The Homemaker and the Washing Machine

My cloth diapers had finally come in the mail. I was skeptical, yet excited to start using them. Before I could prep them, (essentially wash them over and over) I needed to finish all of the other laundry in the house.

A full dark load was in the washer. I pushed the on button and began to select the wash cycle, before letting the machine finish its nice little, "I'm on chime." And then, the machine shut down. No friendly turning off chime, just a sudden, someone pulled the plug, type of shut down. Great, you see, a few months prior, while I was eight months pregnant, this same thing happened. 

I scrambled to find the reset code that the repair man had given us the last time he was here. It didn't work. Quite reluctantly, I called the repair company. I'm going to leave the name out of this blog, but let's just say that the company name may, or may not, rhyme with the word, "Fears." This abrupt shut down had occurred just days before our one year warranty expired. If there was anything I learned from my dad it was, always pay with cash and never waste your cash on a warranty.  If a product is faulty it's going to have it's issues in the first year you own it and (most) products carry a manufacturers warranty of one year. 

Back to the point, once I was able to get through to someone on the phone I was over joyed when I was told a repair man would be out the very next morning. The next day I missed a phone call from a 1-800 number. It was the repair company, an automated message left instructions to call as soon as possible, our appointment needed to be rescheduled. 

I quickly called, trying not to get too worked up. Come to find out, there really was not an appointment available for the time frame we were given. The first customer service person I spoke with, in my opinion simply just wanted to get things done and over with and did not check availability. While this was all rolling around in my head I hear, "Our next available appointment is a week out." Excuse me? What, how many faulty appliances are you selling? I lost my cool, but, I never did raise my voice. I simply kept restating that obviously that would not work. I have a two year old and a new born. There's no way. The worst part of it is, a few months back, we were run through the exact same obstacle corse. Only that time, Tim was the one who lost it. He was able to get put on a list, if anything opened up sooner we would get that appointment. I took the appointment I was given and was fuming. 

I took to social media and used every hash tag and handle that I could on twitter to get the attention of someone. And, I did. I now had my own, "case" and a direct line in which I could speak to the same woman through out the whole process. Our washer was now set to be fixed in just a couple days. 

Great, right? Wrong. Normally I had been running the washer and dryer once a day. Just as soon as I had enough to make a decent size load. As fate would have it, I had been focusing on being in the moment with my girls prior to the washer breaking. So, the laundry had not been done for a couple of days. I had three (dark, light and pink-the pink load is always my favorite) large loads of laundry that had to be done and done soon. I looked up where the nearest laundromat was. That wasn't going to work, it was twenty minutes away and in a somewhat questionable neighborhood. I thought about asking a friend if we could use her washer, but she has a little one too and I didn't want to bother her. 

Light bulb, we were watching our neighbors dog. They were do to get home in the afternoon. I was able to get ahold of our neighbors (who are truly the best neighbors anyone could ask for), and get permission to use their washer. Tim had not left for work yet so I was able to run over and get a load started with out any kids in toe. I set an alarm on my phone and was able to get two loads washed before he headed to work. 

Somewhere in the midst of walking back and forth to keep the loads moving (I would bring them home and dry them in our dryer) I had an epiphany. What a huge blessing this all was. First, our washer broke just days before the warranty was up, the repair would be free. The washer did end up needing a new part. Maybe now, thanks to this repair, we will have no further issues for the life of the washer. Second, I was able to get our clothes washed with minimal effort. While getting the last load taken care of I had Alexandra in the chest carrier (Karoline was napping, I had her in my pocket, via the baby monitor). My imagination wondered ... I pictured myself walking down to the river bank with a bucket of dirty clothes on my head (total Jungle Book vision) with a baby on my hip and a toddler running along side me to clean the clothes. My feet shifted underneath me, the rocks between our houses were lose and were hard to walk on with my basket and extra front weight. I kept going with the little story that was playing out in my head. I was barefoot and had slipped on the muddy banks, there were snakes and spiders and it was going to take all afternoon to wash the clothes. 

My imagination made the whole thing kind of fun. More than that it made me extremely thankful for how blessed we are. What a truly blessed life we live for our biggest, "problem," to be a broken washing machine. I teared up thinking about how silly it was to be so upset that we couldn't get our washer fixed for a week. Yes, it would have been an inconvenience. It certainly is not a necessity and we could have made something work (and we did). My heart was broken thinking about all of the families who would love for their problem to be a broken washing machine. While there I was: I knew what we were going to eat for dinner that day, our house was a nice temperature, we have clean drinking water and a safe home. Our babies are healthy and our family is together. 

When you sit back and look at your problems on a grand scale it allows you to see the light and the blessings in your trials and tribulations. As you read this my hope was that you were able to find the ability to refocus your energy with a problem you are facing and turn it into a positive. There's always a bright side, even if you have to peal back a couple of layers to find it.

The Ins and Outs

The ins and outs of new born life. I thought this was a clever title to talk about breast feeding and cloth diapers in one post, the two do really go hand in hand if you think about it. You now know the purpose of this post. Words like, breasts and poop will be used, you've been forewarned.

While in the hospital after having Alexandra it became quite clear that I was becoming her personal pacifier. As a direct result I didn't even make it home with out extremely sore, um, well, we will just call it like it is, nipples. Guess, I should have added that word to the warning, exit now if it offends you. This blog will only ever exist to document and share my mommy experiences and medical terms are part of that. Anyway, so there I was, extremely sore and not knowing what to do. Then we discovered the miracle that is the pacifier. We call it a, "soothie," since that was the brand of pacifier they had at the hospital, creative, I know. After figuring out that she could suck on something other than mom that made things a bit easier. Jot this down as another, "mistake," "lesson learned," we made with Karoline. After reading all of the pregnancy books and breast feeding books I did not want her to have a pacifier, not even as a new born. So, she didn't. I was worried she wouldn't breast feed well, or that she would "have" to have one to sleep or as she got older.

After getting home and trying to get into a rhythm with two kids I still had the painful feat of feeding my baby. When I had Karoline I did not experience labor. So, I would often say, "I didn't experience labor, but breastfeeding this kid has got to be as painful as that." I now know that's not the case (thank you Alexandra and your 28 hour labor before a c-section). But, in my experience breastfeeding my daughters is the second most painful thing I've ever gone through. I remember thinking those first few weeks after Alexandra was born, I'm going to find time to blog about how horrible this is. Sounds dramatic, but it was. I have to admit that if it weren't for the fact that I had breastfed my first born and wanted my second baby to have just as much of a head start in life as she got, formula wasn't so expensive, or that breast milk really is like liquid gold, I would have quit. Any woman who attempts to breastfeed, I applaud you. Any woman who has a supportive husband in her life, you are applauded as well. It takes a great support team to make breast feeding work. That support gets you through those moments of wanting to throw in the towel.

Fortunately, I never had an issue with supply, with either of my girls. Pacifier myth, busted. We also use a bottle for Alexandra every few days so that she has a way to eat when I'm not home for some reason or another. She still likes to breastfeed. Nipple confusion myth, busted. Of course this is not always the case, all babies are different. But, like in my last post, if I've learned anything from having a second child it is, go with the flow. Do what you need to do and don't worry about this, that, and the other.

A major hurdle was jumped when we reached six weeks and I didn't have mastitis. Mastitis is a horrible infection in your breast that often results from a clogged milk duct. If you are having your first baby I strongly urge you to google this and know the warning signs. I had mastitis when Karoline was just 4 weeks old and it was absolutely miserable. The worst, "sick," I've ever been. I was very cautious about it this time and actually could feel it trying to happen twice and was able to keep it from taking hold. I was very thankful. But, I still was worried and the worry was not helping anyone. When I finally realized, what is going to happen will happen weather I worry or not I was able to let it go. Let it go, let it go ... sorry, my darling two year old only requests one movie right now, bet ya can't guess which one.

With both of my rounds with breastfeeding I've had to deal with an over supply. I am thankful that this has been the problem I've encountered, versus not having enough milk. But, it is my experience that this is very frustrating and painful. There is a fine line between pumping enough to avoid mastitis and over stimulating your body's production.

With Karoline I felt like breast feeding and all of it's glory would never end. This time I am in shock that we are already only 3 months away from trying solid foods! The pain is now gone. A huge help with alleviating pain, for me, is to feed the baby while laying in bed. We both lay down, I am more relaxed, she is more relaxed and a better latch is achieved. The "let down," reflex is getting less painful and things are going well. I'm glad that I never did find the time to blog about my hate for breastfeeding early on. It truly is such an amazing thing to know that you are providing food for your baby. Keep in mind that my dislike and my hate for breastfeeding was with child number two. It just goes to show you that having kids is like apples and oranges. While I had a hard time with Karoline, and there were often times I would cry while I fed her because it hurt so bad, I still never even thought about calling it quits. My advice is to always have a good support system and to ask for help.

While in the hospital I didn't receive any breast feeding support from the staff, I loved our hospital experience but thought this was a bit odd. I am assuming this was because it was my second baby and we appeared to be doing so well with breastfeeding. This was my fault, I should have asked for help. I might not have had such a painful experience from the get go. Always ask for help, don't leave the hospital until you feel confident. On the flip side, with Karoline there were always people asking how it was going and lactation specialist who would come in and literally grab me (on the breast) and show me how to breastfeed. But, all the while it was a very scary process for me and the constant checking really upset me because it wasn't helping. So, if you're not getting the help you need or are feeling rushed, say so. You are your biggest advocate when it comes to breastfeeding.

I said it before, I'll say it again, if you breastfeed, go you! It annoys me that I have to intersect this here, but this is to avoid getting nasty comments. If you don't breastfeed or didn't this is in no way a slam against you. I am only speaking to my experiences. And from my experience, breast feeding is hard and a breastfeeding mom deserves a high five every now and then.

Alright, onto part two. My thoughts on cloth diapering. This is short and sweet, I love it! Alexandra was staring to show signs of getting rashes when I made the decision to switch to cloth diapers. Karoline never once had a diaper rash and I was a little upset when I noticed Alexandra was showing signs to be prone to them. I decided to nip that in the butt, pun intended. Choosing cloth diapers was also a financial decision. I'm a stay at home mom, why not do it and save the extra money. With help from some mama friends and this blog (p.s. her whole blog is awesome, check it out), I was able to get the inspiration I needed to make the switch. It's a little bit of work but, at the same time, it's oddly rewarding.

Alexandra also is showing signs of having an intolerance to something I'm eating. I think I have determined it to be dairy. I have cut dairy out of my diet, as well as gluten, something I've been wanting to do for a while. I'm two days in on my new healthy eating life style, I'm not calling it a diet because the goal is not to lose weight, and I don't like the word. I am hoping that I am able to not only change my eating habits but my families as well. I'm very excited about this.

Now, I just said that weight loss is not the goal, remember that. However, weight gain and loss is a part of pregnancy and I feel like reading about other real life moms and their weight gain/loss stories helps to create a healthy image. I gained 40 pounds with Alexandra. That means I weighed 166 pounds when she was born. Today I had a doctors appointment, I asked the nurse if I could jump on the scale. I weighed 133 pounds, Alexandra is three months old,  I have lost 33 pounds with little to no effort. I am a firm believer that it takes nine months to gain baby weight, it takes nine months to lose it. Even so, if you're breastfeeding beyond nine months, it may take even longer. Since I do breast feed my babies beyond the nine month mark I know that it will take me personally a bit longer to lose the extra weight. But, boy was I excited to see that I only have seven pounds to go to pre Alexandra weight. I say pre Alexandra weight because I was still breastfeeding Karoline when she came into the picture. I had not lost all my baby weight from my first pregnancy yet, I still had six pounds to go. Losing weight after having Karoline took a lot longer to come off. I am already able to wear clothes that took me a year to fit into after having Karoline. This time the weight is coming off faster, I could wear my wedding ring just a few weeks after we got home, instead of six months after. Pretty sure I have chasing a toddler around to thank for that! I do think that in changing to a healthy life style I will see a change in my body, a positive change. I hope to have more energy as well. But, first and foremost, I hope that my daughter is able to digest a little bit easier.

There you have it, my thoughts on the ins and outs and a little bit on pregnancy weight as well.

Every blog needs a cute picture. Don't mind the Halloween pumpkin in the background. Don't you know you can't organize/declutter/get rid of things with out a toddler "needing" what you're trying to  put away. 

*A friend of mine just gave me some great information about breastfeeding and pumps...
Medela's online breastfeeding course is free with this code: BRUEgX74fR
There is an all purpose nipple ointment, it is an RX that needs to be compounded by the pharmacy but works better than Lanolin (I would have loved this).
Most insurance companies will now cover a Medela breast pump! Start by calling the number on the back of you insurance card to check. Some lactation nurses can help too. Third party companies, like Babies R Us advertise they can help by billing the insurance companies for the pump!

The 4th Trimester

The fourth trimester ...

I'm not sure where I read about the, "Fourth trimester." But, I'm glad that I did. I read that the first three months of a babies life they live on the outside the way they did on the inside. All the while slowly becoming accustom to life outside the womb.

When Karoline was born I was uptight. I wanted her to be able to sleep on her own. Almost every time she fell asleep I would set her down. She had to learn to sleep by herself. I did this even when she was just three weeks old, not kidding. I wanted to get sleep training done and done, "right." I wasn't waiting around until I was exhausted. There are so many things I would have done differently with her. She is now the epitome of a first born child. When she falls and you ask if she is ok or if she needs anything she says, "No," and consoles herself. There are times when she will come running to mom and dad, but more often than not she will take care of it herself or will turn to her blanket. This breaks my heart, like I said, there are so many things I would have done differently. I'm thankful to realize this now. I hope that I will now parent her in a more relaxed matter due to the things I've learned in the last few months with Alexandra.

At 7 weeks old Alexandra slept for 8 hours straight and had I switched to a better night time diaper I think she would have slept better even earlier. This little bundle of joy did not like to be swaddled, never did, and still doesn't. Instead, she would rather have mommy right by her side. If you remember the concept of the fourth trimester makes perfect sense. Why wouldn't she want mommy right next to her. For 41 weeks we were as close as close can get, can ya blame her? So, instead of fighting it, she slept with me for 3 weeks. Now, before anyone decides to judge or say that I could have rolled over her. No, I could not. Tim would watch Alexandra and I sleeping and one night woke me up when he helped me put my hand down. I had my arm up above my head and was trying to bring it down by my side. I could not do this in my sleep because I was aware that Alexandra was in the way. So, he gently guided my arm down. There were and have been several nights where my body will go numb or my arm fall asleep in order to not hurt my baby. Anyway, back to the point. I let her sleep by me. I was able to heal from my c-section much faster this time around. I credit the extra sleep.

My baby would nurse with me and then fall sleep cuddled up to my body. Of course there were the occasional diaper changes but it was a very peaceful ordeal. When she woke up I would change her, nurse her and we would both fall asleep (you would think after having Karoline I would have known to put down a ton of towels ... I did put them down, but it wasn't enough. I tell ya, my body must think that I had twins). We would do this a couple of times through out the night and every time she would just go right back to sleep because mom was there. Around the four week mark I realized I wasn't all too comfortable while I was sleeping. So, at this point I started putting Alexandra into her bed for the first portion of the night which was when she was notoriously sleeping her longest chunk, about 6 hours. When she woke up to eat then she usually ended up spending the rest of the night in bed with me.

I am not the mom who sticks to a schedule. I am however a big fan of routines. My girls take a bath every night. In doing this they know that bed time is coming, this is when we sleep. I'm sure that by now Karoline might not need the bath to trigger that she is going to bed soon. But, I don't want to chance it. Plus, have you smelled toddlers lately, I tell ya she bathes every day and she earns it. After that everything is pretty much clock work. We brush teeth, read books, say prayers, sing songs give hugs and kisses and say goodnight. As for Alexandra, she plays while all this is happening. Then her and I retreat to my bedroom, she's still in our room, something I hope will help with traveling down the road. Karoline was and still does not sleep well when she can hear other noises, like Tim or I rolling over. Also, to be honest, I'm not ready for her to be out of our room. Tim has told me he's leaving that up to me. As he put it, "Your intuition will tell me when it's right for her to be in her room." I nurse Alexandra and let her fall asleep while nursing (yes, I know there are some things that say not to do this... This is what she is comfortable with and at ease with so this is what we do). Some nights I pick her up and put her in her pack and play and she's out like a light. Then there are other nights, like tonight, where it takes a few more attempts.

My husband always told me, "Just go with the flow," when Karoline was born. I was not able to do this. It just wasn't part of my nature. Side note: he is my better half, he has helped me to become a better version of myself in more ways than one. He didn't give up, he would repeat, just go with the flow, over and over in many situations. Sometime over the course of the last few years this must have sunk in. Now that Alexandra is here that is exactly what I do. Let me tell you what, I am a happier and better mama because of it. I am beyond blessed to have a husband who didn't give up on me and didn't let me get caught up in having to do things the, "right," way.

I am a more relaxed version of myself now. Much more so than I remember being in any years prior to Alexandra. Things get done when they get done. Something that I have to remind myself often is that I am a stay at home mom. I don't have anything that I "HAVE" to do other than keeping my children cared for. Yet, there are days that I have to remind myself that there is nothing more important than my children. This seems like a no brainer. What I mean is, there are times that I get frustrated that I can't get something done, email, the dishes, my hair, you name it. When this happens it is hard to take a step back and remember, none of this matters. The most important part of my day (aside from my relationship with God) is my children, they are my reason for waking up every morning. I have to interject: Tim, my husband is my first priority, with out him my children do not exist. We came to this conclusion before having kids, we realize that while we love our babies, we love each other more. Without us, there is no them. Back to my point, hair, emails, cleaning, all can wait. By making this realization I am able to take the time to focus on my girls and what they need with out getting upset. One more side bar thought: I don't feel this is an excuse to not have a clean house. There are little signs on Pinterest, Facebook, and other sites that say something to the likes of, "A good mom has messy floors, dishes to do, and laundry to fold." These signs irritate me. In my opinion being a good mom also means keeping a clean home for your children to grow up in. My sister in law pointed that out to me when I was feeling guilty for taking the time to clean. I am very thankful she put it the way she did so that I could realize that I was not ignoring my kids and putting a clean home ahead of them. Instead I clean my home for them. So, once a week I do all of the deep cleaning, some days it's done by noon and some days I finish when they are asleep. I just go with the flow, but it does get done. Every other day I clean messes as they are made and make sure our house is on order before I go to bed. Alright, I digress ... This is easier said than done, and more times than I can count I have to remind myself that I don't "need" to do anything and that my kids needs come first. It's something that I pray about and work on every day.

In taking things easy and letting my second daughter come to know the world around her in a comfortable and comforting setting I myself have changed, for the better. I wish I could have been this way for Karoline. Coulda, woulda, shoulda, I'm thankful that I view my role as a wife and mom with a more relaxed attitude now.

Yesterday Alexandra hit the three month mark. We no longer are in the fourth trimester, according to the article I read she is adapted to her surroundings. She is no longer a new born, she is an infant. She now sleeps 10 hours straight at night. She loves to smile, she cries when she needs something, she is happy and healthy. She has love in her eyes and is a complete joy. I am blessed.