Wean Baby, Wean

Seventeen months. I made it seventeen months nursing Kanga. Six of those months while pregnant. Go ahead, pat me on the back and throw me a box of tissue because this is way harder on mama bear than it is on that little girl I’ve been attached to for the past 17 months.

Last night was our first try at weaning. We didn’t nurse during the day, we didn’t nurse to put her to bed but we did nurse a couple times in the night. No longer than one minute each time. She slept much better than previous nights. She woke up half as many times and slept for longer periods in between wakings. I, did not sleep well at all. The baby on the inside was moving way too much and I was busy anticipating Kanga’s wakings and peeing every five minutes.

It took an hour to put Kanga to sleep last night. She had almond milk before bed then just hung out and cuddled. Cuddled and tugged at my heart strings. She fell asleep, and I found a spot to curl up on the couch and shed a few tears. Maybe a little more than a few. Physically, I have been wanting to wean her for a while. I didn’t think it made much sense though, since I would start nursing again so soon. Emotionally I felt that I should give her as much one on one attention and bonding as possible before baby two is earthside. For about a month I would quietly cringe as Kanga would nurse. Not all the time, but enough for me to know that it was time. Between the baby having a party 24/7 and the pain in my legs/ restless leg syndrome, the physical contact of nursing has put me right on the edge.

Yes, I feel like an ass hole saying that.

I also know that it’s for the better.

I woke up this morning and pumped thinking I would have all the milk to expel. That was a joke. I had less than an ounce! I have been a human pacifier for months. How did I not realize this before!?

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Today, we nursed once, for about a minute. I went to the store and bought rice cereal to mix with almond milk as a “hot milk” before bed. A special something to start a new routine instead of nursing. I tasted it and it was delicious. Kanga could not care less. She tried it and liked it but couldn’t be bothered. She took her binky, put it in her mouth, cuddled up to me and was out like a light after just a few minutes.

So here I am back on the couch, emotional, and in awe of my little girl. She was ready, I was not. She’s ready to share the nutrients with her brother or sister. We cuddle all the time and play rough and tumble. We are together all the time and clearly are well bonded. She needs me but she doesn’t need my boobies or that boob juice anymore. I must say, I am slightly relieved and also terrified to see how tonight goes.

I’m sure I will have updates. In the meantime, throw me a box of tissues.

Raffaella

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Boys and Girls

Do we instill fear in our girls and bravery in our boys? Do we set our girls up to be scared of life?

I listened to a podcast today that made me reflect on my childhood and think about the future in raising my children. We were given a few books when my daughter was born that I have refused to read to her because they put women in a box that I am not at all about. I will be throwing these books to the curb. It’s hard for me to get rid of books but I will be booting them with no problem.

The podcast was an interview with author and badass Caroline Paul. She has written a book called the “Gutsy Girl: Escapades for your life of Epic Adventure”. I haven’t read it yet, but I am very excited to pick up a copy and share it with the women in my life. Both young and old.

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Back to the point. The question at the top of this page. As parents, do we instill fear in girls and bravery in boys? We can all see that society pushes gender roles onto all of us, both men and women. We wear certain clothes, speak a certain way, downplay our strengths or play up our weaknesses. Do we do this in part of our upbringing? When we tell our little ones to “be careful” do we steer them away from taking risks in their adult life? Do we say “be careful” to girls more than boys? I would say so. We say “toughen up” to our boys, “brush it off”. What do we say to girls? “Awe, poor girl, be careful.” or, “Don’t do that, you’re going to get hurt”. It’s not rocket science. Tell someone to always be careful and they’ll do just that, probably with a little self doubt and low self-esteem. I’m sure many of us can relate to those feelings, even just a little bit.

Then there’s the question, should we raise girls and boys differently?

I keep trying to rack my brain for a scenario where I would tell my child something different based on their sex, and I can’t think of any. Body parts, don’t touch others and don’t let them touch you. The way they dress? Maybe? Unfortunately, its the shitty reality in this world. But then I fight that because what does that say to girls. It’s your fault for being tempting? That’s messed up. Ok, let’s focus on the early years. Are boys and girls that different before they reach puberty? I would say no. So why treat them that way?

Am I naive? Am I stubborn? I don’t think so. Well, we could argue the stubbornness. If I have a boy after having our daughter I wouldn’t want to guide them to do things differently based on sex. I think back to where I grew up and how I was spoken to. My parents did a good job in pushing me to do all the things the boys could do. I played in the schoolyard with them, rode a skateboard headfirst down a hill like them, ran just as fast, threw just as hard, my parents never told me not to. I think that’s pretty obvious in the person I am today. Not to say I lack self doubt but those are my hang-ups from this big world and some other baggage.

Some food for thought.

What do you mamas and papas think? Anyone with a boy and girl who feels differently? Please share with us. I would love to hear other points of view on this!

Raffaella

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The Gray Space

Parenting isn’t so black and white. I am only 16 months in but it is very clear that you don’t know a damn thing until you experience it. Even when you have experienced it once, it may be very different for the next child, for the next birth, for the next moment that comes along that requires you to make a decision big or small.

Before I became a parent I was quick to make bold statements that I would never let my child use an ipad. I was so sure about the things that I would or would not feed my child. The things I would allow, the things I would not allow. I apologize for my ignorance and the arrogance of my statements. I would say I have a significant amount of experience working with children. This somehow justified my statements even more. I don’t think I was the worst person out there making such statements but, I played my shitty part. If you’re not a parent, I’m pretty sure you are playing a little bit of that part. I hear it all the time. I hear it from one parent to another and from one single person to another parent. I hear it all the time. The you should be doing this not that, have you heard of this technique, that technique.

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My mother used to tell me all the time when I was in my teens, especially, that she wished she had someone to make parenting decisions with. I always rolled my eyes and would think, “just make a decision, it’s not that hard.” Mamma, I apologize. I know now, that things can be THAT hard. We’re not even parents of teenagers yet.

Decisions are not so easy to make. Yes, there are some that are very easy to make. Don’t do the clearly wrong thing, don’t kill anyone, don’t run a red light and put others in harms way, don’t text and drive, there are plenty of easy decisions we make—-for ourselves. Parenting decisions come with a great deal of responsibility. They also come with a certain degree of doubt. Are we investing in the right thing? Do we move into a bigger place or size down and save? Do I vaccinate my child? Do we space them out? Do we do them all at once? Should I catch my daughter every time she falls or let her fall?

I have recently decided that we are going to switch to cloth diapering. It was a decision I made to cut costs and save as well as transition our little girl to underwear and hopefully what will turn into potty training before our second little one is born. We don’t wear diapers at home. Luckily little miss does not like the feeling of peeing on herself so we have been able to slowly move things to the toilet. The poop thing is a little trickier. She hates it to the point where she can make herself constipated. She pushes at the same time as squeezing her butt-cheeks and legs to stop anything from happening! As a result, or reaction, I have been taking her to the toilet and helping her sit on it. The new technique has been to sit behind her as I bend her legs and let her do her thing. She fights it. She fights it then is so relieved and goes right back to reading her millions of books.

Today I thought mayyyyybe it wasn’t a good idea to sit behind her like that. Am I traumatizing her? Is this the right thing? Should I just let her do her thing—-on the floor? It sounds so ridiculous. It’s quite hilarious, actually. But seriously, how could I have so many doubts about my daughters pooping? If I don’t sit behind her she’ll fall in the toilet. She won’t sit on her own toilet, her legs are locked out. How is this so hard?!

Because things aren’t so black and white. I made the decision that I thought was best, as we all do in our parenting decisions.

The truth of it all is, in this whole parenting thing, is that decisions, no matter how big or how small are not so simple. We are raising humans. It might seem simple from the outside looking in, but it isn’t. It’s easy to judge but as parents we are individuals with our own personalities, our own beliefs, our own baggage. Our children are individuals, they grow at their own pace, they have their own experiences, they have their own personalities, they have their own determinations. It may not be appropriate to parent each child the same way. Their health needs may be different. Their behavioral needs may be different, as well as their emotional, cognitive, and physical needs. They are all different. It may seem black and white from the outside.

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“You have to be fair and give them all the same things at the same time.” “You’re spoiling your kids.” “You’re going to make one feel more important than the other.”

But really, you don’t know shit. More often than not, everyone is doing the best they can with the tools they have. People need different things, children need different things. There are always decisions to be made, you will probably make a not so favorable decision at least once. That’s ok.

Unless you scar your child by sitting behind her on the pooper to relieve her anus. Oh man…

Doing the best we can,

Raffaella

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Anticipation.

I haven’t been able to put much on paper recently. Not because there isn’t much to put on paper, but because there is so much I want to put down on paper. We are halfway through our second pregnancy and there are a million and one emotions and thoughts that flood me. So here I will write them down and share them. Maybe it will bring some clarity, calmness, hopefully it will bring me something.

I am excited and scared to have two babes.

I cannot wait to see how they interact and the bond they will have but I am scared shitless for the first three months…maybe six months.

I am worried that I won’t be able to provide Kanga with the attention she needs while providing the baby with what he or she needs.

I know it’ll work out and I will be fine and I have given birth before and I can do it again but that doesn’t change the way I feel. It doesn’t change my concern of childhood baggage showing up though I am working them out.

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The birth of my daughter was beautiful. I don’t remember it as painful, hard, but not painful. I didn’t suffer. I’m aware of the realities of childbirth and I get all in my head about all the things that could happen. Both great and dreadful.

I am worried about postpartum depression.

I am ridiculously excited to watch little Kanga look over the babes moses basket and smile at him or her. To watch her grow into a big sister. To hear her say “Bebe” and rub her head against the baby’s while making cooing sounds. (Yes, we do that pretending to be different animals and show love to her stuffed animals and baby dolls.)

I am worried I will become frustrated with my husband and resent him for working even though I know he has to work. I can get irrational and needy, I know this.

I am worried we will both be so exhausted that we forget ourselves, and our relationship. Deep down I know this won’t happen because of the type of people we are, but it’s still a thought.

I am afraid of feeling a lack of connectedness to everyone around me other than the babes.

I am excited to wrap that little babe to me while I take walks with the little toddler that runs circles around me.

I can’t wait to experience life with these two bundles of love.

I can’t wait to see my husband grow as a father, to grow as a man, once again. To watch the love in his eyes and in his heart grow even more than it already has.

I can’t wait to feel my heart explode with  new love…but I am also afraid that it wont.

I know I am going to be so happy not to be pregnant anymore but I am going to miss it with every ounce of my being.

I also know that this is once again, another transition period.

I know that there are stages and phases that pass, they are scary and exhausting and full of frustration but, I have support. I just need to learn how to ask for help.

My emotions will evolve, my thoughts will evolve, everything evolves.

We are halfway there and it is all starting to get real.

I hold onto our little girl at night and watch her sleep taking in every moment. I wake up to her little face in my face asking for me to read her a book at five am. She drives me crazy and makes me laugh hysterically. For the next four months my focus is that not so little monster who sprinkles laughter, kisses, “buh-byes”, and big smiles wherever she goes.

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I know it’s easy to get all worked up and way ahead of myself. Especially when my day is all about babies all the time. I will have two babes under two. Holy shit.

Thanks for reading my crazy and for the support.

For the mamas with more than one babe, please share your experiences.

Raffaella

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But Maybe I’m Done

When my husband and I met, one of the things that connected us was our family values and what we saw in our future regarding family. Four of those things were babies. We both wanted four children. I grew up with two siblings, cousins that were especially close to us and an open door policy in our home. All of our friends were welcome in and out of our house as they pleased. There were always friends and family around. I thrived in that environment, our home was a little complicated but there was always love around. It was the saving grace to a whole lot of drama.

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My husband was an only child until he was in college when his parent’s adopted two beautiful girls from Russia. He grew up in a bit of a more quiet household. This has inspired him to have four children, a household full of little people running around. We have had two very different upbringings that have led us to many of the same dreams.

Little has my husband known that I have been trying to wrap my mind around having more children after this one. It is fairly difficult to admit at this point. I don’t want to admit my weaknesses or back down on something that I know is so important to my husband. That being said, though I am not puking in the bathroom every second, my body is tired and in pain in ways that I never imagined or experienced before giving birth. These thoughts which are few of many have left me planting a seed in my husband’s brain and heart that two may be the final number.

I am beyond grateful that I have been able to have one healthy baby. I am extremely grateful that I have been able to carry a second baby. I realize we are not all so lucky. I don’t mean this to be insulting in any way to the mothers who struggle to get pregnant or carry one baby.

I know we are lucky to have a healthy family and I am thinking waaaaaaay in advance but I had to be honest with my the man. The man who I have had so many conversations with about having a large family.The man who I’ve made so many jokes with about our ten children. I have to admit to myself that maybe, I just can’t do this again. That one sibling for our daughter is enough. I try to rationalize not having anymore children. It’s only nine months. Then I think about adoption, we could adopt. It has always been in the back of my mind, something I have always admired. I’ve learned so much from my husband’s parents. Why have more children biologically when you can offer a home to another child in need? Maybe two children in need?

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The other night I asked my husband about one of the names we have been thinking for a girl. We both love the name and it means a great deal to my hubs. I asked him if we had a boy, would he want to use that name for him. He responded saying we might have a girl after. I responded with, we might not. I asked if he was okay with two children instead of four, if he was okay with this being our last little one. Being the man he is, he reminded me not to get ahead of myself and that we would work through things as they happen. The calm to my crazy. But with a pang to my heart and my gut I responded, “I’m serious.”

He then reminded me I felt similarly after the birth of our daughter. The difference then was that I said later versus never.

I have a love/hate relationship with pregnancy. Actually, that’s too harsh. I have a love and dislike relationship with pregnancy. But the love takes over just about every other emotion in my body, and for that reason I may actually say later not never in a few months.

One day at a time,

Raffaella

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Family.

I was asked to write a blog about what family means to me–in so many words. Within so many words, I share with you what family means to me. I invite you to share with us what family means to you.


 

Family is a funny thing. They say you can’t choose your blood, but you can. You may not be able to choose the fact that they share your blood, but you can choose whether or not they are in your life.

I grew up in what turned out to be a broken home. My parent’s got divorced when I was in 5th grade. My sister was in Kindergarten and my brother was in 7th grade. I don’t remember our ages as clearly as I remember the grades. We moved from New Jersey to Connecticut then POW parent’s got a divorce. I watched my father abuse alcohol, I watched my mother turn from a confident woman to a broken hearted mother trying to keep it together for her children. My father turned from a hard working man to support his family financially to an unhappy man who couldn’t keep his skeletons in the closet anymore. Our family broke apart. My brother ran away from the family problems and I took on the load of caring for my sister.

I always knew I wanted to have children. I knew I wanted to have children more than I wanted to have a spouse. After seeing the hurt and challenges my parents went through, I figured it would be easier raising a child alone. I didn’t need a man. I was in bad relationships, relationships with cheating, neglect, dishonesty, and full of men who just didn’t want to deal with their shit. It made me question my relationship with my parents, with my siblings. Was I too much of a mother figure to my sister? Was I dating men that resembled my father? Was I angry at my mother for depending on men to provide a sense of worth? Was I angry at my brother for not stepping up when we needed it the most? Did I feel betrayed by my family? I never stayed anywhere long enough to face my own demons, I took one opportunity to break it off with a man that I was trying so hard to love, so hard to fix, and then it clicked. I was projecting my familial relationships onto other relationships in my life.

I quit, and I ran.

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I ran right into my husband. I ran into my husband, the father of my daughter, and my unborn child. When I wanted to run away from him because of course, being in a good relationship was even more challenging than being in a bad one, he showed me what it meant to stay. To stay and work through it all. And so it began. I began the work to make the relationships in my life, the relationships within my family, work for me, in a healthy way. My father was drinking way too much and I needed to create boundaries. Boundaries to the point where I didn’t know if it was healthy to have him in my life. My mother was depending on men for comfort and frankly, for life. I wasn’t sure how much more I could be supportive without being angry. This is when the choice comes into play. Who do I want in my life? My hubby proposed and I was then his fiancé, we then found out we were pregnant three months away from from our wedding. Now we are pregnant with our second.

This is the family I never knew I would have but always dreamed of having. If I was honest with myself and didn’t look to the future with fear and with skepticism, this is everything and more than what I could have ever dreamed of. Not just my husband and daughter, but my blood. My parents are not perfect. My siblings are figuring their way through life, as I am; as we all are. Families break apart if you’re not willing to be honest with each other, that doesn’t just go for blood it goes for friendships. The friendships that I have now, at this point in my life, these people are family. They are relationships I have been able to be honest in, and them with me, and we have grown together. If you can’t grow together, you break apart. Just because you break apart doesn’t mean you can’t come back together. But family, family pushes through. Family works through issues together. At each other’s necks, at times brutal arguing, but they push through together. Because this life is nothing without them, and sometimes broken is better. I wouldn’t have met the select few people that help make up this heart of mine if it wasn’t for the brokenness.

Cheers to your family, whatever that means to you. Hug them tight.

Raffaella

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The M Word Continued…

My dear friend and fellow blogger over here at Talking Baby Bumps brought up the topic of miscarriages this past Friday. I don’t want this topic to just pass by without really being looked at. It is a subject that does not get enough attention leaving many women confused, feeling inadequate, and ashamed, among many other emotions that come with a miscarriage. The situations in which it occurs range from women not trying to get pregnant, not knowing they’re pregnant and losing a baby to others who are fighting with every might to get pregnant and have successful implantation to then lose the baby before full term. The unfortunate reality is that those little sticks we pee on, the ultrasounds we hold onto, those blood tests we take that fill us with such hope don’t always end with a successful pregnancy.

There is no one reason why those precious eggs of ours don’t implant or a miscarriage at any point in pregnancy occurs. Maybe that’s one of the greatest reasons why it is so confusing. What did I do? Did I work out too much? Did I eat enough? Did I drink enough water? Are my hormones messed up? What is wrong with me? That question, there is so much self-blame in that question. It is an incredibly valid one. You, as the woman are responsible for carrying this little thing inside of you that turns into a baby with organs, and a soul. The thing is, it’s not just you who makes that baby. It’s a sperm that meets the egg, though you may not think about that immediately because it is natural to take on the responsibility since we are the ones carrying the babe, they do provide half of the chromosomes. I’m not blaming the man. I’m trying to point out the many factors other than you that play a part. It’s not as easy to get pregnant and carry a pregnancy out full term as so many people think it is. (Another topic all in itself).

After reading up on the subject as I tend to obsessively do about everything pregnancy, birth, childhood, and psychology; I learned that there really isn’t a great deal of information out there. The statistics are all over the place. Some sources said that around 75% of conceptions end in miscarriage blaming abnormalities in the chromosomes. Other sources said only 31% of conceptions end in miscarriage. Another source said that 15-20% with a verified pregnancy will miscarry. I came across another source that said the second most common cause for miscarriage was “incompetent cervixes”; way to really hit a nerve, ass holes. At the end of the day, every situation is different. Every battle is different. What is not different is the fact that miscarriages are common. Common as fuck, and no one talks about them.

No one talks about them.

What isn’t different, though the causes may be different, is that women need support. Partners need support, families need support. There is no support in silence. There is shame around the subject which shouldn’t be. I am not inadequate because I had a miscarriage. You are not inadequate because you had a miscarriage. The topic deserves a conversation. I beg of you to start one, or continue this one. I promise you, whether you are aware of it or not, someone in your life has had a miscarriage—or maybe five. It deserves a conversation filled with love and support.

With patience, love, and support on this hump day,

Raffaella

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