GratiTuesday

August is insane in Higher Ed, so I am back for another GratiTuesday to keep me in check.

This last week was jam-packed, but there were some definite good moments.

My sister-in-law and I went to our yearly baseball game with our favorite Missouri teams. I love this tradition we have. It’s hard not to have a good time when the atmosphere is baseball, and hot dogs are available. I am so thankful for this time with my seester in matching shirts.

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At work, we have a new system that we have been working on configuring all summer. I am part of the core team, and I am the campus administrator moving forward. There was a lot of pressure with the timeline and all the decisions we had to make about implementation. It has pretty much consumed my life, but there have been so many positive out of the configuration process. I have gotten to connect with people around the institution that I had either little contact or none before this. I always enjoy creating relationships and understanding how other offices work. I am really proud of all that we have accomplished over the past few months, and we went live with the product this week. The response to the system has been overwhelmingly positive. I am really looking forward to all the possibilities it is going to bring and how it will help us be more intentional with students.

Today, my office did a planning retreat. It was a great space to share our vision and talk about pain points and new ideas. I love the women I work with, and they really inspire me with their passion and dedication to our students. We talked through a lot of things today, and I am really excited about the year and how we plan to support our students. I am thankful for that time with the people I work with.

Milking In Progress

Since it is World Breastfeeding Week, I figured it was about time to reflect on my breastfeeding journey the second time around.

This time things were drastically different than my nursing experience with George, which you can read about here and here.

It’s crazy that I helped her grow from day 1 with my own body, and we made it a year!

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3 month, 6 months, 9 months, and 12 months

Let’s set the scenery differences:

With George, he was rushed into intensive care almost immediately after birth. I didn’t see him until 24 hours after he was born. There was no option of feeding him when he came out of the womb. I was pumping from the start. Not to mention he was in the NICU for 10 days, and he honestly didn’t actually feed from me until he was released. Because he started with bottles, we had a very rocky start.

With Daphne, she naturally started within the hour of her birth. She took to it like it a champ. The only reason I started pumping was to get my supply going since she was so little.

With George, shortly after he was born, I picked up and moved over two states, started a new full time job, and started house hunting while Tom was trying to get out of the Army. This is stressful when you don’t have a newborn.

With Daphne, I already had a job, and we weren’t moving. The Army was very much in the past. Enough said on the level of stress I was experiencing.

With George, I had no idea what I was doing, which with my personality causes a lot of anxiety.

With Daphne, I had some idea of what to expect, which made me go in with no expectations.

And that my dear friends, is the biggest reason why I was able to breastfeed Daphne for a whole year.

I went in expecting nothing.

Since I set the bar so low, I didn’t have any anxiety about anything as far as nursing her went. With George, I cried almost every day for his first four months, until I decided to supplement. With Daphne I think I cried just once due to breastfeeding.

Because I was more go with the flow, I was able to actually enjoy the time I had with Daphne.

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I wouldn’t go as far to say I loved breastfeeding…

It was still a pain to be confined to my office three times a day and manipulate my schedule around it. People expect you to move your schedule around, but I held fast this time around that I would get it 3 times a day. Sometimes this makes you feel guilty that you are being selfish and that it is coming off that work is not a priority. It is hard to find the balance some days.

It was still a pain to have to lose sleep to nurse her before bed and nurse her when I woke up. It would have saved so much time to just give her a bottle.

It was still a pain to have to plan our outings around her feeding schedule and making sure that anywhere that we went was nursing friendly.

However, I felt a new sense of confidence and power this time around. I was able to recognize what an awesome feat it was to help nourish her with each feeding.

This time we were able to exclusive nurse for 6 months, and we continued to nurse (with one formula bottle a day) until she was 13 months.

This time I did things like nurse in front of people other than Tom. I nursed in the middle of the zoo and baseball stadiums. It was like I was able to let go of the anxiety of it, and was able to just do what nature intended.

I also call it a triumph that I actually nursed her after she got several teeth. I never imagined I would continue once she got teeth, but for the most part I didn’t have issues. She only bit me once, and that is a pain I never want to relive again.

Here are some other practical things that were helpful going into this experience:

  • Having a sanitize option on our dishwasher-This cut down so much time in cleaning bottles and pump parts every night. I would just rinse things out, and pop them in the dishwasher instead of laboring for an hour each night hand washing everything.
  • Reusing pump parts throughout the day by keeping them in the fridge-Also cutting down the time cleaning bottles and parts each night.
  • Have extra pump parts. I think I had enough to get through 4 days before using the same ones over.
  • Getting a hands-free pump bra-Totally worth the investment.
  • Blue Gatorade-I still had supply issues in the second half of this journey, but I do think the Gatorade helped.
  • I never kept track of how long we were feeding. With George I had an app and tracked it all. This time having the freedom of just following her lead made it much less of a chore.
  • This time I didn’t worry as much about what I was wearing. I wore dresses and work clothes that typically weren’t nursing friendly all the time. I just accepted that I would be half naked in my office while I was pumping. I love my wardrobe, so just bringing a cardigan and having a blanket that I could put on while I was pumping was enough to make it not so cumbersome to undress each time I needed to pump. This meant I didn’t feel so frumpy and drab with a small selection of clothes because I didn’t care. I spent too much time fussing about those little things the first time around.
  • A nursing cover like this was a blessing. So much easier to use than any of the covers I tried with George.

I wouldn’t say I came to love breastfeeding. Pumping I think dampers any kind of affection you could have towards this responsibility. It really is an investment of time to commit.

However despite that, I will say that I cried the last few nights I was breastfeeding Daphne. I never realized the bond I had with her during that time until it was almost gone. I am very proud of how far we came as a duo, and that I was able to have that time with her.

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This was after the last time I nursed her.

I also did struggle with some guilt when we stopped because she refused to drink anything for a week or two after I ended nursing. I felt like she was on a strike for severing that relationship with her. But it was time for me to move on. My supply was really low. I was barely making a bottle with four 30-minute pumping sessions each day, so it wasn’t worth my time and effort at that time. I didn’t want to get to the point that I got with George where I was angry and resentful with the process. With George I spent 2 extra months more than I should have trying to make it work, and making everyone in the house miserable because I was struggling so much. I knew this time that was not a road I wanted to go down again. So we ended on a high note after making it a full year!

Breastfeeding is hard. It demands a lot out of you-time, energy, your body, etc. My first experience was difficult, and I could have just said no this time around. However, I am so glad that I tried again. Was every moment easy? No. It still sucked at times (literally). But I was able to get more out of it, and thus Daphne got more out of me (also literally).

I will never forget the overwhelming sense of pride to be a mom when I nursed Daphne in front of a room full of other nursing moms at the Royals’ stadium. I seriously was so overcome with joy at what we were all accomplishing that I almost cried right there. It was a really powerful moment for me. It was beautifully humbling to be in that room. There were new moms and seasoned moms, some were pumping and some were with our babies straight at the source, all of us with our boobs out doing the best we could to take care of our kids all the while watching a Royals game. A priceless moment that motivated me on many occasions throughout this past year.

So again my advice is to go in with no expectations and just do what you can do. Your baby is not going to hold a grudge (in the long run) that you kept them fed whether that is with formula or breastfeeding. I stopped at a time with both kids that made sense and worked for us.

I am proud of myself with the 4 exclusive months/7 total months of breastfeeding with George. And I am proud of myself for the 6 exclusive months and 13 total months of breastfeeding with Daphne. Neither one makes me a better or worse mom. I am grateful that I had the support to try this breastfeeding adventure. I am proud at the success we had with it, and was able to acknowledge when it was no longer the best option.

It’s all a triumph.

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I will leave you with the lyrics to a classic 90’s sitcom theme song….Step by Step…It says it all as far as how I approached breastfeeding the second time around.

Step by step
Day by day
(Day by day)
A fresh start over
A different hand to play
Only time will tell
But you know what they say
We’ll make it better
The second time around

GratiTuesday

One of the podcasts that I follow does a campaign every Tuesday to show more gratitude and to remember the small joys of each day.

I wanted to follow suit, especially at this time of the year when we go full steam ahead until September. I need to remember to live in the moment at times and be grateful for all that I am blessed with.

So here I am, giving my blessings.

This last week marked a new beginning for Tom and I. With Tom’s job change, we are actually able to get lunch during the week. Being married to a police officer is difficult. For the better part of 4 years, we have not had regular time carved out for just us. It can take a toll on a marriage, so I am glad that we get to have this time to focus on us. And I have always wanted to have a place to become a regular!

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This last weekend I had the opportunity to celebrate my best friend. and her impending wedding. I had a great weekend throwing her a bridal shower and her bachelorette party. How we ended the weekend without a picture is beyond me. But I am so grateful for Annette and how we can pick up like no time is lost.

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I will end with these two nuggets. They have recently started playing together, and it is everything to this mama heart. I am so thankful to be a witness to their bond. And watching George’s imagination is one of the best things of my day.

What are you grateful for?

Daphne-14 Months

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Weight:  24 lbs.

Health: She has been super fussy this month. She has a total of 8 teeth, and she is working on 4 molars. She gets diaper rashes really bad, and there really isn’t a remedy that we have tried that works (and we have tried a lot). She also got her first real injury. She fell in the bathroom on the trashcan rim. She had a giant bruise on her face. It’s been there a couple weeks now.

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Diet: Daph has been a great eater. This week she has been a bit picky, but I think it may be the teeth. She has started the toddler thing that every night is something different and it is not a guarantee that she will love something day to day. She loves sweet potatoes and raspberries. I stopped nursing her right before she was 13 months. She went on a milk strike right after that, and she is just now drinking milk regularly. She loves to drink water though.

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Clothes:  She is in 9 month clothes. She can wear a few 12 month clothes. She is still in size 2 shoes, and size 5 diaper.

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Sleeping:  We have been putting her to bed around 7:30/8. She generally stays asleep most of the night. She hardly sleeps past 7am. She still has two naps a day, and she is really sticking to two hour naps.

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Likes:  She LOVES to wear her robe, which is a 3T size. She is obsessed with her elephant backpack. She believe it is her duty to close every door in the house. She adores George!

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Dislikes:  Diaper Changes. She does not like being left out. She wants to be all up in George’s business which is hard for her when he doesn’t want her around.

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Milestones: She can climb up and down stairs. Girl is practically running now. She gives open mouth kisses and will give you hugs when you ask. She says ni-ni (night, night). She can climb, which is terrifying because she isn’t super safe about the getting down part.

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Nicknames:  Daphie, Sisterbear, Sis, and Daphie Girl. The two most common are still Daph and Sister.

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Quirks:  She will sing along with you when you sing her lullabies. She will mimic your laugh. When she is drinking, it’s like she stops breathing she is taking such big gulps. She tries to put on her clothes and shoes. She come pretty close to it too. She is also so smart. She follows directions really well. She puts things away where they are supposed to be, and even knows the difference between her toys and the dogs toys.

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We parents are: not too bad! Tom just switched departments, and he is now on a permanent day shift. It has only been a week, but I can already tell a difference in his demeanor and how George reacts to his time home. It is a much better department too, and offers more support to him as an officer. I am appalled at how he was treated over this last year, so I was glad he was able to move to a better place and have better hours for our family. We are gearing up for one of the busiest times for higher ed, but it is also my favorite time of year with my job. I just love all the new possibilities and seeing all these dreams begin with our students. And I am starting to finally feel settled into the director role, so I am really excited to see what my department does this year. Things are good!

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George is: amazing me every day. His vocabulary is crazy good. I just think how we thought he was delayed two years ago. He has recently started making up his own songs. I am constantly cracking up at this boy. He isn’t super fond of Daphne right now. He gets into his stuff too much and messes up whatever he is playing with, so he gets really frustrated with her. Then he’ll have moments where he is super sweet to her.

The dogs are: living their best life. With the kids home all day, they spend as much time as they want outside and rarely are alone. They adore Daph at meal time, and she even tries to share and feed them. Crosby is not appreciative of our new chicken friends. Grace is still the diva she always is.

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I love watching this girl come into her own. She is going to move mountains.

Here is George at 14 months.

Whole 30 Results

Hey hey hey! We made it to the end.

Looking back, it wasn’t the worst.

I still don’t feel like I was able to get the energy boost that so many others got.

And this week, it was like I was just counting down the minutes until the end.

The only side effect I felt this week was with my poops. It was really difficult to go number 2. Sorry for the TMI. My mom said she felt the same thing this week, so I am not sure if there is something there with that. We didn’t eat any different from the weeks before.

But anyway, we made it!

So was this month worth it?

Yes and no, but mostly yes.

The no is in the fact that I seriously felt no difference (other than the bodily functions this week). This makes me think that I am not that far off from this diet in general.

The yes is that I did actually lose weight; 8 lbs in fact. Y’all I am one pound away from my pre-GEORGE weight. That to me is huge. I don’t think this happened in a vacuum though. I worked my ass off, literally. I exercised every day this month. So the combination of increased activity and good nutrition I think believe did the trick. Oh and all that with finally being done nursing. Hallelujah!

Looking at the before and after photos, it is kind of astounding too. I feel like I am more myself after the babies, and I am hoping the comments of looking pregnant will stop. These are horrible quality, but I am feeling good about myself and the work I put in! Also this is the best mom swimsuit!

The other and more important yes is how eye opening it was to see where there was hidden sugar. I think it is obvious that soda and candy are sugar culprits, but I learned so much about where sugar sneaks into my diet. I mean why do they put sugar in tuna packets?

I am going to change some of our staples like salsa and spaghetti sauce to be sugar free. And we will be eating more veggie rice instead of actual rice. I think changing up some of these every day things and thinking about alternatives has been very educational.

But I will be eating hamburger buns on the 4th of July.

It’s about balance y’all.

So will I do this again? I don’t know. Right now I am thinking probably not, but sometimes a good reset is needed to force you out of habits.

However, I think I eat pretty closely to this diet anyway, so it’s more of depriving me of my balance pieces.

It is funny though, now that I can have chocolate, I am not craving it as much. At least I don’t have to be like this anymore…

So there you have it. My month of Whole 30. I finished it, and lived to tell the tale!