Mama Miller Parenting

Passionate parenting and homemaking.

Happy Holidays!

A few fun nuggets from the past week…

E tripped (shocking right?) and got a big knot on her head. K overheard me telling Nana that she had a “goose egg”. When he woke up the next morning he told her to show Daddy her “goose brains”.

E has developed a massive love of rubbing Baby F’s head. She also wants to make him dance with her. He just gives her wide eyed stares of startled wonder.

K’s conversation with one of Nana’s coworkers today:
“Are you a good big brother?”

“Well, I don’t change diapers. Mommy and Daddy have to change those.”

“I bet you are still a good big brother. Do you show them the ropes?”

“Um, actually I don’t know how to jump rope very good yet.”

Anyway friends: Merry Christmas!

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Along the Milky Way: My Breastfeeding Journey

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K, my oldest, is now a precocious, talkative four year old. He is also huge and tops out the growth chart in height.

But, his beginning was much rockier.

After a 20+ hour failed induction, he was taken by emergency c-section. During the surgery the doctor discovered a large cystic tumor on one of my ovaries. By the time I was wheeled into recovery I was emotionally and physically battered, and less one ovary.

Our first few weeks were very rough. He was jaundice. My milk wasn’t coming in. We had to see an orthopedist because he had a tendon problem in his feet. He wasn’t gaining weight and my pediatrician was awful about it. It was brutal.

Despite herbal supplements, nursing around the clock, and pumping; I completely dried up at five weeks. It was devastating. I had desperately wanted to see his little cheeks grow chubby with MY milk, but losing the ovary had wreaked havoc on my system and thrown my hormones off.

When my daughter, E, came along two years later I knew this time would be different. I still had to have a c-section because of my condition, but hopefully would avoid extra surgery.

My hopes were realized and I was able to nurse in the recovery room. She too lost more weight than desired, but was getting more milk. I had a more supportive pediatrician and I was able to mostly breastfeed with less supplementing than before. I nursed her until my gallbladder started to fail at 5 months postpartum.

I dried up during my recovery from surgery.

Then the postpartum depression and anxiety hit. It was awful. I had worked so hard.

Now I sit rocking my third child, another boy, while typing. My four year old is building a block fort with his two year old sister. I am at peace.

At four weeks old my little man is back up to birth weight and has a full tummy of MY milk.

I fought hard for this moment of peaceful bliss.

During these first weeks I have taken enough Fenugreek and Mother’s Milk Tea to permanently smell like an IHOP. I’ve endured cracked nipples, marathon nursing sessions, and pumping. I’ve nursed with my two year old perched on my legs and patting the baby on the head. I’ve nursed while my four year old talks incessantly about Star Wars. I used a supplemental nursing system to add a little pumped milk and formula to his feedings.

Over the past two weeks something wonderful began to happen- he started rejecting the supplemental nurser because he was full. He was full!

I’ve also shed a lot of modesty on this road. I’ve nursed in restaurants, in the mall, in the car, and even in the Library’s break room. I no longer hide under a huge hot tent cover.

The picture above shows my typical nursing in public position. I use a muslin swaddle blanket and cover the goods, but leave his little head, eyes, and nose peeking out. I’m still fairly modest, but I will not nurse in fear anymore. And I certainly won’t look down on those who nurse without any cover.

I get it now.

I understand the rally cries of ‘breast is best’. Without that motivation, many of us wouldn’t survive the first few grueling weeks.

It can be ridiculously hard. Some babies won’t latch when covered. Sometimes you just feel accomplished to have a shirt and bra on.

For those on that journey: Good job mama. You are a warrior. You are amazing and strong.

I also want to encourage the bottle moms.

I, more than anyone, understand the guilt associated with formula. I’ve sat feeding my baby and looked over in envy of the breastfeeding mom cuddled up with her nursling. I’ve experienced the heartbreak of knowing that I’m not enough to sustain my baby.

Guess what mama… You are doing a good job too.

Your babies will grow and thrive- mine did.

K is a strong, smart four year old. Formula didn’t warp his brain. He doesn’t have an extra limb from his time of powdered sustenance.

E is adventurous and sweet and brave despite her time as a nursling being cut short.

All you sweet, sleep deprived mamas:

You are beautiful.

You are strong.

You will eventually sleep again.

You are doing a good job.

You are enough- no matter how you feed your baby.

With love,

Mama Miller

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Brief update…

I went in to my OB today still not feeling any better. He checked me over and determined that I have a fairly bad middle ear infection causing the headaches and dizziness. I was put on a different antibiotic and ordered to rest. I’m not supposed to drive until this is under control…

Well, my car died this weekend. So not an issue… You know it is bad when the mechanic suggests trading it in instead of trying to replace the engine. I’m a little sad. That was my college car. It has my college decal and sorority letters on it. We brought K home in that car. Memories.

I’ve been very blessed by my mom and grandma who have graciously let the kids and I stay with them while Andy is working. No one wants the dizzy pregnant lady stranded in the country with two kids. The dizzy pregnant lady is grateful. I don’t know that I could waddle fast enough to catch them right now and we live almost 30 minutes from our family and the hospital.

So, car shopping is in our future. I’m supposed to be resting as much as possible to try to kick this infection and some water retention. Post Cards are on a temporary hold while I recover.

Baby F should be here in just over a month!

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E helping my grandma cook. (And trying to steal cheese.)

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The kids and I stayed at my mom's last night. K is a noisy, wiggly roommate.

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Checking in

Thursday night started our decent into craziness. I was battling a bad headache and my throat was scratchy. Then our car started having issues on Husband’s way home from work.

Friday morning was spent running around trying to get the car fixed. About half way through the day I found myself waiting in the truck with two restless kiddos while Husband got an estimate on the car. I found a bag of cookies in my purse that my grandma had packed for the kids.

Sweet salvation. Surely cookies will help improve moods!

I was wrong. We had WWIII break out in the back seat because they, of course, wanted the same cookie. They screeched and tried swatting each other from their car seats.

I started getting dizzy and nauseous. I threw up in the parking lot to a sound track of banshee children. Husband got a rather dismal estimate and decided to call around before committing to one garage.

I barely remember the drive home. I do remember looking over and being next to a police car and wondering if I’d get pulled over if I barfed in a cup while at the red light.

We called my OB’s office. The nurse on call told me to go in to L& D to have my blood pressure checked out and to make sure I wasn’t dehydrated.

I couldn’t keep my eyes open in the bright light. I was indeed getting sick and dealing with a migraine. Thankfully, Baby F was fine and my blood pressure was fine. I was given something for nausea and monitored while I ate some lunch and rested for a while. I was also given a shot of morphine and a prescription for antibiotics.

Friday Favorites did not happen because morphine. Friends don’t let friends blog on morphine.

The kids and I ended up spending the night with my parents because Husband’s work couldn’t spare him. I was jittery and shaky all night because of the shot.

Can I just say, Praise the Lord for family…

It is not easy to effectively parent a toddler and a preschooler with no voice. On Saturday morning my mom went out for a while. There was a lot of clapping and pointing.

Husband started running a fever as well and work decided that maybe they didn’t want him in on Saturday. My in-laws were gracious enough to take the torch and offered to let the kids spend the night with them.

Again, Praise the Lord for family.

We both pitifully laid about the house last night. Husband made it to work today but is still weak. I hurt all over, still lack a voice, and keep getting headaches.

Oh, and somewhere in there K face planted on my mom’s tile floor. So concussion scare… And Eily had had some tummy issues, but doesn’t appear to be truly sick.

It has been a long weekend…

I’m taking a couple more days to rest and I hope to be back to reading and writing. I apologize for any lack of coherent thoughts, spelling errors, or typos in this. I just wanted to drop in and assure everyone that we are still alive. Barely.

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Just a quick laugh…

One of my friends got bored and decided to plug my blog into something called ‘Gizoogle’. It apparently ghettofies web pages.

This is the result: Da Field Guide to Visitin’ a New Veteran Mom

****Big time language warning… But so funny.

6 Comments »

Wordless Wednesday: Here’s a Puppy

Our burst of summer storms have been lovely for kicking some of the usual August heat, but they have also been bringing less desirable critters indoors. Earlier this week we battled the huge Shelob spider. A few days ago I found a giant wasp in the shower. (Being home alone, naked, and pregnant is not ideal for encounters with demon wasps.) It has been bugapalooza up in this house!

Last night we had some storms come through and spent several hours without power. K fell asleep in the living room with us and woke up at 5:30 this morning disoriented with where he was. Husband went to comfort him and try to tuck him back in for a bit. Being pregnant, I headed to the restroom.

Suddenly I felt this weird twinge in my foot. By the time I made it back to my bed, my whole foot was on fire. I called for husband. I was convinced I had stepped on something or been bitten (probably by a Shelob or demon wasp). Upon turning on the light he noticed a lot of movement.

Our entire bathroom was covered in ants!

Seriously?!

I am allergic to ants, but Benadryl seems to be doing the trick. He found two new, large and hills outside along that wall.

What a way to wake up…

You don’t want to see pictures of the hell bugs we’ve valiantly fought this week, so here is a puppy:

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Just look at the puppy, don't think about spiders, or wasps, or ants...

This is actually our Miri the Big Red Dog after visiting the groomers. She was pleased. She even has a blue bow behind her ear.

So, I officially stink at ‘Wordless Wednesday’. I think mine should be ‘Slightly Less Wordy Wednesday’. Have a great day! Avoid bugs. Hug a puppy.

***Shelob isn’t an actual breed of spider. It is the giant spider in Lord of the Rings. We are nerds in this house and love us some Tolkien. All big spiders are Shelob spiders. Or maybe Aragog spiders a la Harry Potter…

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Friday Favorites: Pregnancy/Parenting Books

TGIF!

TGIF!

 

This has been a tough mommy week for me. Baby F is doing well and growing right on track, but has decided his new favorite place is super low in my pelvis. I’m having swelling in places I never dreamed would be able to swell, Braxton Hicks, and some killer back pain. On top of that I’m having a hard time keeping up with the kiddos- especially K.

We just don’t connect well this week. I’m tired and distracted. He is wild and loud and apparently deaf to pleas of his exhausted mama. His favorite activity has been egging sister on when she is doing something she ought not be doing.

Taking off the couch cushions? He’s there helping her.

Trying to stick her hands in the fish tank? He’s holding the lid up.

Dropping food on the dog? He is giggling and offering encouragement.

Putting my feet up to relieve some of the pressure and swelling has mostly been a pipe dream.

I admit I’ve cried a few tears of joy at bedtime the past few days. Love is choice. Some days it is easier than others. We’ve had a lot of other moments.

I was trying to think of another way to approach discipline with him (pleading and yelling are NOT what I really want to be doing) and I was reminded of one of my favorite parenting books that is currently gathering dust on my shelf. Why have I not been using all the tools I have?

You cannot fix every issue in your house with a hammer- why would you be able to solve every parenting issue with only one tool?

I love reading and research. I like finding new ways to do things and different strategies to try. I decided to make my Friday Favorites post about some of my favorite books. There are many more that my fried mom brain can’t remember right now, but here are a few:

1. Common Sense Parenting of Toddlers and Preschoolers

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Once upon a time I was social worker. I was a family advocate for a non-profit agency. This was by far my favorite parenting book that we used. It has some absolutely great tools and ideas for discipline. There is also an older kid version. I seriously recommend this book to all parents. I love that it focuses on teaching life skills. Sharing, waiting your turn, and following directions are not concepts kids are born with!

2. Active Parenting

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This is another great one we used at the family center. It is concise, straight forward, and easy to follow. There are also versions for parents of teens. You can even visit their website and find a parenting group in your area.

3. From the Hips: A Comprehensive, Open-Minded, Uncensored, Totally Honest Guide to Pregnancy, Birth, and Becoming a Parent

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This is seriously the best pregnancy book ever! It is hilarious and has little blurbs from real moms and dads on their experiences. Forget What to Expect and the Mayo Clinic Guide– this is it. I love how open they are and very non-judgmental on all different types of of birth and pregnancy issues.


These are just a small sampling all the amazing book that are out there. What books make you laugh? What books make you smile? What books make you cry? What books helped you get through a tough time?
Please drop a comment with some of your favorites!

4 Comments »

The Field Guide to Visiting a New Veteran Mom

As I approach the due date of my third little one I have been thinking a lot about the ins and outs of managing a house with a four year old, a two year old, and a newborn. I will gladly admit, I’m terrified. Part of me thinks, “I got this,” and part of me wants to run. Any number of kids is a lot of kids! All new parents (whether their first or second or fourteenth) have their hands full. Adjusting to new little person is hard.

I recently read a guest blog authored by my friend at How to Ruin A Toddler’s Day on Modern Man of the Cloth‘s page. It was a wonderfully written post about what new dads can do to help their new moms. It got us thinking about collaborating on a guide for visitors. Everyone wants to see the new baby and everyone wants to help, but not everyone really knows what a new mom needs.

This is a two part post. You can find “The Field Guide for Visiting a New First Time Mom” here on How to Ruin a Toddler’s day. As a mom of one beautiful toddler, her perspective on being a first time mom is a little fresher than mine.

This post will address the special needs/requests of a veteran mom of a new baby. It is from personal experience and poling other veteran mamas.

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1. Call first. When visiting a veteran mom in the hospital or at her home during those first few weeks, always always call. If you just drop by, you will probably find a frazzled bra-less mom in pajamas. If you stop by during one of the rare times she gets a nap, you will likely find a frazzled bra-less grumpy T-rex in pajamas.

2. When you call, ask if she needs anything. The answer is probably yes, and it probably involves food or toilet paper or extra absorbancy maxi pads.

3. Bring food. Single serving freezer meals, muffins, and healthy snacks/fruit are all pluses. Breastfeeding takes a lot of calories. Recovering from birth in general takes fuel. The other kids in the house require feeding too. (Most moms do not want the other little people in the house hopped up on sugary snacks… but you can sneak some chocolate or ice cream in there for mom.)

4. If you bring something for baby, do so discreetly or also bring something for the other kids. Adjusting to a new sibling can be difficult for older kids, especially those who were just ousted from the position of youngest. Constant attention and gifts for the new baby don’t help the older kiddos warm to the idea of being a big sibling. Small things to keep them busy (a new toy, book, or movie) are great. (Make sure the toys/activities don’t require a lot of extra help from mom and dad. Read- Batteries included, no assembly required…)

5. Play with the older children… or better yet- TAKE THEM! Spending time with older kids so mom can focus on baby is a huge help. Taking them away for a play date somewhere, anywhere, is even better. It will take a load off mom and give the kids some much needed extra attention.

6. Wash your hands. It may seem small, but even veteran moms are still concerned with germs. We already have little grimy hands in the house to worry about. Washing your hands before holding the baby (and helping the toddler wash their hands) is great. And if you are sick- fuggedaboutit. Just wait it out. Mom doesn’t need a small needy army of sickies along with a new baby. The baby will still be cute when you feel better. Possibly even cuter. (New babies may take a bit to shrug off the baby monkey look and settle into their cuteness.)

7. Be sensitive to a breastfeeding mom. If mom is nursing, pay attention to her cues and assume she wants privacy. It can be hard to get the hang of and she may need calm and quiet to get that milk going. Other times a veteran mom may have lost her sense of modesty when it comes to nursing. If you are uncomfortable- come back later, look away, or keep the older kids busy for a bit. (Personally, you can either come back, or deal with the fact that I’m feeding the baby. I had such a hard time with my first, that I will now put nursing above making others comfortable- especially in my own home.)

8. Help with basic chores! A house with more than one child will often look like ground zero of a major explosion. If mom feels comfortable with it, offer to help with basic chores. Running a load of dishes, sweeping, helping older kids pick up toys, etc. (I don’t personally like help with laundry. I want to keep my postpartum granny panties and the size of my yoga pants to myself. Tread carefully on that one.)

9. Keep visits short. You want to see the baby and hold the baby. We get that, but keep it brief. Unless you are staying to help with older kids, dinner, or cleaning- please keep it short and don’t expect to be entertained.

10. Keep opinions to yourself. Postpartum is a rough time for many all moms. Whether she is breast or bottle feeding, cloth diapering or using disposables, Baby Wising or Attachment Parenting, had an all natural water birth or her third c-section is none of your business. Yes, I said it. It just isn’t. Don’t go there. If she specifically asks you for advice, give concise non-judgmental answers. You don’t know if she is dealing with postpartum depression or if she has already heard it a million times. Unsolicited advice is overwhelming for a first time mom and often times annoying for a veteran mom.

11. Ask mom and dad how they are doing. Just because it isn’t their first rodeo doesn’t mean they don’t need or want help. Adjusting to number 2 is just as overwhelming as being a first timer. The baby may be cute, but it is still a lot of work. Showing you see them as more than “one who brings cute baby” is important.

12. Respect her spaces. Bedrooms and private bathrooms are off limits. Natural or c-section, she will have things for her personal care that you just don’t need to see. If someone is in the main bathroom, wait. Do not go seeking out her separate bathroom. If it is a one bathroom house, try to hold it until you leave or ask her if it is ok for you to use. She may want to go put a few things away before you go in there.

13. Did I mention bringing food and taking kids for a while? Seriously, more food and less kids. So very very helpful. (Also good for a mom pregnant with her second or any subsequent baby. Just saying…)

I hope this helps as you navigate the ins and outs of visiting new veteran moms. If you are expecting, you can subtly forward this to your family and friends. 😉

***Again, make sure you check out The Field Guide to Visiting a New First Time Mom on How to Ruin a Toddler’s Day! She has a hilariously awesome take on visiting a first time mom!

39 Comments »

Wordless Wednesday- Total eclipse of my toes

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It is official. My toes are gone! When I sit in my chair I can tell they are still there, but I stand up and they disappear.

Thanks again to those who have given me fun awards this week. I have a draft going, but my little womb squatter isn’t cooperating. He is on my nerves (literally) and I’m supposed to be resting with my feet up.

I’ll wait while the other moms of more than one take a minute to catch their breath from laughing at the thought of trying to rest while chasing your older children. Done? No? I’ll give it a bit more.

Anyway…

Wicked Braxton Hicks + baby sitting on my nerves + 4 year old Jedi child + almost 2 year old tornado child = one very behind mommy blogger

***On a moderately related topic, this is probably the first bare belly pregnant picture I’ve ever taken of myself. I was inspired by the Mom in Front movement and the lovely ladies of Plus Size Birth to stop hiding behind the camera and take more photos with my kids.

This belly of mine has housed three babies. It has some scars and plenty of stretch marks, but it has done its job. It has also functioned as a pillow, a jungle gym, and drum. That’ll do belly… That’ll do.

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Toasted Kibble for Breakfast?

Yes folks, the Dog Food in the the Oven Bandit (aka Mommy Insanity Maker) strikes again…

My pregnant, motherhood fried brain is just not capable of remembering to check the dumb oven every time I turn it on. I don’t think about it until I smell the awful, telltale smoke of burning kibble. I especially don’t remember to check at 7am while trying to make banana bread (a la Bundt Cake of Adversity) for a friend at church recovering from surgery.

(Yes, we bought an oven lock… It was a miserable failure. We are searching out a different kind. Preferably the kind that actually locks the oven.)

What is more maddening is that I have never caught the culprit in the act. I’m pretty sure it has to be E… but K, Miri the big red dog, or aliens have also crossed my mind. The Kibble Fairy maybe?

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Yep, I definitely need more sleep... And art classes.

I have thoroughly lectured K on the danger of putting things in the oven. He swears it is sister. I have now convinced him that it is his knightly duty to to protect the kingdom and tell mommy and daddy if he sees sister putting things in the oven.

I even grilled E.

Me: Did you put Miri’s food in that oven?

E: Uh-huh. (While hugging me.)

Me: You can’t put dog food in the oven. It is not nice. No more dog food in the oven.

E: Oh… (Kisses my leg and runs off.)

Interrogating a 22 month old is not a very fruitful task.

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Sometimes in the course of human events, it becomes necessary to put a reminder on your oven to check for dog food.

Good morning by the way… Where is my coffee?

**I think I should be worried! This is what she put in the church nursery oven…
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13 Comments »

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