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?

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Baby Wearing Anyone?!

As Little One's arrival draws near, I wanted to touch on the subject of baby wearing.  Like cloth diapers, this is on of those topics people seem to have strong opinions about.  If done improperly, baby-wearing can be dangerous for your child.  However, if done correctly, there are many, many benefits to this old practice.  I am one of those folks who believes, although children should have lots of tummy time and lots of time to explore their world at their own pace, children should also have lots of contact with their parents.    Some of benefits of baby-wearing include:

  • less crying
  • greater amount of learning about their world
  • greater level of emotional organization and regulation
  • promotion of attachment
  • Allows greater freedom in your own movement
I am very excited to give this a try and have either swapped or purchased several different types of carriers and slings to try.  Here are the types I have so far:
  • Maya Wrap:  This seems to be the one which I will prefer (of course, I won't know until Little One gets here and I can try it out for real) because it is adjustable. 
  • Seven Sling:  I was really excited about these when I first saw them because they seemed so easy.  You order based on their sizing, however, I have heard from many baby-wearers these slings seem to run small and their sizing does not seem very accurate. The reviews for them have not been very positive and hope that I didn't make a mistake in purchasing this sling.  
  • Peanut Shell Classic:  This sling is not adjustable but the sizing was much easier than the Seven Sling.  It is important to make sure you order the correct size or it will not fit properly.  The reviews have been positive for this sling, so I'm very excited to try it out. 
My biggest mistake when ordering my slings was that I ordered based on my size and weight at the beginning of my pregnancy.  Because of this, I will not be able to use my Seven Sling nor my Peanut Shell Classic until some of the baby weight has come off.  Luckily for me, I plan to breast feed, which can help with that! 

For those of you new to the idea of baby-wearing who want to learn more, here are some of the websites I consulted while trying to decide if I would become a baby-wearer:
If you are interested in baby wearing but don't want to spend the dough on expensive slings, here are some DIY sites:

Thursday, January 31, 2013

The waiting game. . . .

Waiting on Little One to get here has been driving me bonkers this week!  Mostly because I decided to take my maternity leave from one job and work from home from the other.  My week has been pretty relaxed, which is probably a good thing since I won't have too many relaxed weeks in the near future.  All that being said, the anticipation of Little One making her debut has been a test of my patience.

The whole family is ready to meet her.  Bonus Baby #1 keeps asking me what I think her personality will be like.  I can see her mentally making notes between my pregnancy and her mothers; particularly some of the choices her Dad and I are making regarding how Little One will be raised (such as cloth diapers (some of the time) and breast feeding).  Her questions are interesting and fun to answer and I can see the delight in her face when she talks about her little sister at Mom's house (even though she reports her little sister cries alot).  Hubby keeps telling Little One to hurry up!  I keep telling Little One to hurry up!  The doctor tells Little One she is NOT allowed to arrive THIS weekend because the Dr. will be out of state and REALLY wants to be the Dr. to deliver Little One.

I am definitely in nesting mode.  I have found myself cleaning and organizing Little One's room around conference calls and work projects.  I have also found that I've taken the time, on the warm days, to get outside and enjoy my horses.  This week I even had the opportunity to get some ground work in with both of them.  I'm also trying to get things worked out with the University so I can return soon and get this Ph.D finished! So--all in all, it's been a productive week while I wait.  And wait.  And wait.  Next week Wednesday should be the big day. . . . if Little One is following her "schedule!" LOL.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Playing catch up

In my old blog, I would always do a year in review and then look back on what's different from year to year.  I didn't do one this year on January 1 and I've come to regret it, so I'm playing catch up.  Previous years can be viewed here.  Enjoy the wackiness.  Anyway. . .here is 2012 in a nutshell

  1. Hubby and I decided to have a baby.  
  2. Hubby and I found out I was pregnant!
  3. We lost two horses over the year, Meg and Bree.  This was a VERY sad time for our family.  Bonus baby #1 really loved Meg and really felt confident on her.  Meg will be a very difficult horse to replace and really schooled Hubby and I on what it's like to take care of an elderly horse (NOT easy).  Bree was Hubby's horse and she will also be dearly missed.  She was a horse who needed lots of TLC and was very slow to warm up to people or trust.  She was easily frightened and that made her a difficult horse to have at times.  Many tears were shed for Bree and Meg over the year and we weren't sure we'd continue having horses after we lost them.
  4. We welcomed Hoss into our pasture.  Hoss is big guy with lots of heart.  He is pretty much willing to try anything ONCE he has decided he trusts you.  He is hubby's horse and is fun to ride, but we are worried he has some soundness issues.  When he came to us, he sadly had never been seen by a farrier or a vet.  He had many trust issues with his hooves and has taken alot of work to allow for us to even handle them.  
  5. We lost our farrier and we're STILL looking for another  good one (so. . if you recommend anyone comment below).  Our farrier basically quit showing up for appointments, which was a huge hardship on us because Hoss needed to be tranquilized in order to have work done on his hooves. 
  6. Hubby had his ACL done, which means Hubby has been on recliner duty, which means Hubby is going stir crazy right about now.  Need I say more? 
  7. My brother and sister in law moved back to Wisconsin!  Our family is excited about this.  Hubby, Bonus baby #1 and #2 always seem to have a smile on their faces when they get to visit these folks (me too!) so it's nice they're close again. 
  8. I have had to take a break from school (thus the development of this blog).  Unfortunately, my student loan options have ran out--so I'm going to need to get creative.  I'm trying to save money here and there as I can and get my family's budget in good working order so I can get back to that Ph.D as quickly as possible.
  9. Did I mention we're having a baby?! 
  10. I found new work and was instrumental in the merger between a small and large non-profit.  Career-wise, this year has been AWESOME for me.  
What's in store for 2013?  I hope some goodness!  


It is COLD today.  In fact, we're colder in WI than the folks are in Barrow, AK.  It's nothing record breaking at this point, but I hear we may break a record tonight.  The cold causes me to feel fortunate because despite the challenges which face my family at this time, we do not have to worry if we are going to have a home to live in or warm place to sleep tonight.  We know there will be food on our table and we know that, basically, we'll be okay.

I feel fortunate that my family does not have to count ourselves among the 17,000 (note, 2010 data--report for 2011 and 2012 has not been released yet) folks in WI who are considered homeless.  Currently, the national rate of homelessness is 21 homeless per 10, 000 people in the general population.  A fact which is, frankly, staggering to me considering how wealthy our county is.  In my opinion, NO one in our country should go hungry or not have a place to live considering how, in compared to the rest of the world, rolling in money we are.  I recall, as a Head Start teacher, having more than one child in my classroom who I worried about on the cold days when I knew shelters would be full.  I wondered where these kids would sleep at night and if their bellies would be full after they left my classroom.

Tonight is going to be a cold one.  What will you do to stay warm?  For me, I think it might be an at home movie date with Hubby.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

I do not want that thing latching on to me!

As a home visitor, (an in-home parent educator) I sometimes hear some strange things.  Today I had a pregnant mom say to me, "I do not want that thing (meaning her BABY) latching on to me!" (in other words, "there is no way, in hell, I am going to breast feed."  I do recognize that breast feeding is a very personal issue for many women.  Some women feel extremely pressured to try and breast feed their baby and are given the message they are some how "less than" if they choose to formula feed.  Each families decision is their own and I never try and sway a family one way or the other.  I typically will ask what they have chosen and remind them to let their doctor know  their wishes as part of their birth plan.

What was striking about this conversation was not this mom's decision/choice, but how strong she was in it.  She had a very negative hospital experience for the birth of her first child, one which included a significant amount of pressure to  try and breast feed, so I'm not surprised in her response to a very simple question (what is your plan for feeding baby?).  Perhaps she had been asked a similar question repeatedly by her doctor or another ob professional.   Oddly, this was NOT the strangest thing I have heard as a home visitor. Similarly to the way I keep track of the interesting things my husband says to me, I also keep track of the interesting things I have heard along the way in my work with children and families (I have worked as a child care center director, a college faculty member, a preschool teacher, among other education related fields of work).  Here are some of my favorites:

  • Miss R, your butt is too big to sit in that wagon!
  • Miss R is white!
  • Miss R!  I have an emergency.  I need you to call me right away. .  . . . .I can't find my fan!
  • I couldn't call you back. . .I forgot how to dial the phone! 
  • What?  This course has homework?  
  • What?!  I am supposed to use spell check?  
  • What?!  I can't turn my paper in with words written in "Text talk?!"  WTF! 
  • What do you  mean I have to go home and put on "appropriate clothes?"  These (staffer points to VERY short shorts with her hind end hanging out) aren't "appropriate?"  (as a side note, this is when I purchased three pairs of ugly pants--like these--and asked staff to put them on if they couldn't come to work in appropriate attire for a child care center!)  
Are there things about your work that make you chuckle?

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Getting ahead. . . .

Right now it seems like I am wading through quicksand and just seem to be standing the in same place while working harder and harder to move forward.  Any of you ever feel that way?  How do you get through it?

Monday, January 7, 2013

Husbands say the darndest things!

Sometimes the things that come out of my husband's mouth surprise me.  Let me preface this by saying, I consider myself a "people person" and my job requires me to work with people on a daily basis.  I hear a lot of interesting things in a day so there is VERY little that someone could say that might surprise me.   We were discussing my pregnancy weight (almost 30 lbs!) and what I wanted to do about that after little one is born.  Mind you, my husband and I discuss EVERYTHING, so this is not really an odd conversation for us.

My weight has really always been an issue.  Those who love me will say, "No, no!  You were a lovely young lady!"  But the truth is--I was a fat kid.  I know, I lived it AND have the photos to prove it.  I slimmed slightly as a teenager and really worked on my health as a college student.  Then, I got hit with Lyme's Disease (read about my struggles with Lyme's here) and slowly, the weight crept back on.  Then I graduated and, wow, I became larger than ever.  But, thanks to a lot of hard work (diet and exercise) I lost quite a bit and really wound up being quite proud of myself.  When all was said and done, I lost (and maintained) approximately 45 lbs.  Here's  a post about when I hit my 35 lbs mark.

So, you might be wondering, what does this have to do my husband and the surprising thing he said to me?!  Well, a lot, in fact.  We talked about how in my life before Hubby, Bonus Babies, and Little One; it was easy for me to loose (and maintain) 45 pounds, because that was what my life was really centered around.  I went to work.  I went to school.  I went to Weight Watchers and I spent time at my gym.  My friends all were either from work, Weight Watchers, or they gym so they all were well aware of my goals and how I was working to achieve them.  I lived with someone who was OBSESSED (in an unhealthy way, in my opinion) with being fit and he expected me to have the same level of obsession.  While I didn't appreciate this, it did make it much easier to stick to my goals.

Hubby listened intently as I explained this all to him.  And then I began to explain the rest.  When Hubby and I got together and I became Step-Mamma to Bonus Baby 1 and 2, my plate became more full.  It was easier  to focus on me before all of this because that was who I had to focus on.  My life, while it seemed full by many, was very empty at the time.  Working on ME was a great distraction from the monotony of how I was living and the relationship I was in.  Suddenly, when I became a part of Hubby and Bonus Babies' world, focusing on my looks (and yes, ultimately my health) just didn't seem like such a big priority anymore.  I loved the idea of being a Step Mamma and I spent a lot of time working hard to foster a good relationship with Bonus Baby #1 and #2.  I loved the idea of being a wife and I spent a lot of time being with Hubby and doing things with him and his friends.  Slowly, as time went on, I attended less Weight Watcher meetings and got less exercise.  And slowly,  some of my original weight loss crept back on.    Then, I got pregnant and the rest of my weight loss crept back on.  So, now I am sitting back at square one and, while it is frustrating to an extent, I would not trade this for anything.

I said this all and then I said, with a sigh and a sob, "If you want your hot (his words, not mine--LOL) wife back, something is going to have to give."   Now, this is where Hubby says the most amazing words to me.  He said, "When you're on your maternity leave, let's look at your schedule.  Let's figure out where you can make time for yourself.  We survived before you came to us and we've gotten so used to everything you do for us.  But, it is important for you to make time for you too.  That is good for you and it is good for us."

While this might not seem like such an amazing thing, to me it was.  It was because it gave me permission to let go.  I could let go of trying to do so much and take the time to focus on my health.  While being "hot" at some point time is a great goal, my real goal is to feel good in my own skin again.  To not have such a difficult time climbing stairs (I forgot how that felt until I became pregnant), to be able to keep up with Bonus Baby #1 and #2 (and Little one when she gets big), to be able to enjoy my horses and not have a tough time lugging around hay bales. . . the list is really endless.

So--those of you in relationships: does YOUR significant other ever say things that AMAZE you?