For me, my parenting style and choices have evolved with the addition of each little bundle of joy. They have each been so different from birth through each stage of early childhood. I laugh because I used to say that your first child is your little experiment, though looking back, I feel that each of them are! You are constantly adjusting as you go. No one parent has it all figured out or raises their children "THE WAY" it should be!
My first precious boy, Landen, was a breech baby. He was swiftly delivered via c-section at 37 weeks, when I went into labor before my scheduled delivery date. It was crazy, and I quickly found out that when I go into labor.....IT'S TIME! I had woke up at 3:30 am having contractions, and he was delivered by 5:30 am. I arrived at the hospital fully dilated and ready to go.....except for the fact that he was booty first. After getting my I.V. and epidural, they sliced me open and there was our little Landen. Let me just say, I HATED the effects of the epidural and would not ever get one by choice. I itched like crazy as the effects of it wore off. I hated that I couldn't get up and was stuck in bed. I hate taking medication at all on a normal basis, so I just felt terrible. Breastfeeding went well after figuring it out. It took some adjusting to, simply because I had never done it before and hadn't done any research about it. Due to some challenges, I had to use a nipple shield. When I wasn't using that, I became very chapped, though I didn't give up. I finally decided to just use the nipple shield all the time, and everything was great after that. We stayed in the hospital for 3 1/2 days and then took our precious first baby home to proceed with the baby experiment! LOL!
Life With Landen
After bringing our sweet baby home, he slept in our room in a pack and play. Around 6 months, he would sleep in our bed off and on through the first year. When we got pregnant with baby #2, he then moved to a toddler bed in his own room. It took a few months to get him to completely stay there over night, but we had him fully adjusted prior to the arrival of Nolan. Landen was the best baby in the world. So easy-going (until he became a terrible toddler)! He was exclusively breastfed for the first six months. Then, due to my lack of knowledge, I felt like I wasn't producing enough breast milk and was tired of pumping at work, so I gave into the temptation of the formula samples sent home with us from the hospital and we slowly switched to Similac formula. When it was time to start solids, we fed him good ole' Gerber. Boy oh boy did we give them a tremendous amount of business. He ate all the Gerber baby cereals, jars of baby food, all the way through the toddler and preschool trays. We can say Gerber baby through and through. He was diapered from birth to potty training in huggies.
He is now a very outgoing big kid now! He loves to use my DSLR camera and photograph our family and objects around the house. He is now in elementary school and he enjoys most every minute of it! Crazy how big he is!
Baby boy number two, Nolan, was born very quickly and 100% natural. I was scheduled for a c-section, because no doctor in our area would allow or agree to a VBAC since I did not have a "proven pelvis". I fought for one all 9 months of my pregnancy,
The day I went into labor with him at 39 weeks, this time, three days prior to my scheduled c-section date, I knew I was going to have the baby, but was not in terrible pain just yet. I woke up around 5 am and quietly told my husband that today was the day, but to keep sleeping and I would wake him if we needed to go. I called my sister-in-law to come watch Landen. I proceeded to take a shower, blow dry and flat iron my hair, and apply a full face of make-up. My sister-in-law came flying in the door an hour after I called and was surprised to see me loafing on the couch watching trash t.v. and my hubby not out of bed yet. When he woke, I gave him a hair cut and he showered.
Then........at 11:30 am. it was like baby Nolan flipped the on switch and it was go time. We drove down the road to the hospital and upon arrival I was in semi-good spirits, made it into the ob-triage room, put my sexy hospital gown on, laid down on the bed, and my water broke like a popped water balloon and it was really GO TIME! His head hit my cervix and my body took over and was ready to push that baby OUT! The doctor checked me and they ran me down the hall to a delivery room. I was screaming at the top of my lungs the entire way and almost lost my dear husband to a doorway since I was holding his hand as we flew down the hall. I was scared because it wasn't going as it was supposed to.
I hadn't prepared for a vaginal delivery. I had only experienced a c-section, and was not mentally prepared for something to come out of my nether region the natural way. We got to the delivery room, and it was chaos. The on call doctor was an older man and I frantically told him I was supposed to have a c-section, and he looked at me and said, "well, here we go" and told me to push. Mid pushing, my doctor ran in the door. She did not look good and had been at the hospital all night the night before. She got into position and I am looking at her between my legs and she looked like she was going to barf and faint (come to find out 2 weeks later, she admitted that she had just found out that she was expecting, hadn't told anyone yet, had worked overnight and had some wicked morning sickness....lol). The nurses swept her out of the way after she admitted that she couldn't do this. I was freaking out more. The on call doc stepped in again, and after some pushing and screaming, Nolan came into the world at 12:21 pm. It was the most awesome feeling to have not had an epidural. I was on cloud nine. The adrenaline was pumping. It was so exciting to be able to get up out of bed and walk to the bathroom myself. Nolan breastfed very well. Since I had nursed Landen and somewhat knew what I was doing everything went along just fine. We stayed in the hospital for 2 1/2 days and then took our precious Nolie home making us a family of 4.
Life With Nolan
Mr. Nolan was a semi-colicky babe, a major puker and had severe infant eczema. He was very overwhelming for me. Prior to his birth, I was thinking, I CAN'T HAVE ANOTHER KID IN MY BED FOR A YEAR AND A HALF. So, my approach with him was much different. I only allowed him to sleep in our room for three weeks, then he was evicted. I sent him off to his nursery.
Around three weeks exactly is when he began to have colic like symptoms: irritable around the same time everyday, seemed to have an upset stomach, nursed for hours for comfort, followed by excessive spit up, almost like he over stuffed himself. Knowing what I know now after reading tremendous amounts of baby info, these symptoms were probably more a response to not being close to his mommy. Had I bed-shared with my precious peanut, it would have been far less stressful for Nolan and myself and we would have been more in sync.
After about three weeks of hell, (which I know is very short compared to some with a colicky baby) he began to fall into a routine. Though, we weren't out of the woods just yet. Since I wasn't nursing as much as I otherwise would have been had he bed-shared with me, during the colicky stint, I was so stressed and had myself convinced that he was acting like this because I wasn't producing enough breast milk, which was nothing more than crazy talk from a tired momma! He was gaining weight very consistently prior to that. He was a porker! We have week by week photos of his cheeks getting bigger and bigger. I was so tired and overwhelmed that I freaked out and asked my husband make him a formula bottle. Again, those infamous hospital samples came swooping in to derail me.
That little bit of sanity the formula bottles gave me was enough for me to slowly make an extra bottle a day for him, and we weaned from the breast over the course of the next 3 months. Shortly after that, he began to show signs of infant eczema that quickly spread from a small spot on his face to his entire body. Coincidence? Who knows. Looking back, I think that formula had something to do with it. The terrible part about it though, is finding out what was triggering it. Have you ever read the label of a formula can? Holy moly! After many doctors appointments and trial and error use of creams and lotions, we found that he had a food sensitivity to chicken and a confirmed allergy to cats and dogs. No dairy allergy.
Because of all of the skin challenges, when it came to solid foods, I prepared quite a few things myself. He also ate a lot of Beech Nut baby food. (I switched from Gerber because it seemed less disgusting, and more tasty....well as tasty as jarred baby food can be.) He didn't nearly eat as much baby food as Landen ever did. We simply couldn't risk it while trying to figure out his allergies. I also realized that it was quite easy to prepare my own baby food and questioned why I didn't do it all along. Oh, the things you learn as you go. Luckily, when he was around two and a half, he grew out of the eczema and allergies, but man was it a long couple of years.
Nolan was in huggies from birth to 2 years, then we switched to cloth diapers. We cloth diapered for about 5 months, and I found it extremely challenging to maintain clean smelling diapers with his stinky toddler pee, so he was back in huggies. As for sleeping, Nolan became my champion sleeper. As a baby and all the way up to four and a half, he has gone for naps like clock work. He slept in his crib and transitioned to a toddler bed great.
Nolan is now 5 and very outgoing. He is rough and tough and loves to ride a bike FAST! He is also VERY LOUD! He will certainly let you know when he wants something. He is the sweetest and tells you he loves you every chance he has!!! Lastly, he is in denial, but he has a small drinking problem. A milk drinking problem. He could give a college kid a run for their money if milk was the refreshment of choice at a frat party!
Gavin is our youngest. His delivery was amazing. I know, I know. Call me crazy, but everything went as planned. There was no scheduled c-section because I was approved to have a VBAC. I started having regular contractions around 1:30 in the morning. We timed them for about 30 minutes then made the call to our dear friend to come stay with the boys until their Aunt arrived. We left for the hospital before I was in intense pain so that things could unfold at the hospital instead of at home. We were able to check in calmly and put that sexy hospital gown on without chaos. The nurse calmly asked all the necessary questions as I used deep humming techniques that I had learned in prenatal yoga to ease through contractions. My doctor was called and he arrived very quickly knowing how fast I usually progress. Once he changed into scrubs and ran back to the room, I pushed a handful of times and of course screamed a bit, and baby Gavin was born at 3:20 am. It was awesome. Completely, 100% natural. I was not poked with one needle! It was an amazing experience. It is an indescribable feeling experiencing such great pain followed by such relief and joy. It is euphoria. The combination of hormones and endorphin's that are released along with the love you feel for the precious baby is just spectacular! I honestly look forward to experiencing it again!
Life With Gavin
Gavin is my first babe that I have stayed home full time with. I worked part time with the other two. He co-slept with us from the start. He slept in a Fisher Price Rock-n-play until he was about 4 months old. He moved straight to our bed from there. Bed sharing with Gavin was wonderful. I got so much more sleep, and my breast milk supply was plentiful because he nurses a lot at night. In the first three months he was an epic napper. He would take naps sometimes for five hours instead of two separate naps in a day. It was a God send having him nap that long while adjusting to life with three kiddos. Around four months, he began taking a morning and afternoon nap. He bed shared with us until he was 18 months, and from there continued to co-sleep in a toddler bed in our bedroom. Around two and a half, he moved with his toddler bed to his shared bedroom with big brother, Nolan.
When Gav was around 3 months old, we began to see the same symptoms of eczema that Nolan had. His cheeks were chapped and he itched his belly and chest something fierce. This time around it was handled differently because he was exclusively breastfed. I was able to monitor what I was eating to see what was triggering his flare ups. After eliminating dairy from my diet, which was terribly hard, (I would need a small heard of dairy cows to keep up with my normal diary consumption. I think I went thorough withdrawals). Anyway, with the elimination of dairy, his skin completely cleared up. After he turned a year, I slowly began eating dairy again, and his body tolerated it. At 2 years old, he slowly consuming began consuming various dairy products in small amounts at a time, but still could not drink milk or eat yogurt alone with out getting hives. At two and a half, he started eating more milk products and tolerates most of it just fine.
Gav is my exclusively cloth diapered dude. For the first two weeks he was in Huggies to allow time for the meconium to clear out of his system and cord stump to fall off. I had arranged to rent newborn cloth diapers from a local cloth diaper retailer. That was such a nice option, and it also allowed me to try different types of diapers that were new to me. After he grew out of them and I returned them, we didn't switch exclusively to cloth just yet. I built my stash up a little more since he needed to be changed more frequently and slowly got into the groove. He is now exclusively cloth diapered. You will rarely see him in a sposie, with the exception of traveling. As an infant, he actually blew out most disposable diapers.
At 6 months, I began to attempt to introduce solids to this little man, and he was not having it. He was an exclusive boob only kind of guy, and there was nothing wrong with that. We followed his cues with baby lead weaning, and at almost a year, he began eating an average of a meal and a half of baby food a day. I made all of his baby food. Only when traveling he had organic baby food pouches. He would eat finger foods from our dinners when they were dairy free and he loved them!!!
Babywearing was been great with Gavin. When he was younger, if he was being fussy, or needed to nurse when I just couldn't go rest on the couch with him, I would rig him up in our awesome ring sling that my best friend had made for me. I love our ring sling. It is so convenient and adjustable. I always used it at the grocery store and prefered to use it when we were shopping and exploring anytime. In July 2013, I replaced my big stroller with an organic Ergobaby carrier! I absolutely love it! Gavin loved it, too! It is so comfortable to wear and easy to nurse in even when walking around in public! It's also so much easier to not drag along a big stroller. Unfortunately, at two, he no longer wanted anything to do with it most of the time. He wanted to be just like his two big brothers and run free!
Gavin has grown to be our wild child. He is mischievous and always into something. He is loud and extremely rough and tough. He loves to pretend fight and wrestle with his daddy and brothers. He is obsessed with villains of video games and tv shows, his favorite being Bowser.