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Ainsley

Family

Confident + Kind

October 12, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-10-12 at 7.40.16 AMAs Ainsley gets older I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want her to be. Not about the vocation she chooses or the activities she participates in as the grows, but the important things that make the core of her being. We pray over Ainsley daily, but we always pray for her out loud before bed together as a family. The words that keep coming back to me are “confident & kind.” My prayer for you, sweet Ainsley, is that you’re confident in who God created you to be and kind to people from every walk of life.

Joe says that each one of us is best at practicing that which we struggle most with. I’m positive that’s true. Now that I’m a mom, I’ve become more reflective. I’ve thought about times when I haven’t been confident enough to be the person I feel called to be, or when I haven’t had the confidence to go sit with someone who is alone because I’ve been too preocupied with my own insecurities.

I see kiddos who have differences, both minor and major, and I think about the heartbreak that parents experience when other kids use those differences to make fun of another kid or tear them down. Guys? It breaks my heart. Perhaps it’s because I got a little glimpse already into having a baby that’s “different” with her little skin tags by her ears and her tiny gap that we repaired in the corner of her lip. She was just an infant, oblivious to those differences, and she’ll never remember that as part of her story. But I pray every day that when she encounters children who are different than she is that she is includes them, brings them into the game or group, and can see past the differences to find common ground.

I’m also realizing that this parenting business is weighty stuff, isn’t it? If I want Ainsley to be confident and kind, to include and affirm others, then I need to do a better job of modeling that behavior in my own life. I feel SO convicted of all the times that I’ve fallen short, and so inspired to continue to ask God for the strength and capacity to model these things to my baby girl.

I’ve been thinking of taking these words and using them as artwork in Ainsley’s new room, both as a reminder to her and to me + Joe that we should strive to model true confidence in the form of humility and kindness to everyone we come in contact with.

On that note, does anyone have any great parenting books to recommend? I’m talking less about tactical books and more about general concepts, faith-based parenting and the like? I’m all ears!

Madison

Family, Pregnancy

When Breast Isn’t Best

August 11, 2015

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Last week, I posted about breastfeeding (or rather, not breastfeeding and choosing to formula feed instead) on Espresso and Cream’s Facebook page. As I should have anticipated I got a lot of responses, some good and some filled with outrage. Because Facebook is short-form, I’m not sure my intent and thoughts behind my post were conveyed properly and with the clarity that I intended. I thought perhaps it was worth devoting a post to further clarification and explanation.

When I was pregnant with my first and only child I got asked a lot by health professionals, friends and fellow moms if I was planning on breastfeeding. It was, by far, the most commonly answered question of my pregnancy. I found the questions strange. Sure, I hoped to breastfeed, but I had heard plenty of stories about women who couldn’t or chose not to, and I didn’t want to set myself up with expectations that were unrealistic.

I’m the woman who went into childbirth with few notions of what I wanted or didn’t want. I thought perhaps I would like to try natural childbirth, but wasn’t sure. And after experiencing six hours of labor at home with contractions in frequent intervals I decided an epidural was the way to go. The same goes for breastfeeding. I thought I would give it a go, especially for those first few months when it’s extra valuable, but I didn’t have any strong leanings either way.

I did, however, feel the societal pressure to breastfeed. Doctors, nurses, lactation consultants and friends all repeated the same phrase: Breast is best!

Ainsley and I got off to a rough start with feeding. In the hospital she didn’t latch or eat well, and we spent hours with nurses and lactation consultants trying to get her to feed. And she did feed occasionally, but I didn’t have a lot of confidence in how things were going when I was discharged from the hospital. The first couple days and nights were filled with lots of tears on both my end and Ainsley’s. Listening to your baby cry and cry because they’re hungry is the worst sort of torture. I couldn’t understand what was wrong: I was producing plenty of milk, but our little one simply thrashed her head from side to side in frustration every time she tried to eat. It was emotionally depleting on me, especially when I was worried about a thousand other things and sleep deprived on top of it all.

At four days old, Ainsley got admitted to the NICU with a low temperature after a home health nurse came to visit for a routine postpartum check-up. I had heard that breastfeeding was hard and I should just push through the hard to get to the other side, but in my heart I knew something wasn’t right. It was such a relief to hear the doctors and nurses in the NICU confirm that things were harder than usual for us because of the gap in the corner of Ainsley’s lip. That tiny gap was causing major issues with latching, leading to a lot of frustration for both of us. I was told that if we worked really hard we could probably salvage our breastfeeding relationship, but at that point I wanted nothing more than to pump exclusively and give Ainsley a bottle. She took to the bottle well, ate like a champ and was a completely different baby than the fussy, hungry newborn I had just a day before. It was sweet, sweet relief.

At first, exclusively pumping felt like a huge weight had been taken off my shoulders. But eventually, pumping itself started to feel like a major burden on top of caring for a baby. There are many benefits to pumping and bottle feeding, but let’s face it, it’s double the work and difficult to manage time-wise with an infant who eats around the clock.

During the first 14 weeks of Ainsley’s life, she was exclusively fed breast milk via bottles. I pumped dutifully and stored up a major stash in the freezer. I hated every second of it and felt emotionally drained. I must have threatened to quit a thousand times during those 14 weeks, but I felt so much guilt at the idea of introducing formula to Ainsley. I would ruin her gut health! She would have allergies! I wouldn’t be able to protect her from sickness and give her valuable antibodies! She would get more ear infections! The list could go on and on.

Eventually Joe said something to me that really stuck: “Giving Ainsley the “best” isn’t just about giving her breast milk, it’s about being the best, most emotionally available mom you can be to her. That’s what’s best to Ainsley. If pumping/breast feeding is causing you this much stress, maybe she is better off drinking formula so you can enjoy her more.”

And you know what? He was SO right. When I let go of the weight of pumping and breast feeding Ainsley, I was a better mom. I had more to offer her, I could enjoy her more and I felt more like myself than I had in months. My concern with the push to breast feed is that the focus of “breast is best” is so very narrow. Is breast milk the perfect food for our babies? Absolutely! And it’s so cool that our bodies can nourish our babies. But when the push to breast feed results in a stressed out, emotionally depleted and unhappy mom, sometimes formula is best, and that’s okay, too.

So if you didn’t produce enough milk to feed your baby, it’s okay. If your baby didn’t latch well or had a medical issue that meant breast feeding was ridiculously hard, it’s okay. If you’re a mama via adoption and breast feeding wasn’t an option, it’s okay. If you just didn’t want to breast feed, it’s okay, too.

My hope is that we can have fewer conversations about how we feed our children all together. It’s such a deeply personal choice that’s become public fodder. The way I see it, motherhood is hard enough as it is without carrying extra guilt or shame about how you choose to feed your baby, and at the end of the day, we’re all just trying to do the best we can.

Madison

Family

You Light Up My Life

July 30, 2015

IMG_0389Before I had a baby I was very skeptical about motherhood. I read post after post from moms who talked about how fulfilling and amazing it was being a momma to littles, and I worried that I wouldn’t find it nearly as gratifying and wonderful as others described. I wondered, to be totally honest, if I had the “mom gene.”

We walked the road of infertility for two years before Ainsley arrived. Sometimes when you’re in the thick of charting and temping and visiting doctors and searching for answers you start to wonder what the point is, if you really want a baby, if the pain and heartache is worth the physical and emotional toll it takes on you and your family. After our second miscarriage, I told Joe I was done trying. That I didn’t have it in me to keep going and risk more heartache and loss. I was devestated, depleted, scared.

While I was pregnant with Ainsley I became increasingly worried that the expectations I had for her would be too great for any one child to carry. She was our miracle baby, her story and arrival into this world was unlike anything I had ever experienced firsthand. I was fearful that my expectations for motherhood would be too large for any baby to fill.

Our first couple months with this little one? They were HARD. There is no other way to say it. She was, and continues to be, a very easygoing baby, but the adjustment to parenthood didn’t come naturally to me. I was tired, scared and uncertain, questioning myself on almost everything related to baby care. Add a stint in the NICU when she was 4 days old, a scary (but ultimately OK) diagnosis, many specialist appointments and a surgery at 8 weeks old and I was doing my best to keep my head above water.

Being a momma is scary stuff. Fighting for your little one and advocating on their behalf? Gutwrenching.

But this whole motherhood thing? You guys, it’s turned into something wonderful. Around 3 months the haze lifted and the doctor’s appointments slowed down. Ainsley started smiling and giggling and becoming a little person with distinct likes and dislikes and funny quirks. And along the way I’ve been affirming my parenting skills. Am I a perfect mom? Hardly! But I frequently tell Joe, “I think I’m the best mom for Ainsley, and I’m doing a pretty good job!” Not because I want to be boastful or arrogant, but because this whole parenting gig is hard enough as it is, and a little (or a lot) of encouragment and affirmation is absolutely necessary.

So, Miss Ainsley, thank you for lighting up my life like none other. Being your momma? It makes me feel more “me” than anything ever has before. I couldn’t be more thankful for you, sweet pea, and I have a feeling that it’s going to keep getting better.

Madison

Uncategorized

Ainsley 3 Month Update

June 3, 2015

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Likes and Dislikes: Little Miss Ainsley is non-stop action and personality these days! I love continuing to get to know her more and more and she truly is so much FUN to be around.

Ainsley Loves: people singing, being lifted into the air again and again by dad, playing in her Jumparoo bouncer, eating, watching her puppies run around the house and laughing at mom and dad

Ainsley Dislikes: having to wait to eat, waking up early from naps (she gets super crabby when she wakes early and can’t fall back asleep), having her onesie changed, going to bed at night

Daytime Schedule: Ainsley is waking up sometime between 6 and 7 each morning. During the day she is awake for about 1 1/2 hours before taking another nap. Her daytime naps are usually only about 1 hour in length, meaning we’re on a 2 1/2 hour schedule throughout the day. It works pretty well for us and means that she is getting extra calories in during the day, which equals better nighttime sleep!

Eating: Ainsley is eating 5 ounces pretty consistently in each bottle and taking between 6 and 7 feedings each day. Her bottles are a 50/50 mix of breast milk and formula. We’re on the fast-track to transitioning to 100% formula, both for my own benefit and because I’m pretty convinced that Ainsley does better on the formula as well.

Sleep: Sleep has gotten quite a bit better this month! We put her down for bed between 7 and 7:30 and then I sneak into her room and give her a “dream feed” around 9:30, right before I go to bed. By doing that, Ainsley can usually sleep until 2 or 3, eat, and then sleep again until morning. Waking up only once in the night is such a game-changer! It’s amazing what five hours of consecutive sleep will do for your mental health!

Family Transition: At the end of Ainsley’s third month of life, I returned to work! I was really emotional and nervous about the whole thing, since I was returning to a “new-old-new” job at General Mills. Basically, I was returning to my “old job” but my job description changed quite a bit after the layoffs and our team was quite a bit smaller, so I still have a lot to learn and catch up on.

Going back to work takes a lot of planning; meal-planning and lunch prepping and packing, getting Ainsley’s bottles ready and making sure we are all prepared to tackle the day ahead. But I’m finding that if I prepare for the week and put in the extra time on the front end, I can enjoy the week all that much more. Ainsley is taking to the childcare situation really well, and I’m convinced that the whole transition is harder for me than it is for her!

Mommy Body Update: The three month mark was the point in the recovery process where I really felt my body had returned to some version of “normal.” Don’t get me wrong, I still have some work to do in terms of strengthening and toning, but I’m fitting into most of my old clothes and feeling a lot more like myself. That said, this month I tossed a couple pairs of jeans that I’m convinced will just never fit the way they used to, and that’s okay, too.

Resources: Same as months 1 and 2!

Uncategorized

There is no shame in formula (and other truths about motherhood)

May 20, 2015

View More: http://ginazeidler.pass.us/ainsleynewbornPhoto by Gina Zeidler
www.ginazeidler.com www.ginazeidler.com/blog

I really don’t mean to stir the pot with the title of this post, but I’ve had so many thoughts flying around in my head as I reflect on the first 12 weeks of motherhood. Those first months are full of self-doubt and questions, especially when your baby doesn’t go “by the book” the way you had planned. Ha! Does any baby? For me, when things with Ainsley weren’t going the way I thought they should go I started to stress out and worry and try to force something that just wasn’t working instead of trusting my momma instinct. Note to other mommas: Always do what’s right for your baby, not another person’s baby or the theoretical newborn in the parenting books you read. That said, here are a few truths I’ve come to in the first three months of motherhood:

1. How you feed your baby doesn’t really matter. 
For the first few days I agonized over the fact that Ainsley wasn’t breastfeeding well. She was hungry and cranky and losing weight and I kept trying to force the issue. I felt SO guilty when I introduced a bottle of breast milk, but she took to the bottle so well that I knew we were doing the right thing for us.

2. There is no shame in feeding your baby formula. 
I have been so blessed to be a part of a new momma group that met during the first few weeks of Ainsley’s life. The moms in that group varied widely in their breast feeding experiences. Some had babies that were allergic to breast milk and required special formula, others had supply issues and supplemented with formula and still others just didn’t want to breast feed long-term and were making the switch to formula before heading back to work.

Personally, I’ve been introducing some formula into Ainsley’s diet for the last couple weeks, and it’s been going great. At first I felt incredibly guilty about the whole thing; my supply was ample and Ainsley was thriving on breast milk, so why wouldn’t I continue? But 11 weeks of exclusively pumping was exhausting and I felt it was better for my mental health to cut back, even if that meant introducing formula. Sure, breast milk is the perfect food for baby in most cases, but formula is pretty good, too.

3. Say “yes” to the paci if you want, when you want. 
Nurses in the hospital might make you scared about nipple confusion and all that jazz, but I’ve had enough momma friends who have recommended giving your little one a paci when you want, even if it’s sooner than the magic 4 to 6 weeks.

4. Find a Facebook group for your parenting style. 
Seriously, I don’t know how our parents did this newborn thing without social media. There are so many great groups on Facebook for almost every parenting style or infant issue you may have questions about. There are groups for exclusively pumping mommas, faith-based groups and the like. I’ve joined a group for moms following BabyWise as well as a few other momma groups. It’s been great to have a supportive place to ask questions and throw around ideas about feeding and schedules and sleep issues.

5. Be prepared to buy and try every sleep contraption on the market. 
In just three months of life, we’ve spent a ridiculous amount of money on sleep solutions. When you’re a tired and weary parent, you’re willing to do or pay anything for a couple extra hours of shut-eye. We’ve used a flannel swaddle, Ergo swaddle, Halo Sleep Sack, Miracle Blanket Swaddle Up, Woombie and Baby Merlin’s Magic Sleep Suit. For us the Halo Sleep Sack and Merlin’s Magic Sleep Suit have been the two that have worked the best, but it varies from baby to baby.

6. Don’t expect to get all the things done on maternity leave. 
In fact, expect to get none of the things done on maternity leave. Cuddle your baby, be invested in your little one and don’t put too much pressure on yourself to get everything done. Maternity leave is for baby bonding and healing and adjusting to a new normal, not proving you’re some sort of super momma who can bounce back in a second and do a thousand tasks.

7. Take developmental milestones with a grain of salt. 
I remember one morning sitting on the couch and crying to Joe early on because I thought Ainsley might be blind. (Really?!) She wasn’t tracking objects well at the point when one book told me she should be able to track and follow things in front of her face. A week or two later she started tracking well and I felt incredibly silly for overreacting. Babies develop differently and different times and paces. Don’t get too stressed. And if you are worried? Ask your doctor, not the internet.

Mommas, what other words of wisdom would you add to this list?
Madison