Mason is something else, I tell you.  I can’t believe the difference between 2 years and 2 1/2 years.  These last six months have been wild with lots of changes, primarily with the introduction of Owen who was born a short 3 weeeks after Mason’s second birthday. 

I remember the emotions I had when I found out I was pregnant with Owen were mixed ones.  I was thrilled to be having another child for Mason to grow up with, but I was also scared and sad that Mason would have to share me with something else.  From the first time I laid eyes on Mason he has been my sunshine; how in the world was I going to manage to keep up that love and devotion with another baby, and how in the world could I love another child as much as I do Mason?

Over the course of the 9 month pregnancy, I made the most of every minute, fearing he would feel rejected when the new one arrived.  I contemplated not nursing Owen just to be able to have more time with Mason.  For Mason, the transition to big brotherhood wasn’t easy.  I remember when he came to visit me and Owen in the hospital, he didn’t really want to get to close and Josh had to put him on the bed with me.  I was certain this was going to be our reality for the next 18 years.  I felt rejected and conflicted. 

As the first month of Owen’s life sped by, Mason would pull on me for attention or to play right when Owen would need to eat, it would seem.  Half of my postpartum tears were guilt from not giving Mason all the time I once had for him.  However, it slowly started improving.  Owen started to show his personality through his smiles and kicks of excitement.  Mason picked up on that right away.  What seemed like an eternity for me emotionally was a flip-of-the-switch for Mason.

Now Mason and Owen are in love with one another.  No one can make Owen smile like Mason and Mason is extremely protective of his Owen.  I explain the joy I feel from seeing them play together, even though it is limited with Owen only being 5 months old today.  These two boys are perfect!

Mason is still my silly, smart, and adorable boy.  He is spontaneous and surprises me with his wit.  His imagination in full operation and I love playing Thomas the Train with him as we scoot our trains to the imaginary Steamworks under our dining room table.  Every flower he sees, dandelions and all, he goes over to smell them and tells them they are “So beautiful”!  Every puddle must be splashed, every rock is his pirate treasure, and every worm tickles his hands.  He continues to be my sunshine, it just so happens he shines on us all and I don’t mind sharing.

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No not that club….

So yesterday I traveled to Germany…and you may remember I am still nursing Mason.  Well that was something to try to figure out.  I had a pretty good feeling that at some point I would be pumping in the bathroom either at the airport or in the plane.  Hit that one on the head.  I wasn’t too disturbed by it because I am not saving any of this milk *GAH*, so he wouldn’t be drinking potty milk, yuck!

While waiting for our flight to Germany, I checked out the bathroom at the airport and there were NO electric sockets, phooey.  I have a battery pack to use but I didn’t want to waste them.  I decided I nursed Mason in the airport back in February, so I should be able to pump.  I had my nursing cover so no one would see what was up underneath .  So I did!  I went to the back of a gate that wasn’t being used and got my pump on.  Of course after I set everything up and was pumping along, a freaking herd of people decided to come over and see all the art on the walls.  I sat there and kept going on.  That was that and I got the job done.

On the flight I was more nervous, what the hell am I going to do?  It was so dark at the time when I need to pump I almost just did it at my seat.  It wasn’t like they could kick me off the plane.  I asked my flight attendant and she said I had to go to the bathroom….so I did!

It wasn’t all that bad, other than having to sit on the toilet for 25 minutes.  I did put the lid down, could you image??  I planned it so I only needed to pump once on the plane.  I am happy about that. 

We arrived safely in Germany and I made it to our quarters and found they had 110 volt plugs in our rooms.  GLORY!!!!  So I pumped twice using the 110 and thought I was free and clear from using my battery pack.  WRONG!  After the second pumping session, the plug won’t work!!!!  Curses!  I don’t know if the pump plug burned out or what, all I know is it won’t work.  Luckily the pump works with the battery pack.  I would be in the hurt locker if I burned out the pump, Mastitis anyone?

Enough with the boob and pump talk, I survived the trip and first night.  If there is a will there is a way!  17 more days!

Since coming back to work on the 28th of December 2009 I have known this week was coming…back story…At work I am an instructor for military members on (basically) how to plan.  I love this part of my job.  It reminds me of my teaching days (which seem like EONS ago) and I learn so much each time.  This will be my 14th time teaching the class, however this time is different.  We are going to Germany to teach this class….

I never in my wildest dreams ever thought I would say this, but I do not want to travel with my job right now.  In the past I LOVED traveling and getting on the road.  I got to see new places, eat new foods, blah blah blah, it was great.  However this trip is for 20 days!!!  I am already teary-eyed at night snuggling Mason, before he goes to bed, just thinking that I will miss 20 nights of his life.  GAH! 

I try to put this trip in perspective and realize our military members must pack up and leave their children all-the-time.  Understanding how they feel, makes me appreciate them even more.  Guys at work tell me stories about how they missed the first 8 months of their child’s life.  That makes my heart-break.  I am not ready to leave Mason. 

The last time I was in Germany I was 5 months pregnant with him, feeling his first flutters in my womb.  I still remember those feelings.  He moved for the first time during a planning session….like what we are going to be teaching how to do…which made me smile thinking maybe Mason likes planning as much as momma does….GEEEEEEEKK!  It is now so much different knowing he will be at home in the wonderful care of his Daddy (who really is the greatest) and all will be well, but…what if he forgets me, won’t nurse when I get back,  takes his first steps, says his real first word, gets sick, a boo-boo…the list goes on-and-on.  I don’t want to feel like this at all, I don’t want to go!

A funny side story…knowing this trip is coming up, I have stockpiled breast milk in the kegerator/freezer out back.  The freezer is FULL!  This past saturday I went out to put my latest deposit in the milk-bank and noticed the engine on the frig wasn’t working.  I checked all the milk – all still frozen and screamed “JOSH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  THE FREEZER ISN’T WORKING, SAVE THE MILK!!!!!!”  I had a ton of food I made for him as well, but that didn’t rank as high as the milk.  Oh my goodness, once I shot up that red-star-cluster for help, Josh hopped into action and we did indeed save the gallons of milk, but goodness it took me a while to calm down after that.  It is hard work to pump all that, AND I want him to have a little bit of me (is that weird???) while I am gone!

At the end of the week I will be on a plane headed to the fatherland without my family.  Even though it will be with a great group of guys….I can’t wait for it to start so I can just get it over with.

So I have had a lot of questions about how and what I am feeding Mason.  He is a good size baby, but not huge.  So deliciously cute by the way. 

From First Flight and Oklahoma

From my earlier post you can deduce that he was a breastfed baby for the first month of his life.  Once my back blew out in a bad way, I had to revert to formula…my god that was heartbreaking.  I felt like there was an enormous amount of pressure to breastfeed this baby.  I kept hearing “breast is best” and felt like I was a failure while my mom and Josh made him bottles of Enfamil.  Other than being able to walk again, my primary concern was my ability to nurse him again.  I remember praying to God for just one more nursing session before he was too old.  Without letting him latch I would hold him to me close from time-to-time to see if he would root and open his mouth.  We would do that a lot, coupled with pumping and dumping my milk *SAD FACE*, as much as I could bear.  I can’t begin to describe how bad the pain of a rupture disc got.

After all that mess, and Nov 20, 2009 rolled around we tried our first nursing time since the blow-out.  He immediately latched and all was fabulous in our lives again.  I couldn’t carry him around due to post-surgery recovery limitations, however, mom and Josh would gladly bring him to me when it was time to eat.  We made it through the holidays nursing, occasionally supplementing with one formula bottle.  My supply dropped significantly during the back escapade.  The next step was to start pumping again, but no throwing away the milk…it was time to stock up!

When I started back to work, my pump could barely pull 5 ounces out of me a day.  I would pump religiously 3 times at work, for 20 minutes each.  I was so frustrated and heartbroken, I felt like I was back to not nursing and giving him what he needed.  Josh took paternity leave when I went back to work and he would feed Mason my pathetic amount of breast milk with the formula.  I felt defeated. 

One weekend we went over to a couple’s house – who just had twins.  Their twin girls didn’t have a great latch so the hospital recommended renting a pump.  They did and she was pumping like 70 ounces a day!!!!!  Holy Milk Cow Batman!  This just added to my defeated feelings.  So I talked to Josh about perchance renting a hospital grade pump.  He was all for it, especially if it increased my supply and cut back on the formula use.  So we took the plunge, rented the Medela Symphony pump.  Our lives changed…not over night, but slow and sure.  The new pump was a bit bigger and it meant hauling a more conspicuous machine to work everyday, but at that point I didn’t care.  I am still doing it today….Mason will be 6 months old in less than three weeks. 

I am pumping ALL he needs for the next day and more now.  I come home each day feeling great about what I am giving him, regardless of the lack of skin-to-skin contact with him each day.  I send him to his WONDERFUL sitter’s house with just breast milk bottles and I feel like I am finally succeeding. 

I feel like there are unspoken competitions between Moms.  Usually around feeding, sleeping and size milestones.  I try really hard not to compare Mason to the other women’s children at work.  It is difficult.  I love him so much I could make him his own fan page on Facebook and I believe he should have a million fans…however, I come back down to Earth understanding that 99.99% of other Moms feel the same way about their baby.  Right now I am just happy to be where I am with the pumping – I wish I could be at home holding him, allowing him to nurse, but this is the next best thing when I can’t be there, and that feels great.