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Anther new role for me: Milk Machine.

8. August 2014

For the entire 9 months of my pregnancy, I spent my time focusing on learning as much as I could about pregnancy and labor and delivery. I think I just wanted to feel proactive during a time in which there wasn't much I could actually do for 'Bumpy'. Either that, or I was in denial that I was about to become a mother.

Now the denial is over. Clara is here and I'm definitely a mom, even though I don't feel like a mom because that word just seems so freakin' serious and I'm not that old and boring and responsible... right?!

Anyway, one part of motherhood I didn't think about was breastfeeding. I mean, I knew I'd breastfeed, but I had never really considered what choosing to breastfeed would actually entail.

I was going to post a picture of me actually breastfeeding, but I only have selfies I took of her attached to my nipple, and honestly I just don't find my nipple to be attractive enough to share with the internet.

Well, over the past four weeks, I've had the following thoughts about breastfeeding:

//  Clara Jane is (thankfully) a natural born boob sucker. From the moment I held little Clara in my arms, she immediately started trying to find my nipple, and once I shoved it in her mouth, she latched almost perfectly. It was our first victory together!

//  For the first few days, newborns will keep sucking on their mom's boobs even if there's no milk to be found. Then, after 3-5 days, the mom's milk will come in - and boy is that interesting. And by 'interesting' I mean 'super uncomfortable'.

//  You see, when my milk came in, it made my boobs look like those of a porn star, or maybe just someone far more 'blessed' than me in that department. Honestly, I loved the way they looked but they HURT like crazy. They basically felt super full and like they were going to burst at any second. Thankfully, they did not explode and after a few weeks, they became normal feeling again - but they're still big, which I appreciate.

//  Our entire house is covered in breast milk. The amount of boob milk I leak is incredible. I sit around topless all day (easy access, you know) and it just drips out. And if the boob milk isn't coming from me, it's being spit up by Clara. 

//  Clara eats for about 100 minutes - 130 minutes per day. I know this because my breastfeeding app tells me so.

//  I'm very comfortable feeding Clara just about anywhere, but I hate using a cover, so I usually don't. The amount of boob that is actually exposed is very minimal, so I feel like it's a bit overkill for me to create a whole tent around us. I don't blame other moms who do, though! The most awkward part for me is to feed Clara around men I know. Women are easy, I just whip out the boob, but I never know what to do around men. While I'm not shy about feeding her, it's not my intention to make other people uncomfortable. Part of me thinks that it's just boobs and if people don't feel comfortable they can just look elsewhere for a while, but part of me wants to be more modest than that. It's trickier than I anticipated!

//  Until I begin pumping, Clara and I are inseparable. I can't leave her for any amount of time because I don't want her to start crying and not have anything to eat. Usually she  eats every 3-5 hours, but sometimes she eats and then wants to eat again less than an hour later.

//  There are all of these 'rules' when it comes to pumping and how that works and how long breastmilk can be left out or left in the refrigerator or left in the freezer and what to do in case you take milk out of the freezer and need to refreeze it... I mean, the situations are endless and it seems much easier to just feed the baby straight from the boob - although I'm sure once I figure out pumping it will be a breeze!

//  According to the lactation consultants we've spoken to, there's no need to 'pump & dump' after drinking alcohol. The general rule I've heard is 'safe to drive, safe to feed!'

//  Also, I haven't had to restrict what I eat yet. Clara doesn't seem bothered by absolutely anything I ingest, which I hope doesn't change over the next few days/weeks/months/etc!

//  As of a few days ago (at around 3.5 weeks old), Clara had already gained 2 lbs! This made me feel great because it's proof that she's eating like a champ.

//  Sometimes Clara eats for 1 minute and sometimes she'll stay latched on for 20 minutes without taking a break - there is absolutely nothing predictable about feeding this little one.

//  It melts my heart when Clara acts hungry, but really just wants to latch onto my boob to comfort her and/or to go to sleep. She really must feel safe with me! That being said, I also get annoyed when I know she's just trying to use me as a human pacifier and I'm doing something else important. Like eating, blogging, or just generally existing without a human attached to me.

//  Breastfeeding originally felt a bit uncomfortable when Clara would latch on and start sucking - but the discomfort would subside in about a minute. Now, breastfeeding doesn't hurt in the least bit. I'm happy to say that my nipples haven't cracked, bled, or really been painful at all. I guess I expected it to be a little harder to get used to but maybe I was born with tough nipples or something! After all of the horror stories about how much breastfeeding hurts, I was surprised at how much it doesn't.

I guess what has really surprised me about the whole breastfeeding thing is how much I absolutely love it. There is nothing sweeter than looking at Clara's sleepy face after she eats a full meal, and I love that she depends on me for something absolutely no one else can give her. I find it miraculous that she can grow and grow from something my body produces!

Cheers!

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I often wonder what I've gotten myself into.

7. August 2014

Motherhood is a strange thing. I feel like myself, but different somehow. In the beginning it was possible to have moments where I'd kind of forget I was a mom. Like when Clara would sleep for four hours straight and wake up for 10 minutes and then fall asleep for another four hours. Tim and I would sit on the couch and watch one Modern Family show after another and it would just feel like a lazy day, except it would be a Tuesday and gorgeous weather out and we'd be trapped indoors.

I expected the newborn days/weeks/months to be the absolute worst extremely challenging, but over 3 weeks in and I'm still not struggling as much as I had (perhaps pessimistically) anticipated.

That being said, some days are better than others and certainly some moments are better than others.

During my worst moments I worry about I've gotten myself into. I realize that I have absolutely no clue what I'm doing and I wonder how they let me leave the hospital with a tiny human to take care of, (with no formal training)! I picture myself eventually dealing with a teenager (or two) and get overwhelmed. I read news stories and worry about the world Clara will grow up in and my ability to protect her. There are moments I become impatient because she's crying or because she's straining her legs against my abdomen, causing pain to the incision. I find myself getting frustrated that I need to stop eating dinner so I can feed my hungry baby, even though she just ate. There are many times I long to be outside doing something active instead of sitting on my couch all day, but I know those possibilities are many weeks away. I'm intimidated to plan events or outings because I don't know if Clara will be awake or asleep, or hungry or satisfied at any given time. I get tired of recovering from the c-section and I get tired of having leaky boobs and I get tired of being physically restricted from doing just about anything at all. There are plenty of moments in which I admit to myself that caring for a newborn just isn't so great.

But at the best moments, which are far more numerous than the worst moments, I remember that God has uniquely equipped me to handle this baby, who was made in His image. I look at her face and cherish each moment because she's growing every second of every day and I know that this phase will seem so short and precious in the years to come. Some of my favorite moments are those in which I watch Clara sleep and see Tim in her and I love her and him both more because of it. The best moments are those in which I remember that I am a mother to this baby girl, and that role is important. There are moments when I look down at her while she's breastfeeding and am struck at how simple it all can be - I can feed her with my own body - how neat is that?! The female body is miraculous.

I'm looking forward to the moments to come - both good and bad. Every day is a new adventure and I never know what to expect!

Cheers!

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A Quick July Recap

4. August 2014

It's so strange to think that a month ago I was already anticipating this post, because I was anxiously waiting to see what July was going to have in store for our family. I mean, I knew we'd be having a baby, so that part wasn't really a mystery, but everything else sure was! 

But before I get ahead of myself, in case you missed our other monthly recaps...

January

February

March

April

May

June

 

In July we...

  • Walked Waddled around our neighborhood quite a bit to get 'Bumpy' to move on out of my uterus. We also had sex, but we all know that didn't work.
  • Both worked from home and enjoyed some extra time with just the two of us.
  • In my free time, I booked (and went to!) acupuncture appointments, massage appointments, chiropractor appointments... you get the idea. None of that worked, either.
  • Went to a friend's BBQ to celebrate the Fourth of July.

This was our last family-of-two picture taken - still 9 days before Clara was born!

  • Watched the fireworks on the Chicago lakefront with great friends. They were beautiful, per usual (the fireworks, that is, although our friends looked pretty great, too).
  • Said 'hello' and 'goodbye' to our Clara's estimated due date. It turns out that doctors aren't so great at predicting those types of things.
  • Went to more than our fair share of doctor's appointments once we reached and surpassed the 40 weeks pregnant milestone.
  • Ate dinner (with my family) at the Chicago Diner, which will always have a special place in my heart because they have the best milkshakes ever and they just-so-happen to be vegan!
  • Welcomed Clara Jane into our family. We found out she was a (beautiful) girl and that her birthday will forever be July 13th - which were the two biggest mysteries of my last 9+ months - SOLVED!

  • Entertained lots and lots of visitors, both in the hospital, and at our home.
  • Continued going to church group and church every week, in hopes of keeping some normalcy in our routine and also to remind ourselves where the focus should be in our lives/relationship, even though it's easy to get distracted during pivotal life events.
  • Spent time with each other, with family, with friends, with Clara, and really just filled our lives up with as much love as we could handle! I can't believe the amount of people we saw in July - what a blessing! 

A lot of our time was spent watching Clara sleep. She's just too precious!

  • Finally went to DQ so I could get the S'more Blizzard I've been craving ever since I heard it existed.

July was truly a month to remember, that is for sure!

Cheers!

 

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