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The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

If you listen carefully, you can hear me singing: it’s the moooost wonderful tiiiiime of the yeeeeear!! BACK TO SCHOOL! August 29th marks the end of my first summer with two kids. We have done a lot of fun stuff- time at the pool, on the boat, playing outside, riding bikes and scooters, cookouts, parties, backyard fires, staying up late. AND this summer we got central AC installed, so I hate the heat so much less now! I am a much more pleasant person, even though Kirk is annoyed that I crank the temperature down to “igloo.” Plus, this summer I’m not 500 weeks pregnant and angry that it’s hot all the time and I can’t tie my shoes. I have watched Reid and Sydney play together – and actually PLAY! – and genuinely enjoy each other. He still makes her laugh like nobody else can.

BUT. I am so, so type-A. I crave schedules and routine (and control, duh). Fall, for me, is more than sweater weather and pumpkin spice everything (although I do love pumpkin spice. Sorry). It’s the beginning of a new school year, of the return to routines and normalcy. Fall feels like more of a “new beginning” to me than spring does, or even the actual New Year. I’ve always treated September as a time to reset, to evaluate the current state of affairs. Summer is fun, but the lack of routine is unsettling to me. Plus, I was always pretty decent at school, so I looked forward to going back each year. But as I said- the past couple of weeks, I have spent a lot of time thinking about how things are going in my life, generally speaking. I tend to do that- think about something for weeks, carefully reach a conclusion, then share. So, this is me sharing.

Family: I think everyone in our family is ready for school to start again. Reid seems increasingly irritated with my lack of daily entertainment, and he really wants to be back with his buddies. We had a playdate with one of his school friends yesterday and I haven’t seen him that happy in awhile. Meanwhile, Syd turns 1 in about a month and I’m ignoring that. If we don’t celebrate her birthday, then she’s still a tiny baby, right? Isn’t that how it works?

Nutrition: This gets its own category because it’s such a big part of my life right now. I recently met with one of the doctors at the Functional Medicine Center at the Cleveland Clinic for a follow up appointment. I felt like overall, I was doing fairly well nutrition-wise. But some recent bloodwork indicated that I still have work to do. Some deficiencies in certain vitamins, minerals, amino acids (yes, it gets super specific). I have come a long, long way since January when I had my first appointment. I just need to remember that this is not a sprint- these are lifestyle changes that take time. It’s incredibly easy to fall back into old habits- I spent 7 weeks without drinking a drop of alcohol from February-April. This summer, I seem to be making up for lost time, and I’m definitely feeling the effects. I know in my head this pattern doesn’t serve my health, but saying no to margaritas on a patio on a hot summer day is really difficult. That’s something I’ve always struggled with- moderation and balance. When I’m into something, I’m 110% in. That’s why the elimination diet wasn’t too difficult for me mentally- the answer wasn’t “maybe I could have something occasionally,” the answer was simply NO. The decision was already made. Food choices were either “none” or “limitless.” I’m not suggesting this is a super healthy or normal approach, but it’s how I’m wired. It’s much easier for me to say “no” to dairy products 100% of the time than say “sometimes.”

Exercise: This is something that I feel pretty good about lately.  Last week at crossfit, we did a workout called DT. This is a workout that we do every so often. Last time was in January. This time, I had 10# more on my barbell and beat my time by 1:50. I am hitting PR’s pretty regularly and feel like I’m putting in a good effort in the gym. A couple weeks ago I decided I wanted to go for a run (this NEVER happens) and I busted out a 4 mile run. I then laid in bed for 2 hours because I felt dead, but that’s beside the point. I am excited to see more results as my diet becomes a little cleaner.

Career: This is a relatively new category for me to consider. I thought once I became a stay-at-home mom, that’s what I was forever. Of course, that is silly. And recently I’ve realized that I need something more than what I’m getting at home. I want to go back to work in some capacity. I want to contribute financially to our family again. At first I was incredibly nervous about explaining the 4.5 year gap in my resume, but so far nobody has asked about it. I imagine it’s not uncommon, since I’m certainly not the first person to take some time off to be with family. I keep reminding myself that I am a smart person with things to offer, and this move is a good one for our family.

So, as we make the transition from summer to fall, this is what’s on my mind. Next week is the last week of our summer break, and it’s already a busy one. In the meantime, I’ll try not to go completely crazy at the tail end here. Just 9 more days, but who’s counting…

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

I have always considered myself to be at least kind of smart. School came pretty naturally to me, and I genuinely enjoyed it. After law school, I worked pretty hard in private practice and then as a prosecutor. I was pretty sad to leave the prosecutor’s office when I had Reid back in 2013- the job was so interesting, I felt like I was getting pretty decent at it, and I loved doing something positive as an attorney. But, there was no way I could work full time and be the parent I wanted to be, and working part time wasn’t an option. But I had also envisioned myself as a stay-at-home mom, really romanticizing what it would be like. Sunny mornings spent playing with my baby, a hot cup of coffee while he naps, having dinner ready when Kirk came home. In reality, about zero of those things actually happened. Newborn babies don’t really “play,” my coffee was lukewarm more often than not, and Kirk took care of dinner for the first several months. Regardless, I was still really happy about my decision to leave the working world and stay at home.

I started feeling a little anxious about it when Reid started his toddler class at school but got pregnant again a few months later. For the past 18 months or so, I’ve been primarily focused on baby things: being pregnant and getting ready for another baby, then actually having the baby and keeping people alive. Now, Sydney is 10 months old and I’ve started thinking about her first birthday. Sidenote: first birthday parties are not about the child. At all. It is a celebration of the parents for making it an entire year without killing anyone, as it should be! Our go-to gift is a bottle of champagne or a 6-pack. Sydney is our last baby. This is it. I get a little emotional as she reaches each milestone- she’s recently started crawling and pulling herself up to stand. Walking won’t be too far behind. She’s becoming more independent, needing a bit less from me. Reid has always been independent and basically only asks me to help with something if he can’t reach a toy or the snack drawer is locked. (We’ve installed a lock on the drawer because I caught him shame-eating muffins in the bathroom on more than one occasion.)

It’s taken me some time to reach this conclusion, but I think I have been feeling a bit unfulfilled lately. I have probably been feeling that way longer than I realize. It kills me to actually say that out loud- shouldn’t I be getting everything I need from my kids? I know that’s a little ridiculous, but mom guilt is real. I feel guilty about leaving my job in the first place and staying at home, because I worked so hard to get to where I was. I feel guilty about not “treasuring every moment while they are little.” I feel guilty about wanting to do something more than raise the kids and take care of the house (the latter gets neglected a lot anyway). I feel guilty about wanting to do something for ME.

But I also think to myself: I am responsible for setting a good example for my children. I want Reid and Sydney to know that women are smart and strong, and their mom did everything she could to make their lives happy. And I want them to know that if you aren’t happy where you are, only YOU can change it. So that’s what I’ll do. I don’t know exactly what that change is going to look like, but I can feel it happening.

But, in the meantime, I’ll be over here neglecting the growing piles of laundry and drinking lukewarm coffee.

Swolemates: A Love Story

Swolemates: A Love Story

This fancy lady has a birthday today!  To say she is a friend, a best friend, is an understatement. Renee is my better half, my conscience, my biggest cheerleader, my swolemate. Renee and I met through Crossfit, but before I actually started going. Kirk came home one day – I was pregnant with Reid at the time – and told me that he “thinks this chick at Crossfit is pregnant because she keeps asking questions about you.” Long story short, Renee and I started talking and became friends. Once our first babies were born, our friendship changed. We relied on each other.

So many times over the past 4.5 years, I have felt like I need Renee’s friendship like I need air. If I am worried about something, she talks me off the ledge. So many times we have called each other in tears, and by the time we got off the phone we were laughing. You know those friends that will actually tell you if you don’t look good in that outfit? Renee will tell me. She is honest, and will always tell me the truth- even when I don’t want to hear it. Like the time she told me peas are actually a legume- I’m still heartbroken about that.

Renee inspires me every time we are at the gym together (and that is fairly frequently). She is an absolute badass- full of so much strength, determination, and grit. She has been known to yell at me for not going heavy enough in a workout, and always, always pushes me to be better- at the gym, and in life. I watched her kick ass at Crossfit through 2 pregnancies, running circles around non-pregnant athletes (myself included). She encouraged me to continue to move as much as possible when I was pregnant with Sydney, and to get back to the gym after she was born. We have basically the same workout wardrobe, and have accidentally matched outfits more than once.

We have purposely matched many more times than that.

It’s taken me several days to write this post because I struggle with the words to define our relationship and describe what an incredible person she is. We understand each other like sisters. I consider her a part of my family, and I know she considers me the same. We share stories, recipes, clothes, our frustrations, our joys. She is one of the most selfless people I know. She is lovely inside and out.

Happy birthday to my beautiful friend, my future life partner, my swolemate. I hope you have a truly excellent day full of everything you want!

Temporary Solo Parenting

Temporary Solo Parenting

I meant to write this last week, when Kirk was actually traveling. Unfortunately, being the only parent around means everything falls on me, so there’s little time to do anything other than keep everyone alive. I’m sitting here trying to remember what exactly we did for those 6 days that Kirk was in Europe, but I’m totally drawing a blank. I think I just blacked out until he came home. Several people asked me where he was, and whether this trip was for business or pleasure. It made me laugh every single time- as if he would ever take a week-long European vacation and leave me at home with two kids FOR FUN. Not happening.

We definitely stayed busy that week- did something fun pretty much every day, which helps the time fly by.

Monday was SOS (what Reid calls “sail camp”), basically where younger kids go to learn about sailing, boat and water safety, etc. Kirk usually takes him (since he is the sailor in the family) but I did it this week. It was pouring rain, so the kids hung out in the shed and the parents got to go to the clubhouse (aka, have drinks and dinner). Not too bad, actually. Oh, except for the part where Reid was walking next to the water kicking his feet and his shoe FLEW off and landed in the water. I had to shimmy on my stomach to grab it and nearly fell in. Good times.

Normally I work out at 5:30 AM, but apparently it’s “not appropriate” to leave your 4 year old and baby home alone for a couple hours to go to the gym. So, Sydney and I had some Crossfit playdates while Reid was at camp in the morning. I’m not sure how this would work if she was crawling, but overall she did pretty well! I did have to stop a few times to feed her or throw some toys her way, but the desire to finish before she started crying was pretty motivating.

Wednesday night was time for ME! Some friends and I planned this outing a few weeks ago- a little ladies’ dinner at Georgetown in Lakewood. The weather was absolutely perfect to sit on the patio and have some drinks and dinner. The food was amazing, the service was sub-par- but honestly, I was with my friends, not having to put anyone to bed, so it didn’t matter. Next time Kirk travels for a week, I’m definitely doing this again- booking something for me in the middle of the week. It was really nice to talk to adults with dinner and not play 700 rounds of “I spy.”

Friday was Sisterwife Sleepover. My friend Alissa and I have discovered that we can put all our kids to bed at her house and they actually do pretty well. It’s really awesome (for us), not sure about her husband who keeps threatening to claim me on their taxes because I’m there so much. But the greatest part about this is I get to actually hang out with one of my best friends and not worry about getting a babysitter. Kirk always tells me that I should go out with my friends more, which in theory is awesome. But we all have kids, and husbands, and conflicting schedules, so it’s nearly impossible sometimes. I think that’s why I like going to her house so much (also: she has central AC and I do not) – because I truly love her and her family and it’s not a big hardship to get together. We have pretty similar parenting styles, our kids get along (for now at least!), our babies are essentially the same age. I’ve spent the night there before and didn’t even have to bring anything – they have literally everything I need. I’d give Hotel Tyminski five stars.

I would say this picture captures my week. On Saturday, the day Kirk came home- sitting on my kitchen floor, trying to get Sydney to drink a bottle in her carseat, on my way out the door because I forgot to pick up the damn dog from daycare. I was going to grab him after going to Target with the kids, but that shopping trip was so supremely awful that I completely spaced out on that. Oops. They were still open, so not a big deal- but it’s pretty indicative of my week. Busy, a little frazzled, trying to give the illusion that I am keeping it together, 100% exhausted. Kirk has traveled a ton since we’ve had Reid – once was for two weeks – and nothing has been as difficult as this. Kids are just RELENTLESS. I love them so much, but dear GOD I needed a break. But overall, we were fine. We survived. At some point during the week everyone got a bath, the house didn’t burn down, nobody had to go to the ER.

I’m not super excited for Kirk to travel again, but I can handle it. Just keep the wine fridge full.

Greetings from Cloud 9

Greetings from Cloud 9

So, I don’t want to beat a dead horse. Everyone has been talking about how hot it’s been the past few days. But…it’s hot. Like, seriously hot. I have been sweating non-stop for 72 hours. We have no air conditioning in the house, and it also broke in my car. Luckily we have access to a pool, so that’s where we lived this weekend. Yesterday we took the boat out with some friends, and despite the child:adult ratio being a little off, it was a great time. Syd’s first boat ride, and she was awesome.

Then we all went to the pool and the kids barely left the water. Sydney was about 3 hours late for her nap, so I tried rocking her to sleep in 90 degree heat. Fun times.

 

Regardless, we had a fabulous weekend. I am normally not somebody that absolutely loves summer, since I have a four degree range where I’m comfortable, but this weekend made me happy that it’s here.

Anyway- today I had a follow up with my functional medicine doctor at the Cleveland Clinic. I love it there- I leave feeling so great about the direction my health is taking. We basically just chatted about the supplements/meds I’m taking, what we should switch up or stop, and where to go from here. I was pretty happy with how I’m feeling, until she read my body composition test numbers- I went from happy to ecstatic. I had done the test in January at my initial appointment, and then again today. The body comp test measures your hydration level, body fat percentage, and lean muscle mass. My hydration level increased by a lot. I went from 97# of muscle to 119#. My body fat percentage went from 42% (yikes) to 19%. NINETEEN. Now, I’m not suggesting this is totally accurate. But it’s probably half of what it used to be. I feel so incredible with this information. To see the results on paper is an indescribable feeling. Sometimes I kick myself for not doing this sooner.

One of the first people I called after my appointment was my crossfit coach. He was, of course, super happy with these results. He reminded me of where I was when we first started working together- 35 weeks pregnant, tired, frustrated, ready to give up. I felt like I could barely do anything. Now- I feel pretty damn unstoppable most of the time. I haven’t done anything that crazy, either- just cut out a lot of crap. I’m not suggesting this is easy, but it IS worth it. I’ve said this before, but I cannot emphasize enough how much of an effect this has had on my self-confidence. I am actually, legitimately, happy.

And I’m not done yet.

My People

My People

I have never been someone who has a huge group of close friends. I do have quite a few friends, but not many know me in great detail. I keep in touch with a couple people from high school, a few college friends, and a few law school friends. But it wasn’t until after Reid was born that I found My People. When Reid was 8 months old, we started taking Little Gym classes together. The class we signed up for – Thursday – was a good one. I immediately wanted to be friends with a few of the other moms that seemed to click with me. I struggled at first on how to take these relationships beyond a weekly baby gym class – do I ask for her number? Find her on Facebook? Does she feel the same way about me? This was like dating all over again, and I hated it. But somehow, a few of us started scheduling playdates together. I think that’s the first step in mom dating- the playdate, using your kids as an excuse to get together and sniff each other out. Slowly, a group of about 6 of us became friends and started talking in a group chat about things other than kids. We got together for dinner and drinks. I had found a small group of women that really understood me, accepted me, and loved me.

I feel incredibly lucky to have found these ladies. We have experienced a lot together over the past 3.5 years: the birth of a second child for each of us, the loss of family members, countless birthday parties and playdates, new homes, so much laughter, and a few tears. I was not scared to expand my family because I knew these women would save me from drowning. They continue to do that almost daily. These are the friends that will support you no matter what. Our parenting styles are not always the same, but we don’t judge each other. If I ever have a question about something, a fight with my husband, or just need to vent- I always go to them first. We show up for each other.

The most amazing thing to me in all of this is how different we all are. Some work, some don’t. (Yes, I understand that being a stay-at-home mom is work. I am one.) Some want more children, some aren’t sure, some are DONE. We have varied interests and backgrounds. But our kids brought us together, and I’m so thankful for that. It has become apparent to me recently how much I need these friends in my life. I know I’d be much worse off without them. We don’t see each other in person nearly as much as we’d like, but we always try. All of our schedules rarely overlap, but when we can all get together- it is the BEST.

We sometimes talk about the days when our kids will be in school and we’ll have more time for ourselves (will this day ever come?). Some are looking forward to that, some are dreading it. But one thing is certain- we will get through that hurdle (and many others) together.

Yin and Yang

Yin and Yang

I think one of the most unexpected parts about being a mother is that my kids are not tiny clones of me. I’m not talking about looks – although Sydney does look like me, and Reid is Kirk’s twin. I’m referring to personality. Syd is a bit too young to really know her personality, although so far she’s pretty chill and content most of the time. Reid and I are similar in some ways, like we both have laser focus when we see something we really want. For him, this generally applies to TV and snacks. He has determination for days. Super challenging for now, yes. But it will serve him well in the future.

However, both Reid and Sydney seem to have something I don’t: an endless desire to be around other people, all the time. I’ve mentioned before that I recharge by spending time alone, or 1:1 with someone. Kirk jokes that my ideal Friday night is a glass of wine, a book, and some terrible TV show – and he is 100% correct, although I would also add “someone else putting the kids to bed” and “the kids immediately fall asleep and do not ask for a bandaid, to be tucked in AGAIN, an ice pack, another song, to watch you go downstairs, to fix this lego piece, etc.” But Reid is an absolute extrovert, and I think Syd will be as well. Reid gets this from Kirk, obviously. When Kirk and I first started dating, we’d go to parties together where I wouldn’t really know anybody, and he would just float around the room striking up conversations with people like it was nothing. I could easily talk to people, but by the end of the night I was exhausted. We got to a point where I had to tell him he wasn’t allowed to leave me at a party like that – I wanted him to take me around, making some introductions first. It never occurred to him that I would be uncomfortable in that situation.

Cut to Reid: we ran into a friend at Target the other day, someone who Reid doesn’t really know or remember meeting. I introduced them, and Reid launched into a speech on his various forms of footwear and what they are used for. He will strike up conversations with people in such a bold way, asking tons of questions but usually forgetting to ask their name. I’m a little envious, actually. I am pretty talkative (I am a lawyer after all) but it can still be a struggle for me. Reid loves to be the center of attention, and if you don’t acknowledge him when he comes into a room, he’ll force you to by throwing himself on the floor, asking you to “watch him do something cool” (rarely is it actually cool), ask you a question that doesn’t make sense, or something of that nature. His teachers have consistently mentioned that Reid likes to “roll on his friends.” Not in a snitch way, in a literal rolling over his friends way. If it makes someone laugh, Reid will keep going.

One of the more difficult parts of this extroverted personality is the chatter. It is incessant. He basically goes around all day, relaying his stream of consciousness to me. Sometimes it’s pretty funny- yesterday on the way to school, he told me about his dream that he saw a garbage truck go into some lava, and look at that bird, and can he have a grilled cheese for lunch, and can we go on a walk after school, and why are we stopping here, and Mommy you forgot to turn on your clicker, and Mommy you are going too fast. He has LOTS of opinions about how I drive and which direction I take. But as someone who values my alone time, it is pretty exhausting. Largely because Reid doesn’t just want to talk- he wants to have a conversation. Don’t worry- he’ll tell you what to say. But you still have to participate. I feel bad, because sometimes when Kirk gets home, I need about 20 minutes of silence. Nobody talking to me, or at me, or asking questions. Nobody making screechy noises from her crib, just SILENCE. Kirk likes to come home and talk about our day, catch up, things like that. Normal husband and wife stuff. I feel as though I have a set number of words I can hear in one day, and a lot of the time Reid uses them all. Since he’s in school this year 5x/week, it’s gotten better. But summer is coming…

Off to research noise-cancelling headphones.

Dear Reid

Dear Reid


You are four! I remember talking about your 4th birthday in the hospital with your dad, because we knew that’s the day your birthday would fall on the Kentucky Derby. We had visions of a Derby-themed birthday party for you with cute little 4-year-old jockeys running around. We failed to realize that you, of course, would have your own 4-year-old ideas about your party. So no Derby birthday for you, but you are so excited to play at the Little Gym with all your friends!

You certainly do have lots of opinions about stuff. I know that these are qualities I will appreciate later in life, but they are big personality traits for a 4 year old. You like to tell us directions when we are driving, what you’d like at each meal, which books and songs you want at bedtime, and even who is going to get which slice of cake at your party. Spoiler: I made cupcakes to avoid this problem. You could be described as bossy, demanding, and strong willed; I prefer to describe you as a wonderful kid who knows what he wants, has determination, and doesn’t give up on the things he cares about.

I have so many wishes for you. I wish for you to be happy, to be kind, to love someone. I wish for you to find something in life that beings you joy. I have no doubt about that last one- you are a pretty happy kid.

I could go on, but I can already feel you rolling your eyes at me. You are so loved, my first baby, my sweet boy. Thank you for being the one who made me a mother. I love you. Happy birthday.

All my love,

Mommy

Maniac

Maniac

I keep seeing these inspirational quotes that say things like “you are enough” and “if Britney can make it through 2007, you can make it though today.” Admittedly, the last one makes me laugh. But to be honest, there are so many days when I feel like I am NOT enough and I may not survive to see dinner. Some people get this feeling especially during the holidays, with all the gift-buying, tradition-making, and party-going. I get this feeling in spring, during the last week of April and first week of May.

That is my busy time. Within 2 weeks, we celebrate 6 birthdays (two of which are Kirk and Reid). We are also big fans of the Kentucky Derby, and this year we are having a party. Reid will also be doing a school birthday celebration since he’s in preschool this year, which means I have 23 goodie bags to make plus a gift to buy to donate to the school. Plus the goodie bags for Reid’s birthday party, as well as food since it’s happening over lunch. Oh, and two cakes because his actual birthday is on the Derby so his party is the next day, but I couldn’t bear the thought of Reid not blowing out candles on his real birthday.

And then I need to plan out a little menu for the Derby party, make a cute hat (the reason I wanted to have the damn party to begin with), and actually cook the food. And get some booze, because Derby.

Notice how Kirk hasn’t been mentioned once? That’s because every damn year, his birthday sneaks up on me. May 1, for some reason, seems so far away until it’s April 30 and I see all those Justin Timberlake memes everywhere.


Makes me laugh every time. And then say “OH NO KIRK’S BIRTHDAY IS TOMORROW” and frantically try to pull things together. Kirk is such a thoughtful husband and seriously great gift giver that he deserves so much more than a hurried footnote on the year. But again, so many events. So many.

Part of the problem is that I am a perfectionist and people-pleaser. This means I usually throw a really good party, because I truly care about whether people have a good time, and my food and drinks are usually pretty great. There is nothing sloppy about my approach to entertaining. Just ask Kirk, who rolls his eyes everytime we have friends over for dinner and I bust out the plate chargers. But this perfectionist/people pleaser stuff also means I stress myself out pretty easily. I want all these cute Pinterest things at the Derby party, like a blind bourbon tasting, creating your own horse name, and a betting booth but I’m not sure when I’ll have time to put that together. I want to make Reid’s cake(s) from scratch but I feel like I’ll run out of time, and cakes are not meant to be half-assed. Not to mention Kirk’s birthday treats- I try to go big here, since it’s one of the only things I can do that he can’t. I’ll let you know how his tiramisu goes when I actually make it sometime in June.

Among all this, I have a few friends that have had babies, are moving, or just going through a crappy time. You won’t be surprised to hear that I show love with food, and I really want to make dinners, breakfast quiches, etc for them. It’s the kind of friend and neighbor I want to be- the kind that just shows up with some brownies because you had a bad day. But between the kids, our obligations, and everyday normal life, I am not sure when I can be this person. It kills me, because if my friends don’t have a quiche, how will they know I care?!

I’m not sure what the point of all this is. The past few days have been hard as a mother, and it’s just kicking off a long stretch of insanity. Just know that if you are feeling crazed, overwhelmed, or frantic, I  right there with you.

The Milk Bar

The Milk Bar

Spring break was last week, and while we had a great time doing some fun stuff around town, staying in pajamas until mid-morning, and playing with friends, I was pretty excited to get back to our regularly scheduled programming yesterday. Reid does pretty well with a schedule, and it’s no shocker that my super controlling, type A personality does as well. Sunday night I fell asleep with a smile on my face, dreaming of a quiet morning on Monday while Reid was at school.

Then he woke up with pink eye. No school for Reid, no peace and quiet for me.

For those of you whose children have never had it, pink eye is the worst. I mean not literally – it’s not life threatening or anything – but we now have to do eye drops 3x/day. Reid is really sensitive about things touching his eyes, ears, hair, etc. This makes haircuts REALLY fun, and eye drops fall into that category as well. I tried everything to get him to lay down willingly- bribes, taking away TV, threats, and finally sitting on him with his arms pinned to his sides with my legs. I controlled his head with my elbows and got his eye pried open with my fingers. We have to do this a total of 21 times. I told Reid if we didn’t, his eye will fall out of his head on the playground.

Fun times.

Anyway, something has been on my mind lately. When I got pregnant with Reid, I read tons of books, websites, went to classes, and got as prepared as possible. We hired a doula for the birth, and I thought that we were pretty ready. I did not prepare for breastfeeding, because I kept reading about how “natural” it is, how it’s what babies and mamas are meant to do. I didn’t even think twice about it- that’s how I would feed our new baby. I didn’t even learn to use my pump ahead of time because I didn’t think I’d need it. I owned no nursing bras or shirts, no nursing pads or lanolin cream. I didn’t even know half that stuff existed, or why I’d need it. I didn’t know what a lactation consultant did, or why I’d need one. I had no clue that there was more than one position to hold a nursing baby. I was clueless.

Then Reid was born.

It turns out that breastfeeding is really HARD. Reid was a super sleepy baby, so when I finally got him to latch on (a whole process in itself) he would almost immediately fall asleep. I confused this with him being done eating, so I’d try to put him back in his bed. Almost immediately he’d cry, because he was still hungry. This dance of latch-eat for 2 minutes-sleep-cry continued night after night. He never got into that “milk coma” that newborn babies get- he was just crying after eating. I felt so guilty, because this was supposed to be natural and easy, right? But it wasn’t. It was hard, and terrible, and painful (thanks engorgement). I felt lonely- Kirk was asleep in our room, and I was stuck with this baby in the nursery, so unsure of how to handle this, but Kirk couldn’t really help me because he lacked the proper equipment. I started to get a little resentful that I had to grow a baby, push him out, and then single-handedly feed him. This wasn’t fair.

I had my mom run to Target at 9pm on a Friday night to get me a manual pump because my electric one was too confusing for this first time mom to figure out. I pumped a little bottle for Reid, which also eased the pain, and he ate it right up and FELL ASLEEP. This was amazing! We talked to the pediatrician, who also felt that a dairy sensitivity may be at play, and decided about 3 weeks after Reid was born to switch to formula. He became much happier and slept better, and I hardly felt any guilt at all anymore. Sure, I wanted to breastfeed, but it just didn’t work for us. Plus, the difference in Reid’s mood was so clear- we made the right choice.

Three and a half years later, Sydney arrived. This time, I put all my effort into learning about breastfeeding, which I felt a little silly about being a mother already. I hired a private lactation consultant who came to my house to talk with me before Sydney’s arrival, and then came twice after her birth. I bought nursing bras, tank tops and shirts, pads, creams, and watched about 500 YouTube videos on latching properly. I talked to all of my breastfeeding friends about my plan, and lined up as much support as possible. I googled lactation support groups and knew where I could go almost every day of the week. I was prepared for the engorgement, the pain while the baby figures out how to eat, and the endless leaking once my milk came in. I set up goals for myself- Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, then the 6 month mark. I WAS READY.

Sydney is a much different baby than Reid was, and she caught on to nursing right away. She was still sleepy, but I could usually keep her awake enough to eat. My lactation consultant, Sam, came over about 5 days after Sydney was born, and helped me figure a few more things out. I struggle with the anxiety of not knowing exactly how much she was eating (one benefit of a bottle-fed baby), and she reminded me to just watch the baby. Syd was happy, slept well (for a newborn, anyway), was content after eating. Kirk and I developed a system where he’d sleep with Sydney in the guest room (her little baby noises would wake me up all night), and change her when she woke up to eat. I then fed her and put her back to bed. It allowed me to stay in bed for the most part, and I felt like Kirk was actually helping where he could. It was a good system.

I made it to my Halloween goal, then Thanksgiving, then Christmas. Around the 4 month mark, I decided to start supplementing with a bottle of formula before bed to make sure she had a full tummy before bedtime. But for the most part, I kept breastfeeding. We finally made it to the 6 month mark, and I was so happy. I felt pretty proud of how much we had done- I wanted to quit when Sydney had RSV and basically threw up most of what she ate, but I kept going. I wanted to quit when I was so, so tired of getting up in the middle of the night but I didn’t. I really wanted to quit when I got mastitis, and again when I had the flu, but I didn’t. I have so much love and support- it was so needed.

But now, at 6 months, I felt a little different about it. Sydney was becoming more and more distracted when she ate, and it was really difficult to feed her. Nursing took at least 30 minutes a lot of the time. I couldn’t just take her to her room where it was quiet- I still had Reid running around and terrorizing the house. I tried that once and came down to crayon all over the TV. Plus, I selfishly liked the idea that anyone could feed her, and I’d be able to have a little bit more of my body back to myself. So I started pumping and giving her bottles all the time. And guess what? She was still happy and thriving. As pumping got to be more of a chore, I weaned off of that and mixed in more formula. And guess what? She was still happy and thriving.

Today, at 7 months, she is 100% bottle fed. I sometimes miss the connection and bond I had with her with breastfeeding, but I don’t regret my decision. I do feel some guilt- not that I made the wrong choice, but that others will judge me for not going a full year. I’m such a people pleaser, I want everyone to agree with my decisions (on everything, really) regardless of whether it matters or not. I mean, the people who think I should have kept going aren’t exactly going to come over and help me feed my baby.

Sydney is doing great. She’s happy and so am I. Breastmilk, formula, bottles- it all ends up the same, in my opinion- with your toddler eating something they found on the floor at Target.