End of an Era

Tonight I pulled the last bag of breast milk from the freezer, marking the official end to a year of nursing.

I haven’t breastfed my son in almost a month, but I was lucky enough to have over 200 oz of milk stored away to keep feeding him after his first birthday. Tomorrow he will have his last sip of it.

I think he’s ok with it. He’s already getting mostly whole milk in his bottles. I just can’t believe it’s over. All of that hard work, finished. I nursed him and pumped for what seemed like forever. I’ve never worked harder at anything in my life, and I only spilled a few ounces!

I kept going after after all of the clogged ducts. While working full time. All the bags and cleaning parts and storage guidelines. I made it through the distracted phase, where he was too curious to settle in for too long. Kept going after all of the “you’re still breast feeding?!” judgy questioning. A year really isn’t that long. I’m not sure why it was such a big deal to some people. Then again, most of it came from women who’d never done it before.

It was the most rewarding experience. I got to feed my baby and give him the best shot at a healthy life. He thrived. He grew. He’s still growing. And I played a big part in that. Now it’s over.

All we’re left with now is an empty freezer. We bought an extra one just for all the milk. I’m not sure what we’ll do with it now. It literally only had milk in it.

While I won’t miss leaky boobs, engorgement, or constant worry, I will miss the quiet moments nursing my son.

A part of me feels like I’m not sure what to do now that he doesn’t “need” me anymore. Of course he still does. It’s just weird not having him depend on me quite so much.

So that’s it. The end of my breast feeding career! For now anyway.

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Things I Learned the First Year

8 not so little things from January 8, 2014 to January 8, 2015:

1. I can still function surprisingly well on little-no sleep. Of course the first few months are supposed to be hard. Trying to “sleep when the baby sleeps” and figure out a routine and being woken up every few hours to nurse. I went back to work at just six weeks (America totally needs to reevaluate maternity leave, btw), and it was a miracle I did not pull a George Kostanza and sleep under my desk. I kept telling myself, he’s only three months old, he’ll start to sleep better soon. Then three months turned into six, six turned into nine, and nine moved right on into twelve, and our son still wasn’t sleeping through the night. It literally happened when he turned a year + one week old, consistently. Sure, there were a few times here and there where he did sleep through the night before he turned a year, but it never lasted more than a couple nights. Now that he’s a whole 2.5 weeks into being one, he may have finally found out that sleep is actually awesome.

2. My husband and I now have a different relationship. It’s not a bad relationship, by any means. Just different. Instead of all the focus being on the two of us (plus the dog), we now focus mainly on the baby. Dates are few and far between since we only really have one babysitter, not to mention we both work full time during the week, so the weekend is really our only time to be with our son. Who needs dates?!

I learned it is still important to make time for each other, even if it’s hard. I developed a bit of tunnel vision, and it took a reality check from my husband to make me really realize it. I was too concerned with making sure our son was being taken care of that I forgot to take care of us. Finally, my short fuse, tiredness, and lack of intimacy became too much for him, and he put me in my place. I’m glad he did, because now we’re back on track. Hugs are great, kisses too. Talking is important, and putting away your cell phone at the dinner table should be mandatory!

3. I will never be able to watch a movie/tv show/commercial or read a news article/blog/book/anything if a child gets abused/hurt/sick/kidnapped/mistreated in any way. The movie “Prisoner,” for example. My husband and I watched this when I was pregnant, so I was not yet aware of the “oh-my-god-every-child-reminds-me-of-my-child-and-i-will-kill-anyone-who-hurts-him” state of mind. I remember talking to friends who had kids about the movie, and all of them were like “I could not watch that!” or “I hated that movie!” because a child was kidnapped in it. I also remember thinking “Really? It wasn’t that bad/serious!” but now. I TOTALLY GET IT! And is it me, or is there suddenly an influx of child abuse/murder these days? I can’t deal.

4. Daycare kind of sucks and is also kind of a good thing. It’s really to put your kid into the hands of a stranger. Especially when he is only 6 weeks old. I hated leaving him every day to go to a job I barely even liked. I still do. Unfortunately, we are not in a financial position to have one of us stay home. It sucks not knowing how he is doing all day, if he is being taken care of, if he is sitting in a wet diaper or crying for too long. At six weeks old, he was totally helpless.

Now that he’s older, it’s not AS hard. I’d still much rather be at home with him, but I think he has fun with the other kids. It is good for his development to interact with them and be around different people. I don’t like all the germs he shares with them, but at least his immune system is getting stronger with each cold. I have also noticed he’s more outgoing than my friends’ babies who stay home with mom. Shy kids make me feel awkward, and I’m confident my son will not be one of them!

5. I will never be on time for anything ever again. Even if we make it out the door with time to spare, chances are we have forgotten something essential for our son that makes us turn around to go get which makes us late. Also, I will not wake my son from a nap, even if I was supposed to be at your house 20 minutes ago. He needs sleep more than you need to see us. I’m hoping friends and family understand this by now, and don’t really think we will be there by 6:30 when dinner starts at 6:00.

6. Breastfeeding is HARD. I’m proud to say I did it for an entire year, especially because I saw somewhere that only 17% of working moms do. It is the most selfless thing a mother can do for her child, because it takes so much to make it happen, not just physically. It was hard to go out places for extended periods because my breasts became engorged and uncomfortable. When I was home, I couldn’t get too comfortable/involved in any activity because I knew I’d have to nurse him soon. When he woke up at night, it was me who went to him because it took too much time and effort to prepare a bottle. It was easier just for me to get up and nurse him back to sleep (and he would not go back to sleep unless he was fed!). I was exhausted for a full year.

And then there’s pumping. I’ve posted a couple times about it, so I won’t get into it again, but in a nutshell: finding time/privacy, storing the milk, cleaning the parts, clogged ducts, 10 hour road trips/pumping in the car/battery packs. I could go on and on.

I constantly worried if he was getting enough.

Now that he’s weaned, I can finally breathe. My boobs look like deflated balloons, but man does it feel good to lay on my stomach again! I’m still exhausted, but not as bad. Also, I’m not as moody and my libido is coming back—yay, estrogen! Not looking forward to having my period return though…

7. Pregnancy/childbirth will continue to take a toll on my body. I never used to get sick. Now I have thyroid issues and I’ve had more colds this winter than ever in my life. I’m currently battling the end of a bad cold (contracted from my son, who had RSV) and an ear infection. I’ve never had an ear infection, nor have most people I know above age 5.

My stretch marks will always be there, and my body will never look the same as it did. I think I’ve aged more this past year than the 30 prior years total. I have wrinkles and bags around my eyes, my knees hurt when I [actually find the time to] work out, and my hair is falling out in clumps. I also really need to watch what I eat now, because if I don’t, I look like I did the day I came home from the hospital postpartum.

8. I wouldn’t change any of it. I love this little boy more than anything I ever thought I could. He makes me laugh every single day, and I love watching him grow. Though my heart breaks each time he learns something new, it also grows a tiny bit more.

Parenting is hard work. It’s scary and it’s exciting. It’s exhausting and it’s eye-opening. It is the best thing in the entire world. I still look at my son after a year and think, “My God, I can’t believe we made this amazing little person.”

Here’s to many more years of learning for all of us!

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Oh, The Places You’ll Go! A 1st Birthday Celebration

I’m not ready to put into words the enormity of this past year, so for now I’ll just tell you all about baby boy’s 1st birthday celebration!

His official birthday isn’t until Thursday, but we had the party this past Saturday. It was a Dr Seuss’ “Oh, The Places You’ll Go!” theme, and my first attempt at planning a child’s party. I think it went pretty well!

My sister helped set up the decorations (streamers) and I made my own Truffula trees using wrapping paper rolls, spray paint, colored duct tape, and paper poofs. We had balloons and even one big “hot air balloon!” complete with cloudy sky backdrop.

Here are some shots from the day:

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Check out that pasta! I was so thrilled when I found it at World Market. It’s rainbow colored farfalle! Isn’t it cute?! We also had a rainbow of fruit and some cute pinwheel sandwiches (these 2 were catered). I also made avocado corn salsa (recipe here), not pictured, with purple, green, and yellow corn chips that I also found at World Market.

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Of course there were sweets too! Themed cupcakes from The Cupcake Shoppe. There were custom m&ms with our sons name and “Happy 1st Birthday!” printed on them. These were paired with sprigs of cotton candy as the favors.

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Here are the trees and the dessert table, and of course the hot air balloon! I just love the giant balloon! Maxwell loved it too, and I’m pretty sure he liked it more than any of his presents! Shhh

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Finally, the cake smash! He didn’t go after it quite as hard as I thought he would, but he definitely made a mess and LOVED IT!! He got his very own giant cupcake with the boy from the book on it, and it was his first dose of pure sugar. He proceeded to go absolutely nuts with his friends/all of his new toys for the rest of the evening and slept GREAT! Almost 12 hours straight (that’s never happened)! Maybe we need to have a party every day…

All in all, I’d say it was a great party. My sister took the amazing photos featured above. The only thing is that now I feel like I’ll have to continue to raise the bar for every party still to come! And what about if there’s a baby #2!? Good grief. Let me stop getting ahead of myself.

I know he won’t remember this party at all, but he will only turn 1 once! Big celebrations are necessary! Plus, the pictures are memories captured in time 😉

Party planning is pretty fun, isn’t it?! I like being able to unleash my inner child! Did you throw a big party for your little ones big day? What are some creative things you’ve seen/done?