Sunday, February 12, 2017

Life with TWO

I love being a mom.

But being a mom requires some adjustment. And now, being a mom of two.. has required even more.

Let me be frank... My first "wake-up call" as a mom of two happened as Adeline started crying for food as I was finishing feeding Lydia from a messy mac & cheese dinner.

I hurried and put Lydia in the tub, grabbed the baby and started nursing her beside the tub. Lydia then started yelling "poop!" which is what she does to let me know she needs to go.

So one hand on the baby eating, one hand pulling Lydia from the tub, to the toilet.. both kids start crying as I try to use a towel to mop the floor with my foot from all the water that spilled out from pulling Lydia out..

When all the sudden.. I have to go to the bathroom too.. and as I'm only just a couple days post-giving birth, this means I really really have to go!

But Lydia is on the toilet and I am feeding a baby.. and so.. I'm in a predicament.

I selfishly get Lydia off the toilet, hurry and go.. and as I put her back on I realize there is poop on the floor because I had grabbed her off mid-go.


Face palm.

And I thought to myself [sarcastically].. "Wow Anna, you really rock at this mom of two thing!"

I remember the last time I kissed Lydia goodnight before we brought her little sister home. And I remember the first time she saw the "baby" and smothered her in kisses and a good eye poke. I hope she will always love her as much as she does now. (Just maybe a little bit more soft).

I kind of feel like I'm on some sort of safety patrol between Lydia and the baby.. CONSTANTLY.

Lydia loves on that baby so much that I felt like I had to keep her in her crib for the first 2 months to avoid Lydia's excited and overly squishy (not to mention suffocating) hugs.

The crib strategy worked until Lydia figured out how to climb into the crib. So then it was putting the baby in her crib with the door shut... but then Lydia learned how to open the door. So now.. I just listen for a door opening and that is usually my cue that I have about 1 minute and 23 seconds before Lydia is in the crib trying to hold the baby.

My next wake-up call happened at my first Sunday back at 9 AM church.

Brian was working and I was determined to get it right by myself.

I had it all together. I was up at the crack of dawn so I could shower, do my hair, and brush my teeth all before the babies woke up.

I got both kids fed, dressed, and I had time to pump so that I would have some milk to feed the baby at church and wouldn't have to leave to go nurse her.

But the best part of it all was.. I got to church EARLY.

You read that right. I was early enough that we actually got to choose our seats and have time to kill and even listen to the prelude music.

Lydia didn't know what to do with herself and wanted to dig in immediately into my church bag for toys and treats which is normally fine.. but I wanted to savor those.. Savor this time where I wasn't rushing and hushing my children.

The Bishop's wife came over to me before the meeting began and told me if I needed to go nurse the baby or something then she'd be happy to help with Lydia.

I thanked her, but secretly did a little jig inside because that wasn't going to happen.  I had this mom thing down! I was all set!

And then the meeting began.

And it was all great. For about 10 minutes.

Lydia was happily coloring and eating raisins. We made it through the hymn, announcements, and even the bread part of the sacrament.

But the baby started getting fussy.

Never fear! I have a bottle! As I am about to pull the baby from her carseat to feed her, I feel something warm and sticky on my hand..

I look into the carseat...

And the baby has pooped all up her back and front.

There is a POOL of poop surrounding her.

My heart panics but I breathe.. I got this. I can just feed her in her carseat and then go change her after sacrament.

But all of the sudden, I see that underneath the carseat.. you know the little holes the straps go through to hold the baby in? Ya those? Well poop is LEAKING out of those onto the bench underneath.

Gross... really gross..

And I realize.. I didn't pack a change of clothes for the baby.

And I didn't pack the right sized diaper either.

And so... I gather toys for Lydia, rush her to the Bishop's wife... grab my belongings and the baby carseat and try to catch the poop dripping out of the carseat as I exit the chapel.. get in my car... and drive home to quickly bathe the baby, pack my neglected needed belongings, (plus cleaning supplies for the bench) feed the baby.. and get back before the end of sacrament.

And that ended my determination to always have it together.

Instead, my determination to just roll with my best would have to work.

So this is what life with two kids is like (at least for me).

With just Lydia, sometimes I felt like a champion and other times I had no idea what I was doing. It could feel easy and yet it was the hardest thing I had ever done to start the road to motherhood. It was madness and pure happiness.

Over time, I gained confidence. The times that had felt so hard started to feel more manageable. And I felt like I was in a groove.

So we added a child.

Don't be fooled.. what looks like precious kisses in this picture is actually just Lydia wiping her nose on the baby's head. Yep.

And yes.. as shown above, we have some very crazy moments and it gets tough. But I find that I am learning so much this time around. And truly the good outweighs the hard by a long shot.

Here's my list of Lessons with Two:

Find balance. When Lydia wants my attention but the baby needs to be fed.. who wins? When Adeline is crying for me to hold her but Lydia is making a mess by dumping the bath water over the tub? Who gets it? Finding that balance can be so tricky and tiring. I can walk away feeling guilty for choosing to not let my bathroom become a swimming pool by letting the baby cry so I can clean it up.. or I can walk away from Lydia to change the baby's diaper when Lydia desperately wants me to color with her. I can't let myself feel guilty that I can't give my 100% to both children all the time.

Enjoy the small moments. When I do have the opportunity to give my full attention to a child (because the other is sleeping or something) I am learning to give it my all. Lydia is napping and Adeline is wide awake.. enjoy laying there on the floor with her and handing her toys to put in her mouth-even if there are dishes that need to be washed. It is just soaking in the joy on Lydia's face as we three sit in the dark with a flashlight on or allowing her to dump out the toy bin just to play peek-a-boo two times before moving on to something else. Enjoy those fleeting moments.. because that is what they are. Fleeting.

Fits happen. Lydia is my spirited child and often is loud and rambunctious. This also makes her fits seem a million times worse at times. I often feel like I have to hurry and 'calm her down' or that she has to go a whole day without a tantrum for me to feel like a success as a mom. But I am learning. Fits just happen. It's part of the stage. Lydia is 2 and learning how to control her emotions and she'll get there. It doesn't mean I'm a bad mom. Just one that has to learn to be extra patient.

There is only so much you can do. Dealing with two sets of needs at once is hard stuff. When both kids are screaming and it makes you want to scream too.. Take a breath. It is impossible to be the same mom with your first as you are with your second. My attention is split, but I am more confident the second time around and I need to let that confidence take over sometimes.

Prepare ahead. When you go out or have plans to go out. Just make sure to always refill the diaper bag with the much needed-family necessities. This time around I make sure to fill the bag after we get home from something because I definitely know myself well enough to know that the next time I am grabbing it, I am probably in a hurry.

It's okay to be tired. And it's okay to nap! (Even if there is a pile of laundry up the wahzoo on the bed). This one is hard sometimes, even now that Adeline is no longer a newborn. When both girls are napping I have always seen it as the time to get things done. That's when I can tidy the house, do some laundry, and clean the hard water stain in the toilet bowl. But there are some days that the baby had stuffy nose and was up 3 times and Lydia had a bad dream and was up asking for milk and comfort. And those days I really just want to lay down and take a nap with the girls. But I again let myself feel guilty for getting some rest even if I deserved it. Looking at all the "other" moms who seemed to have so much energy and are doing so much with their kids-they have tired days too. We just aren't seeing the big picture.

Let the older child get promoted to Mommy's Helper. Lydia has her moments where she gets jealous.. She'll get jealous when the baby gets milk and she doesn't. Solution? I have her help feed the baby. Does it always work? Nope. We still get tantrums. But we'll get there. Same with the bath.. When I bathe the baby, Lydia wants to be in the tub too. Solution? Have her help me wash the baby's legs. Most of the time Lydia loves being mommy's helper and for me I just needed to let her help more because she is excited about the baby too.

You really do have room in your heart to love another. Maybe this was a silly worry. But I was worried while pregnant that I wouldn't be able to love this new baby as much as I loved Lydia. Or that I wouldn't be able to connect with her or bond. Or that I would love Lydia less because I had someone else to love too. What's amazing is that it isn't about making room in your heart to love another, it's about your heart growing to hold all the new and overflowing love you have. I love and adore Lydia and I equally love and adore Adeline. All that has changed is that my ability to love has increased.

I am sure I have many more lessons to learn, especially as the girls grow and our family eventually grows. So I'll probably continue adding to this list.

I truly love these little beauties. They bring my home and life so much joy. I'm just so happy to be their mama.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The good is there: a 4 month old and my wild 2 year-old

We have a 4 month old on our hands! I have to keep repeating that to myself because it really has just flown. But what is funny is that Brian and I were talking about how it feels like Addie has always been with us. I love life with this sweet babe in it.

This gray-eyed girl is our sweet and chill little chunk. She weighed in at 15 lbs and is 25 inches long which puts her at 70% percentile for weight and 85% for height. For some reason I have tall babies though Brian and I are not very tall ourselves.

Adeline makes life so much fun.. and busy. She is getting closer to sitting up by herself and enjoys grabbing on to toys or tags, or whatever is hanging in front of her.

She has wicked hand-eye coordination. It's kind of weird to me. She will grab food from our hands, hold her bottle to her face, and bat away our hands and kleenexes and nose suckers from her face. She is a fighter and knows how to get away. I am struggling with clipping her fingernails because she is awfully good at squirming away.

But we really all adore her. When Lydia wakes up, the first thing she wants to do is go get the baby and I have to keep Adeline's door firmly shut to prevent Lydia from waking her up to play. Having these two girls together is so much fun-even if I have to play the role of referee.

Brian's week off was supposed to be a vacation somewhere exotic, but when buying a house and normal bills and the "joys" of fixing up the house hit and then adding a baby that still gets up at night, and head colds-- the vacation turned into a stay-cation, which has turned into something a little too chill and unplanned. Not really how I wanted to spend Brian's one week off for the next 6 months.. but if there is anything I'm learning it's that I gotta embrace it and make something of it.

We went and watched Moana in theaters and loved it. If you haven't seen it then go watch it. I've been singing the songs all day. Even Addie watched a good portion of the show before zonking out.

We were "thrilled" to find water in our furnace room and downstairs bathroom this week. With the crazy weather going from freezing to rain and melting all the snow, we spent a good portion of Brian's week off rotating towels around and pulling up carpet and linoleum. Talk about adulting and learning the true lives of home ownership.

And with talking about life with Miss Adeline, it seems only right to give updates on Miss Lydia too.

Lydia is soooo animated lately..

Lately? Who am I kidding? She is always animated.

Lydia's make-believe play is exploding and I LOVE watching it. She has a big Mickey and Minnie Mouse that she takes to the potty, feeds them food, puts them to bed, changes their diapers and just loves on.

Her vocabulary astounds me and I really have to watch what I say because she will repeat me. I realize how much of a little girl she is growing into these days whenever I look at her or when I listen to her "read" to herself. She used to just repeat the animal sounds but now she says their names as clear as day, "Dolphin, Giraffe, Duck, Shark..." She has recently learned about Foxes, but the problem is.. she doesn't say the name very well and it always sounds like she is saying a very naughty word. Brian and I find ourselves wishes we had waited to teach her what a fox looks like.

While I love this age so much with her curiousity and learning, I am also really struggling as a parent.

I find that there are days when I have very little patience towards her and the things she does.

For example, if I have to leave the kitchen when she is eating to go change Adeline's diaper. Lydia will act out for attention and throw ALL her food on the floor. Or if I am reading a book or cleaning the bathroom, she will seek for my attention by making a mess because she knows I will rush over.

And I get it. I do. She wants me and ALL of me there with her.

But as a mom of two, I can't be solely focused on her all the time. So my goal is to find that balance right now.

Another problem we are having is Lydia's dominance.

She has an extremely dominant personality. She is very controlling, demanding, and bossy. And yes.. sometimes it can be cute, but it is so overwhelming sometimes as well.

At the gym daycare the other day, Lydia got written up for pushing another child and drawing with a pencil on another child's face.

I had to sign a paper saying I understood that if Lydia got 2 other write-ups then she would be suspended.

I got in the car and cried.

My two-year old is a bully! I felt (and still do feel) so helpless. How can I explain to my two year-old about her behavior when she had already probably forgotten what she did wrong. We teach her to be "soft" and use words like 'kind and nice' but she doesn't understand those words as well as the word "soft."

So that is where I am with Lydia right now. I love her with all my heart and more, but I am being tested in the parenting area with how best to raise her and help her understand to be kind.

And moments like this pictured above may look staged, but it caught me off-guard completely. I was going to take a picture of Adeline when Lydia came up. I was thinking she wanted to just see herself in the selfie cam, but instead she gave me a hug and I was able to snap the picture and catch that brief but special moment.

I live for moments like these. Moments that let me know I'm not an all-bad parent. Moments that let me know that this time with Lydia is just a phase and if I continue to try and to raise her the best that I know how and as polite and kind as I can.. then I'm not failing.

Now.. to go make the rest of the week a good one.. Hoping to throw in a Jazz game and skiing (if I can kick this cold)... Did you see that game last night? Brian and I were pretty pumped listening while folding laundry.

And a side note on Brian: Marriage is NOT always what happy wedding pictures, facebook posts and the "quick pretend we weren't fighting" face you make when you are around others. I think we are all learning to open our eyes a bit more to look behind the pictures and read between the lines. And while Brian and I struggle in our own ways just like anyone else.. It does help to uplift and compliment each other.

Brian has been such a Mr. Mom all week. He got up with Adeline a few times (she had a stuffy nose which makes it so she struggles sucking on her binky which makes it so she struggles sleeping). He's done laundry, kept his cool with our flooding basement, taken us girls swimming and to a movie, and still wants to massage my aching shoulders from lifting a bit heavier than I should have.

Look for the good in each other. Because it is there.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Welcome 2017

Another year is behind us and what a wonderful and challenge filled year it was.

I have seen so many statuses and comments about how dreadful and terrible 2016 was and how they couldn't wait for it to be over. And to be honest, I felt bad for those people posting it. None of us are strangers to trials and frustrations, but I would hope that through whatever we face, we can find the joy and happiness and learn to focus on those.

2016 was not the easiest year of our lives. Adding another kid to our zoo also added stress, marriage was not the easiest by far, and adjusting to a new area has been a lot harder than we imagined. In fact, there was a time this year that I felt so completely overwhelmed and down that I decided to choose a family motto to focus on. And here it is: CHOOSE JOY

I wish I could tell you how many times having this hung in a high traffic area has helped me through this year. It reminded me to choose to be grateful for the year of 2016 and how we have all grown-and how I personally have grown.

And now it is that time of year again to choose goals to focus on for this new 2017 year. I loved that as I woke to a New Year, I woke to fresh snow on the ground, reminding me that it is time to start anew with a clean slate.

And as tradition, we chose our word goals for the new year.

At 15 months old Lydia's goal word was Explore. Throughout the year of 2016 Lydia did some majoring exploring. Her explorations brought us a lot of joy, and sometimes frustrations and tears.

Lydia explored boundaries and what it means to "push mom's buttons"
Lydia explored language and her vocabulary has exploded.
She explored what it is like to play hard during the day but be grateful for and even ask for "nigh nigh" each evening.
Lydia explored the art of play. This has been one of the most fun to experience and see develop. She is beginning to pretend play and talks with her toys.
Lydia explored what it means to be a sister and she takes the role borderline too lovingly.
She explored different sports and may have been a fish in another life with how much she loves swimming.
Lydia explored her testimony and planted a little seed. She breaks out in prayer randomly throughout the day "Heavenly Father Day" is how she starts out and it is a heart melter. So if you hear it, grab a tissue.
Lydia explored toys and has found which ones she loves most (She's big into magnets, blocks, and fisher-price little people).
Lydia explored characters from movies and books and while she still loves Winnie the Pooh, her adoration for Finding Nemo and Mickey Mouse may be even stronger.
She explored her independence as she is now potty trained (still loving to "blow kisses" to her potty as it goes down the toilet). [insert embarrassed emoji here]
Lydia explored some major gross motor skills such as jumping and riding a tricycle
She explored the snow and actually enjoyed playing in it this year which has been perfect with our awesome hill in our yard.
She explored her love for animals more in depth and even rode a pony.
Her exploration set no limits and fears and she has grown SO much!

Her new word for 2017 is CREATE

Lydia has so much energy and joy for life that it is my hope that this next year she can channel it to CREATE joy, growth and knowledge.

Adeline's word for 2017 is BLOOM

(It is weird to think she wasn't quite with us last year yet (I was pregnant with her). It just feels like she has always been with us!)

Our hope for Addie this year is that as she grows, she will BLOOM. She is our little bud of joy and we look forward to watching her learn and see her personality and happiness sprout.

I'm going to quote myself from last year on what I hoped to achieve this year with the word Embrace, "My new word for 2016 is Embrace. I want to embrace this new year and all the changes and experiences that are in store for me and my little family. Embrace is such a warming action word. It involves attitude and feeling, enthusiasm, and support. I think it will be just the word I need for this year."

When I chose this word, I knew that I was only 4 weeks pregnant and that it was a bit sooner than I had planned. Adeline's due date landed right around the beginning of residency and I was scared that it was going to be such a terrible time to have a baby. I also knew that with graduation and residency approaching that I needed to embrace all the changes, even if that meant we didn't end up where we wanted.

-I embraced my pregnancy and the struggles that came with it. I embraced the new changes in my body for being a vessel for another human being and that meant embracing new stretch marks and a rising number on a scale that meant I was being blessed with another sweet spirit.
-I embraced the move from Illinois to Utah with open arms. I was excited for the new chapter but had many reservations about what Utah had in store for us. 
-I embraced the task of making our new 1950s house a home and worked hard to whip it into shape and make it livable. 
-I embraced residency.. and yet, I am still learning to embrace it. It is hard and it really stinks sometimes. I have watched Brian be emotionally, physically, and spiritually exhausted all at the same exact time and felt helpless and yet I embraced this new change and strived to support him and be enthusiastic through the trials.
-I embraced motherhood to two little girls and the demands of my new role. I embraced this calling and learned (and am still learning) how these two should come before myself and my desires.
-I am learning to embrace my new body after having 2 girls and strive to get healthy and strong.
-I have embraced a stronger sense of who I am as a daughter of God and where I want to go.
-I have embraced a deeper understanding of the gospel and our Savior's atonement. And am realizing I have more growth and knowledge to embrace still.

With all that I have embraced this year, the biggest is that I have embraced a new me. I am not the same Anna from a year ago. I'm grateful to look at who I have become this last year and be thankful for the experiences I have embraced to get me here.

This next year of 2017 my goal word will be BECOME.

The definition of BECOME is "begin to be." My hope is to begin to be happier, stronger, healthier, a better disciple of Christ, a more loving wife, a kinder teacher and mother, more teachable and humble, and more willing to serve and trust in the Lord. 

Brian choose the word better to focus on this last year.

This was an excellent word to summarize his goals since it was filled with so much change. Brian is better because of it all and because he held firm to faith that it was all going to work out if he continued to try and be better and not give up.

Brian is a better student, a better father, a better friend, and a better follower of Christ.

His abilities and skills are better and even his cooking is getting better (ha).

This year he has become a better version of himself. 

For 2017, Brian has chosen the word REACH.

He spoke about his fears of complacency and how he wants to push himself to work hard and get out of his comfort zone. Sometimes all it takes is is effort to reach and aim higher to improve yourself. 

Brian hopes to reach more knowledge in his fields of study and in his work. He hopes to reach to have more understanding of his patients and how best to help them. 

Thank you 2016 for a wonderful and growing year! We are excited for 2017 and all that is in store for us!

Monday, December 19, 2016

Christmas Through my 2 year-old's Eyes

I tried to finish up some last minute Christmas shopping today.

I thought I could make it quick but that doesn't often happen. I was kind of grumbling about how I had, had to return to a store twice because I'd been charged for two items I didn't purchase and then returned to get it sorted out which is always more of a hassle especially with two tired babies.

I had the carseat in one hand and was holding Lydia's hand with my other as we walked into one last store. I found myself half dragging Lydia and thinking "Just the one item.. that's it. Then we'll be home" and then to my dismay and frustration, Lydia let go of my hand and started running and yelling across the store "Jesus! Baby Jesus!"

I found myself chasing her down as she ran up to a life-sized nativity scene and knelt down at the porcelain bale of hay that held a delicate baby Jesus.

At first I tried to pull her away and "go get that item" but something caused me to just stop my hurry.. and watch.

I watched as Lydia touched his face and gave him a kiss right on his cheek and whispered in the sweetest voice "mine baby Jesus."

It made me start to wonder.. What is Christmas through my 2 year-old's eyes? She gets taken around from store to store, party to party, sees an old man in red that always seems to be holding kids and candy canes.. What in the world is she thinking?

For one thing.. I think that looking at Christmas through the eyes of a child makes Christmas a whole lot simpler.

To a child, Christmas is magical and Christmas is simple.

Finding scenes like this after playtime is a heart melter
They see pretty lights everywhere they go, and trees decorated in pretty colors. And though Lydia doesn't understand why she put "balls" on the tree and why they need to stay there and not be played with.. she does understand that it is beautiful.

Lately she has gotten really into "making things" for us and baby Adeline. She will color a picture and say "SEE!?" and then color some more and give it to us. I don't know if it is that we are trying to instill in her the art of sharing or what.. either way, I love it and it makes me smile as I watch her excitement to see our excitement.

She doesn't care how much a gift costs or what it looks like. And often she would much rather play with the bow on top anyway.

But it is that feeling of giving someone something that just warms a person up. And I know that everyone has different love languages, but no matter what your love language is, it just feels warm and fuzzy when you give someone you care about something and you wait to see their reaction.

A child lives in the moment. They aren't thinking about the next activity or what else needs to get done. They take in everything that is around them and I think that is where a lot of the magical feelings come from.

So it makes sense to me that as I am dragging this little girl through store after store, walking in and seeing something that is familiar is exciting. And I am reminded that even the smallest things are magical but we may often be in too big of a hurry to notice them.

Christmas really is just a whole lot simpler than we adults make it out to be.

Really though, the simplicity of Christ's birth is all in the simple and humble stable.. It's the simple act of love that changed the whole world.

I think it's important that through the hustle and bustle of our daily lives mixed with the busyness of the season that we take a moment and appreciate the simplicity of it all.

Never let the things you want make you forget the things you have.

We put lights up on our house which we have never had the opportunity to do before. What seemed like such a small thing to do has brought me such joy as I drive up and see our house.

Lydia loves to point out all the lights in the neighborhoods and especially if someone displays a star. We went walking around Farmington Station last week to see Santa and every lamppost had a wreath and bow attached. Lydia was so excited and kept calling them "Minnie's hats" which had us chuckling even from that simple thought.

I wasn't sure what to expect from Lydia's visit with Santa. She's never really had stranger danger so I just wasn't sure how she would respond. If you ask Lydia what Santa says she'll respond "Ho, Ho". The Santa at Farmington Station wasn't super friendly which I was pretty disappointed about. He just wasn't great with toddlers who can't really answer the question of what they want for Christmas.

Lydia just sat on his lap very shyly. Her face didn't move and nor did her body. She just held on to that candy cane and didn't want to leave Santa when it was time to hop down. As we walked away she kept repeating "ho ho" over and over.

We have a whole lot of this going on... Brian's rotation for residency has been in the ER this month. It has put his hours all over the place with many switching from night shifts to days and lots of exhaustion, but it has been nice to have him home during the day when he gets the chance and be around these darling little ladies.

And while Lydia has probably wondered why there are so many goodies in the house all of the sudden, I doubt she has cared as we all have indulged in a few delicious baking frenzies for #LIGHTtheWORLD that the church has encouraged. I have loved to get on social media and see what others are doing to be more Christlike and keep him in Christmas. I know I have felt closer to him this season by refocusing each day on His life and example.

When the snow came, I was a lot more excited about building snowmen than Lydia was. She was up for it until Mom thought it would be cool to make a family of snowmen.. You can see how well that turned out. Ever read the book "Snowmen at Night?" If not.. You should. I think our snowmen must have been sledding on the great hills by our house or something.

One of Lydia's favorite things to do is to bring the Christmas light right up to her eye.. particularly the pink lights. Watching her joy with all the wonders of this season has been one of my favorite parts of this month.

   I think right in the middle of our plans and busyness, we are often given small reminders to bring us to remembrance of what is most important. My sweet father-in-law had a heart attack this last week and had double bypass surgery just a few days ago. 
   He is doing remarkably well and we know it is because of the faith and prayers that have surrounded him and my mother-in-law at this time. 
   With Christmas less than a week away, it really put into perspective our priorities. While gifts, lights, baking treats, decorations, Santa, etc are exciting and may seem important at the time-what is most important are our friends and family and our Savior Jesus Christ. How blessed we are to celebrate him this time of year. 

       When we took the kids to visit Craig in the hospital, Lydia kept saying "Grapa owie" over and over. She wanted him to hold her, but didn't understand all the cords and tubes. We made a sign for him to hang in his room that had a picture of all his kids and grandkids holding a letter that spelled out "WE LOVE GRANDPA LARSON!" We just love this man so much. How happy we are to be blessed by such a wonderful man. Give an extra squeeze to your loved ones and an extra kiss to your kiddos. It's worth it. 

May we all count our blessings this Christmas season and strive to embrace the simplicity of the season. As we hold our dear ones near and open our eyes to see from the eyes of a child may it bring a little more faith and happiness as 2016 comes to a close.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Good Mom Moments

The subject of "mom-guilt" has been on my mind a lot lately. It could do with my battle with breastfeeding that leaves it fresh in my mind, but it also could be the tendency many of us have to be really hard on ourselves.

We often think that because we are a mom we should be able to do everything and when we fall short we think there is something wrong with us.

Even as I write this my mind is swirling with all the things I did wrong today and the things I didn't get done.

I could write lists of incidents like when I put Lydia in time out for sticking her finger in my chapstick tube and smearing it on her toys but then realizing that she was simply trying to put ointment on their "boo-boos" like we did to hers when she scraped her knee. And the mom guilt starts to seep in.. "Geez Anna, she was just being caring to others."  

Or when I was working out this morning and trying to beat my current planking record and Lydia came and climbed on me and I couldn't hold the weight and crumbled. My first response was a "Lydia no!" And then the mom guilt crept in.. "She was only trying to play with me" And it's a cycle over and over..

We can always be more organized or more cheerful or more clean or more on top of things. No one expects us to be perfect but ourselves.

So.. I'm not going to focus on my list of "bad monster mom moments" and instead here is my list of ways that I have been a good mom lately.
  • I bundled the girls up and took them on a short walk before bed to look at the Christmas lights in my neighborhood
  • I let Lydia stay up past bedtime because we were enjoying reading her pop-up books
  • Lydia got to watch an extra show as I cleaned the kitchen.
  • I made pancakes for breakfast
  • I danced around the family room with both girls in my arms to "Rockin Around the Christmas Tree" 3 times
  • I have a cinnamon apple candle burning and my house smells delicious
  • We finger-painted pictures and thankful trees
  • I got around to hanging some pictures on the walls
  • I found some new names on family search to take to the temple
  • I got up with each girl twice last night for a total of 6 interrupted hours of sleep
  • I did laundry after being a week behind
  • I wrote in my journal of special moments with the girls and the funny things Lydia has been saying lately
  • I took a bath with Lydia and we played til the water got cold
  • I pulled Adeline in bed with me and took a nap with her
  • I had tickle and kissing wars with both girls until Adeline had a blow out all over her blanket
Writing that list started out really hard. I sat for a good 10 minutes just staring at my hands or at the big pine tree in my backyard. But toward the end I kind of got excited to write down some of the ways I have been a good mom.

I'm not all bad I guess. 

And neither are any of the women in my life who allow love to be the underlying reason for their actions. 

I think we should all take a step back every now and then and write down the things we are doing right and not focus so much on the wrong.

And some exciting news? Adeline is 3 months and is SUCH a happy girl. I honestly was worried she would be a harder baby due to her acid reflux but man was I wrong. 

Maybe it's because she is the second child and it forces her to be chill because she can't have all the attention or maybe it's because Lydia is there to watch and entertain her. Either way, she is happy to sit in her swing or in our arms and just watch with those big gray eyes (thinking they'll be hazel).

Adeline sleeps 12-14 hours at night with 2 feedings in there somewhere. She still sounds like a little piggy when she breathes and eats and I find myself speaking to her through snorts back. When she lies on her back she will kick her legs to scoot herself around and will get stuck in super awkward places. She is 14 lbs and is my little stiff chunk because she has the best thigh rolls and she still stiffens her body and planks it everywhere. 

Another good mom moment? I love these journals. I know I've said it before, but I am so grateful for the opportunity to look back on all these and for my girls to have them as they grow and see what life was like in their first year of life and how much they are loved.

I guess I just need to give myself a break. We are are worst critic right? 

Take a moment to tell yourself something YOU are good at and smile about it. 

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Battling Breastfeeding.. again

How do I even begin to write down how I have been feeling lately?

I could write down lost or failure or quitter or maybe I should just add them all together and that would sum it up..

Or maybe a short story:

Once upon a time there was a mom who thought she had it all together. With her first baby she produced milk galore in the first 5 months and she felt like a champion.. and then her baby got thrush which started the 2 month battle of passing it back and forth until her milk dried up and she had to let go of her list of expectations of what it meant to be a "good" mom. Just because she couldn't breastfeed anymore didn't mean she loved her baby less.

But then 2 years passed and she forgot about the lessons she had learned the hard way and baby #2 came.

She had every intention to breastfeed and make it longer than she had with her first. But something was different this time and it just wasn't as easy as she had thought it would be the second time around.

Instead the battle resumed in full force.

And here I am again.. currently trying to let go of my list of what it means to be a "good" mom. This list always seems to weave itself in my head whether I want it to or not. I find myself adding things to the list as I read articles online or scan Pinterest or compare myself to my fellow moms through Facebook or Instagram. Sometimes I catch myself doing this and stomp it out.. other times. I let it get to me.

Near the top of that list is breastfeeding.. That boat set and sailed off with Lydia at 7 months but I was determined to make it to at least 6 months this time, if not beat Lydia's feeding record. Make it at least until 6 months.. Like biting into a piece of cake, right?

Nope. More like biting into a rock. Ouch.

So my new story is this---Due to my postpartum hemorrhaging it took longer for my milk to come in and when it did, I just never felt full.

I remember when my milk came in with Lydia.. All the sudden I was full and I was going to fall over because my chest felt so heavy. I had a large milk supply and was able to save months worth.

I expected a similar feeling with my second baby but that didn't happen. I never "felt" my milk come in. I just kept feeding her and then as she started to drink longer I thought, "Well, I guess my milk came in finally." And life went on.

But it got harder. Adeline never had as strong of a latch as Lydia. I definitely had to work for it, but when she did.. she would latch firm and wanted more and more. I just never felt like I had much milk and so I felt like I was just constantly feeding Adeline. I felt like I stayed in the same place all day.. And nights were even worse.. She just wanted to eat and eat and eat! I even tried the co-sleeping and feeding thing just so I could catch a little bit of sleep.

When I talked to the doctor about it he told me that as long as Adeline was gaining weight then I should just keep doing what I was doing.

This response frustrated me because I knew that I couldn't keep doing what I was doing.. how many episodes of Care Bears or Curious George could Lydia watch before I was considered a "bad mom" on my list? To be honest.. she'd already watched too much as I tried to figure this feeding round 2 out. It was the only way that I could focus on Adeline and try and get her to latch and not have Lydia running around trying to hold or jump on the baby or feed her goldfish crackers.

I was so focused on Adeline's latch and trying to feed her that I didn't notice the cracked and dry nipples and the pain that started to intensify. I was focused on how Adeline would cry before, during, and after feedings and her latch was getting worse. Brian finally was the one to point out we had another problem. Thrush.

Nooooooooo!!! [insert loud groan here]

The dreaded thrush was back... even after trying to avoid it in all the ways I could think of and read about.

And we were back at the Doctor's office where I told him that I was losing my milk and needed something to work the first time. I didn't want another 2 month battle with this.

He told me we had to try Nystatin first because even if it didn't work with Lydia it might with Adeline. I left the office feeling sick but determined to make this work. I couldn't lose my milk...

But now after 2 weeks since that appointment and having done the 10 days of Nystatin diligently and trying my hardest to make sure it was working.. thrush has not disappeared.

But my milk has.

And it's consuming me. My every waking moment is spent in "How can I save my milk?" and "What more can I do?" and the fear that my milk is drying up completely.

Because it already is. My right side is completely empty. There is nothing left.

Right now I am getting away with a night feeding and a day feeding.. and as much "snacks" as I can get in with supplementing after.

Even as I write that my eyes fill with tears because it feels like such an ultimatum. If I let that last feeding dry up that's it.. that is the end. Addie will never have this again from me.

I know that breastmilk is not everything. I know that this is not life and death. And how grateful I am to live where I can go to the store and buy formula.

But I did have high hopes and when they come crashing down it hurts.

In the hospital when I gave birth to Adeline, I asked for a binky for Adeline to suck on and I got a big mouthful from some of the nurses saying how they promote "breast is best" and having a binky that soon wasn't protocol. That's how the rest of my hospital stay was.. I honestly felt like I was being congratulated for breastfeeding my baby and that the 2 oz bottle of formula my baby was fed while I was recovering from the birth was awful of me to make them give her. "How could I have done that?" they all seemed to say.

I left feeling even more determined to breastfeed and not let myself fail.

So when things went downhill.. those feelings of failure have engulfed me a bit. Those things that were repeated over and over and over keep coming back to me as I struggle. "Breastmilk is the best thing for your baby," "drink more water!" "nipple stimulation" "keep up on your vitamins" "Fenugreek" and "offer both sides" and lots and lots of oatmeal, salmon, spinach and carrots.

The worst thing when your supply is low is to supplement with formula.. but my baby was not getting enough and I was honestly sitting in the same spot all day trying to nurse her.. which is practically impossible with a toddler. Lydia watched TV all day long on those days in the beginning and that only made me feel like a worse mom.

And so after crying to my husband on far too many occasions.. I called my mom.

It is so true that you learn to appreciate your parents more and more the older you get. My mom is a wise woman and is often inspired to say just what I needed to hear.

She told me that breastfeeding does not mean I am a better mom and nor does formula feeding. It isn't a test of motherhood and I shouldn't feel guilty for nourishing my child with formula.

Sometimes there are factors outside of your control no matter how motivated or how hard you try.

I have done my best and that is enough. She said if I want a stronger bond with my baby then feed her the bottle by holding her and not propping it up on something. I should stop what I'm doing to do so.. just like I would have had to do if I were breastfeeding. I should look my baby in the eyes and chat to her like I do when I breastfeed. And turn off the distractions like the tv and phone so I can give her my whole attention.

I am not lost. I am not a failure. And I didn't quit. I need to kick those feelings out. These are just Satan's lies to get me to doubt myself and my abilities.

Even with my few feedings my current goal is to make it to 3 months and if I make it there then I might aim for the end of the year. But I can't let myself be angry if it doesn't work out.

I truly am grateful for record keeping. Seriously.. reflecting back on life lessons help me so much in learning today's lessons.

I wrote this journal entry of my first breastfeeding battle and the 4 things that we all should remember with formula vs breastfeeding. To summarize my own thoughts in two sentences: Don't judge others because the way you feed your baby is your business. Nurturing is more than milk and you know what is best for your baby.

I gotta kick my "perfect mom list" away and focus more on loving my children deeply. I need to base my decisions on love and not so much on being perfect.

It's okay to feel sad that things haven't worked out how I wanted them to but I also need to learn to accept that I am still a good mom who loves her baby and just wants what is best for the both of us.