March 9, 2018

Surviving Maternity Leave with Two Kids

I'll admit, I was extremely naive about what maternity leave would be this time around. When I thought about going on maternity leave for Callum, I immediately imagined a three month long vacation from work. Sleeping in, drinking my coffee slowly on our front porch, going for walks with the kids. Thinking back to this pipe dream now is laughable. While my maternity leave with Cooper was pretty low key and laid back, what I didn't account for was having another human besides my newborn to care for this time around.

With Cooper, we were on an endless routine of eat, sleep, poop and repeat which gave me approximately 3-4 hours of down time in between Cooper being awake. It was awesome. I had a great sleeping baby, I was getting a decent amount of sleep myself at night, and I had no clue why people complained about how hard having a newborn was. It was easy!

With Callum, I'm on an endless routine of eat, sleep for 30 minutes, eat, sleep for 45 minutes, try to push out a poop, cry, eat get the idea. But not only do I have a routine for my newborn, but I now have a routine to try and keep for my 2 year-old! Most days I end up balancing Cal on one of my arms while I hold the bottle straight with my mouth, and try to get Cooper's lunch together. There isn't enough coffee in the world to get me through my days. And while I still drink my coffee slowly, it's not by choice and it's usually cold by the time I get started on it.

The biggest obstacle I've found this maternity leave isn't managing two children though. It's trying not to feel isolated from other adults and the world outside my house. Having winter babies is tough enough, I learned that with Cooper (also a February baby). With your first baby, people are always coming to visit you. They all want to come see the baby and ooo and ahh over him. With your second, the amount of people who come to see you cuts down to about a fourth of what you had the first time around. It's not as exciting. So while my first maternity leave, I was rarely alone in my house, this time I've found myself begging to get outside or just speak with any adult. Being home alone all day with a newborn and speech delayed toddler is extremely mentally draining. Most days I feel like the world is moving on without me and I'm stuck here. While it should be a very exciting time and I should be taking advantage of all the time I get to spend at home with my boys, I can't help but wish I was out in the world doing something for myself.

What helps? Family and friends help. My mom, mother-in-law, sister and of course husband have been great about checking in with me to allow me some time out of the house alone. Just running to the store for an hour or two by myself has been a great way for me to reset my brain and come back home ready to continue my time with my boys. Last night, my sister watched our kids for Tim and I so we could get out and grab a drink. Even though we stayed in town, it was so nice having a whole night to talk about everything other than our kids. Marriage is so easily tested when your life no longer revolves around each other, but it's so important that we make time to be a couple and not just parents. It's something I'm going to have to vow to do monthly.

We are hanging in there here at home, but there are definitely some days I question my sanity. With the nicer weather around the corner, those feelings of isolation will hopefully go away as we get some sunshine and fresh air.

March 3, 2018

The Perks of Being A Breastfeeder

I get comments all the time about "props to me for being able to breastfeed" and it always makes me giggle a little. Being able to breastfeed my kids is something that has come pretty naturally to me. Thankfully, I've been always been blessed by the milkmaid goddess with being able to produce a decent supply for my baby. But with breastfeeding there are always pros and cons. And I haven't always had the easiest time doing it, just easier than most.

With Cooper, I gave up breastfeeding after 4 months for multiple reasons. I was spending so much time pumping and feeding that I felt I didn't have any time to myself. Once I got back to work, keeping up my supply with pumping became increasingly difficult. I had just started a new job and had so much to get used to and learn. Stopping in the middle of my days to go pump became such a stressor that I stopped producing as much. After that began happening, and an upcoming summer full of weddings to attend, I decided to stop breastfeeding and switch to formula.

The obvious pros are the health benefits of breastmilk. I'm not going to go into them here, because that is just a debate I don't really want to start. But even outside of those debates, it's a great way to start a bond with new baby. Besides, have you seen the price of formula these days?! That is not something I want to get back into buying if I can avoid it.

The cons are pretty obvious but are also manageable for someone who really wants to breastfeed. Having a night out can be difficult if you like to have a few drinks like I do. I always find it difficult deciding if it's worth having a second drink and to pump & dump later, or if I should just suck it up and not drink at all. How does it affect my baby? Am I being selfish? These are the questions that run through my brain.

Whatever you choose to do as a mother, don't let anyone mom shame you into feeling like you are wrong. I always hear the phrase "breast is best" and I hate it. FED is best. If breast feeding is not something you feel comfortable doing, or can't do, don't ever feel guilty for choosing to formula feed instead. Plenty of us were formula fed and we aren't any less intelligent for it. Do you, mama!