Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Boobs vs. Bottles

Boobs vs. Bottles: My Thoughts on Breastfeeding

I think the most surprising thing I discovered while being pregnant was how complete strangers and acquaintances felt it socially appropriate to ask me if I would be breastfeeding my child.  When I told them I was going to try and see how it goes, they would then go into the many benefits of breastfeeding.  I got asked about breastfeeding more than the typical "how far along are you--when are you due--boy or girl--baby's name" type of questions.  People really care about how you will feed your child.  People who didn't care enough to ask my name, ask my well being, or even acknowledge me at all before I was pregnant, REALLY cared what I was going to do with my boobs.  I even took a breastfeeding class (and dragged along one of my closest friends--a true friend indeed to attend a 3-hour class that included instructions on how to get on all fours and feed your child like a cow to avoid clogged ducts).  When the time came and sweet Lil Miss was born, I did try breastfeeding and I let at least six certified experts fondle my breasts to make sure there was a proper latch--eventually there was.  What I hadn't been told is that I would be so exhausted from waking every 2-3 hours that baby's naptime became my naptime and food became less and less of a priority.  Since I wasn't eating regular meals (nowhere near enough to take care of myself plus another human being), I wasn't able to produce enough and was given the directive after 4 weeks to start supplementing.  Once I started supplementing, I started sleeping and eating--parenthood actually seemed like something I might be able to manage.  With formula, my daughter gained back her birth weight plus so much more.  Breastfeeding was so not awesome for me--my daughter would cry and use my other boob as a kick bag throughout the whole feeding for 8 whole weeks.  She did not like having to work for what little food I was able to provide, and there were times when I cried along with her.  Due to all of the inquiries, online articles, and baby books, I had a tremendous amount of guilt about stopping breastfeeding, but it was the best decision I could have made.  It was not until I gave her the bottle that I truly felt like we were able to bond during feedings.  I wish when I was pregnant less people asked me about the issue altogether, but if they did it would have been nice to hear that it is a personal decision, and that each person needs to do what is best for their body and baby, be it by giving baby boobs or bottles.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Birth story for Elliotte Penelope

September 27, 2012

Dearest Elliotte Penelope:

It happened like in the movies. It was 12:45am; your dad was watching a movie, and I was reading in bed. I felt something strange and ran to the bathroom to discover that my water broke. 
I sat in shock and said, "Uh Mason, I think my water broke." 
"Are you sure?"
"No, but I don't think I went to the bathroom."
He then asked me questions from our childbirth class, and we decided we would go to the hospital just in case and would consider it a trial run.
Now this came as a shock because I was 37 weeks 5 days, and everyone told us first babies are late, so we thought we had at least two more weeks.  That next day was going to be my last day of work, and I was going to go on bed rest for two weeks to heal my swollen feet and prepare for your arrival.  Over the next few minutes we got dressed and frantically assembled a hospital bag, fed Atticus and Piper, and tried to remember all of those all important details.  During this time I began to have severe cramps, and I thought these must be the Braxton Hicks (fake contractions) people say they experience before child birth, so I was still thinking that this was a false alarm.  

On the drive to the hospital the cramps became excruciating, and I had to start using those breathing techniques they taught us in class.  When we timed the contractions they were only 4 minutes apart, but I kept forgetting to time them because I couldn't focus during the pain.  Once we arrived at the hospital we went to triage and discovered that I was 100% effaced, fully ruptured, and dilated to 3 cm, so I was most definitely in labor and had been the second my water broke.  It took them approximately an hour to admit us to a room, and during that time I was constantly being reassured by your dad, and I was praying to Jesus for the pain medicine (epidural) to arrive.  When we were admitted and moved to our delivery room, they took some blood to run tests that were necessary before they would administer the epidural pain reliever.  By the time the epidural arrived, I had experienced 3 hours of painful contractions and thought I had burned a hole in the clock from staring at it since they kept promising the medicine would arrive in 30 minutes.  The epidural was incredible.  I went from having the worst pain in my life to feeling like myself again.  I was able to have normal conversations with your dad and not have to do any strange breathing until the last hour or so before you arrived.  It was at this time that I met our favorite delivery nurses Suzy and Shawn; these women were so helpful, encouraging, entertaining, and cheered me on the whole time.  

Your dad was incredible.  He was by my side the whole time, and he gave me anything I needed to feel more comfortable.  When he wasn't right next to me he was pacing or resting right by my side.  At 6:45am after being in labor for 6 hours, I was dilated to 6 cm and the contractions were less than 1 minute apart, so they had to give me medicine to slow down the contractions, so your heart had time to recover.  At 9:00am I had reached 10cm and spent 2 hours doing what is called laboring down where we allowed you time to move closer to the outside world without pushing.  After 2 hours and little movement, they gave me the go ahead to push and push I did.  They informed me because you hadn't moved, I could not do any pretty pushing because if I didn't push as hard as I could, they would have to cut you out during a C-section delivery.  The pain was unbearable, but the thought of having a C-section was not an option, and I was willing to push as hard as I could to get you here as safely as possible. During the time I was pushing, I had to take deep breaths and hold them for 10 seconds while pushing as hard as possible.  To help me get through the pushing, your dad counted down every 10 second interval, and because he is a musician who knows how to keep time, he did a fabulous job.  Periodically the nurses would let your dad look to see the progress, and he got to watch as your head slowly progressed closer to the nurses' and doctor's hands.  Dr. Swanson was my delivery doctor, and he was amazing.  He was able to arrive the last 17 minutes and make sure you were delivered as safely as possible.  It took 1 hour and 17 minutes of what the nurses called "ugly pushing" until you entered our world.  
At 12:17pm, the doctor pulled you out, held you up, and I let out a scream.  I was so shocked that I actually gave birth to a beautiful baby girl whose healthy cry was an answer to our prayers.  They immediately placed you on my chest for what is called skin-to-skin time, and then they took you away to be cleaned, weighed, measured, and bathed.  While the doctor was taking care of me, your dad was able to help the nurses with your first bath and take pictures of every first that you were experiencing.  You weighed in at 6lb 12oz and measured 19 inches long.  He was instantly smitten, and he kept coming back to tell me how beautiful you are.  When you were in your dad's arms, he looked so amazed and happy.  I don't think I have ever seen him as happy as I did on the day of your birth.  We were instantly in love and enjoyed spending the next few hours in recovery as a family of three.  

We would just stare at you for minutes and were so amazed that just 12 hours ago we were lying in bed getting ready to go to sleep to prepare for another work day.  After we were moved to a postpartum room, your Grandma Lamb was your first visitor, and she seemed so amazed at how tiny you were.  Your dad was 8lb 9oz when he was born, so she was used to holding larger babies.  Your next visitor was your Poppy who flew from his work in Nevada to be by your side, and he kept saying how beautiful you were.  We even went online and your Grandma Lily, Tito Noah, and Tita Jordan were able to meet you over the internet--they were amazed that you had so much hair.  Your Tita Jordan can't wait until you are old enough for her to do your hair.  Then my friends Jacinda and Julie (Auntie Ju Ju) were your next visitors, and they brought you a headband as a gift and they brought me coffee...because they are good friends.  Your Grandma Robbie was praying for you and wanted to know everything about you since she lives in Oregon and is unable to come down until October.  

Elliotte, you entered the world surrounded by love, and your dad and I make you the promise that you will be loved all the days of your life.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Swollen Feet and Super Powers

My feet can now smash small children. 2 1/2 weeks of teaching and being in the last month of pregnancy has finally caught up to me.  By the end of the day, my feet look like they belong on the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man or Incredible Hulk.  After two doctor's office visits, I have been reassured it is not preeclampsia, and I just need to elevate my feet higher than my heart...not the easiest thing to do while teaching the college application essay to seniors and rhetorical devices to sophomores, so they sent me home from work for a couple of days to see if they will improve.  Since I still have 5 weeks till Lil Miss arrives, I am hoping to teach for at least 3 more of those weeks and have a feeling I am going to get used to seeing these puffy feet for a while longer.  I've decided I would prefer to think of them more like Hulk feet than Stay Puft because at least watching my feet grow and shrink seems more like a super power.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Hospital Bag

My mail, and now this blog, has taken a dark turn.  I received this package today, and I'm thinking this is the beginning of the TMI posts that will eventually flood this blog.

The above pic includes Tucks hemorrhoid pads and super heavy absorbent incontinence pads--yes my mail was awesome today.  I'm still 5 1/2 weeks away from delivering Lil Miss, but I am trying to shop for (and add to) my hospital list, so that this bag is good and ready well before mid-October.  

For those of you expecting or who want to suggest additions, here is my unfinished list:

Unfinished Hospital List:

  • Ginormous underwear
  • Lanolin lotion
  • Extra pillows/Blanket
  • Nursing camis
  • Baby wipes
  • 3 pairs of socks (with grippy bottoms)
  • Flip flops and slippers
  • Comfy robe and pjs
  • Fiber snacks
  • Snacks for husband
  • Hard candies
  • Shampoo/Conditioner
  • Toiletries (Chapstick, Face Wash, retainers, contact solution, toothbrush/paste, hair brush, deoderant)
  • Hair dryer
  • Boppy pillow
  • Camera, Phones, Ipads, Chargers
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Plug-in nightlight
  • Belly bandit
  • Baby Outfits: Hats, mittens, comfy/warm outfits with legs for car seat
  • My going home outfit- Yoga pants, nursing cami, flip flops, hoodie

For Home Recovery:
  • Nursing bras
  • Nursing pads/soothers
  • Tucks pads
  • Heavy pads, incontinence pads, or adult diapers
  • Stool softener
  • Detachable shower head
  • Mild body soap
  • Spray pain reliever
  • Padsicles
  • Perineal irrigation bottle (and all other goodies from the hospital)
Thanks to all my mom friends and these sites: E Tells Tales, Little Baby Garvin, and Dear Baby for helping me start my list.

Ok moms, what did I leave off and what on this list is not needed?  

Monday, August 6, 2012

An Amateur's Guide to Refinishing Furniture

I am a self-professed amateur when it comes to refinishing furniture, but when I share my projects I always have people tell me about an awesome piece they have been dying to refinish but just don't know where to get started.  So this post is for you friends.  This is definitely not the only way or even the expert way to refinish furniture, but this is what has worked for me.  Please read the labels to make sure the product I recommend will work for your project.

Step 1: Clean your wood (or brass, laminate, metal, etc.)
  • To clean, I use a microfiber cloth and mineral spirits. Also make sure you have a good pair of gloves and a respirator mask when handling cleaners, strippers, paints, and sealers.

Step 2: Get to stripping (or sanding or scuff sanding)
The next step is to make sure you have a surface that will adhere to the paint.
  • For metal projects (like my brass chandelier or towel basket), I scuff sand using steel wool. Scuff sand is when you lightly rub or scratch the surface, so it is no longer super shiny and smooth.
  • For wood projects that I don't want to strip or sand completely (like my stained bedroom dresser from Homegoods), I scuff sand and then use a product called Glidden Grey Gripper (see step 3).
  • For wood projects with lots of curves or intricate carvings or with multiple layers of paint (especially if it is oil-based like the yellow, now grey nursery dresser), I use a spray on paint stripper.  Beware when using the spray strippers, prepare to shell out some dough.  I always seem to need more than I purchase.  I've used a few brands, and they have all worked, so I don't have one I particularly recommend.
  • For wood and laminate projects with straight lines (or to clean up after stripping), I use this handy dandy orbital sander that came in one of those Costco tool kits.  Make sure to get the correct grit for your project (it says the grit # on each package--I use "extra fine" for scuff sanding and "coarse" for paint removal).  I scuff sand laminate projects and usually start with coarse grit sand paper for solid wood projects. I just love this thing!

Step 3: Prime your project
  • I prime a project because it seals-in any stains, provides an even surface for paint to adhere to (especially important when painting laminate and metal), helps my paint go on more even, and allows me to use less paint on each project.
  • I have used both Kilz primer and Zinsser primer, and they have both worked great.  Some people swear by either of those two (or another brand), but I usually just purchase the one that is available at the hardware store since I bounce around between Lowes, Home Depot, Osh, and Ace.  For hard to reach projects or laminate or metal, I use the spray can primer.  For larger projects, I use the can primer.

  • For projects that I scuff sand and do not want to strip or sand (like my bedroom dresser), I use a primer called Glidden Grey Gripper.  This sealer is great to paint on high gloss surfaces that have one or two coats of paint.  I just scuff sand with a low grit sand paper and then paint the Gripper on with a brush. I would not recommend using only this for projects with multiple layers of paint or that have uneven surfaces (those need some sanding or stripping before priming).

Step 4: Paint as directed

  • Read the labels on your paint cans, and paint the recommended number of coats and WAIT the recommended amount of time before coats.  Also to avoid peeling and sticky coats, do not paint in high humidity (recommended temp is usually on the can).  This is the hardest step because it is so easy to want to get your project done that waiting hours to a day between coats is a pain, but you will regret it if you rush and your project is a sticky mess.
  • Also if using latex paint from a can (opposed to spray paint), don't skimp on the brushes.  Buy several high quality brushes that are straight and angled in the sizes needed to get into those grooves for full coverage.

Step 5: Seal your project
  • After waiting the recommended drying time for your last coat of paint, make sure to seal your project to protect against water rings, scratches, little hands, etc.
  • My favorite sealer is Varathane WATER-BASED Interior Polyurethane.  As mentioned in my Refinishing Furniture post, I prefer the water-based to the oil-based because the oil-based tint yellowed some of my lighter projects and one brand even left a sticky residue.  From now on I stick to water-based sealers.  Water-based also dries faster, so that is a bonus for anxious crafters like myself.  Oil-based sealers are recommended for outdoor furniture, but I still use water-based on my outdoor projects because I can't stand the yellow tint--that's just me.
  • I have yet to use Polycrylic, but I have read blogs that recommend the water-based Polycrylic to seal as well.
  • Do spray light coats and spray as many as is suggested since a good seal will length the life of your project.

Step 6: Come back to this site and post a link to your project, and add any products or recommendations that would benefit other amateur crafters.  Thanks for taking the time to read my lil guide....best of luck!

Friday, August 3, 2012

The First Decade

While I still plan on posting a how-to for refinishing furniture, I thought I'd postpone it to celebrate our 10 years of marriage. Before we were a couple, Mason and I could not stand each other, and I am still amazed that I ever felt anything less than pure adoration for this man. These have been the best years of my life and in 10 weeks we get to truly celebrate what it means to be a family when lil miss Lamb arrives. Here's a glimpse back at our first 10 years (enjoy watching Mason shrink and me grow):

Year 1: LightStream 2003, Darling Harbour, Sydney, Australia

 Year 2: LightStream 2004, Caves near Oberon, Australia

Year 3: LightStream 2005, Caves near Oberon, Australia

Year 4: LightStream 2006, Florianopolis, Brazil

Year 5: Maui, Hawaii

Year 6: Seattle, Washington

Year 7: Monterey Bay, California

Year 8: Big Island, Hawaii

Year 9: Cambria, California (with Piper and Atticus)

Year 10: San Francisco, California