Friday, December 31, 2010


I feel like a cow lately.

For starters, there's always something attached to my boobs. If it's not June, it's Lucy. If it's not Lucy, it's the pump.

Don't get me wrong. I'm so grateful to have a huge supply. Right now I'm pumping an extra 20 ounces a day for my freezer stash, and last week I was able to send 120 ounces to a mama who needed a little help with her newborn until her own supply was better established.

Of course, with all that milkin' comes a lot of eatin' and drinkin'.

I think I eat as much as your average Holstein right now.

I'm never one of those mamas who gets cravings and gains a lot of weight during pregnancy. With both my girls, I gained around 15 lbs. However, once the baby makes her entrance and starts nursing, it's like a switch is thrown.

All I can think about is food. I wake up in the morning thinking about breakfast and how quickly I can make pancakes (specifically chocolate chip pancakes), eggs, bacon, and coffee. I have eaten this same meal practically every day since June was born. Healthy, huh?

I woke up last night positively STARVING. This is seriously the first time in my life I've gotten out of bed to eat.

I'd love to know how many calories I'm burning from nursing alone. What's gonna happen when I start working out this week?


Almost forgot- Lucy signs "milk" when I'm pumping. Fabulous.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

How do you do it?

How do you listen to your tiny baby cry for HOURS?
How do you ignore his or her cry for food, for comfort, for YOU?

If something feels wrong to you- if you have to fight your maternal instinct to pick up your baby- then IT IS wrong.

Mothering doesn't stop when the sun goes down. Babies are not created to live half the day isolated from their primary source of nourishment and nurturing.

YOU are the expert on your baby- not the M.D. (or, worse, the pseudo-doc) who wrote the book.

My heart is so heavy tonight.

Addendum: I know I shouldn't be so judgmental. There are plenty of people who disagree with my parenting practices. But I can't help but feel angry at the "experts" who convince mamas that we don't know how to mother, that our instincts are wrong, that we are better off listening to (most of the time, anyway) a man with book profits on his mind. Just as I believe women know how to birth, and know the best way for them to birth, I believe mamas know how to take care of their children. I wish more women would trust their gut in this respect.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

It's Christmas the Nolan's.

This year was a year of firsts for us- last month we spent Thanksgiving at home, and we did the same for Christmas. Although I love spending time with family, and Christmas is my favorite holiday, I could not fathom traveling 7+ hours in the car with a 15 month old, a 2 week old, and 2 dogs. Not. Happening. So, we stayed here and had our own little family Christmas. Christmas Eve was spent baking cookies, watching Christmas specials, and attending Mass. On Christmas morning, Brett made sure that the tree was on, the candles were lit, Christmas carols were playing, and the camera was ready for Lucy to walk down the hall into the living room.

I was really surprised at how into it she was! Lucy was super excited to play with her new toys and clothes, and ripped apart wrapping paper like an old pro. Wow- was Santa good to the Nolan family!

For Lucy: lots of clothes (she FINALLY fits into the JCrew CrewCuts collection!), a LittleTikes play table and chairs, her own comfy chair, a play "house," bath crayons....lots of other little things.
For June: clothes (some matching Lucy's, of course- but they're are larger sizes so you won't see pics for a while), a blanket, stuffed animals, a name cut-out (from Dixie- Lucy has one, too).

For Brett: plenty of homebrewing supplies (he's into making beer), tools...lots of "guy" stuff. Don't let it fool you, though. He also got a book on artisan bread making- something he's been talking about doing for a while now.

She may not look like him, but she sleeps like him.

For me: a beautiful necklace with charms for Lucy and June, Victoria's Secret gift card (wishful thinking, Brett), a new dress in a retro style, makeup (the expensive kind that I very seldom buy for myself), a food processor, JCrew gift card, LILLY PULITZER ACCESSORIES!


My favorite Christmas present!

And now, the aftermath....

Junie-bug at 2 weeks.

On our way to June's ped. appointment
Okay, okay. So June is almost three weeks old now- with all the hustle and bustle of getting ready for Christmas, I didn't get around to posting her 2-week stats from her appointment on Wednesday. Drumroll, please......

7.44 lbs. (up almost 2 lbs. from her discharge weight)
20 in. long
Have to double-check her head circumference

In the 25-30th percentile in every category...she's a peanut, but a proportional peanut!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Relativity, mommy-style.

Einstein explained his Theory of Relativity using a woman and a hot stove.

For moms, I think it would be better explained this way: When you're reaching the end of your journey in preggo-land, a week lasts forever. Once your newborn arrives, a week is gone in the blink of an eye.

I cannot fathom that June is already one week old (technically, she's now a week-and-a-half). It's hard to believe that she's already here! Every morning I wake up to see her sweet little face next to mine, and I feel such a sense of awe. I love waking up to a mommy sandwich- June on my right, Lucy on my left. That's 'cause even though Lucy takes naps in her crib and starts out there at night, she generally wakes up around 5 or 6 each morning. Brett retrieves her and brings her to bed, I nurse her, and we all go back to sleep until 8 or so. I know the family bed isn't for everyone, but it works beautifully for us.

Some June developments:
- Like I did with Lucy, I disregarded the hospital's advice to clean June's umbilical stump with rubbing alcohol- recent research shows that alcohol actually increases healing time. For the most part I left it alone, only dabbing on some witch hazel when it was hanging by a thread. And, like Lucy, June lost her umbilical stump within a week of her birth.
- June loves to nurse around the clock. Like Lucy, she seems to be a snacker and prefers to sleep with a boob in her mouth as well. However, unlike Lucy, June is a champion sleeper. She already sleeps for 4+ hours at a stretch at night! June has nursing in the side-laying position down pat, which means I only get up once at night- and that's to change her diaper. Score another point for bedsharing!
- Strangely enough, June loves her swing- something Lucy never really took to. However, when we tried it out yesterday, June wasn't a fan of the Moby- whereas Lucy practically lived in it. I'm really hoping this changes quickly!

Lucy developments:
- Lucy's signing has taken off. It's like something clicked all of a sudden! She picked up 3 new signs yesterday alone- "baby," the grown-up version of "help" (I was having trouble differentiating the babied-down version of help from some other signs), and "cracker." She's still not talking- at least not whole, decipherable words. However, her babble sounds more and more like the real thing, and there's a smattering of words there. It's just a matter of figuring out what she means. Lucy also imitates our vocal inflection, particularly when she "reads" her books out loud.
- She's back to nursing several times a day, mostly in the night and morning. Lucy's doing a great job with sharing, though. She loves to sign "baby" and point to June- it's pretty adorable. We've only had one incident of sister-on-sister abuse so far, and it involved an Eric Carle board book. However, I think it was more of a case of Lucy having terrible aim when she chucked it then an intentional targeting of her baby sister. Still, we had a serious chat about throwing things and being patient. It's a good thing newborns are more tough than they look!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Wordless Wednesday.

Ready to go home!

Mimi and her girls.

BTW- I knit this headband.

She cheeses when the flash goes off.

Daddy and his baby girl.

Love those lips!

Monday, December 13, 2010

MY adventures in tandem nursing.

December 9, 2010- First time nursing both girls at the same time.
Lucy at 15 months, June at 2 days old.
(Sorry for the crappy editing, but I didn't want to give everyone an eyeful!)

For those who read my blog regularly, you already knowing the following. For those who don't, a little background:
I became pregnant with June when Lucy was six months old and just starting solids. I was very proud of the fact that she was a breastmilk-only baby, and I both knew with my brain and felt with my heart that we were not ready (physically or emotionally) to wean. With the go-ahead from my midwife, Lucy continued to nurse throughout my pregnancy. We managed to avoid formula altogether until she was over 10 months old, at which point both my supply and my freezer stash had dwindled and we needed to supplement. It was incredibly difficult for me and gave me a new understanding for moms who desire to breastfeed but struggle with it.

To make a long story short, we fought through supply issues related to pregnancy, morning sickness so bad I lost almost 15 lbs., the "creepy crawlies" that are impossible for anyone other than a pregnant breastfeeding mom to understand, and overall tenderness that had me struggling to let her latch. By the morning before June's birth, Lucy was still nursing twice a day (morning and night), but my patience was wearing thin. I desperately wanted to at least offer Lucy the chance to continue breastfeeding, but didn't know if she would even want to once my milk came in.

So I was very, very nervous after June was born to see how Lucy would react. On Wednesday morning (about 16 hours after June was born), my mom brought Lucy to the hospital to visit, where Lucy saw me nursing her little sister and immediately wanted to be held. I handed June to my mom, Lucy was put on my bed, and I hesitantly offered Lucy my breast. She latched on, and was so surprised to get milk! She nursed for a few minutes, stopped, and looked up and smiled at me before getting back to business. That smile meant the world to me, and made all those months of uncomfortable nursing worth it.

Since then, I have nursed the girls simultaneously several times- not something I planned to do, but it's so beautiful to me to see them together like that. Lucy is going down for naps (and sometimes bed) without a pre-sleep bottle, and I definitely think it is helping her to feel secure in her role in our family. She's not being replaced- there is room for both my girls at mama's breast.

And in case anyone is wondering, my body is definitely responding as though I was nursing twins (that's what all the books I read and lactation consultants I talked to predicted). Unlike most newborns, June didn't have to wait for my milk to come in- it came in immediately. That really helped in making those early days of breastfeeding a lot easier. Even with nursing both girls I have to pump several times a day- I'm stocking the freezer already, and as a full-time working mom, that makes me feel so much better about going back to work! So if you're currently pregnant and nursing, take heart- it may very well be worth it in the end, and I'm definitely grateful that I stuck with it.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

It’s a girl- welcome June Elizabeth!

I feel blessed beyond words to share our wonderful news. Miss Louisa Mae (aka Lucy or “the Goose”) is a big sister to our brand-new daughter, Miss June Elizabeth (formerly known as “the Deuce,” now frequently referred to as “the baby” or “Junie-bug.”)

And now, before I forget the details, it’s time for her birth story.

As of my last post, I was feeling very down and very pregnant. A great deal of my stress was due to the fact that my dear Mama, who had flown in a little over a week ago, had a return flight scheduled for today. I was worried about who would watch Lucy while Brett and I were at the hospital, whenever I actually went into labor. Because Brett is a stay-at-home dad, and I have a strong dose of working-mama guilt in my system, we rarely either need a babysitter or go out at night. In fact, since we’ve moved here, we haven’t left Lucy with a sitter. Anyway…

On Tuesday (the very next day after I posted my woe-is-me blog), I had a regularly scheduled appointment with my midwife. The appointment went great- blood pressure still very low, measuring a little small but still “normal,” and although I was still only 50% effaced, baby’s head was very low and I was a full 4 cm dilated. We decided that the day had come for an all-out try for non-medicated baby eviction. (Please let me preface this by saying that I am NOT supportive of elective chemical/hormonal inductions, and in a different situation, I would not recommend repeating what I did. Any action that is intended to push baby towards delivery is an induction of sorts. However, I will say that the strategies I used will really only work if baby is ready, and that I was absolutely sure of my conception date, so there were no concerns about potentially delivering a pre-term baby). The strategy I used could be referred to as MCB- membrane stripping, castor oil, bath. My midwife stripped my membranes, I took a big hit of castor oil once I got home, and then followed that with a soak in the tub. The idea is that the membrane stripping causes the release of prostaglandins and subsequent dilation and cramping, the castor oil causes contractions in the intestines (the theory is that when the intestines touching the uterus contract, a “ready” uterus will be encouraged to contract as well), and the bath helps to minimize the nasty side effects of castor oil and relax mom. Trust me when I say that castor oil is NOT fun. For me, it’s simply terribly difficult to get down, and causes what I’d categorize as moderate nausea and intestinal discomfort, but I’ve heard of plenty of people who have severe vomiting and diarrhea. It’s not for the weak-hearted or weak-stomached, and you certainly don’t want to go into labor dehydrated.

I chose to have my castor oil in mixed into a three-egg omelet. Brett mixed in lots of veggies to help cover the taste and mouth-feel of the castor oil, and we figured this was a good way to get in plenty of protein and quality calories, in the case that it worked. I managed to get the whole thing down, and then hopped in the tub. Within a few hours- by about 2 or 3 pm, I was having mild contractions.

By this point, I knew that this might be it, and was ready to encourage my contractions on. Brett and I walked over to a nearby park and played with Lucy- or should I say, Brett played with Lucy, and I walked circles around them, because walking always helps me manage my rushes. On the way home, I started feeling a lot of pressure, and a more definite feeling of “this is it.” I took another bath, got out my birthing ball, candle, and labor beads, and started to work more purposefully through the rushes.

By about 6/6:30, things were getting a lot more serious. Brett and I took another walk, and I was not able to talk through my rushes anymore. I focused on breathing through “loose lips”- making horse-like sounds (Ina May says loose lips above = loose lips below). When we returned home, I told Brett to go fill up the gas tank (I had forgotten to take care of it earlier) and get my bags ready. I still intended to stay at home for as long as possible, but I wanted to be ready. By the time Brett got back, I was really working hard, and at around 7:30, I felt a gush of fluid. I was admittedly very nervous when I realized that it was not my water breaking, but blood. I’m obviously familiar with bloody show, but this was a considerable amount of blood- and I hadn’t had much at all with Lucy. At that point I decided we needed to head out for the hospital- I wasn’t comfortable with the bleeding and wanted to make sure the baby was okay.

The ride to the hospital was a blur. It took about 45 minutes, and the whole time I was in the back seat of the CR-V, facing the rear, crammed on my knees between two car seats and hanging over the back. I am simply unable to work through rushes sitting down, especially in the front seat. Please don’t ask how I managed to climb into the back seat in the first place- I couldn’t tell you. Anyway, Brett turned on some soothing music, and I continued to low-moan and hip-rock my way to the hospital. When we finally reached the hospital parking lot, I jumped out before Brett could park- I absolutely could not have another contraction in the car. I headed into the hospital while he grabbed our bags, but was stopped by another rush. He caught up with me, and we made our way to labor and delivery. Rushes were probably 2 minutes apart by this point, and I needed to squat and rock with each one. However, I was still very calm in-between, and had a few quick conversations with some of the staff members we met in the halls.

We finally reached L&D at roughly 8:15 pm. When we arrived at the desk, I was in-between rushes, and the nurses asked, “What are you here for?” Brett just looked at them, dumbfounded, and said, “WE’RE HERE TO HAVE A BABY!” They looked in some sort of scheduling book and said, “Oh, well you’re not scheduled.” I guess they thought I was there for an induction! Luckily, another rush hit right then, I got into it, and they started to take me seriously.

I was put into triage, and the nurse quickly realized I was easily 7, quickly approaching 8 cm dilation. Everything went kind of crazy then, because my midwife hadn’t arrived yet, the attending OB’s didn’t want anything to do with me or my birth plan, and I was not in the mood to lay in a bed and be monitored- I was going through transition at this point (I found out later that neither OB was at all comfortable with a natural birth). I remember having 2-3 rushes in bed while they monitored and got the heplock in, then said to the nurse, “I’m sorry, I HAVE to get up!” With that contraction, I started feeling very pushy and told the nurse so. I laid back down, and proceeded to pant- I wasn’t sure how dilated I was, and didn’t want to push too early (I had a 2nd-degree tear with Lucy and REALLY wanted to avoid a tear this time).

Since it appeared that I was being ignored while the nursing staff and attending OB’s decided what to do, I knew I needed to grab their attention. I did so by yelling, “I NEED TO PUSH!” Luckily Miss Only-Nice-Nurse-In-the-Room looked down and realized baby was crowning. Her exact words to the docs were, “I don’t care WHO it is, but someone needs to put on some gloves!” One doc snapped into action, and my bed was quickly broken down. He tried to coax me into the stirrups, but I evaded him and grabbed my ankles instead. He broke my water (baby would have been born in-the-caul otherwise, which would have been pretty cool, but he was afraid, in his words, of being “splashed”) and baby June was born immediately. I believe it took 3 solid pushes total. What was cool was that I was managed to really control my pushing this time. The staff was pretty freaked out that Brett and I chatted and kissed between pushes, and I was trying to laugh and joke with them. June was born at 8:35 pm- about 20 minutes from the time I had arrived. She was 6 lbs, .6 ounces, 18 ½ inches long, and I was tear-free.

I will give the docs/nurses credit that they followed my birth plan to the best of their ability. Brett got to tell me she was a girl, and she was placed on my chest immediately. The staff did her Apgar (9-nearly perfect!) while I was holding her, and they didn’t touch her again until she had nursed well (she latched immediately). They respected my wishes regarding vaccinations and eye drops, let me keep her placenta, and delayed all routine checks. I did end up getting some pit after June was born as a precaution, but I didn’t mind. I felt really great and was up and moving immediately. After a while we were moved from Triage into postpartum, and we ended up staying the minimum (for June) of 24 hours before heading home.

June’s birth was definitely an adventure, and was truly beautiful in its own way. I’m grateful that we avoided the hospital for as long as we did, and that I was able to bring her into the world on my own terms. I’m also happy that we were able to show a group of non-believers what natural birth can be.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Still hanging in there.

It's no accident it's been over a week since I've blogged.

I've reached the point in one's pregnancy when you can no longer call anyone without them asking, "Are you in labor?" People have ceased saying "Hello!" when calling me and skip straight to, "Are you on your way to the hospital?" Those who I haven't seen in a few weeks, upon seeing me now, comment, "I can't believe you're still pregnant!" My mom, who is currently visiting, is constantly answering text messages and phone calls from family members. I can't hear what they're saying, but I can hear her repeating, "No, nothing yet."

GRRRRRR. These are the reasons why I've been holed away, avoiding the world. I am intentionally not answering my phone, because, frankly, I'm sick of it. I haven't completely avoided facebook, only because I need to make sure that no one else is busy having a baby before me!

Anyway, I'm sitting at 39 weeks, 2 days right now- I haven't even technically hit my "due date" yet, and I'm officially losing my mind. I guess that's what happens when your first baby comes early- you sort of expect to be holding a baby by now.

Yes, I know that each pregnancy is different and each baby is different. But it doesn't help that I've had SO much prodromal labor this time, and by now, hours upon hours of Braxton-Hicks contractions. Over the weekend, I had 5+ hours of what *truly* felt like the Real Thing. Just when I let myself think I was a short while away from meeting my little one, the contractions stopped dead in their tracks.

Anyway, I have an appointment with my midwife tomorrow, and I'm really hoping for some changes, no matter how subtle. Last week I was 50% effaced and 3 cm. And yes, I know that the numbers don't mean anything. It's just that I really need a little encouragement at this point!