A Reason to Bake

I think I broke up at least three fights today. At least. And one of them was while I was nursing. And by breaking up, I mean physically pulling two toddlers off of eachother to keep their skin in tact and us out of the emergency room.

And the hardest part? It can come out of nowhere.

Jack and Ben will be playing nicely together, hitting the ball back and forth, even taking turns. Then one of them decides it's their turn, but their brother doesn't agree. The first brother then launches an all-out attack against his sibling, running him over, tackling him to the ground and reaching for any skin to scratch or bite.

And it's not one brother over another. They take turns. Multiple times a day.

We pull them apart, talk to them about how else to handle the problem, how important it is to use our words... but we still find ourselves settling these disputes more than we ever did before.

It's difficult to tell whether or not this is a direct result of the baby. Things have been in a constant state of transition since Megan arrived, and as much as we've tried to keep things consistent, they know things are different now that we've added another member to our family.

Andy and I talk aaaaaallll the time about new strategies to give the boys the structure they so desperately need. We stress over whether or not we're doing the right thing, if we're allowing them too much freedom or how to give them more responsibility. We question our routine and whether the boys need more variety. We wonder if we're being too rough or too easy. We praise their positive efforts generously and try very hard to see that we're treating them as inviduals and not as much as a "set."

Yeah, we talk a lot.

And amongst it all, we easily get discouraged. It's hard work, this whole parenting gig! Add a newborn to the equation as well as a mom who's nursing (for the first time, really) and not getting a whole lot of sleep, is recovering from major abdominal surgery and whose emotions were always a big rollercoaster ride even before the baby arrived and you've got a recipe for discouragement!

And yet, life goes on.

After dinner tonight, I asked the boys if they wanted to help me make cookies. We had sort of run out of inside activities for the boys to do and since I KNEW they would be excited about helping me in the kitchen (and I was craving white chocolate chip macademia nut cookies!) I felt like it was a win-win.

They helped (and I use the word "help" veeeery loosely) me scoop the ingredients into the bowl and mix everything together. "DAD!" they yelled from the kitchen, "we makin' you tookies!" After they rolled the dough into balls and put them on the cookie sheet, I suggested we wash our hands again to get all of the dough off. I poured some water into the sink and squeezed a dollop of soap into each of their hands. Supervising the amount of splashing, I tried not to get discouraged about the fact that they both wanted to do it at the same time... that almost always leads to fights. I noticed Jack's hands go on top of Ben's, but before I had a chance to separate them, I realized that Ben wasn't upset by it. I decided to wait and see.

Jack was helping Ben. He was running his hands down Ben's, washing all of the dough off and into the sink. That's exactly what I do when I help them wash their hands after finger-painting (or more appropriately, HAND-painting.) I almost broke out in tears. Watching how gently Jack was helping his brother, especially after such a difficult day, was so encouraging. Once it was obvious that Ben's hands were clean, I suggested they finish up and dry their hands. "No, I'm keeping him warm," Jack told me. That boy is the best at coming up with new ways to stall, but it was so sweet I couldn't argue. A few seconds later, Ben said, "Okay, Jack, that 'nuff," and he obeyed.

I'm sure there are things we could be doing differently. Better. Gosh, there will ALWAYS be things for us to improve. But little incidences like this one tonight help remind me of one simple fact: I have boys. Two of them, in fact. And they happen to be the same age. They're not even three years old yet - in many ways, they're still babies! They fight. They play. They forgive, they forget, they love. We will continue to do what we can, but I'm going to have to keep reminding myself of these facts when we get discouraged. They're brothers.

It will take us years to perfect this whole parenting thing. Honestly, we may never get it even 75% right. But we will still try. In the meantime, I'm thinking we're going to be making a whole lotta cookies.


Changing My Expectations

I am so grateful for how smoothly we have settled into being a family of five. My mom and my husband have been a huge support, taking turns spending time with the boys so I could care for Megan. Visiting me in the hospital and responding to my every need. And since I can't drive for a few weeks, it's nice to know that I always have a handful of willing chauffers available to take me to the appointments I need to make. I am so so grateful.

It was a great birth experience, ten times better than with the boys. With our first c-section, my body wanted to throw up while they were stitching me back up and I shook for hours. It was horribly uncomfortable. They ripped off the bandage from my incision without telling me beforehand and it felt like forever before I was able to get up and walk around. But this time around, there was no nasuea, no shaking and I had a much better idea of what to expect. Recovery is still relatively slow, but I have to keep reminding myself that this was major abdominal surgery; the healing process will take some time.

I gained 42 pounds overall with the boys and 30 pounds this time around. I remember how quickly my body seemed to shrink back into its original form...well, not original form, but sorta close...shortly after the boys were born. But that could have been because of the fact that I had little appetite (due to major surgery) and therefore, had a difficult time allowing my milk to come in. This time, I pushed myself to eat right away. Even though I didn't necessarily feel hungry or full, I made myself eat so my baby could have a steady milk supply as quickly as possible. And let me tell you, my milk is definitely IN! Holy Cow. Literally.

I went to my OB yesterday to get my staples out. (Another thing I dreaded the first time around, but quickly learned this was not as painful as it sounded!) Andy came with me and we brought the baby as well. The secretaries were excited to share our joy and meet the little one we had been expecting for the past nine months! The nurse put her stuff down in the room and asked me to join her at the scale. I stepped on and felt like I was having another pregnancy moment. Wait a minute. What did that say? How much did I weigh?

One week after I had Megan, I was FOUR POUNDS lighter than what I weighed a week before she was born.

How is that even possible? Aren't you supposed to LOSE weight when you have a baby?
I shared my surprise with the nurse, who wasn't sure how to respond. Same with my husband. I mean, honestly, there are only so many things you can say to a hormonal mother who already feels like a cow. But I was sincerely shocked.

"Were you hoping to be less?" Andy asked in the car on our way home.

"No, I wasn't hoping it would be a lot less. I was expecting it!"

I tried not to get too bent out of shape, because honestly, it is what it is. There is little I can do about my bulky body right now as its primary function right now is healing and producing milk. I didn't want my husband to worry that he'd have to talk me off a ledge, so I tried not to dwell on it. But I was sincerely stunned.

I brought it up with him again last night, expressing my shock. "I just thought it would have been less. A lot less. I mean, I birthed an eight pound baby and a ton of liquid. Shouldn't I have lost more?"

Again, my supportive husband didn't know what to say to console me. Instead, he returned to his iPad after saying, "You still look great, Min." Sweet. He still loved me? End of story. I can live with it.

He emerged from his iPad a few minutes later to reveal what he had just learned. He had been searching for stories of other women who had experienced the same thing. So so sweet. And he found that we were not alone in our experience. Many women after c-sections find themselves to be at the same weight, if not heavier, than after their baby was born. Not only am I not maintaining an active lifestyle - I'm laying on the couch, healing and feeding, for most of the day - while also trying to eat and drink whenever I can to maintain my milk supply, but I had a c-section. For the first 24 hours or so, I was being pumped with liquids through an IV. These liquids take a long time to make it through my system, adding to the extra weight I'm carrying around.

Well, that explains it!

Some of the first photos Andy took of me with the baby are beautiful. I still look relatively trim and alert.
A few minutes later, however, they wheeled me into my room and stuck a whole bunch of needles in me. An IV would be connected to me for the next 24 hours or so, which would be pumping a constant supply of liquids to keep me hydrated. Notice a difference in my face alone? And that's not even mentioning the pain killers they put me on to help numb the pain from the incision; those just made me look drunk!
So, please don't worry. I'm not going to starve myself in order to lose this thirty pounds I seem to have put on in a matter of minutes. I'm just fine. But I am grateful to know WHY that scale didn't seem to move after such a large and beautiful package was removed from my uterus! :)

Sometimes, a girl's just gotta know.


Happy Easter!

Happy Easter!
Love, Ben, Jack and Megan