Maisy, Babies Are For Hugging, Not For Bouncing On

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-written November, 2015

My whole day is my favorite part of my day.  But where’s the fun in telling you the fluffy stuff about how I spend the whole day smiling as I watch Maisy follow Harper around closer than a shadow, as I watch Maisy bust a move the very second music hits her ears, as I wake up to Maisy constantly readjusting her wakeful snuggles as she waits for me to willingly greet the day with open eyes, as I serve my weekday brood lunch and watch them converse in their own joyous babble, as I listen to Harper cheer “good job” to Maisy for simply throwing a ball, as I watch Willow grin from ear to ear all day about nothing and everything… and the list goes on for an overwhelming amount of time and space.  There are possibly good stories in those moments, but I tend to find the life-changing stories in the irregularities that are potentially disruptive and undesirable.

Today I turn around and see Maisy riding on top of a flattened Willow – she was mounted on her back like a cowboy on a pony, bouncing and all.  Willow is 1-year-old and a petite peanut.  Maisy is a 16-month-old giant.  Willow had nothing to say about the matter, but I did.  As I remove Maisy from Willow’s back I say, “Maisy, babies are for hugging, not for bouncing on.”

I turn away for one moment only turn back to see Maisy remounted and giggling.  I take her by the hand, guide her off, and say, “time out.”  Maisy walks over to her time out mat and sits down.  And gets up. “Sit down Maisy.”  She sits down.  And gets up. “Maisy, sit down.” She kind of sits down and starts whimpering.  I pick her up and put her in the other version of time out, the crib, the don’t-mess-with-me-and-move-around kind of time out.  She stands up crying.  “Maisy, sit down!”  And the cycle perpetuates and seems like it will never end until she takes a long breath. I seize the opportunity to pretend that breath was a break in naughtiness and ask for her apology.  She signs me “sorry.”  I pick her up and send her off to play.

Now she’s emotionally vulnerable and quick to return to naughtiness for any or no reason at all.  So I redirect her to a corner of toys to play by herself for a moment of regrouping.  She’s doing so peaceably when I realize I’m still in need some regrouping so I pack up the kiddos and head to Target.  I start to feel brand new the minute I shift the car in drive.

The kids had fun looking around the store as I had fun picking out Christmas presents for Toys for Children of Inmates and Operation Christmas Child.  On the way out I take my favorite seasonal latte to go and I’m better than new and ready to tackle bedtime with my overtired toddler.

Just a day in the life of this mom!

A Letter to Maisy: The End of Nursing

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Dear Maisy,

Today as I lay with you in your bed, snuggling you to sleep, I held back tears.  We haven’t nursed in about a week and a half so I suppose it’s time to realize we are done.  I’ve even thought about offering it to you out of nowhere just to see if you’ll go for it but I told myself I would simply stop when your requests stopped.  I know I’m ready to be done, but there is a part of me that so isn’t either.

Now I find myself wishing I could go back to when you were 15 months old so I could stop myself from cutting off your night time nursing; then again going to when you were 19 months old so I could stop myself from potty training you in order to not cut off the before nap nursing and before bed nursing.  In reality, I know I was so maxed out in those moments when I decided those milk snacks had to go but I wish I could have just pushed past them because I feel we would still be going strong now, nursing 3 – 4 times day, but instead we are all done.  For a long time we held onto once a day, usually just if we hit it first thing in the morning.  I had to ask you to stop nursing usually before you were finished due to the sensitivity of my pregnancy nipples being too much to handle and perhaps that’s why you decided to give it up altogether, to avoid being pulled off before you were ready.  Part of me hopes you’ll start up again in a mere 6-7 weeks when Baby Two arrives, but part of me thinks you simply were ready to grow up that one more big step.

People always told me you’d grow up too fast.  The first year of your life was so long and sleepless, I did not feel it flying at all.  The second year of your life, however, did fly.  Suddenly my baby is a little girl and I am having a hard time keeping up with how fast you’re growing up.  I know a large part of these feelings are due to us leaving behind this last babyhood activity.

In all honestly, though I adore you, I very much did not adore nursing.  To me, nursing had nothing to do with whether I liked it or not but everything to do with aiming for at least your second birthday and from there letting you decide when you were ready to stop.  As a result we nursed for a good, long 26 months. I largely didn’t like nursing a lot of the time because it felt uncomfortably ticklish, awkwardly stimulating, and occasionally it hurt.  What I did love about nursing though was holding you, mostly near the end when I wasn’t doing it all the time.  My favorite nursing sessions with you were often right when you woke from your nap. You needed the transition time back into waking and I liked this session because you were alert enough to keep a solid, comfortable latch but sleepy enough to be mellow and cuddly.

What I really love most though is our time now.  When we snuggle you don’t ask to nurse, I simply get to hold you.  That’s what I loved about nursing anyways, the holding a still you so close to me.  I love that you have to wrap all your limbs into it, that your body molds to mine.  Even now with a baby belly you wrap so perfectly into me.  You snuggle your head into the crook of my shoulder so I can rest my head comfortably on your forehead and breath deeply the naturally sweet scent of your hair.  You curl your body neatly and tightly around my large belly.  And you tuck your knees up at the base of my belly and nestle your toes in-between my legs.  These moments, very honestly are my very favorite.  When they end I know I will be heartbroken.

A Letter to Maisy

My 7-month-old Maisy

Written January 29, 2015

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Left: Maisy at 7 months / Right: Maisy now, at 2 years

It struck me, not for the first time, this afternoon that I should write down my daughters likeness as she grows.  It’s become plain to me that the character she reveals at these youngest stages will be a part of her for her whole life.  I love the chance that, as her mom, I can record the “first sightings” of her personality traits.

Maisy,

From the beginning people have unceasingly commented on your big, bright eyes and your joyful demeanor.  You are always at the ready with a spectacular smile that puts the sun to shame.  Your whole face lights up and I often feel like I’m glowing too just because I’m near you.  And though you smile freely it also feels like a rare gift every time because you are also mildly bashful about it.  You smile this radiant smile and then bashfully turn away… only to come back for more.  And those eyes, girl, those eyes!  They are so big and blue and ornamented with stunning long, black eyelashes.  On top of all that your spectrum of emotions reflects out of those big blue orbs like I was seeing directly into your heart.

On the downside, these bright eyes want to stay bright.  Once upon a time you were a good sleeper, for a newborn anyway.  And I had this doomed feeling that it was too good to last.  And so it was!  Since you hit about the 2.5 month mark you have been the anti-sleeper.  At night you wake frequently and I start to think maybe you stopped breathing if you nap longer than 30 minutes.  At least you are, and always have been, an excellent nurser!  Turns out you’re going to be a great eater too because so far food is definitely a highlight of your day and you really go for it – no matter what the food looks or tastes like you’re all over it.  So, to sum up this paragraph, you’re a superb eater and a not so keen sleeper.  I figure, if you’re not going to sleep much at least you seem to function happily off the sleep you do get!

Since your beginning you have also managed to be the most laid back, yet active baby I have ever met.  On the one hand, you are so chill that your perfectly content being just about anywhere, with anyone, doing anything… so long as you’re moving!  That is the one requirement.

You are a people person.  I sometimes like to try and deduce why you take to any given person over another because you definitely have moments of love at first sight versus scared at first sight.  Regardless, you have always loved interacting with people; so much, in fact, that you almost always fuss the minute you’re left alone (this might also contribute to you’re no-sleep disposition I suppose).

What I know right now is that you simultaneously bring more joy and beauty to my world than I ever could have dreamed while also making me so crazy I want to cry and scream at the same time.  For better or for worse, you are my sunshine, my sidekick, my mini me, and my best little pal.  I think we’re going to be best buds forever!

With all my heart,

Mom

 

Cloth Diapering 101

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Cloth diapering was a daunting prospect when I was pregnant with Maisy, but I knew it was the only option for me as I simply could not stomach even the idea of contributing thousands of diapers to landfills.  The biggest pieces of the puzzle I faced in regards to  cloth diapering were choosing the diapers themselves, deciding whether or not to use cloth wipes, handling poop, general washing and caring for the diapers, and picking out any other diapering accessories.

Choosing the diapers

Our collection for Maisy consisted of:

  1. Bumgenius covers
  2. Bumgenius inserts
  3. SoftBums inserts
  4. Thirsties covers
  5. Kissaluvs fleece fitted diapers
  6. a collection of prefolds.

What my collection for Baby Two will consist of:

  1. Bumgenius covers
  2. SoftBums inserts
  3. Best Bottoms covers
  4. some of each size of the Best Bottoms inserts
  5. a collection of prefolds (although these won’t be used for diapering with Baby Two but as burp cloths and for other cleanup purposes)

Day Time Diapering

The trick with day time diapering is the frequency of changing.  Babies vary in the quantity they pee throughout the day but generally speaking it’s worked well for me to change diapers every 2 – 4 hours depending on the kiddo.  Maisy peed a ton, so if I’d wizened up sooner I would have realized I should change her every 2 hours.  Whereas half of my day care kids go 4 hours and still have plenty of room to pee in their diapers, but I change them anyways just to freshen them up so they don’t get a rash!  Beyond that, it’s really a matter of preference.

I am choosing to move to Best Bottoms covers and Best Bottoms inserts for day time diapering because they are both great at absorbing but they are also the easiest to use and the covers need laundering less often.

Buy once. Best Bottoms covers grow with your baby so you only have to buy the covers once.

Waterproof lining exposed.  The covers are also incredible because unlike many of the diaper covers available they have their waterproof lining exposed.  This means you can get away with not changing the cover for days on end and just wiping the inside up occasionally because the pee smell doesn’t stick around once you’ve changed the insert. Many diapers have a pocket layer or a fabric layer on the inside of the diaper which means that retains the smell of pee after only one soiled diaper thus making you want to replace the cover with each changing to get rid of the pee smell too.

Interior snaps.  The inserts snap onto the covers – this means no shifting throughout the day and ease for caregivers.  In my experience, it was confusing for anyone but myself to navigate the plethora of options at any given diaper change.  The prefolds required folding maneuvers before they could be used for diapering.  The fleece fitted diapers had less than straight-forward snaps to navigate.  The other inserts worked fine but weren’t as self explanatory as they were missing the snap system.  The Best Bottoms covers and inserts combo creates for a straightforward combo for caregivers.  No guessing games.  No room for mistakes.

Lastly, these diapers do have the seam issue described below but because day time diapers are changed more frequently and the inserts don’t meet up with the seam line, it doesn’t become a problem unless you’ve waited too long to change your baby.

Night Time Diapering

This was the biggest feat.  Most families I know that cloth diaper with their babies actually use disposables at night.  I refused, which meant many months of leaky nighttime diapers before I finally found a cloth diaper solution that kept the pee contained.  The solution I found was Bumgenius covers and SoftBums inserts.  Sometimes I would still change a diaper in the middle of the night if Maisy had been rashy during the day just to freshen her up but otherwise we got to stay dry and in bed all night long!

The Bumgenius covers worked because they had a different seam than the other diaper covers.  They were unique in that the waterproof layer extended through the edges of the diapers, along the seams, whereas the others did not.  The SoftBums inserts were the most effective because they were the most absorbent interior padding I found.  I also found it was important to use inserts so that the pee stayed away from the edges of the diaper.  With the fleece fitted diapers or prefolds, the pee saturated the whole diaper leading all the way to the edges which then leaked through the edges of the diaper covers.  With prefolds, the pee stays down the center, like a menstruation pad; that way it can’t leak through the edges as it’s not even close to them.

Cloth wipes

To use cloth wipes or to use disposables?  Well, fortunately for me my best friend simply made me cloth wipes.  She asked if I was interested, I wasn’t sure but said yes anyways and boy am I glad!  Cloth wipes and prefolds are two of the most useful and versatile baby items I have.  I love them!

Why are cloth wipes so amazing?

  • They are the most gentle thing you can use on your baby.
  • They are just as good for nose wipes as for butt wipes.
  • They are easy on the budget.
  • If you’re cloth diapering, it’s actually easier to use cloth wipes too as you can lump them together in the same dirty diaper bin, otherwise you would have to set the disposable wipe aside to throw in the trash.

My cloth wipes are a single layer of flannel.  For a pee diaper I only need one wipe for the job as I fold it three times to get each side of a clean surface.  For a poopy diaper I only need a few max.

Handling poop

I was amazed to learn that breastmilk poop requires no other clean up then tossing the diaper straight in the wash.  You don’t have to scrape or hose the poop off at all!  Just dissolves.

After your baby starts on solids the poop gradually changes and needs to be dumped in the toilet first.  However, I’ve found that I didn’t need to do more than shake off everything I could from the diaper and the rest washed off just fine.  Some parents like to use a hose attachment on their toilet to get rid of more or throw a liner in the diaper itself that can be flushed.

General washing and caring for cloth diapers

About every 3-4 days throw all the soiled diapers in the washer.

  1. Cold rinse.
  2. Hot wash with mild detergent.
  3. Cold rinse.

Line dry in the sun when possible, otherwise hang dry.  The more you use the dryer the faster your diapers will wear out.  However, personally, I used the dryer for everything but the diaper covers and pail liners during the winter.  The fleece fitted diapers especially took forever to dry without a little help.

A time or two I did run an ammonia busting solution in the wash with the diapers.  Most of my diapers were second hand and needed a good “stripping,” as they call it, to get some extra stink out.  Worked like a charm!

Do note that too much detergent is just as bad, if not worse, than too little when it comes to diapers.  The soap that doesn’t get washed out clings to the diapers and collects the ammonia pee smell more than anything else!  So, sometimes if your diapers come out of the wash still stinking you can simply try a wash cycle without using any detergent and you might be all set without having to purchase some ammonia buster.

Other diapering accessories

  • Diaper pal and pail liner.
  • Dry/wet bags – for when you’re out and about.

That’s about it!  You should be rockin’ with your baby leak free and buns happy!

Learning Humility

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As I lay in Maisy’s bed, snuggling her to sleep for nap time, I found myself reflecting simultaneously on my most difficult season with Maisy and the Lord’s prayer.

Josh came home from a coffee errand, iced coffee and cinnamon scone in hand to share, and we in shared one of those random and lovely deep and spiritual conversations.  He found himself inspired by a podcast about the Lord’s prayer, particularly in reference to “my most difficult season with Maisy” (a long 5-6 months of my life when Maisy felt rarely enjoyable and likable).  It was a memorable season for him too because he felt completely helpless in a different way as he was largely on the road while I battled this whiney, hitting, yelling, screaming, sleepless, and tantrumming toddler.  What was worse, as Maisy buckled down into her “terrible twos” good and early, I was left with attempting to discipline that whole bucket of behaviors when all I had to work with was a 15 month old understanding and vocabulary.

In this season I spent daily, if not two or more times daily, pouring my heart out in prayer for help.  What I realize now is I was coming before God with thanksgiving and then my request but I skipped past the repentance part.  And then there was one monumentally awful day that had me sobbing in bed with Maisy during our prayer time.  I poured out all of my sins before the Lord and begged for his help to fix mine and Maisy’s heart to make them more like His, specifically more kind, gentle, and good [there’s a whole blog post about that specific prayer HERE].  My words rushed out through hyperventilated breaths and ugly tears praising Him for his goodness and power, confessing all the wrongs I’d committed, thanking him for what a huge gift he’d given me in Maisy, and then begging him to change my heart and make it clean.  I realized as I put Maisy to bed just a little bit ago that it is only in such heartbreaking moments that I naturally seem to get all the pieces of prayer into the mix.

According to the podcast Josh was listening to, the Lord’s prayer demonstrates that our path in prayer should be the following:  adoration, confession, thanksgiving and supplication.  Truth is, I’m really good at the adoration, thanksgiving, and supplication parts, but I am not a humble person when it comes to admitting my mistakes. In this respect, I’m prideful even before the Lord.  So it’s not until my bearings have been utterly ripped out from underneath me and I’m left with no other ideas, no other plans of action that I come before the Lord in humility and ask for forgiveness.  Even Josh could tell you I’m not great at graciously receiving critique – my knee-jerk response is to defend.

As I reflected on this all-too-often missing puzzle piece to my prayers I realized why the Lord asked me to have Maisy.  I’m sure there’s more than one reason He called me to allow Maisy to happen, or at least more than one reason he can use Maisy as a tool to refine my character, but in this moment just moments ago I felt Him whispering to me that creating humility in me was his primary goal in creating Maisy and entrusting her to me.

I may be logically aware I’m not perfect, but that head knowledge has to reach my heart before I come before the Lord and ask forgiveness.  There is nothing in life I’ve found that drives my sin so directly and efficiently from my head to my heart than being Maisy’s mom.  I have really lost my temper in ways I didn’t think I had in me.  I’ve screamed into pillows, I’ve thrown the pillows, I’ve slapped the wall (it hurts, don’t do it), I’ve broken a pinwheel toy, I’ve yelled so hard my throat hurt after, and I’ve handled her more roughly than I should.  And there is nothing like the remorse I feel when the storm mellows within my heart and all I’m left with is feeling utterly despicable and wretched before the Lord and my daughter.  It’s that moment the Lord wants me to learn faster, that moment of humility.

As I work towards humility, and hopefully retain the knowledge of the importance of the confession portion of the “prayer formula,” so-to-speak, I should find that the Lord comes to my aid more quickly.  If I’m not owning up to my own sins and mistakes before the Lord or even before myself how can I expect much of a change anyways?  God is powerful and life-changing but He can work better work in a person if they see how they need to change too.