The littlest

There was Sassafras.

And then there was Pearl.

When we arrived home after almost six weeks in Africa, we were fortunate that I was able to stay home with Pearl for the first four months. It was hard on us financially but completely necessary to help with bonding and attachment.

In that crazy and hard first few months, a statement straight out of Bizarro World rang forth in my kitchen:

I wanted a baby.

Um yeah, cray cray.

I had a baby

(well, a toddler). And a four year old. And hey, that toddler had some pretty intense needs. So okay, yeah, it took me a while to figure it out, but that wanting of a baby had more to do with my grieving Pearl's babyhood than it did actually wanting a baby.

Life was crazy, y'all. But so were we. So the vessel of "let's have a baby" left the harbor...and the crew abandoned ship pretty doggone quickly.

I blame the laundry pile.

And eventually, well, The Captain and I kind of just forgot about the intense effort of it all. "Trying..." sure. But not at all like with Sassafras. We were pursuing life with all we had, loving our girls best we knew how, and easing into our new normal. We were trying to figure out the issues of this one and the issues of that one, and then mama decided that there wasn't enough crazy in the house so I went back to school. Again.

What? I like the learnin'.

It was in the middle of the most ridiculous statistics class known to man, just at the perfectly worst possible moment in my brain's life, that suddenly there were too many days on the calendar, that my mama health app started honking about lateness and such.

As if

, I scoffed.

When I finally broke down and took a test, it told me exactly the opposite of what I just knew to be true: Sweet Love was on the way. She was Joshua, or maybe Jacob, or maybe something else very manly, because, in fact (my body and brain told me)

this baby was a boy

.

We let the girls send out a cute video to family, then we slowly leaked word to friends as we were able. The sense of shock that covered us was, I tell you, indescribable.

Matter of fact, there are still some days I look down at that sweet baby and am amazed that she is here, absolutely in awe of His timing for her.

A wretched sickness and difficult pregnancy finally gave way to Sweet Love's Birth Day. Although we had anticipated physical issues and had a few different plans set in place, my favorite was the one that took root.

Reality was a thousand times better than my best hoped-for plan

, because at the very last moment the doctor invited The Captain to help deliver his third daughter. That she took her first breaths in her daddy's hands, that he was the one to place her on my chest, that together we cleaned her off and encouraged her to see her new world, and all on her mama's birthday...

It was without question one of the most beautiful experiences of my life.

Our littlest, our Sweet Love, has been the most precious little shock of a blessing to The Captain and I thus far. We adore her timing, we love her sweetness, and we treasure the sweet bond of sisterhood that she shares with her Sass and Pearl.

Even if it is her fault I drive a minivan.

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A Whole New World

Raise your hand if you sang Jasmine and Aladdin's infamous duet. By yourself. Into a hairbrush.

Yeah, me too. Rapunzel might have a sweet story, but her melodies will never get the Classic Diz sort of notoriety.

I've been taking Sweet Love on a magic carpet ride lately. Thus far her diet has consisted of breast milk, formula, and a wee bit of oatmeal. Avocado was on the menu a few weeks back, and sister has been about five different kinds of excited. I can sense already that the force is strong in this one. Sweet Thang loves some eats, just like her mama.


One half is just the right serving for Sweet Love. 


Smooshed up with a bit of oatmeal and formula. Juice, too, if we're feeling jazzy. 


Done and done. 



When we were in Africa for Pearl's adoption, I was flummoxed that the babies were fed this mixture of avocado, rice, and boiled egg. The more I considered and read, however, I learned that avocado was a fairly excellent choice as a first food for babies. It's simple to mush, too, and here at the Casa de Wilson, easy always makes us happy. Next up, bananas. Then, perhaps carrots. 

It appears that I'm going to have her eat her way through the alphabet. 

You know what people say about that third child...




They are more laid back because they have to be.
They cry less, because there's too much chaos going on in life to pay them much attention.
They get sick more, because older siblings share their big kid germies with their new baby immune systems.
They're more flexible because staying on a structured baby-routine with multiple children is impossible.

Honestly, Sweet Love has been a fantastic baby. She cries some, but it's always reasonably explained. She loves to smile and coo and sometimes just yell out if she feels like she's gone too long without proper attention.

Which is rare. 

The four of us spend our whole days loving this little angel. We tell her how cute she is, how much we love her, and what a great job she does burping and eating cereal and drinking her bottle. We tell her she's beautiful and that don't know what we'd do without her, that her thigh rolls are perfectly adorable.

We all aim to please this littlest princess of ours, 24/7. The big girls hate to hear her fuss, so when she cries, generally, they hop to in order to meet her needs. So does the Captain. And so do I.

We pretty much spoil her rotten.

What a great way to spend your days, huh? Being waited on hand and foot, every discomfort eliminated immediately, being told how cute your fat is.

No wonder she's the happiest baby. 

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The Story of Lucille & Rhonda

Surviving the attainment of a few degrees as well as a rather prestigious teacher certification, spending 6 weeks in Africa enduring inter-country adoption, and birthing two children are a handful of the hard things I have been through in my life. Would you like to know the most difficult experience of my entire 30+ years?

Breast feeding, that's what. *Gentlemen (if there are any of you who care to read this), fret not. There is nothing graphic or inappropriate betwixt the covers of this post. Be cool. I'll warn you if things get crazy.

With Sassafras, I had 0 desire whatsoever to nurse, and for a good reason. Her delivery was so, well, traumatic that I could not have handled one more thing physically in the 5 months {oh yes, FIVE} it took my body to recover. Didn't even consider it, and she was a perfectly healthy child. Never had any sort of illness whatsoever until she was 2 1/2 years old, and even then it was just a little ear infection. She continues to enjoy superb wellness and also happens to be rather bright, so we are relieved to know that feeding her formula didn't impair her awesomeness in any way. *REALLY wish there was a special font for sarcasm. Or at least an emoticon for eye-rolling.

Simmah down, you with feathers ruffling. I know what the facts are and yes, human milk is best for human babies and all that. It is. It's best. I am not here to argue that. Don't even try. But formula isn't poison, either, and it is ok to say that out loud.

Pearl was 15 months when we got home. I had researched the induction of lactation for adoptive mothers and was pretty weirded out by the boatload of chemicals that mom has to ingest. Great for some, but given that my kid was basically on whole milk already AND that The Captain and I don't do meds/hormones if we can avoid it, it wasn't a viable option for me.

Cut to Sweet Love's impending arrival. This time, I decided we would give it a go. I read, consulted experienced friends, read some more, hit up a nursing class, read even more, bought or borrowed the recommended accessories, and braced myself for what I knew would be hard but also worth it.

She made her entrance and we took off on what would quickly become the most physically painful, frustrating, annoying experience of my life. And let me just say that before you start thinking maybe I just wasn't doing it right, understand that I was man-handled by every lactation consultant in the hospital, both during my stay and afterward. They examined me, examined Sweet Love, put her on, readjusted her, gave their stamp of approval, and stayed during feedings for moral support. They and the nurses were incredibly supportive during my stay. In all that free time you have between feeding every 2 hours and entertaining guests, I watched videos on the hospital TV about things like latching, self-expression, pumping, etc. Riveting.

After we got home, I had the Lactation Center on speed dial. I had wonderfully supportive friends who let me text them around the clock seeking advice for my latest problem, and the very sweetest one even brought freshly cooked corn dip and chocolate to my front door when I was dangling off the cliff of quitting. I took supplements, drank Gatorade, took coconut oil, ate oatmeal, took soy lecithin, used olive oil to help with pain, used lanolin and coconut oil to help with irritation, had a dark ale, even took a little nursing vacation. I drank water, but not too much water. I ate nuts, but not too many nuts. I tried nursing more often or pumping more often, to no avail. I tried stretching out sessions longer in hopes of more buildup, with no success. I googled a million different home remedies for cranking up a milk supply. Lucille and Rhonda (as I came to refer to my rebellious milky friends) were simply uninterested in functioning properly.

It was a mental game for me, and pigheadedness happens to be one of my strongest traits...unfortunately. I iced sometimes, used warm compresses at other times, layered up with cabbage leaves still others, and went from exclusively pumping to finally exclusively breast feeding and back again. Every single time I climbed one mountain of pain and engorgement/clogged ducts/bleeding/blebs/blisters/ruptured intraductal cysts, I would encounter a new one. It never ended, and it was horrible. Bonding? Please. Sweet Love and I were in a constant battle of getting comfortable (well, for her...there was not one single comfy thing about it for me). Though the nursing cover was very helpful for pumping, Sweet Love and I actually fought with it when I tried to use that with her. Envision yourself on one side of a sheet and a thrashing puppy on the other side of that sheet trying to smack you in the face. I don't know. Maybe sista needed some air.

From what I gather, it isn't supposed to be this way, and it isn't for most moms. It's at least a little hard for almost everybody, and truly easy only for a small percentage of mamas who were made for that. But for those of us who give it an honest, 200000% go at it, understand that sometimes it just doesn't work out. Even when we really, really, really want it to. Be supportive of that, too. Obviously, The Captain was on board when I stopped pumping for the last time. He hated the pain and frustration for me as well as his inability to help feed her. Or maybe he just hated me smelling like steamed cabbage. Reasonable.

By the time I got off the nursing train, I only had about 3 oz a day; it wasn't remotely hard...nowhere close to the big hairy ordeal like it is for some mamas to quit. After 4 months, Rhonda and Lucille were tired out. As was I. Nursing was a marathon of emotional and physical distress, and it was a complete relief to shut down the operation. To stop being obsessed with Lucille and Rhonda, because I was and am more than Lucille and Rhonda.

Would I try it again with another baby? Okay, first, hold up, swole up. If I got pregnant right now, I'd...well, let's just say that isn't in the plan. At all. Fast forward five years or so? Sure, I'd give it another go. I can truly say there is not one more single thing I could have given to the cause to make it work with Sweet Love, but I'd like to think another experience might go differently. Though there exists a wee bitty chance of a sequel, the story of Lucille and Rhonda is well over for now.

Bring on the coffee!