Monday, July 25, 2011


My life has taken me plenty of crazy places I never expected- living in Germany, eating vegan for several years, working at a trendy denim boutique in central New York and later for a Jewish non-profit agency.  Now I have another activity to add to that list- nursing while pregnant.  

It was something I had never even considered until close to the end of my pregnancy with Tye, when I was reading our birth class instructor's resume online. There, she listed tandem nursing among her experiences.  Clueless, I Googled the term and found this Wikipedia site, which explained that tandem nursing is "feeding two children at the same time who are not twins or multiples." (By the way, when I searched the term today, many non-Wikipedia sites came up before the Wikipedia site did.  Is it possible the term has become more common in the past two years?)  

I hadn't even known tandem nursing or nursing through pregnancy were possible.  I certainly didn't see myself tandem nursing in the future.  I was still unsure what my own breastfeeding relationship would look like with Tye.  Like so many aspects of parenting, I was leaving it up to what felt right in the moment, hoping I would follow my instincts and make the best choice for Baby Girl.  

So here we are, two years later.  Tye is still nursing, which feels right to me.  On a normal day, Tye nurses upon waking, before nap, and before bed, and usually one to two super-short sips at night.   Now, when Tye is hurt or upset, she usually copes with her emotions without nursing, though nursing is still the best way to calm her when she's overwhelmed by a new situation (brave little Tye, though, is far more likely to overwhelm others than become overwhelmed herself!).  When Tye sees me changing, she'll point to my breasts and mumble something about na nas (our nursing code word) while she shakes her head "no" and giggles, as if she's saying "I don't need to have those any more."  If Tye does ask for na nas during the day, it's more likely a sign that other needs aren't being met- she's hungry or thirsty, or needs some cuddle time.  

Before I became pregnant again, I read a fabulous book titled Adventures in Tandem Nursing: Breastfeeding During Pregnancy and Beyond by Hillary Flower.  It's full of relevant science, cultural studies, and best of all, personal experiences from hundreds of women who have tried tandem nursing (not all successfully- an aspect I especially appreciated).  I decided when the time came, I would listen to my body rather than weaning Tye automatically.  

That time came a little sooner than I really expected (I unknowingly finished the book after this little one was conceived), and I was grateful for my timely preparation.  The first few weeks of nursing Tye were barely different for me, and didn't seem to be any different for her.  Then I went through about two weeks when I seemed to have more milk than before, followed by a sharp decline in supply (what a tease!).  Tye began to switch sides during nursing more quickly and more often.  During my second month of pregnancy, I began to feel really uncomfortable with Tye nursing for a long period of time- for example, if she nursed longer than 30-45 minutes before falling asleep, a rare occurrence but a possibility.  I began keeping Tye's water next to our bed so I could offer her a drink in the middle of the night, which has been a lifesaver.  Instead of nursing to quench her thirst, now she wakes and asks or reaches for water when she wakes at night (that made me wonder how much of Tye's nighttime comfort nursing in the past was actually for thirst!).

So far, nursing during pregnancy has been easy and felt instinctively right.  I wouldn't have chosen to wean Tye at this age if I wasn't pregnant, and breastfeeding is going well for us, even if it does look a little different.  I'm consciously listening to my body, and I expect things to change, especially as my colostrum comes in when I'm further along.  With my history of early contractions, the thought of contractions during nursing has crossed my mind, but I've decided to deal with challenges when/if we get there.  I'll continue to listen to my body and follow my parenting instincts, whether it leads to weaning or tandem nursing down the road.  One lesson I've learned well through my unpredictable life is that it's not worth stressing over hypothetical situations.  I rarely end up where I thought I would be anyway.  

Thursday, July 21, 2011

"Flower" by Tye

Tye created her first unapproved masterpiece- on our front door.  Can you just barely see it there in blue crayon?

It's nothing a Mr.Clean Magic Eraser won't take care of easily, but I've left it up for almost a week.  It certainly doesn't make the door less attractive, and once or twice a day, Tye will walk up to her creation and point to it, saying "Flower!" before she leans over and smells her drawing.  Apparently, this is Tye's rendition of a flower.
Flower by Tye
Crayon on painted door
Private Collection

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Staying Cool

In case you're one of the 5% of Americans not frying in the scorching heat wave right now (or not American), let me just tell you- it is HOT in the Midwest.   Chicago reached 99 degrees today with a heat index closer to 110.  I've dealt with really hot temperatures before- the summer I lived in Spain, temps averaged closer to 120.  But that was in desert conditions with chilly evenings, buildings designed to stay cool during the hot day, and a siesta during the hottest hours.  

I'm the kind of person who doesn't normally mind the heat- in fact, I seek it out.  I love the sun and feeling my entire body heated through.  I don't even mind sweating in Chicago's humidity.  I like the heat so much that it gives me waves feel-good goosebumps, whether I'm in a hot shower or the sweltering sun.  Even this summer, when the heat is more likely to bring on nausea, I still love to be outside in the heat.  

Despite yesterday's high thermometer readings, we met friends at Millennium Park, famous for its big silver bean art and face fountains.  The Chicago Park District has a huge circus tent full of free children's activities every day during the summer, including a sing-a-long hour each morning.  After checking that out, we cooled off in the fountains.  
Tye loved the splash pool of about two inches of water between the fountains.  For her, it was like running through the world's biggest puddle over and over again.  When she realized she was allowed to lay down in it, too, I thought we'd never leave.

Tye also braved the fountains' waterfalls, running through the "rain," as she called it.  

The fountains provided a beautiful escape from the midday heat, even if its effects were long gone by the time we took the L home.  After an exciting morning playing in the world's biggest puddle complete with a round trip train ride, Tye had reached her limit.  So we followed our Spanish sensibilities and took a nice, long siesta.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Welcome, 2nd Trimester!

Today marks the first day of my second trimester!  We celebrated with a lunch of fried zucchini blossoms stuffed with goat milk muenster cheese, both fresh from the farmer's market, before watching the US in the Women's World Cup Final game.  On Friday, I saw the midwife and we heard the baby's heartbeat again.  Because we've chosen to decline any screenings for birth defects, our visits are short and sweet- a good thing since Tye sits in a chair in the room with me the whole time.  

We've begun talking to Tye about the baby, and she now points to my belly when we ask her where the baby is (as opposed to pointing to her own belly, as she did initially).  Tye loves to straddle my lap facing me, lift my shirt, and kiss the baby.  I'm looking forward to her being able to feel the baby kick, which should happen relatively soon.  If it's like my first pregnancy, we only have a few weeks to wait.  While I can already feel little fluttering movements occasionally, I'm also looking forward to feeling more regular kicks as little reassurances that everything is okay.  

This first trimester has been a difficult one for me to practice appreciating every day.  It's just too easy for me to look forward to feeling better, feeling the baby, and even physically looking pregnant rather than just chubby.  As I enter this second trimester, I'm working to concentrate on being grateful for what I have each day.  I'm still small enough to avoid most aches and pains that will come later, I feel far better than I did earlier, I'm still able to nurse Tye, and I've had no complications so far.  Today is absolutely a day to celebrate.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

To Tye, at 20 months

Dear Tye,

Happy 20 months!  We got together with some of your friends and their moms the other day, and everyone agreed you had grown over the weekend.  Perhaps you knew you were coming up on a big milestone and felt the need to rise to the occasion.  Though for me, recognizing your growth often requires changes like loosening your seatbelt straps or realizing you've outgrown another pair of shoes (both of which happened this week), I still have plenty of moments when I just stand in awe of you and how big you've become.  The other day, I had one of those moments in front of the bathroom mirror when I glimpsed at how long your body is now in comparison to mine.  Do you realize that you're almost 5 times your birth weight now?  

Last night, your Uncle Mark and I took you to the playground nearby.  You ran all over, your legs moving incredibly quickly as your body rotated side to side with each stride.  Though the swings may still be your favorite attraction at the playground, you now spend most of your time on climbing equipment, honing your skills.  I trust you with familiar equipment enough that I can sit and watch you from a little distance, giving you freedom to explore.  Tonight at the playground, two police officers stood chatting near the entrance to the park for a few minutes.  You continued to run around and be your normal jovial self, skipping from one place to another, chattering to yourself and giggling with each new activity.  As the officers left, one nodded to you and said, "Thank you.  I needed to fill up on some nice."  

That's just how you are, Tye.  You fill peoples' days with nice.  Whether we're at the grocery store or just walking Mico, your bright smile and cheerful "Hi!" coax happy responses from everyone we meet.  I appreciate the reminder that even the grimmest-looking passerby may just be waiting for a reason to smile, and that anyone can make another person's morning- even their day- with just a smile and a greeting.  Most of all, I'm forever grateful to have your cheer injected into my day.  I'm amazed by how a ten minute gigglefest with you can change my perspective on things.  Seriously, who knew tickling you could make laundry piles appear smaller and responsibilities seem less daunting?  

You amaze me, Tye.  You keep me running, guessing, learning, and wondering.  I'm so grateful to be on this journey with you.  I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you.


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Go Sox!

Tye is loving summer and all the new activities it brings.  Recently, Tyler, Tye and I went on a family trip to Wrigley Field to see the White Sox beat the Cubs in a crosstown rivalry game.  We had comfortable, if not perfect, weather and great seats- front row of the upper deck, just past first base.  The fence was high enough that I wasn't worried about Tye's safety, Tye had room to move around in front of us, and we all had a great view of the game.  Tye wore her White Sox Tshirt and we were supposedly shown on TV several times throughout the game.  

Tye saying "Cheese!"
It's one, two, three strikes you're out...
For Tyler and me, the game was a special moment to cherish our family of three and our time with Tye as an only child.  For Tye, it was a special day because it involved a huge box of popcorn and soft pretzels with cheese sauce and mustard- the girl was in Heaven.  It was a day we all loved.

Monday, July 11, 2011

We've been growing!

Hi everyone!  First of all, thank you so very much for all the kind words and wishes regarding this new pregnancy.  Reading those comments was like receiving a line of hugs.  Thank you!  We're still here, and I'm finally starting to feel a bit better.  My constant 24/7 nausea has eased to morning and evening nausea, giving me a good portion of the day to accomplish things and eat as much as I can.  Sunday marks the first day of my second trimester- I can't believe how quickly the time is flying!  Our baby, who is about the size of a large lemon, now has fingerprints and reflexes and is peeing to create amniotic fluid (which made Tyler proud to hear).  I think I've even felt baby moving a few times, though it's hard to know for sure.

Tye is continuing to develop, too.  She just started creating two word phrases by adding "go" to words.  I'm amazed by the variety of meanings she can communicate by simply adding one word to the rest of her vocabulary- "Choo choo go?" is "Where did my choo choo go?" while "Mommy go" means "Mommy is leaving," while "Nigh nigh go" means "I want to go night night." While I've had to put some effort into maintaining a positive attitude while I've felt so sick, the reward of observing Tye continuing to grow has been well worthwhile.  Just to show how much she's grown, here are some photos from our Fourth of July celebration.


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