Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Take Me Out to the Ball Field!

We love going to watch baseball. And even though they aren't the greatest of teams, the Mariners are entertaining, and their field is great. We love to take our boys, watch the game, wander the stadium, play on the playground, and of course EAT! And last night, I was finally able to take advantage of all of those things!

Phase One: Breastfeeding at the stadium.
Too frequently, I read about mom's getting flak for breastfeeding at the ball game. Not me, not at Safeco, not ever. In fact, the employees there have always been great about it. They help me find an open seat in our section that isn't in direct sunlight, or need a little more space for a nursing/sleeping babe. They do have a nursing lounge, which I have used when a kiddo needs a quiet respite to nurse and reconnect, but never once was this suggested to me (which I would have construed as a suggestion to hide). 

Phase Two: EATING!
So, going gluten/dairy/soy free is not the easiest. I am sure anybody knows this. But going to the ball field just SCREAMS hot dogs and beer. Or, at Safeco, Ivar's, microbrews and Garlic fries. Ok, so maybe it is a little stuck up, but it is great. And last night, I was able to enjoy GF fish and chips from the Seafood Shack on the second level (they use rice flour for the batter!) and they have even started carrying Redbridge GF beer at select stands. Also, upon hearing my fish wasn't all the great on first bite, the guy come back with a bigger batch of freshly made ones that were divine!  They have expanded their options for many food restrictive or choice fans. So, even with the embarrassing 3 homeruns given up in the 5th inning and subsequent loss, last night was a WIN!

Phase Three: Celebrating the Field and a single suggestion for improvement.
I like to honor positive efforts. It sucks to only hear complaints, so I like to taut the positive as much as I would the negative. So, I sent them a little note doing just that. Don't know that I will hear anything back, but I did what I could. Here is my letter:

I would just like to thank you for creating a truly supportive family environment  at the ball field! Too often I hear of mother and babies being bullied for breastfeeding in public, but that has NEVER been my experience when visiting Safeco Field to watch our Mariners. Not only have your employees been accommodating when we needed to change seats to get our children out of the blazing sun on a perfect sunny day, or find more space to nurse comfortably, but never once have they suggested the  available nursing lounge. Which although is very nice (great for my distractable babe) might give the impression of encouraging seclusion. Thank you so much for all of this! My only suggestion would be to introduce the International Breastfeeding Symbol. Not only to make the lounge easier to locate  for those who would like to use it (currently the signage has a bottle on the sign, which isn't exactly supportive of breastfeeding), but also to display the Field's support in any seat or location your breastfeeding fans have permission to be.

Thank you again for providing my family with a great place to spend time together.

Link to International Breastfeeding Symbol: http://www.breastfeedingsymbol.org/download/
Yeah, I stole the picture. It is of us, but I my camera phone was dead, so this was all there was!

UPDATE: Safeco Field now uses the International Breastfeeding Symbol! I wish I could have snapped a picture of it up on the jumbo screen. I can't say it was because of this email, but I won't discredit myself either!

Sunday, August 22, 2010


I love camping. My husband loves camping. But, we have only been camping together a handful of times. I'm not sure why we didn't do it more when we were kid-less, but I can now appreciate why we haven't done it more as our family has grown. And yet, we vow to go more often. As in, we just got back, and we are planning another in about 3 weeks. That seems a ways off, but we have had a full summer, and I know it will be here before we know it. And this time, we are going alone.

Ok, maybe not totally alone. We hope some friends will join us, we just aren't planning on organizing anyone but us four.

But, I figured I should write out now what I learned on this last trip to make things easier on the next. I made a few rookie mistakes, but also planned very well in other aspects.

We went with my family: Mom, Tante and her boyfriend, and my mom's husband and his daughter. (Yes, there is a distinction between that and step-dad and step-sister. There isn't a point in explaining it here, as I hope as we all grow older and wiser we can eliminate that seperation. We just aren't there quite yet.) They brought the boat and we visited a beautiful area on Baker Lake. My mom's husband planned most of the food (I filled in for our food restrictions, but he mostly had it covered) and that was great to not have to plan, or cook all of it. Or any really: he precooked a LOT of meat, so it was ready and delicious with very little time spent.

Now, my list of things to remember:

1. Kids need things to DO or they will find something, including getting into trouble. We spent much of our time keeping L1 from running off to the lake to throw rocks in the water. I need to remember to bring things for him to do in camp. Snacks he can help make, cars to drive in the dirt, crafty things to utilize the amazing surroundings.

2. Non-walkers who are almost walkers HATE not being able to roam. L2 outgrew his shoes AS WE LEFT (I swear!) so we spent a lot of time keeping him off the ground. I don't mind the getting dirty part, just the scraped feet and knees. I need to pack better, so he can explore safely.

3. Pack tons of diapers. Then double it. I carefully packed the number of cloth diapers we would normally use, and all of our covers. So, of course, the boys changed their habits and we ran short.

4. Be ready to not do any of the things you planned. I didn't get out on the boat once. But, I did get to take long naps and read an entire book. A real one, with chapters and no pictures.

What I did RIGHT!:

1. Don't count on sleeping bags. We used some oversized ones opened and spread out. I brought pillows and blankets a plenty to keep us warm in as close to our family bed style as normal. It was great. I have never been so warm and comfy camping as I was will little bodies all around. And I knew they were safe and warm with me.

2. Bring a variety of clothes, as you never know what the weather will do. I had warm jackets, sweaters, lined pants and shorts. And more than one pair of shoes for everyone. Well, except L2. Sorry baby!

3. Babywearing. Always a must, no matter where we travel or what we are doing. Even L1 spent some time on daddy when he was tired and overwhelmed.

4. Bring good bug spray. With L2 being so sensitive to, well, everything, this could have been a hard one. Good thing I already had a trusted skincare product provider My Mama's Love, and she just introduced Bug-Off-Me, so I picked some up knowing that if her daughter's skin was ok with it, so would L2's and that her products are the best quality and they WORK! (I'm not affiliated with them, I just love-love-love every product I have ever tried and am quick to tell anyone who asks.) Now, I just have to wait for them to put out a sunscreen!

Overall, it was a very fun, but trying weekend. I really need to start realizing that if something isn't working it is usually my attitude that needs to be addressed first. Can't wait to get our family out again!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

L1's BirthStory (As written almost 3 years ago!)

Here it is, the timeline of how our Little One decided to come into this world.

Wednesday morning, I noticed some odd colored discharge (copped it up to the exam the day before.) Mike woke up and went to work around 7. I went back to bed and slept until about quarter to 10. When I got up, I headed to the bathroom thinking about what things needed to be done, and what I was willing to actually do. After using the bathroom, I was standing in front of the sink when I felt a gush. After a few minutes of leaking, I realized it might have been my water breaking. I wasn't having contractions or any other symptoms, so I called my mom and Mike to get their opinions. They said call the hospital and both headed over. I went around gathering up the random things that weren't in the bag yet. Mom and Mike arrived around 11 and we headed to the Women's and Children's Pavilion. When we checked in (oh, and I was having contractions that I wasn't feeling 5 minutes apart.) I had had nothing to eat since the night before. They sent us to a room where we waited. More and more family showed up, and we waited. I was allowed a turkey sandwich and a yogurt.

At 4pm, still nothing was happening, so they started me on Pitocin to try and jump start labor. They were surprised when I refused pain killers of any sort (apparently, going through chemical labor is much worse than natural, and no one does it) and some were even abusive about our decision, calling it stupid and telling me there was no point in being a martyr at some point in the night. We continued to wait until about 9 or 10 when the pitocin was starting to really kick in. We kicked everyone out of the room, and started our night.

After a LONG night of steadily worsening contractions, a lovely sign of constant excruciating back pain told us that L1 was head down, but faced backwards. Straight into my tailbone, and was stuck there. At 7 am, we were only dilated to a 7, and the contractions that didn't stop, also weren't doing anything helpful. The Dr came to us,  to tell us that there was very little chance of things progressing if I wasn't given a chance to relax, and suggested an epidural. By then, Mike had been digging his fists into my back for 5 hours, and I was really having a hard time, especially being that I had had a tiny lunch in over 24 hours. So we said go for it. As soon as that thing was in, I was asleep. They kept trying to ask me things, and I would only answer every few I was so worn out. All they kept saying was how amazing it was to make it that far with L1 facing wrong and on pitocin. I am sure they said it just to help me justify the choice to go to the epidural, but I really wasn't happy about that.

At about 11am on Thursday, the Dr came in again to say that there were some irregularities in L1's heart rate, and they were getting concerned that L1 was having to hard of a time with the labor. Also, we were showing signs that the cord was wrapped around something (a shoulder or hand, not neck they said) and that the placenta had also seemed to have stopped functioning properly. A c-section was going to be needed.

So, we were prepped and sent in. They started the meds to numb me from the chest down, but I started feeling pressure and some sharp pains. It turns out that L1'S heart rate had dropped sharply, and they had started the procedure before I was completely medicated. The extra dose they popped in at the last second to help that only succeeded in making me go numb from the neck down after they had L1 out and were sewing me back up. Mike was with me, and told me it was a boy. Our L1 was here! And he had A TON of hair! Mike trimmed the umbilical cord (couldn't do the initial cut, with me open on the table) and watched the bath and check up. He was 9 lbs 1 oz, 21 in, and scored an 8 on the APGAR scale in the first minute and a 9 at the 5 minute mark (the best is 10.)

Afterwards, I still couldn't feel my arms (I hit myself in the face twice for having no control), so Mike did all of the initial feeding (had to do bottle), bath, and held him the entire time. Just when I was starting to feel again, they moved us to a different room (normally you stay in the same room, but they put all the c-section moms together to be watched closer) and I was able to hold L1 in the move.

We stayed in the hospital until Sunday after lunch. L1 has jaundice, so we have to really work to get him to wake up to eat, and play with him to stimulate movement to expel himself (fill the diaper). He has also been referred for his hearing. We know he can hear, but he didn't react they way they like for his hearing test. So, we will head to the Dr in the next day or two to have him checked again. I have a large incision that needs to heal, so I can't really do anything but take care of myself and most of what L1 needs. My sister is coming to help with the rest, and if I start telling you about how great Mike has been about all of this, I start to cry. Even without all the hormone stuff, I am amazed at what having a baby has done to Mike. But, this is long enough, and now I am crying thinking about Mike. So more about him, and everything else later.


This week is my 5 year anniversary of being married to my awesome husband. It is also L2's 1st birthday. It is a week filled with contemplation and reflection.

My first son was born 2 years after my husband and I got married. We had great plans to forgo interventions and have a natural birth in the hospital. Circumstances kept us from taking the birth class we wanted to prepare ourselves, and events of my labour took us further from the path. Straight to the operating table and my cesarean. Most people know the story. And that when we were expecting again, did everything possible to keep from repeating that horrible experience.

So, L2 was born at home. Attended by a midwife and a doula. But mostly, it was my husband and I focused on the labor and the process of bringing our child into the world.

I labored for over a day. I spent much of that time trying to forget the pain. Ignore it, not let it have control of me. It wasn't until 24 hours in, when I realized that L1 was about to spend his first night away from us, that I knew I needed to stop trying to not feel pain. It wasn't a pain. This was my body doing what I had looked forward to, expected, needed it to do since my first "failed" labor. Until that point, my body had always failed me. I was always too fat, too slow, too ugly...too whatever. It was that moment that it was MY BODY. Mine. And I could make it what I wanted it to be. All while sitting on the toilet wishing this baby would just come already! I know many women had to learn to let go, I had to learn that I am responsible for me. So, I would tell myself it was time for a contraction, and then picture myself opening, my baby being born. This was my turning point. Things finally took off, and L2 was born a few hours later. It was amazing. 

L2 continued to be a driving force in recreating myself. He was dairy intolerant, and because we breastfed, I cut dairy. A few months later the symptoms still hadn't cleared up, and had gotten worse. Not only was there a rash, but he stopped smiling, laughing, reacting. So, we (by which I mean "I", as we were of course still exclusively breastfeeding) cut soy and gluten. And low and behold, we had our happy boy again! The side affect for me: loosing weight, fast. I realized that though I had gone down in weight each pregnancy (eating better for baby!) that all of a sudden, I was loosing more. And I LIKED It. So for the first time ever, I felt like moving. I hate the E word.

So, I slowly started asking around. I found a Zumba instructor willing to let me participate with my chunky +20lb boy. I never needed to take him, but having it be a possibility broke down my last excuse. So goes that story.

I write all this to tell you that I cried today. During our cool down. I though about being in labor last year.. 2 years before that, I was expecting my first child. 2 years earlier even, I was preparing for my wedding day. And today I was caring for myself as I never had before. I stretched further, knowing I had grown much more than just my baby turning one tomorrow. I was a new person. I am a wife, a mother. More than that, I am me, and only I can decide what that means.

I had so much more I wanted to say, but just don't know how to put it all into words. You know what? I forgot to thank the academy. And by that, I mean every person who has touched my life and helped make me who I am. Husband, kids, dad, mom, sister, friends. Even the OB's that attended my first pregnancy (hey, who knows if I would have learned so much if we hadn't had such a bad time?) or the first person who ever made fun of me. Ok, not her. She can stay in the lost corners of my memory.

Now. What comes next? I'm ready.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Nursing, Un-Weaning, and (a kind of) Vacation.

I love breastfeeding. I'll be honest, most of the time it gives me a feeling of accomplishment, natural connection, even a little bit of superiority (nothing against mom's who can't, I am blessed to be able to provide the best for my babies) and a truckload of gratefulness that I have a way to calm almost any situation. My experience breastfeeding has been mostly easy, just a few bumps on the way. I nursed as soon as possible after my c-section for L1 (though not before they made my husband give him a bottle of formula, and tried to tell us to give him the bottle first every time, and then the breast. So glad I knew better!) and my HBAC (home birth after cesarean) made for easy breastfeeding initiation with L2. I worked the first 5 months after L1 was born, and pumped while being gone 10 hours a day. Not once did we need to supplement with formula.

L1 was still nursing when I got pregnant with  L2, and showed no signs of slowing. He nursed frequently through the pregnancy and I was glad for a way to slow him down so I could rest. After L2 was born, L1 nursed even more, waking more times at night than the newborn. We kept this up for about 3 months before deciding something needed to change. We cut down to once during the night and nap time. When even that was too much for me, we encouraged him to cut those out. The transition was fairly smooth, though I felt horrible that I couldn't handle nursing both until they were ready to stop on their own.

Fast forward 7 months. L1 hadn't nursed since December (it was now July) and L2 was still nursing just as much as ever during the day but had cut down at night since starting baby led solids at 9 months. But, we were in the mode of going broke, moving, and planning a vacation that was gifted to us to see family in southern California. We were stressed, and the boys were starting to show it.  So one night, in the midst of a screaming tantrum that had reached over an hour with no relief from any of our usual methods I leaned in close and just whispered "Would you like to nurse?" L1 suddenly took a deep breath: "Nurnies? (hic) Ok." and came to rock with me and tried to nurse. He didn't remember how, but it allowed him to calm down and reconnect with me. When we finish, he gave me a big hug, patted my cheek and whispered "I love you mommy. And nurnies." I had a new ace in my pocket.

At the end of July we stayed with my mom while we moved. While it made things easier to not have L1 and L2 underfoot, it meant that Daddy was at work all day, then moving a load or two in the evening. That left very little daddy time, and no time for my husband and me. That was hard on all of us. I started nursing L1 even more to quell the emotional breakdowns. And more. When the moving was done, the boys and I flew to California. Without Daddy. Then it started. L2 wants to nurse All. The. Time. I can't handle it. We are surrounded by helpful, caring family, but still he screams for nurnies. Especially at night, when it is even harder to nurse because his relearned latch is lost in his exhaustion and IT HURTS. We are only 2 nights into the 5 without daddy, and I am almost ready to hitchhike home. Instead, I am going to dig deep, lean heavily on the expansive family ready and willing to help (for now!) and take everyone to the Natural History Museum and hope the dinosaurs will entertain L1 enough to keep his mind off missing daddy.