Category: Parenting

What my kids are (and aren’t) eating: Part 2

Before Lily was even born I knew what her first food would be (sweet potatoes). I read everything I could find about introducing vegetables first and bypassing baby cereals. As she inched toward that 6-month mark I filled my Pinterest board with baby-led weaning (BLW) recipes and guides. I read all about how babies are physiologically prepared to eat real food once they can hold themselves up properly, and asserted to my husband and our moms that gagging was okay–it’s not really choking!

When Lily hit 5 months, I grabbed a spoon and gave her some sweet potatoes. I could have waited until 6 months, but you know moms: we love milestones. She loved the sweet potatoes, so I continued on with more purées until she was about 6 months old, at which time I decided to give baby-led weaning a go. It’s pretty mainstream now, but for those of you who don’t know, with baby-led weaning you allow your little one to eat real food (versus purées). This article for some reason had me convinced only an uninformed parent wouldn’t do BLW, and that purees were a relic of the past.

If you’re already a parent then you know how ridiculous your pre-child self was. I don’t know why, but for some reason most soon-to-be moms (myself included) seem to have a lot of convictions about how we’ll do various things and what baby products are best, and it feels like a personal affront when someone suggests something otherwise while you’re still pregnant or haven’t reached a certain stage (even if they’re a fellow mom). And when our moms hinted BLW might not be going so great for Lily, it felt just like that (and I thought Lily was marred for life when my MIL gave her rice cereal. If you’re reading this, my apologies again.). It wasn’t until months later when I finally recognized that okay, maybe I should have paid more attention to the physical readiness signs for BLW (like being able to sit up unassisted, loss of the tongue-thrust reflex, etc) rather than using her age as an indication. Because she totally wasn’t ready and it was stressful and scary when she would gag and choke. After a week or so I broke out the blender and did purées until she was about 8 months old.

Maggie on the other hand was a peanut in comparison to Lily, despite being more physically advanced. She was sitting unassisted by 5-6 months, enough so that we could leave her there and not be scared she would fall over. We were still putting pillows around Lily when she was 7 months old. Maggie was also a bigger sleeper, and didn’t drink as much. I tried sweet potatoes when she was just over 5 months and she wasn’t interested. We tried different homemade purées and store-bought pouches (wait, what? store-bought?! I’m sorry, but there’s just no way I can compare with the combinations they come up with these days. Quinoa-amaranth-kale? Buckwheat-apple-beet?) with varying success, but she just didn’t have a voracious appetite. Then suddenly at 7 months she ate some small pieces of something cut up (I can’t remember what), and we realized she just wanted to feed herself. I hadn’t considered letting her do this for another month, what with the whole Lily experience. But once we started letting her feed herself, she didn’t stop.

While Maggie eats most things, it of course still has to be soft enough and cut into bite-sized pieces. Her intro to solids coincided really nicely with winter, when we were (are) eating lots of soups, most of which Lily also likes. I love soups for new eaters because they’re usually chock full of veggies and different proteins that I otherwise find difficult to cook into that perfectly smushy, baby-friendly texture. So below I have my basic list of go-to items for breakfast and lunch, and some of my favorite soup recipes that Ryan, Lily, Maggie, and I all really like. Also, muffins! I love making mini-muffins for babies and little kids because they are tasty, nutritious, and easy when you’re packing a lunch.

baby girl eating
I love her little feet crossed at the ankle.

Breakfast

Our least creative meal. Usually toast or a waffle, and a fruit. If we have time she also gets yogurt (Siggs 4%, or half plain/half flavored Greek yogurt) or a smoothie. If we have muffins she gets a little.

Lunch

Fruit

All the soft fruits. There isn’t one she doesn’t like, and like most kids, berries are her favorite. Something we do give Maggie that I didn’t give Lily is fruit cups (in their own juice or other 100% fruit juice), because Lily was learning to eat during the summer when things like peaches were readily available. We also didn’t really give Lily citrus fruits until she was a year old, but Maggie’s had her fair share of clementines.

Veggies

The only veggie Maggie doesn’t really like is asparagus. Sometimes she’ll eat it if it’s cooked up with something else, like eggs. Here are some of her typical veggies:

  • Peas – from frozen. We definitely give her these the most frequently as they’re so easy.
  • Broccoli – from fresh. I can never get frozen broccoli to cook nicely.
  • Peppers – if the rest of us are eating raw peppers, I’ll cut some up into little pieces for her, cover in a little water, and cook into the microwave until they’re soft enough. If I’m roasting peppers (slice, toss in olive oil, roast for 20-25 minutes at 425), she’ll hoover them down.
  • Mixed frozen veggies – steamed on the stove, otherwise the carrots never get soft enough
  • Green beans – steamed or roasted
  • Carrots – steamed or roasted. Lily just started eating carrots again a few days ago, and I pumped to roast carrots again. They take kind of a long time so I like to roast a big bag of baby carrots on a weekend (this hasn’t actually happened in a while…)
  • Squash – roasted. I only get those pre-chopped containers of squash that Wegman’s sells because, no joke, peeling, seeding, and chopping a butternut squash is way too overwhelming for me right now (and yes, I know the microwave trick).
  • Edamame – from frozen. I just microwave, peel the skin off, and pop them in half.
Starch/Grains
  • Toast – with peanut or almond butter. Disclaimer: the old peanut butter avoidance guidance made no sense to me so I introduced it around 6-7 months with both kids (it’s since been changed to recommend early introduction).
  • Sweet potato –  mashed or baked.
  • Little pieces of wrap – this isn’t the most nutritious thing, and I only do it occasionally (whole wheat)
  • Pasta – again, a whole grain

Muffins – These muffins are lunch items. If I pack them for daycare, I break them into bite-sized pieces pieces.

  • Flourless Sweet Potato Blender Muffins – by far my favorite muffin recipe. I’ve made them with both almond butter and peanut butter, and they were great both times. Unlike other muffin recipes, you can’t double this batch because it’s too much for a blender to handle, but if Maggie’s the only one eating these they last a while.
  • Spinach Quinoa Egg Muffins – I don’t actually follow an exact recipe for these, but this recipe is pretty close to what I do (minus the ham). We always seem to have a lot of leftover quinoa so other than just freezing it for later, this is a great way to use it. I’ve made these with a few varieties of quinoa, and you can swap spinach for grated broccoli, kale, etc. I’ve been making these for Maggie since she started solids and she never had a problem with the egg or cheese and we weren’t very concerned as we don’t have food allergies in our family, but they do recommend holding off on egg whites as a potential allergen.
  • Peanut Butter Banana Cookies – So these aren’t technically a muffin and I haven’t made them yet for Maggie, but Lily loved these. I usually packed them as a snack, but they’d be fine as part of a meal in my book (I don’t use the chocolate chis). Plus they are tasty! I occasionally used raisins, and then I’d have to hide them so Ryan wouldn’t eat them because they’re basically dessert.
Sweet potato muffin, cheese, peas, blueberries, and raspberries
Ditto the above. Let’s not talk about how awful the lighting in my kitchen is in the dark of the morning.
Peas, peaches and pears from a fruit cup, cheese, hard-boiled egg.

Dinner

Maggie eats whatever we do. I love this stage.

Soups

  • Roasted Eggplant Soup – This soup is perfect as is, but I like to mix it up every time. My favorite way to do it is to follow the roasting directions but swap out the eggplant for a container of that Wegman’s squash I love so much, 4 tomatoes, one onion, garlic, and some baby carrots, and to cook some sweet potatoes in the microwave (they take way too long to roast). The rest of the directions are the same (including the encouragement to play with the spices). You could say a downside with this soup is that it has to be fed to little ones since it’s pureed, but right now Lily’s at this stage where she likes to feed bits of food to Maggie so she’ll sop up some soup with her roll and feed it to her which is just as cute as it sounds.
  • Garlicky Kale and White Bean Stew – Other than always using an entire bag of Wegmans pre-washed/cut kale, I keep everything the same. I like my soup to be more on the stewy side than brothy side, so this works nicely. Sometimes I use another recipe similar to this if I want to include potatoes or carrots. Maggie ate every single thing in this soup, from the kale to the onions, and her favorite was the white beans.
  • Detox Immune Boosting Chicken Soup – I used this as a guide to make chicken soup for the first time (versus following the recipe exactly), and it was the best soup I’ve ever made.  I also liked being able to have Maggie eat such a variety of ingredients at one meal. I had tried this crock pot chicken, potato, carrot, and green bean meal that was awful so I threw most of that into the soup and it was so. good. I’ve made chicken soup using chicken that I way over-seasoned and over-cooked and it also worked really well.
  • Veggie Tortellini Soup – I meant to make this once and accidentally made something else that ended up being more just like tortellini with sauce, with spinach added. The good thing about that accident is that I found out Maggie can eat spinach when it’s cooked. This would definitely be good though because, well, The Pioneer Woman.
  • Creamy Tomato-Basil Soup – I’ve never been a tomato soup fan but this recipe paired with  this Spinach and Ricotta Grilled Cheese was worthy of being served up at Elm Street Bakery. I’d eat this for days. It is again another recipe that needs to be fed to a baby.
So excited to be eating her first outdoor dinner!

 

What my kids are (and aren’t) eating – Part 1

I feel like as parents we spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about three things:

  1. Poop
  2. Sleep
  3. Eating

You can’t avoid poop* (once you stop obsessing over if they’re pooping and what it looks like, they start talking about it constantly), and sleep is always evading you. Kids can be really picky eaters, and we spend so much time trying to figure out what they can and should be eating when they’re just starting out, and then what they’ll actually accept as palatable when they get a little bigger. But the thing about eating is that we at least have some modicum of control over it.

I know some parents get really frustrated or concerned about what their kids are eating, but just try to keep in mind that as long as you’re offering them healthy options, you’re doing everything you can. Kids will be picky, and they might go a week without touching a vegetable. But don’t freak out. They’re not going to get scurvy. We definitely do some bribing sometimes (“If you eat two bites of chicken, you can have dessert.”), and the main reason behind buying the little table was that Lily would not sit through a meal at the big one. (She ate all her meals at the little table for months. She eats with us at dinner now, but still prefers breakfast and lunch at the pint size one.)

My kids like to eat a ton and are pretty healthy eaters, but Lily can be suuuuper particular. I end up giving her really simple foods much of the time, and try to get the biggest bang for my buck out of something like a PB and J by making some easy tweaks. Working moms just don’t have the time to experiment with new recipes, so having go-to options like these is really important.

Lily couldn’t wait for me to finish making her lunch so she took things into her own hands.

*This post is just about what Lily eats. I’m doing a separate one about Maggie because we started table foods very early. We didn’t intend to do baby-led weaning but that’s what it ended up being, so stay tuned for more on that!

While we eat generally healthy we aren’t super crunchy granola. I think we’re pretty middle of the road. I’d love to cut sugars out of my diet and serve Buddha bowls for dinner and smoothies topped with chia for breakfast every day but I just don’t have time to do that right now. As a family we’re in this really busy stage in our lives where I need to have a handful of meals on rotation because I don’t have the mental energy to handle thinking of new ideas every week. And while the meals/items below are generally healthy, Lily does eat some snacks of questionable nutrition (mainly fueled by my own animal cracker obsession) and I have a mean sweet tooth.

A few other little things that guide the way our kids eat:

  1. We don’t do “kid foods.” If I wouldn’t make it for myself, I don’t buy it. The only things we’ve gotten that fall into the kid food category are mac and cheese (but we get Annie’s Whole Wheat Shells and Cheddar or their other grainy blend, mix it with peas, and I take the leftovers for lunch), and yogurt pouches between the ages of about 18 months-2.5 years to reduce mess during the morning rush. I might actually be able to avoid yogurt pouches with Maggie because she seems to like Kefir in a cup.
  2. I make sure to include a fruit at breakfast, and a fruit and vegetable at lunch and dinner.
  3. We don’t restrict them from eating what’s offered at other people’s houses and we occasionally order pizza or go out to eat, so obviously they’re getting less than favorable foods then, which I’m fine with.

My plug for whole grains: If you aren’t eating very well and want to make an easy change that has a big impact, switch to whole grains. Unlike trying to get more vegetables in your diet, by switching to whole grains you’re just tweaking something you’re already eating versus trying to add something new. A lot of people have a misconception that kids won’t eat whole grains, but if you don’t start them off with white bread, white rice, refined pasta, plain waffles etc. they won’t know the difference. So any time I mention bread, toast, pasta, etc. below it’s 100% whole wheat/grain. Also, grown-ups don’t eat white bread.

Lily’s Typical Meals
Breakfast

For a good week Lily asked for Teddy Grahams before breakfast every single day. She also had a screaming tantrum everytime when I said no. She also tried to get around it by asking for lunch, so then they would be a snack, or claiming she just at dinner.  Nice try, kid.

Peanut butter and jelly banana – this is her concoction. Banana slices, half of them topped with peanut butter and the other with jelly. Sometimes I used almond butter if we have it. Sometimes she has something else with it, like “frozen toast” (below), or peas (I’m not going complain about that odd request).

Smoothie – I say something like “Do you want a frozen yogurt smoothie?” but it’s really made with banana, frozen fruit, greens, plain Greek yogurt, milk, juice, and ground flax seeds. She doesn’t know the difference.

Oatmeal – Oatmeal with milk. She always eats a lot of fruit on the side.

Frozen toast – quite literally frozen bread. Recently I’ve been getting whole grain variations that also include spelt or other grains just to get more of a hearty variety. We of course pair this with something else (Kefir, yogurt, fruit, milk, etc.)

Bagels – cold or toasted, plain or with cream cheese, peanut butter, or almond butter. Wegmans sells these super spelty, grain-filled bagels in the frozen aisle of the health food section. Something I’ve been trying to do with grains since Lily eats so many of them is to only buy things I would eat for breakfast. I wouldn’t eat a regular bagel, but I feel pretty good about these ones. Again, served with fruit.

Muffins, pancakes (homemade): I’m not a huge fan of sneaking veggies, but I am a proponent of boosting whatever other foods you’re eating by adding veggies to them. I like to include a veg in baked goods whenever possible. By making them at home I can both add a veggie, and reduce the sugar.

I find it hard to offer veggies at breakfast, but because Lily likes her veggies plain I’ll give her some tomatoes or peppers if I’m making lunches.

Beverages: milk (whole milk), juice (100% without no sugar added, watered down, maybe once or twice a week), or water. Lily always wakes up looking super thirsty (read: her lips are cracked) but doesn’t often want to drink water in the morning so I try to get her to drink whatever I can. I always offer water first but man, this girl loves milk. I’m not a big supporter of drinking milk from the nutrition end, so this is hard for me to swallow (ha). She does a pretty good job of drinking water throughout the rest of the day so I’m not super concerned.

Lunch

I offer fruit, veggies, a starch or grain, and a dairy or protein at lunch. Here are some of our go-to options from each group.

Fruit: basically any fruit. She’s not a big fan of mango, kiwi, or blackberries but eats everything else.

Veggies: Lily recently started refusing broccoli. It used to be one of her favorites so this is tough. She has a very limited vegetable palette which doesn’t include any leafy greens (except in the summer when she challenges us to kale eating contests).

  • Cherry tomatoes – every kid’s favorite veg. So easy to pop in their mouth. Lily has been known to consume an entire pint of tomatoes in a sitting. Okay, she’ll leave two so I’ll see them and get more (no joke, she said this to my mom).
  • Bell peppers – uncooked slices
  • Carrots – baby carrots, uncooked (she just told me a few days ago she doesn’t like them anymore so this may be nixed from our list soon)
  • Peas – from frozen

That’s it. *sigh*

Starch/Grains

  • Whole grain bread, pasta, rolls, etc. As often as possible the pasta is a quinoa amaranth blend (my mom introduced us to this–she’s gluten-intolerant) or Banza (chickpea). These both have more protein than whole wheat pasta.
  • Sweet potatoes (baked, plain or with butter)
  • Corn on the cob (summer only)

Dairy/Protein: I don’t get very creative with lunch when I pack it during the week because I want to be sure it’s something she will actually eat since I won’t be with her when she gets it. I actually don’t usually make her lunch during the week…my mom makes it on Thursday, sometimes my MIL does on Tuesday, and unless school lunch is weird (Salisbury steak) I let her eat it. She won’t eat many proteins for me, but she always eats what they offer at school. I’m not thrilled she’s eating non-organic meat and poultry but you win some, you lose some.

  • Cheese – only sharp cheddar
  • Peanut or almond butter – on a whole grain
  • Turkey – lunch meat
  • Meatballs – usually turkey or chicken
  • Black beans – only at home since she sometimes refuses it
  • Yogurt – only at home, ditto the above
  • Tuna salad

Combo foods: usually leftovers of a dinner

  • Some form of a whole grain pasta with sauce (sometimes with ground turkey or chopped carrots mixed in)
  • Macaroni and cheese with peas
  • Wrap with peanut/almond butter or cream cheese
Dinner

By far the hardest meal, and we don’t get creative. If we make something like stir fry, we keep elements of it separate and without sauce or else she won’t eat it. Lily is also required to taste everything on her plate, even if she just touches it with her tongue. Here are some common dinners at our house:

  • Tuna, bread/roll, vegetable, fruit
  • Salmon, rice/grain/sweet potatoes, vegetable, fruit
  • Homemade pizza: whole-grain flatbread, pita, Naan, or pizza crust; sauce; cheese. Lily no longer likes veggies on top so gets hers on the side.
  • Soup with a roll (pureed soup is best)
  • Wegman’s turkey or salmon burgers (summer only), corn on the cob or sweet potato fries, vegetable, fruit
  • Chicken (but only if my mom or MIL makes it), rice/grain/sweet potatoes, vegetable, fruit
  • Eggs (scrambled, or an omelet but only if she’s stealing it off someone else’s plate), toast, vegetable, fruit
  • Chili, bread/roll, fruit (vegetable if needed)
  • Tortellini soup, fruit
  • Burritos: wrap, cheese, ground meat or chicken (she usually doesn’t eat it), tomatoes, peppers. This is one of those meals she eats only parts of.

I really like to cook, but I’ve come to terms with the fact that for the next few years at least I won’t really have the time or the audience to prep creative meals.

Sometimes kids would rather eat chapstick than whatever you put on the table.

 

*I feel like ever since Lily became obsessed, I talk about poop with other moms all the time. At work last week one of my coworkers who has an 8 year old was recounting for another coworker who has a 3 month old how I had been laughing so hard tears were streaming down my face while she told me about a time she had to remove her daughter’s arm-length poop from a public space by rolling it with a stick. The new mom was totally horrified.

Getting to know you.

The other day I was talking with my mom about the different relationships and connections I have with Lily and Maggie. I’m not sure how it came up, but it’s something I think about a lot. I’ve heard and read countless stories from women who had expected to feel an instant connection with their babies when they were born, and were disappointed/frustrated/distraught when they didn’t. Sure, most of them loved their babies, but it wasn’t this immediate overwhelming, all-consuming love like they had never felt before and had been conditioned to expect. But what almost all of these women shared is that, eventually, they did feel this. It happened gradually, over the course of weeks and months. And what most of them also found was that with their second and subsequent babies, the connection was more immediate.

For me, the opposite happened. I’m not sure what’s harder: being a first-time mom and trying to find some way to bond with a baby you thought you were meant to love immensely right away and just don’t, or being a second-time mom who felt this connection with her first, who was scared her entire second pregnancy how this new baby would impact her relationship with her older child and if she would have the same time and devotion available for her second…and then having those concerns come to fruition.

I love Maggie just as much as I love Lily. In the past six months my favorite day was the day I took off from work, but sent Lily to school. I got to spend the entire day with just Maggie. We played in the basement and went to Target, and it was the best day ever. I had never spent so much time alone with Maggie, and it was just so awe-inspiring to see what a little person she was becoming independently of me. The love I have for the two of them is just so different. When I started explaining to my mom how I just felt this really deep connection with Lily I expected her to kind of observe the relationship from the outside but instead she shocked me with her response. “Oh, no,” she said, “it’s like she shares a part of your psyche.” Wow. I had never been able to put that into words, but that is exactly what it is.

Many first time moms spend a lot of time floundering. They’re new moms, and they have to meet the needs of this baby who won’t sleep or can’t be soothed. There is a lot of “what does this baby want?” And to make it worse, many moms suffer from postpartum depression, anxiety, or the baby blues. This is the reality. This is most moms.

When I had Lily, the moment she was handed to me it was like I was suddenly complete. I looked at her and I knew her and I understood her. As the days and weeks went on, this only became more apparent and it’s still so to this day. I’ve always known exactly what she wants or needs. I can interpret her emotions and address them, unless it’s a disciplinary thing, but I still usually know why she’s hitting me or running away–we’re just still trying to figure out how to get her to do a better behavior. Like, obviously she wants to run through the clothing racks at Target or run outside fully dressed into a torrential downpour or eat half a cake with her hands when no one is watching because of the same reasons I’d want to. But when she’s feeling emotional, I can deal with it. I know the instant she wakes up in the morning or from a nap how she needs to be handled/dealt with. I can sense when she just needs to play or read alone, and when it’s been long enough and any moment she’s going to act out because she wants some attention.

But it goes even deeper than that. Maybe I’m the only adult who still feels this way, but do you ever feel like wearing a certain pair of socks or underwear, like from the moment you wake up? Well I do, and that’s happened ever since I can remember. But now, I’ll wake up with a feeling of what Lily wants that day, before she’s even woken up. Other times, and I’ve posted this before, I’ll wake up wanting muffins or pancakes and then she’ll ask for the exact thing I want. I posted once about this conversation she and I had in the car one night that started out with her asking, “Mama, do you feel like the moon?” And I was like, hell yeah I feel like the moon. We want the same foods, want to listen to music or have quiet at the same times, have the same sort of sensory preferences. She does this thing where she just spaces out, and at preschool they’ve mentioned this and the fact that she kind of plays alone a lot. But I get it, and I like this about her. I’ve always loved being around her and enjoy her companionship.

That’s why it might come as a surprise that having this connection makes things really difficult. Because I can anticipate and interpret her needs, and because she has such volatile emotional reactions, it’s easier for me to tell people what to do with her, or to just do it myself. I’ve had countless discussions with other people watching her about how it’s okay for them to do things differently but most of the time I just feel like, if I know what she wants, why should you both struggle to figure it out?

When Maggie came out, I really wasn’t ready. I thought I had another two weeks to both spend home with Lily, and to take the time to acknowledge being pregnant. There just isn’t the same air of excitement and anticipation around second and subsequent pregnancies as there is around your first. Your second and third and fourth won’t be your first baby or the first grandchild or great-grandchild. Because you already know, you won’t be waiting to see what the first kicks feel like, and people won’t constantly be asking to feel your belly. I carried so much guilt while pregnant with Maggie because of this. Then she came before I had those two weeks to be away from work and think about being pregnant and what she was going to be like. When they placed her on my chest I kind of felt like “Oh, okay, hello.” There wasn’t the overwhelming rush of emotions I had experienced with her sister. It didn’t come right then, and it didn’t come a few days from then.

9 months old and already at the little table.

Maggie was so different from Lily from the start. She slept so much, and didn’t have a voracious appetite. Then she went through her witching hour phase and I had no idea what to do with her. On top of understanding Lily, she had also been a really easy baby. I couldn’t soothe Maggie, and neither could anyone else. But the difference was that because I didn’t know how, I could let other people try. Lily was an open book, but Maggie I had to figure out. Since she was born, I’ve constantly been trying to read her and she’s always surprising me. Eventually one day, like all the moms I read about, I realized I felt that overwhelming love–just in a completely different way than with Lily. Maggie is so feisty and determined, and she rests her head on my shoulder in this way when I get home from work. She is the sweetest little peanut, and we’re all always remarking how stinking cute she is. She’s much fussier than Lily, but it’s less stressful for me because I know that someone else may be able to help her more than me. And I love figuring her out. One of the most striking things is that when I look at her, I’m looking at a different person. With Lily, it was like looking in a mirror at myself. Strangers used to stop me in public and sarcastically remark, “Well she doesn’t look anything like you, does she.” Now I know what it’s like to have a baby who doesn’t look like you, and who doesn’t share a part of your psyche. While I was fortunate not to suffer from the baby blues or anxiety either time, now I can understand what it’s like for the first time moms who are tired and floundering. I at least had a happy, healthy 2.5 year old to remind me that I did okay the first time around.

One of my favorite things is watching Maggie climb up the stairs. She books across the dining room or living room so fast her body kind of goes up and down on either side and she’ll sometimes shriek and look over her shoulder to make sure you know she’s doing something naughty. Then she gets to the stairs and the look of determination on her face is like nothing I’ve ever seen. When she gets to the top she usually races into Lily’s room and climbs onto her bed which is hilarious to watch. She has such a tiny little body and she grunts and breaths and heaves herself up and is then so proud of herself.

Determined to help clean up, even though she can’t walk yet.

So don’t worry if you don’t feel an attachment to your baby or if you’re having trouble bonding. You’ll get there. You’ll love them, and then you’ll love them differently than the next.

Sleep trials

After posting about our sleep trials, I received an outpouring of feedback and support. Some suggested co-sleeping which worked for us with Lily some nights, but is impossible with Maggie because she is so nosy and curious. Others agreed those first few nights of crying are really difficult, but worth it, and more than a few suggested the Dock-a-Tot. First off: thank you for sharing your sleep struggles. There’s nothing like hearing you’re not the only one going through a difficult phase. And thank you for all of the ideas you shared. While we decided to do our own thing for the first three nights, there were two potential solutions I plan on discussing with Ryan, and those came from you guys! In the meanwhile, I wanted to give an update on what we decided to do, and how it’s going.

We chose to do some variation of cry-it-out (CYO). This worked really well with Lily when she was a baby, and only took 2 nights of going in at graduated intervals to give her her Wubanub and pat her back. I struggled with it at the time, but I’m so exhausted now that I didn’t have any qualms about doing this. Because this worked well with Lily and has for so many other families, I really thought I’d be sharing our success story today. Disclaimer: I’m not.

Night One

Our schedules were already thrown off on the first night because of how poorly we slept the night before. I got home after 5pm, and Maggie was on her second long nap of the day. My mom said Maggie was exhausted and she just couldn’t keep her awake. I woke her up at 5:45pm, we had dinner, and then played a little before starting the nighttime routine.

I tried putting Maggie down at 7:15pm (usually goes down between 7-7:15pm), but she stayed awake in her crib a good 15 minutes. I went up to try to nurse her since she hadn’t before I put her down earlier, but she just rested her head on my shoulder and looked up at me. She finally nursed a few minutes and we rocked, and she was in her crib asleep by 7:45pm.

I slept in the basement with Lily (an adventure of its own), while Ryan stayed in our room. He said she cried on and off from about 9:30pm (her typical nursing time)-12:30am when he gave her a formula bottle. Then she slept until 5am (skipping a usual early morning waking), and fell back asleep after he gave her her Wub (btw she uses a regular pacifier but we can’t get away from calling it a Wub for some reason). She stirred briefly at 7am, then fell back asleep and was still out when I left at 7:26am. I considered this night a success, and left the house feeling optimistic.

Night 2

Maggie nursed and went down nicely at 7:15pm. She woke at 11:45pm and Ryan gave her a formula bottle. We decided to try this after she slept so well the night before, and because she sometimes only takes milk for a minute or two before comfort nursing. I also don’t have enough of a breastmilk stash to risk her not finishing a bottle.

She woke at 12:25am. I went in and gave her her Wub, turned on her sleep sheep and Fisher Price Soothe and Glow Giraffe (she loves this thing), and patted her back until she calmed down. I was in the room tops 2 minutes. She slept until 3:30am (another typical feeding time), and I had to pick her up when I went in because she was standing and there were blankets under her. Big mistake. I was able to put her back down and walk out within 2 minutes, but I think this fed into our difficulties during Night 3. She was just waking up at 7:40am when I was getting out the door.

Night 3

The third night was a total nightmare. She didn’t nurse before going down, which meant she woke up again around 8, at which time Ryan gave her formula. She woke up around 9pm just whining, and I went in after about 30-40 minutes and gave her her Wub. She whined and woke up several times throughout the night. At 3:30am, I gave in and nursed her. I just couldn’t be awake any longer.

So where do we go from here? Some options:

  1. The Dock-a-Tot. Actually, an Etsy knock-off on recommendation from a fellow mommy (thank you!). Ryan isn’t a big fan of spending $80 on something that may not work, though.
  2. Actually dedicating time to the graduated interval approach. I’m not sure how I would function at work after a night of this though.
  3. Seek the support of the online Facebook community, also a recommendation from a fellow mommy. I was accepted to the group yesterday so will be familiarizing myself with it today.

I think one of the biggest challenges is that Ryan and I are so tired, we can’t stick to a plan at night. Graduated intervals worked well with Lily, but I literally would not be able to go to work the next day. It’s possible to try this weekend as my mother-in-law graciously offered to watch one of the girls on Saturday since Ryan is working. This makes the Dock really appealing because it doesn’t require us to do anything. But if it doesn’t work, or we decide it’s too expensive, where do we go from there? If you found an approach that you and your partner were able to agree on, please share here!


 

Sleep, or a lack thereof

When you’re pregnant for the first time, people warn you of how exhausted you will be during the newborn stage. Your baby won’t sleep through the night. She’ll wake up every two hours wanting to eat, and you’ll wake up every two hours to feed her. You won’t shower. You’ll only eat granola bars and coffee. But then she’ll be four months old, and you can sleep train her.

We didn’t sleep train Lily until she was, I don’t know, 10 months old? I can’t even remember. I’m so tired that I didn’t realize until typing this that Maggie is almost 10 months old now. I mostly worked part-time when Lily was little, so this wasn’t an issue. I’d sleep until she woke up in the morning, and this was enough for me. But sleep training for us meant she only woke once during the night, not that she necessarily slept through. Sometimes she slept in our bed, and this was fine. We went through periods of her waking incredibly early but they were short-lived. Once she was potty-trained, we expected her to wake up at night because even I can’t sleep through the night without using the bathroom. But we weren’t exhausted. I knew we had gotten lucky, and I didn’t take it for granted.

Then we had Maggie. She may have had colic, we’re really not sure. Until she was 7 weeks old she could cry for 3-4 hours in the evening inconsolably while struggling to latch. Then suddenly it stopped. She started going to bed really nicely in the evening. Even now, she goes down at 7pm like clockwork. But then, like clockwork, she wakes between 9:45pm-10pm. I’d like to be asleep by 9, but this nagging in the back of my head won’t let me because I know I’m going to be up in an hour anyway. And then she wakes up again. And again. And again.

Last night she woke up at 9:30pm, 11pm, 12pm, 1:15am, and then I stopped looking at my phone. Cry-it-out isn’t working. Ferber, graduated whatever, nothing is working. You can’t let a baby scream all night when you need some semblance of sleep, and you have a preschooler in the next room over who will end up in your bed, sleeping with her leg draped over your neck night after night as her sister wakes her up. So we go in and pick her up and she giggles up at us before immediately falling asleep on our shoulders, a perfect, warm puzzle piece just wanting to slip her nose into the familiar scent of our necks and settle her fleece-covered body into our arms. And we get up the next morning. We forgo running, we forgo a clean house, barely functioning. We stumble through the day hoping we don’t forget an important meeting or budget submission, and then lay awake in the dark as the minutes tick by waiting for the other to go in and make her stop crying, or to drift off to sleep for a moment before she wakes her sister.

So what do we do with the baby who won’t cry it out? How do we make her sleep? Do we have a family slumber party in the basement without her, rotating who gets to join Lily on the futon every hour? What’s your sleep training advice?

sleeping baby
We need more of this at night.

Momfession: My basement is a war zone

As a parent there are some things I do that make me wonder, “Does anyone else do this too, or am I way out in left field here?” Certain things I let my kids eat or wear, items I’m okay with them putting in their mouth, my list of acceptable sleeping spots.

So, Momfession #1: My basement is a war zone.

Anyone else’s kids terrible at picking up? Okay, maybe Lily isn’t bad at picking up and it’s more like I completely fail in the “teaching my kid responsibility” category. I know this because she told me. Not in those exact words of course, but we’ve had plenty of conversations about how she cleans up at school but won’t do it at home. My problem is really consistency. Sometimes I’m really gung-ho and won’t let her watch Paw Patrol until she’s put away her play dough, but most of the time I just don’t have the energy to make her do it. I know how you’re supposed clean up together and that they’re more likely to learn to just put their things away without being asked that way but holy crap have you ever watched a 3 year old pick up crayons? In the time it takes us to do it together, I could have easily gathered them up on my own and then washed my car and put away the five loads of laundry sitting upstairs.

We try to keep the main level of our house reasonably tidy by putting the toys and miscellaneous child items away after the kids go to bed. Sometimes before story time I’ll quickly put away the books lying all over Lily’s floor and close the closet door because it bugs me when her room is chaotic. There are always random loads of laundry and kid items strewn about our bedroom and that really gets under my skin. But the one place in our house that I don’t care about being in complete and utter chaos is the basement.

Kids have a lot of stuff. Our kids have a lot of stuff, but they also have a ball pit, mini trampoline, and rocket ship. I love these indoor versions of play equipment, but they take up a lot of space. Not even kidding, we looked at one other house before buying ours and one of our concerns was, “Where will the ball pit go?” When we moved out of our old house, I found plastic balls under every single piece of furniture and in all the corners. But now that we live in a house with a finished basement, all of that big stuff is down there and I don’t care how messy it gets. I just wait to pick up all the balls until Lily gets concerned about the dwindling supply actually still in the pit. The magnatiles stay strewn across the floor until she wants to build something with them. The mattress was a completely unnecessary addition, but why throw out your old mattress when you can use it as part of an obstacle course or dance floor?

Sisters in the ball pit.

And you see the fort in the corner? I’ll occasionally tear it down but Lily inevitably demands we put a new one up immediately upon noticing this. And why fight it when she plays independently really well in the various forts we build, and Maggie loves crawling in and out of them?

Plastic ball pit balls
Balls everywhere.

Possibly the most significant basement-related confession: we’ve been in our house for over 10 months and only vacuumed it twice (the carpet that is–we’ve never vacuumed the basement stairs).

It’s strangely liberating turning off the light and closing the door to the basement every evening. I’m not even that embarrassed by it, which mostly stems from not having the energy to care, and convincing myself that there must be someone else out there who has a room in her house that looks like is. So, os it you? Let us know in the comments if you have a room in your house where the kids can run wild!

 

 

 

Nursing, the second time around.

By this point, we all know about the benefits of breastfeeding for both moms and babies. I’ve been a proponent of breastfeeding since long before I had children. It wasn’t until recently, though, that I realized what my stance really is when I saw the phrase circulating social media: “Fed is best.”

When I was pregnant with Lily, I planned to breastfeed. I also planned to do so only to the extent that it didn’t negatively impact my quality of life, her health and happiness, or my relationship with my husband, friends, and/or family. I read so many stories about women who were staunch breastfeeding supporters and wouldn’t feed their babies formula even though they were struggling to maintain weight. They went so far as to tape little tubes to their breasts, and pumped around the clock. It angered me how these women felt that they should be praised for these efforts, all the while they also expressed how exhausted they were and how going to these extents meant that spent less time with their babies, older children, spouses, family members, and friends.

I knew I was incredibly lucky when Lily latched on within a few minutes, and I had an oversupply of milk. After she nursed for the last time in January 2016, I threw out my extensive freezer stash. When Maggie was born, I immediately knew something was different. I produced just enough milk to keep her fed. She was an incredibly fussy eater, and in the evenings during her witching hour(s) often couldn’t latch. There were a number of times I gave her bottles of expressed milk, but I had such a small amount saved up that I considered supplementing with formula very early on. Evenings were incredibly stressful, with her screaming inconsolably from as early as 6pm to as late as 11:30pm. It was impacting my life, and taking away from time spent with Lily and Ryan. There were endless nights of bringing her into our room at 7pm, and eventually passing her off to Ryan a few hours later when I couldn’t take it anymore.  Every night I struggled with whether or not to give her a bottle and then pump, which I dreaded. Then suddenly at 7 weeks, things got better. She started latching more effectively and was much less fussy. But when I went back to work at 13 weeks postpartum, I was barely producing enough milk. I depleted my freezer stash, and could only pump enough for the next day. I often had to pump in the morning and evening as well. When we had a 3-night trip away from the girls looming when Maggie would be 5 months old, I knew we’d have to supplement.

sleeping-baby

Preparing that first bottle of formula was strangely liberating. With Lily, I think I may have cried if I was forced to give her formula. With Maggie, it was like this huge weight was lifted off of me. Here I was with an alternative for when she struggled to nurse because there just wasn’t much there for her, for those evenings when she bit me because nothing was coming out. She had formula for 1 1/5 days of our trip, and of course was completely fine. These days, she ends up getting one formula bottle about half the time when I’m at work. Probably 2 days a week, I end up giving her formula before bed because I just don’t have enough left in my boobs (this is usually toward the end of the week). And then of course she nurses 3 times a night at 8 months which is a nightmare, but part of me is okay with it because I do want her to get that little bit more of breastmilk.

While my supply is definitely lower this time around, being at work full time has absolutely made pumping more difficult. With Lily, I only worked full time for about a month before going to 2 days a week. Pumping 3 times a day, 2 days a week is nothing. Pumping 3 times a day, 5 days a week and not producing enough is exhausting. I get so anxious looking at the timer on my pump, and sometimes I’ll get to 14:45 and just rip the thing off (I try to pump for 15 minutes). I also have to work through pumping sessions, because otherwise I’d have to take 45 minutes worth of unpaid breaks during the day. This means my back is completely wrecked from sitting hunched over, typing one-handed while trying to push every last drop out. It’s complete crap that we’re expected to exclusively breast feed for 6 months, but we have to go back to work after only a few weeks and don’t get paid for pumping breaks.

I reached out to a lactation consultant when I was considering stopping pumping because of my low supply. I wanted her to say that it was okay to supplement with formula. Instead, she suggested I add a pumping session in the morning and/or the evening, and that I try relaxing while pumping at work. If she had said this to me in person, I may have bitten her head off. There is no way I would pump in the morning or evening and take away from time spent doing chores that enable me to be more present with my girls when they’re awake. And relaxing at work? I don’t think an extra ounce of milk is worth 45 less minutes with my family. She also suggested that I ask my childcare providers to offer her fewer bottles, and more solid food and water during the day. Why wouldn’t I just send her with an extra bottle of formula then? I’m all for lactation consultants, but that last suggestion really put me off.

There is light at the end of the tunnel, though. I think. I stopped pumping with Lily at 10 months, because she stopped taking bottles. But I was also home with her the other 5 days of the week, and she would nurse those days. With Maggie, I think I’ll stop when she’s 12 months old, but what if she wants bottles during the day? Do I just send formula? Or do I keep pumping? What did you do?

PS: I switched to the Spectra S2 pump after my Medela Symphony just wasn’t cutting it. This pump is such an improvement! It’s so quiet, and much more efficient. It came highly recommended by a lactation consultant, who said she didn’t know why people would choose the Medela over it. Plus, it’s kind of cute. Spectra S2 Plus

A day in the life

One of my favorite blog posts to read are “Day in the life” posts. I love seeing what other family’s typical days look like, especially if their family is similar to mine. I work full-time, 42.5 hours a week if you include lunch. I’m a project manager, so sometimes those hours get stretched out even more but recently I’ve been sticking to a 42.5 hour schedule because I feel like that’s so much to begin with. My husband is a Certified Financial Planner, and while it differs week to week and month to month, he has a pretty grueling schedule and always works a few extra hours over the weekend. We have 3 year old Lily, and 8 month old Maggie, and our childcare situation is a bit unusual so I’ve done each day separately.

Monday

My alarm goes off at 5:15am, and I look at my phone until 5:18-5:20. I go downstairs to make coffee and kick myself for not doing delay brew (again). I make my, Lily, and now Maggie’s lunch while I drink my coffee. I used to try to make lunches in the evening, but the girls have been sick and Maggie has been sleeping terribly for what seems like 4 months now, so after I get Lily into bed at night I go to bed.

I’m supposed to run at 5:45am, but not doing delay brew and having to make lunches means that I run at 6am instead. If it’s above 20 degrees and not the middle of a snowstorm, I run outside. Otherwise, I run on the tredmill and watch a show.

6:30/6:40am: I get back from my run. I look at what lights are on as I come up the driveway to try to gauge who’s awake. Sometimes it’s no one, sometimes it’s everyone, and sometimes it’s just Ryan and one of the girls. Whatever the situation is, I try to get into the shower before the girls see me if they’re awake or they’ll get upset.

6:55-7am: I get back downstairs and make the girls breakfast (it’s usually me), get my pump parts together, and finish making lunches if I haven’t already. After Lily finishes her breakfast she watches a show until we’re ready to leave. I/we (depending on if Ryan decides to run or not) brush Lily’s teeth and hair (the worst–I am thisclose to her first haircut), and get her dressed. Mondays are great because I don’t have to get Maggie dressed which is a struggle.

7:35am: My mom arrives to watch Maggie. This is really helpful because I can get last minute things together and deal with getting Lily ready.

7:50-8am: I always seem to be late getting out the door. I drive Lily to preschool and drop her off.

8:30am-5pm: Work!

sleepy-maggie

Maggie, lulled to sleep by snow falling outside the window and the ultra-calming environment created by Grandma.

5:25-5:30pm: I pick Lily up. We talk about her day on the 5 minute drive home.

5:45pm-ish: I get home and my mom is making dinner, or already has it made. We chat, I put whatever I can away, and Lily helps set the table or plays.

6:15ish: We eat dinner. My dad often comes too, along with their little dog.

6:50pm: If I’m giving Maggie a bath, I take her up to do that while Lily hangs out with my dad and my mom clears up dinner. After Maggie’s bath I read her a few stories, nurse her, and have her in bed by 7:15.

7:15pm: I go back downstairs. When my parents leave, I give Lily a bath or play with her (we do baths every other day)

7:50pm: I read stories to Lily. Sometimes Ryan gets home and says goodnight, but other times he’s not home until 8 or 8:30pm.

8:03pm: I’m out of Lily’s room. Sometimes she reads to herself for a while, or has to pee again. Sometimes I’ll do a few things to clean up downstairs, and other times I’ll just get ready for bed immediately. I like to be in bed by 8:45 because it usually takes at least 20 minutes of reading for me to fall asleep, and with Maggie waking up a few times each night I have to be in bed for at least 8 hours to get anywhere near a full nights sleep.

9:30pm: If it gets this late and I’m awake, I panic! Otherwise, I’m already asleep.

Tuesday

My morning routine is the same as Monday. The only difference is Tuesday is technically Ryan’s morning, and his mom comes over to watch both girls. I’m supposed to leave at 7:30am so I can leave work early that or a different day, but it’s usually more like 7:50am. That’s okay because I work 5 minutes away on Tuesdays!

8am-5pm: Work!

5pm: I leave work to either go home to the girls and make dinner, or go to my MIL’s to get them and have dinner. When we do this, we typically stay until 7pm and then I go home and put Maggie to bed right away while Lily watches a show on the iPad. The nightly routine is the same after this.

Wednesday

We’re still figuring this one out, because my MIL doesn’t come to our house until 8am, and Ryan has to leave around 7am. This is too late, so I starting next week I will have to get both girls ready, bring Maggie to my MIL house, and bring Lily to preschool, leaving by 7:20-7:30. Maggie isn’t awake yet half the time, and sometimes Lily isn’t either. I am panicking just thinking about it.

8:30am-5Pm: Work

5pm: Sometimes I run after work on Wednesdays because the mornings are hard. I always skip one day a week running, so it should probably be Wednesdays. That just means getting up really early on Thursdays!

Ryan is supposed to make dinner on Wednesdays, but he gets home at 5:45-6 half the time so this doesn’t always happen. Regardless, Wednesdays are always easy dinners, and having him home in the evening to help clean up and to keep Lily occupied while I get Maggie to bed is a HUGE help. Last night Ryan and I were both tickling Maggie on our new foam mattress as it finished expanding, and she was laughing but also looked kind of confused and Ryan said, “She’s like, ‘Why am I getting all of this attention?'” It was spot on, because most of the time we operate under divide-and-conquer. I’m really guilty of using anytime Ryan is around to get chores done, and I’m trying to be better about letting things go and spending time all together instead. It’s hard when I haven’t cleaned the bathtubs or dusted in 3 months, and there are 5 loads of laundry that need to be put away though.

Thursday

Here is what Thursday should look like (and what it did before Daylight Savings Time and Maggie not sleeping):

4:45am: My alarm goes off. I did delay brew the night before, so I get up right away and start drinking coffee while prepping lunches and doing other chores really quietly.

5:15am: Run.

5:45am: Return from a run. Maggie often wakes to be fed. I’m in the shower by 6am, and Ryan is out the door by 6:15am. Both girls tend to wake up early on Thursdays. Murphy’s Law. This isn’t a problem because my mom watches them both at our house, so the morning is better no matter what!

messy-lily

“Frankie didn’t know any better!” Typical Thursday morning before my mom started watching the kids. Lily decided to cover herself in “washable” ink and blame it on being a dog.

8:30am-5pm: Work. The evening looks the same as Mondays, minus having to pick up Lily.

Friday

5:15am: Alarm goes off and I get up. The morning is the same as other mornings in terms of prepping lunches and running. I leave by 7:30am, and Ryan drops the girls off. This is Maggie’s one day a week at daycare, and it’s the same one Lily goes to.

7:30am-4:30pm: Work. This is a long day because there’s usually a half hour I need to make up for somewhere else. I’m Exempt, and I used to feel like I needed to work over 40 hours every week. With the new labor law changes, our work day was expanded by 30 minutes so I don’t work extra anymore.

5pm: It’s Ryan’s day to pick up, but I love picking the girls up from daycare/preschool so I’ll often offer to do it. There’s nothing like that running hug! We eat dinner as a family on Fridays, but it’s again something casual like homemade pizza or burritos. After dinner is a combo of playing and getting Maggie ready for bed. This is again so much easier with Ryan home! We’ll sometimes stay up until 10(!) on a Friday, maybe watching a movie.

Looking at this, our schedules are all over the place, and it feels that way a lot of the time too. Two things that make my life so much easier are delay brew, and making lunches at night. Like I said, Maggie wakes up so much so I’m so exhausted that I just don’t feel like doing this in the evening. It’s really time for us to sleep train her, especially now that she’s been on an antibiotic and is feeling better. In the summer, evenings look very different. We always play outside in the evening in the summer, and often take a walk or go to the playground before or after dinner. When I have my act together in the morning, sometimes we’re able to get outside before it’s time for me to leave.

Is your schedule as messy as this? How do you deal with mornings?

 

A Birth Story

It’s been three years(!) since I last wrote a post. I’ve been wanting to get Maggie’s birth story written down since it happened, so I’m going to jump right back in with it.

Margaret Emmelise O’Connor was due, according to me, on April 24th, 2016, and according to my OB on April 21st. With this pregnancy, like my first, I had experienced Braxton Hicks since about 13 weeks on. This time, however, I had been having real contractions since about 36 weeks, and my midwife let me know it was prodromal labor and could occur for several more weeks. The good news was that prodromal labor preps your body for the real thing. The bad news: I was exhausted. It fortunately came in waves, so I sometimes had a few days reprieve.

My main midwife had been really enthusiastic about my plans to have a natural birth after having been induced with my first. At my 38-ish week appointment, things changed. I had my first cervical check, and her face just dropped. She told me my cervix was posterior, which is unfavorable for labor. With a posterior cervix, you can experience strong contractions that don’t result in progress. She said I would likely go past my due date, and might end up getting induced. She assured me we would try all of the natural labor induction methods first, and I went home and chugged my raspberry leaf tea.

The next Monday before my Thursday due date was uncharacteristically beautiful for late-April in Western NY. I was walking in the park near work thinking about how nice it was going to be to have a few weeks at home with Lily before the baby was born. After finding out I qualified for extended medical leave, I had decided the next day would be my last day of work. I really wish I had gone out earlier than 39+ weeks, but I hadn’t known I could use EML. At my appointment on Tuesday, my other midwife agreed I still had a few more weeks to go. That night I had some pretty intense contractions, but ultimately fell asleep.

I spent the next day at the zoo with Lily and my mother-in-law, breathing through inconsistent contractions. My MIL later said she had no idea I was having contractions then and that she couldn’t believe I spent hours walking around the zoo and even carrying my 2 1/2 year old. A big part of me figured I had a few more weeks of feeling like this, and that I needed to carry on like normal. That afternoon while Lily napped I baked and prepped a real dinner, which I hadn’t done in weeks. I started timing my contractions but ended up stopping because they were anywhere from 1-13 minutes apart. After she woke up we spent the rest of the afternoon and early evening playing outside. I chatted with my dad on the phone a bit and joked that maybe there’d be a baby that night. It was such a nice day and evening.

That night I started having more contractions around bed time. I again started timing them. I kept having to get out of bed to walk through the contractions, so I ended up going downstairs to sleep on the couch. I was able to sleep in between them until at least 2 or 3 am. I remember after my first birth thinking it was crazy people could fall asleep between contractions spaced less than 5 minutes apart, but here I was doing it. They were again inconsistent and I wasn’t in a huge amount of pain. I was mostly just annoyed that I was going to have to deal with this every night for a few weeks, because again, they were inconsistently spaced. I had a few that were 45 seconds apart, and some that were over 10 minutes apart. Around 4 am I got in our jet tub to see if that would help. It slowed everything down a bit and felt awesome. I decided to call my office, though, because I had been having contractions for such a long time at this point. It was really exciting getting to select the “If you think you’re in labor, please press 3” option! I explained what had been going on and that I wasn’t in a huge amount of pain but wondered if I should get checked. They said yes, and I said I wanted to wait to get to the hospital until about 7am because my MIL needed to come over.

We called my MIL and she got to the house about 6:30am on April 21st, my due date. Lily was still asleep while we got everything in the car. She woke up just a few minutes before we were going to leave, and I carried her downstairs. I remember thinking how little her hands looked. I set her down at the bottom of the stairs and let her walk into the living room while I had a contraction. I could tell my MIL was a little annoyed we had asked her to come over because I didn’t look like I was in labor. We got into the car and I cried about saying goodbye to Lily. It still makes me want to cry thinking of it.

On the way to the hospital my contractions slowed way down. I only had I think 4 during the entire 20 minute drive, and they weren’t strong. I had one on the way from the car to the maternity floor, and we arrived at about 7:05am. I was only 2cm dilated when the nurse checked me and a bit embarrassed. She said that I should walk the halls and if I didn’t progress after four hours, they’d send me home. We asked about walking in the park right outside and they said no which I was bummed about because it was nice out. About 7:55 we started walking the halls, after Ryan did some work in the room and they got me all checked in. We walked past the jam-packed nursery where there were at least 12 babies. A few minutes in, Ryan told me some joke and I started laughing. Suddenly, liquid splattered all over the ground and I said “Either my water just broke, or I peed my pants.” I was SO excited that my water broke! It was just like the movies. A nurse came over and I apologized but she said “You go girl!”

We headed back to the room and they tested the fluid and said it wasn’t my water. I was pretty convinced, so when I felt another gush in the bathroom and also lost my mucus plug and had my bloody show all at once, I had them test it again and it was positive. Suddenly, I had my first real contraction. This was at about 8:55am. I now know that I was in transition. After another 2 of those I was yelling at Ryan to get off the phone and that I didn’t care he was finishing up work. The nurse checked me and I was 7cm dilated. They shuffled me to the delivery room and onto the bed where I promptly curled into the fetal position. They couldn’t convince me to move so I stayed there a bit. Another nurse who had read my birth plan which included my desire to labor in a tub came in, took one look at me, and said “Oh, you’re not getting in the tub!”

In line with my birth plan they dimmed the lights and kept it quiet. I wouldn’t open my eyes, and told Ryan I didn’t think I could do it without an epidural. They said there wasn’t any time, and somehow got me to roll onto my left side. My midwife–not the one I usually had, but I was ultimately very happy with her–came in and said “Are you kidding?!” She was so surprised to see me in labor. She wanted to do a cervical check but I refused–the last one had been so painful. My body was bearing down on it’s own and every time I was convinced I was going to puke but I didn’t. They made me get on my back, which I was terrified to do because I was in so much pain. Then all of a sudden I was out of transition and ready to push! Just like in the movies again, I felt awesome between each push and was carrying on a conversation with this student. My midwife applied a warm compress like I had requested, and I attribute this to not tearing and having very limited swelling. The experience of pushing was so different this time, and strangely I didn’t feel like I was doing as great of a job. I pushed for about 20 minutes total. I remember thinking my entire body was going to rip open, and saying this in wonder after one push. I was excited about going through the experience of each stage of labor. And then suddenly she was here! They put Maggie on my chest and I said “She’s so tiny!” She was longer and a little skinnier than Lily so looked so scrawny. Margaret Emmelise O’Connor was born 9:53am, 21 inches and 8lbs 3oz. She just lay on me for the longest time, just like I had requested. The cord was wrapped around her neck but they still asked if I wanted to wait to clamp it, according to my birth plan (“No!”). We had extra skin-to-skin time before she was washed up because there weren’t any rooms available. Eventually they brought us to our room and Maggie to the nursery for her shots. I took a shower and was amazed at how much better I felt after Maggie’s birth than Lily’s. I also wasn’t starving. Ryan texted our family while we were still in the labor room and they were all shocked to see pics of the baby. My mom actually said to her friends at work “Who’s baby is this?” because it had gone so quickly. I was in active labor for under three hours!

My delivery could not have gone any better. I think the only thing that was harder this time was them pushing on my stomach afterwards. That was worse than the entire birthing process, and my contractions were bad for the days following. I had some retained placenta as well and actually had to get an ultrasound after passing some tissue. I was, and still am, so excited to think about her birth. It was incredible to be able to recognize each stage as I was in it.

To this day, Maggie is such a chill baby. It was like she didn’t want to impose on us with her birth. We convinced them to let us go home the next afternoon instead of staying another night. We had already spent several nights in the hospital just over a month earlier when Lily had RSV, and we were ready to go home. We didn’t even go straight home though–we went to my in-laws where everyone got to see her again and we got to pick Lily up. I felt so dramatically better this time around that we really launched right back into our lives. We even went out to a bakery for cookies the next day and people were amazed at how new she was. Even in the hospital, I felt like myself so much more quickly than I had with Lily. It’s been a whirlwind since Maggie was born, and so difficult dividing my time between my two girls. She is the sweetest thing though, and I can’t wait to watch her grow into a little girl.

baby-maggie

Itty-bitty week-old Maggie Moo.