Tuesday, April 30, 2013

My Dream Job

When I was in high school, I signed up to be on the school paper. It might have been just an attempt to get an easy credit for some people, but I really got into it. Writing was and is so much fun for me. I dreamed of being a journalist one day. I couldn't decide what might be better--being Carrie Bradshaw or Dear Abby. Carrie Bradshaw because, well, of all obvious reasons. Dear Abby because, you know, I think I know it all and would love to single-handedly solve all your problems. LOL. The third fabulous option I considered was being a writer for Hallmark because I rock at dishing out B.S. ; )

A job as a writer wasn't in the cards for me, but I do enjoy writing in my journal and blogging. It's so freeing. As an introvert I don't have very deep conversations even with people I consider true friends. Give me a pen and paper (yes, I still use these ancient utensils!) or a keyboard, however, and I will bare my soul.

So, anyway, I've had this idea for quite some time that since this is our last semester at seminary, I would lose some of my inhibitions and speak my mind more often. Surely I'm not the only one who has hidden parts of themselves for fear of being judged or being offensive or simply not fitting in. But, hey, if you're leaving never to see these people again, why not just come out and be that person you really are, right? There's safety in moving hundreds of miles away! Perhaps I have opened up a bit, but the whole idea went over about like the ideas I used to get on summer vacations from school--that THIS would be my year. I would be myself--but funnier and prettier--and everyone would love me and unanimously vote me homecoming queen and head cheerleader. (Why, yes, I do have issues.) In other words, it never happened.

But back to the subject at hand. We all have things we wish we could say or ask, and part of my speaking my mind initiative was asking bold questions, going beyond the mediocre interview stage into Barbara Walter territory. Wouldn't it be nice to wonder something personal, have the guts to ask someone, and then have them answer you honestly?! So, I got the idea that I would combine my two loves--writing and the improper sharing of personal information--and let you guys ask me anything. Is there something you've wondered about me but had the tact and/or good sense not to ask? Now's your chance! Ask me anything and I'll either answer you honestly or fabricate a humorous story (just kidding!) in a blog post.

Monday, April 29, 2013

2 Months!

Friday marked 2 months for the twins! The last month has been such a special time because the girls have grown so much and there have been so many firsts. The best "first" has been their first social smiles. I noted Brooklyn's in my nursing log on April 9th. Since that morning she's been happily grinning at us each and every morning. It's no wonder because she sleeps SO WELL. Most nights she sleeps 5 hours; one night this week she slept 6 and a half. This is just unheard of in the Combs household! She has also gained great head and neck control. She has been called the "Traci baby" since she was born but I didn't think she really looked much like me until this week. A friend had her on her lap; she sat there looking around wide eyed and it was like looking at one of my baby pictures! I also see a lot of my dad in her. She definitely takes after the Ladd side of the family!


Braelyn has definitely been stingier with her smiles. She has suffered through gas, fussiness, and sleeplessness this month. She also developed some unusual green bowel movements. After consulting Dr. Google, I wondered if it had anything to do with my plentiful supply of milk and forceful letdown or if perhaps, because it wasn't affecting her sister in the same way, she had a dairy sensitivity. I *tried* to avoid dairy but it proved to be very difficult, and in actuality I don't eat that much straight up dairy anyway. To deal with the oversupply of foremilk, I have begun pumping in the mornings and when possible in the afternoons to help more completely empty my breasts of milk. I've also been "block feeding" as best I can with twins which has amounted to simply leaving one baby on one breast for at least half the day and sometimes all day (when I forget to switch!). Within a week of doing these things, Braelyn had two normal bowel movements which hadn't happened in weeks. She has slept well the last two nights and even rested peacefully for five hours last night! We've also been blessed with more smiles lately. I'm so relieved to have eased her discomfort without having to give up my chocolate, ha ha!

Braelyn is still without a doubt the "Jackie baby." Its so cute to see her daddy holding her and see how alike they look! I even though I saw a glimmer of red in that soft fuzz on her head! Might I have finally gotten my long desired redheaded baby?


The girls had their 2 month check up today. I was eager to see what they weigh since Braelyn was the smaller baby but has really seemed to chunk up over the last month. Today Brooklyn weighed 9 pounds and was 21 1/2 inches long (birth weight was 5 pounds 14 ounces, one month was 7 pounds 6 ounces), and Braelyn was 9 pounds 10 ounces and 21 1/4 inches long (birth weight was 5 pound 9 ounces, one month was 7 pounds 4 ounces). My suspicion was confirmed--Braelyn is no longer the little sister! 

 

They are already filling up their laundry basket! Braelyn politely requested this be the last month I attempt to squish them both into it.


And just so she won't feel left out, here's a rare crying picture of Brooklyn:


It's been a great month and, as always, flew by! I look at the other children, Piper especially, and know the twins will be grown in no time at all. I'm treasuring this time as best I can. I hold them close and breathe them in. I caress their soft, new baby skin and try so hard to remember having these moments with the other children. Sadly I know that the memories fade as the babies grow! Piper will be celebrating her second birthday next month; she's talking up a storm now that her paci is gone. Ryland is inching closer and closer to being four years old--FOUR! He does crazy things like count and color and write and play Power Rangers when he's supposed to still be my baby. Jathan has but three more months left as a five year old. He's reading and telling time and inquiring about getting married (seems a certain little girl downstairs told him he HAS to get married someday and he doesn't want to). And Keeleigh? Don't even get me started there! She is all of a sudden a young lady who reminds me all too much of myself at that age only much more lovely in every way. She seems to enjoy a confidence I did not know and when she laughs, when she throws her head back and sunshine erupts from her soul, its so awesome. Did you know she's been invited to a dance? I can't wait to see her all dressed up and excited waiting for her beau. Oh, Brooklyn and Braelyn this will be you in the blink of an eye. What magic to get to witness it all!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Confessions

They say confession is good for the soul and since I missed church this morning, I thought I'd do a little something good for my spirit. Here are some things I've been keeping to myself that have made me feel wholly inadequate lately.

1. I have never eaten quinoa.
2. I don't even know what steam punk means.
3. I've never done a Beth Moore Bible study or heard her speak in person. I'm afraid this might be the reason Jackie hasn't gotten a ministry position yet...his wife isn't a true Southern Baptist lady. = P

So there. I said it. What secrets have you been keeping lately?

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Things No One Ever Says About Breastfeeding

When I was pregnant with Jathan, I had this whole plan which included a natural, hypnobirth and exclusive breastfeeding afterwards. Yes, I was just getting into my hippy dippy crunchy mama phase! However, my natural, hypnobirth went out the window when I was induced at 33 weeks for preeclampsia.

His birth and the days after were perhaps the worst experience I've ever had. Not only was I in extreme physical pain and stressed to the max, I was also emotionally distraught over the fact that suddenly my birth experience  had been pretty much the exact opposite of everything I'd hoped and planned for. I think it was because of that that I clung to breastfeeding. All my other plans had fallen apart but I could still do this and, by God, I would. Over the next few days I would pump milk for my boy sometimes struggling to even sit upright because of my blood-pressure induced headaches. Jackie or my mom would transport the milk from the Ronald McDonald house where we were staying to the NICU.

Jathan in the NICU having been bottle-fed some expressed milk.

Eventually I was able to get out of bed, ride the bus in 100 degree heat to the hospital, and attempt to nurse. I had no clue what I was doing but thanks to several nurses (who described themselves as very "hands on," ha ha) Jathan finally latched and took in some milk. I was still advised to nurse him then feed him a bottle of expressed milk to ensure he was taking in enough. So I would feed him, feed him again, then pump. Around the clock. For months. Guess how much that sucked? Yep, a lot.

Then one day I had a WIC appointment and shared my frustrations with the nutritionist. I was desperate to get him off the bottle and actually nursing exclusively for my sanity's sake. The nutritionist said something to me that no one else had said, something so simple but so empowering. She said, "If you don't want to give him a bottle, don't give him a bottle." That was the last day he ever had one. I determined to nurse him and will always remember that first night that I didn't pump but instead sat in the dark with a baby at my breast just the way I'd envisioned.

It took so much work and so much stubbornness on my part but it paid off!


That's what so few people say about breastfeeding, especially those who truly try to advocate breastfeeding, that sometimes (often? almost always?) it's hard and the absolute only way to get through it is to be stubborn enough to.

Even though my next births were not as traumatic and I have since gone on to successfully exclusively breastfeed two other children (plus the twins right now) even through pregnancies, it hasn't necessarily gotten easier. I have struggled even recently. My mother helped me when I was first nursing the twins. She would help me get them both latched on in when I was attempting to tandem nurse in the hospital. Brooklyn had a terrible latch and I would wince and say, "Ow, ow, ow!" causing my mom to wince as well! "I would NEVER do this," she said. (Side note: If you want to see a hilarious picture of me tandem nursing in the hospital let me know; I wasn't brave enough to post it here. Lol.) There are always times when I want to quit, when I consider how easy it would be to fill a bottle with formula and forget it. I get tired sore nipples and wince at the very idea of a child latching on. I get plain tired of being touched constantly, of having to take this screaming little thing into my arms and love it when really it's driving me up the wall. I get tired of trying to nurse a baby who is always conveniently hungry at exactly the same time I want to sit down and eat. Sometimes I get resentful of my husband sleeping beside me as I sit up night after night. And whenever anyone mentions that their kid has been sleeping through the night since they were 4 days old, I always ask if they receive formula or breastmilk all the while wondering, "Is it me? Am I just torturing myself?"


The answer is always no, it's not me, and I'm not just torturing myself. What I am doing has purpose and meaning. I recognize the fact that this is the way God designed babies to be fed. He designed this perfect food especially for our babies. It is so complex that, to this day, we are still discovering new properties of breastmilk. Feeding our babies breastmilk provides them and us with a myriad of benefits. It simply produces healthier people--it's gives it's recipients health advantages that last a lifetime and the act of nursing reduces rates of breastfeeding and ovarian cancer and postpartum depression for mothers. Research has shown that the lives of 900 babies could be saved along with BILLIONS of dollars every year if mothers would just breastfeed their children for six months. Also consider the benefit to our planet when people choose to feed their babies something that needs no manufacturing or packaging and leaves no waste behind!


When I struggle in motherhood and specifically with breastfeeding, I often pour my heart out to God. I tell Him all the reasons I should get my way and give Him all the validations I've come up with for going against what I know to be good and right. He never seems to reply to my prayers in the way I'd like Him to. Instead of changing my circumstances, He always seems to want to change me. The word that He has given me time and again comes from Philippians 2:3-4. It says, "Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others."

And so I continue doing my best to make wise decisions. To work hard for my family going above and beyond what I think I should have to do, what I want to do. To relinquish my right to please myself and choose instead to serve others. So far this has included nursing my children giving them the best start in life! Morally, I feel that I cannot refuse them that, and I truly believe all mothers should at least give their best try at breastfeeding to their children as well.


Don't get me wrong, my advocacy for breastfeeding does not stop at the health or environmental benefits. As hard as it is at times, there truly is nothing like having a little child curled lovingly into your body looking up at you with big eyes until those eyes become heavy with milk drunkenness  Oh how wonderful to feel their little body sink limply into your arms, satisfied while at the same time your body is coursing with feel-good hormones. But don't think for a second that something is wrong with you if you don't think it's all sunshine and rainbows, if there are times when you want to quit, if you break down and cry.

Talk to the Lord about it. Talk to someone who's been there. And don't forget to talk to those who will be there. Let's get past this idea that breastfeeding is a love it or hate it relationship, that you have to either be a breastfeeding Nazi or some formula feeding failure. As mothers we need the freedom to not have to love every single aspect of what we do. Not only do you not have to be perfect, you don't have to pretend like it either!

Saturday Morning Smiles

Brooklyn has become quite the morning person. After sleeping FIVE WHOLE HOURS, it's no wonder. And her mama is loving this whole sleeping, smiling stage!