Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanksgiving and some updates on work

I have so many things to be thankful for.  A loving husband.  Two healthy boys.  N's family close by.  My family far away that we "saw" on Skype.  I am one lucky lady.

Here are my fantastic boys, enjoying their Thanksgiving feast at N's sister's inlaws' house.

And me, taking my turn with LBZ.

Baby's first Thanksgiving!

Who doesn't enjoy a living room full of games and Lego's?

My sweet BBZ :)

We have had a family photo taken at Thanksgiving for at least the past 4 years, this one has one more and one less member as Mr. LBZ joined us, but Miss Delilah stayed home.

I prefer the above photo since it shows the real personality of my sweet first born, but this one is nice too :)

Just for fun, here are a few from years past... 2007...


...I couldn't find one with us for 2009, but here is BBZ with my lovely parents :)

...and 2010...

We figured that this was the first Thanksgiving in my whole life that was not spent with my family.  When my parents moved away about 7 years ago, we made Thanksgiving one of the times we visited them wherever they lived.  Before that, my parents always hosted Thanksgiving, so this was the first year.  We decided not to make the 13-hour trip to the far north this year since I returned to work last week, which I definitely think was the right decision, but man did I miss them!

My mom is here now for 2 weeks to stay home with LBZ.  Tomorrow is my first full day away from LBZ.  To say I am sad is a huge understatement.  I am going to miss him so much.  Last week was ok, he took the bottle for N with only minimal resistance, and it was good to see everyone back at work.   But tonight, the reality is setting in.

I am a working mom.  I will spend much of my children's awake hours away from them.  I will pray daily that I will have enough milk to sustain him for 1 year.  I know that LBZ will be adjust to being away from me and be fine, just like BBZ was, but what saddens me the most is that he has to adjust at all.  That I have to leave him and he has to be unhappy about it and figure out how to cope.  That makes me sad.

But nevertheless, I am thankful.  For my family, for my job, for N's job, for 12 weeks of maternity leave, for my healthy boys, for breast pumps, for my mom, for my parents, for BBZ's daycare that I love that LBZ will soon join, for N who stayed home with LBZ last week, for chilly days and cold nights.  And I am thankful for what I know is to come: my comfort in my decision to be a working mom.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

You made us a Family

Dear BBZ,

When we brought your brother home from the hospital, it became quite clear that his awake and fussy time was between 8pm and 10pm, right when you were going to bed.  Your daddy and I quickly had to adjust our routine to accommodate 2 boys with needs at the same time in 2 different places.  We tried bringing LBZ to your room, but he just kept you up.  So daddy started putting you to bed solo.

One night, when LBZ was just a few weeks old, I sat in the rocker and had just finished feeding him.  Your daddy came into the room and said that you told him that I wasn't part of your family anymore.  I knew what you meant and went into your room before you fell asleep to talk with you about it.

Before I got pregnant with LBZ, I put you to bed by myself.  Daddy gave you a kiss goodnight and that was it.  So when daddy started to be a part of your night time routine, you resisted him.  There were times you told him to go away and to leave your room.  During those times I told you that we were a family and we read together at night as a family.  I also said that when LBZ arrives, he would read with us too, as he would also be a part of our family.

So I knew exactly what you meant when you told your daddy I wasn't part of your family anymore.  I asked if this was right and you said yes.  The conversation went like this:

Me: A lot of things have changed since LBZ was born, haven't they?

You: Yes.

Me: He sure seems to get a lot of mommy's attention, doesn't he?

You: Yes.

Me: Do you want to know something that makes you so special?

You: Yes!

Me: Before you were born, your daddy and I were just 2 people.  We were just a couple, then you came along.  You made me a mommy.  You made daddy a daddy.  No one called us mommy or daddy until you came along.  LBZ is special too, but you had the most important job.  You made us a family.

You: I did?!?

Me: You did.  And you make me such a happy mommy.

And you do, my sweet boy.  You make me so happy to be your mommy.  Tonight we got to spend some time alone together when I took you to a birthday party and left daddy and LBZ at home.  Time alone with you, my first born, is so precious to me.  We snuggled in bed and I held you until you fell asleep...something I haven't been able to do as much lately.  I loved every minute of those snuggles!

So my sweet boy, this is how special you are to me.  We wouldn't be a family without you!


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The post I didn't have to write after all.

I sat down to my computer on Sunday and started to write a post about returning to work the next week.  It would include how worried I am about being away from LBZ.  It would include my fears that he would never re-learn to take a bottle and that he might cry all day.  It would include thoughts of quitting my job in order to never be away from my children again.  It would show all of the doubt I had in my decision to return to work, even though I claimed to feel great about the decision.

It was going to be an intense post.  But then, I found this.  It is the post I wrote almost 3 years ago, exactly 1 week before I was to return to work after having BBZ.  I re-read this post and suddenly felt relieved.

You see, every single emotion I am feeling now, I felt then.  Everything.  He wouldn't take a bottle either, and I worried that he never would and that he would cry all day.  I worried that I wouldn't be able to leave him.  I worried that I wouldn't be able to do my job.  I worried that I was making a huge mistake by returning to work.  Every single emotion was identical.

BBZ had a bit of a hard time when I returned to work, but by the end of that first week, he had figured it out.  Much like LBZ will, I am sure.  We adjusted into our working mom lifestyle and have been living it happily for almost 3 years.  While I am going to miss my sweet boy more than words can say, I know he will be ok.  I know I will be ok.

I'll look forward to pumping, so I can imagine being with him.  I will look forward to being reunited at the end of the day and how happy I will be to see his sweet smile.  I will cry on my way to work and be sad about leaving, which will improve over time.  I will look forward to him starting BBZ's daycare so they can be together.  I will try and remember why I am working: to set a strong example of work ethic for my sons and to be able to provide them with the things they need in life.  To be able to save for their future and for ours.  To be able to live in a house in one of the best school districts in the state.  Because it is the decision that is best for our family.

And luckily, I have a private office so I can close the door and cry as many times as I want.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Little Brother Z is 2 Months Old!

Stats added on 11/14/11: 12lbs, 4 oz and 23in long.  50th percentile for everything!

Dear LBZ,

Oh my sweet baby Lu, we are having so much fun with you!  You have brought such joy into our home and have sealed our family of four off so nicely.

You slept for an amazing 8.5 hours one night this week, on your 8 week birthday as a matter of fact, but that certainly did not become your new normal.  You usually sleep about 4-5 hours first, then are up every 3-4 hours or so.  It is certainly better that every 2-3 hours, which is what you were doing for quite some time.

I was worried that you might have reflux or some sensitivity to what I was eating because of you terrible fussy time from 8-10pm, but that has also improved, especially since I stopped eating salads and broccoli.  I couldn't eat broccoli when I was pregnant either.  Funny how that continues now!

You now completely refuse to take the bottle.  You were doing so well, that I figured you didn't need to have one each day.  Then I got lazy and we went about a week or so without offering.  You haven't taken one since.  Hopefully you will figure it out when I go back to work in about 10 days.  I sure hope so!

You don't always want to nurse or rock to sleep.  In fact, you would much rather drift off in your swing or wrapped up in your swaddle blanket on the boppy in your crib.  I am not used to a baby who doesn't like to nurse to sleep!  I sometimes miss you when you are awake and I lay you in your crib, but you often drift right off if left alone.  I know I will love that one day!

You are growing like crazy and I can't wait to see how much you weigh!  Look how you have grown!

Oh how I love this sweet smile :)

I can't get this picture to rotate, but you finally fit into (and I finally started to use) your brother's cloth diapers!

BBZ finally agreed to hold you.  I think he was afraid of hurting you.

All dressed for the World Series!  He even got a new BG 4.0 baseball diaper!

There is nothing in the world cuter than a baby boy in jeans and a striped shirt :)

Tummy time!

There is a picture of BBZ in this same outfit!  I'm going to have to start labeling pictures since you look so much alike.  Check out the picture here!

We are having so much fun watching you grow, sweet LBZ.  We can't wait to see what is to come!


Monday, November 7, 2011

One son is and one son isn't: How we came to our circumcision decision.

I would like to begin this post by saying that this is a very touchy subject for some.  It's one of those hot topics that people are often passionate about.  This is simply our family's story about circumcision.  I share it because of my own struggle with this decision in hopes that others will do what they feel is right for them and their sons.  Whatever that decision might be.

When we found out BBZ was a boy in April of 2008, we were over the moon with excitement about our sweet baby boy.  N and I both desperately wanted a boy, so we were thrilled that our dream was going to come true.

Surprisingly, there were only two people who asked me what our plan was for mom and a friend from work.  My mom wondered if we thought much about it and let me know about some extended family members who decided not to circumcise.  I thought about it some and didn't like the idea of circumcising, but N seemed to think we needed to and I kind of went along.  I really didn't think I had much of a choice about it.  It seemed like it's just what people did.

As it came closer to BBZ's birth, I became more uncomfortable with the idea of having him circumcised.  The few times I spoke with N about it, he continued to feel that we needed to do the procedure.  Unsure of how I felt I went along with it.  N didn't press the issue and neither did I.  Looking back, I felt an enormous amount of social pressure to circumcise, even though my gut told me not to.

The day after he was born, my OB said that she would do the circumcision the next day, which was to be the day we would take him home.  This concerned me because I realized I would be taking him home with an injury.  I somehow thought that he should have the procedure done that day in case something went wrong.  I suddenly felt like I really didn't want to do it, but I didn't say anything to anyone.  Not even N.

The next day I had to give consent for the circumcision and reluctantly did.  When they brought him into the room and I saw what I had consented to have done to my perfect, natural little boy, I nearly vomited.  They literally cut the top of his penis off.  Because I asked them to.

As the new mom, I felt an incredible need to care for what I saw as an injury, so N did very little of the care in those first few weeks.  Care involved covering pieces of gauze with A&D ointment and covering the top of BBZ's penis with the gauze at each diaper change.  This was so the diaper would not adhere to his healing penis.

At his 1-month appointment, his doctor showed me that his remaining foreskin was adhering to the part that was cut.  She had to pull the foreskin down, which exposed red skin that also needed to be covered with ointment in order to heal.  For the next four months, I had to pull the adhered foreskin off of the top of his penis and apply ointment periodically.

I realize that this is not typical for a circumcision, but this was our experience.  The guilt I felt at each diaper change was horrible.  I realized that what was done was done, but I really beat myself up for not following my gut for months following his birth.  Even now, I am so angry at myself for being so influenced by societal expectations that I couldn't stand by my own views.  I was ashamed and embarrassed and ultimately angry.

As we started to think about having another baby, I wondered how I would handle things if we had another boy.  When we found out LBZ was a boy in April of 2011, and after I celebrated the fact that we were going to have 2 sweet little boys, I immediately wondered whether or not to circumcise.

N and I talked a lot about it.  While I felt very strong about not circumcising, I wanted to explore N's ideas as a man and also take into consideration what it would be like for brothers to grow up looking well, different.  Different not only from each other, but one different from both his brother and his dad.

I posted a message to the LLL board I belong to and asked to hear from people who had an older son who's circumcised and a younger son who wasn't.  I was pleasantly surprised to get a response from at least 7 families who had this scenario.  I spoke with most of them about how they came to their decision, what their husbands thought, and their concerns about the boys being different.

Most of the moms didn't think much of the circumcision with their first child, but decided to make a different choice with their second and subsequent children.  Many of them also dismissed the concerns about the boys looking different because of the many other ways they would look different.  None of them had a negative view of the decision they made.

I also started doing research.  The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) does not make a stance either way on the issue.  The exact statement can be found here.  I found one study that looked at instances of baby boys acquiring urinary tract infections (UTIs) and compared boys in the UK with boys in the United States.  The study found that boys in the UK (where circumcision rates are much, much lower that in the US) UTIs were about twice as likely to occur in the baby boys in the UK.  The study stated that the results did not prove causation.

N and I spoke at length many times as I perused online information and spoke with the other moms who experienced it.  I also found a blog post written by a man who was the younger son in a family of two boys where he was uncircumcised and his older brother was.  He talked about his comfort level and his experience being "different" from his brother.  He talked very personally and positively about his experiences.

N summarized it best the day we finalized our decision.  Parents who do circumcise do it for cosmetic reasons and for possible health considerations.  Parents who choose not to circumcise do so in order to avoid possible pain to the infant.  That's a pretty simple explanation.  I wanted to do anything to avoid any pain to my second son, especially after the difficult time his brother had.  N recognized my passion for the issue and agreed that we should not have LBZ circumcised.  My opinion is that he was indifferent about the issue and since it meant so much to me, he supported me.

I can't really explain how confident and happy I am about our decision to not have LBZ circumcised.  It was so easy to not do anything and to care for him just as he was when he was born.  He looks just perfect to me, the way he should.  The biggest concern is making sure that anyone who watches him knows to never pull the foreskin back during diaper changes.  Everything else is as natural as he was meant to be.

I realize that LBZ might have questions about why he looks different than his brother, but the truth is that we learned something after BBZ was born and decided to make a different decision this time.  I am confident that I will be able to explain this to him one day, should he have questions or concerns.

The biggest lesson learned for me is to trust myself and not be influenced by others' opinions.  Just as the AAP states "To make an informed choice, parents of all male infants should be given accurate and unbiased information and be provided the opportunity to discuss this decision".  Knowledge is power. 

Many new soon-to-be-parents I know have watched a circumcision video on YouTube as a part of their decision making.  I cannot bring myself to watch it as I still carry some guilt for putting my 3 day old infant through what became a 4-month issue.  The people I know who watched it found it to be beneficial when making their decision about their infant sons.

Like I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I do not pretend to know what is best for baby boys.  I just know what was the best decision for MY baby boy.  And I feel great about our decision!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

I will get a blog post published while the baby sleeps!

A lot has been happening around here, although you wouldn't be able to tell by my blog.  This one will have to be quick.

My grandfather passed away last week.  My mom came in town after he went into the hospital because it was unclear if and when he would be able to go home.  LBZ and I went to see him in the hospital on Tuesday and he passed away Thursday night.  I am so happy that we were able to visit with him before he died.  The funeral was this past weekend and while difficult, was a wonderful way to say our goodbyes.  It's all still a bit surreal.  In the funeral home there was a poster that listed reasons why we have funerals.  One was "to contemplate life and death".  I've been doing a lot of that since his death and have a whole post in my head about it.  One day I'll post it.  This was him and my grandmother at his 90th birthday this past July.

I have 2.5 weeks left of maternity leave.  While I am nervous and sad about being away from LBZ, I am also ready to be back into a routine.  I dread getting 2 children out of this house and me to work on time in the morning, but we will figure it out.  LBZ doesn't actually start daycare for another 3 weeks after I go back since he'll be here with my mom, so that will ease us all into the whole morning routine.

The Cardinals won the World Series!!!  This city is a baseball town anyway, so give us a winning team and the town goes wild!  It has been so fun living here when the Cards played in the post season.  Game 6 was absolutely amazing!  Seeing everyone in their Cardinal gear and all rooting for the same thing is pretty cool.  Plus it was a fun excuse to get together with friends on random weeknights.  Something extra fun for me since I am off work and all.  Go Cards!

We got out of the habit of offering LBZ a bottle and he has since decided that he totally prefers me to any plastic bottle.  It's my own fault for slacking off, but it's hard to pump and offer the bottle when I can just do it myself.  I hate seeing him struggle with the bottle and am kicking myself for letting it get bad again.  He was doing so well!  We're going to keep trying, but I think I will need to leave when N tries it.  I can't handle hearing him cry when I know I can fix it by nursing him.

I cannot believe it is November already.  Maybe it's because it is 72 degrees out today.  Tomorrow is supposed to cool off, so maybe then it will feel like fall.  I love Fall holidays.  Here are some pictures from our festivities...

I really love this  time of year.  I'm excited to get all of my sweaters out and be bundled up when going outside.  I love all the changing colors and falling leaves...what a great season this is.

And of course, there's Halloween...

We had a great time celebrating at a friend's house again this year.  BBZ was a champion trick or treater!  Now we have a ridiculous amount of candy in our house that I have to constantly resist.  It's kind of exhausting.  I'll have to hide it from myself very, very soon.

Look how big my little boy is!!  It's his very first school picture.

The cuteness is completely overwhelming.  They also did a full body shot because he has these awesome red Kangaroos shoes that matched his shirt.  Man, I love this little guy!

LBZ is a terrible sleeper.  Plain and simple.  I've been trying everything and he is finally sleeping a 5-hour stretch, then a 4-hour one, then a 3 hour one.  I can deal with this, even if I have to go back to work.  At least it is predictable.  It seems to change about every other day, but I have to really watch what I eat, when I eat it, when I have my 8 ounces of caffeinated soda that I allow myself and be sure to stay away from broccoli (my very, very favorite vegetable) and even then he might not sleep well.  This little one is a stinker, that's for sure.  But maybe then he'll be an awesome sleeper as a toddler??  A girl can dream, right?