Survival Mode

Help Mom

Wake up. Nurse. Get little one and adults fully dressed. Race to daycare. Work all day. Pump at work. Race to pickup little one. Curse traffic. Get home. Run around like wild people to get the little one fed and bathed. Nurse. Collapse into heap in front of the TV for an hour or two…

Oh wait. Watch TV? That doesn’t sound quite right.

Feed adults. Make baby food. Potentially work some more. Tackle laundry. Wonder if dog has been fed. Feed dog just in case. Put away laundry from the night(s) prior. Contemplate working out. Fall asleep while thinking about working out.

Repeat Monday – Friday.

We’re in a dual working household survival mode. A mode that makes me thank my lucky stars every day that Rylan is a great night time sleeper. Please let the teething gods (2nd tooth coming up now) be kind.

But amidst our chaos are many moments of perfection. Yep, that is the best word to describe our ridiculously overwhelming life. Mike and I have never been more in sync. We try hard to pick up where the other left off or anticipate what will make the other a little more relaxed. There is no room for being less than 100% hands-on and we are killing it. We say ‘thank you’ more often and tell each other whenever we remember to breathe that we’re doing a really great job.

Then there is Rylan. He is unreal. I can’t get over his infectious laugh and endless energy. He is mobile and quite independent, yet nothing makes his eyes sparkle more than seeing us walk into a room. Kisses make him squeal. He brightens my whole heart. I would gladly take on more chaos if it meant he would smile this sweetly forever. I often catch myself saying, “that kid. Man I love him. ”

But this post is about surviving. Which leads me to share what’s in our current survival kit with an almost 9 month old…

  • Compassion
  • A lot of forgiveness
  • Grandparents, aunts, uncles, great aunts ~ family
  • Wine. Preferably a Malbec. Club W would be the jackpot
  • Peace & Calming and Valor essential oils from Young Living — in the diffuser, behind ears and on wrists at bedtime and before work
  • ABDL (Always Be Doin’ Laundry)
  • Friends, even if time only allows for a few text exchanges
  • Stitch Fix
  • Butternut squash slow cooker chili
  • Door to Door Organics online local and organic grocery delivery (a client of mine, but we’ve been using them for long before that)
  • Apple TV for catching up on Girls, Jimmy Fallon, Game of Thrones and Parenthood on weekends

I am trying very hard to add working out back to that list–it varies greatly each week. I’d also like the list to include Sunday freezer meal prep, regular evening family walks and a spa day. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

How do you survive? What do you rely on and what have you had to give up on?

Nursing Updates

I am extremely grateful for the women in my various circles who reached out to me by phone, email, text and social following my “Nursing at 5.5 Months” post. You all helped me feel sane despite feeling insane at the thought of breastfeeding — mainly the pumping aspect — past six months. I think I was really tired and in a somewhat selfish place when I wrote that post.

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Together, Rylan and I are happily still nursing and (less happily) pumping at eight months. When it comes to nursing, I am more protective than ever of our morning and nighttime nursing sessions — which has led to an even more reduced gym schedule and some hesitancy for making evening plans during the week. I don’t avoid everything, but I know our last months of this will fly by and I don’t want to miss how unique the mother/baby bond is right now.

How did I recommit? A coworker talked to me about her experience and it really resonated. She was also a very busy working mom with both of her girls. She saw it as their special time. Sometimes her only quiet, uninterrupted moment with her babies on an otherwise whirlwind day. It’s the same for me and Rylan. We race around in the morning to get out of the house for daycare, and run around like wild people by the time we get home to get him fed, in the bath and ready for bed. If I didn’t nurse I could see myself tossing bottle duty over to Mike so that I could get back online, do laundry, clean or cook. So yes, our house is a little messier and our meals have been mediocre at best, and I am trying to be okay with that. I am trying very hard.

I am not sure any breastfeeding mom out there loves pumping, but we deal. In fact, I have several friends who couldn’t nurse but committed to pumping upwards of nine – 10 times a day to provide breast milk to their little one. I bow down to those moms. Bow. Down.

My current routine includes a much-needed pump off in the morning and at least one session during the day at work. My supply has taken a noticeable hit in recent weeks due to a very hectic schedule, which inevitably led to not drinking enough water and going too long between my regular twice-daily pumping sessions.

I am hesitant to cut that second one out completely, but I have also over-pumped too late in the day and been nervous that I am not full enough for his bedtime feed. Any advice is appreciated. Should I just suck it up and go to pumping once at work instead of forcing two smaller ones?

Another question I have since I am still nursing, sometimes exclusively on weekends if I am with Rylan all day, is how much milk should he be getting daily (on average) as his solids continue to increase? The kid LOVES to eat solid food.

Thank you friends for supporting me in this very personal journey. I appreciate having a space to vent, talk and ask questions.

Rylan is 8 Months!

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Our incredible boy is eight months old! To say he brightens each and every day is a huge understatement. His gummy grin (no teeth yet!) is infectious. His body-shaking belly laugh is addictive. Rylan’s easy-going personality and happy demeanor has really come through this month. We’re more smitten than ever.

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The past month has not been easy. Mike traveled for work more than usual and my job was extremely busy, including some weekend commitments. The notion of balance fell to the wayside and we went into survival mode. Get Rylan safely to and from daycare. Line up backup care. Make food for Rylan. Heat up a can of soup or frozen dinner for ourselves. Survive.

I am disappointed in myself for being so preoccupied the last few weeks. I really need to learn how to put my phone down and focus. Work, texts, Facebook…it will all be there when Rylan is down for the night. Technology keeps us positively connected in so many ways but at the same time, it makes us miss the present. The now. That’s my goal for Ry’s next month ~ to be more present during our precious and extremely limited with him at night and on the weekends.

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Despite our craziness, Rylan is thriving. He crossed the 15 lbs mark and is actually growing out of 3-6 and 6 month outfits. Yay! He loves sitting in his high chair for meal time, any meal time. Finger foods are quickly replacing his tolerance for purees. Not having to steam and puree food will surely be a time saver, but we take a lot of pride in making 99% of his food from scratch. I am going to miss it a lot. He has given us a few forward crawls but much prefers to worm across the room with a combination of sitting, dropping to his belly, followed by a downward dog on tip toes, back to his stomach and then up to sitting. It’s an amazing feat to witness and he is so proud of himself every time.

Mom’s eight month favorites:

  • Hearing “ma” “ma ma” “ma ma ma ma” for the first time after I was away in LA for the weekend with friends
  • Listening to his daycare teachers tell me about his day, which usually includes notes like, “he was so happy” and “he laughed over and over with his buddy Tolan”
  • Watching him finally connect how to grab food, put it to his mouth and open his hand to release it
  • The fact that he still gets completely milk drunk at night, which allows for totally peaceful snuggle time…just like the early days
  • The sparkle in his eye. His eyes are so happy, and it makes me incredibly happy and proud to be his mama

Dad’s eight month favorites:

  • The smile on his face and excitement in his eyes every time he sees us after a few hours apart
  • Finding him sitting up in his crib, staring at the wall in amazement
  • Watching him do his version of baby yoga, complete with a solid plank to downward dog move
  • Watching him shove food into his mouth by any means possible — hands, wrists, you name it
  • Seeing him rediscover his hands and fingers in awe
  • How he “shows off” his toys and books while playing
  • His mellow demeanor and easy going nature around just about anyone

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Dolphin to Starfish

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Apparently ocean-themed rooms are quite the rage at area daycares. A close friend has a daughter in the “Cuddly Clam” room at her center. But I digress. Oh and yes, these photos have nothing to do with daycare rooms. I just like them a lot because we remembered to get out the regular camera this past weekend.

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This week Rylan is transitioning from being a Dolphin (infant room) to a Starfish (6 – 18 months approximately). If this mini milestone doesn’t prove that his first year is flying by way too fast for comfort, I am not sure what does. Having him move rooms based on development stages was really appealing to me when we toured our daycare. However, now that it’s our son transitioning I am excited and apprehensive. How long will it take them to re-learn his routine? We will mesh with these teachers as well as the last? Will we be back a square one with daycare nap battles?

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Naturally, the worrier in me is braced for the worst but hoping for the best (within a realistic timeframe of a week or two of adjustment for Ry). But in the end, every day I am more and more confident in our choice of daycare over a nanny given our current situation. There have been many challenges but I love how adaptable Rylan has become and appreciate all that he is learning–even if it’s to wait his turn for a toy, meal or diaper change. Those are tiny little moments that I hope will rub off on him in toddler-hood. I value the insight and expertise that is shared with us by the various teachers and their observations of his development, especially because Mike and I often miss new things when we’re at work five days out of the week. Rylan’s daycare has become an extension of our family.

So, off to Starfish we go!

Essential Oils for Rylan

Rylan has been around diffused essential oils for several months but I closely followed the recommendation of waiting until six months to try anything topically. As “luck” would have it, he brought home a nasty cold from daycare about a week and a half ago. We heard there was a confirmed case of RSV in his room so to be extra cautious we got him into the pediatrician ASAP. Thankfully, we were told to hunker down for a good ole’ fashioned cold battle.

Our amazing pediatrician shares a lot of natural and homeopathic advice every visit. My jaw about dropped when he asked if we’d be comfortable trying eucalyptus essential oil or an eucalyptus blend – heavily diluted – on the soles of Ry’s feet and chest to help with the congestion and coughing. A grin spread across my face while Mike likely rolled his eyes. It was time to break out the oils for Rylan.

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Just before he turned six months I bought R.C., a eucalyptus blend, to have on hand for instances like this. We started slow, diffusing it in his room along with two humidifiers and putting one drop with about six or eight drops of olive oil on the soles of his feet. It wasn’t a magic cure, but his cough started to break up the gunk in his chest and he didn’t progress to having anything more worrisome. After a few days we moved to a heavily diluted dose rubbed into his chest two – three times daily and steamed in the bathroom on a washcloth while we let the shower run until all the hot water was drained. That was our cold battle turning point. His cough began to subside and his body continued to push out the crud in his head and chest.

We’re almost two weeks into this cold and I won’t lie, it isn’t gone. But he has improved drastically and I am very grateful it didn’t evolve into anything more serious so far. He continued to sleep through the night all but two nights and I credit that to this natural routine. Even Mike became a bit of a believer and could be found filling the diffuser with more R.C. before a nap.

And my favorite part? Thieves saved me yet again. That’s about five colds avoided even after I felt the dreaded throat tickle and ache.

I can’t wait to keep expanding my growing oils collection and I 100% refuse to ever run out of Thieves or R.C.

Rylan: 7 Months

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I’ve blogged once since Rylan’s six month post. It doesn’t surprise me in the least given the craziness of February but still, time is on warp speed. Between work, ski weekends and some surprise work trips for Mike, I’ll be glad if we make it out of February in one piece.

But this post is a celebration of Ry and his seven month milestone. And what a month he has had!

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I am not even sure where to begin. For starters, we’ve mainly adopted the coveted Baby Wise four-hour schedule. So he nurses/has a bottle at 7 a.m., 11 a.m., 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. This schedule really does open up a whole new world. We have more time to enjoy him and naps – in theory – are extending. Ry still hasn’t mastered naps at daycare but if that’s our one big challenge I can’t complain.

We have also moved him to three “meals” a day with solids. He eats breakfast around 8:30 a.m. at daycare. I don’t love that it is so broken up from his morning nursing session but we just could not get out the door at a decent time before. Unfortunately, if I ever want to make a 9 a.m. meeting we needed to switch to daycare feeding breakfast. Maybe that will change when I am done pumping in the early morning as well. He then gets lunch around 11:30 a.m. and dinner when we get home, hopefully by 6 p.m. Dinner is a mad dash and Mike and I rarely get our food ready in time, but I look forward to family dinners in the future.

Since we started solids at four months Rylan has already been introduced to a lot of foods. He doesn’t like all of them equally but since my last post we have added quite a bit, including salmon, carrots, pumpkin, beef, parsnips, yogurt and broccoli. He is beginning to prefer more complex purees and flavor combinations which is super exciting. I think we are moving into the phase of needing to better plan our meals to include items we can break off into bits for him. Overall, Rylan much prefers bite-sized food over purees.

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With all of the encouragement I received last month regarding breastfeeding I found myself 100% recommitted in month six. On the weekends I nurse as much as possible and during the week I cherish our morning and nighttime nursing routine. I have decided to maintain a twice-daily pumping routine at work whenever possible but stress less about the days I just can’t fit it in. I have started to notice a dip in my supply but am doing everything I can to drink enough water and snack regularly to keep my body healthy. In my heart I now truly want to make it a full year. We’ll see!

Mom’s seven month favorites:

  • Seeing Rylan pick and gravitate toward favorite toys. These include SophieBaby Paper (a tiny miracle), a Melissa & Doug caterpillar, Fun N’ Fill Water Mat and Baby Einstein Take Along Tunes (we have three, enough said)
  • Watching Rylan become more intrigued by books when we read to him. In the mornings I have started a routine of pumping while playing with him on the floor and reading at least one book before we scoot off to daycare. It warms my heart every day
  • Watching him get ready for the next BIG change, crawling. He can push up on his arms, bend his knees and rock forwards and backwards. He has a ways to go but it isn’t lost on me that soon we’ll be at Target buying baby gates
  • The way he nuzzles into me when he needs to be comforted. It’s really different from the instinctual newborn days. Now, he knows I am his mama and that I want to help him and comfort him. My heart melts every time
  • How he makes everyone around him smile. Rylan is not shy and gives out smiles and laughs freely. I love watching others light up the way we do. He is simply awesome these days

Dad’s seven month favorites:

  • Introducing new foods and watching the reaction on his face after the first bite
  • Watching the lightbulb turn on in his head when he is experiencing new sounds, sights, people, etc.
  • Seeing him try to figure how to crawl and move around on the ground on his own
  • Seeing the smile on his face after extended trips away from home
  • Spending time with him on the ground, playing with toys

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We Be Grubbin’

Rylan isn’t the chunkiest kid on the block so back at his four month appointment we were given the go ahead to start solids. Instead of going the traditional infant cereal route we opted for fresh avocado and never looked back.

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Fast forward to six months and he is grubbin’ three times a day! His biggest meal is typically lunch or dinner but we offer solids on a relative breakfast, lunch and dinner timetable.

Rylan’s schedule at six months:

  • 6:45 a.m. ~ wake and nurse (on the weekends we let him sleep a little later if he’s able)
  • 7 a.m.-ish ~ solids (veggie or oatmeal + fruit)
  • 8:30 a.m. – 9 a.m. ~ Nap
  • 10 – 10:30 a.m. ~ 6 oz fortified breast milk bottle (daycare) or nurse (weekends)
  • Noon ~ solids (fruit + veggie)
  • 12:30 p.m. ~ nap
  • 2 – 2:30 p.m. ~ 6 oz fortified breast milk bottle or nurse
  • 5:45 p.m. (or whenever we make it home) ~ nurse then solids (veggie + fruit + baby probiotics mixed in)
  • 7:30 p.m. ~ nurse and bed

We switched from a strict three hour feeding schedule to this routine about a month ago. It is working really well for this weird phase where he still needs that third nap, but not for long. Right now his rockstar nap is the mid-day one. Most days daycare is getting two hours out of him then. They also moved him to a crib in the back corner of the room which seems to be helping him fall back asleep if he wakes mid-nap. What can I say, the kid is curious!

Aside from the weird lunch time solids session we offer food right after a milk feeding so that his milk intake doesn’t dip. That said, the last ounce to two ounces on his bottles have become a real battle. Any advice on when it is okay to see his milk intake dip a bit because of the increased food is appreciated! And on the topic of food, I am actually really enjoying the entire process of making baby food from scratch, so more on that soon!

Rylan: 6 Months

Our son is six months old. It has been a half of a year since Rylan was born. Rylan is six months old! I keep saying these things out loud but they don’t sound true.

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Somehow the holidays have come and gone and February is staring us in the face…and my sweet little boy hit his six month milestone. He’s happier, funnier and more expressive with each day that passes. His huge gummy smile melts my heart and we continue to receive nothing but praise from everyone at daycare regarding his sunny demeanor and easy-going style.

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But I can also see into our future as he starts to discover his independence and ability to make decisions about what he does and does not want to do. I can no longer trick him into nursing longer. When Rylan is done he arches his back, gets stiff as a board and then there is no fighting this ninja move. The swing and other infant chairs with straps are tolerated for less and less time and I never knew a baby could hold his lips together so tightly when a new food is deemed unsuitable! Rylan is going to have a lot of spirit with his sweetness. This mama is in trouble.

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Mom’s six month favorites:

  • Fulfilling my goal to breastfeed for six months and what I am calling Ry and my “joint decision” to keep going for the foreseeable future
  • How he lights up when I walk into daycare at the end of the day
  • Listening to his coos and happy screams from his crib when he’s content to play around before it is time to get up (it is less amusing at 4 a.m. but since he falls back asleep relatively quickly I can’t complain)
  • They way he passes out on my chest after our last feed of the night. I know he’s exhausted and I hang onto this new, extra-quiet and special moment for longer and longer each evening
  • Watching him devour new foods (so far he has had and likes sweet potato, squash, apples, pears, avocado, peaches, oatmeal, mangoes and prunes. He’s not very excited about peas)

Dad’s six month favorites:

  • Watching him smile through the struggle of learning how to sit up
  • Seeing him roll over and figure out that he can spin around to grab for toys
  • Watching him reach for objects he wants, whether he should have them or not, and the joy on his face when he accomplishes his mission
  • His happy attitude and growing curiosity about the world around him

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The next six months have so many adventures in store and my biggest hope is that I can continue to learn how to be more present so that the moments – big and small, happy and tear-stained – don’t pass us by. Happy six months my little man!

We Are Enough

The “we” in the title of this post is for my fellow working moms — whether you have been at this for years or are new to the game like me.

Credit: The Unconventional Doctor's Wife

Credit: The Unconventional Doctor’s Wife

Last night I found myself solo with Rylan as Mike is traveling for work. Before Ry I used to look forward to my alone nights because they meant I could get to the gym, have cereal for dinner and watch any trashy reality show my heart desired.

Now I get a little nervous about those nights. I grab Rylan from daycare and arrive home anywhere between 5:30pm and 6pm depending on traffic. I race to do his first of two nighttime cluster feeds on our new schedule (which is working fabulously for him but a little more stressful for me as I continue to breastfeed as much as possible). Then we sit down for some solids, which last night ended up more on the wall, floor and me than in his belly. And then normally we enjoy some snuggle and play time, followed by a bath if needed, then one more nursing session and bed. It is quick but sweet. The best part of my day.

But last night I could not turn off from work and my Type-A self was screaming. There were dishes to be put away, laundry to do and some emails and tasks that didn’t get done before my last meeting that were gnawing at me. So I put Rylan in his swing during those precious few minutes we have together during the week and I worked, picked up the kitchen and conquered the laundry.

But in the end, I felt awful. By the time I put Ry down for the night I wanted those 30 minutes back. The emails could have waited and the dishes weren’t hurting anyone. I missed it.

However, that’s the tightrope we walk every single day as working moms. Please know that I am NOT saying we work any harder than stay at home moms. I commend my friends who do that and I am in awe of all they juggle. We’re all equal, I am just writing about the tightrope I know and walk every day.

So when the alarm went off this morning and the guilt was still there I sat up and out loud told myself, “you are enough.” I am enough at work because I give it 150% every day. I am enough at home because my heart and soul is in everything I do for my boys. Yet, sometimes, “enough” is spread over a few days — or even weeks and months. Yesterday I was more “enough” for my job and a little less for Ry. Today I am going to strive to be all there for Ry when we get home and work will have to wait until he is down and I have found time to eat dinner sitting down in a chair.

We are enough. It may not be all the time to everyone, but we are enough.

Nursing at 5.5 Months

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I love capturing pictures of my milk drunk son even though he’ll kill me for showing his girlfriend these images one day. It is still amazing to me, five and a half months into our routine, that my body makes and provides Rylan’s primary source of food and nutrition on a daily basis. The whole thing is pretty nuts.

When a nursing session goes well I have a hard time thinking about giving this up. My personal goal has always been to make it to six months. That milestone is around the corner and I am really torn on what to do.

I have been “warned,” sarcastically I assume, not to tell other moms about my supply. That’s such a weird piece of advice in my opinion. Aren’t we all supposed to support each other? I have come to realize that I am blessed and I have a lot of guilt about weaning Rylan if my body will physically let me continue nursing and pumping for what could possibly be many more months. But an ample supply is not without its own problems. Ever heard of quality over quantity? Yep, it applies to breast milk so we had to start adding some formula to Rylan’s bottles at daycare. It seems to be helping with the weight gain but we’ll know more at this six month appointment.

Back to nursing and pumping. While nursing is infinitely easier today than during those first few painful and scary terrifying  weeks with a newborn, Rylan is so distracted when I nurse and our serene and special nursing sessions more often than not turn into “battle boob.”

And pumping. Ah, pumping. I have been unapologetic about finding twice a day at work to sneak into my “office” and am grateful for the support I continue to receive. But I am busier than ever and dread the lost time on certain days, even though I bring my laptop along and work through most pumping sessions. It is a time suck no matter how productive you try to remain.

So, here are my questions for the other nursing or pumping moms before me:

  • At times Rylan will only nurse for seven or eight minutes total. Sometimes on one side or via a combination of both. Is this normal? Should I worry about whether or not he is getting enough ounces or trust his ability to self-regulate?
  • When, if at all, do you  see their milk intake decrease based on the fact that they are eating more solids?
  • If you BF and pumped beyond six months, how did you stay motivated — especially with pumping at work?
  • Six months seems to be a common milestone noted in baby books and articles. What are the benefits beyond that time period? Antibodies? All natural?

Thanks for your advice and support!

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