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Adoption, Parenting

Winding Down Our Nursing Journey

February 3, 2016

Many of you have followed our volatile nursing journey this past year.

We’ve had the highest highs and the lowest lows.

From battling tongue/lip ties in the beginning to multiple nursing strikes and plugged ducts, we’ve nearly seen it all. Through lots of encouragement and medical help, we overcame all our challenges and nursing has been smooth sailing ever since.

Minus that week-long biting episode when she was teething! OUCH!

My little Josephine started out at a wee 7 pound 9 ounces and has grown to a whopping 23 pounds at a year!

But we’re winding (very slowly) things down in our breastfeeding relationship and I want to document that process here for the benefit of others (especially those taking Dom!)

The primary way I induced lactation was by taking a medication called Domperidone, a medication typically prescribed for nausea and vomitting. It elevates prolactin levels, which is the hormone that drives lactation.

I started taking this medication in September 2014 and weaned off of it November 2015, with the hopes of getting my cycle back by January 2016 so we could begin fertility testing and treatment once again. I honestly thought I was going to drop the Dom and my milk would dry up within a few days and that would be the end of it.

Josie caught a cold the week I weaned off Dom and her little nose was crazy stuffed up. This made nursing difficult in general so it wasn’t a shock to me that she began to protest breastfeeding. She would make the sign for “milk” and then I would offer and she would just freak out. Like throw herself onto the floor and roll around while screaming and continuing to make the “milk” sign type of tantrum.

It was ugly.

I thought it must be due to my decreasing supply and I was feeling  very anxious because I didn’t like how our nursing journey was ending. I pumped here and there for comfort and offered every type of milk you can think of in a bottle and sippy cup, all to end up being rejected. I made sure she drank tons of water and had slightly larger meals during the day to make up for the missing calories.

A week later the cold disappeared, Miss Jo signed for milk, I offered and she nursed like nothing had changed. Whew!

I’ve since reduced breastfeeding to 4 times a day, down from 10+ times per day which is very freeing. I need to convince her that she doesn’t need to nurse in the middle of the night anymore but she’s so dang stubborn I haven’t had the energy required!!!

My period returned the first week of January and leading up to it I felt the same old Luetenized Unruptured Follicle (LUF) pain that is my main cause of infertility. So that is back in full throttle, of course. Ugh.

From here on out I plan to keep nursing as long as Jo is interested or until I have to get back on fertility medications that aren’t compatible with breastfeeding. I am more at peace about our journey ending, whenever that day comes. We’ve made it 15 months so far and it’s been one of my greatest accomplishments ever. I will keep treasuring the days we have left!

Thank you to all of you who offered us encouragement! You were my cheerleaders in a difficult time and I will never forget it!

Money, Parenting

Are Cloth Wipes Cheaper Than Disposable?

January 29, 2016

OK, admit it.

Some of y’all thought we were crazies when we wrote about our cloth diapering venture.

But today I am putting the final nail in the coffin for you because I am going to share why we also make our own cloth wipes. I swear we aren’t turning into Colorado hippies despite how with each passing year we get more and more crunchy…hmmm.

You are also going to get a taste of just how nerdy we are with all our calculations, equations, and measurements. I’ll be honest, we primarily cloth to save money. Sure there are other reasons in there but if it wasn’t going to save us moolah, we probs wouldn’t be doing it. Same goes for cloth wipes. It had to be economical for us to consider it.

Making the leap into cloth wipes sort of happened on accident in the beginning. I bought lots of barely used cloth diapers on Cragslist for a hella good deal from a lady who was so utterly sleep deprived (she had a sleep trainer at her house when I stopped by) that she threw in a bunch of extra baby stuff, cloth wipes being one of them. Then another friend saw we were cloth wiping early on and passed along some she didn’t plan on using. We invested $0 into cloth wipes so it was a no-brainer to try them out.

Eventually we ended up doing some traveling and had to buy disposable diapers and wipes and all I can say is OUCH!!! It was really pricey compared to the virtual nothing we were used to spending on cloth. That got me thinking…I should sit down and figure out in a concrete way just HOW much we’re saving with cloth diapers and wipes.

So today I bring you our cloth wipe geeky cost-savings calculations.

Let’s start with what I use to make wipes: Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint Soap from Costco, Kirkland brand coconut oil, Bumkins flannel cloth wipes, and boiling water.

wipesstuff

Now lets take a peek at the cost breakdown is per batch of wipes.

Dr. Bronner’s  Peppermint Soap

This costs $9.79 at Costco. It’s a 40 ounce bottle, which converted is 1183 ml per bottle. We use approximately 1 tbsp (15 ml) of soap per batch. Doing the math, we can get about 79 batches of wipes per bottle. Taking the total cost of $9.79 divided by 79 batches leave us with a grand total of 12.4 cents per batch.

Kirkland Coconut Oil

The oil costs $25.99 for two tubs. Each tub is 1200 grams. We use approximately 1 tbsp (14 grams) per batch. Doing the math, we can get about 85 batches per tub, multiplied by two comes to 170 batches for the set. Taking the total cost of $25.99 divided by 170 batches comes to 15.3 cents per batch.

Bumkins Flannel Cloth Wipes.

These were given to me FREE so really, I don’t need to calculate this in but for the sake of other’s we will pretend we purchased them. The wipes cost $9.79 per pack of twelve. I feel that four packs, or 48 wipes, would be what is needed. The cost of four packs of wipes comes to $37.72, or 78.6 cents per wipe. That seems high per wipe but we will demonstrate the amount of mileage you can get from this inital invesment later.

Boiling Water

The amount of money used on this a few times a month is negligible and not even worth doing math over. This won’t be what makes or breaks cloth wipes for you.

Total Cost

When you add together the cost of the above items, your first batch of 48 wipes will cost you 79.2 cents per wipe. That’s really expensive compared to store bought, but again, we see the savings over the long haul as the wipe cost disappears and cost gets spread out over time.

Subsequent batches (now that the hard cost of wipes is out of the equation) cost 27.7 cents to create a batch, or .58 cents per wipe from that point forward.

Assuming you make two batches of wipes per week, in two years’ time you spend $95.62 total.

Getting a Comparison.

Just for fun, let’s compare this cloth wipe system to Costco’s Kirkland brand pack of 900 baby wipes, which sell for $19.99 or 2.2 cents per wipe…which is a great deal in the ‘sposie wipe world unless you strictly coupon or use some form of reward points.

Let’s also assume, that you use 96 wipes a week to keep the numbers the same. (Which is VERY CONSERVATIVE since disposable wipes tend to disappear MUCH quicker than cloth!) That means the box would last you 2.3 months before you would have to purchase more.

The 11 packs of  9,900 Costco wipes costs $219.89 over the course of 2 years.

The difference saves $124.27 over a two year period…which only increases the longer your kiddo is in diapers. At three years, the difference would be $215.25! Then if you happen to have more than one kiddo the cost savings continue to grow!

Conclusions

No, that amount of money isn’t anywhere close to what you save on cloth diapers vs. disposable diapers…but it’s something! Again, our estimations were very conservative since in our experience cloth wipes are not used anywhere near as fast as disposable wipes…so in reality the savings are likely larger.

A final note: Cloth wipes also just make life easier when you’re already cloth diapering because you can just toss them all in the wet bag together opposed to throwing just the diaper in the wet bag AND then taking the dirty gross wipes to a trash can where they stink things up since they aren’t wrapped up in a disposable diaper. The reverse would be true if you use disposable diapers…what a pain then to have to wash cloth wipes without having to wash the diapers!

A final final note: This post above made me realize we may or may not have a Costco addiction. EEP!

Marriage, Parenting

4 Lessons From My First Year as a Dad

November 13, 2015
One year ago, our lives changed when Josie was born and joined our family. Josie may have tripled her weight in the last year, but I’ve grown a lot too. Here are a few things I learned this year:

1. Love’s New Dimension

It’s a simple idea, but one that I’ve really come to understand: we love different people differently. The love I have for my Mom is different from that for my wife which again is different from that for my brother.
I don’t love any of those people more than another, I love them each differently.
The love a father has for his daughter is a whole different type of love. It’s deep, rich, and like nothing else. It’s like a new color was added to the crayon box of my life.

2. Sleep is Overrated

Some babies sleep really well at night from early on. Others get there a little later. And then there’s Josie, who only recently started sleeping until 5:30am. Before that she was up (read we were all up) 2-4 times every night.
My sleep hasn’t been this poor (in amount and/or quality) in years, and it takes a greater toll than it used to. But it’s okay.
I’ve been functioning just fine, and even if I’m upset/angry/super tired when that kid starts screaming 20 minutes after I fall asleep (and again a few hours later), it all melts away when I go in there to try and calm her down. I love that booger so dang much.

3. My Life is Not My Own. And I Love It.

We used be more spontaneous. Going to the movies on a whim. Taking weekend day trips without much advanced planning. Running errands when they needed to be done. Taking free time to pursue new hobbies.
All that’s gone.
Babysitters, nap times, and spending time with Josie have taken over all that. And forget about flying somewhere with just a carry-on.
I don’t have as much free time. And things that used to be quick and easy take time and planning now. I haven’t touched my hobby electronics in months. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
My days are made up less of chasing my own wants and needs and more of doing my best to provide for Josie’s wants and needs. I am living less for myself and more for my family. And that’s making me a better man.

4. A Better Understanding of God the FATHER

Because I now understand the love a father has for their child (see above), I have been able to gain a better understanding on how God sees me.
One of my greatest joys is watching Josie interact with her world: exploring a room, playing with her toys, ransacking a bookshelf or the diaper bag. I love interacting with her: picking her up, listening to her babble at me, playing peek-a-boo.
I translate the joy I find in my daughter to what God must feel for me, his son. He loves watching me interact with my world: exploring new places, enjoying his creation. He loves interacting with me: when I come to him in prayer.
His heart overflows with love for me as mine does for Josie. Except even more, because I’m a broken man, and when it comes down to it, I stink at loving. He’s God. His love is perfect. He loves me so much more than I can ever love Josie, and that blows me away.
I’ve learned many things, but those are the big ones I want to share with you today.
And to the mom’s out there, check out Amanda’s post on what she’s learned as a mom.
Parenting

What I Learned My First Year as a Mother

November 10, 2015

One year ago today our lives dramatically changed for the good.

I remember it like it was yesterday and I treasure all the intimate details of that day and just how very blessed it was.

Josie Rosie is now ONE and my oh my how she’s changed in such a short time. Looking back it’s more than obvious that I also changed a lot too. That’s what I want to highlight in this post, lest I forget all the ways this tiny human impacted me during her first year.

Breastfeeding is NO JOKE!

OK, do we really need to rehash this again?

Just go read this, this, and this.

Long story short – troubles with breastfeeding will take the toughest, most badass Momma and leave her a shriveled up version of herself crying in a corner. On the flip side, when breastfeeding begins going well, the most beaten down and discouraged Momma will suddenly walk around feeling like a Superhero.

Nuff said.

Babies SLEEP?!?!

Other people would tell me stories of how their babies slept through the night from early on. Or how their babies slept in the car while they ran errands. Or how they napped in the baby carrier if they were out and about. And how their kids could sleep through noise or light, etc.

Imagine the opposite and that is Josie.

She still doesn’t sleep through the night. Nor does she really nap in the car or baby carrier. And the girl could hear a pin drop in the next room even with her white noise machine blaring. Oh, and her room has to be pitch black for her to even think about sleeping. Lastly we FINALLY transitioned her to a sleep sack from the swaddle when she was 7 (!) months old.

We’ve got a high needs sleeper and I’ve accepted it. I’ve learned how to cope (COFFEE!) with less sleep and the occasional cat nap. We can only go uphill from here with any future kiddos, right?

Other People Gotta Chime In

Oh the advice from other people. Family, friends, acquaintances, and strangers all have opinions on how YOU should be parenting.

I heard this was a thing but sort of didn’t believe it. People don’t offer unsolicited advice on how I do my laundry or load my dishwasher…so why would they care about how I parent? WRONG. They care.

How you diaper, supplement, introduce solids, vaccinate, sleep train, brand of pacifier baby takes, organic vs non-organic foods and items, you name it…others have an opinion about it and they will tell you.

I’ve learned at the end of a day I don’t care about what other people think I should be doing.

I genuinely listen to others and do my own research but once I decide upon a path to take, I am not ashamed to move forward and not look back without caring about other;s opinions. I definitely don’t claim to be doing everything perfectly but I am doing the best I can with the knowledge I have in the present moment. That’s all anyone can do.

Motherhood Can Be Lonely

A temptation I experience before Josie was the thought that Motherhood would leave me feeling totally satisfied and all my suffering would disappear.

And there was a short honeymoon period where all was well in the world as I became a new mom. But suffering and pain are part of the human experience due to our brokenness and motherhood didn’t take away all my pain permanently. It certainly changed my circumstances and many of them for the better, but I still suffer, just in new and different ways.

I didn’t expect to feel the loneliness that being a new mom can bring. In many ways I was isolated this past year because I didn’t have family in Denver and didn’t have many friends available to hangout during the week. If I am being honest, I’ve watched wayyyyy too much Netflix this past year to avert feeling lonely. (7th Heaven, Gilmore Girls, Grey’s Anatomy, and Parenthood…yeah a lot of Netflix)

While it was really hard and I was totally blindsided by how lonely I felt at times, it’s gotten a WHOLE LOT BETTER as I make more friends and have more structure to my days and weeks at home…but it’s something I have to constantly keep my eye on to make sure I channel loneliness towards healthy things.

Still Gotta Be About Jesus

After falling flat on my face this past year spiritually, I realized my need for Jesus more than ever. He’s the only one who fully satisfies my heart’s desires and who gets me. While watching Netflix show after Netflix show and continuing to feel empty, all I had to do was turn to Jesus in prayer and my soul was brought to peace and contentment.

Slowly yet surely I fought to get my daily time with God back. I’ve now know I can’t ever go back to a place of not communicating with him again. It’s just not worth it. He made me to be in communion with him and that’s where I long to be.

And those are just a few of the lessons I learned this past year. I’d love to hear about what other mom’s found themselves learning in that first year too! Hit me up in the comments and share your experience!

I can’t end this post on Josephine’s first birthday without some photos of our little lady from each month of her life thus far. My, how she’s grown and changed from a teeny tiny newborn to a happy and silly baby.

really real one

 

Marriage, Parenting

The Husband’s Guide to Breastfeeding

November 5, 2015

Guys: If your wife is breastfeeding your baby, be prepared: breastfeeding is one of the coolest, hardest, most interesting parts of being human. Moms get (and deserve) the glory for breastfeeding, but you have a role to play. Here’s what I’ve learned:

1. Breastfeeding is Really Cool
We’ve come a long way in creating modern baby formulas, but nothing compares with all natural 100% free-range human breast milk. It contains all sorts of compounds and nutrients that aren’t found anywhere else.

Your wife’s body will be able to tell how old your kid is and adjust the composition of the milk accordingly to provide their changing nutritional needs. And get this: if your wife feeds your newborn from one breast, and an older child from the other, the two breasts will work independently to produce the right type of milk for each kid! WHAAAAAAT?

Breastfeeding also provides awesome opportunities for your wife and baby to bond. It’s been really cool to watch little Josie bond with Amanda. I’m sure it’s a major reason they’re so close to one another. We adopted Josie, so Amanda had to induce lactation to breastfeed. (Yes, a woman can breastfeed even if she didn’t give birth!) Breastfeeding Josie really helped us catch up on the nine months of her life (in the womb) we missed out on.

2. It’s a lot of work
Breastfeeding: pop the baby on the boob and there you have it, right? Wrong.

All sorts of issues can prevent themselves along the way: latching issues, lip and tongue ties, supply issues, plugged ducts, and nipple blisters (ouch!) are just a few. And if this is your wife’s first time breastfeeding, she’ll be adjusting to having a new bodily function and its consequences (like getting comfortable nursing in public).

If your wife is inducing lactation, you can throw a whole other set of hurdles in there on top of it all.

3. Prepare to Feel Useless
Breastfeeding might be one of the hardest things your wife ever does, and it’s easy to feel like there’s precious little you can do about it. You can’t offer to step in a take care of that hungry baby yourself, because our bodies just don’t work like that. There will be times when the only thing your baby wants is a seat at the milk bar, and you need to be okay with that. You might feel useless, but you’re not. In fact, you’re vital to your wife’s success.

While you can’t help breastfeed, you can help your wife breastfeed. Here’s how:

Help Out in Practical Ways that Support Breastfeeding

  • Give your wife pep talks when she’s feeling defeated by breastfeeding difficulties.
  • Make sure to pack the nursing cover (if she prefers to use one) when you pack the diaper bag.
  • Offer creative solutions to problems you run into while out and about with a hungry baby. (I asked and they don’t have a nursing room, but if we go over there, I could arrange the chairs and stand in a way that should give you some degree of privacy.)
  • Make sure your wife is staying hydrated by refilling her water bottle and remembering to bring it with you when leaving the house.
  • If she’s taking supplements to help her supply, be the one to refill her pill-box each week.
  • If she’s pumping, take care of everything related to that you can. (Cleaning the pump, bottles, store the milk, etc)

Help Out in Practical Ways that Have Nothing to Do With Breastfeeding
(this will allow her to focus on feeding the kid)

  • Change. The. Diapers.
  • If using cloth diapers, do the laundry.
  • Pack the diaper bag, and carry it when you go out.
  • If utilizing donor milk, pick it up, thaw it out, prepare the bottles.
  • Buy her some flowers.
  • Communicate how much her mothering means to you and the family.
  • Bathe the baby.
  • Entertain the baby and give your wife a break.
  • Cook dinner.
  • Clean the house.

4. The F Word
Whether it’s supply issues, latching issues, crazy schedules, or something else, sometimes breastfeeding just doesn’t work out. While donor milk is an option, I’d wager most parents go the formula route.

If you’re feeding your baby formula, remember this: you’re not bad parents. Your child will not be messed up because they didn’t breastfeed. Your wife is probably going to feel this pressure more than you do. This is your time to be the man. Let her know it’s all going to be fine and screw anyone else who tells her differently.

Sure, your family won’t experience some of the cool things related to breastfeeding, but that’s okay. You’ll get to experience some of the positives of bottles like baby accepting a bottle from a babysitter more easily or Dad taking his turn feeding the baby.

Husbands: I hope this guide has served you well and given you a good start. Breastfeeding is crazy. You’re going to need to be present for your wife in ways you’ve never imagined. This is your opportunity to step up and be the man she needs. You’re going to do great.

Parenting

Gaining 30 lbs in 6 months (And How I’m Trying to Be OK With That)

October 9, 2015

Let’s get something clear – Inducing lactation has been by far the best decision I’ve made so far in becoming a Mom.

Oh, it was crazy hard to do…but totally worth it. The time Josie and I spend together nursing are hands down my favorite moments of the day. It’s bonded us together in such a concrete way. As she gets closer to being a year old, breastfeeding only gets more fun as she learns to play games, do gymnastics, and give me oral and eye exams with her curious little fingers all while eating.

It’s been a complete, unexpected, gift.

But it’s come at a cost.

If you followed my nursing saga here, here, and here, you know just how hard it was to get our nursing relationship going. However, there has been a hardship I haven’t written about yet…because I am embarrassed about it. In order to induce lactation, I had to take a medication called Domperidone. A drug whose side effect is weight gain.

Within six months of starting it, I was up nearly thirty pounds. 

This happened despite eating a gluten and dairy-free diet and walking 10-15 miles per week.

Now, I am not blowing this out of proportion and saying I am now morbidly obese, since that isn’t true. But I am overweight according to a BMI calculator…which is incredibly humbling since weight has absolutely never been a struggle in my life.

Until now.

I never realized how much weight gain would impact my self-esteem. Clothes shopping is hard now, since I can’t fit into the sizes I *think* I still am…sizes that I wore since I was 15 years old up until almost a year ago. I don’t know what I can wear anymore and I find myself wanting to only buy baggy items to hide myself.

I’ve never struggled with body image or thought negatively about my body.

Until now.

I have to fight hard to tell myself that I am still beautiful. Just the other day I had to ask Jonathan if he still was attracted to me…something I never thought I would ask.

At the end of the day, nursing Josie is WORTH the weight gain to me, because it was always about her benefit and not mine. I try to think of it like pregnancy weight, only mine came after the baby I didn’t birth. I focus on the fact it’s temporary, as everything I have read and testimonies I’ve heard talk about the weight just melting off as soon as they go off Domperidone.

But that won’t be today. That’s off in future-land. And I have no guarantees of what my body will do.

For the time being, I am continuing to try to eat as healthy as possible. I am also continuing to exercise by walking and by doing T25 fitness videos. I am trying to buy clothes in my new size that are flattering. Most importantly I am clinging to TRUTH that I am a beautiful daughter of God who will never be defined by her weight, shape, or size.

That’s all I can do for now.

If anyone else has struggled down this path, I would love to hear from you. Encouragement, inspiration, support, comradery…anything you’ve got I want to hear it! 🙂