Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The End

So bear with me, which if you read this, you probably do often.

Last night I started the weaning/dry up process.

I am sad. I tried so hard to keep nursing her. I pumped. I got her surgery (which is great to avoid problems in speech and palate development too). We bottle fed the pumped milk. My supply took such a huge hit from the tongue tie and nipple damage (because that's what it was...DAMAGE), even with pumping and essential oils, teas, etc., I couldn't get it back to where it needed to be. At the best point, around 6 weeks, I was 12 oz short of her full feedings. (I was pumping at this time, so I have a good idea of the total she was eating per day). But babies keep growing and my supply couldn't keep up. Once she was full during her feeds, that girl's growth took off. Now, she's back on course for her 9lb 11oz birthweight.

But at this point, I am only able to give her half feedings morning and evening. She refuses the breast during any daylight hours. (I thought it was because there's no milk. Nope. It's just daylight.) And she will only take one side. ONE. I am so lopsided. She's a feisty, sassy, smart little thing. She knows the bottle is faster.

Now, I know I didn't fail. But I definitely wasn't as successful in exclusively breastfeeding.
It's been the longest, most stressful breastfed kid to date. And one of my kids (#2) I got mastitis TWICE with and had cracked nipples nearly half the time, yet I nursed him exclusively to 11 months.

I am trying to look at the bright side.  I made it three and a half months. And I will lose the "nursing" weight I keep on. Okay, so I really hope this happens.  It has 4 times before, but I've never quit so early. I am praying it will follow just like the others.

Even better, she was only nursing in the morning for the last two days.  So the dry up process should be easy and not very painful.

No matter how I paint this, I am still mourning. I had a goal of 1 year and I fell SO. FAR. SHORT. I don't like having to admit things didn't work out. I kick myself like, 'you could have tried harder' or 'what if...' 

Being a Mom is brutal on your psyche. You second guess everything, even when you really can't anymore.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Own It

This is quick.

Saturday we went to the beach. I bought a bikini to wear under my rash guard.

When we got to the beach, I realized I forgot the freaking rash guard.

I will remind you, I had a baby three months ago and am nursing, so my figure is less than bikini-worthy in my mind.

Then as I got the courage show my I-just-had-a-baby stomach, I looked at my 10 year old and got figuratively punched in the gut.

While I never diet, I do have issues with my body (see above if you missed it). And she sees/hears it.

Oh crap.

So when I complain about it, she's heard it. And what damage had that done already?

Double crap.

So I took off my cover up. I owned my body. I was proud.

I did it again today at the pool and I really felt empowered. I grew 5 babies. And I need to love me and all the changes that come.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Over to the Dark Side

Last week I felt the shift to The Dark Side. Or the Good Side. I've mentioned it before, and we will continue to homeschool our children again this school year.

This was not what I'd necessarily planned.  We were waiting for a lot of things to fall into place to put our children back in public school. It didn't happen.

I can tell you what did happen.

This happened:
#3's math of choice
So this completely blew me away. She can barely read (it's new to her and she's doing fantastic), she'd really only be going into kindergarten, yet I was 'voluntold' by her to help her do this sheet. It's easily second grade math.

If you can't see it, it's subtracting two double digit numbers with no carry. She did an addition one later this day.

The next day she did an addition and subtraction page. I helped her with the first problem and when she got 'stuck' (only twice).

So I say all this because in the beginning, I didn't want to make homeschooling permanent. That's not to say things won't change later, but I felt a great shift in my head when she successfully did this page. I am not sure I want to put them back in that box; the box of public school. I have some challenging learners - but they're on opposite ends of learning. One of my children was wanting to move faster.  He told me weekly, "Mom, I want new words. These are to eeeeassssyyy." So I went to the teacher. She said, "he's already doing the hardest list. I don't have anything harder. Sorry." He was being held back with learning.  All of that felt wrong. I tried to negotiate with her, and she wouldn't budge. With homeschool, he's been doing second grade spelling, math, and language arts since January and we are flying through those.

The reality is my children are excelling. They're happy. They go at their pace (when it's a forward pace...when it's a standstill, I give a shove forward).

Child #1 has struggled with math, unlike her siblings, but not because she doesn't get it. It is 'boring, horrible, and not fun.' These words, because there's no desire to do it, translates into an argument between her and me and then a less than desirable note of 'I am so dumb (or insert any synonym here).'

It's been challenging. To top it off, we have new pre-teen girl emotions begin with #1.

This was after a particularly large blow up at her father.

As a homeschool family, I can customize her curriculum for her. She needed something OUT OF THE BOX. And boy, we found a math curriculum out of the box.

Meet Life of Fred.

The reviews say it all.  I have that child that child that scribbles the 'I hate math'. I want to shift it to 'I love math'.  I wish someone would have done this to me when I was little. I was very good in fact, I got a pretty dang good score on my ACT in math in high school (better than my English/Reading by a lot). But I had been convinced by family/friends/teachers that it wasn't for me.

I won't have my children feeling that way. So, I find myself in a situation I never thought I'd do again and now I no longer have a 'deadline'. This will be indefinite. And I really actually like the sound of that.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Two Months Post #4

So I mentioned in my first of the four posts, our #5 had a tongue tie. I asked around lactation consultants on the island and found one dentist who would clip it.  But they wouldn't do it until she was 4 months old!

At this point I was pumping and feeding her to bring her weight up.  It was working amazingly and she was so much more content with a full belly.  Her inability to latch right kept her from getting a full feed, she was working so hard to get the milk out, burning what she was intaking, and thus no weight gain.

So once we found out the prognosis for my FIL after the first week of hospice - the doctors said "weeks" - my husband and I hustled to get plane tickets.  We went back and forth about just sending him or both for a few days. I had the overwhelming feeling I needed to be there.  I didn't know why at the time.  I thought it was just to comfort him.  Turns out, it wasn't just for him.

We also thought we were just going to say goodbye to my FIL so we only scheduled a 3 day trip.

Did I mention Delta Airlines is amazing?

They offer emergency/bereavement fares.  They take 20 percent off (I can't remember, but it dropped the price $50 per ticket) and offer no-charge rescheduling/change.  We scheduled the flights, our wonderful friends volunteered to take care of our children, and we took off two days after we scheduled them.  Obviously, we had to change them later, but there was no charge.  We will be flying Delta more often.  I've been a Southwest devotee for a while, but after this...thank you Delta.

Also, as we got on the flight, I posted this. That following week, for the first time in my life, I felt the prayers of those around us. I can only describe that it felt like our entire posterity and friends were cheering us on and keeping us afloat.

So, after finding out all the tongue tie issues with #5, being really frustrated the doctor on the island wouldn't fix it now, I figured it was a long shot: I was going to see if the pediatric dentist where our family is would fix it, with just few days notice and a patient he'd never seen before.  He only did the clips on Monday - and we were scheduled to leave Monday afternoon.

Obviously, our plans changed on the way there.  The funeral was scheduled for Wednesday, so when the called me Monday morning (I was on "standby"), the doctor was really concerned about flying with what they described as a "very cranky baby" after.  I informed them things had changed and they said if there was a cancellation, they'd call me.

I had faith it could happen, but what is the chance someone would cancel their much needed appointment?

Around 10 am, they called me.  There was a cancellation.  I cried.

As I sat outside (because they don't let parents sit in and watch because they use a laser) during #5's tongue clip, I remember looking toward the ceiling, praying, thanking my Father above, but also my FIL.  I missed him.  I was sad at the fact he never held #5.  I knew that it wasn't coincidence that all the happened - from figuring out her issues, finding a doctor, getting it done, and even his death.

To this day, I feel that our #5 knows him better than all of us.  If you mention his name, her whole face lights up. I knew he loved her. Several people came up to me, who had visited him in hospice, and said the first thing he did was show them photos of the newest grandbaby.  He put it on FB and just raved about her. He may not have seen here alive in person and touched her skin, but that's not important.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Two Months Post #3

His funeral was beautiful and while he wouldn't have approved of the praise, it was very fitting.  All the sister-in-laws participated as they could and wanted to.  We wanted everyone else to see what a man of faith he was. Devoted. Loving. Funny. Kind. Christ-like.

I sang with the grandkids and my husband's sisters.  We sang "A Child's Prayer". The grandkids sang the first verse and the women sang the second. 

We're not as good as the video, but it was perfect. If I could change anything, I would have wanted my children there to sing for him. When we were practicing (I am so glad we practiced), the thought came to my mind, "I wish my children we here."  And then my SIL said something about my kids and I started crying.  Then she started crying, her sister started crying, and my other SIL, who was playing the piano said later, 'Oh don't get her crying...then we will all be crying.' True to form, we were all crying by the time the song was over.  It was a funny/sad/bonding moment.

And surprisingly, I almost made it through the song without crying.  I did spend a lot of time looking at the ceiling instead of the crowd I make it through.

There were funny parts. There were really sad parts. Our #5 and two other deceased grandkids are the only ones to never sit with grandpa and watch movies at the foot of his bed, eating an enormous amount of popcorn.

My parents and sister came.  I was so grateful to see them there.  They pretty much took care of Claire for me (okay so she pretty much spend the whole time in my sister or my husband's best friend's arms) so I could sit next to my husband and hold his hand.  But I could barely look at him. I knew if I looked at his bloodshot eyes and puffy cheeks I was done for.  I snuck a look twice and tried my best to remain composed.  Not an easy task.

I rode with my husband's best friend to the graveside. We laughed so hard sharing stories. He spent countless hours with my husband and family since he was so little. He's considered another Uncle. My kids call him Uncle and one of our sons carries his middle name. After his dedication, my Mother-in-law went up to him and said something to the effect of, "Just know He really loved you, You were considered another son."  I thought that was amazing.  In her grief, she was comforting us. She specifically comforted him.

My husband dedicated the grave. I prayed for him the whole time. His dedication was beautiful, heartfelt, but more importantly, peaceful. It was absolutely surreal to watch my FIL's casket be lowered in the ground.  I still have a hard time comprehending it.

I never regretted not being able to see him.  He knew I loved him.  And I knew without a doubt, he loved me.  He never needed to tell me.  I already knew.

And finally, on to those tender mercies...

Two Months, Post 2 those tender mercies came with a stipulation.

About a month after her birth, my father-in-law, who had been diagnosed with both esophageal and bile duct (liver) cancer in May 2015, had finished chemo and radiation a few weeks previously.  But now he was sicker. He had been in the hospital while they tried to help his body kick the pneumonia he had contracted.  I wasn't there and honestly, the details are now fuzzy, but he was placed on hospice after a abscess developed on one of his lungs.  Basically, it was a hole in his lungs and a quick means to the end.

I knew things weren't good when he enjoyed hospice. On April 18th, my children called my FIL and talked to him for 14 minutes and 17 seconds.

And that was the last time, we would see him alive. He died the morning of April 22, 2016.

Just writing this makes the tears flow and my heart ache. I miss him. I loved that man.

My husband and I (and #5) we enroute. We had just landed in Atlanta when we got the news.

All week, he knew we were coming and he kept asking everyone, "Is it Friday yet?"  And they'd answer, "no".

He made it to Friday.  Just that thought brings peace to my soul.

My husband was asked to go through his financial stuff.  That included his iPad. I will never forget this memory.  It is burned in my heart and mind. We were standing in my inlaws kitchen, and his eyes, so bloodshot from crying so much, looked at me.  He turned the iPad around to show me this: the last photo my Father-in-law ever looked at alive.

Two Months, Post 1

I am going to do this in installments.  This one is about the baby #5.

At 72 hours after the sweet baby #5 had lost 10 oz.  Totally normal.  Nursing was okay.  Just the sensitivity of learning to nurse another baby.  No biggie. Right?

My parents came in town a week after the birth of #5.  This was so needed and well timed, but it stressed me to the max. There were a lot of other factors in place that made a perfect storm of making my stress level hit a high octave. My sister came in the week after my parents.  It was a good visit and thinking about it now, there were times that really make me laugh.

My recovery was very slow. For a week my midsection didn't seem to work. That is the only way to describe it. It was like it wouldn't engage.  A chiropractic visit fixed this, but then my upper abs ached liked I'd done 1000 crunches the night before.

I got mastitis during my parents visit. I could not get a good latch and she demolished one of my nipples.  I've never had so much pain nursing.  I though it was me and I had forgotten all of this, but I kept on with a nipple shield.  I am tough.

Then we had a 1 month check up.  Our 9 lb 11oz baby at birth was at 9 lbs. She only pooped once a week.

I cried my eyes out. This wasn't normal. All of my breastfed babies made it back to their birth weight by 2 weeks, but most were at weight by a week. We were now a month out and 11 oz short. 

I felt like I had failed. Somehow.  Like I wasn't doing something right...I hadn't slept much. I was now immensely stressed and trying to keep up with the other 4 kids. I somehow knew it wasn't me.  I'd done this too many times before to know I was doing everything right.

Thanks to Babycenter and Google, I found my answer.  She had a posterior tongue tie. My pediatrician told me it would be fine and she had a tongue tie.  "She'll grow out of it. Every baby has their own eating personality," but "there were no doctors on the island that would [clip] it."  I left that office in tears. This just seemed weird and not okay.

This is where I am very thankful to be a) very persistent and b) the recipient of several tender mercies.