Friday, July 25, 2008

Marriage Comes First

Before I had my baby, my parents told me that children bring couples back together. At that time, my husband and I had been married for about four years. I felt that we had what people called "married single". We barely spent time together. We sat down for a dinner together and after that we were busy with our own lives. I normally went to my den and he went to his. Then we went to bed together, only to crash after a tiresome day. When I found out I got pregnant, deep down I was hoping that my husband and I could be reconnected and be closer again with the arrival of our bundle of joy.

After I had my baby, I found what my parents say about having a child brings a couple back together again is a complete false statement. To say having kids ruin your marriage sound a bit unfair, but it really tests your relationship to a whole another level. All the sudden we can't have some time alone with one another. We can't go on a date, have a romantic dinner, go to the movies. One of the most difficult situation I have to face is our financial situation. When the-one-thousand-dollar-a-month daycare expense started to kick in, that was when my husband and I started to argue almost everyday. Suddenly, we can no longer spend our money however we wanted it. My husband handle our finances and he created a strict budget to cut down our expenses. We have x dollar amount to eat out, shop, buy grocery, etc. He was very adamant about us turning off the lights when leaving a room and turn off computer when not in use. He set up the temperature in the house to 80 degrees in the middle of hot summer to save electricity and he made me wash the dishes and clothes after 9 pm to avoid peak hour. The list goes on and on and on. There were times when I was considering leaving my husband because of that. There were times when we didn't speak to each other for days after having a fight. All of these changes were too much for me to handle. My husband spent hours playing with the numbers and budgeting instead of helping me caring for our toddler, which made me feeling even angrier at him. At the same time, my husband was also mad at me because I showed zero interest in discussing about our financial situation. How could I even discuss about our financial situation when it was just depressing me? Sounds familiar?

After months and months of arguing, I finally hit rock bottom when we had a big fight over a stupid reason. The truth is, it wasn't about the cause of that fight... we both were simply exhausted with our situation, and as a result, we had a meltdown.
It was days after we stopped talking that I finally took the initiative to talk about our issues. We both shared our feelings and tried to find solution. Listening to him made me realize where he's coming from. I realized had I paid more attention to our financial situation, it should be a lot easier for me to sacrifice in order to cut down our expenses. At the same time, I told him things that he needs to do to help me so I don't feel like being a single mom raising a toddler.

Things are a lot better now. I'm much more organized now than I ever before. Every weekend I make a weekly menu that I plan to cook. Based on that menu, I could create a grocery list. My husband clips coupons and does grocery shopping in the weekend while I take care of our son. All mothers out there know how challenging it is to do grocery shopping with your toddler. Sometimes while I prepare dinner, my husband would feed our son or play with him. A few days ago, my husband and I took a day off and sent our son to daycare so we can spend time together, just the two of us. We went to a local shopping strip area where there are a lot of small boutiques, had lunch at our favorite restaurant, and went to the movies. It was wonderful!!

I learned in order to save marriage, there are a few keys couple should follow:

1. Open communication is the key to a relationship.
Instead of blaming your spouse and telling him what to do, you should tell what you feel, what he feels, his opinion about the whole situation, and share thoughts about what you need to do.

2. Adjust your lifestyle.
Everybody knows that having a child changes your life completely. It is difficult in the beginning, but trust me... watching your child grows everyday and learns new things... it is all worth it.

3. Whenever possible, spend some quality time together with your spouse.
Hire a babysitter, take a day off, have someone in your family to watch your child, whatever it takes for you to go on a date with your spouse and spend some time together. There are some studies that show that the divorce rate is higher on family whose kids are all grown and left the house. Those couples finally realized that they are no longer connected because they put their children before everything else. It's important for every couple to know that your marriage is the foundation of the family, not your child.

I'm still learning throughout this whole parenthood. When I'm down, all I have to say to myself is my marriage is worth to save and I will do everything I could to provide a happy family to my son.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Breastfeeding 101

No one ever told me that breastfeeding is very challanging. I remember those days like it was yesterday when I was struggling with my milk supply. In order to boost my milk supply, the LC told me to pump right after I finish nursing my son. The problem is my son wouldn't stop pacifying me or kept falling a sleep even though I stripped him down to his diaper. It was taking forever to nurse him, not to mention he needs to eat every two hours (from the beginning of his nursing), and I have to pump after nursing. I practically couldn't do anything but nursing. Luckily my mom was here to helping me out. Anyway, I would like to share some tips*, based on my experience, to all mommies who is having trouble breastfeeding.

1. Fenugreek and Mother Thistle Tea
A combination of two caps of fenugreek three times a day and mother thistle tea works like a charm to me. However, most doctors or pediatric are obligated to not recommending any herbal medication. Instead, they would recommend a prescription drug called Reglan. I took Reglan in the beginning of my breastfeeding dilemma, and I was constantly feeling tired as a result. If you have a history of depression, this drug is not for you. I strongly recommend this combination of Fenugreek and Mother Thistle tea. If you find any possible side effects you should consult your doctor.

2. Pump right after each feeding
Fenugreek and Mother Thistle itself would not do any good unless you pump. Obviously when you pump right after you nurse you won't get a lot. If I can remember correctly, I think I only got about a half ounce both breasts for each pump, but it's enough to feed my baby one feeding at night. Let your husband feed your baby and use this time as much as you can to rest. Get one of those electric double pump to save time and energy. Madela Pump in Style is the best product and I could not imagine my life without it. Another reason to pump is if you are a working mother, you need to start preparing your milk stash approximately 6 weeks before you start working again. Also, by allowing your baby to drink from bottle at least once a day, your baby will start to get used to drinking from bottle and will not be too shock once you return to work.

3. Don't let yourself stressed out and exhausted
Your stress level and exhaustion do affect your milk supply. One time I was so stress out because the minute I put my baby down to his crib, he started crying. He was constantly wanting to latch on me and I really hit rock bottom at that moment. Finally I told my husband to take my baby from me and gave him formula (I was still working on increasing my milk supply and didn't have enough in the bottle). Formula is more difficult to digest than breast milk; it tends to sit in babies tummy a little longer than breast milk. Therefore, by giving him formula he will sleep a little longer and I could use some rest that I was so dying to get.

4. Watch your baby cue
How much is too much? How many ounce of milk should I be giving my baby? In my opinion, your baby's cue should tell you how much he or she needs. There is an article from that says baby needs about 25 oz/day within the age of 1 to 6 months. Therefore, if baby still eats 8 times/day, that means you need to have about 3 oz per feeding (25 oz/8 times). I'm telling you, different baby takes different amount of milk. My baby took 6 oz of breast milk by the time he was 5 months old, but the amount kept steady until he was about 7 months old. I'm telling you, don't starve your baby just because you read an article about how much your baby should eat. If he's still hungry, give him more milk.... it's that simple! I know it's hard for some people when it seems like your baby eats more than what you can produce. Use formula if you need to. One feeding of formula is not going to kill your baby.

5. If all else fails
If you tried everything and nothing works, don't let yourself down. There is so much more in parenting than just breastfeeding, so enjoy your moments as a parent and make the best out of it.

*These tips are based on my personal experience. You should contact your doctor or lactation consultant for any medical concern.

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