Interests Include Mommy Blogging & Tandem Nursing

Two funny stories

One: About a year ago, I was courted to be a mommy blogger. For real! Like, for money. Lololololol. And I wrote some things, emails stopped, payment never came, etc. I moved on to other things, like having another baby and moving across the country. But I have these funny sort of clickbait-y posts hanging around in my Google Drive that I see every now and then. Titles like, “10 Things You Can Do While Babywearing”, “Why I Vaccinate My Baby (And Why You Should, Too)”, and “5 Things To Consider Before Tandem Nursing”. That last one becomes important with the next little vignette.

Two: When I became pregnant with Georgie, I experienced horrible nursing aversion and agitation when breastfeeding Winnie. I didn’t have enough energy to parent without the boob in my first trimester (seriously, the boob + B6 + magnesium + Daniel Tiger saved me), but in my second, we tried gentle weaning (weaning while cosleeping is no joke, y’all!). Our timing worked out, Winnie was fine with it, and she weaned in three days, with few tears.  I was a little sad, but it felt right.

Georgie is now nearly eight months old. She is just mad about food, and eats three meals a day. Like, full meals. And now, at the age of two-and-a-half, Winnie has decided she needs to nurse again. And I am sort of fine with it. I’m not going to say things like, “You’re a big kid, and big kids don’t nurse” because I don’t believe that. She’s been sick, and she’s going through some HUGE developmental changes right now (she’s been getting herself fully dressed, her verbal skills have gotten crazy, and her physical coordination is growing by leaps and bounds), and it’s comforting to her.  It’s funny because she’s asked to nurse about once a week ever since she weaned– I didn’t want for it to be a point of contention, and frankly it wasn’t that I didn’t want her to nurse occasionally, just that hormonally I couldn’t handle the constant nursing– and I always gave her a nonchalant, “sure”. She would start to latch, and then sort of laugh, and say, “No, thank you!”  Except then one day she didn’t. So here we are. Tandem nursing after a year of being weaned and eight months with a little sister.

It’s… fine. She needs it, and I’m fine with it. Her ability to understand bodies and boundaries has grown significantly, and I’m confident she’ll understand when it’s time for me to stop.  She’ll probably hate it, sure, but she’ll get it. And from that she’ll learn that she can ask for her body to be respected, too.

Anyway, here’s the hilarious blog post I wrote. My notes from actually being a tandem nursing mother in italics. Because writing about parenting issues before they happen to you is the biggest LOL of all time. #noscreentime #nocoffeewhilepregnant #onlyorganicwoolgarmentsforthelittles #weclothdiaperedwinnieforalmosttwoyearstho

5 Things to Consider Before Tandem Nursing

I always knew I would be a nursing mother, but I never guessed I might be a tandem nursing mother! [Because I didn’t ever look at a calendar?] When I found out I was expecting, with a due date just shy of my not-yet-weaned daughter’s second birthday, I found myself faced with questions. [Like “HOLY SHIT WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO?”]  Should I wean before the new baby arrives?  Would I be able to nurse them both?  Tandem nursing (breastfeeding more than one child, either together or separately) isn’t for everyone– but many mothers find the process incredibly rewarding. [Note: I have yet to meet them. My tandem nursing Facebook group was full of moms on their phones wearing stretched out shirts, lap full of kids like, whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy.] Deciding whether or not to pursue tandem nursing is an individual decision, but thinking about the following can make that decision easier. [LOL “decision”]

 

Do you want to tandem nurse?  It sounds simple enough, but if you feel like you should tandem nurse out of obligation to your child, partner, or the judgy mom down the block– don’t worry about it!  Your body is yours, and every major health organization advocates breastfeeding as long as it is mutually desired by both mother and baby.  If you don’t want to, don’t! At the same time, don’t let anyone dissuade you by saying it’s weird or impossible– neither of which is true. [Almost everything I do is either weird or impossible, especially re: raising these two humans.]

 

Who is your tandem nursing team? [I don’t know but I would like to subscribe to their newsletter.] Now that you’ve nursed one child (or more), you know how important a nursing support system can be.  Identify people who can help you through your next chapter, like your partner, family members, friends, organizations like La Leche League, or even online support like Kellymom.com [Also, refreshing the Iowa caucus results and FiveThirtyEight.com on your phone can be really helpful online resources for feeling connected to the adult world while nursing a brood.]

 

How can others help you tandem nurse? Once you’ve made a list of those who can support you, think about the ways in which they can do so.  Maybe your spouse can pick up a greater portion of household tasks, or leave the fridge stocked with easy snacks and filling meals (you’ll need the fuel while nursing two!).  Set a weekly date with other nursing moms in your neighborhood.  Plan for family or friends to visit to change diapers, play with your toddler, and give you a break from being “on.” [AHHHH SEND HELP]

 

Does tandem nursing work with your lifestyle? [If not, too bad!] Do you plan to co-sleep or settle your newborn in her own room?  Is your toddler night-weaned?  Will you head back to work soon after the birth and tandem nurse on weekends and after work?  Think about the logistics of your time, sleep, and space, and tweak anything you can now to be prepared for later.  

 

Make a tandem nursing plan– and be okay with letting it go.  After you’ve lined up your team, sleeping arrangements, and identified your motivation for tandem nursing, you’ve got the makings of a great plan!  Now visualize letting it go.  You may nurse your toddler for longer than you plan– or you may decide that you’re too exhausted to nurse more than one baby.  You may prepare for agitation while nursing both children– or it may not be a problem at all.  Stay flexible and in tune with yourself, and you can’t go wrong. [Okay, this part is for real, tho.]

 

Wild Winnie Pie

I tried not to complain too too much about what felt like an endless winter, in part because seasons are seasons– they come and go pretty much without fail– and in part because as a super tired, pregnant, sunlight-deprived lady whose toddler regularly woke her at 4:30 in the morning, I wasn’t exactly hurting for things to complain about.

But now that it’s over, you can bet– just in time for Eastertide– I’m crying alleluia from the rooftops. There is sun! There are clear sidewalks! Things are turning green! Flowers! Non-root vegetables at the greenmarket!

Winnie is obviously completely delighted, though confused that our house-leaving routine only sometimes requires a hat and coat. She’d really gotten that whole getting dressed for the weather bit down, often admonishing me when I would head out without a hat, or worse, when I would wear Mike’s hat outside of the house: “Dada hat! No Mommy hat! Dada hat! No Mommy hat! Mommy! Dada hat!” Geez, Win, things are a little more fluid around here, okay?

It’s been raining a fair amount, because, you know, seasons, but Winnie has become a master of the just-rained-on playground experience. It’s nearly always empty, the slides go faster, and there are plenty of puddles to stomp in. She’s been absolutely killing it on the playground lately– tons of independent play, exploring her physical skills and limitations, trying and trying and trying again (my favorite). Here’s a little video of a recent playground adventure, sped up because while toddlers are adorable they are not the quickest creatures around, plus a funny Beatles song, because Win said so.

Winnie Conquers the Playground from Sascha Anderson on Vimeo.

Zero and Three Quarters

Winnie is nine months old (and four days, eleven hours, twelve minutes as I type).  She crawls faster than I walk most places.  She can pull up on anything, including mom’s giant exercise ball, the corner of dad’s shirt, and anything precarious/unbabyproofed (most things).  She makes the tiniest smacking kissy sounds and today gave her BFF Santiago a giant, slobbery, snotty smacker on the cheek.

There are a million and one things that THEY (all-caps-all-knowing-keepers-of-secrets THEY) don’t tell you about having a baby— that newborn sleep is actually the best (those little bugs sleep for like 20 hours a day!), that THEY are not kidding when THEY say that you need next to no stuff for a tiny babe, that 90% of your showers will involve playing peekaboo with the shower curtain, that you know more about your baby than all the THEYs put together, that tags are the best part of toys and dust covers are the best part of books.  I can’t believe, though, that THEY didn’t tell me you get a new baby every day.

I mean, at least every day.  I’ve sometimes put one baby down for a nap and gone in to a brand new one twice in one day!  Three times even!  The new baby is, of course, the old baby, but oh how very new she seems.  Even she seems delighted by her own new-ness, as if everything she does carries an implicit “TA-DA!”.

Her infectious laughter.  Her smacky kisses.  The way she looks Mike straight in the eye when she says, “Da da pa pa!” and waves as he leaves in the morning.  She crawl-chased a full-on walking, talking toddler into the corner at the library while growling (#banbossy?). She threw her plate of blackeyed peas in the air when she saw me walk in the door from work today— I can think of no greater greeting in the world.

Every day we try to live with a rhythm that meters our moments, and every day I am reminded that that rhythm is dynamic and ever changing.  We’re observing a quiet Lenten season at home— we’ve given up eating out at restaurants for the next forty days, gathering round the table for cornbread and beans, beef stew with pearl couscous, pumpkin, clementines, and star anise. We cook seasonally, we celebrate seasonally, we try to add structure to a life that is in constant, vibrant flux, and I wonder if she’ll feel it in her bones like I do when she’s older— if the change in temperature or quality of light, the change in the texture of an apple or tomato or the saturation of the colors at the market will reference an entire vocabulary of days and hours and moments past and yet to come.

Other things are changing, too.  I’m struggling with late onset post-partum depression, throwing a hazy cast on days that now graciously give us more light.  I cry and worry and struggle and push, and I am lucky to know where to go, how to begin to move forward, how to ask for help.  I am leaving my job, the job for which I uprooted myself from my home state, the job through which I have found out much about myself, the job that led me straight to Mike and our little family.  I’m taking a step away from whom I’ve known myself to be professionally to find out who it is I can be, who I am.

 

We’re making sauerkraut and yogurt this week, finishing off the giant batch of oats and amaranth from last week. I’ll keep sweeping the floor and Mike will keep washing the dishes, and we’ll get dinner on the table and everyone cleaned up and between warm sheets.  We’ll all cuddle and thrash about at some point in the night, and then we’ll wake up to a whole new one, again.

I can’t wait to see who she is tomorrow.

Winnie Grows Up

Winnie is growing up.  She’s growing up and out, around and over, this way and that.  Just as when I was pregnant, and my body changed without my direction, relaxing smooth muscle tissue, realigning my spine, increasing my blood volume, Winnie grows exactly as she should, in precisely the right order and amount, every moment of every day.  She is the world’s foremost expert on my very favorite topic, The Development of Winifred Eleanor.

Nothing is linear.  Once she’s conquered a milestone— sitting up, say, or crawling a few steps or pulling up to standing—  she’ll quietly put it away, never retracing her steps in exactly the same way, only to return to the task days later, having run through every iteration of how to get from point A to point B, and then— and only then— she’s off to the races.image

For weeks now, she’s been able to move by some sort of shapeshifter-y magic, scooting a smidge to the left and then to the right, dropping on her belly and rolling one way and then another, pushing off of her crib or a wrinkle in the rug or some such.  She would get up on her knees and rock and rock and rock and holler out in frustration when something was just out of her reach.  She crawled backwards a few times, crawled two whole steps another, and managed to do what she needed to do when she needed to do it.  We remained certain she was on the cusp of crawling at any moment, not because we thought she was due on the developmental calendar, but because she seemed to be signaling its imminence (and with it, our long overdue need to babyproof.)

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Blurry babe on the move!

For the last few days, she’s been crawling in earnest to anything she needs, and just as soon as she had begun to crawl, she started sitting herself straight up from laying on her belly and from all fours— just like that.  It was all very grand and exciting for Mike and me, but all in a day’s work for Winnie.

Saturday evening we all gathered on the play mat in the nursery to get the wiggles out before finishing up our bedtime routine.  Winnie got her daily gallop around the room on mama’s back (so many giggles!), and Mike situated a basket of toys between the two of us in the hopes of catching more of that magical crawling action.  Winnie did indeed crawl— right up to the basket of toys where she plucked a singular stuffed animal from within, and then over to her bookshelf to pull off a soft owl bookend and a few graphic cards of farm animals.  She carried (dragged/pushed) both of these a few inches away to another basket of toys in the opposite corner of the room from where Mike and I sat.

And this— not the crawling or the sitting up or the amazing vocalizations that she makes every day— is why I feel compelled to note that Winnie is growing up.  Because she grinned a great two and half tooth grin at the both of us before turning her back to us for a good twenty minutes of exploring her toys— rolling a ball back and forth, knocking over her owl and then picking it back up, holding a high-contrast pig high above her head and letting out a squeal, knocking two blocks together again and again.  She was so glad we were there, but she certainly didn’t need us to play— and she felt secure enough in her attachment to us to play and play and play by her very own self, going at her own pace and exploring with her own agency.  Every now and then she would turn and crawl to the bookshelf to pull off another book, taste it, and turn it about in her hands.  She shot us a few looks and giggled with joy when she did, and as my heart swelled to nearly bursting, I realized how very much it has grown in the months since we met this tiny human.

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I’ve always been a person who has lived quite a bit in the past and a fair amount in the future, and nothing has so effectively moved me into the present like our family of three.  Save some late night moments spent poring over sweet photos of our just-born baby, I don’t want Winnie to do anything but grow exactly as she is.  When we lay down to sleep at night (after rocking Winnie alllll the way to sleep— quelle horreur!), I could mourn that we’ll never have another day like it, or hope that tomorrow she’ll knock out a new milestone, unlock some new talent— or I could just be grateful for the fact that time moves at the same speed as it always did and that it always will, regardless of how quickly it might seem when I’m with her and how slowly it might seem when I’m not— just with exponentially more giggles and snuggles and other excellent things ending in -ggles (wiggles? Fraggles? boondoggles?) than before.

Mobilizing

After some fun playtime on the living room floor this evening, we started to wind down for Winnie’s bedtime routine.  When she’s not tired out of her mind, the routine starts around 8 (so that mama can get home and get in a feeding or two before bed!) with a bath, infant massage, Goodnight Moon, and a lullaby.  It’s worked really well for us, with a few bumps during the recent teething spell and that pesky cold we both caught last week.

Winnie absolutely loves her bath.  She splashes, giggles, talks, and plays with her water cup and rattle ball.  She loves it when I pour water over her head, and rarely fusses when it’s time to get out.  We all love bathtime.

Usually, she stays pretty still in the bath— flailing arms and legs, for sure, but keeping, you know, relatively stationary.  Until today, that is.  Five seconds into the bath and Winnie had tossed her arm over the side and hoisted herself up like so (warning: the grout in our bathroom could use some work/a blowtorch):

The picture below is a solid five minutes later— she refused to break her concentration, hell bent on holding herself up.  We gently laid her back against the backrest in her tub a couple of times, but she popped back up instantly.   We let her hang out for a while like that, before I decided she was pulling herself too far forward toward the water for me to realistically avoid a heart attack.   We rinsed her off and headed for the nursery.

Once she was down on the bed, all dry, toasty, and ready for infant massage, she decided she was ready for more.  She likes to pull herself up using my hands as resistance, and she quickly flopped up to sitting, before detaching her hands from mine, and resting like so:

So.  That’s a thing now.  She rolled from here onto her tummy, then onto her back, then onto her side, where she wiggled around, and placed her feet onto my legs to pull herself up to standing.  She’s so strong!  As long as I keep my hands around her waist for balance, she can bear all of her weight on her legs for what seems like an eternity.

Oh, knuckle dimples.  Swoon.

It was four months and three days ago today, little Winnie taught your mom and dad to play

Dearest Babe!  Mama owes you so many words upon words upon words.  Words about the incredible changes you’ve made in the past weeks, words about your baptism, words about Mama going back to work and the dull ache of being away from you for so many hours at a time.  Those words tumble ‘round in my brain all day and night long, and I will try my hardest to get those down somewhere so that you and I might share in them someday.

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A baptism gown handmade by the grandmother of dear friend Carolyn— and Winnie showin’ off that cutie bootie

For now, though, we’ll talk today.  Right now your papa is playing “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” on the guitar for you while he bounces your bouncy chair in time with his foot, and you, my dear, are LOVING it.  You are kicking madly, flapping your arms, and cooing/shrieking with aplomb.

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You and I are battling a nasty cold, one that has left us both napping and snorting and, if we’re to be honest, whining for a good bit of the day.  We managed to get ourselves together, though, and head out to your four month appointment today with your BFF pediatric nurse practitioner, Bridie.  You love a good metric, dear one, so without further ado, here are your stats!

WINIFRED ELEANOR GUINN ANDERSON BEANIBOO @ 4 months, 3 days:

14lbs, 14 oz of glorious baby snuggles

27.2 inches from head to toe (still greater than 99th percentile, LONGEST BABY IN THE WOOOOORLD!)

and a 17 inch head to hold your giant brain

You are long and lean and oh so perfect.  You have one tooth peeking through with another nearly out, and that just slays your dear old mom, because you’ll never again be a baby without teeth!  You are rolling and rolling and rolling some more, putting anything and everything within reach into your mouth, and seeing just how loud you can get that voice of yours to go.  You babble in paragraphs, full of all kinds of insight and enthusiasm for this whole big wide world you’re set on figuring out.  You’re strong enough to hold yourself up sitting in a tripod position, but you refuse to do so because you would rather scootch those stationary arms forward and explore the world around you a bit more, an instinct I hope I can encourage for all of your days, sweet one.

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You are so good at hugs and snuggles, wrapping your arms around me and your papa, especially when you’re careening towards bedtime.

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You’ve started holding the cup we use to douse you during your bath, and you surprised all three of us when you decided to take a big gulp of bathwater straight from the cup last week!  You do so much, sweet babe, and you never tire for a second of learning or growing.  We have so very much to learn from you— your sincerity, your joy, your inquisitive spirit, your sense of self, and so much more.

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We love you so much, Winifred Eleanor.  xoxoxo.

Two Months

Winnie had her two month checkup this week, and is once again officially adorable.  I think they also checked some other things, but her cuteness is definitely off the charts.

The Stats:

  • 12 pounds, 3 ounces
  • 24.9 inches long
  • 100% terrific

Winnie is apparently in the 100th percentile in height, which I don’t believe is an actual percentile, so we’ve taken to calling her (in booming tones) THE TALLEST BABY IN THE WOOOOOORLD!  A slight exaggeration, to be sure, but still pretty darned long.

Stuff she’s doin’:

  • Holding her head up (except when she doesn’t really want to, like when she’s found a really sweet spot to hang her head back and stare at trees)
  • Experimenting with all volumes and tones of coos, shrieks, and chirps.  She’ll sometimes intone her coos like they’re sentences, which is kind of my favorite thing in the world right now.
  • Pushing up on her arms while on her belly/holding herself up when placed
  • Tracking objects from left to right and up and down
  • Rolling from belly to back (also known as, “Oh, if I tip my head to one side, I can totally roll out of this tummy time position.  Better luck next time, ma!”)
  • Exploring her hands like they contain the secrets of the world, which they do
  • Reaching for neat stuff, like mom, dad, and the fox on the wall
  • Grasping fingers, clothing, and small objects with purpose
  • Pushing herself forward with her feet during tummy time which I’m going to hope doesn’t imply she’s going anywhere anytime soon (she’s not)
  • Smiling, giggling, and gurgling
  • Launching her pacifier out of her mouth and then banishing it to the far corners of her crib with a swift sweep of her arm
  • Blowing raspberries
  • Drooling, to make aforementioned raspberries more awesome
  • Wiggling and waggling that tongue
  • Kicking like she’s training for the Rockettes
  • Loving her previously loathed/barely tolerated bathtime
  • Laughing at my jokes and generally making me feel like a pretty stellar human

What a growing, changing, babying baby that one is!

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