Posted in J

What is There to Do?

We’ll be getting ready to go on vacation soon and thank the stars! I have two of the most bored kids ever living in my house.  This week away promises a reprieve to the day after day of being able to do almost anything they want (the horror). It is almost the end of July and we have not yet been to the coast, it’s true. I have been somewhat envious of the status updates being posted to my Facebook of friends on their day trips to the beach, with or without kiddos. That being said, I am only somewhat envious because I do not love New England beaches. Yes, they are pretty in pictures with their lighthouses and seagrass, but they feel horrible in the actual water. The Atlantic Ocean is the coldest, murkiest ocean imaginable. If you can get in up to your bellybutton before dying of hypothermia, consider yourself lucky. It is not refreshing, it’s tortuous (to me).

When I entered the Pacific Ocean waters of Oahu, Hawaii, I was instantly spoiled. This is what ocean water should feel like, I thought to myself–I knew something good existed. All those sea turtles and dolphins and whales couldn’t be wrong, right? Then I felt the beautiful gulf coast water, and I knew heaven exists and that God is good. I cannot explain how much I am looking forward to visiting that coast again soon.

But back to the kids. We are kind of protective of our boys. We live close to a big park, but we also live very close to one of the most dangerous cities in the Unites States, and this park borders that city. There are shootings every night, and I wish I was over-exaggerating, but sadly I am not. We have lived in this house for less than a year now, and I guess we didn’t take into consideration that we weren’t going to allow them to visit this park unsupervised when we purchased a home with a pretty small backyard.

If I get asked “So what can I do?” one more time this summer, we’re going to have problems. My child specifically, whenever a hand-held screen is removed from his possession, is likely to ask this question within the next 60 seconds. He also will probably tell you how bored he is now. No, son. It takes a lot more than 60 seconds to get bored. You are not allowed to be bored until you after you have spent hours playing with everything you own at least once.

I lived on a short street growing up. I remember riding my bicycle up and down that short street. I remember digging for worms. What for? No clue. I don’t know what I was planning on doing with the worms, but they didn’t stay put under the turned-over pail I kept them in on the grass, anyway. I laid in the grass and watched clouds go by. I played “Cars” where I would sit on the front stoop and try to guess the color of the next car that would pass by. I would get a point every time I was right. I also used up reams up paper on drawings. I liked to draw and color and this would amuse me for hours. I am young enough to have had a game system growing up (Nintendo), but it wouldn’t consume me. Yes, my sister and I would go through spurts of time when that was all we wanted to do. But it wouldn’t last forever and we would be back outside, either in the snow or the sun, stretching our legs and throwing softballs at each other.

My son has the same outside available to him, but he doesn’t want to do anything except play video games with the occasional break to get in our swimming pool, if it is nice out. We have our own freaking swimming pool, you guys. He does love swimming, I will give him that. But he loves his games more. He might love his games more than me, and this kid loves his mother, let me tell you. And since I have a 6 week old baby who keeps me busy feeding her around the clock, I am useless to help them. The only reason I am typing this right now is because her father took her out of the house for a couple of hours. I am watching the clock just to make sure I leave myself enough time to take a shower and get dressed before the baby comes back and needs my nipples again.

It just seems stupid that we have to fly 8 states away in order for the kids to have something to do. We have to take them to an ice rink. Let them have a friend over or go over a friend’s house. We have spoiled freaking kids. We did what we said we would never do. They don’t have simple lives. I wonder all the time if my son is going to be able to look back on his childhood as a simple time, and be able to tell his kids the free ways he had fun growing up. I don’t think so. I think he is going to remember having to be driven out of our neighborhood to a park or playground or a lake in order to have any simple fun. And we do that–but this summer has been hard with a new baby who requires oxygen support.

So we’ll see how vacation goes. We are planning on taking the hand-helds away once we de-plane so we can just enjoy each other. Should I take a tally of how many “what can I do’s?” when we get in the car without electronics?

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Posted in breastfeeding, CG, J

Heart, Lung, Belly, and Milk

Four weeks ago, I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl I’ll call “CG.” CG isn’t my first baby, but it’s been 11 years since my last baby, so I’m practically starting over. My first baby, “J,” was a sensitive child who had a hard time adjusting to life outside the womb. I spent most of the beginning of his life trying to soothe him, and to a degree, still do. Well, my little CG is starting out life a bit sensitively also, though in a different way.

In the weeks leading up to her birth, I had numerous medical appointments for her to monitor her heart arrhythmia. I was at one hospital or another 3 or more times a week between the heart appointments and my normal weekly maternity visits. Her condition cleared up about three weeks prior to her birth and we thought we were clear.

Then she was born.

And she aspirated meconium.

And her lungs are more sensitive than average so she had a longer than average NICU stay.

So we’re still working through the lungs issue, and I’m still visiting the doctors all the time, and all of these other issues are coming up. She has reflux. Her brain is too immature to tell her lungs to keep breathing all the time. Now they’re telling me her digestive system is too immature to process cow milk protein and soy.

I can’t wait for the day when the medical community will agree that my baby girl is perfect just the way she is and stop making follow-up appointments. It kind of sucks that I have this beautiful baby in my arms and she looks like an angel. She is tiny and new and pink and lovely.

And the doctors keep finding things wrong with her. So depressing.

And on top of all of that, I have been having problems breastfeeding her. The first two weeks in the NICU were a nightmare. I wasn’t allowed to breastfeed her all the time. I got told “she is too tired to nurse.” They put feeding tubes down her throat through her mouth and her nose and fed her that way. They threatened me with formula if I couldn’t nurse her in time when they did let me feed her because they had to keep her on schedule. You can imagine how well that turned out. I spent the first two weeks of her life driving back and forth from the hospital, sitting at her crib side, expressing breast milk, and trying my best to nurse her. I got to the point where when they did offer to let me nurse her, I declined and gave her my bottled breast milk because I didn’t want to tire her out, cause her to aspirate milk through improper nursing, or not get enough milk into her if I couldn’t get a good latch.

We’re four weeks in now. Little CG is home so I don’t have to fight off any well-meaning NICU nurses. I am trying my best to breastfeed her. I also express milk as much as I can to keep my supply up, though it’s probably not enough. I have been experiencing painful latching, so I visited a lactation consultant at the hospital where I gave birth. It’s getting better–the pain goes away a few moments after the initial latch. I’m reading a lot about breastfeeding online and watching videos on YouTube to help me out. I still feel like we’re having difficulty getting a deep latch, but we’re working on it.

Now I have to deal with the allergy, so I’m cutting dairy out of my diet. Talk about a miserable thing to have to cut. When the pediatrician told me to cut dairy I said “Done.” This was no problem. So for a week I cut out anything with milk in it… Or so I thought. A week later, the pediatrician asked me if I knew milk was in bread.
Zoinks!
Why no. No I didn’t.
So now I’m stressing over every label to keep milk out of my breast milk. She told me even trace amounts will affect the baby, so that’s even more stressful. I had no idea milk was in so many foods that I eat.

This idealistic image of parenting this new baby girl as an experienced parent has gone out the window. I’m lucky to just hold it together.