Mommy Guilt Again.

February 28.

I was supposed to be going back to work next week.  (Looks around to see if anyone is listening).  I kinda wish I was.

I’m bored.  I had a feeling this might happen.  Baby is fully weaned, enjoying his formula and waking up usually only once a night now.  He’s not taking solids all that great but we are getting there.

The weather sucks.  I’m not usually to complain about our climate but this has been a particularly long winter. At least it feels that way.  I don’t even mind the snow, but the bitter, bitter cold makes it very difficult to go out for walks with the kids.

I haven’t run in a week.  My ankle is still sore.  I finally got on the exercise bike last night for 45 minutes and worked up a sweat and that felt good.  But I miss running.  I miss the freedom.  I miss that 30-40 minutes of solely me-time.

And that makes me feel guilty.  In five weeks I’ll be working 4 days a week and leaving husband with 3 kids.  I’ll have all day to be with adults, to be “on my own” and to miss the kids.  Yet right at this very moment, I wish I was going back to work next week.

My brain, like my body after not running for a week, feels like mush.  I have a stack of New England Journal of Medicine magazines that I need to start reading, but I can’t focus for more than a few minutes without a child demanding juice, or a snack, or a diaper change.  I honestly don’t know how parents do this day-in and day-out.  I don’t know how my husband does it.  I’ve been home for 5 months and I’m starting to go crazy.  I knew this would happen but it felt too soon to go back to work in March.  Now April feels a million miles away.

Even as I write this the guilt is overflowing – the older kids are watching Sleeping Beauty and the baby is jumping jolly.  Lazy parenting at its best.

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Progress.

Day 23 – January Daily Blog Posting Month

So, baby J is now 4 months old. Sleep training has begun and is going reasonably well. Daytime naps are still pretty short but once 5pm hits he is pretty dusted and will sleep 3-4 hour stretches until 6am. He still screams bloody murder at naps but it’s getting shorter and shorter and he’s starting to soothe himself asleep. Great progress all around.

The next hurdle is the formula introduction. I tried to give him a few ounces the other day and he looked up at me with the most disgusted of expressions as if he was thinking, “Woman, WTF is this?!”

Yesterday, I delegated the task to husband and he worked his Jedi magic and the baby drank the formula.

*sniff*

Daddy milk is starting.

I plan to continue nursing for at least another month if I can. I just would like to get some more sleep, so I hope with more formula there will be less nighttime awakenings. Of course this likely means that my supply will start to take a nosedive. Damned if I do and damned if I don’t.

But on the plus side – more sleep for all of us!!

A Note On Sleep Training.

Day 20 – January Daily Blog Posting Month

So, I’ve started sleep training baby J.  The reason?  This:

And this:

Both are amazing and needed in the immediate newborn period; the soother because babies need to suck and it’s just not practical to be a human soother all of the time; the swaddle because the moro reflex interrupts sleep and newborns/infants need to feel tight and secure when they sleep.

But there comes a time when both become a) a hassle, and b) a crutch.

Let me explain.

The soother becomes a crutch because once baby falls asleep, if the soother falls out of the mouth, the baby wakes up and starts crying.  Mom and dad have to go back into the room, re-position the soother and baby falls asleep.  This becomes a hassle when it occurs a bajillion times a night.

The swaddle becomes a hassle when baby starts moving around and pulls the Houdini routine and you walk into the room when baby is screaming only to find the soother still in the mouth but the baby’s arms are out of the swaddle and the kid doesn’t know what to do with them.

Both of what I described above started happening on a regular basis with baby J and one exhausted morning last week, I decided it was time to stop swaddling. The soother remained, but after two return trips to the crib to replace said soother in the span of ten minutes, another decision was made.  Bye-bye soother.

What ensued next?

Yes.  Blood-curdling screaming.  Poor kid didn’t know what to do.  Arms were flailing all over the place, legs kicking up a storm and there is me, face to face with screaming and quietly doing this:

At some point though, one just has to leave the room and let the baby cry.  And cry he did.  But he stopped eventually and fell asleep, for about 20 minutes.

The the screaming started again.  I looked over at my cat who was sleeping on the couch next to me and she gave me this look:

Ah … sleep training.

Excuse me while I tend to the infant … in the time it took for me to write this post, about 20 minutes, he slept and is now awake.

 

Mommy Guilt.

Day 6 – January Daily Blog Posting Month

First off, welcome to my new followers.  Thank you for embarking on this journey with me!  I am honoured and flattered that you are following along.

Baby J is going to be 4 months old on the 16th of this month.  I continue to exclusively breastfeed him which is a huge thing for me given how awful an experience it was with my firstborn.  I still have the emotional scars.  Baby J feels like he is gaining well and he is certainly growing!  He is already ahead on the developmental side of things – he is doing everything a 4 month old should be doing and he is only 3.5 months old.  He is laughing at us, grabbing at things and is starting to bring his knees up and pivot on his back.  He could roll over any day now.

He is napping pretty well throughout the day, it’s just his nighttime sleep which I wish would improve.  Selfishly, I admit.  I am tired.  I want to sleep more than 2-3 hour stretches at nighttime. Last night at 4am, husband got up to replace the soother as I had just fed him 45 minutes earlier.  Husband came back and said, “We should be giving him formula at night.”  The thought being that he would sleep longer.  It certainly was the case for our other kids, why not this one?

My plan all along was to introduce formula about 6 weeks before I returned to work, which would be in mid-late February.  But last night and this morning, I am seriously considering introducing it early.  Yet, the mommy guilt kicks in.  It’s only been 3.5 months.  I could do this longer, I should be doing this longer. After all, why did I extend my leave by a month?  So I could hand off the baby to be fed by a bottle, by others?

Ugh.

All of my children were given formula.  My daughter was 2 weeks old when I started supplementing; my middle son was 3 months old when I first started his transition.  By all accounts, I have done pretty well with Baby J as he has been exclusively breast-fed the longest.

So why can’t I just do it now?

Mommy guilt.

How To Stay Sane During Your Maternity Leave.

Day 15. National Blog Posting Month.

Halfway there!!  Thank you for your continued readership!

Yesterday I took the baby to a movie. (!!!) You might wonder what kind of movie theater would allow someone to bring an infant to a show?  Well, where I live, the major movie theater company runs a weekly program called “Stars & Strollers”.  Maybe you have something similar where you live.  It’s basically a movie showing at 1pm where moms can bring very small children, (ie infants and toddlers) and enjoy an afternoon watching the latest releases.  The volume is turned down, there’s even a change table at the front of the theater!  How awesome is that?

During my first maternity leave, I went to a lot of movies with a friend whose son was born just a few days after my daughter.  We saved each others sanity, I am quite sure.  It was wintertime and the only saving grace (for me at least) were those weekly trips to the movies.  For two hours it was okay if your kid cried.  Everyone in the theater would totally understand.  I remember having to walk up and down the aisles with my daughter because she was freaking out crying, and it was fine because at any given moment there was at least one other mom doing the same.

Remembering that time led me to think about other things that saved my sanity during that particularly difficult maternity leave.

  • Sleep in in the morning.  After the husband leaves to take the kids to school, go back to bed with the baby.
  • Learn how to eat with one hand.  What’s the other hand doing? Balancing the baby on the breast, or on the bottle of formula.
  • If the baby is asleep, and you feel rested and aren’t doing the first thing on this list, go have a shower.  A long, hot shower.  Your boobs will tell you when baby wakes up.  (Seriously, this happens to me all the time.  I start leaking in the shower and if I listen really, really hard, I can hear the baby crying and know that my shower time is up).
  • Go for walks, every day.
  • Eat whatever you want.
  • Drink whatever you want – in fact, a glass of wine or a stout beer will make you feel 100x better.  Scientific fact! (Not really.)
  • Don’t be afraid to give the baby some formula, or expressed breast milk, in a bottle. Let someone else feed the baby so you can go out for an hour or four.
  • Use a soother!!! There’s no reason you need to be the pacifier.
  • Remember: it’s a brief period of time, the sleep deprivation in particular; before you know it, the baby will be a toddler, the toddler a child and you’ll wish you could go back to when they were infants.  No, really, you will.

How did you survive maternity leave?

Back in the saddle!

Day 8 of NaBloPoMo.

It’s been 263 days since I went for a run.  263 days of sitting on my ass, eating countless buckets of ice cream, chocolate, Twizzlers, oh and gestating a human being (well, that’s more like 200 days).  263 days of weight gain (yes, yes, I was pregnant), but now that that’s all done, I have 20 lbs to shed.  I don’t intend on losing it too fast as I still want to continue nursing.  I just feel out of shape, in more ways than one, and it was time to saddle up!

So, I woke up this morning determined to do one thing – go for a run.  I told husband early that this was the plan.  I slowly got ready while the baby slept.  I ate some breakfast with the kids, had my morning cup of coffee [wink, wink] and got dressed. 

This is when it first starts getting depressing.  My running pants are snug.  My sports bra was tight, but I was wearing it on top of my nursing bra for extra support, so that was to be expected. Finally, the running shirt. Ugh.  Tight, ill-fitting and showcased the “muffin top”.  Oh, you don’t know what a muffin top is?  Go google it!  I am NOT publishing a picture. 

The baby woke up, I fed him and handed him off to daddy.  I kissed the kids goodbye (both are home sick today) and off I went.  count

The first minute was a brisk walk.  I used the MapMyRun app on my phone.  I have it set to tell me the minute intervals. At 2 minutes, I started running at my usual pace and a minute in, I was huffing a bit.  It’s about 3 degrees Celsius today, and a bit windy, so my chest started to burn.  I ran through it and at 4 minutes, back to a walking pace.  I continued this interval for about 20 minutes and 2.52 km.  When I got home, I was quite winded but it took only a few minutes to recover.  I did some yoga stretching, a few sit-ups, and I was done.  Done like dinner.  I suspect I will be quite sore tomorrow, but I think it’ll be worth it.

Today, I’m Tired.

Day 6.

I got about a total of 5 hours of sleep last night. Had it been all in a row I’d probably not be writing about it.

Baby J had an epic nap yesterday. He fell asleep at 4:30pm and woke up at 10:30pm. I would have loved to have been sleeping right along with him but that is just so unrealistic. My house is in a constant state of disaster and I am trying to make a dent in it. I managed to clean out the main floor closet and my desk. Victory!!

So yeah, I went to “bed” (actually, the couch in the basement) at 11pm after my nightly ritual of checking Twitter and FB. The baby woke up at 1:30am. Feed, burp, swaddle, back to sleep. He was up again at 3:00am. Feed, burp, swaddle, back to sleep. Then up again at 4:30am. Feed, burp, diaper change, clothing change, swaddle, back to sleep. Up again at 6am … You get the drift?

Zzzzzz….

I put the cereal box in the fridge this morning. I can’t imagine having to go back to work right now. Maternity leave rocks!!!

Where’s my bed?

The Time Has Come.

This week I had my 6 week postpartum checkup.  She gushed over my son and checked my incision.  Really, it was just a formality.  I did ask one specific question:  When can I start exercising?

And the answer I wanted to hear, I got – I am good to go.

Great!  Now the pressure is on!

My goal is to be able to run the 5 km home from the office by the time I return to work, in March.  A tall order for someone who has sat on her, well you know, for the past 10 months. Sigh … where to begin?

I guess the first thing to do is to get some muscle tone back, there’s quite a bit of flab going on, to be honest.  I know, I know, I just had a child so I shouldn’t be too hard on myself.  The initial plan was to start going for walks and I think that’s a good place to start.  The baby loves to be in a carrier, so taking him out for walks is good for him, as well as for me (he’s almost 10 lbs now, so the extra weight I’m carrying offers increased resistance, right?).  As much as I’d love to get out there and start running, the last thing I need is to do too much too soon and risk an injury. I think it’s also important to get some flexibility back – I started doing some gentle yoga stretching a few days ago.

The other concern I have is the impact exercise will have (if any) on breastfeeding, or more specifically, my milk supply.  A quick Google search came up with a few hits from the usual suspects:  La Leche League, (I found this great article on Postpartum Fitness from the La Leche League), KellyMom, BabyCenter.  The general consensus from these sites is that exercise doesn’t affect breast milk supply, though go to any “mom forum” and you might read differently.  I have personally heard from some friends that exercise did in fact, affect their supply.

So, I decided to do a little bit of research, because really, what else have I got to do these days?

A Google Scholar search came up with this study from 1994, published in the New England Journal of Medicine.  Thirty-three women, all exclusively breastfeeding and 6-8 weeks postpartum were randomly assigned to an exercise group or a control group (no exercise).  The exercise group were supervised and did aerobic exercise at 60-70% of maximum heart rate for 45 minutes, 5 days a week for 12 weeks.  Energy expenditure, dietary intake, body composition and the volume and composition of breast milk were assessed.  The results showed that aerobic exercise 4-5 times per week, beginning 6-8 weeks postpartum had no adverse effects on breast milk supply and significantly improved the cardiovascular fitness of the women.  Interestingly, the rate of weight loss was not different between the two groups.  Bearing in mind that the study size was quite small, it’s encouraging to see that exercise didn’t appear to affect a woman’s milk supply.  The article also goes on to discuss the importance of keeping hydrated before, during and after exercise, as well as keeping one’s caloric intake up to support breast-feeding. While weight loss is of course the eventual goal, it is important for me at least, to recognize that this probably won’t happen as quickly as I’d like since I do continue to keep nursing.  In the long run, that’s not so much a concern as I know my body and it naturally reverts back to what it knows (at least, I hope it does this third time!).

The Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada published a joint Clinical Practice Guideline with the Canadian Society of Exercise Physiology in 2003, titled “Exercise in Pregnancy and the Postpartum Period”.  Here’s an excerpt:

Exercise and Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is the best method of providing optimal nutrition, immunologic- based protection, and emotional nurturing for the growth and development of infants.51 Therefore, exercise frequency and intensity should not interfere with a mother’s ability to breastfeed. Although exercise does not negatively affect milk production or composition,52–54 lactic acid has been shown to be increased in the breast milk of women exercising at maximal intensity, but not in those exercising at moderate level.55–58 There is controversy as to whether this short-term increase in lactic acid makes the breast milk less palatable to the nursing infant.55,56, 58–61 Mothers who find that their baby does not feed as well right after exercising may consider feeding the baby right before exercising (which may also make the breasts more comfortable during exercise), postponing feeding until 1 hour after exercising, or expressing milk prior to exercising to be used after exercising. The growth of breastfeeding babies of exercising women is normal, even for the infants whose mothers are losing weight as part of their exercise regimen.53

RECOMMENDATION 6

Women should be advised that moderate exercise during lactation does not affect the quantity or composition of breast milk or impact infant growth. (I-A)

Well, that’s good enough for me.

The other “mom forums” also had a few good suggestions, like nursing before exercising.  This makes complete sense to me – a well-fed infant will sleep while mommy goes out for a run!  The other suggestion I read was taking baby with you – ie. in a carrier while going for a brisk walk, or using a jogging stroller!  Brilliant!  We happen to have a Chariot and husband has been talking about buying the jogging handle attachment, though I’m not sure how we’d fit three kids when it seats only two?  Hmm … might have to think about that one a bit.

In any event, it appears I have no excuse not to get started.  There is a pair of Guess jeans that are desperately waiting to be worn again, and LOTS of left over Hallowe’en chocolate that is taunting me.

Get ready. Get set. Go!