Life, Unedited. Take Two.

Recently, we had THE conversation. Yeah, you know, the one. Are we having anymore kids? Are we stopping at two? In an ideal world, we would have more. Ok, I would have more. Especially when I have a freshie in my arms, cuddling him, sound asleep and me inhaling the newborn scent the top of his head like it’s crack. Some of my friends would roll their eyes, or if they know me better, smack me over the head for saying this: birthing was the easy part for me. My birth experiences with both were amazing(ly fast) and both were delivered naturally without medication or intervention. The day Elliotte was born, we never made it to the hospital and our midwife was late. So many things could have gone wrong delivering your own baby but everything went as smoothly as an unplanned home birth could go and we truly thank God for that. With Janie, we had the most amazing midwives. We made it to the hospital and I had an unintended water birth, which in my opinion, was the best birthing experience I could ever ask for.

The hard part is everything else. First hurdle came the nursing. It did not come naturally for me. There was cracking, bleeding, pain, poor latch, lots of swearing, a hungry baby that lost a lot of weight, the pressure of wanting this romanticized, breast-feed only goal, other mothers (of multiple generations) giving different advice, and a father-in-law family doctor who insisted I should just give in and supplement. When Elliotte dropped down to a mere five pounds, I freaked. That’s when I hired a lactation consultant and worked with her until I phased out supplementing and got Elliotte entirely on my breast milk. Whether it was the traditional Chinese diet of papaya-fish soup, fenugreek pills, domperidone medication, or pumping multiple times a day with a hospital industrial pump that did the trick, I would never know, but it worked. I nursed her till she was 18 months and the only reason I stopped was because nursing affected my hormones enough to make getting pregnant again a challenge. Nursing the second time around with Janie was a breeze. Experience helped. I was not stressed or anxious and I LOVED nursing my baby. Even the blisters and mastitis didn’t phase me. I was determined to enjoy it thoroughly this time around, now that I know what I’m doing and my baby is fattening up into a chunky monkey based on my own milk production. My romanticized idea of nursing is now realized.

Nursing my first baby.

Early nursing challenges with Elliotte.

Second came figuring out the logistics of daily life with kids. I’m just now starting to feel that I’ve hit a stride with their activities and play dates, making sure they are well balanced with family quality time. The biggest hurdle for me is parenting. It makes all the other stuff seem so, well, trivial. This is where I stumble, often, and fall hard on my face some days. But it’s also what has driven me to look for different ways to approach challenging moments. As much as the threat of reporting bad behaviour to the Police Chief (who happens to know Santa and the Easter bunny) has worked like a charm for Nana, or the heavy reward system for my mother, I need to find ways that have longevity and build a strong foundation through these early years. I think we are starting to make progress on that front.

So here we are, a family of four (five, including our lovable schnoodle Kona), feeling pretty darn blessed with two healthy girls that we are working hard to raise to be kind, passionate, strong, independent, well-attached children. And this is where we will stay, at a nice number of four.

Family of five.

Family of four (five).

A few weeks ago Janie turned 18 months old. Goodbye to infancy, hello to toddlerhood. This milestone came with very marked changes. She says “no” to everything, has slowed down and become a pickier eater, has mastered few word sentences, and asserting her will back on her family members. She’s no wallflower and we are sure she won’t be trailing in her sister’s shadow. There are so many things about her sweet, easy, happy nature that make me miss her infant stage but the one thing that really got me choked up is her refusal to nurse anymore. I remember the day and had a feeling that she was going to stop before I was ready to wean. I felt so strongly that this would end soon so I took a photograph of that moment, where she laid in my lap, holding on to my fingers, her big brown eyes looking up at me and nursing away. I smiled and she grinned back, baby teeth showing. And then that was that. She sat up and refused any future offers to nurse, and to me, a chance to cuddle my toddler in that infant way where she snuggles into your body with all the love and security that moment embodies. If anything would make me want to have another baby, it would be to relive those moments again. Guess I’ll have to get my cuddles in other ways :).

Last of these moments.

Saying goodbye to my infant.

Now please click over to my dear friend, Catherine McAteer, and read her excerpt of Getting Real.

  • Jessica said:

    This is just beautiful, Felicia. Thank you for sharing your personal story. I remember saying goodbye to those infant days, and nursing too. Love that last shot.

  • Catherine said:

    Such a heartfelt post this month and so much rings true for me (although I'm ready to be done with nursing and Margot has different ideas about that).

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  • Maria said:

    Felicia, you have such a beautiful family and this post was so sweet.

  • wendy said:

    sniff sniff!
    that special breastfeeding cuddle is unmatchable. So great that you captured it forever in this photo!!

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