Friday, August 30, 2013

Why We Homeschool

We homeschool our children because it is the best choice for our family right now.

Homeschooling is not for everyone. There are a lot of parents who should not homeschool their children, and there are a lot of kids that do very well public schools. This is our choice and we are grateful to have the freedom to make it. My choice for my family is not an automatic judgement of everyone else who makes a different choice.

The End

Lady Bug is One Month Old!

Isn't she pretty? :)
I've always wanted to take month by month pictures of my babies, but I was always too tired, busy, or forgot. But I spent a lot of time on Pinterest when I was pregnant and on bed rest and I was inspired by several ideas, so I'm going to try to get it done this time around since Lady Bug is going to be my last baby.

One idea was to take a picture every month of the baby wearing a size 9 months sleeper to show them growing into it and then out of it over the year. The 9 month size sleeper is much to big for Lady Bug; it's hard to imagine her being big enough to fit it!

Another picture idea was to take a picture of the baby next to a stuffed animal for scale and to show growth over the year. I wanted to get her a special stuffed animal just for her, but the Walmart down the street doesn't sell just stuffed animals and I couldn't get out to any other stores in time. So I went with a sweet teddy bear that my brother gave my kids when Early Bird was born.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Reese's Peanut Butter Cups Cake

*WARNING! This is NOT an allergy free, gluten free, paleo, vegan, organic, or diet friendly cake!*

I clipped this recipe out of a magazine many years ago so I can not properly cite my source. But this is Principal Daddy's FAVORITE cake ever since I made it the first time and I've made it for his birthday ever since. This year the boys helped make it and I thought I'd share the recipe. (Text in blue are my changes.)

Makes: 16 servings
Prep: 15 minutes
Bake: at 350* for 34 minutes
Refrigerate: 1 hour 

1 box (18.25 oz) devil's food cake mix
3 eggs
1 C buttermilk (or 1 C milk and 1 T lemon juice,  let sit for 5 minutes)
1/2 C vegetable oil
2 C chopped peanut butter cups (about 8 oz,) 
       plus more to garnish 
8 oz dark chocolate, chopped (or chocolate chips)
1 C heavy cream
1/2 C creamy peanut butter 

  1. The first step should actually be to peel and chop the candy. Use child labor; my 4 year old actually did really well, and it's great fine motor practice! Put the peanut butter cups in the refrigerator overnight so that they are cold when you're peeling off the wrappers and cutting them. This makes them much firmer for cutting and makes less of a mess when unwrapping.
  2. Heat oven to 350*. Coat two 9 in round cake pans with nonstick cooking spray. Line with waxed paper; coat paper. (It works fine for me when I just butter and flour the pans. With the waxed paper, the first time I made this cake it ended up with a very strangely shaped cake.)
  3. In a large bowl, beat cake mix, eggs, buttermilk, and vegetable oil on low for 30 seconds. Increase speed to medium-high; beat for 2 minutes, scraping down side of the bowl after 1 minute. Fold in 2 cups of the chopped peanut butter cups.
  4. Divide batter between prepared pans. (It won't look like much batter, but it puffs up when baked. Make sure you spread the batter to the edges as it won't do it on it's own; ask me how I know.) Bake at 350* for about 34 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let layers cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Turn out cakes onto wire racks and cool completely.
  5. Place chopped dark chocolate in a medium-sized bowl. Bring cream just to a boil and pour over chocolate. Whisk until chocolate melts. Add peanut butter and whisk until smooth.
  6. Trim top of cake layers with a serrated knife. Put 1 cake layer on cooling rack and place on a baking sheet. Pour 1 cup cake layer on cooling rack and place on a baking sheet. Pour 1 cup frosting on top; spread evenly with a spatula. Top with remaining cake layer. Pour remaining frosting over the top, allowing it to spill over the sides. Smooth top and sides with spatula. Refrigerate 1 hour to set. Transfer cake to serving plate and garnish with chopped candy, if desired. 
Per serving: 470 calories; 30 g fat (11 g sat.); 8 g protein; 44 g carbohydrate; 2 g fiber; 365 mg sodium; 62 mg cholesterol. 

Organic Stand Mixer (I grew him myself!)
Organic Mixer Cleaner

Workbook Review: Follow the Directions & Draw It All by Yourself!

Last month I got paid another $11 from my Amazon affiliate links (thank you, everyone who purchased something on after clicking on one of my links!) Scholastic recently had another sale so I spent $10 on 10 ebook versions of their workbooks to enhance or add a different dimension to our school year. One workbook that we've already started is Follow the Directions & Draw It All by Yourself! I come from a family of artists (my great grandfather was a commercial artist, my great grand mother was an amazing painter, and my oldest brother is very talented.) I, however, did not get the accurate drawing gene. Despite an art class in middle school, I'm pretty terrible at it. It is not something I can teach my kids to do on my own, so I was very happy when I saw this workbook.

What I liked best about the idea of this workbook was of the kids following the directions on their own. There is no reading involved; rather they have to use inference to determine from the example pictures what need to be added with each step. There are teacher instructions that can be given verbally, as well as expansion activity ideas for each picture. I'm not using those. What I have been doing for a week now is to print out a copy for each boy and put it on the table for them to find in the morning. Then, when they come down and get themselves breakfast they also have this activity that they have to figure out on their own. It started out with simple apples and balloons and has progressed to a ladybug today and will get more and more complex as they progress through the 25 pictures.

Builder Boy's ladybug on the left, Early Bird's on the right.
Builder Boy has done quiet well and Early Bird is trying his best with some pretty good results sometimes.

When we are finished with this book I am going to start them on another following directions workbook that I got at the same time; that workbook contains written instructions, so it will be interesting to see how it turns out.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Slow and Steady: Week 2

This week was perfect to start on Age 0, Week 2 in Slow and Steady Get Me Ready. (Here's a link to Slow and Steady on Google Books for a preview of some of the activities.) This week is about interacting with light with your baby, giving them an awareness, and seeing if they move to look towards light. Before now Lady Bug avoided light and closed her eyes every time we turned a light on when it was dark in a room. But this week, since she's been more awake at times, she has started looking towards the bedroom window with light coming through while on my bed. I haven't used a flashlight in a darkened room yet as when our rooms are dark, she's usually (hopefully) asleep.

We are also continuing the movement activities from Week 1, as well as my own "Mommy Has, Baby Has" activity mentioned in that blog post. This week she rewarded our efforts to teach her to reach out and touch us by reaching out and touching Builder Boy! (I think she likes him better than she like me.) It was really sweet and whenever he is in her sight range she moves her head to look at him. They certainly have a special connection, which is beautiful to watch. Today she reached out and touched me, too, on the face, so I don't feel so left out.

We are also trying to make sure she has a few minutes of Tummy Time every day or so. Yesterday she pushed up and rolled over to her back, but I'm not counting that as "official" yet.

Slow and Steady at the end of Week 2 also reminds parents to introduce their babies to music, through humming, singing, or playing music. The Well Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer recommends singing the ABC song every time you change their diaper, just to be in the habit of it. For those who don't like to sing often, I have a playlist on Youtube of my favorite Piano Guys music for babies. Lady Bug seems to like them, and the boys love watching the videos, too. In fact, the video with the open piano had Builder Boy asking how many stings are in a piano (it varies by the type, but there are many more than I thought, according to this Piano FAQ site.) It inspired us to get out our Story of the Orchestra book.
This blog post contains some Amazon affiliate links and some non-affiliated links. The link for the Well Trained Mind is to the author's publishing company's page. The picture here is to the listing. Pictures of products are also Amazon links.

I don't get paid for reviews; all opinions are my own.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Lady Bug in Doll Clothes

I realized two weeks ago that Lady Bug was probably small enough to fit in my American Girl Doll's clothes, but she wasn't awake for long enough to try. Today she's been awake a lot, so I tried and they still fit! Here she is dressed in Josephina's first outfit. It will be fun someday when she's old enough to play with the doll to tell her that she was once so small that she fit in those very doll clothes.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Slow and Steady: Week 1

I purchased Slow and Steady Get Me Ready by June Oberlander sometime when Builder Boy was around two years old. It is a really cool concept, with an activity to teach your child something using (ideally, but not always) household items. There is an activity for every week of life starting at birth and going to the child's 5th birthday. I never did every week's activity with Builder Boy, but rather picked out what activities I liked, and used it to give me a good idea of what was developmentally appropriate. When Early Bird was born, there were so many things going on with him being in the NICU, and then just dealing with being home with an undersized newborn and a two year old that the book got forgotten about. But I always loved the idea of it, and I've got one last baby here, so I'm going to try to go through the book's activities week by week with Lady Bug.

This is the week that Lady Bug was supposed to be born. That puts her gestationally at 0 instead of negative numbers. I guess I had forgotten from when Early Bird was a preemie, but the nurses told us that preemies need 22 hours of sleep a day. Which means if she's not eating, she's usually asleep. I have to admit, it makes her pretty easy to take care of most of the time. Aside from the fact that her tummy is so small that she was hungry every 2.5 hours in the beginning (including the night time.) I am not sure when her waking time is going to be extended, but this past week she's had 30 minute times of being awake once a day, so now seemed like the perfect time to start.

Builder Boy and Early Bird have been so looking forward to teaching their baby sister how to do things. Early Bird started singing the ABC song to her when she was still inside me. Now that she's out he's been demonstrating things to her like finger spelling signs and how to sit down and stand up, not realizing that she can't see that far away from her. He's convinced every time she makes a fist that she's signing "a." So I decided to get the boys involved and let them "teach" the book with me.

Age 0, Week 1 is just about observing your baby's movements and helping them come to awareness about both sides of their bodies. The boys tried to get her to grasp their fingers (something they've been all about since they met her.) Then, with my guidance and supervision, they took turns bringing her hands together, and then stretching out one arm or leg at a time. We will do this for 5 minutes a day for this week.

I have also been spending some time with my face close to hers and moving her hands to reach out and touch my face. I also do something I call "Mama's Face, Baby's Face." While saying "Mama has a nose" I touch my nose; then I say "and (Baby's Name) has a nose" touching the baby's nose. I repeat that with ears, eyes (I touch the corners of the eyes,) cheeks, chin, and mouth. This is something I did with Early Bird (I can't remember if I did it with Builder Boy or not.) I do the say order every time I do it so it not only teaches the names of the parts of the face but also teaches the baby to anticipate what will happen next. Early Bird loved this and would open his mouth really big when it was that part of the routine.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Thoughts about C-sections

No one in my very large extended family has had severe complications during labor, had premature babies, or had to have a c-section. I was the first (and so far/hopefully, the only.) That kind of makes me feel like I lost the genetic lottery, though I know that's not what it's about.

Me and Builder Boy (2006)
My first emergency c-section was a complete surprise. It all happened very quickly and I only remember a few things about it. I remember that Builder Boy's head was bigger than they expected and the doctor had trouble getting him out so he pushed down on my rib cage/lungs for leverage which made me feel like I was being suffocated. I remember that they almost left the operating room without letting me see my baby, until I said something. And I remember waiting for what felt like forever, without my baby, in the recovery room alone while a nurse would come in every once in a while and push on my just cut opened and sewn closed abdomen and asked if it hurt. (It did!)

In my postpartum room there was another woman who had just had her 3rd c-section. She was very nice and talked to me, though I never saw her face or learned her name. She is how I learned that after you have one c-section you're more likely to have following births as c-sections, and that there are risks for attempting a vbac (vaginal birth after caesarean.)

When I became pregnant for the second time my husband and I researched vbacs and prayed about it. We decided that the best decision for us was to attempt a vbac. However, that's not how things turned out, and I required a second emergency c-section. I remember very little about that one, too. I remember the anesthesia they used to block feeling in my lower half didn't work, I could still fell the test pinches, so they kept giving me more and more of something; not sure what. Having had the previous experience (at a different hospital) I made sure ahead of time that they would remember to let me see my baby before they took off with him. And I am really glad I did, since I was so sick afterwards from all the extra anesthesia that I was too sick to get out of bed and see him in the NICU for over 36 hours. (And it felt MUCH longer than that.)

So when the time came around and my husband and I were deciding whether or not we wanted to have a third child, we knew we had to factor in that I would be having another c-section. We had decided before the 2nd one that we were willing to try a vbac then, but not a vba2c if that didn't turn out as planned. I had gotten through two c-sections, so I figured I could handle one more. I've heard about pregnancy hormones that give you amnesia about your birthing experience, so you're more likely to do it again, even if it was really painful and awful. This is the only thing I can think to explain why I thought a third c-section would not be a big deal; complete amnesia. Because this time around my mind felt like a video recorder. I still remember everything; those forgetting hormones didn't kick in this time. And if I hadn't been completely sure after this pregnancy that this would be my last time, going through that c-section would have convinced me.

Me and Lady Bug (2013)
I'm not trying to scare everyone away from c-sections. I really understand the importance of them. But as I was on the operating table in the cold, sterile room I felt I was living the definition of  the word "splayed." (The image of Mel Gibson at the end of Braveheart comes to mind.) It was so impersonal and even though I'd done it before, this time I was afraid. I held my panic in but all I wanted at that moment was to call it all off and attempt a vba2c. Anything but be cut open, vulnerable. Maybe it was the hormones, maybe it was emotional exhaustion from being in the hospital on magnesium sulfate for a week. I just did not want to be there, doing that. But I did it, because I had to. At least this time around I got to watch my baby and hold her while I was in the recovery room before she started having problems and had to be moved to the NICU.

My recovery was even longer this time, partially because I had to stay on the magnesium. I also had some internal bleeding or something that required a transfusion two days after the surgery. Getting my tubes tied while I was already open may have also extended my recovery period. I couldn't have made it through the first week home if my mother-in-law haddn't come up to stay with us and help.

I wrote all that out for those who are researching caesarean sections and want to know what it's like on a personal rather than clinical perspective. I do NOT recommend an elective c-section if there is no medical reason to have it. I would much rather have pushed the kids out (though I am saying that having never done it.) I rather envy my friends who went in, had their baby, and were out the next day.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Workbooks as Year End Testing

With our last half of our 2012-2013 being more un-schooling than anything else, I guess I shouldn't have been surprised when this weekend I told Builder Boy he was finished with 1st grade and was going to be a 2nd grader and he didn't really seem to think anything of it. At least Early Bird was excited to hear he was finally a kindergartener, though he worried about how that would effect his placement at kids' church. (We place him there by age rather than grade, so it won't change.)

Last year at the "end" of Builder Boy's kindergarten year I got a kindergarten skills workbook to see how he did in comparison to public school standards and to check for gaps and weaknesses. It actually taught him some things that I didn't think to teach him, so I was doubly glad we did it.

This weekend we got the 1st grade workbook for review for Builder Boy and I got the LeapFrog Kindergarten Skills workbook for Early Bird since he loves LeapFrog so much. We started doing some yesterday and all ready I've realized that while un-schooling worked for science, history, and reading, it did NOT work for handwriting. I think Builder Boy has forgotten the "correct" way to write at least half of the letters. And a page of just addition or subtraction problems was something he was NOT used to and felt overwhelmed by. Our chosen math curriculum has been much more hands on manipulatives and very little writing and no worksheets like that, so it was definitely a new experience for him. Early Bird did just fine on his pages, though he got tired of the color by number page and didn't finish it.

So to get into the swing of a more structured schoolwork routine before our official year begins in the fall, we will finish our current workbooks and then move into others that I have on hand. The timing all depends on when Lady Bug starts sleeping long enough for Mommy not to be completely exhausted during the day.
The picture of the workbook we used last year is an Amazon affiliate link. The LeapFrog link is not.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Preemies and Car Seats

We had already had a preemie so we thought we knew everything we needed to know about preemies. We were wrong.

Apparently a lot of car seats are only rated safe for babies 5 lbs and up. And if you have a baby coming home who is less than 5 lbs and your car seat is a 5 and up one the hospital will not do the car seat test with your baby and they will not let you come home with her until you have one rated safe for 4 lbs and up. Our last preemie was 5 lbs when he came home, so this didn't come up last time. But it did this time. So we ended up having to buy a new car seat instead of using the one a friend had given us.

My advice to parents: if you bought new, don't take the car seat out of the box until you're at least 36 weeks (and hopefully your baby won't be as small as mine) and keep the receipt. If you bought used, reserve some money for this just in case. Or you can just make sure your car seat is rated for 4 lbs and up and not just 5 lbs, thought I've been told that those might be a little bit more expensive and harder to find, as most infant car seats are only rated for 5 lbs and up. We managed to find one at Walmart for less than $80. I really prefer the thicker head support on the one we got than what usually comes on infant carriers.  Looking at, only the Safety 1st car seats like the Safety 1st onBoard 35 Infant Car Seat are rated as safe for 4 lbs that are under $100.

Added later: I'd like to say a few words on the term "car seat." When I see the two terms separately, I think of the seat that comes as part of a car. When I think of the thing that you add on top of a car seat for babies and children, I think of it as one word: "carseat." Spell check, however, does not approve of that term, so I changed all the red squiggliy underlined words to something it didn't protest. But in my heart, it's a carseat. Maybe I should have just used the term "carrier."
I am not paid for reviews (unfortunately.) All opinions are my own. This post contains Amazon affiliate links. The Walmart link is not an affiliated link; I put it there because the carrier is cheaper at Walmart than on

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Big Brother Builder Boy

These are some stories and pictures of Builder Boy and his baby siblings.

At the NICU with Early Bird, little kid siblings were not allowed in the rooms with the babies. So the first time Builder Boy (who was two and a half) met Early Bird was when we brought Early Bird home, almost two months after he was born. He had been practicing with a baby doll how to hold and be quiet and gentle around babies. When we let him "hold" Early Bird for the first time he tried to pick him up and put him in the baby seat that he had been putting his baby doll in.

This is a picture of them on Mother's Day, just a few days after we brought Early Bird home.

As Early Bird got bigger and a bit less "breakable," Builder Boy wanted to help out. He was allowed to do a few things, well supervised of course.

I even let him help feed Early Bird once.

The NICU that Lady Bug was in let the boys visit and meet her before she came home. The plan was to take them in one at a time. We took Builder Boy first. He was immediately entranced by his baby sister. When Daddy asked him what he thought of her, Builder Boy whispered "she's beautiful!" We let him stick around for about 10 or 15 minutes and then we told him he needed to go back to the waiting room with his grandparents so his brother could have a turn to meet her and he started to cry. Not a tantrum; he just buried his head in his daddy and tears dropped down his face.We decided to let him stay and Principal Daddy went and got Early Bird so that he could meet Lady Bug, too.

Builder Boy hung around while Early Bird and then Nana and Apa all got to meet Lady Bug. He was quiet and good, mostly just gently touching and adoring his baby sister. He had only one request: to hold her. We made that happen.

Every day since Lady Bug has come home Builder Boy has held her and fed her (with supervision and pillow support.) I've taken about 20 pictures of the adorableness that is this kid's love for his baby sister. Here are just a few more.

Lady Bug holding Builder Boy's finger

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Diaper Faceoff: Huggies vs. Pampers

We've had Lady Bug home from the NICU for several days now and we've gone through two packages of diapers.  We were given some different brands as gifts and they have some distinct differences. (These are the preemie size diapers.)

First we used the Huggies "Little Snugglers" diapers. They are smaller than the Pampers, which was good since Lady Bug is so small. I also like that the umbilical cord notch that both claim to have is much deeper on the Huggies than the Pampers. In fact, I couldn't even tell that the Pampers had a dip until I read it on the package today. But after the first 30 or so diapers we realized that they were too small when it came to containing what they're suppose to contain. I tried to make them tight enough without being too tight, but she leaked through three outfits in one day, and needed at least two outfits a day the last couple of days we used them.

I started trying the Pampers before the Huggies were used up. I love how much higher in the back they are, which prevents leaks of explosive poo that Lady Bug is getting to be known for. They also hold her volume of fluids better, and haven't leaked yet, though that might be because of the position of the tabs are lower on it so there is less loose area around the legs.

So my recommendation is: use the Huggies "Little Snugglers" for one package until the umbilical cord comes off, then use the Pampers.

And a warning to those who've never changed baby girls before: girls can squirt, too! It's not just boys that will get you.

Barf Bag to Go

I figured out with my first pregnancy that the best thing to have on hand when you're outside your home and pregnant is to have a gallon sized Ziploc bag rolled up in your purse. Actually, several. They roll up or fold up to not take a lot of room, and once you're done puking you can seal it and through it away, no mess! If you have time you can fold over the edge and it stays open. If you have trouble sealing with your fingers I suggest getting the sliding lock ones.

This tip saved my sister from having to clean the interior of her car, so I thought I'd pass it on.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

This Man Deserves a Medal

This is a picture of Builder Boy and Principal Daddy rubbing my puffy, pregnant feet. This man deserves a medal for everything he has done during this last pregnancy. This has been the hardest pregnancy for me, but it has also been difficult for him. He's picked up all the slack and more since I became too sick to move eight months ago. Here are just a few things he has done:

  1. Cleaned up puke. A lot of puke. 
  2. Helped me get ready for doctors appointments when I was huddled up in the fetal postion unable to help myself.
  3. Did almost everything in our move to another state. I did maybe 1%.
  4. Did all of the laundry and dishes since we moved. I literally have no idea how to run the new (to us) machines. 
  5. Waited on me hand and foot, bringing food, drinks, etc. when I couldn't go up and down the stairs.
  6. Indulged some really weird cravings.
  7. Totally got me emotionally though the extended hospital stay. I couldn't have done it if it wasn't for him. And on the day when I was in recovery and he was at work and I was a non-stop crying emotional mess and I called him and told him I needed him: he dropped everything and came.
That may all sound like common stuff (except for the move) until you realize that he was doing this for eight months straight with no break and two other kids needing help and attention. There are countless other things that he did and put up with during this time. There were so many moments during these months that had me thinking "this man deserves a medal!"

Well, I don't have an official medal to give him. But I can publish here his example of love and at least get him some public recognition. Thank you so much, my love! I couldn't have done this without you.

Monday, August 12, 2013

"What about socializaion?"

I found the perfect answer to this common question on a homeschooling forum. So instead of trying to come up with my own answer, I'm just going to memorize hers:
"The actual word most of us MEAN is take part in social activities. When someone says, "What about socialization", they are meaning, "What about friends? What about Prom? What about having play dates and going to the park....??"
The meaning of socialization is completely different and infers what a lot of people think about the "mindset" of public schooling that they want to avoid:
Socialization: the process by which individuals acquire the knowledge, language, social skills, and value to conform to the norms and roles required for integration into a group or community. It is a combination of both self-imposed (because the individual wants to conform) and externally-imposed rules, and the expectations of the others."

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Just had to share...

New Page!

Check out the new tab at the top of the blog labeled "Tough Pregnancies, Hospital Stays, and Premature Babies."  There you will find all my blog posts about those topics that contain helpful information. I'm going to keep adding to it, so keep checking for more!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Delayed Bonding with a Premature Baby

Today Lady Bug is nine days old. Four of those nine days I was unable to visit her due to being too sick or weak to get to her, even in a wheelchair. For those remaining five days I only saw her for half an hour on two of those days, and an hour on the last two days. I did get to hold her and attempt to start breastfeeding in the recovery room for a few hours, but after that her condition started to get worse and they had to take her to the NICU and I was so sick I didn't see her again until two days later. These circumstances made it very difficult to bond with my baby.

With my first, and only full term baby, I had no problem forming an immediate attachment/bonding. I had wanted to be a mother for a long time and I'd gone almost two weeks overdue. I was totally ready and he was MINE from the moment I saw him (though I was shocked by the blond hair and blue eyes given that both my husband and I have very dark hair and I have hazel eyes.) I was so ready for that moment, longed for it for so long; it was effortless.

With my second, born at 32 weeks, things were not so easy. For starters, I got to see him for one minute when they took him out (emergency c-section) and then he was in the NICU
(Neo-natal Intensive Care Unit) and I was too sick to get out of bed and into a wheelchair to see him for over 36 hours. I had to content myself with at poorly lit picture (no flashes allowed.) It was awful. Everyone else got to see him but me. I had to depend on other people's descriptions of him. What little they could see of him, because he was covered with sensor wires, IV tubes, c-pap machine, and a blindfold over his face so that his under-developed eyes wouldn't be damaged by the lights. We had no clue what our baby really looked like for over a week! At that age their skin is too sensitive to touch; it causes pain for them, so we couldn't even hold or touch him for a week. When we did finally get to see what he looked like, he was not really all that cute. (Please don't judge me for that comment.) He looked like a wrinkled old man, or a monkey.

On top of all that; once I was released from the hospital we were an hour's drive away. According to the NICU rules we were only allowed to hold him for one hour during feeding time, which happened every three hours. So if you missed it, you had to wait. We had to time everything around those feedings. And we had our older son whom we could not neglect. He wasn't allowed in the NICU; thankfully his grandparents were able to watch him while we made our daily visits. Thankfully Principal Daddy was able to get short term something or other that paid for 6 weeks off so that we could make those daily trips (Early Bird was in the NICU for seven weeks.)

But bonding did not happen instantly with Early Bird. And I felt so horribly guilty about that. That doesn't mean that I didn't love him, didn't hope and pray for him every day. It does mean that I didn't feel connected to him; didn't feel like he was MINE. I don't remember when that moment finally happened. I think it was something gradual that snuck up on me without me realizing it was happening. Not having that instant, emotional attachment made me feel so guilty. I felt like a horrible mother; what was wrong with me that I wasn't bonding with my baby? Did this mean I wouldn't be able to love him the way I love my firstborn?

Of course, it turned out I love him just as much. It took some time, but I bonded to him. I don't think I realized it until he was older and (again, please don't judge me) cuter/more normal baby looking.

When they took Lady Bug out and took her over to the place where they cleaned her up, got the fluids out of her lungs and all that, I was able to turn my head and watch from the operating table. There was a curtain near my head that kept me from seeing the "birthing" process; I've never seen the kids actually come out of me. As I looked over at her my drugged brain latched on to the thought over and over was "she doesn't feel like MINE." There was such a disconnect. And then I didn't get to see her for two days. I was still having high blood pressure even though I'd given birth, so my doctor kept me on magnesium sulfate (which is the WORST STUFF EVER) so I was foggy brained, unable to focus my eyes or my thoughts in addition to the headache, hot flashes, and vomiting. When I finally was able to visit her it was for short times only, and I was so weak I could do no more than hold her on a pillow or watch while my husband fed her. (Thankfully at this NICU they let us hold her anytime we wanted, feeding time or not, and she was 36 weeks, so we were able to touch her right away.) When I made it home we were only 30 minutes away from the hospital, though Principal Daddy has had to work. His parents drove up to stay with us this week so I could have the help, so I can see her every day I've been up to making the trip (I wasn't the first two days home,) though I still have to be pushed in a wheelchair through the hospital because I'm too weak to walk that far.

So for eight days I felt disconnected and unbonded. Even though I had had a preemie before, I felt helpless; like there was no way I was going to be able to care for this tiny creature. But today I got to see her, hold her, and for the first time (for me) feed her. And I finally felt like I could do this. I could take care of her. That she is MINE. And I was so relieved and grateful.

I wrote this for the mothers out there that are going through the same thing. Who are having difficulty bonding with their babies and feeling that same, horrible load of guilt. You are not a bad mother; are not the only mother who has had this difficulty. It will come in time. The healthier you can get yourself, and the more you can do with and for your baby, the better. Give yourself a break from the guilt, if you can. This isn't something you can control or force, therefore guilt is unfounded (though sometimes emotionally unavoidable, I know.) I hope this helps.
This was started on the ninth day but not finished or posted then, so dates will be a bit off.
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