Let me start off by saying: motherhood was everything I hoped and dreamed it would be and more. The feeling can't be compared to any other. Gavin is my whole world and I love him more than words can describe. There is so much to write about, which makes me wish I blogged throughout these last
Alright, enough with the freaking out... let me catch everyone up to speed.
During our stay at the hospital, parenthood was extremely easy. Gavin was the perfect baby the whole time. He only cried for a few minutes after he was born. We already had a routine: I nursed him every two hours, Tommy changed him, then Gavin (and I) napped until it was time to nurse again. Piece of cake, right? I felt comfortable leaving the hospital with my new bundle of joy and my just-as-confident-as-I-was husband. I've come to terms with the realization that yes, the hospital stay tricked Tommy and I into thinking this mommy and daddy thing was easy.
The first six weeks were stressful and hectic. Tommy and I had to adjust the way we lived life and everything was new for Gavin. Being home was waaaaay different than the hospital. I've read many books and articles about every new parent topic out there to prepare myself for Gavin, but reading a book was NOTHING compared to actually caring for an infant in real life. We had to adjust our schedule to meet Gavin's needs. Tommy and I LOVE our sleep. Before Gavin we slept at least eight hours a night. I knew it was common for most babies to have their days and nights mixed up. I always thought, "I can stay up and still have enough energy to care for my baby." Well, yeah...sure! I could have pulled it off if I did not just give birth! My body had liters and liters of blood to replenish after I hemorrhaged while giving birth. I was so physically and mentally drained. I remember screaming into my pillow when Gavin woke up crying for milk. I felt such a weight on my shoulders because I was the only one who could supply milk. We pulled through those tough nights and within the first week home I was feeling better. We even had a little routine started. Call me weird, but once I started getting some sleep I LOVED waking up to feed Gavin every two hours, even throughout the night. My heart ached for him when he was sleeping and I couldn't wait to hear his little hungry cry so I could jump up, run to the nursery, and kiss that little face over and over again. I cherished every moment. I took thousands of pictures (not exaggerating) and I still do. Gavin is my entire world.
After my six week leave, I went back to work for a week to finish the school year. Then I was off from school again for the summer. Of course I spent every second of my summer with Gavin and Tommy. We took trips to the beach and boardwalk, we went to the zoo, barbecues, out to dinner, strawberry picking, blueberry picking, carnivals and fairs, and long walks by the lake. The summer flew by and I went back to work in September. It was probably... scratch that... definitely the hardest thing I ever had to do. I constantly reminded myself "I only work 180 days out of the year and I leave work at 2:50 p.m. I get long winter and spring breaks and summers off." It didn't help much. I tried reminding myself that Tommy/my mom was with him and he was always well taken care of. That didn't help much either. I cried most mornings on the way to work. It's unbelievably hard to work and raise children. Honestly, it's like having two full time jobs and there aren't enough hours in the day for exclusive family time. Not to mention the excruciating pain in my heart all day long without Gavin. It was the worst...
I worked from September to December 22nd and then took the rest of my maternity leave. I return back to work mid-April!!! I AM SO EXCITED to have four extra months to be home with my BABY!!! I love being home with Gavin. He is just the perfect happiest baby. While I was working I usually cleaned the house, did the laundry, wrote my lesson plans, graded papers, and everything else I couldn't do during the day because I was working. My days flew by and I couldn't stand missing this time with Gavin. Now I cook and clean during the day when Gavin naps, and play, feed, sing, read, dance, and everything else when he is awake. This is the closest thing there is to heaven.
So let's get to the topics I wrote about while I was pregnant. Remember? I wanted to breastfeed, use cloth diapers, make my own baby wipes, make homemade organic foods and make homemade organic fruit and vegetable juice, and exercise and eat right in order to drop the baby weight. Some people probably thought I was crazy (maybe some still do). Some even flat out told me, "You'll see once you have the baby you will be SOOO tired and SOOO busy, there won't be enough time to do all of that." Well, I do breastfeed, use cloth diapers, make my own baby wipes, make homemade organic foods and homemade organic fruit and vegetable juice, and dropped my baby weight in three months. I do it all.. now and even when I was working. Except when I worked I didn't do everything on my own, my husband, mom and I did everything as a team. My mom helped/helps us out tremendously. Tommy, my mom, and I took turns watching Gavin throughout the week. My mom watched Gavin Mondays and Wednesdays. Tommy watched him on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays during the day and worked Tuesday and Thursday nights. Tommy is off on Fridays. And I had Gavin all day Saturday. Tommy and I both had Gavin on Sundays, which we call our family day. Gavin did not attend daycare while I worked like we initially planned, and I am so grateful for that. Not that there is anything wrong with daycare, I mean I worked at an extraordinary one for eight years. I just feel Gavin is too young for daycare. He gets one on one time in the comfort from his own home.. We go to a small church group on Friday nights where he interacts with babies his own age and we also have play dates. I used to worry because Gavin would freak out and cry when he saw a stranger, which is completely common and normal, but ever sine we started attending the small group he became very outgoing. COMPLETE turn around! Now he smiles at anyone who will look at him... Or stare at someone until they tell him he's cute. He's such a ham.
Now on to breastfeeding. I'm going to be honest, I always planned on breastfeeding, but a part of me was worried I would fail. I had a ton of support from Tommy and my mom. Without them I probably would have given up. If you don't have support and really want to breastfeed you need to go to a support group because breastfeeding is not easy. The first couple of days at the hospital were fine because the nurses helped Gavin latch on properly. They also showed me different ways to hold Gavin while nursing. Once we were home and the colostrum turned to regular breast milk, Gavin needed to be fed every two hours...gulp. It was uncomfortable, painful, unpleasant, discouraging, and frustrating. My nipples were constantly sore and every time Gavin cried for more milk, I cried because I just couldn't take the pain trying to get him to latch on correctly. In order to increase my milk supply, I pumped after I nursed him every time. That was every two hours, around the clock, day and night. But, It helped tremendously. I was making around fifty ounces of milk a day. Gavin wasn't drinking that much daily, so I was able to freeze and store the extra milk. We even had to buy a chest freezer to put in the garage because there was no room in our kitchen freezer. The pump helped increase my milk supply drastically and it toughened up my nipples. I am extremely glad I pushed through and never gave up. I've witnessed many mothers give up too easily and regret it. After three endless months, yeah that long, I was finally able to exclusively nurse Gavin without the pump or pain. I nursed Gavin until he was eight and a half months. While I was working, most of Gavin's milk stash was used up because I was only nursing/pumping four times a day (it's hard to pump when you are a teacher). I was barely making ten ounces. When I started my second leave in December, I had to increase my milk supply again. I pumped every two hours. I couldn't nurse Gavin every two hours like I did when he was a newborn because Gavin was eating solids and not drinking as much milk. When it was time to give Gavin milk I had nothing left in me because I pumped every two hours. I had to give him the breast milk in a bottle. I tried to nurse him once and day, but he started preferring the bottle over me. The milk comes out of a bottle faster. Now I'm pumping every two hours and I make about thirty ounces a day. Since Gavin eats solids and drinks twenty-five ounces a day, I store the extra ounces. I plan on supplying milk for Gavin until he turns one (May 6th- just in time for summer!). I have enough stored that I can gradually stop pumping once I go back to work in mid-April. Although I miss nursing him, I am glad I don't have to worry about supplying enough milk. After he turns one we move right to almond milk :)
Next topi- cloth diapers. I did not use cloth diapers for the first three months because a baby's poop is very watery until he or she starts eating solid foods. I started Gavin on rice cereal when he was four months old because he was constantly hungry, even after drinking a full bottle. I knew the recommendation is strictly breast milk for the first six months... yeah right, not for Gavin. Every baby is different and Gavin would have starved if I waited until he was six months. The breast milk went right through him. Gavin had rice cereal for a couple of weeks and had no allergic reaction. Rice cereal has next to nothing when it comes to nutrition, so I asked Gavin's doctor what I should give him instead of rice cereal and he recommended oatmeal cereal. We use "Earth's Best" organic oatmeal cereal. There are many vitamins and minerals. After we started Gavin on solids, his poop became a little... easier to manage? Hahaha. We use "Bumgenius" all-in-one snap cloth diapers. I bought twenty diapers and wash them 2-3 times a week. It's super easy. I take the soiled diaper and if there is poop, I flush it down the toilet. Then I take the wet insert out and put both the insert and cloth diaper into the diaper pail. When Gavin is low on diapers I empty the bag into the washing machine and wash the diapers. I dry them in the dryer then put the inserts back in. I put the clean diapers in the changing table drawer. That's it! It might sound like a lot, but it really isn't. It's part of our routine and so worth it... No chemicals or diaper rash! I love cloth diapering!
I also love to make Gavin's baby wipes. It is so EASY and there are less CHEMICALS. I bought three huge Bounty paper towel packages and haven't even used up one package yet... it's been nine months! I did a post about these wipes way back when, so I'm not going to post the process again. If you want to know how to make the wipes look back in my blog or ask! :)
I also make Gavin's organic food. I use the baby bullet and tons of two ounce storing containers. I make about a month worth of food and freeze it. Making baby food involves peeling, chopping, steaming, and blending. It is fun and worth the extra work. I know exactly what is going into my baby's food. Nothing is added and there are no preservatives. As of now Gavin eats apples, bananas, pears, broccoli, kale, cauliflower, carrots, green beans, peas, eggplant, butternut squash, zucchini, brown rice, chicken, whole wheat pasta, and his favorite... sweet potatoes. He loves it all. In addition to making his food, I make homemade vegetable juice and fruit juice. I take the bottled water that the vegetables boil in and combine them into a pitcher. I do the same thing for the fruits. All the vitamins from the fruits and vegetables leak out into the water. I put the juice into ice cube trays. Once the cubes freeze I put them in a freezer bag. When it's time for juice, I heat the cubes in a pot on the stove until it turns back into juice and serve. Please feel free to contact me via Facebook, E-mail, in person, phone, text messaging, or Twitter, if you want more information on anything! I love to share!
It feels great to be back blogging again. I love writing about topics that I am passionate about and I enjoy sharing my life as a mom.
Here is my world-