Snuggle All My Bugs Together

imageChuck is adjusting pretty well. I would say that being 2.5, a precocious little genius and accustomed to being the constant center of attention could all prove to be pretty big hurdles to scale when it comes to adding a baby brother to the mix. But, she loves him, she “just LOVES him SOOO much!” Her words. And actions, as she tries to smother him with All.The.Love!

When Hfoe brought C to the hospital to meet her new comrade, he also brought the Calico Critters and school that I had gotten ahead of time to be the gift her baby gave her. It was a glorious plan in my mind. She would be so enamored with the baby and then he/she would give her a gift, too?! Wow, this sibling thing is pretty awesome! I also thought the little critters would be a perfect “sometimes” toy for her to play with only when I was nursing the baby, thus keeping her both occupied with the “special” toy and blissfully unaware that I was trapped on the couch, plugged in, unable to reprimand her for whatever she happened to be getting into at the moment. The best laid plans…

As they walked into our hospital room, I had baby Bug in his bassinet so the first thing C saw wasn’t HER mama holding a different kid. I squealed with delight to see her and invited her to join me on the bed. We hugged and cuddled and then she said, “Mama, what’s that?” “That’s your brother, G. Would you like to hold him?” “Sure, Mama.” So, hubs took baby boy out of his cozy bed and we cocooned Chuck in pillows as we laid him precariously in her lap. She poked him and kissed him and examined his tiny face…and then she was done. She wanted to explore the interesting hospital room. But, first, the gift! “OOOOH, cooool!” She loved it! That’s it. I was a genius and my plan was going to work perfectly.

Then, Buddy started to cry. I saddled him up to my boob to nurse (at which he was already a pro) and I didn’t think anything of it. She had her magical toys, after all. Oh the sob that broke from her sweet little gut just about broke my heart. I have actually never heard my girl make that sound before. “Nooo, don’t give him milkies! That’s my milkies, mama! Why, mama?!” It makes me tear up writing this two months later. I had no idea that it would hurt her so much to see me share her special mama time with another baby, without ever asking her if it was ok.

C only gets nursed to sleep now, so I guess I didn’t think it would be that big of a deal to her. I was very wrong and it has taken a long time to make things right. After lots of explaining that he can’t eat the food she can and involving her help to get burp rags while I breastfeed, she now shares milkies with her brother without a fight. In fact, on occasions when Hfoe has to work late and baby Bug is awake when I put his sister to bed, she will ask to “do milkies all together…so I can snuggle all my bugs.” I love her terminology to describe our tandem nursing sessions. It is such a sweet, sweet time where she caresses his head and he holds her finger and I stare at them both in the dark. I know that C will likely be weaning completely soon, so I am cherishing what little time of this we have left.These two precious little beings, my snuggle bugs, all together, doing their “milkies”…I never want to forget it.

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Baby Bug’s Birth Story

Baby Bug's Birth Story

Photo By Vicki Putnam Photography


As I sit here nursing the newest little love of my life, I realize I haven’t blogged in over three months! I have written dozens of editorials in my mind over that time ranging in topics from bad drivers to vaccines. But, since my hormonal mommy self is likely to incite some outrageous commentaries with those topics (and that same hormonal mommy self can’t handle criticism atm!), I thought I would just talk about the most exciting thing that has happened to me in a long time….I became mama to the most perfect little boy. Here is Baby Bug’s birth story!

I guess I should start this story in October. My body decided to be an over achiever and jumpstart pre-term labor on October 19. I was 34 weeks along and definitely nowhere ready to have a premie in my life. It was a Sunday and Hfoe happened to be working. I took the nugget to church and after service we headed to the farmer’s market. I started cramping, but didn’t really think much of it since I had been having prodromal labor for a couple of weeks and just thought maybe this is how my second term pregnancy was going to go. After the farmer’s market we went to the grocery store for a few things and that’s when the contractions picked up the pace. I decided we needed to leave quickly and go home to lay down to try to stop them. That’s exactly what we did and after an hour long nap, I was woken up by severe contractions. I called Chuck’s babysitter to come watch Chuck because I knew I needed to go in. Her mama drove me to the hospital and I was admitted. They monitored me for several hours and watched as the contractions got stronger and closer together. We called the hubster and he headed uptown toward L&D. Breathing through each contraction, I just kept praying that the contractions would stop and that bug would cook a little longer. Once it had been a little bit of FOREVER, they finally decided to give me a shot to mature baby’s lungs and another shot to slow the contractions. It worked almost immediately and within the hour I was no longer contracting. Hooray! No early baby today! Take that uterus!

I went home on orders to stay in bed or at least on the couch as much as possible. Really? With a two year old? There is only so much Mickey Mouse Clubhouse we can endure! But, I did my best and at 36 weeks, I was set free! I realize some mamas are on bed rest for months and I have no earthly clue how they due it. Mad props to you, ladies! Once I was off bed rest, I rushed around trying to prepare things for the imminent arrival of our newest addition. Because of course he/she was coming any day now since he/she had tried to break out early, right? Wrong. One week passed. Then another. All the while my blood pressure was starting to creep up and then it sky rocketed like it did when I was pregnant with C….a sure sign of Pre-eclampsia. An induction date was set for Friday, November 21 and my whole soul cried. I so, so, soooo didn’t want to go the induction route again this go round. It seemed so unnatural with Chuck and it took FOREVER because my body was completely closed and NOT ready to have a baby. This time, however, my doctor assured me it wouldn’t be so bad. When I went in for my 38 week appointment on November 17 I was already at a 1.5 and about 30% effaced. He stripped my membranes and said to walk, and walk, and walk if I didn’t want to be induced via pitocin on Friday. So, I did just that. I walked the neighborhood, the grocery store, the park. Charlie was DONE with walks! Monday ended and the contractions weren’t progressing. Tuesday came along and nothing was happening. I took C to dance class where one of the other moms professed the benefits of castor oil. I said no. Gross. That stuff is the devil.

But, desperation makes a crazy person do crazy things. So, I downed it in a glass of orange juice, willed myself not to puke and bounced on my birth ball. Chuck was napping so I wasn’t a completely psychotic, negligent parent! But, alas, NOTHING. The clary sage was diffusing in my house. The black cohosh had been consumed (which is grosser than castor oil, btw!) And I had done more walking in 48 hours than I had the rest of my pregnancy! Still, the contractions were painless and sporadic.

At Chuckles’ bedtime we cozied up in her chair for milkies just like always. I rocked and nursed her having no clue that this would be our last solo nurse-in. Because as I sat there rocking my sweet girl, those contractions finally started getting their act together! I laid her down about 8 pm, the same time I received a text from Hfoe saying he was on his way home from work. I called him and said he better get a bag ready when he got home because I thought we were going in! I called our besties who live next door to make sure Mama Jess could come stay with C. I got my things together, walked, took care of the dogs, walked, ate something, walked. By the time hubs got home, there really wasn’t much of a question. We were going to labor and delivery! When we got there, I was checked in and the nurse said I was about a 2 and my contractions were about 3-5 mins apart. I could walk the halls to see if things would progress naturally, I could go home or we could wait and see if the doctor would want to use medicine to progress things. I was not too excited about the idea of pitocin, especially since this time I had gotten to actually start labor on my own, but I definitely wasn’t going home without a baby just to come back in two days to get pitocin anyway! So, we walked….Have I mentioned I walked A LOT?! We walked the halls for an hour. Incidentally, one of my friends had just given birth to her sweet baby girl and was staying just a few rooms down, so we went to visit her. She is the quintessential “oils lady” and gave me some concoction to rub on my wrists and belly to speed things along. I think it worked! When we went to check back in with the nurse, I was at a 3. By this time it was 1 in the morning. I told Hubs it would probably take several more hours so he should go home and get a little sleep. He had been working all the previous day after all, and C would probably freak out if neither of us was home when she woke up. SO, he did.

I slept a little here and there and around 5:30 the nurse came in to check me again. I was only at a 3.5, but my water broke right before she examined me. I called Hfoe and told him he should probably come back to the hospital. He did. My labor coach was back just in time for the real business to start! He rubbed my back and held the sprayer on my belly as I moaned in the hot shower. It felt really nice, but it was getting my hair all wet and that annoyed me. Type A all the way, baby! Ha! So, my idea of the perfect labor in the shower wasn’t quite what I thought it would be. Back to plan B. My birth ball was my favorite tool during Chucks labor so I bounced and rolled and breathed on it again. It was just what I remembered, but the pain got pretty intense once I hit 5 cm. I looked at Hfoe, kind of asking for “permission” to get the epidural. He said the same thing he said the first time around, “You have already proven how strong you are. Don’t NOT get it to prove something.” So, I got it. It was 9 am when the juices started flowing (I was a 5), 9:20 when it finally kicked in (still a 5) and at 9:40 I told the nurse I felt pressure. She LAUGHED at me and said “yeah, ok. I will check you in a sec.” I said, “No, now!” She did. She wasn’t laughing anymore. “Don’t push! I have to get the doctor here!” Now, my hospital is 20 minutes from my doctor’s office. He RACED to get there. He ran into the room at 9:55, gloved up, surveyed the situation and said, “there’s a baby! Push!” I did…four times! Just like with C, Dr. N told me to put my hands down and pull out my baby. And at 9:59am on November 19, exactly a month after our pre-term labor incident and exactly nine months to the day after we lost Baby Blue, I got to help deliver my third child and lay him on my own chest like I did his sister. Seriously, AH-MAZ-ING! Because we didn’t know ahead of time whether we were having a boy or girl, Dr. N ask Hfoe if he wanted to tell me what it was. Just as he announced, “We have a SON!” I reached down to feel a completely different anatomy than what I was accustomed to! What a beautiful surprise. He scooted himself down my chest to nurse right away and his latch was perfect enough to leave any 3 month old envious.

It was seriously the easiest most enjoyable labor and delivery ever. I told Hfoe that we could have 15 kids if I could be assured their deliveries would all go like this one! He’s still processing that.

Thank you all for your prayers and blessings during an oftentimes, difficult pregnancy. The outcome is perfectly divine!

“Behold, children are a gift of the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward.” Psalm 127:3image

 

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Due date

Photo by Vicki Putnam Photography

Photo by Vicki Putnam Photography

From the moment the home pregnancy test shows that a new bundle is on her way, most moms-to-be  are already trying to figure out the day not so far in the future they will get to meet the new love of their life. The due date. Not always so scientifically accurate and little daunting at times, that red circle on the calendar at least gives the aches and pains of pregnancy a foreseeable climax, a GOAL. But, what if that pregnancy ends before the due date? What if your baby dies? Then that day, the circle that is still prominent on the calendar, becomes a dreaded moment in the future. It’s a day of thoughts of what could have been. It’s a day that, for me, all the feelings I had managed to sort through over the last 8 months come flooding back, with force.

Blue’s due date is today, Tuesday October 14. I kept telling myself that because this is the day before my 32nd birthday and because it falls right in the middle of my favorite month of the year, I would be able to distract myself right out of being sad. And then, I went to Bible study and “my girls.” They just know how to get the ugly cry right out of ya! So, the truth has been revealed and it is…I am so sad. I miss my baby. I miss the little girl I know she would have been and I miss that I won’t ever get to hold her or feed her or smile at her or tell her sweet little face that I love her. I won’t get to watch her and Chuck play and fight and squabble over clothes like sisters do. I won’t get to buy her first Halloween costume or take newborn pictures. Saddest to me is that I won’t get to see her whole and perfect and living….HERE.

I was so lovingly reminded by “my girls” that all of those things, all of that sadness is relevant…here. Here in this life, I will miss her. I will mourn her and she will be a tiny hole in my heart. But, some glorious day, I will get to hold her and see her and tell her I LOVE her, in Heaven. When my Heavenly Father can hold me and tell me himself that HE loves ME, I will be able to do the same for my baby. Until that day, I will hold fast to the promise that Jesus made to His disciples, that He would go and prepare a place for them (and me) in His Father’s house, so that someday, they (I) may dwell there with Him. (John 14:3) What a beautiful promise that is!

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MommyCrunch is due with baby #2! Essentials Giveaway!

October is a month full of ups and downs in the Crunchy house. We are touched by mourning as baby Blue’s due date comes and passes on the 14th without the warmth of her squishy little body to hold. But, at the same time we are filled with anticipation as we enter the final stretch before Bug makes his or her first appearance. October is also Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month, as well as my birthday month. Because all these things culminate in such a small stretch this 31 days, I decided to celebrate Blue’s short life and rejoice at Bug’s impending arrival with a giveaway. How better to make yourself happy than to make someone else’s day?! So, here it is…three products that I have grown to see as essentials with Chuck and now, I pass this knowledge to you. The list is obviously not exhaustive, but it is definitely a start!

Due With #2 Giveaway

 

Viva La Cloth diapers

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The “Buster” by Viva La Cloth is the perfect cloth solution for any newborn.

 Fitting 5-15+lbs, the Buster is our answer to the issue of babies outgrowing the absorbency of a mini one-size diaper before the diaper size itself.

• Super soft and durable double layer PUL – trim fitting style won’t overbulk your little one

• Modified All-In-One style diaper in five color choices – with a double opening full length pocket – speeds drying time and lets you customize the diaper’s absorbency level

• The entire diaper is lined in bamboo terry for extra absorbency 

• Sewn-in soaker starts you with alternating thirsty sandwiched layers of Bamboo Terry, Microfiber and Heavy Bamboo Fleece

• Stuff the full length pocket with a doubler or an insert for more absorbency as your older baby wets more – or for heavier wetting newborns too

• Crossover waist snap closure has snaps edge to edge to combat wing droop and 3 rise settings to fit even the tiniest of babies

• Machine wash warm or hot / tumble dry low or line dry

Winner will choose their color option.

Abbecote

abbecoté is a lifestyle Brand that inspires women to dress simply and comfortably while radiating Confidence, Dignity and Grace; even under pressure. We’ve created a Smart, Stylish, and Sophisticated apparel and accessories that allow women to establish their own signature look.  

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The abbewrap. Each piece can be Effortlessly worn in multiple ways; on its own, mixed and matched with other abbecoté styles, or with your existing wardrobe. This single item is easy to wear and flexible, adapting to your many activities, moods, and changes throughout your evolving life. Our abbewrap doesnt require much from you, but it gives a whole lot back! Wherever you go, whatever your mood; the abbewrap have got you covered!
MommyCrunch loves the abbewrap as a stylish wardrobe option for cover during nursing as well as an unexpected addition to keep mom and baby warm!
Winner will choose their color option.

Motherlove

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With Motherlove, you can depend on consistent quality products crafted only with the purest ingredients and certified organic herbs. Each of our formulas are time proven and backed with integrity and an intimate knowledge of herbal remedies.

The nipple cream is a life saver for moms with new little nurslings!

Prize package contents to be determined by Motherlove.

 

Win it! One lucky fan will win one of each of these. Use the Rafflecopter form below and GOOD LUCK!

ARV of entire raffle prize estimated at $110.

Disclosure: This giveaway is sponsored by Viva La Cloth, Abbecote and Motherlove. MommyCrunch & participating blogs are not responsible for prize fulfillment. This giveaway is not affiliated with Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram. This giveaway will end October 26th. Giveaway is open to anyone in the US, 18+ & older. Winners will be posted via Rafflecopter. No purchase is necessary & void where prohibited by law! Have questions? Email caragayle82@gmail.com

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Firsts on Firsts on Firsts

The single most covetable part about being a mother, in my opinion, is the privilege granted to me to be the eyes that witness and the ears that hear all the firsts that come from this tiny little human. It seems like every week is equivocal to a moon landing in one form or another. Chuckles had a big couple of weeks this month! Between her leaps in vocabulary and great first time experiences, I am chalk-full of accounts for September.

"Hey Bear! Look at me, Bear!"

“Hey Bear! Look at me, Bear!”

I guess we really started the month at the end of LAST month with a trip to visit the cousins in Oregon. Chuck loved waking up every morning to the giggles of her built-in family playmates. There is just something so special about watching your kid bond with their life-long buddies. Knowing that these tiny people will grow and go their separate ways over the years, but will always be able to come back together to reminisce about breakfast around the table with “not-so-hots” and cousin craft nights that got a little TOO glitter-heavy makes my heart so happy. While we were in Oregon, we decided to take a little detour to see some friends who had recently moved from our area up that way. What a refreshing time of fellowship with some sweet friends whom we have missed! Somewhere along the way, we decided to make the stop at Wildlife Safari. Have you heard of this place or a place like it? It’s a drive through zoo where the animals roam (mostly) free. I remember going to a place like that in Arkansas called Arbuckle Wilderness when I was little and it made quite the impact on my aspiring Zoologist self. However, I don’t remember it being THAT cool! Wildlife Safari turned me into a giggly kid and turned my giggly kid into quite the chatterbox! “Hi Bear! Hey, look at me bear!!” Her mantra of the drive has now become a Crunchy house catchphrase because it made us laugh endlessly while in the park. Her favorite animal in the park was the “scary chicken” that kept coming up to the window for food…of course this was an emu, but “scary chicken” actually seems more fitting. Needless to say, Chuck’s first time at the drive-thru zoo was a roaring success!

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This is her reaction for the Frozen float in Mickey’s Soundsational Parade at Disneyland….You’d think she’d appreciate my rendition.

Another first for this growing kid of ours recently has been her usage of certain phrases, correctly, that send us into stitches. C has always had a great vocabulary and was able to express herself from an early age. But this level of comprehension (and wit) is new. For instance, she, of course, loves “Frozen.” Like it has for every other two-year old girl on the planet, Disney’s latest princess flick has found it’s way into our sweet girl’s heart as an instant favorite. She would listen to the soundtrack on repeat if allowed. So, it stands to reason that her papa and I know ALL the words to one notable song in particular. C has decided, though, that our sing-along sessions just don’t do the film justice and as we head into the hook with great gusto, our dear girl will shout, “Hold it!” with her hands held up and a furrow on her brow. Kills us every time. In addition to her lofty musical critiques, she has crafted quite the imaginary scenarios of which we are expected to partake….and know all the rules. One example of this is the tea party she likes to host on a daily basis. The cups must face a certain direction and we must only eat cookies (not biscuits) off the plates. If I “eat” something I’m not supposed to, I will receive a stern, “No mama, like this.” from my bossy strong girl. My favorite phrase at the moment, though, is “I no hafta (fill in the blank), mama.” The most common blank-filler is “I no hafta nap now,” but you can also fill in with “eat that” or “clean that” or “do that.” While I know at first read this seems like she is talking back and perhaps in need of some nose on the wall time,  it’s actually funny because she is such a little mini-me that her inflection and tone make her sound EXACTLY like my “persuasive” voice. When I am trying to convince Hfoe that I don’t really need to clean the bathrooms today or that I don’t really “hafta” cook dinner tonight….my tiniest ears are listening and mimicking ME! It’s both a funny and humbling reminder!

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First Fish!!

We had a proud moment first while we were all in Colorado this month for hunting season. Since Hfoe harvested his elk on his second day out in the woods (thank you, Jesus for a full freezer for the next year!), Chuckles and I got to enjoy a little more family time with him than we were expecting. On one of those days, we decided to head down to the community pond at my grandma’s cabin and try C’s luck at fishing. After a couple of slapstick moments of chasing after grasshoppers for bait, we were ready to cast the line. Papa threw out the first cast and asked me to hold tight to the pole, while Chuck, in all her mini-fisher glory, manned the reel. It was truly a group effort…and it paid off! C was so excited as that bobber disappeared under the water and I helped her snag her first little trout. She reeled it in with papa and squealed uncontrollably as it flopped and flipped at her touch! This was one of those moments that, despite her age, I really hope she remembers, at least partly, because it was kind of magical….and a little slimy!

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Kicked in the head by “Brother-Sister”

A couple of my favorite firsts from this month involve C’s “brother-sister.” She got to feel baby kick for the first time as we were laying down to nap one afternoon and then she told the baby “I love you, baby” completely unsolicited for the first time soon after. Talk about melting a mama heart! I sure hope this sweetness continues once the runt is born!

As we head into the last 8 weeks of this pregnancy, I am reminded to take every opportunity to step back and enjoy each of Chuck’s “firsts” because soon we will have another first-timer on our hands. I am most excited to see my TWO babes meet each other for the first time. Now, THAT is sure to be a monumental first for our whole family!

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Being a good big sister, feeding bear.

 

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5 Reasons I’m the Worst Mom Ever

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I try so hard to not complain about this pregnancy. It’s a blessing and miracle in so many ways, not the least of which is that this baby is sticking! I am 28 weeks along and I feel so much more secure knowing that if all H-E-double hockey sticks broke out and this kid decided to make an early appearance, his/her chances are looking pretty good. Beautiful miracle and all considered, there are a couple of not so awesome things about being pregnant for the second (third) time while wrangling a toddler with the attention span of an ape. This leads me to what I have learned are the top ways to be a truly awful mother….at least in my own mind…and why I’m convincing myself it’s ok.

1. Why I am the worst mom ever: Today is day 15 of the last 30 that will include peanut butter in some form at all three main meals for Chuckles. Creativity around here is at an all time low and unfortunately, her dietary experience suffers. If I have to think up a Pinterest-worthy dinner for this two-year old who will likely turn her nose up before a single bite is chewed ONE MORE TIME, I am going to lose it. So, I won’t.

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Why it’s ok: I mean, peanut butter is totally a protein, right? Nevermind the sugar content…I buy organic, natural, have-to-stir-or-you’re-eating-oil peanut butter, so it can’t be that bad…right? Right?

2. Why I am the worst mom ever: I let Chuck have LOTS of independent play. At least that’s what I am telling myself as I lay on the couch concentrating on breathing through the baby laying on my lungs and trying not to fall asleep so C isn’t TOTALLY unsupervised. Let’s just say we have taken the “Montessori” approach to learning around here. In the last three days, she has poured an entire bottle of water on the carpet in an attempt to “play tea party” with Mickey Mouse, drawn a masterpiece on the laminate wood floor with a dry erase marker and drank half her body weight in soapy water after she begged (and I obliged) to stay in the bath just a LITTLE too long…in the middle of the day.

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Why it’s ok: Hey, she’s learning! Water on the floor= you gotta clean up after yourself. Art on the floor= cause and effect (translate: Mama loses her mind a little before she realizes dry erase marker WILL erase from laminate! Yay!) Drinking bath water= learning about anatomy…and digestion…and soap may lead to less than favorable bathroom experiences. So really, I rock as a pre-school teacher.

3. Why I am the worst mom ever: C has learned and implemented some new phrases. She now speaks like a 15 year-old, angst ridden teenager and I have realized it can only be coming from one place. I mean, how many toddlers look their mother in the face and say with all seriousness, “I just can’t do this right now, Mom.” This is in regards to finishing her cereal, I might add. Perhaps telling her “I just can’t do this right now, C,” in reference to sitting in the bathroom with her while she poops and I try not to gag on heightened pregnancy senses was NOT the wisest, but I had no clue she would soak THAT in. Sure, I throw out plenty of “please” and “thank you’s” but THIS is what she latches to? Sheesh.

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Why it’s ok: She’s advanced. Truly, she has to have a pretty quick little brain to pick up on such things, right? I will just keep believing she is a genius with a stellar vocabulary. That belief makes me feel better when she holds up her hand and says, “Hold it, Mom,” as I sing my rendition of “You are My Sunshine.”

4. Why I am the worst mom ever: She seriously knows all the words to at least three Bubble Guppies episodes and 4 Mickey Mouse Clubhouse episodes. Notice I said all the words to the EPISODES…not songs, not rhymes…entire episodes. Apparently, this kid has been allowed to watch so much TV that she can recite the script for her two favorite animated shows…WITH inflection! Who does that? Who lets their toddler watch so much tv that she could play understudy to the characters? Me. Giant, pregnant me. That’s who.

Why it’s ok: One part of classical education, which is the philosophy behind most homeschooling curriculum, is learning through memorization. I like to pretend that someday, when it’s time (in two years or so, eek!) I will be equipped and prepared to homeschool Chuck and her sibling. Well, we are well ahead of the curve when it comes to memorization because let me tell you, C can recite her ABC’s as well as the whole lunchtime scene from Bubble Guppies episode 1.4. Again, I rock as a preschool teacher!

5. Why I am the worst mom ever: I use other people’s children to wear mine out…so I don’t have to. Back in the olden days…read: pre-pregnancy…the kid and I took daily walks or park dates and I would chase her and squeal and slide right alongside her sweet, smiley little self. I pushed her on the swing endlessly and swam with her in the community pool. Now that I am a whale, such physical exertion feels nearly impossible. Or, I’m just lazy. Either way, my friends’ kids have slipped into this role beautifully! She wants to be pushed on the swing? Set up a park date with my friend and her 7 year old! She wants to be chased? Invite her friend from next door to play tag. She wants to swim? Make friends with the preteens at the community pool who, “just LOVE” babies and watch them all screech with delight as Chuck jumps in and swims to them. These are my solutions to my lacking and her rising energy levels.

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Why it’s ok: She’s socializing! She has a more complete calendar than I do and her social skills have benefitted from it. Isn’t it what we strive for as parents? To help our kiddos grow into caring, empathetic, well-adjusted mini- humans? The only way for that to happen is for them to have regular interaction with other littles. So, in essence, my laziness is just giving her a leg up on overcoming potential social awkwardness.

At the risk of judgment from my pre-parent self, I throw all this out there to let other pregnant moms know you aren’t alone. I’m tired, too. I’m not the same mom to Chuck now as I was 8 months ago and although this makes me sad and hard on myself at times, I know this is a season. The next season of our mother/daughter journey will include another little being and I am sure the dynamic will change once more. What doesn’t change, EVER, is my love and adoration for the sweet cheeks that grin up at me to tell me she feels the same. Hopefully, as I try to go with the flow, C will learn to be a flexible, forgiving human as well. If nothing else, she won’t ever be able to tell a therapist that I ruined her childhood by never letting her express herself…even if that was in dry erase marker!

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My Boobas!

Photo credit to Vickie Putnam Photography

“MY Boobas!” This has become the common declaration from Chuck regarding my utters ever since Baby N was born. Our buddies who live next door welcomed their sweet baby girl last month and C has been witness to many breastfeeding sessions since. This has made her keenly aware that she is not the only nursling who enjoys her mama milk. It has also brought up a wave of emotions and concerned inquiries regarding our own soon-to-be squishy in the house! When asked if she will share her “milkies” with the new baby, Chuckles thoughtfully replied, “Mmm, other one!” Meaning, we better find another boob for that kid because she isn’t sharing!

C is almost 2 1/2 and I never thought before I got pregnant with her that I would be an “extended breastfeeding” mother. I grew up in the south where the mentality is, “Once they are old enough to ask, they are too old.” It was seen as strange to continue nursing past 1 year of age and I just thought I would feel the same way. Fast-forward to actually having a kid who, with her history of gastrointestinal problems and failure to gain weight at different points in her short life, NEEDED me to be available to her, no matter if she could ask for it or not.

Chuck took to the boob minutes after birth and has never turned back. Thankfully, I was a milk-making machine, because I know that some aren’t so fortunate. But, we weren’t without our struggles. C had a minor lip tie that has all but resolved itself as she has gotten older, but as an infant it really HURT! Not to mention, I had a period of a couple months where, looking back, I’m pretty sure I had mastitis or something because every time I let down, it was like knives stabbing me in the chest. Every. Single. Time. Worse than both of these, though, was the deep sadness I felt during let down almost every time I would nurse C until she was almost 20 months old. It only lasted about 15-20 seconds, but it was so intense! After hearing another mama talking about this in my birth group, I learned I wasn’t alone. And it had a name! Dismorphic Milk Ejection Reflex (D-MER) is actually not so uncommon. Many women just don’t know to identify it. I understand, now, why people opt out of breastfeeding after the first few months. It’s like torture for some of us! But, I am cheap and stubborn and I am so, so glad for that. Because, after the uphill battle and the pain, we created this really amazing breastfeeding relationship. The milk was always there. It was always the right temperature and the comfort of mama’s arms never failed to be just what she needed. Now, the hurdles of nursing an active toddler were a little more comical and physically difficult to overcome! Ever try to feed someone while their feet are in your face, fingers are up your nose and they are trying to practice a double backflip? THAT is nursing a toddler!

Now that I am pregnant with number two, my milk has pretty much dried up. It’s so sad. But, we still do “milkies” at night (despite the OUCH that accompanies dry nursing!) right before bed because it is the one time of day my girl actually wants to sit and snuggle and SLOW down for the day. And honestly, it has become a time of reconnection for the two of us after our usual day of the back and forth struggles and corrections that come with parenting a two-year old. It’s the time I get to remind her, whether I have milk or not, that my arms are for snuggling her and the thing that has brought her comfort since day one, is still there.

I have been asked several times over the last few months when I think we will stop nursing and my response is always the same…whenever she is ready. I am in no hurry, but I am also ready when she is. W.H.O. (World Health Organization) says the average age of weaning worldwide is between 4-7. While I doubt we will still be going strong when she is in kindergarten, I don’t see any need to cut her off when it’s only beneficial to continue. I mean, why take away her source of anti-bodies and extra nutrition?  I’m hoping that once the baby is born, I will have the same awesome supply I did with C and I can build this same kind of nursing relationship with Bug. As far as logistics…the newborn gets first dibs and C gets the left overs. I doubt she will complain! Although, she might finally get a little chunky since that’s the good, fatty stuff! Now, we just have to work on this sharing thing!

This week is Worldwide Breastfeeding Week. What does your breastfeeding/human milk feeding journey look like? Whether you were able to produce for a day, a year or 3, you are doing good, mama! If you would like to participate in Worldwide Breatfeeding Week, check out http://worldbreastfeedingweek.org/pledges.shtml to find a pledge location near you! As for Chuck and me, we will be at EarthBaby Boutique on Thursday!

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Merry Monday Roundup!

So many of my favorite bloggers do a weekly roundup of things that are making them smile at that moment. I believe imitation is the HIGHEST form of flattery, sooo…here’s my Merry Monday roundup.

1. I put Hershey’s in my coffee…

       Inspired by my husband’s reminiscing around the campfire when we were camping last week about his step dad who made hot cocoa with milk and a chocolate bar, the realization we were out of creamer this morning wasn’t so daunting when I saw this left over Hershey bar in the fridge! Yum!
2. Paper clips…

        Seriously. Ok, a few of you may remember a plea from after the Fourth of July for suggestions on how to get a coin out of a car CD player. Apparently, one little Miss Chuckles decided the car stereo was more “jukebox” than all around entertainment center and shoved what we thought was a quarter in the compact disc slot while we were joyfully roasting marshmallows right next to the car, completely unaware of her shenanigans. Well, a month later we were finally able to get the car in to the shop only to be told the damage would equal about $1100! I find it extremely ironic that this is almost the exact amount of C’s college fund at the moment! Obviously, I’m too cheap for all that mess. I quickly said, “thanks, but no thanks,” and resolved with Hfoe to figure this out for ourselves! And, we did! A few strips of tape, steady hands, a plastic fork and knife and TWO PAPER CLIPS in and we have made not .25, but .30! She had shoved a nickel AND a quarter in the slot and we saved $1100. I’m digging it!
3. The Rain, Rain app…

      Chuck sleeps with a sound machine and although she CAN sleep without it, she goes to sleep much faster WITH it! So, when we had a sleepover with friends a few days ago and forgot the happy wave sounds she’s become accustomed to, I, of course turned to the Apple App Store. This free app not only has five different types of wave sounds, but also boasts rain, transportation, appliances and several other types of white noise for your choosing. I love that the sounds will stay on indefinitely unlike some of the other white noise apps out there and that you can close the app to multitask in other programs while the sound still plays. And did I mention, it’s FREE?!
   

     I’ve gotten big, y’all! This baby bug is determined to be huge and healthy and although that makes me so over-the-moon happy, the ensuing stretch marks and itchy skin are a little less appealing! So, this little sample that has been sitting under my sink for the last few weeks since the “Blogger’s Night In” event, broke out yesterday! And it is so perfect! It glides on my baby bump so smoothly and mess free and it smells just delicious! I have to get more because as you can see, I drained every last smidge from the sample packet!
5. Savannah Guthrie…

     I used to watch the Today Show every morning. This was, of course, before a particular toddler took over morning TV with her love of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Bubble Guppies…my kid watches TV. Oops! It allows me to drink my morning coffee in peace and really, that’s better for everyone. Anyway, I have missed my morning crew! How exciting it was for me to see that one of my favorites of the gang was pregnant! I have been following Savannah Guthrie’s pregnancy journey in snippets since I don’t get to watch the show every morning, but the pieces I have read and pictures I have seen of her growing bump make me happy. She is a normal, weight gaining, maternity clothes wearing, mama-to-be! And she talks about it! All of it. This is so refreshing in the Hollywood baby bubble of “I only gained 10lbs while pregnant and it was all baby.” Yeah right. But this lady, this paragon of pregnant pretty…I appreciate her candidness! 

What’s waking you up happy this Monday morning? I’d love to hear!


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EarthBaby- a Boutique Resource

As a new mom, I remember being so overwhelmed by the endless amounts of information that immediately started streaming my way the day I found out I was pregnant. From controversial topics like circumcision and vaccinations to seemingly benign topics like toy and clothes choices, it was all SO much to take in. At that point, I knew very few in my friend circle who had gone before me into “motherdom” and I would have given anything to have a physical place to just go and learn. I never found such a place before C was born, but there is one in town now!

A couple weeks ago, I was invited to a “blogger’s night in” at EarthBaby Boutique in Sherman Oaks. I took “blogger’s night in” to mean…take a night away from your kidlet and come eat good food while hearing from some info-full speakers. And I did!

First, I have to start off with a little community announcement. If you want to go anywhere in the valley, go early. Parking is generally lame. BUT, this night, I snagged the parking space RIGHT in front of the store! I think that fact is noteworthy all on it’s own!

Once I walked inside, I was so pleasantly greeted by owner Renee and manager Jennifer of this cute, eco-friendly baby boutique. I signed in for the event and took a bit of time to stroll around the store, noting which of my favorite squishy brands they stocked. Best Bottom and Buttons diapers!! Sloomb and Green Toys! I was actually surprised by such a wonderful variety of toys, clothes, diapers, accessories and toiletries for ages birth through early childhood! I truly believe you could shop here for every single baby need you could have and do it Eco-consciously.

Look at that diaper wall!
After touring the store, I ventured into the classroom where we would be hearing from some renowned professionals in their fields. Not only that, but dinner was served followed by my favorite, dessert! 
These ladies know the way to a preggo’s heart!
 
First up, we learned about the Ollie Swaddle. This swaddle was created to enable babies hips to lie in the ergonomically ideal position while still providing the secure feeling that helps them sleep so well. It also has an open end making it possible to use for babies who are being monitored in the NICU with all those wires! Pretty thoughtful, if you ask me!

Naturology LA came to represent their all natural soap and bath line. Everything is safe, non-toxic and even edible (although, I doubt they taste as good as the smell!)

 
My absolute favorite product presentation of the evening was the Mama Strut. Oh my WOW! This baby is made to hold in all your lady parts directly after delivery. There are pouches for hot and cold packs, an adjustable waist to help that fundus shrink and it is completely machine washable. I can not wait to try this out after Bug is born. I remember those first few days after Chuck’s delivery…I felt like I needed to be bandaged up…EVERYWHERE. Well, here it is, the answer!
 
Dr. Elliot Berlin from Berlin Wellness came to talk about natural birthing, prenatal and postnatal care. His associates spoke on the benefits of infant craniosacral therapy. I had never heard of this until that evening, but it makes sense. If a mama goes through quite the trauma during labor, imagine it from the babe’s perspective!
 
After the speakers, it was raffle time! You put a bunch of mama’s and mama’s-to-be in a room and tell them you are going to give away loads of free stuff….the energy level instantly goes up! I even won a few things! I cannot wait to try out this Ollie Swaddle on my own little squish! Also, this butt balm is by Little Doodles, a small work-at-home shop, which I am happy to support. And I am sure baby Bug will love these organic cotton veggie toys by Under The Nile, because Chuck has already tried them out and she loves them!
http://alenessphoto.com/project/babies/
I actually kind of dig this photo taken by Aleness Photo. They do newbies and maternity shoots, too!

This was a pretty great event to introduce the local mommy blogger community to this cute shop on Ventura Blvd. Not only do they carry these awesome products, but they do a myriad of talks and get-togethers on topics ranging from cloth diapers and baby wearing to infertility and essential oils. They have monthly playdate gatherings for the littles, and music maker play times. On August 7 they are even a host for the Great Big MomMe Latch On event to celebrate World Breastfeeding Week! You can find out more about that here. So, really, this is a store, but it is more than that to a new mom. It’s a resource. I highly recommend you check out their class schedule and pop in for one when you can. And at the very least, check out the cute fluff on their walls!

Can’t wait to put this Buttons dipe on Bug’s booty!

Thank you Renee and Jennifer for a wonderful evening and a fun event!

For the month of August, EarthBaby Boutique is offering a referral program. So, when you go, please tell them that Cara from The Mommy Crunch sent you! Then, send your friends and increase your own chances to win a store credit!

Please visit EarthBaby Boutique at
13454 Ventura Blvd.
Sherman Oaks, CA 91423
(818) 917-6193

I was asked to attend this media event where I was fed and provided with some pretty fun complimentary stuff in return for an honest evaluation. As always, opinions are entirely my own.

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Back from the Walking Dead- Tales from the Sleep Deprived

Every night is pretty much the same routine around here. It has been since we exited the fog of those newborn, sporadic sleep hours and entered into a more regimented pattern…somewhere around 6 months. Chuck gets a bath, a teeth brushing, a book, a boob and a good rock in the glider. I cherish this time because I know it’s limited. She’s almost two and half and I know my days of nursing her are nearing an end. It makes me sad, but it makes these moments even more cherished. But, I haven’t always found the joy in this…this routine. 

Chuck has never been a good sleeper. She has always woken many times through the night and except for short periods of growth spurts and intellectual developmental milestones keeping her up, it was usually just because she wanted a snuggle and some mama milk. I was happy to oblige. Usually. I swore I would never be a CIO parent…that’s “cry it out” for those of you just learning the lingo. To me, it was cruel and barbaric to expect this tiny human who relies on you for everything to just magically be able to understand that you aren’t coming when he cries (the only means he has to get your attention) because you believe he needs to learn to “self soothe.” It made me angry, truth be told. I wanted this baby more than anything and dang if I wasn’t going to be everything it needed me to be at all times. I didn’t believe the world should revolve around your child, but I did believe that a certain grace should be extended during the infant stage. Afterall, babies don’t have the mental capacity to tell themselves, “you’re only alone for 8 hours. In the dark. Hungry. With poop on your butt. Suck it up bra. You got this.” No. Babies need mamas and papas to reassure them and nurture them and snuggle them at 2:35 am if that’s what they are requesting. 

Enter zombie phase. 
I remember one particular morning when Chuck was about three months old. She hadn’t slept AT ALL the night before and I had been up with her. Bless Hfoe’s heart, he had to work that day and I am sure his eyelids were like lead on his drive to work. Anyway, I remember making breakfast with C in my baby Bjorn (before I knew the “dangers” of non-ergonomic carriers. For shame!) and she wouldn’t stop crying. She had colic and though she had been fed and changed and cuddled and rocked and worn and shhs’d….NOTHING WORKED! I literally felt like I was going to have a mental breakdown as I stood there looking down at this itsy face with a huge voice that was powerful enough to shake my core. I never once thought about shaking her, thank the LORD, but I did think about how much I wanted to run away. I loved her more than anything else on the planet. But love wasn’t enough. I couldn’t help her and there was no one to help me. She needed sleep. It was that simple. Babies need lots and lots of sleep and neither of us were getting ANY. So, I took a huge, gut busting breath and laid her in her crib, swaddled and full-bellied, whispered in her ear that I loved her and walked away. I closed the door on my poor, screaming baby and I cried the fattest tears of my life listening to her, by herself, for thirty minutes of agony. And it was agony. I don’t believe any mother who has ever let their child cry enjoyed a second of it. It physically hurt me. But then, it was quiet. And she slept. And slept. And slept for the longest nap she had taken to that point. I’d love to say I did too, but I was too busy watching the monitor for movement and listening to it on full volume to make sure I could distinguish her breaths. It was like she needed me to release her to herself, to her own devices to get to dreamland because what I was doing wasn’t working. When she woke, I was still exhausted, but she was like a different kid! My little baby actually seemed rested and it did my heart good.
This wasn’t the beginning of some turning point. In fact, we had at least another year of awful nights and horrible naps because I felt so guilty about the time I let her cry. I just couldn’t do it. I read book after book, tried method after method and nothing, NOTHING worked! I even had a benevolent friend who had paid a sleep consultant for help with her son and she relayed all the info she learned to me. Even the expert advice didn’t work on our non-sleeper. 
When Chuckles was about 22 months old, I hit a wall. Do you know what almost two years of minimal sleep does to a persons mental state? I would argue it rivals water torture. Seriously! Those of you who have experienced it can attest! So, around the 22 month mark I just couldn’t take it anymore. She was in a toddler bed (one of the many things suggested to us to help her sleep better) and she would just get up and cry under her door until we would go in to rock her. I wasn’t breast feeding her overnight anymore thinking that would curb the wake ups. It didn’t. In all my desperate glory, I told Hfoe, tonight was the night. Tonight, when she gets out of her bed, she gets one chance to go back and stay in her bed. If she gets up again, she sleeps in the pack and play and if she cries, she cries. And boy, DID she! It was not pretty. Of course she ended up in the pack and play and of course she screamed. And we laid there listening to it. The horror of it. Surely the neighbors would hear or some mom around the corner would pick it up on her monitor and call CPS to find the child abuser on the block. It was horrendous. And then…she slept. And the next night, she ended up in “the baby bed” again. Screamed, a little less this time. And slept. Night three she stayed in her bed and cried. And slept. By the end of the week the crying ceased, the wake ups ceased and she slept. We all SLEPT! 

Someday, I’m sure she will accuse me of being creepy because of all the sleeping pictures I have of her!

Don’t get me wrong, this has not been a fix-all, never-go-back kind of struggle. We repeat this routine every few months because the kiddo wants snuggles. I get it. I want snuggles too and if she COULD sleep in bed with us, she would have since day one. But she can’t. Because she doesn’t sleep well, between her constant tossing and talking in her sleep, something about being with mama and papa makes her restless. So, dispite my own desire to bed-share, it’s not what’s best for her. But, regardless of how many times we must repeat this THING, it works for us. She isn’t abused or mistreated or emotionally stunted or mentally insecure. In fact, if you ask anyone who knows her, she is probably one of the sassiest, most well-adjusted two year olds you may ever have the pleasure of meeting! 

I guess my take-away from this as I sit here rocking and cuddling my silently nursing, snoozing kiddo is that, Mom, you need to do what your gut is telling you to do. I still feel guilty about and wouldn’t recommend letting your newborn cry it out, but if you need to let your toddler cry, they will survive. If you want to bed-share, do it. If your mama instinct says to get up every time your baby cries, for crying out loud, do that!! I did! Only you and your husband can be the judge of what is healthy for your family. But I warn you, you need sleep, too, you are absolutely not being the best you can be for her if you are a zombie. I know. I have been the walking dead and I am finally back from the grave. It’s pretty wonderful. 
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