Saturday, July 21, 2012

Updates since last post...

Since my last posting, many things have happened.  We have conceived a new sibling for the munchkinator, another boy on the way in November.  However, we do have to keep an eye out for the placenta which decided to grow in sort of low and the umbilical cord which decided to only grow one artery and vein- there should be two arteries and a vein, so we have some things to be aware of and cautious of.  I'm also sadly a little obsessed with keeping my sugar intake reasonable, maybe even a little restrictive, because I suspect I may have had an undiagnosed (because I refused testing) case of GD last time around.  Nine pound babies generally don't just happen for two average sized folk for no reason.  So, that's where we're at.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Secondary infertility.

I'm sure you've heard it said that a woman trying to lose ten pounds feels kinship with the woman who has been trying to lose 100 lbs. that is the sort of boat I find myself in currently. Not so much with the weight loss (though it would be nice to redistribute the weight I do carry), but with babies. I have one, you see. He's two and some change, and I'd like one more before I hang up my birthin' boots. I have friends with zero babies who want them as much as I would like to give E a sibling.

But it's not happening. For them or me. No kinship though because I already made one baby, I'm out of the club.

Three cycles have gone charted and unprotected. Three cycles of negative tests. Two cycles came with heartburn, nausea, an appetite, hope! And not even a false positive.

I had a discussion about it with a friend a few nights ago who disagreed that it can be called infertility yet... but I think it can. Especially when the cycles get shorter each month. Something is broken.

I could probably grow to accept my son being an only. I could maybe put the midwife savings toward my education.i could do lots of things, but right now I think I might just cry. Cry about being broken. Cry about having been so freaking CAREFUL the last two years. There were entire weeks I avoided my husband to be sure there were no accidents, all to find out that it would not have mattered.

So, I guess my next step is doctor involvement. Blood draws and testing to find out why each cycle is shorter, more violent, and unproductive. *sigh*

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Goals, aspirations, and the sheer terror of moving forward.

I have done amazing things that no one thought I should be able to do, but I am quite sure that at the age of 31, my accomplishments shouldn't end at two 150 mile charity bike rides, one child, and a stable home life. Especially since I am the breadwinner of our household. I know this job is good, provides for us well, but it isn't where my passion lies and I'm afraid that it shows in a bad way when I'm trying to remember simple policy and can remember more about the warning signs of a placental abruption or signs of mental illness than check handling or ATM balancing procedures. I'm simply not performing at my absolute best even when I'm focused at (the mathematically improbable) 110% and I hate that. I hate that I can't remember the little things at work, but can remember the details of cadaver class a decade ago.

The thing is, when I started at Kansas State main campus in 2000, I was going as a pre-nursing major with intent to transfer out to Baker or KU or another great nursing school after pre-requisites were met. I busted my buns through many neurotic episodes and WAS accepted to Baker, but couldn't fathom paying so much for schooling and decided to stay a wildcat while finishing up my psychology degree. It seemed a better fit for where I was in life anyway. But now I feel pulled toward nursing again. So, I have to put a plan in motion and sort through my list of five/ten year goals to see what is more important to me in order to make this happen. It would improve our financial outlook here on the homefront, it would take me out of the cubefarm and back out in the community, and open some doors for us.

Here's the sticky part- I know every day when I wake up that there is a good job with great co-workers waiting for me Monday through Friday. They understand the craziness and accept me as I am. I'm comfortable here. If I were to continue on for the next ten years in the same spot, I could likely sit at the same desk with the same people and do relatively the same thing every day as long as technology and time didn't replace me. I like that, but I also like the idea that I could make someone's healthcare experience better.

So. I am checking into schools, trying to find one that will see my college transcript, accept that I have already paid my dues with expository writing, speech making, and math. Also trying to find as many scholarship opportunities as I can to avoid creating a bigger mountain of debt.

I'm also trying to decide at the same time whether E will have a sibling or not. I desperately want him to know the joys and challenges of having a sibling, but I'm 31. I'm not getting younger. I can neither wait forever to have another child nor to start school again... on top of all the other complications in my life (like not being able to find reliable kid care help, and a husband who has been in a new level of pain/dysfunction/incapacitation for an unprecedented 45 days. I'm already at my breaking point, and yet I want to cram more education into the mix.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Parenting on a budget.

I am a bargain hunter.  By nature, I don't frown upon second, third, and fourth-hand stuff as long as it isn't contaminated with anything icky, is still in good shape, and hasn't been recalled.  Goodwill is my favorite store for my own clothes, though I do love some thriftshops I've found online.  Ooh, and Craigslist.  Craigslist is my friend when I need something.

Here are some of the corners I cut with my first/only kiddo.  Hopefully it'll help someone down the line.

Pre-baby: Maternity clothes are god-awful expensive for the short time you need them.  Go to Craving Style for good, cheap, new-ish clothes and help some mamas out while looking awesome with your belly.  Also check out goodwill's maternity section.  Or yardsales, craigslist, and the like.

Diapers.  I prefer cloth.  My first set lasted 18-ish months, then I put them in, covers and all, in my parents' washer on too hot a setting, de-laminated all the covers... leaky hell.  Had to replace them.  My first set was from softbums.  I had twelve covers and I don't know how many inserts... lots.  LOVED THEM!! I spent around $300 for that lot and for the first year they only added maybe two extra loads of laundry a week on a bad week.  Extremely daddy and caretaker friendly, low-maintenance cloth diaper.
Unfortunately, they died... and I didn't have $300.  So, I discovered Sun Baby diapers.  Price-wise, far more reasonable- I now have 24 covers and loads of inserts, plus I can still use my old inserts from the Softbums diapers in them, and I've sunk less than $150 into it.  Considering that my son has been in diapers now for 24 months (though he's mostly in undies now), I reckon it has saved us a good $2000 or better... plus, it has saved us from emergency 'OMG that's the last diaper, and he's wearing it!' runs at all hours.
Homemade wipes are pretty simple- buy a stack or two of soft, inexpensive wash cloths.  Use warm water or make your own wipe solution, just pack in a ziplock bag for trips out of the house.  Or you could be crafty and cut some out of flannel, but that can be a pain sometimes, depending on your sewing machine.

Clothes. Go to yard sales, talk to friends who've had babies when yours is due or who have kids who are similar in size for the season, they don't stay that size for long, so it doesn't make sense to buy brand new until later on when their sizes are harder to find on the secondhand market.  Also, If you're expecting and your family is super excited to buy clothes for your kid, don't be afraid to tell them you're full-up on newborn goods, and to please start shopping for the next sizes up.

Toys.  Newborns through about four or so months really don't need toys.  I felt like a crappy mom at first because I didn't have toys laying around when Munchie arrived, but then I realized that I was one of the coolest toys ever invented... at least until he figured out how to roll around and grab things.  Then a handheld mirror was pretty cool for awhile, as was one of my old silky nighties tied in a knot.  Kids don't need flash and glitter.  They'll play with the box if you buy them lots of toys right off the bat.

Bedding.  Believe it or not, newborns don't care about their surroundings nearly as much as their adults do.  I did the stupid first-timer thing and bought a (discounted, clearance) crib bedding set to coordinate with the freshly painted baby room and the lovely secondhand crib I bought. (before dropside cribs were outlawed)
Personally, for our family, we follow Dr. McKenna's safe bed-sharing rules and the crib was never used for much beyond holding laundry and temporary kid parking while putting away laundry.  Your family dynamics might be different, but just the same, you coooooould buy that shiny new crib at your store of choice, or you could look at Craigslist and the yardsale circuit.  Our crib was $100, used.  Brand new it would have gone for nearly $300. :-)

Food.  In the beginning, there's the breast.  I know not everyone can or wants to breastfeed, but if you are physically able, it will save you loads!  My son is sensitive to dairy (apparently a family trait that I passed to him), so we'd have had to have a dairy-free formula if we had not gone the breast route.  There would have also been the cost of trial and error, trying to find one that worked for him.  Some cans would have been wasted.  Instead, I cancelled dairy from my diet and found substitutes, and pumped and dumped during times that I knew I'd have dairy. Two years, and still going strong!

Baby food really isn't a necessity.  If you wait until baby starts to show interest in food, you can actually just mash up the food you're eating and see how it goes.  If your family has a history of food allergies, try one food  at a time (one a day, wait for a reaction), and save the expensive jarred stuff for occasions when you're out of the house.  Also, those jars are waaaaaaay too big for a kid to have a balanced meal.  One jar is about the capacity of the baby's belly... so you would really need to take a portion out of several jars to let your kid have the same sort of meal you're having with a meat, a vegetable, a fruit, etc.  That adds to the cost!

Little guy is only two, and we're still finding ways to save as we go.  Here's to a future of not spending $200,000 from birth to 18 years!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Holiday lessons learned, 2011.

Today was interesting. We took the boy to grandma's house for the holiday gathering today after only a 50 minute nap. On a typical day he requires two to three hours for a full recharge- especially when he has had a rough night for sleep. But we did it. He was mellow/whiny in the typical dr Jekyll manner of a toddler.

Then upon arrival he was immersed in a total sensory experience. People, things, lights, noise, food, motion activated decor... and meltdowns began. Oh, boy.

"Eat? Mama, eat? Eat now?"

"ham. Ham! HAM!! Eggs. Egg peeeeeese! Want pineapple."

"my car. That's my car! Mines!!"

That's the first ten minutes.

Three separate occasions I had to pull him to a quiet room to reset him, and once I had to break out my Mandt Training moves... then gifts were opened.

Everyone who brought a gift for him brought toys. Most had lights and sounds. All the kids were overstimulated by the time all the gifts were opened. They began to feed off each other's energy, and it was like a demonstration of atoms being heated.

We came home and found more toys with lights and sounds had come by mail. The thought I appreciate, but now we are all overwhelmed! When I become sensorily over-tapped, I get irritable and emotional. When my husband gets to that point, he gets jittery and needs to be doing something-anything with his hands. The boy gets hyper-happy and tries to bite folks. This is bad, by the way. It's like we all three go offline.

So. Here we are with a mountain of toys for one child, many of which are noisy and large. My common sense mama brain says we need to give goodwill a donation of all his old stuff. My sentimental mama brain says we need more storage bins.

Next year we are determined to just hand out a booklist and a list of clothing needs/likes/dislikes to make sure we aren't overly 'blessed' with so many toys.

Our boy does not handle abundance well. He sort of short circuits, pulls every toy out, then wanders around touching every toy. So, less is more. We will ask that everyone understand that about him and to only get him something meaningful (books, specific toys) and I'm fairly certain we're going to freak them out with this.

Another lesson learned: mandatory potty trip before looking at Christmas lights. The kid is a trooper. He made it through 45 minutes of Christmas lights (we couldn't escape the neighborhood) albeit uncomfortably while holding back full bowels and bladder. Unfortunately, his daddy was super stressed by the whimpering from the back, "potty! Gas station? Home? Potty!!"

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Putting down the pump

Monday, December 19 (which was my EDD two years ago!) was my first day at work in two years without a breastpump.  It was odd.  Over the weekend I decided to pack it up for good (or at least until we start working on Offspring v2.0) since my body has stopped responding well to the pump and my production has dropped to less than three ounces take-home milk per day.  I had a love-hate relationship with that pump.  In the early days I virtually measured my abilities as a working mother by how many ounces I brought home.  Less than twelve ounces back then led to severe self-worth issues.  Twelve ounces now would be a freaking miracle!

But, I made it.  When I started, I figured I'd give up at a year like everyone else I knew.  But then a year came, and I was still making good milk.  And it was winter.  I just kept going because that's what I knew the little guy needed.  I hated that I missed out on good sunlight during the spring and summer, but loved that he was getting my absolute best every day.  I hated how uncomfortable my pump was.  But the milk kept coming and coming!

I sit here now and look back at the hours logged with that small yellow device perched upon my lap as I ate lunches, read books, read articles online, and wrote letters to my son.  I know it's a little thing, and at times I hated it, but damn am I ever proud of myself for keeping at it for so long.  I did something that everyone told me couldn't be done.  And I did that thing for a very long time, openly and honestly.  Educating and sharing along the way in hopes that other mothers will have the confidence and support they need to do this, too.

So, Saturday night as I packed away that pump for the last time, I found myself weeping a little.  That pump was ugly and uncomfortable, but it was a huge part of my life and my early mothering.  I should have the darned thing bronzed or something!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Milestones: nearly two years of breastfeeding and pumping.

In a little less than a week I will celebrate little guy's second birthday. I am amazed by the fact that we have made it this far with breastfeeding, but despite the naysayers and those questioning continuing into toddlerhood, we're still going strong. He will get to choose when we stop as long as it works for both of us... though the pumping ends next week. I'm down to one session a day (my lunch hour) of pumping, and anywhere from one ounce to three ounces to bring home after an intense hour of ten minutes on/off/on pumping. My body simply isn't responding to the pump anymore. I can't say that I will miss the act of pumping, but I am a little sad that we are winding down. Time passes so quickly!

In 100 weeks of pumping breast milk at work, I have produced gallons of goodness for my son. I have watched him grow and thrive, even in my absence, on my milk. It makes me feel pretty awesome.

He has yet to encounter more than a small cold and a tiny run-in with Roseola (all in the last month) since birth.

I couldn't have done this without the support of my wonderful supervisors who let me have the freedom to run down the hall every couple hours to pump, a husband who was willing to learn about breastfeeding and it's importance to my health as well as our son's health, and a supportive online community of moms and dads who have been here before and were able to help me navigate.