Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Great Formula Debate

It has been an age since I have blogged. Mostly due to the craziness of kids schedules, our schedules, but also because this topic was very sensitive to me. Actually, it is very sensitive to a lot of people. I never really knew what an amazing debate this was. I just really thought that it was a matter of preference and that you just had people on both sides of the playing field, kind of like political associations. Little did I know how passionately people felt about how they feed their infants/babies & how strongly they felt about how I chose to feed my child. I have found that Linus from the classic Peanuts movie, The Great Pumpkin, has left out a topic in what is not to be discussed amongst friends, Politics, Religion, Breastfeeding vs Formula and The Great Pumpkin!

So, from the time Ava was born she was on the tiny side. She was 7lbs when she was born but she dropped down significantly from the time we left the hospital and it seemed that we were having a real problem keeping her gaining weight. She was gaining too little between visits, off the charts low. In July we were so excited because she had finally gained the correct amount in the 2 weeks between appointments, we didn’t have to be seen for 4 weeks! Well, within those 4 weeks she did not gain one ounce. She was getting taller, her head was gaining girth but she was this tiny little string bean.

Breastfeeding and I have always had a love hate relationship. I love the nutrients it gives my child, I love the closeness it fosters between mother child, the added brain power that it gives a child, I love the calories it takes to breastfeed a child therefore, helping me lose weight (Hey, at least I am honest!) and I love the money it

saves us from buying formula. The actual act of breastfeeding though I have never been good at, thus making me hate the actual act. It can be painful, inconvenient (everything is timed around babies feeding schedules) and because I worry about making others uncomfortable I would leave a crowded room to breastfeed, making me feel like I was missing out on things. Its been really annoying, something that cave-women did I struggle and have struggled to do with all of my children. I have tried lactation consultants, changing my diet, fenu-greek, milk tea, homeopathic remedies, other moms advice, acupuncture, chiropractics, everything. Within about 4 months my milk supply starts to dwindle and my children either get very cranky and upset constantly or they start losing weight. The latter is what always scares me. Well, the doctors scare the hell out of me. They start throwing terms around like, “Failure to Thrive” , that usually involves a visit from Children and Youth Services. Not good times. So we have made the decision each time to supplement with formula and each time it has gotten harder and harder for me to do.

I went into this pregnancy and birth determined I was going to breastfeed Ava until she was a year at least. I had a great support system from other moms, since I worked I did a ton of research on how to make sure that I had a good milk supply in the freezer. I had a great system down but in the back of my mind there was some doubt. I knew something wasn’t quite right. She ate all of the time, and she would spit up huge amounts after each feeding. Back to research I

went, I took her to doctors, they put her on zantac, it was still not enough.

When we finally had to come to the decision to supplement Ava, it was because she was in a dangerous weight for her age and length. She was 5 months old and looked 3 months old, a friend of mine had had a baby 2 months after me and her daughter was giving mine hand-me-downs! Both Patrick and I were scared. Ava was also still waking up about 6 times a night to eat. I would pump and bottle feed so that I could see how much she was getting at each feeding. The spitting up was horrible and constant and nothing seemed to be working. So, we had to try the one thing we hadn’t tried, formula with a high rice starch content. I would breastfeed her and then give her a bottle. Within 2 weeks she was slowly gaining weight. The thing that I noticed that even though she was still spitting up, she was spitting up worse after being breastfed. I kept this up for a month and then moved her 100% to formula. She is now finally on the charts, for weight, just barely but she is there. She is a tiny 14 pounds at 7 months old.

I was met with a lot of eye rolling and a lot of people telling me to not listen to my doctor about supplementing. I was also met with people passive aggressively attacking me with their opinions on the decisions I made. Others weren’t so passive and just flat out told me I had made a very big mistake in supplementing Ava. It was then that I realized how sensitive this topic was. Usually, I just let things like this roll off my back. We have a very opinionated family, and even though I have very strong feelings about this and that, I really do try hard to acknowledge everyone’s opinion and not push mine on people. Everyone is entitled right? Here is the problem, these comments and opinions hurt me, cut me to the core. I was a mess.

I felt like such a failure. What a horrible feeling this was. It was determined that my breastmilk did not contain enough fat for Ava. So here are both sides of the coin. In one instance, I felt very selfish because here is my gorgeous baby girl that depends on me to keep her safe and fed, and I couldn’t naturally do that. I was selfish from the stand point that I continued to breastfeed her even though I knew that something wasn’t quite right. As I mentioned before, the calories being burned and the money saved were also wonderful bonuses of breastfeeding as well. Then on the other side of the coin was that I was inadequate to feed my child. My body wasn’t only not producing enough milk but the milk that it was producing was not high enough in fat. So in short, in my mind, I was inadequate and a failure when it came to one of the most natural things a mother can do, and people had no problem telling me so.

I have formula fed all of my children at different stages in their early lives and it still is not right with me. I feel like I have totally let them down, that somehow, I cheated them out of something. It hurts, a lot. I am envious of mothers that can breastfeed for long periods of time. Sure I have a opinions on when a child should be weaned but I keep those to myself, that is for a mother to decide and it does absolutely no good to push those thoughts on anyone else. It is interesting though to look at the social ramifications that we encounter on the topic. I know there are certain that people look down at me when I start shaking up Ava’s bottle. For a long time it was a dirty little secret, I hid formula cans in the back of my store or would pre make bottles and then just heat them up. I was still so disgusted with myself and mad at myself for being inadequate. Honestly though, I did this to keep the scrutiny at bay.

Over the last 2 months, with the help of my wonderful husband I have come to terms with our decisions. Had this been before the days of formula, Ava may have died. A lot of babies did

before formula was available. So of course I am really very happy that we had that option. As she gets older it does become a little easier knowing that she is only a few months away from being able to drink cow’s milk. Really, she is none worse for wear, she is very happy, barely spits up any more and finally is filling out her clothes! One thing this situation has reminded me though is that it is important not judge a person because you never know what they are going through. Keep your mind open.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


Recently, I have been forced to reflect heavily on my life. Every aspect. There are times like this in everyone’s life I think when you take stock, if you will, of what is really important, what isn’t, what relationship you need to work on, which relationships you are grateful to have, which ones you have to walk away from. These times are usually brought on upon when a life change either happens to me or when I witness something huge happening to friends or family members. It can though, occur in the car, watching tv or maybe even when just reading a blog because you are bored at work.

In my life I have been blessed and I am not quiet about it. I am so incredibly grateful for the life that my husband and I have built together, the wonderful amazing children we have, the wonderful mother I have, for the dear friends that stick by us no matter what, my in-laws, EVERYTHING. Too often though I find myself getting wrapped up in the he said she said garbage, I become oversensitive to situations and the way that people act towards me, I forget what’s important. Then again, what is important?

Important is life, the life you are living right now, that is what’s important. What else? Look past the obvious, of course your kids are important but what about them is important. Do you think of that very often? I get so caught up in the day to day I forget to look & reflect on what is important about them or about the situation. "Important" is your definition and yours alone don't be fooled by thinking that your "important" needs to follow someone elses.

As you are figuring out what important is, it is vital that you realize that you won’t get these moments back, share them, cherish them. You only get this one life. Remember that, you get one shot at it so have fun, tell people how you feel about them. My step-father happened to be an older man, 20 years my mothers senior, he passed away very young, his friends though, my mothers friends for 20+ years, the people I grew up with, are now starting to have serious health problems & some have also passed away. A year or 2 ago I saw someone at a funeral that really touched my life and I had really never told them how special their family was to me. I vowed that night I would sit down and write a letter just saying thank you for always making me feel special. I still haven’t done it. Shame on me.

Reach out to those you have lost touch with, reestablish old ties IF and only IF they make you happy. Know when to walk away, don’t make a big deal about it, just realize that you are growing in different directions, chances are you will once again grow together. Make a difference in someone’s life, thank someone for making a difference in yours. Be happy, but most importantly be true to yourself.

I know resolutions are for January but I hope that I gave you something to think about. I think I am going to go write a letter to an old friend.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Stand Up and Support Your Local Businesses!

So recently a local landmark has been ousted from our downtown area. This has prompted me to take off my mom hat for a few moments and put on my business owners hat for a moment.

Websters Bookstore in downtown State College is owned by a local woman who also happens to be a friend of ours. She has a lovely store full of eclectic and informative books, notecards and a wonderful coffee bar. What I think Websters offers most to the masses though is the ambience. On the occasions I have found myself walking past I have seen the familiar faces of Websters sitting outside sipping coffees waxing on about this and that. Websters recent plight is not an unfamiliar tale to State College. Rents downtown are exorbitant, and the buildings are in horrible disrepair, parking is a bear, its not very family friendly and locals really just don’t like heading downtown. Instead of the adorable boutique-y feel that most college towns have, ours has been reduced to bars, bike shops, banks and Penn State Apparel stores. Our town used to have those quaint little stores but over the last 10 years we are seeing more and more of our local businesses not geared toward students and Penn State fall by the wayside. Now here is a business that has been geared toward students and PSU going out of business because the business is not able to pay the rent. People are shocked, outraged and just can’t help but wonder how could this happen?!

Owning a local business I know far too well how this can happen. My store offers a free play area for children to play along with coffee & snacks for parents/caregivers to sit and relax while their kids play. Our store, like Websters, is first and foremost a retail store and in order to pay then rent we have to sell a certain amount of merchandise each day in order for us to remain open. This sounds simple right? Well, I can tell you that there are days that the play area in my store has been very very busy, but cash register is at 0 sales for the day. Now that Websters is facing being closed their supporters are rallying and I pray that their supporters are able to secure the funds they need for their store to stay open. I think though that moving forward perhaps we as a community need to be a little more proactive about supporting our local businesses.

I know that because I own a business this may come across as a little rude. Trust me I know that its easier to go to Walmart or Target, you will probably save between $1-$5 too. The problem is we as local business owners strive to offer amenities and a level of customer service that the big box stores simply cannot offer . We share one commonality with the big box stores, we have bills to pay, but unlike these big box stores we usually see little to no return. . For the few that have been blessed to be uber successful my hat is off to you! I know first hand it was not just handed to you, you have worked your behind off to get where you are. For the rest of us though many times the businesses we pour our hearts and souls into end up putting a huge financial strain on our families and end up in ruin.

So here is the challenge that I offer to you. There is a project called the 3/50 project. Check it out and I hope that you will accept the challenge! I am sure that if more people bought more than just a cup of coffee at Websters they would not be in this financial trouble right now. Frankly, it took owning my own business to open my eyes to how important it is to support your local stores, local restaurants etc.. I try to as much as possible but old habits die hard.

Currently, Websters in downtown State College is having a ½ price sale on all their books.

Thank you so much for your support of local businesses!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Joy of Babysitters & Couple Time

My husband and I made a commitment to eachother when we were pregnant with our oldest daughter that we would make time for one another. It was one of our biggest fears of becoming parents that we would not spend the amount of time together that we used to. When Millie was a month old, I pumped a bunch of breast milk , packed up her bassinet and took her over to my mothers house so that we could go out to dinner. With all 5 of our kids we have gone out to dinner at week 4 or 1 month old, so regularly you could set your watch by it. When Deano came along I was in a show where I was surrounded by a ton of College girls. One of which was a Penn State Gymnast, Genevieve. She was one of the first non family members that watched my kiddos. She watched them for 2 years and then past us on to another gymnast when she graduated, and she past on to another who is still with us today. Gena , Lindsay and Brandi have been wonderful role models and have had lasting impressions on my kids.

In the meantime when Millie started dancing 4 years ago, we met our main core babysitters at the dance studio. These girls, who are sisters, started with us when the oldest sister, Brittney was 16 and then her sister Madison started with us 2 years later and now we are waiting for Leah to start with us, I am guessing in the fall. Now, I can see some of you out there reading this with raised eyebrows thinking, I cannot believe that she would leave all of her children with a 16 year old. All of these girls are incredibly responsible, they ADORE children, they are very thoughtful and I am sure that you have heard the term “it takes a village”? Well, when you have one girl baby-sit 9 times out of 10 they bring a friend. How awesome is that? OR in my very fortunate case they take my kids to their house and their family is a very warm and involved family so there is always someone around. My kids LOVE it. Often Patrick and I joke that they have this entire separate family, its crazy. Most importantly we usually don’t go any where that we can’t get home within 15 minutes. Unless we go out of town, but that is another blog!

Last year Madison & her friend Megan (who also sits for us) came to the beach with us. This year Brittney and a friend of hers are coming with us. If you are able to take a babysitter with you on vacation, do it! You will never know the stress it takes off of you. Beach time for us is truly family time. I don’t want you to get the impression that we are off flitting around every night while the kids are stuck in the house with the babysitter. That is the furthest from the truth. Last year it took Maddie and Megan to say to us “Get Out!”.

We went out once, maybe twice but it was late night and the kids had gone to or were getting ready for bed. What makes taking a sitter with us great is the extra help it gives us in the morning when we are getting ready to go to the beach. Or when its bath time, one can wash while the other dries, giving the other parent some down time. It makes it a real vacation. It is also so nice to get to know these girls who you entrust your children with on a personal level. I would strongly suggest always offer them to bring a friend along. Meet the friend first, maybe even have the friend baby-sit along with your normal sitter. The friend is a vital part of the vacation. This way your babysitter doesn’t feel like the odd man out during family time. This is definitely taking the whole babysitting thing to the next level, but it is really truly worth it.

I am spoiled, spoiled beyond belief. My core babysitters along with their family, in particular their mother, love my children and treat them like their own. I know this is rare but I would like to offer some advice on babysitters. GET ONE! If you have family around that loves to take your kids whenever you need them to then that’s great! My family would in a heartbeat but the biggest issue with all of us are our schedules, they are a little crazy at times. So,if you don’t have the family connection then find yourself a good babysitter. I suggest looking at dance studios or any organized sport. These types of activities usually demand responsibility which then trickles down to you. Also, if your children attend daycare, ask the directors or even your childs teacher if they would be interested. This is a great resource because they have had additional training and a background check! Now, all of this is well and good advice but there may be one question plaguing you at the moment though, and that question may be, why?

Well here is why, in my mind at least, you need time for yourself and for your relationship with your spouse. A lot of times when kids get added to the mix we forget a lot of things. We forget to shower, we forget to clean the bathroom, we forget to nurture the relationships that lead you to having children in the first place! Reconnecting should not be left to do only on Anniversaries and when you feel like your relationship is in trouble. Now, I am not saying that every date needs to be rose petals and expensive meals. I have friends that I run into at the grocery store on their “date”, I have other friends that meet for coffee once a week before work after the kids are dropped off at daycare. It doesn’t matter how you do it or where you do it, just as long as you both put down work and the responsibilities of child rearing and focus on one another.

I assure you that once you do this the quality of your relationship is greatly enhanced. Patrick and I a lot of times use these dinners out to strategize. There are a lot of things to discuss about your kids that you probably shouldn’t talk about in front of them. Like how are we going to curb certain habits, what are we going to get them for their birthdays, things like that. Sometimes though, we just need a break and that’s when we start texting to see who can help us out. A lot of parents worry about how they will be perceived or how their children will react, or that they are performing a disservice to their children by taking “couple or me time” You will not be thought less of for relaxing, just because you are parents does not mean that you have to give up everything you do for yourself. Trust me there are times when our kids need time away from us as much as we do from them. Its really amazing that we will come back and both of us (kids & parents) have reset. We have more patience with them and they respond more willingly to our requests. Just be smart about it and like everything, exercise moderation. One last note and I will hop off my soapbox, it important to remember, that without the relationship you shared with your spouse prior to you having children, there would be no children. So, it is so important that you take care of it!

Now that it is summer and with me working, we have come to depend on our babysitters more than ever. We love them all like our family and we would be seriously lost without them. To them, Madison, Brittney, Megan, Emily & Brandi, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts. To those of you reading this I hope that you will be blessed enough to find yourself wonderful babysitters like we have.

PS-The Pictures are all from our trip to Cape May last year. Madison is the brunette, Megan is the blonde. We ended up referring to them as our twins, this has stuck for us and for them. Personally, I LOVE it!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Catching Up

So I sort of dropped off the blog circuit there for a while. It’s amazing how life can completely absorb you, and that it has! Since I last wrote there has been a tremendous amount of change that has happened! I have started running again! So much so that I was able to run the Memorial Day 5k in Boalsburg before Ava was 2 months old! How cool is that!?! I average between 6 & 9 miles a week, not bad! I also started back to work when Ava was about 4 weeks old. In hind sight, that was a little too soon. I had a lot harder of a time readjusting then I thought I would. However, if you know me, you know that’s pretty typical. We went to that wedding we spoke of and it was amazing! So much fun and my kids were such angels through it all. It didn’t hurt that our incredibly thoughtful hosts realized that we needed an extra pair of hands so they included our babysitter. Godsend!

We love our babysitters so much but that is another blog! Look for it soon!

I worked through my baby blues pretty well. They lingered a little longer than they have in the past and longer then I would have liked. Self doubt issues follow me more than they used to. It can be really overwhelming at times, especially with 2 toddlers entoe, but we are working through it. About 3 weeks ago after a really long day of “family fun”, I finally had the feeling. The feeling that everything had fallen into place, we had achieved our new normal. When I finally acknowledged it I felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I was so giddy and excited; my husband thought I had seriously jumped off the deep end! What a relief that was. You get so caught up with everything going on in your life and just making it through the day that you forget what normal feels like! Luckily, it has continued to go along rather smoothly and I am so incredibly grateful for that.

Nursing is still working! (She writes with a surprised tone!) I am amazed that my pumping and nursing is still working for us. I have reached my first goal of 12 weeks (or will this Friday) now I will work on making it to 24 weeks. Tiny steps so that I don’t get too overwhelmed. I have managed to keep between 60 &80oz in the freezer at a time which is an amazing number for me to have. She had gained close to 2lbs at her last appointment making her 8 lbs 15 oz, so I guess she is getting what she needs. You would think that after 5 kids I would have this whole nursing thing down. To me it’s the hardest part of the newborn/infant stage. So I will continue to learn and hopefully master it this time!

Avalina Elise is a wonderful baby. I marvel at how beautiful she is and how much I love her. She has also made me appreciate all of the kids and the stages of life that they are at and what they are able to accomplish. It is totally amazing to me. She has been extremely text book in her feedings and sleep patterns. This has been a real challenge because our other children have usually slept pretty well for us early on. Yet, every 2-4 hours has been her MO until last night! She slept, in her crib for the whole night! That was crazy! I woke up startled because I had this odd feeling….I had actually slept a night through without disruption! How strange! She smiles so beautifully. The first week she would only smile at Celeste. Celeste is Ava’s keeper. They love eachother so much. Now she has graced all of us with that huge gummy grin that all of us as parents covet and treasure. We are so blessed.

So, our family has adjusted, our Littles are still little tsunamis but they are getting better. Stella still won’t sleep at night which is driving both of us insane! My dear husband is working so hard and is in a show right now which makes things crazier than usual. I was supposed to be in a show as well but scheduling changes made it impossible. I was disappointed but in the end it was for the best. My first baby, Millie, made us so proud last week when she performed in her end of year dance recital. We had been taking her to dance 2 times a week this past year for her 5 dance classes. It paid off because she was simply, amazing! So grown-up, it took both Patrick and I’s breath away. Next year she will start competition dance and we just can’t wait for that. School is out and camps & lessons and summer fun have commenced on our house. We are very excited for our annual beach vacation which is coming up in the next month. Wow, there will be 7 of us this time! Amazing what happens in a year!

I will be updating this blog with 2 new blogs over the next 2 weeks. One is on babysitters and couple time, the other is about unexpected pregnancies and how they affect people.

I want to thank you so much for following the last few months of our lives. Its been crazy ride so far, we just can’t wait to see what happens next! I will happily take you along, and really try not to hold anything back!

Much Love and Happiness to you Always!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Weight of Breastfeeding

Avalina Elise

Days 10-13

So, because I am being completely honest here, or at least trying to be, I have to dedicate a moment or two to one of my faults, vanity. I am totally vain when it comes to my weight. I think for me it was something that was instilled in me when I was younger. I was a size 0-2 for many many years. Not that I was the healthiest of people at that weight and please don’t think that my goal is to get back to that. I am being realistic! Although, it would be pretty awesome! Of course as you get older you put on more weight and when you are older and having babies it gets harder and harder to lose your baby weight. I am truly blessed though, my body tends to bounce back pretty quickly from having babies, however, I always get stuck with 8-10 pounds to lose that just seems impossible to get rid of. (When you are 5 feet tall this can show A LOT)Which is what I am faced with now and to make matters worse, there is a family wedding coming up very fast! Of course there are pressures, in my own mind, to look as I did before I was pregnant for that. AHHHHH! I am breastfeeding, which so helps with the initial weight loss, but after a while you plateau and you have to keep your calories up in order to provide the sufficient nutrients your baby needs…..I can’t start running yet, maybe in another week. So mentally, it is messing with me a little bit. SO, on top of the baby blues I am now having this that I have decided to deal with. Good Times! Say a prayer for my kids and Patrick…They totally need it!

So breastfeeding, some people LOVE it, some people HATE it. My experiences have lead me to fall somewhere in between. Vanity speaking, I LOVE that it burns so many calories with very little effort. I HATE that I have yet to have a baby latch correctly, so I have had the sorest boobs ever! This makes it a less than a wonderful experience. I am the type of person that I don’t mind breastfeeding, but I am very self conscious of how other people feel about it. I usually go into another room or into a bathroom if we are out so that I don’t make other people uncomfortable. I am pumping but with all of my kids I have had a strict no bottles until 4 weeks old. We have made some exceptions but its usually right around that 4 week mark. So feeling like I am missing something is usually a factor. This is the first time that I have incorporated pumping into my whole breastfeeding routine. I have always tried to add it later and it has never worked out for me. So, I decided to try something new. So far it seems to be working pretty well. I was inspired by a friend of mine that has about a gagillion ounces pumped. There will be more than enough for her daughter to make it through her 20th birthday. Can you tell I have pumping envy? My problem has always been that around months 4-8 I don’t produce as much milk as is needed for my babies to feel full. So I end up supplementing, which makes me feel like I am cheating them out of something, not to mention its really expensive! So I am hoping that pumping 4-5oz a day (this is nothing compared to my friends 12oz in a sitting!) will help me out when I hit that 4 month mark. That is if I don’t use it all for date nights!

Ava is just such an easy baby. She has a pretty good schedule now, she still sleeps a lot during the day and is a cluster feeder between 6pm & 11pm. This actually works out really well for our family, although it does ground us a little in the evenings. She has her 2 week appointment next week so we will see what happens with that.

My family is/has adjusted pretty well. My Littles are still little tsunamis that run through the house destroying everything in their path. The highlight of their destruction has been Patrick’s coveted Plumeria tree that he has been growing for the last 4 years. Dirt & leaves EVERYWHERE!! Hopefully it has been saved and is now on top of the island. However, when Avalina is around they are the most precious little mothers. Celeste is actually getting better and Stella worse. We are hoping that we can start potty training them both soon. Hmmmm that should be fun! Me, I am doing ok, I am still having moments of weepy times but not for any particular reason. I am still freaked out by social situations I have to work on that. There will be more soon. Be Well!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Timely "Episodes"

Avalina Elise

Days 7-10

I think it is absolutely amazing how quickly 10 days can go by when you have a newborn. I just want to make time stop so that I can catch my breath. I am quickly learning that with a family that has 5 children time can be a reclusive cousin that you only see once every 10-15 years! There are those moments though, as few as they are where time does stand still and you realize that life is truly good.

Ava, is a great baby. I hate to brag, but I will she is amazing. She does everything a newborn should do, she eats, sleeps, poops, & cries only when one of the other things is affecting her. She is filling out although her legs are SO skinny! Right now she is all legs and she has the longest fingers I have ever seen on an infant. Perhaps she will be the concert pianist that Patrick has always wanted. Only time will tell…There’s that word again, time.

Nothing really crazy has happened in the last 3 days, unless of course you consider my “episode” as note worthy news. I am an extremely outgoing person. I LOVE meeting new people and I adore being invited to parties and hanging out with friends, showing off my family and just having a really good time in general. Apparently this is true for all times except 8 days after having a baby. We were invited to a party on Saturday for one of our dear friends’ birthdays. They are very chill and lovely people and their friends really do reflect that. They were cooking out, there were kids there my kids’ age, and there was Frisbee and a huge yard for the kids to run around in, sounds like the makings of a very relaxing and beautiful time right? Well, apparently miss social butterfly, aka me, could not handle all the people. I have never experienced anything like this in my life. One minute I am sitting there having a conversation, the next minute I am having full blown panic attacks because I can't figure out how to get my entire family together in the case that aliens start attacking! Ok maybe that’s a little over the top but you get the idea. I was a wreck an absolute wreck. What was also interesting were people were saying “I can’t believe you’re here”. In my paranoia that made me question if I had done something wrong by coming. I know now that there was absolutely nothing hidden in that statement, people just couldn’t believe that I was brave enough (ha ha) to commit to a party like that. The truth was, I had no business being there. My psyche is still way to fragile to be exposed to a group of people that I hardly know. Luckily, there were 4 good friends there to keep me from completely jumping out of my skin, my kids had an absolute blast, and I got to be a part of the celebration. Those were the positives that came out of it. Still, as soon as I was in the safe hold of my home and my kids were happily playing the backyard and sweet Ava was asleep, I cried my eyes out for about 45 minutes. My poor poor amazingly supportive husband had to endure it, this was a rough one. There was really no rhyme nor reason to the tears, just a little embarrassment, a thought of will I ever be back to my old self again, and am I now the laughing stock of all our friends because I made a poor choice. Goodness, I hope not!

Here is the deal though, I think a lot of times new moms are terrified that they are going to miss out on something because we just had a baby and our obligation is to that baby. Yet, we forget that we also have an obligation to keep ourselves sane as well. I have to tell myself that it is ok to sit out of some parties, its ok not to be in the center of everything. If you know me, you know that is very, very hard for me! Does this go deeper though? Perhaps it does. Another issue of having a larger family is not being included in things that we were once included in. Lets face it, if you invite our family over we are a party in and of ourselves. When you include us in a party setting, you are inviting 7 people, that’s a lot. I understand that but over the last few years I have noticed our dance card has not been as full as it once was, and when you are as social as Patrick and I are it can be a little hard to take at times. So maybe, that had a little something to do with my snap decision on Saturday to attend that party. Not only did I not want to miss out on being a part of the celebration but I also wanted to feel included.

In the end though, the positives of having a larger family, in my mind, definitely outweigh the negatives. It all goes back to those moments that stop time and you know that you are truly blessed and you are doing exactly what you should be doing.

Friday, April 9, 2010

The First of Many Challenges with 5......

Avalina Elise

Days 4-6

I would have to say that the biggest challenge for us over the last few days have been our “Littles”. To be expected right? They are little, they don’t quite grasp the concept of “just hang in there a few weeks and everything will return to normal”. Or become the “new normal” which just seems normal because this is just what we do now! Our 3 year old has a mind of her own, will not listen to anyone to save her life and is now teaching our sweet little 2 year old how to behave very badly. They are like little tornados, whirlwinds, hurricanes, earthquakes and any other natural disaster you can think of! I think that once we get a handle on that (Ha! Ha!) the family should be in full swing. Our “Bigs” have taken it all in stride. Millie had a few adjustments, she was worried about me, she saw and understood that I was not feeling well the last part of my pregnancy. I think she also worried about her role in the family. Once she saw it was business as usual just with an extra little person hanging around, she has been really good. Of course we are dealing with the usual not listening, “they know better then the parents” etc issues of life. For the most part we have been really very blessed with our kids and their behavior…. Although, Celeste really does go against the grain in everything! I promise this will not be the last time you hear about her!

So the freak out that we have had over the last day and a half has been our car situation. We currently have a Dodge Grand Caravan, bought 3 ½ years ago when we had Celeste. It was a big jump to do the whole “mini van” thing. We had previously made some very poor automobile choices prior to this which made us upside down in our current car loan. In short we have to stay in this vehicle until Millie is old enough to drive it!

So there is the background, here is the freak out. Car seats! Sure, I have a van that seats 7 right? Wrong! Unless you take out the 4 car seats that we have to have, otherwise, we have a ¼ of a seat left for Millie to sit in since she is the only one not in a car seat. What it comes down to is that we need an 8 passenger vehicle. Well, crap! So, as Patrick and I tend to do we frantically ran around to every dealership we could find locally looking for the perfect car to handle our entire family. We found one, but its not what we wanted. What we want is way out of our reach right now so we would be settling and that is really something that we are not wanting to do. So after a lot of freaking out, a little research and some deep thought, we found 2 booster seats that are a little smaller in width then the others. They will fit in the back and then Millie will have her own captain’s chair in the first row. So, for now, everyone is safe and has their own seat! Who knew car seats would pose as one of the many challenges that we have with the number of children that we have? Not the last I am sure!

As for Avalina, she is getting acclimated to this big world very well. She LOVES to be held which is just fine with us. As a matter of fact, she is curled up in my lap as I type this. I am becoming a wiz at typing with only one hand. She lost a little too much weight after she left the hospital so we had a follow up weight check today and she is doing great. She is so beautiful and sweet, I promise to get a picture or 2 up here very soon. I think one of the most special moments you can share with your child is in the first few months when they aren’t distracted by other things. You are their main focal point, you are their main source of entertainment. I believe this is the time that bonds you, that you fall in love over and over and over again. As parents, we tend to get bogged down with what went wrong, what went right, we forget these little things, like gazing into the eyes of a 6 day old for hours on end. It really is a beautiful thing.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Welcome Home Avalina Elise…. Days 0-3

So here we are, baby number 5 making us a proud family of 7. New Moms whether they are bringing home baby number 1, 6 or 8 all go through some form of Baby Blues. For each woman it is very different. For a lot of women each child brings about their own set of fears, wishes or wants. For me, I have had the same sadness for my last 2. I find it very hard at times to comfort myself this time though, even though I know it is what is best for all concerned.

When we brought our beautiful little Stella home 2 years ago, she was our last child. I knew that after having 4 Patrick and I would not “try” anymore. I was a wreck thinking that my baby days were over for good. Then, two years later, by some sort of miracle and not for trying, we discovered that baby Ava was on her way. Number 5, a blessed miracle in her own regard. After the shock and awe wore off I was secretly giddy at being pregnant again. My days weren’t over after all, I had one more shot at feeling those feelings and reliving those experiences. I was going to make this one count, and I really think I did, but right now 9 months, as long as it seemed on Thursday, just doesn’t seem long enough.

I know for some women it is a relief to know that they are done being pregnant because they detested being pregnant. Trust me; I was NOT a good pregnant woman with any of my babies. This time though, I was very Zen...I enjoyed feeling her move around in me, I enjoyed growing this tiny human. I appreciated the changes my body was making to accommodate a baby, and thankfully for Patrick, I really didn’t complain all that much. I truly enjoyed being pregnant until the very end. In the end I realized that my pregnancy was taking a toll on my younger 2 children. I couldn’t keep up with them I couldn’t play with them like I had been earlier in my pregnancy, I was just sooo tired. It was then that I realized that I may just be past a good age to be pregnant.

I was A.M.A., in some practices that’s what they call you, Advanced Maternal Age. At others they call you Geriatric Pre-Natal or Elderly. I am 35. I also had to deal with the fact that my Nurse Midwives who had seen me through my other 4 pregnancies were no longer practicing due to cutbacks and insurance issues. My 2 biggest fears, having a Dr. I didn’t know and not being able to get an epidural! Well, luckily for me the Dr I had even though I hadn’t met him was wonderful and the epidural was just fine. My labor was so fast though. Not at all what I had had with my last 2 and that has left me feeling a little jipped. Patrick and I had had such amazing connections during those hours walking the halls. Going through the pain of labor together, as one. This all adds to me thinking my child bearing days are over and done.

Its scary for me. I love having babies, I love what they add to our family, I love connecting with my husband in that way. I am devastated to know that this phase of my life is over. Then there is the optimistic side of me really trying to pull through all of these thoughts. It really is reminding me that things change usually for the better. I had extremely wonderful and uplifting moments not being pregnant. My husband and I have one of those scary amazing relationships in which we connect often. So why am I so down about all of this? Time will tell, in the mean time I am enjoying this beautiful little baby that has chosen us as her parents. I owe it to her to be the best mom I can be, and I intend to be.

I plan to go through the next 60 days (hopefully more) of Ava’s new life as well as managing a house of 7. So check back.