Breastfeeding. The End.

It feels weird to be writing this post now. Evan is just shy of 18 months and I fully intended to continue to breastfeed him until he was 2+. I know most women would be happy making it 3 or 6 months let alone 18 months – but I guess I’m a weirdo. It’s not like I wanted to breastfeed until he was 8, but with the my oldest I had to wean them at 26 months. Who’s weird now.

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Two weeks ago, without really a sign or warning that it was the end, E decided he was done. Too cool for the boob, I guess. We made it through various nursing strikes, teething, Hand/Foot/Mouth (which I don’t wish on my worst enemy), marathon training, and even Chicago… and then he just dropped the mic. I guess that’s how the third and final kid is supposed to do it. No warning, no weaning. Just… boom.

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“Surprise bitches!”

At first, I was in denial. I couldn’t believe he was just over it so quickly (it you consider 18 months quick).

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Then, I was sad. I mean really, really, crying real tears, sad.

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He’s my baby. He’s supposed to stay my baby the longest.

I’m now in limbo stage where I vacillate between sad and happy. Happy because it takes less time to put him to bed and there are less wake ups. Sad because it takes less time to put him to bed and there are less wake ups. And, of course like the other times breastfeeding has ended, it’s been hormonal. Damn stupid ass hormones.

Motherhood is weird.

Unlike the other times I’ve weaned – there was always a notion that there would be more to come. This time though, I’m done. The shop AND the ice cream parlor are closed for business. As much as I loooooooooooove babies, they grow up and my tolerance and checking account only stretch so far. Ok, maybe just my tolerance (I could sell a kidney or something for the cuteness).

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Ahhhh breastfeeding…. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. It was an experience I will never regret, a gift that I was given, and it saved me about 40 gajillion dollars (probably more). If I could go back in time, would I do it again? You betcha.

So, after 9 years of thinking/stressing out about babies (I actually found out I was pregnant with B 9 years ago today!! God, I’m old.), boobs, breastfeeding, engorgement, lopsidedness, Raynaud’s, milk bags, pumping, liquid gold, mastitis, and wearing every bra size from a 36A to a 32DD — I say goodbye. Adios. It’s my first really big last and I never expected to miss it. It’s bittersweet.

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Bottoms up.

Last Firsts

Knowing you are done having babies is a weird life transition. At least, it has been for me. Sometimes I feel all 35.75 of my years, but most of the time I just feel like I’m perpetually 26. It was at 26 where I thought “Eh, I could have kids.”, so it’s strange and bittersweet to think that 10 years later my family is complete and that part of my life is behind me.

It doesn’t help that this past year has flown. At times I actually feel like I am just free falling. Didn’t I JUST have a baby? How is he almost 1?

Just out for a drive.

I also  feel like all of these feelings are amplified because with him I am also experiencing my last firsts.

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Can you believe he was once this little?

The first time I held him — also the last time I will hold MY OWN newborn.

The first time I nursed him.

The first time he spit up all over me (ok, I won’t miss that).

The first time he smiled at me (which, to be honest, I don’t actually remember – #newbornhaze).

The first time he peed all over himself (now that, I remember).

The first time he heard his voice.

The first time he laughed.

The first time he sat up on his own.

The first time he slept thru the night (oh wait, that hasn’t happened yet).

And so many more…

He’s now working on some pretty major milestones – pulling up, standing, and possibly crawling and eventually walking — and this whole “last firsts” thing is really hitting home. At times, I feel pretty overwhelmed with over  it. I cried when I realized he had teeth (especially those top teeth!). I tear up when he’s playing with a baby toy that belonged to Braeden. I mean, didn’t Braeden just play with that toy and now he’s almost 8?? And I rush to record him scooting, yet again, because at ANY MOMENT he could just decide to start crawling instead.

Have you seen him scoot? It’s pretty freaking adorable.

I’m a ridiculously nostalgic person to begin with, but this whole “last firsts” thing? It might be taking me a bit over the edge. In fact, I already feel bad for Evan. He will be the last kid in our family to start Kindergarten, graduate from high school,  and move out of the house. Oh, who am I kidding, he’s not moving out of the house. Right?

I admit that I am more patient with him because I know he’s my last. I savor the small things. I don’t rush the big events or hope he hits his milestones sooner. I relish his babyness and soak in the open mouth kisses and sleepy snuggles. I get why the baby is, in fact, always “the baby.” The irony is that most of the time, they grow up the fastest.

Kissing him, without protest, while I can.

I know that there are so many “firsts” that I still have to look forward to, but as we approach the “last first birthday” I can’t help but get wrapped up in the small things. Last night, as I rocked my last baby to sleep I thought about how thankful I was to have any of these firsts… so grateful. It’s so easy to get caught up in the sleep deprivation, the stress, the anxiety, and well, the work. At times, it can really get the best of you. However, in the same breath that I will tell you it’s HARD, harder than you ever expect or imagine, I will tell you that these little people — and all of their firsts– are worth it. Every second.

Maybe if I knew how fast it would go, I might have tried to live in the moment more. Or maybe I did it just right? That’s the thing with parenthood. You never really know how you’re doing… which is what makes those firsts so much sweeter.

Save Some For The Fish, Dude

I don’t normally post about Evan’s “firsts” like this, but, well, this first is memorable. It’s not necessarily memorable in a good way, but if he is traumatized when he gets older… we know why.

It started out innocently enough. We made an impromptu visit to my dad’s place on Sunday. A few of my cousins were down for Spring Break (oh, college kids – they’re so cute) and did I mention that my dad lives at the beach? A beach that is rarely inhabited?

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Yeah, it doesn’t suck.

In any case, we’ve visited my dad plenty since E was born – but we had yet to take him down to the beach/into the ocean and figured this would be as good a time as any.

First we introduced him to sand.

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Surprisingly, he didn’t eat it. Or even attempt to eat it. He was just happy about touching it.

Then, our grand idea was to gradually introduce him to waves. We wanted to sit him at the foot of the ocean and let a wave gently roll over him. Except the first wave didn’t make it to him.

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So we decided to move him up.

You know where this is going, right?

Yeah. A huge wave came out of nowhere and basically bowled him over.

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Geez. Save some for the fish, dude.

I somehow managed to snap this picture WHILE I was screaming. Like seriously screaming at the top of my lungs. Thankfully, Dan was right behind him and scooped him up as fast as possible (the rip tide is FIERCE – we don’t play around here).

My littlest guy was not impressed, obviously – although he calmed down after I wrapped him up.

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Pretty sure he was thinking…W.T.F.

We later tried to dip his feet in the ocean, but surprisingly, he was NOT having it.

Earlier, a wave tried to eat him. He is traumatized. #winningatparenting

It actually took a lot of effort to get him into the pool, and then later, the bath.

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Thankfully, everyone else managed to have fun and it was the perfect beach day.

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Let's go fly a kite...

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As you can imagine, the mom guilt level is high. I’m all for letting my kids learn through experiences, but this was definitely not the “first wave” experience I was imagining. At the same time, how can you NOT laugh at this? I mean… that picture. It’s priceless.

Thankfully, E has bounced back quickly.

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We’re back in the bathing business (good thing since it’s his 2nd favorite activity of the day — after eating) and we’ll try the beach again. Someday.

What To Buy New Parents

I’m interrupting my running posts because my BFF, Kate, suggested I write this post on what to buy new parents.

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I’m actually hosting her sprinkle on Saturday — and BOTH of my sister-in-laws just had babies (yep, I’m officially an Auntie — times two!), so this is timely for me as well.

For starters, I should tell you that when I’m shopping for new parents I rarely buy off their registry. Yes, I’m one of those people. WHY? Well, because truly most of my favorite baby items are never ON the registry. And if they are, I hope their friends/other family members buy them. I’m not saying you YOU shouldn’t buy off the registry, but if you see 25 small blankets, 4 baby bath towels, and a wipe warmer — you can probably assume they got to the store and thought “OMG WHAT THE HELL AM I DOING?” It happens. In fact, it happened to me.

I was one of those new parents once – and I was NEVER opposed to experienced moms buying what they liked. And you know what? Most of the time what they liked, I ended up liked too.

Small Gifts ($5-$15)

If you don’t know the parents well, or you want to buy a bunch of little gifts – here are a few suggestions.

Wubbanub

Oh, how I love these things. They make the pacifer SO HARD to lose – and that in itself at a huge victory. Plus, they are adorable. I mean.. remember this?

"I love my wubbanub." (Thanks to @kwidrick!)

E still loves his. He has one at daycare and two at home. He uses it only when he’s napping and I can him dropping that habit soon. I know that so many people will tell you not to introduce a pacifier when they are newborns, but I did with all of mine and they were never (EVER) confused about where they were getting their milk from!

Also, I have a thumbsucker – and let me tell you – that is a MUCH harder habit to break!!

Cute Outfit

I love, love, love buying baby clothes and will almost always throw in an outfit or two just because. My favorite places to shop for infants are Carter’s, Crazy 8 (<–my absolute FAVORITE place for baby jeans – and kid jeans), Target, The Children’s Place, and Old Navy. I love the “higher end stores” as well (especially, Janie & Jack, Gymboree, and Baby Gap) , but most of the time their clothes are little too pricey for me to justify.

Butt Paste/California Baby Wash/Aquaphor/Coconut Oil

My kids have all had sensitive skin as infants, and all of these products had helped minimize rashes/eczema break outs. The Coconut Oil is especially a miracle product because you can use it for all kinds of things (it’s also handy for constipation). We use it almost daily after a bath and seal it with Aquaphor.

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Diapers

Obviously. Seriously – when in doubt, BUY DIAPERS. They can always be returned for for bigger diapers if the baby outgrows them (unless your husband opens a pack mistakenly in the middle of the night – then they become gifts). New parents will never complain about diapers. Old parents won’t either.

I’m personally not a brand snob – but I do think that Pampers makes the best disposable diapers for newborns. Huggies are a close seconds — and Huggies are what I use now with E now that he’s older. Like most things baby related, certain brands/styles work for different babies. It’s ALWAYS good to have variety.

Medela Steam Sterilizer Bags

Screw getting a steam cleaner or boiling your pump parts, bottles, nipples, pacifiers, etc. If you have a microwave and one of these bags (which can be used up to 20 times) you are set. The best part? It SAYS pump parts on the bag – but you can use it for anything you need to sterilize. Bonus (besides the price) — it only takes a minute and 30 seconds!

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Lansinoh Breastmilk Bags

These bags are better than any other breastmilk bag out there! If you know the mom is going to try to nurse/pump, then it’s a welcome gift.

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Bottles

Yes, there are a million and one types of bottles. Chances are the parents-to-be only registered for one kind. Since, I’ve been burned at this game — I recommend new parents register for 4-5 DIFFERENT type of bottles (just one bottle of each) and then later – once the baby has decided which bottle it prefers (some don’t have a preference, but some do and it’s baffling), they can go back and invest.

So, if you see a register with just one kid of bottle – don’t be able to pick out a different kid. There are a lot of REALLY great brands. B was a Dr. Brown’s baby, L was a Playtex Nurser baby, and B is a “whatever the heck the milk comes in is fine with me” baby.

Tommee Tippee Bibs
Dude… these are the BEST BIBS EVER.

Truthfully, I’m not a big bib person. I don’t use the cotton ones for spit up/drool (that just means more laundry!). However, when it comes to eating – these bibs are awesome. They catch a lot of food and they are completely washable.

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I don’t know how it took 3 kids for me to discover them either.

Medium Gifts ($15-30)

Sleep Sheep/White Noise Machine

I looooooove E’s Sleep Sheep. We just used a white noise machine with the B & L, but the Sleep Sheep is even better.

Morning baby spam: chillin with his friends. He loves the heartbeat sound from his Sleep Sheep.

E also has a Sleep Dumbo (his daycare provider gave it to him for Christmas!) that we use at bedtime that plays Twinkle Twinkle Little Star (which is what he naps to at daycare – it helped us finally make the transition to his crib).

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Sophie the Giraffe

I know it looks like a $20 dog toy, but it’s SUCH a great teether. We actually left E’s at church a few weeks ago and haven’t seen it since, so I’m going to have to replace it.

Sophie must taste good. He jumps when he makes her squeak - it's hilarious.

Swaddle Blankets

I’m a huge fan of swaddling – because I think it really does calm newborns/infants and helps them sleep longer. I’ve tried a few blankets and my favorite is definitely the ones from Swaddle Design.

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Their Ultimate Receiving Blankets are BIG and allow you to do a tight wrap – which is how I was still able to swaddle a gigantic 8 month old without his hands breaking free! They are flannel and while it seems like they could be hot – I used them the entire summer here (100+ degrees every day) without an issue.
They also make Muslin blankets, which I like – but I experienced A LOT more breakouts because they aren’t as sturdy. However, they are fabulous for covering a stroller or car seat!

Play Mat/Gym

You don’t need go pricey on the play mat/gym — but it’s one of my favorite baby items. It’s so functional!! E is almost 10 months and still plays on his. Although, it will probably be retired soon!

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Larger Gifts ($50++)

Rock ‘n Play

You know about my love-hate relationship with this thing. Even though this thing kept the baby in my room longer than intended – I still swear by it. How I survived without it for my other kids is BEYOND me!

Pack ‘n Play

We still use the one we received as a gift 8 years ago. If I had to name ONE baby gift that I couldn’t imagine living without? This would be it. It’s VERY multifunctional – it serves as a baby jail AND a crib. And helps you contain the baby tornado!

A glimpse of things to come. #trouble

Most people do register for this item — so if you see it’s available and want to splurge on a big gift, this is a GREAT one to pick.

Baby Carrier

When B was little I tried out a million baby carriers. A Moby (which I loved), BabyHawk, Ring Sling, and Peanut Sling are just a few. I didn’t find one I LOVED, but I used the ones I had often.

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Heh.

When L was little I bought the Beco Baby Carrier and it’s still by far my favorite. I also have an Ergo that I bought with E, and it’s just easier to get the baby into the Beco!

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I even did Disney with a 3-month old – in the middle of the summer – with it!

Regardless of which one is used, babywearing one of my favorite parts about having a baby. It’s like snuggling while being in motion.

If you see someone has an Infantino or a Baby Bjorn on their list and you want to splurge – surprise them with an Ergo or a Beco instead — or even a Moby. They are all ergonomically correct and MUCH better for the baby’s hips and the parent’s back.

Jumperoo/Walker/Exersaucer

Skip the swing, bouncer, and Bumbo – and go for something the baby is going to use for more than 2-3 months. A Jumperoo, Exersaucer, and Walker can be used for 6-9 months — sometimes even longer if the baby is slower with mobility!

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We have all three and use them at different times depending on what I’m doing at the time. For example — sometimes I just need him to be happy while I’m making dinner – so he goes into the Jumperoo, where my kids can jump with him and I know he’s not trying to put cords and dust balls into his mouth! Like he did this morning…

An HDMI cord, a sneaker, and a bookcase. #babyMacGyver #trouble

Soo… there you have it! This is definitely NOT the be-all, end-all list, but these are well-loved, well-used baby items (at least in my house) that I highly recommend.

Is there anything I’m missing?? Are there any favorite baby items YOU love to give as gifts?? Feel free to add suggestions in the comments!

E and Me {9 Months Postpartum}

I think the last update I did on E was 6 months… well, somehow it’s 3 months later.

It's hard to believe this happy, giggly guy is 9 months old today!

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It’s pretty amazing how much a baby can change in 3 months. E is still my laid back, chill baby – don’t get me wrong – but he’s bigger, faster, smarter, and has opinions! Oh my.

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E had his 9-month checkup on Wednesday and he did what ALL of my kids have done starting around 9 months — he started dropping on the weight chart. He was in the 95th percentile — and he’s now in the 75th. I’d heard it with all of them at this age, “You should stop nursing as much and give them solids more.” With my first, I freaked out – and no matter what I did the percentile kept dropping. Both B and L were in the 20th percentile for weight when they were 2 — and are now both in the 50th. This time, instead of freaking, I nodded. He eats PLENTY and I’m not going to give up any breastfeeding session. I mean he still GAINED – he was up to 22lbs 6oz (from about 20.5lbs). And did he GROW. He is also still completely off the charts in height – coming in at 31 inches (that’s 2.25 inches in 3 months!). Sooo….yeah.

As for other stuff…

He’s sitting, he’s rolling, he smacking his hands on anything and everything (and laughing about it), he’s waving (particularly when prompted with hi or  bye), he’s says ‘da’ and ‘ma’ (and I’m fairly certain he says “ba bye”) and he is happy. Almost always. He loves giving kisses (it’s his newest trick) and loooooves the bath.

Curly.

Pretty sure he’s gonna have curly hair…

He also love, love, loves his brother and sister. He gets so excited to see them and prefers just hanging out with them. I hope it stays that way!

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However, he HATES getting strapped into his car seat. Thankfully, he’s easily distracted.

He usually only takes his paci when he's in his crib... It's that kind of Monday.

As far as milestones go — he’s NOT like his siblings at this age — he is not crawling, he’s not pulling up, and he’s not even creeping (rolling gets him where he wants to go).

Caught red handed. #cordlover4life

I can still get to cords. That’s all that counts.

He CAN stand holding on to something (the Dr. had me show him), so all is fine – and truthfully, I am NOT complaining! Like I said, he’s chill. He can roll if he wants something or — someone will get it FOR him. It doesn’t help that he is the size of an average 18 month old — his body is like “whatever dude.” I’ve seen him get on his knees and rock maybe once or two in the past few days, so I know it’s coming. And I always dread it. Can we just move onto walking? Crawling is gross. Everything within eye level is in the mouth.

Just chewing on my toes. Waiting on my flight.

But chewing on my toes is totally cool, mom.

One area that he’s excelling in is teeth – he has four teeth with more on the way. The bottom two teeth were a piece of cake. The top two teeth were a bitch.

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Teething makes him sad. And clingy.

Teething is pretty much the worst. But everyone knows that right? It’s too bad we need them to eat.

Boys.

What’s funny is that while he’s adding teeth — B is losing his. Ahhh… the circle of teeth.

As for sleep… well, he’s in his crib and wakes up about once a night. Of course, the nights he doesn’t wake up — I STILL wake up. So that’s fun.

Butts up.

I know I have to put an end to the wakeups at some point – but I don’t mind it at the moment. I feel like I hardly get to snuggle with him these days, and his 10 minute feeding in the middle of the night makes up for it a little bit. Also, I’m a sucker.

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Who can resist this face?

As far as health goes – I’d say he’s a pretty healthy kid. We’re had a few colds this “winter” but nothing crazy. He’s had some random stomach and constipation issues (I got to use a Q-tip for something I NEVER thought I would last month. Yay.)  – and when he gets congested it seems to turn into a mild croup cough (it’s happened twice now). He also has mild eczema that we remedy with a little coconut oil/aquaphor mix (put the coconut oil on first and then seal it with some Aquaphor so that the oil isn’t staining everyhing). It’s amazing how effective that mixture is!

As for me…

What can I say that I haven’t in months past? I’m still breastfeeding/pumping — and therefore down about 10-15lbs from my normal weight. I am doing my best to enjoy this calorie burn for 3 more months — because once I wean from the pump, I know the weight will return (a very healthy weight — that I am COMPLETELY happy with, ftr).

Truthfully, I still have my ups and downs. My biggest challenge is postpartum anxiety. I don’t experience it daily, but every now and then it creeps in. I’ll start stressing out about the most mundane things (and when E was sick— forget it) and drive everyone crazy with my thoughts and concerns. Sleeping helps – as does running. I really need to do more of both.

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I also need to get my HOME in order again. I feel like I’ve gotten back to “normal” in stages. First, it was work. Then it was working out, and now I’m in the stage where I need to focus on keep my house in order again. The most annoying thing? LAUNDRY. OMG, we have so much of it!!

Oh, and maybe I’ll actually go on a date with my husband again soon? I keep saying this is going to happen. Can somebody clone us so we have time??

So, in a nutshell – E is still happy, life is still crazy, and he’s now been here longer than he was “in there.”

Up close and personal.

And we couldn’t be happier!

Next up… planning his 1st birthday. So….does anyone want to plan it for me? :)