Saturday, March 19, 2011

Breastfeeding Woes

I really don't like breastfeeding. It is probably one of my least favorite things about having a baby. That and the horrible afterpains and the seemingly endless postpartum bleeding. But breastfeeding is my nemesis when it comes to babies. I just can't seem to do it and eventually I give up entirely and just switch to formula.

I know, it's not the worst thing in the world to formula feed your baby. And I shouldn't care what other people think about my choosing not to breastfeed. It's not like I didn't try, because I always do.

In fact, while I was pregnant with this baby, I was seriously considering just skipping it altogether because I know how hard it is for me.

I can't ever get the baby latched on right without help from a lactation consultant. And even then, it takes a good 4-5 days before my milk comes in, so I have a very hungry baby for quite a few days. And then, because my milk takes so long to come in, I always, ALWAYS, end up with a baby with jaundice, so there's the extra doctor's appointments for heel pricks and weighing in because they always lose so much weight at first. And then there's the tedious moments where I'm waiting all day for the baby to poop out the bilirubin. And I have to stop and think, should I just throw in the towel and start the bottle?

I decided to try anyway because I'm not dumb and I know that breastmilk is best for baby. Still, I'm having a very hard time with it.

This time around, I can't seem to get him latched on right at all. It hurts like crazy every single time I nurse on either side the ENTIRE time he's eating. That's right, twice every one to two hours for fifteen minutes each time I am in severe pain. Let's see, since he's been eating every one to two hours and nurses for about fifteen minutes on each side and he does this ALL day long, that's THREE HOURS of excruciating pain.

I've checked his lips. They're flanged out like they're supposed to be. I've checked how much he has in his mouth and how wide his mouth is open and all of it looks right to me, so I can't figure out why I am in so much pain. He also never seems satisfied and sometimes, I'll nurse him twice from each side before he's finally done. And then I still feel like my breasts are full.

But I don't know who to ask for help either. I should have sought help from the lactation consultant before I left the hospital because I could already tell I was having problems. But she only came by my room once and he happened to be off to the nursery for a blood test to check his sugar level at that time.

At any rate, I feel like a complete failure when it comes to breastfeeding. With my first, he was premature and stayed in the NICU for two weeks, during which, I pumped every three hours day and night. He couldn't suck, so he was fed through a tube in his nose and I would come in every six hours and put him to the breast while he was being fed through the nose. When he came home, I managed to continue the breastfeeding for nearly three more months, but it was so tiring and demanding that I finally caved and weaned him to a bottle. Fortunately, I had a HUGE supply of frozen milk from that hospital stay, so he continued to be fed breastmilk mixed with formula for about three more weeks after that. My second baby I nursed exclusively for two months (two very long miserable months) and then gave up after two more months of nursing alternating with bottles. My third baby lasted about four months as well, but mostly just the first 6-8 weeks. After that, he was probably getting more formula than breastmilk, but I was still trying. My 4th child, my daughter, I only nursed for two months.

When this baby was born, they put him immediately to my breast, which was what I wanted. But after he was born, I couldn't stop shaking, my whole body was shivering and shaking to the point that I couldn't even hold him. That didn't subside for about 2-3 hours after the birth, so by that time, they had already whisked him off to the nursery and given him a bottle. I wasn't upset or anything, after all, what was I supposed to do? I couldn't even hold him, I was shaking so bad, and since I couldn't hold him, I couldn't feed him. Plus, it was good for my husband to have some time with him, feeding him and bathing him in the nursery.

But I wonder if these circumstances have made it difficult--that the first feeding he had was a bottle, so that's why he hasn't been latching on or sucking right. And I have no idea how to fix it. Today, we are waiting for him to poop. He's had jaundice all week and has gone in repeatedly for heel pricks to check his bilirubin level. It hasn't been extremely high, not high enough for phototherapy, but high enough that they are concerned. He did start gaining the weight back a few days ago, but he hasn't been pooping AT ALL, which is a huge cause for concern.

Anyway, I'm about ready to give up and I'm only at day six. I just can't stand the pain. The lack of sleep, I can handle. I'm pretty good about catching cat naps here and there while he sleeps. And nursing lying on my side so I can kind of doze. But the pain I just can't handle. It seems to be getting worse. And I feel frustrated and like a huge failure.

New Baby!

Our new baby was born on Sunday, March 13, at 10:02 a.m. He was our second smallest, larger only than our premie, weighing in at 7 pounds, 7.4 ounces and measuring 19-1/2 inches long.

My water broke at 3:10 a.m. Sunday morning (though our clock only read 2:10 a.m., since we forgot to change the time the night before). I had been sick all day Friday and Saturday with a bad cold that had started in on Thursday. I had been feeling really lousy at bedtime and had even gone to bed quite early, around 9 pm. My husband had been scheduled to work the night shift on Saturday night, but had come home early because he knew how sick I was feeling.

Anyway, we called someone in the ward to come sit with the kids and she even got up in the morning and got them ready for church and took them with her. We left and went to the hospital, about five minutes away. They got me all hooked up to the i.v. and then gave me the epidural around 4:30 a.m. At that time, my blood pressure dropped REALLY low and it was quite scary to feel that way, but they gave me medication and got it back up. The baby's heartrate never changed and he was doing fine the whole time.

By 7:30 a.m., I hadn't dilated past a six, which is where I was for several hours, but I think it's because of how they had me positioned. Once they sat me up higher, things moved along faster. He came at 10:02 a.m. after about 20 minutes of pushing.

So now he is here and we are trying to adjust to life with five children.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

When My Husband Is Home

Does anybody else have this problem?

You don't get anything done on the days your husband is home off work.

I have an endless to-do list. Many of the things on it would be easier to do if I had someone to watch the kids while I concentrate on those things.

However, I have learned that on the days my husband is home from work, it is unrealistic to expect to get any of these things done. The house gets messier and the kids get more wild and crazy when he's home than when he's not home.

I can't figure out quite why. I mean, mostly, it's not like he really is home because often, he will just watch TV or play video games all day. So it doesn't seem like he would be adding to the chaos or the mess. But somehow it always is worse on those days. It's like having another child in the house.

If I tell the kids to go be with their dad so I can get something done, inevitably I end up having to come in and check up on everyone because he is so absorbed in his games or shows that he doesn't see that the kids have opened a package of pretzels and spilled them all over the kitchen floor or that they've taken a marker to the wall in the next room. Or that they are now running around outside in their underwear in 35 degree weather.

When they are home with me, I make sure they are actively engaged in something before I start something that I'd like to cross off my to-do list.

Maybe I need to treat the days he has off just like any day that he is gone--make sure they are engaged before I start projects, etc.

He's not really all lazy, like I'm making him sound. If there are things that I can't really do, like moving furniture or putting something big and heavy together or whatever, all I have to do is put together a list and he'll do it, but when he's done, he's done and doesn't want to do anything else.

Is that a man thing? It seems that when I'm done with one task, there is always another task to do. Some days, I admit, I'm not all that motivated to do much, but some days, I want to get a lot done, and even though most of it doesn't have to get done, I still want to be productive so I do it rather than wasting my time watching TV endlessly (especially when there is nothing on worth watching!).

And then a lot of the days he has off, he wants to play all day--go to the park, the movies, on errands, spend money, etc. Makes it hard to keep to the schedule I have for me and the kids and also we end up spending more money than usual and getting nothing done and then when he goes back to work, I feel like I'm running to catch up.

Does this happen to anyone else? Or are the dynamics different because the days your husband is home is on Saturday (usually a busy day of running regular errands and cleaning house and going to kids' sports events and church activities) and Sunday (a day of rest and going to church meetings and spending time with extended family)? Since mine is usually off in the middle of the week, I tend to think the dynamics are a little different. At least that's how I imagine it.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

the Doctrine of the Family

About three weeks ago, my oldest child gave a talk in Primary. The topic was "The Family is Central to Heavenly Father's Plan." He is seven, going on eight, and he has given many talks in Primary before, so I let him do the preparing and all I did was type up what he told me. He decided to focus on the plan part of it, so he went over the Plan of Salvation, complete with a visual aid, and then talked about how the family fit into that plan. As part of the preparation, I read some of The Family: A Proclamation to the World with him and discussed a little bit of it.

Later that day, I just felt inspired to teach a Family Home Evening lesson on the Proclamation. We've had it hanging in our house since we got married, right next to the most recent picture of the family, but I don't think we've ever told our children about it. So the next night, I pulled the Proclamation off the wall and we all sat down for FHE.

We didn't go over the whole thing, just hit certain key points, like marriage being between a man and a woman and the fact that mothers and fathers have different roles. We talked about how the world, people who don't know or understand Jesus' teachings, want to change families to include other definitions of it. I'm not sure how much the kids understood, but our seven-year-old seemed to understand most of it. But I felt that it was something that was necessary to talk about, especially so our children would know what that piece of paper is that we have hanging in a prominent place in our house.

A couple days later, our March Ensign came in the mail. I opened it and skimmed through it, like I always do. One article caught my eye--Teaching the Doctrine of the Family by Julie B. Beck, general Relief Society president. The tag of the article states this, "This generation will be called upon to defend the doctrine of the family as never before. If they don’t know the doctrine, they can’t defend it." Then the whole article goes on to explain the doctrine of the family and how it relates to Heavenly Father's plan for his children and how important it is that we teach this doctrine to our children.

I really feel like I was inspired to teach that lesson for Family Home Evening, so I don't think it was a coincidence when that article came out in the March Ensign. Since then, we've had one more lesson about it where we talked about our new baby coming and how that fits into the plan and what we can all do to help this new baby be happy. I really loved the article and am glad that it came out when it did.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Dealing with a Difficult Child

My seven-year-old is getting increasingly more independent and has a constant bad attitude about everything. I'm really hoping this is a personality thing of his and will not be repeated with every child.

He is very good at turning everything into a battle of wills. He's already beaten me in some aspects. I'm already afraid to remind him to do certain things--like his chores or practicing his piano. And heaven forbid I assign him extra work because he owes me $16 for a library book he tore! If I even approach that, I'll get screaming and yelling and throwing toys for at least a half an hour.

Yes, I admit it, my seven-year-old has me trembling in my boots. Right now, it seems that the most effective tool is to threaten to call Dad at work and tell him so that when he gets home, he can punish the child. But then I feel like my son loses respect for me when it's only Dad who can ever dole out the punishments.

Here is today's story.

As we were pulling into the driveway from church, my husband tells the kids that they need to come right in, get changed and come downstairs so we can eat our big meal before Daddy needs to head to work, as he wanted to get there early today. We go in the house and two of the kids change quickly and obey while Daddy makes the gravy and cuts the meat and I set the table. The older two boys mess around and don't change very quickly. When the food is ready, Daddy sends the four-year-old upstairs to tell the older boys to come down for dinner. The seven-year-old clobbers him for delivering the message, so Daddy goes upstairs and sends everyone down exactly how they are--the seven-year-old is still in his underwear. Daddy makes him eat dinner just like that and the seven-year-old spends the entire meal whining and griping and explaining how he "accidentally" clobbered his little brother (you know, accidentally on purpose). He was told after eating to go sit on his bed until Daddy left for work, but he threw a big tantrum about that. Finally, he settled down and admitted and apologized for what had gone wrong.

Fast forward a few hours. Daddy is now at work. We've just eaten "supper" (on Sundays, we have a big "dinner" right after church, which is at 2 pm and then supper, which is more a snack, before bed). The kids were watching a video before supper and had plans to watch a second 30-minute video after supper. When they finished eating, I sent them up to get pajamas on and brush their teeth before putting in the video. They were acting wild and silly and not doing what I asked, so I went upstairs, monitored them while they brushed teeth and changed. They continued the silliness, so I said, no video, only books. I told them to get their books, and the seven-year-old threw a massive tantrum about not getting the video, so I told him he couldn't have a book either. I read to other three out in the hallway while he was supposed to be in his bed in the room, but he spent the entire time pounding on the wall, the door, and crying that he wanted a book. When I finished reading and put the other kids to bed, he was relentless in how he wanted a book. I stood firm, but he is still up there upset that he didn't get a book and has come down several times begging for one.

So, that is typical of how he deals with these things. I have no idea how to handle it. Sometimes I feel like it is a losing battle for me. He has really become a very difficult child.

Usually he is bright and happy and a good helper and a good big brother. But try and get him to do something he doesn't want to do or reprimand him for bad behavior, and the devil he becomes.

Please tell me that some of my children will not turn into this!?

Thursday, March 3, 2011

High School Clubs

Ninth grade squad, I'm in the front right holding the spirit stick

Varsity squad, my senior year, I'm on the second row, second from the left

In junior high school, I was in the pep club in seventh grade. I also joined speech club that year but didn't really participate very much. From eighth grade through senior year, except for tenth grade, I was involved with cheerleading. I also participated in other extra-curricular clubs, like National Junior Honor Society and National Junior Beta Club in junior high school, but again, my participation was limited.

Cheerleading was pretty fun. I originally wasn't even going to try out. I was a gymnast but had quit taking private gymnastics in the sixth grade. One Thursday afternoon during football season, in the seventh grade, I was out in my front yard doing some tumbling passes. A tenth grade cheerleader lived across the street from me and she and some of the other girls on her squad were painting signs for upcoming football games on her driveway. They saw me tumbling and called me over. The girl was a friend of my older brother's and I knew her. All the girls were quite impressed with my tumbling skills and asked if I was going to try out for cheerleading at the junior high school. The girl offered to help me with the tryouts if I decided to try out, so I took her up on her offer. I made eighth grade cheerleader and was one of twenty girls on the squad.

Although I enjoyed cheerleading, I never really felt part of it. The cheerleaders were the popular girls and I never was really one of them. I think I only made the squad every year because of how advanced my tumbling skills were. I could do a series of back handsprings from one end of the football field to the other, about twenty in a row. I was also skilled in the stunts, able to pull difficult stunts like scorpions and pencils because of my balance, flexibility, and experience in gymnastics.

At the end of ninth grade, we were supposed to be moving, so I didn't try out for the tenth grade year. I participated in school gymnastics instead until we moved. The new school had no gymnastics team, so at the end of that year, I tried out for cheerleading again and made it. The cheerleading coach was an elitist and had already hand-picked her squad for my senior year when everyone was a sophomore. I was the new girl and because I had so much cheerleading and gymnastics experience, I got high marks from the judges and made the squad, but because I wasn't on the lady's original list, she never really did like me and always put me in the back and never really let me fully participate. By my senior year, cheerleading was something I did because I liked the gymnastics part of it, but I really wasn't part of the group. In fact, I don't really have any friends that I've kept up with from cheerleading my senior year. I have more friends from cheerleading in eighth grade that I've kept up with than people I cheered with in high school.

I enjoyed cheerleading because I was able to use my gymnastics training in it. I am glad I participated. Cheering at football and basketball games was really fun and exciting and every year when these sporting events roll around, I miss the excitement of cheering in front of the crowd. But cheerleading did not define who I was, it was just something I did for fun.

New Ideas

Yesterday, after reading this post on MMB (Mormon Mommy Blogs), I decided to try something new with my blog. I didn't want to pay $17/month for blog ideas, and I don't really like posting more than once a day, unless I really have a lot of different things to talk about, so I couldn't imagine having a blog prompt every day for a year because then I wouldn't feel free to write about other things. But the idea came to me that I have this "Journal Jar" that I made when I was a YSA (young single adult) with writing prompts for a journal or personal and family history. I've used some of them, but really, the jar just sits on my dresser. My husband has even mentioned that maybe I should get rid of the jar because I don't really use it. But I can't do that, there are some great prompts in it. So I decided to go back over the entries I've already written and re-do them blog style and then use the journal jar prompts a few times a week. When I do, I'll put the topic as the title or opening sentence, so you'll know it's a prompt.

Also, I'm going to be revamping my blog a little bit. I noticed that I have WAY too many categories, some of which have only one blog post and it's a bit confusing because some of the categories relate to each other. I also run a family blog and I spent time last week relabeling everything so I could simplify the tag categories and make it easier to find things. I also might be doing some advertising on here, at least I've had some people interested in putting ads on my blog. I'm not sure if that will be cost effective though, since my blog traffic really is quite limited, so I will be testing the waters there. And I might try to give it a new look, but I'm not sure that I'm that web-savvy. So we'll see.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Life in a Nutshell

I wish I had something brilliant to talk about, something brilliant to say. But I don't. That is why I haven't been blogging. I don't even have anything interesting to say. Life has been hard. We've dealt with lots of sickness and some of the usual tensions in a marriage that can make life miserable. Plus with the skyrocketing inflation and the fact that my husband's store hasn't been raking in the business as usual (January and February have been really slow months for them, making for bad paychecks for him), we have just been having a tough time getting by. My seven-year-old is going through a phase where he badmouths everything and talks back all the time and I can't figure out how to redirect him most of the time.

So what do you do when life comes at you hard? I have no idea. I've just been getting by the best I can, breaking down into tears more often than usual, calling my mom way too much and annoying her, and just feeling so blah, like there's absolutely nothing worth looking forward to in the future. Even though I have a baby coming, my oldest child is turning eight and we're coming up on our tenth anniversary, I still feel like the future looks so bleak.

I am thirty-six weeks pregnant now. I'm either unable to breathe, have to pee 800 times an hour, or in such pain from the baby's movements that I'm unable to do much of anything. Like all my other kids, he's probably going to be a pretty big boy. My hips hurt so bad most days that just getting off the couch to go to the bathroom is a marathon event. I should just set up camp in the bathroom!

Today my husband was diagnosed with Bell's palsy. Sounds worse than it is. On Saturday, he started complaining about how one side of his face felt funny. I did all the stroke tests--had him smile, lift up his arms, but he seemed fine. By yesterday morning, there really was a noticeable difference between the sides of his face, so I called and set up a doctor's appointment. I didn't think it was an impending stroke because he had no other symptoms, aside from a headache, but even the headache didn't match the stroke description. It was persistent, but not sudden or severe. So we went in and he had a neurological exam (we have had WAY too many of these the last six months!) and had all the classic signs of Bell's palsy, which is where a facial nerve has been damaged somehow, causing numbing, weakness and sometimes paralysis in one or both sides of the face. Usually it's caused by a virus, but he hasn't been sick, or at least exhibited any outward signs of sickness, so we're not sure what's caused it. The doctor prescribed him antivirals anyway as well as some anti-inflammatory drugs. Most often the Bell's palsy dissipates within a few weeks, but in some people it can last a year and for some, it never goes away. I'm hoping that for my husband, it will be the first and that the drugs will help clear it up and he will be fine in a few weeks. Especially since in his job, he deals with lots of customers and customer service is a big deal in his company, he can't have one side of his face all droopy.

That's about all. I figured I was due for an update at least. I still can't think of anything brilliant or insightful or even remotely interesting to write about, though.


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