Monday, August 26, 2013

The Step Monster!

Well, it's official, Bonus baby #1 officially believes I am a Step Monster. . .and she hates me.  While I understand this is pretty typically commentary from a pre-teen and from a pre-teen step daughter.  What I was surprised by was how much it hurt to read those words.  Not the "I hate you" part, but instead, the step monster part.  I have gone out of my way, from day one, to work hard to develop positive relationships with Bonus baby #1 and #2.  I work hard to never speak negatively about their mother (although, I'll be honest, I've slipped from time to time) and think hard about the things these two kids are going through.  I recognize they did not ask for me.  I recognize they are growing and will push boundaries and that parenting is not about being their "friend."  I am not trying to replace their own mother.   Step-parenting, for the most part, has been relatively painless.  But, the addition of a baby in our household, as well as in the bonus baby's mom's house, has added some stress on the kids (I think).  Pair that with the fact that Hubby and I both work long hours and are exceptionally exhausted, tension is running high in our house.  So, I'm now left with the question what do I do about it?  Do I let my Bonus baby know that her words have hurt me?   Or do  I just let it go? According to this article, it is really common for step moms to suffer from depression.  I wouldn't have really believed that before, but I can say that I do many of the things described in this article--particularly that need to "fix it."  Not only do I want to be an AWESOME step mom, I feel obligated to almost right the hurt of the kids parents' divorce (which of course, is not really possible).

Monday, May 6, 2013

Baby Wearing Revisited. . . . . .

Well, almost three months into life with Little One and I can say, I've only practiced baby wearing twice.  Little One does not seem to like sitting in "Frog Position" (you can view video below), so we haven't used it at all.  I have to admit, I am disappointed because I really thought this was going to be the carrier for us.  But. . . .it just didn't work out that way.

Nor have we started using any of our carriers which are of this style (we have a couple).

But, when I do start using them, I'll surely follow the tips found here, which cover why it is important for an infant in this style of carrier to be facing you versus, facing forward.

What are your thoughts? Are these tips helpful?  Do you practice baby wearing?  If so, how did you find the carrier which was right for you?

Little surprises

My maternity leave has yielded some interesting surprises.  Number one, I'm surprised at how much I'm dreading going back to work.  I recognize that it is NOT feasible for me to stay home.  We need the income but the idea of leaving Little One in the care of someone else does not sit well with me, particularly because of how well I know the Early Childhood industry and I know what's available in my neck of the woods (not a hell of a lot).  I find myself having wrestling with the same internal drama that many working mothers before me have felt.  I know I need to work and, I love my work I might add, BUT, I feel completely guilty for returning to work.

The second little surprise that has come my way is how I have felt about (a) unsolicited advice and (b) other's need to comment on (a) the fact that I am now a "real" mom  and (b) the fact that "parenting isn't how it is in the books."  I expected these types of comments because of the tendency for folks view step parents as less than.

First, let me address the unsolicited advice thing:  feel free to keep giving it to me, but don't be surprised if I don't follow your advice.  Here's why:  all children develop differently and if I want child development information I will seek out information from the sources I choose.  If I have questions about something or want advice, I'll ask.  Otherwise, please keep your parenting advice to yourself.  So, why did this surprise me?  Well, because it is my JOB to give parenting advice.  Child development is my field of work and I give unsolicited advice all the time! I have always proceeded with caution when it came to giving advice because I suspected it would not be welcomed, but I was certainly surprised to discover how much I did NOT welcome it!  I also find it odd that I am getting all sorts of unsolicited advice now but no one seemed to have any advice when I became a bonus mom (which, in my opinion, is WAY more complicated and WAY more challenging than being a birth mom).

Next, let me address the need for others to comment how I feel about becoming a "real" mom and how I will soon see that parenting isn't how things are in the books.  

So, let's dive into those comments about me learning what "real" parenting is all about and how things don't go like they do in the books.  To me, this is one of those comments that means, "You think you know everything because of your education--well you don't."  Let me be very forward about something, my education had taught me a few really important things regarding child development and parenting.  First, all children are different.  Second, everyone has an opinion about what's best for young children and there is a lot of research to support all sorts of views (including my own and those views which oppose my own).

Second, here's how I feel about being a "real" mom:  (#1)  I have been a "real" mom since my husband and I got married.  While it is true that I did NOT deliver my bonus boy and bonus girl and I have no intention to try to replace their own mother (that would (a) be inappropriate and (b) just crazy), I have been "mothering them." I wipe tears, attend parent/teacher conferences, attend open house events, talk with them, discipline them, wash their clothes, cook their meals, etc.  (#2) One would certainly not say to a person who adopted they were not a "real" parent and I certainly don't appreciate being told that I have not been a "real" parent either.  I believe people make this comment meaning to really ask, "how does it feel now that you and your husband have a child together?"  Which is an entirely different question, in my opinion.  So to those of you who feel the need to ask me these things:  STOP.  Don't do it.  I do not like to differentiate between my Bonus children and Little One. All three of them are my children.  I care for them all.  I will wipe all their noses and wipe all their tears.  I have hopes and dreams for each of them and want only the best for them.  If you want to know what's different how that Little One has come into our lives, here's what I can tell you:  (a)  We all sleep a little less, (b) we all marvel at how Little One looks like her brother and her sister in different light, as well as how much she looks like her father and I, (c) we are learning how to balance our lives a little differently--Bonus Boy and Bonus Girl are with us a couple days at a time, Little One is with us always.  We have to figure out how to balance giving everyone enough attention and love--something that would happen no matter what kind of a mom I am.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

You're going to do WHAT?!

Many of you are aware that I am breastfeeding AND that I am fairly vocal about how important I think it is to breastfeed my daughter.  While I would NEVER push my feelings about breastfeeding on someone else, nor would I put down a mom who can't do it, for my family it is an important choice.  Well, I've returned to work and, sadly, I am not keeping up with Little One's appetite by pumping.  Before you start to tell me that I must not work in a place which is breastfeeding friendly, you are wrong.  I am free to pump any time and do take advantage of that.  I just cannot keep up--Little One has a big appetite, which probably comes from my side of the family!  I was nearly brought to tears this week when my mother in law had to supplement my breast milk with formula and instantly felt like a breast feeding failure!

I thought--I'm just not pumping enough.  So, I tried to pump more during the week, but still I just couldn't keep up!  So, after much discussion with my husband, I decided that I would accept a friend's offer to take several bags of her frozen breast milk and free up her freezer.  At first my husband's response was, "That's gross!"  We talked for a long time and finally made the decision together that I would take the frozen milk so I could feel better about not being with Little One during the day.  After all, it's bad enough that I have to leave her with someone else while I'm working. . . .

Anyway, I was at my WIC (yes, I DO use this WONDERFUL Federal benefit; NO I'm not on welfare and NO I'm not lazy) appointment and I brought this topic up to the nutritionist.  She didn't have to say a word for me to see how she felt about me using some of my pal's frozen breast milk in a pinch.  DISDAIN.  There was definite disdain on her face AND in her voice when she said to me, "I know you read a lot of research and you're really educated so I don't have to tell you the potential dangers of sharing breast milk."   I wanted to go into a rant about all the benefits and how there are milk banks around the world to keep women from having to dump their excess milk and keep children healthy. I wanted to tell her, that all though it is TRUE that HIV and other infectious diseases can be passed through breast milk, it is extremely rare and the CDC does not feel that breast milk needs to be handled with special precautions.

I'm not the only one who has wrestled with this controversy.    While most doctors caution against this practice, others; such as Dr. Sears; say the potential risks are outweighed by the benefits.  And I'm prepared for the flack I may catch for using milk from a friend of mine.  I stand by the decision my husband and I made.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Sunday, February 24, 2013

She has arrived!!!!

Baby Watch 2013 is OVER! Little One arrived on Feb. 7, 2013 at 9:37 pm!  After about 24 hours of labor, the decision was made to deliver her via emergency c-section.  Labor was an amazing (and, yes, painful) experience.  I was determined to try and make it through the whole ordeal (before c-section was ordered) without pain meds, but sadly could not.  I got to about 5 cm and then I requested to have an epidural.  Although Little One's birth did not go according to plan, Hubby and I are thrilled the decision was made.  Little One's umbilical cord was wrapped tightly around her neck twice and she did not seem inclined to want to be delivered (she wasn't moving despite my pushing at 10 cm!). Generally, a nuchol chord causes no issues and is relatively common, however, it was a scary experience, nonetheless.   In fact, I have read in several places that it is a myth that a baby can be choked by his or her own umbilical cord because babies in the womb do not breath the same way you and I do.

Little One is a little over two weeks old and continues to amaze us all.  She started to hold her head up at a week and we have noticed her trying to push up on her arms at times.  She seems to be a strong little lady and I look forward to tracking her developmental milestones as I notice them.    We have completely used up our newborn disposable diapers and have moved to cloth diapering.  We do plan to pick up some additional size 1 disposable diapers to keep on hand and carry in the diaper bag (just seems easier to us), but while I'm hanging out mainly at home at this point, we're using mainly cloth.

I have also tried my hand at baby wearing and have found the Maya Wrap to be my favorite sling.  I plan to swap my other slings and carriers on SwapMamas because they just don't seem to work for me.   So far, my maternity leave has been enjoyable and I am already starting to dread going back to work.  I love being home and find my days to be productive and enjoyable.  I am starting to think about how I am going to balance being a full time working mom versus a working mom who has children in her home two days at a time. It certainly will be an adjustment and I hope I'm prepared for it.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

What the sugar?!

We're still on baby watch at my house.  I've had a contraction here and there and few days where I felt down right miserable (and, according to my family, was acting like a crazy person), but nothing that says, "Little One will be here TODAY."  So, we continue to play the waiting game.  So far, I've put my nesting to good use.  Clean car?  Check!  Car seat installed?  Check!  Baby's room organized?  Check!  Living room vacuumed?  Check!  Also took the time to make, from scratch, (a feat my father would be in awe of) a chocolate cake with some fluffy white frosting.  While I didn't do all this TODAY, it has been accomplished since I've been on leave waiting for this baby.

I'm blessed to be able to do some work from home during this time, which I made use of all last week.  I have a few things to work on this week while I wait also.  Also found the time to blog, which has been nice.  Last week I posted about baby-wearing and was surprised how many hits (but no comments) that generated.  I wonder if the folks who read were pro or against the practice and if they had anything they'd like to add.  I was surprised baby-wearing received more hits than cloth diapering.  Maybe because cloth diapering has become relatively trendy and baby-wearing is still considered to be taboo by some.  Who knows?!

Today when Hubby and I went in for the prenatal appointment, Dr. scheduled an induction for next Tuesday, just in case Little One does not make her appearance before then.  Hubby keeps telling me I am hording the baby, LOL.   Today, I completed our income taxes as far as I could until I receive all of our I9's.  Hopefully they get here soon so I can get them mailed and get our refund as quick as possible.  That extra money will be helpful, given our current financial situation.  We have a specific use planned for our tax refund.  What do you do with yours?