time, I was able to sit and enjoy my family, and not be primarily chasing after or keeping an eye and half of my attention on my kids.

I went to sleep when I wanted, not when I had to force myself to, to be up and at 'em at the crack of dawn (and I found that I had the energy to be up way later than I usually am... imagine that). The only butt I wiped was my own. I didn't listen to a single butt, poop, or fart conversation. 

I could suddenly decide to stop at the store for something without having to weigh the pros and cons of dragging the three boys in with me, unstrapping and strapping them into their carseats, and dealing with them in the store versus waiting until later and then thinking about when exactly "later" was going to be and how what I needed fit into that time frame. For those 5.5 days, I just did it. Whatever I needed to do, I just did it.

I was free. It was absolutely glorious. I was simply... me. I was reminded of what I instinctively knew when I was in college and made the decision to not have children (that obviously worked out) - children were going to challenge me greatly. I am not the type of person that would prompt anybody to stand up at my funeral and say, "She was born to be a mother" or "She always wanted to be a mother." In college, I learned so much about myself and really developed my personality, and the personality that emerged was of an independent, non-traditional woman who does not have the personality traits that mesh with small children. The list is lengthy, but in short, I don't like having to take care of other people. I am not patient in many areas and I like to be alone just as much as I like to be around people. Adult people. I enjoy independence, greatly.

And I am okay with that. I am fine with who I am. I am fine with the knowledge that while my love for my children is fierce, it's okay to miss them every once in a while. It's okay to be away from them, and not really even think too much about them. I do not want to be - and am not - obsessed  with and all-consumed by my children.

So I enjoyed my time alone and now I am back in the fray. I know I have something that many people beg for, pray for, would kill for: healthy, well-fed children. I know how fortunate I am. I know that so many people have it much, much worse than I do. I know there is a mother somewhere right now holding her child as he dies from hunger or illness. I know there is a mother visiting her child's grave right now, another mother watching her child suffer, and another woman sitting in a fertility clinic, praying her heart out. Right now.

And when I was in Oregon, I didn't get any slobbery kisses from my little boys. I didn't feel their little arms around my neck or hear them scream "mama" and see them run for me when I woke up in the morning and walked into the living room. I didn't hear their giggles. I didn't get to watch their faces as they rode the rides at an amusement park their dad took them to while I was gone (on the flip side, I also didn't have to smell or deal with the vomit that Brandon spewed all over the car on the way home). I didn't get to cup Connor's face in my hand and watch him close his eyes and smile. I didn't get to watch Brandon happily and proudly rock his "Bee-yo" (baby doll) on his rocking horse, like I'm watching him do as I type this.

But it was okay. Because I knew I was going back.

I know that when I was Oregon, I had something that I usually don't have, and want on a regular basis: Freedom. Just a little bit of freedom to be less "mom" and more "Elizabeth" sometimes. But I know that I will get it back in bits and pieces over the years, until eventually, it'll be all I have. And I am looking forward to that. I am looking forward to my boys being more independent. I'm looking forward to being able to relate to them on a deeper level than how bad a fart smells. I'm looking forward to being able to teach them about the deeper things in life, and to watching them turn into independent, capable, strong young men. I'm looking forward to knowing them in their adult lives. I'm looking forward to holding their babies. 

And in the meantime, I will try to grab bits of freedom where ever I can. And try not to be pecked to death.

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Friday, July 13, 2012

The Gas Explosion

There has been a gas explosion in my house.

Yes, we're all okay, because no, I am not talking about the kind of gas explosion you can blame on P.G. & E., although, this explosion has been caused by natural gas, as well.

I don't know what's going on, but the boys have suddenly become the gassiest kids on earth. These days, pretty much not an hour goes by that I am not bombarded with the gas rockets they are shooting out of their assholes. It's astounding.

It's as though I have been transported back in time to 1945, and am fighting alongside my Papa in the Battle of Iwo Jima. 

"Incomiiiiing!" **BOOM!** "Auuuggghh! I'm being assaulted from all ends! Evacuate! EVACUAAAATE!!" "I can't breathe! My eyes are burning!" "I can't hear! My ear drums are ruptured and bleeding!"

Except, instead of blowing holes in bodies, they are blowing holes through their underwear.

Even Brandon, who is not quite two yet, has gotten in on the game. He can barely talk, but he laughs alongside his brothers when one of them farts, and when he himself farts, grabs his butt and says "Ah furrrr" (I fart) and then giggles maniacally.

I'm terrified to light a match anymore.

No, their diets haven't changed. They're just six, four, and almost two-year-old boys. And they have discovered the best game on earth: farting on one another. 

And suddenly, they have the ammo to play it. And play it well.

I've underestimated the pure joy that loud, obnoxious farts bring little boys. Here I thought that my kids would think I'm cool because I give them candy and play baseball with them. Nope. Turns out, I've discovered (and made an ecard in honor of), that this is the trick:

I need to up my game. I'll be buying beans, cabbage, and carbonated beverages in bulk now.

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Monday, July 9, 2012

Breastfeeding: Ground Beef Nipples & Some Tips. But Not Beef Tips. Ha.

Some nipples can't quite take the heat of nursing a baby. Whether it's from continual improper latching, sensitive skin, or who knows what, sometimes, they crack, and even bleed. Sometimes, they turn into ground beef. Yum. Hamburgers, anyone?

I was one of the lucky ones who got to enjoy a severe case of my nipples not quite taking to nursing babies. After Ethan, my first baby, was born, the lactation consultants at the hospital helped me help him latch and he seemed to latch well, which is the trick to avoiding sore and cracking nipples... for most people. But, he wanted to suck all the time and the nurses were very pro feed, feed, feed, and very anti-pacifier. Since he was my first baby, I decided to listen to them and not stuff a pacifier in his mouth when he'd be crying to suck and comfort himself, and instead would latch him on again, even though he had just been latched for an hour and a half and wasn't hungry - my boobs were definitely producing.

After a day or two of having a baby constantly on my nips, they started to feel "quite sore". Like, "Oh God it's time for him to eat again? Noooooooo" sore. After a week, they were cracked and bleeding, and I would cry from the pain when latching him on, and throughout the feeding. Finally, my nips were so torn up that one night, when I went to pump off a little bit of the engorgement, all that came out of my boob was blood.

Of course, I freaked. I was sobbing and frustrated and ready to quit breastfeeding. In sheer panic (how the fuck am I going to feed my baby if all I'm producing is blood?) I called my friend who had had a baby seven months previously, (those friends with kids, man... they ROCK) and when she somehow got the gist of my situation through my sobs, she said one simple, lifesaving thing:

"Why aren't you using the nipple shield I gave you?"

~Cue the singing angels and the bright, ethereal sunlight streaming through the parting clouds~

Me: What? Nipple shield? What the hell is that

Her: It's that Medela thing I gave you, it's a clear nipple-shaped thingy that you put over your nipple while feeding and it protects it from the trauma of baby sucking.

I tore back to my bedroom, a trail of blood in my wake, dug through my drawer, and found the coveted Medela nipple shield. It looks like this:

And it is the BEST THING EVER. I highly recommend that you buy one to have on hand, just in case your nipples do not initially like breastfeeding. Shit, buy two or three just in case you lose one or don't feel like washing it at 3 a.m. Those things are gold. Target and Babies 'R Us sell them, and probably tons of other places, including, perhaps, the lactation center at the hospital. Or maybe you can even just ask for one at the hospital and they'll give you one. And at the end of this post, I go over a couple of things I dealt with with the shield so be sure to read that part.

Speaking of lactation centers...
...that was my next stop the very next day. Because while the nipple shield was great and saved my breastfeeding life, I still had the problem of the sorry shape my nipples were in. The lactation consultant asked if she could see my nipples so she would know how bad they were and how they needed to be treated. I opened my bra, and this woman who has probably seen it all actually gasped and recoiled when she saw the bloody carnage that my nipples were. She put her hand over her mouth and I swear, she wanted to cry for me (and probably throw up). She said they looked like ground beef.

Hungry, anyone?

So the lactation consultant first called my doctor and asked him to write a prescription for a topical medication to heal my ground beef. Then she confirmed that I should be using the nipple shield. Then she warned me that my nipples, in that condition, were prime candidates for transmitting bacteria into my breasts and causing a breast infection, also known as mastitis, so I needed to be really careful about keeping them clean and focus on healing them quickly. Then she asked me to bring the baby in so she could watch him latch and eat and see if there was something wrong there that she could correct (nothing ended up being wrong - like I said, my nips just can't take it). Then she gave me some nipple cream (lanolin) and gel pads to help along the healing.

Speaking of lanolin and gel pads.... 
Those are two other things I also recommend that you have on hand and I recommend that you begin using them right away, as soon as you start breastfeeding. After each feeding, just apply a little bit to your nipples to soothe and protect them. The lanolin that I preferred was Medela Tendercare, but Lansinoh's is fine, too. Lansinoh's is just a little thicker and "stiffer" than Medela's, so when you squeeze some out, press it between your fingertips for a few seconds to warm and soften it up for easier application.

Breast milk also works at helping nipples heal; it has natural healing properties. Just smear some on after each feeding and try to let it air dry. (Thank you, Vanessa, for the reminder!!)

The gel pads I used were the Soothies brand but Medela makes some that I've heard work beautifully, too (thanks, E.B.!). Store them in the refrigerator and the cool gel pads feel really nice against your nipples and something in the gel helps soothe and heal them. The great thing about them is you can use the same ones for a couple of days before you have to toss them, but keep them clean so you don't transmit bacteria via your nips. AND, you can even cut them in half so you get a bit more for your money.


And if you start to feel too much pain during latching and the feeding, then start using the nipple shield. After, of course, doing what you can to make sure that baby is latching properly in the first place.

More nipple shield info....
I used the shield for all three babies; I had to. My nips just weren't up to the task after each birth and took a long time to adjust, but eventually they did and I didn't have to use the shield. The only problem is that Connor (the second) actually became dependent on it and refused to latch without it, so only use it as long as you absolutely have to. I used it too long with him. With Ethan and Brandon, it was maybe a week, two tops. After four months of using the shield with Connor, I finally was able to break him of it but it was tough, really tough. I would recommend that when your nipples begin to heal or feel less sore, start alternating using the shield for one feeding and not for the next feeding to help wean.

And you can bet your ass that when I had my next two babies, I took a fucking pacifier to the hospital, and I fucking used it. I know it's not "recommended" and some people will want to slay me for saying that, but fuck it. Babies want to suck. They want to suck like they're goddamn vampires. If, after they have eaten and aren't having problems latching, then stuff that paci in their mouth and be at peace. 

We're not supposed to use a pacifier for the first couple of weeks to avoid nipple confusion in the baby but I don't entirely buy that. Babies can and do figure it out. I mean, what if you bottle feed and give them different bottle nipples? What about when all the nurses and parents let the baby suck on their fingers to soothe them? What's the difference between a finger and a pacifier? But I've seen countless breastfeeding/medical professionals do it. What about the nurses that give the babies those blue Soothie pacifiers in the nursery? I'm not saying let the baby live with the paci in their mouth, but if it's needed for a bit to calm the baby (who isn't hungry, and who is gaining weight and peeing and pooping) and give mom a break, then go for it. 

When I figured out that Ethan simply wanted to suck and wasn't actually hungry since he had just eaten, I went out to the nurses station and begged them for a pacifier, and they refused to give me one. He hung out on my boobs for 20 out of 24 hours a day and if there was ever anything that made me want to quit nursing; it was that. Well, until the blood....

When we got home from the hospital, I pacifiered it up and the peace it brought me, and Ethan, made me want to drop-kick the nurses and all the "experts" who tell us not to give our babies a pacifier in the first two weeks.

With me and my boys, pacifiers didn't hinder the breastfeeding relationship, they saved it.

***A lactation consultant told me that the Avent pacifiers are great ones to use in the early days, whether it's a Soothie or one of their other kinds.

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Thursday, July 5, 2012

Random Stain Tips

Recently, I posted a photo on the Motherhood: ADIM Facebook page of Brandon's wall "art", with a Tip of The Week about Mr. Clean Magic Erasers. As in, they really do work magic at getting marker off the walls. Yeah, these things:

Some Facebook fans responded with a couple of other tips that I had never heard of, and I thought I'd share them with you. Because I like to share.

1. Nail polish remover takes ink out of leather. Rubbing alcohol would work, too. Do a spot test first to ensure color safety, then dab a bit of the remover or rubbing alcohol on a cloth and rub it slowly over the stain. After the ink is removed, wash the area with warm soapy water.

2. Hairspray takes ink out clothing. (I'm assuming it would be wise to lay an absorbent piece of something, like a towel, underneath the stain before spraying it so the ink has something to "run" onto.)

I haven't done either of those, so do them at your own risk!

I also had posted a Tip of The Week a while back about using baby powder to remove grease stains on clothes, and some awesome Facebook peeps provided these other uses for baby powder:

1. After a day at the beach, sprinkle baby powder in the sensitive, sand-covered areas on babe's body to facilitate easier sand removal. The powder absorbs the moisture from the sand and makes it easier to dust off, versus "exfoliating" half of babe's skin off with the sand.

2. Baby powder works as a dry shampoo when you don't have the time or inclination to wash your hair. Sprinkle some on your roots, let it suck up the grease, then finger comb/shake it out of your hair. Use it sparingly, though, to avoid the dandruff look. (Last I checked, that look isn't "in".)

3. Baby powder absorbs the pee smell from beds that have been wet in.

4. For using baby powder to remove grease from clothes, lay the article of clothing flat, dust some baby powder on the stain, but DO NOT rub it in, just let it sit on top of the stain for an hour or so, then pick up the garment and shake the baby powder off (probably a good idea to go outside for that part), then wash it in the hottest water possible for the garment. You may have to repeat this process before the stain comes out. Works on old stains, too.

So yep, I have some awesome people over there on the Facebook page. If you haven't already, you should "like" the page and join in on the fun!

I'm also on Pinterest, for those of you Pinterest users: 
I pin other tips and ideas on there occasionally, and my blog posts, and good blog posts from other bloggers, plus other random awesomeness, like pretty things, cute babies, zombie stuff and crass, offensive photos/sayings. I know that last one totally sold you on following.  

And please feel free to add your own tips in the comments!

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Monday, July 2, 2012

No, We Were Never Trying For A Girl

So if you're living under a rock, ha not aware that I have three boys, I have three boys. No girls. And quite frankly, this situation suits me (and Nate) juuuust fine. I've never had the desire for a daughter. I'm fine living with all these guys, surrounded by all these penises and farts. It's like the frat house I never got to live in in college. 

People, upon learning that we have three boys, frequently ask if we were trying for a girl or wanted girls. My answer is always a solid "no", and depending on the situation or my mood, I might even mention that we weren't trying for kids, period, when I've gotten pregnant. (This is sometimes followed with the quip, "You DO know how you got pregnant, right?" and sometimes I'm tempted to answer in a deadly serious way, "No. How? We've been wondering.")

I have these three awesome boys and I've never looked back. Except once, shortly after Brandon was born and my tubes were tied. I was at a friend's house and her daughter was about one. We were sitting at their table together and I watched this little girl with her pretty little dress and her little blonde alfalfa piggy tail eating her food and staring at me with her giant eyes (probably wondering why I was staring at her) and I felt a little pang. It was the realization that I was never, truly never, going to have a little girl in cute little dresses and adorable little piggy tails running around, terrorizing her brothers and turning her father homicidal come dating time. And me suicidal come drama time.

And then, I remembered all the reasons why I am more comfortable with boys and never desired a daughter and I got over it. The pang lasted about 2 minutes.

Because of my diaper cake business, I am always on the prowl for baby girl and boy clothes/onesies. I constantly see the super cute girl clothes and am totally immune to their adorableness. 

THEN. The other day I walked into a store and I saw this and I felt the jabs of a hundred knives in my chest, knowing that I'm never going to see my little girl in it.

I don't know what's wrong with me. It's not even that cute it's fucking ADORABLE. But, I loved it, and I can't believe that a stupid adorable outfit, for a brief moment, actually made me sad that I don't have a girl. And the outfit was way cuter in person. The colors were brighter, not so faded-looking. My cell phone camera washed it out (Whaaat? Nooo...).

Clearly, I'm having some emotional issues and need to drink more wine, more often.

And I guess this was a good thing. If the only reason I feel sad (and for only a minute) that I don't have a girl is because I can't put her in a cute outfit, not for any kind of important reasons, then it's a very, very good thing I do not have one. Or three. (Oh God.)

What about you? What are your thoughts on the gender(s) of your child(ren)?

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