My Kid Likes Boob and Bottles and I’m Dancing a Damn Jig Over It

On my way out of that new baby fog. For the most part, I’m trying to consider the first twelve weeks as a fourth trimester. Recovering. Figuring out how shit works. Working out when I feel like it. Doing chores when I feel like it. Showering when I feel like it. Getting out of the house when I feel like it. Eating healthy when I feel like it. Eating Pizza Hut when I want to feel like a human garbage pail. Mostly living on Halligan’s schedule but trying to make it my own when at all possible.

For the most part, it’s going well. A huge difference between the newborn stage with two versus the newborn stage with one is that this time around, I’m giving no shits about breastfeeding. With August, I beat myself up over it and let it consume my life for months. I tried everything to increase supply but there was just nothing there for him. Like 5ml nothing. He was skinny and hungry and I was guilty and sad and hooked up to him or a pump all freaking day.

Once we stopped and went to formula exclusively, everyone was happy. August was happy because he wasn’t in a constant state of hangry. I was happy because my baby was happy. Adam was happy because his wife and baby were happy and because his wife was showering sometimes instead of power-pumping every night. Also, power-pumping is a section of hell they should reserve exclusively for spiders and former cast members of The Hills.

This time around, I decided before I even got pregnant that I was not going to lose my mind over breastfeeding. If it worked, that would be great. If it didn’t, I would give no shits and happily drink more beers. When Halligan was born, I was pleasantly surprised to have some supply. She was feeding pretty much 24/7, but I had milk for her and that made me over the moon.

But I make some hungry-ass babies. For the first two weeks, I thought the universe was paying me back for August being a cake walk of a child because Halligan was a straight-up jerk. It felt like she was pissed at me all the time. Not even just when she was crying; she was quick to develop some of the best stink-eye I’ve ever been on the receiving end of. If she could read, she would probably turn it on right now for ending that sentence in a preposition. Turns out that she wasn’t a jerk, though. She was just hangry as hell. One night, when I couldn’t soothe her no matter what I tried, I sent Adam to the store at 1am for formula. She sucked that shit down; didn’t even care that it smells just as bad going in as it will coming out.

So I’m still breastfeeding because I’ve got the supply and Halligan still wants to. This child loves to eat and doesn’t care where food is coming from, as long as she’s getting it. She’s probably getting about 1/4 or 1/5 of her milk from me. But the great thing is that our breastfeeding relationship is casual and works for both of us. If she feels like breastfeeding, she goes for it. If I feel like breastfeeding, I go for it. She even seems to prefer the breast when she needs comfort, which I love. After getting three shots at her two-month checkup, Halligan wanted nothing to do with the bottle. She stayed on the breast pretty much constantly for the next day. It made me feel special. And sweaty.

Since we started formula, I have not seen one sign of the jerk-baby I thought I had. I suddenly have this happy little goober that loves smiling almost as much as she loves eating. It makes me feel extra good when she stops drinking her bottle to flash me a huge grin, because I know how much she loves to chug. And big, super, sparkle-bonus? She is sleeping. After we started giving her bottles, Halligan began sleeping through the night. I feel like I shouldn’t say that out loud because I don’t want her to hear me.

It’s so strange having supply now, even a small supply, because it’s physically a way different experience than I had last time. I thought I knew what letdown felt like; didn’t have a clue. Had to google “Why does it feel like my boobs are being stabbed,” to find out what that was. And I have to wear a nursing bra at night so that I can put some milk pads in there and not leak all over the sheets. I thought that after my water broke in bed, I would have a slight reprieve from waking up in a giant wet spot. Nope.

If there is one thing I have learned from my time as a mother, it is that talking about breastfeeding makes people crazy as shit and if your experience doesn’t exactly match someone else’s, you’re somehow invalidating their entire life and must be pelted with rocks and stopped. So let me just end this with saying that this is what works for us, boobwise, and if you exclusively breastfeed until your kid is nine or bottlefeed your kid Pepsi, that’s your truth, man. Live your truth. But feel free to bitch in the comments or shout hooray about your experiences, because I agree with everything now. Breastfeeding rules. Bottlefeeding rules. Bottlefeeding is not a word, according to the little red line under it, but who cares? Not me. I only care that I’m out of the baby stage where I am frantically counting how many times my kid has peed and pooped in the last 24-hours.

There’s Two of Them.

Life with two kids is kind of the same as life with one kid while pregnant, because I am still sitting a lot. The difference is my boobs are out a lot and I don’t feel like sitting anymore. I’ve never wanted to clean my house so badly in my life. Part of that is because I know it’s going to be a crazy dirty hamster cage when I can move around freely again. Part of it is because I have finished reading the whole internet and now I’m bored.

As great as my c-section was, fuck c-sections. The recovery is straight booshit and I’m over it. I’m jealous of all the vag-birthers that can go back to doing shit once they feel like it.  I’m only just now starting to do things around the house. I never thought that doing dishes could bring me such joy and pride.

But other than my body being the True Dicktective (UGH. See what all this effing sitting is doing to my brain?) things are going pretty well. Adam has started going back to work for a day here and there, and I’ve managed to keep both kids alive and even got them out of the house once or twice.

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Halligan’s Birth Story

So holy eff. It’s been a minute. But mostly a really great minute. After over three weeks, I’m starting to feel semi human again. We will see if that goes straight to hell when Adam goes back to work. I know I’m extremely lucky that he’s able to take time like this to be home taking care of our entire family, but shit. Not ready for him to go back. At least he’s easing in a just doing a couple days here and there. And at least there is beer. There is beer again, guys!!!

So, birth. The last you heard from me, pregnant, I was in a crap place. I was able to push for even more time with my midwives and OB, and scheduled a c-section for 42 weeks and 1 day. That really felt right, in my guts. That amount of time felt like long enough to wait and see what my body would do. Yes, some women go into labor even later than that, but I honestly didn’t feel like being one of them.

I was really at the end of my hope rope, though. Every little twinge or pain, I would get a quick burst of happiness because maybe something was happening! But by 40 weeks, I had done that to myself enough to be so completely spent. Emotionally, I was tapped out. I didn’t think I was ever going to go into labor on my own. We were still going on long walks, and I was seeing a chiropractor and trying to get baby to do something, but she wasn’t dropping and I was just done. The real last bit of hope was crushed when I saw my midwife at 41 weeks and found out absolutely nothing was happening. Not dilated. Not effaced. Nothing. At 41 fucking weeks.

Then, Adam got up early when I was 41 weeks and 3 days, and it woke me up. And then I yelled “Honey, I think my water broke or I peed the bed.”

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She’s Here! SHE! (translation: Adam is about to cut up my credit card)

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We came home today with this big ball of munch. Halligan Rose was born on May 23 via c-section, and it was the most incredible and healing experience; beyond anything I ever hoped for. Plus, she’s a pretty fantastic take-home prize. I’m not even that mad about the fact that I have since swelled up like a Macy’s balloon and have yet to have even a drop of beer.

Once things calm down, and the four of us get a little settled in, I’ll be back with a full post about her birth. I couldn’t be happier with how everything turned out. I just wanted to swing by here while I had a minute (literally one minute) to thank everyone that has been so supportive and kind these last few weeks. They were hard as crap, and your encouragement was always appreciated, even if I wasn’t in a place to reply a lot of the time.

I’m gonna go back to getting my boobs chomped on and explaining to August for the hundredth time that my breasts are not my tummy.

So This is Where I am Today

It’s been a hard few days. Today is my due date. The last couple of weeks, I have woken up every morning thinking that today is the day. And then I went to bed every night disappointed that I wasn’t in labor yet, but hopeful that maybe something would happen while I was sleeping. I would wake up disappointed, but then think that surely, today must be the day. But it hasn’t been the day. It hasn’t been the night. And nothing is changing, at least that I can tell, to make me think that the day is on its way.

I really thought I was comfortable with the idea of a c-section, since if I have one this time, it will definitely be different. I’m going to have my doula with me no matter what, and I’m delivering at a hospital that is starting to allow some aspects of a gentle cesarean. I’ve spent the last nine months telling myself that if I have to have a c-section, the possibility of skin-to-skin in the OR and not being separated from my baby and not being put to sleep is going to make all the difference, and that it will be just as good as a vaginal birth if I can end up with a cesarean that keeps me present and involved. But the last few days of thinking more and more that a repeat cesarean is a real possibility has made me very aware that I’m not okay with it. For me, they are not the same. And it’s hard to get my brain to accept that having another cesarean could be a good experience, because my only experience with one has been traumatic. My brain doesn’t know what else to do besides panic. Logically, I know what’s up, but my brain has flipped the NOPE switch.

Tuesday, I spent most of the day in tears and terrified. I couldn’t stop thinking how scared I was to not go into labor on my own. My doula suggested that I go in to talk to one of my midwives to try to calm down, since the amount of fear I was experiencing could be keeping me from going into labor. Adam needed to come home to take me because I was in no state to drive at that point. Talking to the midwife helped, and I was able to reason enough to understand that scheduling a c-section at this point might be a good thing. Because an emergency c-section is the real and true thing I want to avoid at all costs. An emergency c-section doesn’t have much of a prayer at any aspect of a gentle c-section.  And scheduling a cesarean now will hopefully give me time to get used to the idea and accept it. So I’m operating in this place now where a spontaneous vaginal birth is better than an induction with a favorable Bishop score and an induction with a favorable Bishop score is better than a scheduled c-section and a scheduled c-section is better than an emergency c-section after a failed induction.

Some of my fears were calmed by my midwife. I was afraid of this being my last shot at a vaginal birth, but this hospital attempts VBA2C. I was afraid that the number of children I want to have would be limited from having c-sections. I’m not looking to go toe to toe with the Duggars, but we want to have three or four kids. I didn’t want to be cut-off at three if I still wanted four. I want to be the one who decides it’s time to stop. My midwife informed me that they don’t necessarily cut you off at three. They might say I should probably stop at four, but I’m fine with that because I don’t have much faith in my ability to handle many more children than Hugh Hefner has girlfriends. And my fears about not being able to bond with the baby and going through postpartum depression again were calmed slightly. Preemptively treating me for PPD is going to be part of the plan, and it’s not like I’m going to be separated from the baby and knocked out and then wake up drugged out of my mind to have some nurse lay what feels like some random baby on me because I can’t even move my arms properly.

Yesterday morning, I had a meeting with one of the OBs, and it was really, really great. Since August’s birth, I’ve been weary of OBs in general. After being under the care of someone that repeatedly lied to me and was far more concerned with her bottom line and schedule than the well being of her patient, I don’t trust them. But this meeting was a completely different experience. He was open and honest with me about what the possible outcomes were. Concessions that I thought I would have to fight for, he gave without hesitation. The most important thing to me was trying to get a few extra days after 41 weeks to go into labor on my own. My original due date was May 17, and it was moved to May 14 based on an early ultrasound. I feel like if I can get those days, then I can maybe feel like I waited as long as I could. He gave them to me and even called in some favors because it’s not a day he would be working normally. And barring complications or some unforeseeable ridiculousness, I will be able to get the parts of a gentle cesarean that are most important to me. I’m going to get to remember my baby when they’re born. I’m going to get to touch and smell and hold my baby like I would with a vaginal delivery. I’m going to be part of my baby’s first moments.

After this appointment, I felt over the moon. I have over a week to still go into labor. But if I don’t, and this is as good as it gets, it’s still pretty damn good. But the more time I’ve had to sit on this, I feel myself slipping backwards. Because yes, this type of c-section is ideal in terms of c-sections. But it doesn’t change the fact that I still don’t want a c-section. Yes, I understand that there are situations where c-sections are necessary and save lives and that some women even prefer them and that a healthy baby is the main important thing here. But I don’t have to be skipping rope through a field of daisies over major abdominal surgery. I do not have to be happy that to me, it still feels like my body is broken. I can acknowledge that for me, this would be a win but also a very big loss. Many people have told me since August was born that this experience is going to be different and that giving birth is what my body was made to do. But what if that’s not totally true? What if giving birth (in the way that I’ve come to expect it) isn’t something I’m going to get to experience? What if my body is made to do this, and just… doesn’t?

Accepting and preparing for the possibility of a cesarean is probably very important and good for me. And it’s only been a day. Maybe by 41 weeks, I will be totally on board and so excited. But right now I’m doubtful, and I’m not very hopeful. Part of planning for a cesarean involves planning to not have a VBAC, and I’m starting to mourn that loss now because I am less and less confident that it’s going to happen for me.

There isn’t a real purpose to me posting this here, other than to explain why I may not be writing here for a little while. I’ll come back after the baby is born, but I don’t think I’ll have much more to say between now and then. I’m not looking for a bunch of You can do it! comments or to hear about everyone’s successful births. I just wanted a space to write about this in this moment, and to organize how this is all feeling to me.

Currently

One of my favorite Instagrammers/bloggers, is Danielle from Sometimes Sweet. I’m jumping on her Currently post train because I need a way to procrastinate some responsibilities right now. Check out her blog if you get a chance. She’s a mother of two insanely adorable boys, she has great style, and she provides an overall positive read. Love her stuff.

Doing: There is still so much stuff all over the house. We’ve been bad about putting stuff away the last few days, and it takes no time at all for junk to pile up around here. So I’m trying to go room by room and get everything put away so the house is ready for a good pre-baby cleaning. Hopefully the last time any cleaning needs to be done before The Usurper arrives. Just shy of a week from my due date!

Watching: Rewatching Game of Thrones in the background while I get things done lately. I’m a few episodes into Season Three, which I think is my favorite of the series. It’s been strange to go back and watch from the beginning and see so many characters that I love and that are also dead. But this is also the first time I have started a full rewatch from the beginning since I read the books a couple years ago, so I’m picking up on a lot more than I did the first time around.

Planning: Preparing for a second baby feels like way less of a big deal than the first baby did. I had changed diapers and bathed babies before, but when I had August, it still felt like I had no idea what I was doing and I would Google how to bathe an infant. It was a weird time. I feel ready to roll with this one, and I’m most excited that I can still plan to go to events and get out of the house. Feeling confined to the house for so long last time was the pits. So lets plan some brunch dates, friends. I’ll just strap a baby to my chest and be on with it.

Thinking about: Leftover shrimp lo mein in my fridge. And pizza. And beer. And s’mores. And oranges. And Poptarts. And macaroni and cheese. And beer.

Looking forward to: Our last child-free evening out. My mom is taking August on Saturday after we go see Thomas at the B&O Museum. The responsible thing to do would be staying home and tying up any loose ends before the baby comes. Eff that. One of my favorite memories is from the weekend before August was born. Instead of getting stuff done and being productive, Adam and I drove out to Pennsylvania so he could show me a house that had our dream yard near a race he recently ran. Then we went to a hot dog place he used to stop at on his way to visit his grandparents. Best hotdogs of my life, and  french fries and milkshakes. Then we drove back home and went to the movies to see The Dark Knight. I told him that I want to repeat it, go get hot dogs, drive around together, and then go to the movies. Can’t. Wait.

Loving: Spending time together as a family of three. I keep stopping myself during little moments, like the three of us sitting in bed together this morning while August ate his breakfast. I was having contractions and thought it was go-time. It wasn’t, but it was nice to have a morning with just us three for one of the last times. I’m so excited to meet this baby and expand our family, but I am also enjoying how perfect it feels, just the three of us right now. Lots of mental snapshots.

Scraped Knees and Hurt Feelings and Not Assaulting Random (But Rude) Children

Trying to find some sense of balance when it comes to protecting your child is one of the most conflicting aspects of parenting I’ve experienced. We didn’t really do much to baby-proof our house, but I have a heart attack if August stands on the couch. He used to love to sprint across the sectional in our basement and collapse laughing while I tried to find new pants to replace the ones I’d just peed in. Luckily, he’s not a super adventurous kid and for the most part, isn’t really prone to injuries. He only in recent weeks got his first bloody knees that needed bandaids. Nothing crazy, and part of being an active kid. And while it breaks my heart when he’s hurt, I’ve mostly resisted the urge to clothe him in bubble wrap.

Emotionally, I know I’ve got a hell of a bruiser. August is a sensitive kid who is often brought to tears by “sad songs.” You would think Elmo was spinning nothing but break-up jams, the way this kid can bawl if the tempo is slow enough. If he is sad or upset, he wants to sit in my lap and “have a talk about his feelings.” When he gets startled or scared, he tells me he wants me to take care of him or keep him safe. It breaks my heart and makes me burst into laughter at the same time. But his sensitivity is one of my favorite parts of August’s personality, and while I wish he wasn’t so easily upset sometimes, I don’t want him to lose this.

When he is playing with other kids, I know some upset is bound to happen. Kids fight. Someone isn’t going to want to share. Someone isn’t going to want to play this way or that way. Someone is eventually going to get their feelings hurt because all these kids are learning to interact with each other and haven’t quite figured out how to play ball without also trying to kill each other. So for the most part, I try to hang back when August is playing with other kids. I want him to learn how to work crap out with other kids, and he can’t do that if I’m bubble-wrapping him every step of the way.

There are times where August will go up to another kid and say hi and the kid will ignore him, and I get slightly annoyed and have very tiny Mama Bear feels. But I remind myself that they’re kids and not all kids say hi, and the world continues to move. Sometimes, August will get pushed or hit by another kid for whatever reason, and I feel a little more protective. But no one gets seriously injured and usually the other parent will swoop in to have their kid apologize and then everyone goes back to playing. The world keeps moving. Then there are the times where August will be caught up in running around like an idiot and push another kid out of nowhere, and I suddenly feel that rush of WHAT DID YOU JUST DO and I become the swoop-in-and-apologize parent, shocked and embarrassed that my kid just made another kid cry.

None of us are immune to it. At one moment or another, someone is going to be a jerk to our kids. And at other moments, our own kids are the jerks. And it is totally normal for usually sweet kids to have moments of jerk behavior because deep down, we are all jerks, to some degree. So I’m just trying to let August figure out how to deal on his own when someone is being a jerk, and teaching him to not be a jerk. Golden Rule: Be kind; not a dick.

But then I had my first experience with simmering rage towards another child for being a total dick to my kid. Restraining myself from dropkicking this turd out of our atmosphere felt like the ultimate achievement in being zen as hell. Adam and I took August out for ice cream at this awesome farm/food place when the weather was gorgeous. One of the many perks of this place is a huge field that kids can run off all their sugar in. So August crushed his graham cracker cake batter ice cream (drooooooool) and then ran off to play while we adults finished our much larger ice creams. He ran up to two older boys who were playing with a ball, and asked them if they wanted to play. The boys clearly did not, which is totally fine. Not everyone wants to play with a two-year old. I don’t always want to play with a two-year old. But instead of just playing together, the two boys started taunting my kid.

Nothing horrible, Just faking him out and tossing the ball past him. Sometimes August laughed, sometimes he got a little upset. But these boys weren’t trying to make my kid laugh; they were trying to make him cry. They were being mean. To my baby. They were being mean to my baby. To. My. Baby. And when he didn’t get upset, they would just get worse, waving the ball in his face, getting way too close, saying mean things and I was getting more and more bothered by these big kids picking on my much younger kid.

When I realized these kids were only going to keep escalating their crap until August actually cried, I decided I was done waiting for him to get hit or pushed. I jumped up (which is a sight to see when I’m this pregnant, believe me,) and marched over, ready to show these turds what’s up. I was about to take out my earrings when the bigger of the two boys taunting my kid saw an enormous pregnant lady with a Level 20 Bitchface coming towards him, and stopped right in his tracks. And that’s when I remembered this is a kid, and most kids haven’t figured out how to not be dicks. I’m an adult, and here I was stomping over with every intention of being a dick and telling him Santa doesn’t exist and that evil clowns live under his bed. It took me down a notch. But just a notch. I took August by the hand, told both these kids that they needed to work on being nicer to little kids, and walked us back to our picnic table.

I know I can’t always protect August, and that as he gets older, he’s going to meet more kids that haven’t learned to not be dicks yet. Very likely, he is going to be a dick at some point and make another kid cry. It’s what kids do, and I can’t hover over him with a ream of emotional bubble wrap every moment. He starts school in the fall and I know there are going to be preschool spats on the playground. But it still breaks my heart to see my kid sad because someone isn’t being kind. The same way it breaks my heart when he bites it on the pavement and skins his knees. All these bumps and bruises, physical and emotional, are how we learn to navigate the world around us. And I need to let August continue to navigate and to skin his knees and to get his feelings hurt. Instead of swooping in to prevent the falls, I need to keep hanging back, let them happen, but still be armed with bandaids and maybe a cookie. Never too young to eat your feelings, Little Guy.