Chicken-tastrophe, oh and that thing with our home’s roof too

 

Chickens, happy and peaceful in their coop before "the storm!"

Chickens, happy and peaceful in their coop before “the storm!”

The post-mortem in my house this morning can be seen as a little comical — I’d rather laugh than cry.

Me: “So I’m going to talk to Stephanie about what I should do about the coop and where the chickens can be in the meantime. That sounds like a good plan right? We have to figure out what we are going to do. My poor chickens.”

Him: “Yes, and there is also the matter of the hole in our roof to deal with. I got that.”

Me: “Oh, yes, that’s right.”

Sigh.

Back up about eight sleepless hours to our less-than-fabulous evening. I had checked on my chickens, tucked away snugly in their coop, around 10:45 p.m. There was a storm raging outside but the coop was a nice fortress and protection for the nasty winds, rain and lightning.

I finished up a bit of work, snapped my laptop shut and went to the bathroom to brush my teeth. The wind was really whipping. I could hear it whistling through the windows and could almost feel the house shake.

We’d just gone through a nasty storm during the day Tuesday and unfortunately lost a huge section of our roof. It sucked! But the coop stayed strong. We spent a good 24 hours patting ourselves on the back for Michael’s stellar coop-building skills. And then we doled out several hundred dollars to fix the roof on Wednesday because now we are grownups and that’s the yucky stuff we have to do.

While brushing my teeth — I’m not one to really sit still — I wondered into the kitchen closer to Michael’s office where he was working on a story on his computer.

“Thesh sturm sheemz wurst thahn de least one,” I said through my mouthful of toothpaste and toothbrush standing on my tiptoes to see out the window to get one last check on my coop and little chickies.

It was dark and raining SO hard I couldn’t see the coop in the backyard from that window but I had a bad feeling. I moved to the dining room, peeking out the lower windows.

The coop was overturned.

Me, screaming: “My coop is upside down!”

I ran toward the door, toothbrush still in my mouth, pajamas and no shoes with Michael right on my tail.

It was raining SO hard, torrential downpour. And the wind; the wind was crazy. You couldn’t hear anything. It was kind of surreal. And I was in serious panic mode. My chickens — Mocalotive, Choo-Choo, Olive, Stella, Foghorn Leghorn and Chicken Little — these were my babies. They weren’t just some feathered things we were getting eggs from one of these days. I had grown attached.

And my coop, ah, my coop was so, so cute!

The completed coop

The completed coop

Me, now screaming at the top of my lungs and waving my arms like a crazy person: “We have to flip the coop over! Hurry, we have to flip it over.”

I was prepared to go all Hulk and just pick up this substantial structure and find my chickens safe and dry, chilling underneath.

We both got down on all fours in the mud and muck, rain beating down on us looking for any signs of chickens.

There were none.

Him: “We can’t just flip it over. We might crush them.”

Me, repeatedly, with more tears and even more manic: “No, we have to flip it over!”

Him, much calmer: “Let’s look for them.”

We continued to look through coop rubble and debris from trees but saw nothing.

Him: “Wait, I hear something.”

He points out one lone chicken hiding under a piece of the broken coop. I grab her, plopping her in the feed bucket nearby. But behind her is another chicken. And behind her another. Four chickens piled on top of each other. I nose my way farther into the broken up pieces of wood and find two more chickens.

All were safe!

I run them inside into the garage checking them over again, my breathing returning to a little more normal pace. I go back outside and with Herculean effort flip the coop back over assessing the completely smashed roof.

As the wind continues to try to knock Michael and me over, we decide the coop isn’t safe out there. So we walk it around the house and with the strength of sheer adrenaline I lift my end over my head so we can clear Michael’s car, getting it safely inside the garage.

I got my teenager chickens inside the house, dry them off and gave them a little snuggle before putting them to bed in the basement, in the space they once occupied as chicks.

In the meantime, my responsible, normal, non-chicken-obsessed husband is checking out the house to see if it sustained damage. And of course, it did.

Another section of roof had blown off.

Sigh.

So, here we are, less than eight hours later trying to make sense of the crazy night before.

The roof guy, the same one who replaced a section of the roof on Wednesday, is coming back Saturday to do another job. And while he has an important job in fixing our roof, I’m going to ask if maybe he can fit a reroof of my coop into his busy schedule.

It’s the important things…

Managing expectations

I was editing something for a non-profit I’m involved in, Project Reveal, this morning about expectations and it got me to thinking about my own.

The woman we spoke with talked about how she’d built her life up around expectations but that she only was able to enjoy life when she let go of them and really experienced her world free of them.

That’s a pretty powerful concept. We all have these huge expectations. And expectations can come in lots of forms: hopes, dreams, goals, aspirations… While it is good to have goals and things we want to work toward I think the position we often, well let me stop there and just start speaking for myself, I often find myself in is that I lose track of working toward a positive goal and instead start criticizing myself for not meeting that expectation.

It went from a goal of, “I want to be a more engaged and present mom in the evenings after work” to “I am failing at being there for my boys because I answered those work e-mails and took that phone call.”

Having a plan and a goal is a wonderful thing. I LOVE a plan. But I’m still working on letting go of it if things don’t work out or go as planned — from the simple things such as having a meal out where my kiddos don’t cause a scene to the bigger expectations of being meaningfully engaged in my family, at work and in the community while still having time to breath, I need to loosen up the expectations and give myself a little grace.

Let go of the expectations and gain a little peace.

One day at a time!

Picking up, I mean out, chicks

So the chicken dreams have become a reality.

I think Michael is calling them his chicken nightmares, but that’s another blog post altogether.

Miles and I headed over to Rural King to pick out some chicks. I’d gone myself a few weekends ago and checked out the cute, tiny chicks there. And then went last week twice — once with Miles and once with my chicken guru/awesome friend Stephanie. The chicks then were still on the little side but looking much less fragile.

 

Meet our toddler chicks -- Mocalotive, Choo Choo, Stella, Olive, Foghorn Leghorn and Chicken Little

Meet our toddler chicks — Mocalotive, Choo Choo, Stella, Olive, Foghorn Leghorn and Chicken Little

With Stephanie by my side last week — Owen sleeping snugly against my chest, oblivious to the monumental chicken lesson going on around him — I loaded up my cart with all the chick necessities. I grabbed pine shavings for bedding, chick feed, heat lamp and bulb, a chick feeder and water dish and a few other miscellaneous items. Stephanie loaded me down not only with supplies, but chicken knowledge.

I’ve done my fair share of chicken research (too much my husband says) but nothing compares to firsthand experience from my own personal chicken virtuoso. Stephanie said she’s excited to have her own personal chicken apprentice. We are going to establish our own chicken journeyman certification through this whole process.

So two weekends ago was filled with all the technical stuff — supplies and knowledge. When Saturday finally rolled around I was ready to get my hands on some chicks!
So back to heading over to Rural King … the selection of breeds was a little lighter than I’d hoped but there were plenty of chicks there ready to find a good home. And instead of being tiny, cute, itty-bitty chicks they were more like toddler chicks. Don’t get me wrong, they were still awfully adorable. A bit of me was a little sad but then I remembered just how fragile Stephanie had described the newborn chicks and the extra tedious (and sometimes icky) tasks that goes along with them. So I celebrated my decision to wait until the chicks were about four weeks old to pick them up. My biggest disappointment was kind of a trivial one — I really wanted the Ameraucana breed chicks because their eggs are a neat blue/green hue.

The two breeds that they had pullets (female chicks) in were Silver Wyandotte and Light Brahmas. Miles and I scoped out the bins walking around a few times. He excitedly dipped his hand inside causing the sea of chicks to run in the opposite direction. I found a chick box and started selecting our future little chickies.

My process was, as should be expected from me, a little different. I didn’t just grab the first three from each bin that I could then called it a day. I wanted Miles to be able to select a few.

I was too distracted by my tiny helper to get any pictures during the actual chick picking stage. But here they are ready to go home.

I was too distracted by my tiny helper to get any pictures during the actual chick picking stage. But here they are ready to go home.

“That one,” he excitedly said. “That one with the speckle, right there. That one, that one!”
So of course, I HAD to get THAT one. My hands darted up and down the metal tub trying to grasp what must have been the fastest, sneakiest of the bunch. Each requested chicken was more elusive than the last.

After he’d selected four, I wiped the sweat from my brow and decided that last two I would pick out. I overheard two employees talking about needing to separate a few chicks because some had gotten picked on. AWWW! So of course I mosey over there eavesdropping and then just butt right on in.
“Which two are the most picked on?” I asked, tears almost welling in my silly eyes. “Let me rescue them!”
They, of course, laughed at me causing my little monkey-see, monkey-do little guy laugh hysterically.

“Mama, you are SO silly!” he cried, practically rolling on the floor.

Kid, it wasn’t that funny.

Anyway, the high school kid employees go to great lengths (seriously, one of them even stepped in the bin to track down this poor, feather missing chick) to procure the bullied chicks for me.

Done!

I had my six chicks, a 3-year-old and said 3-year-old’s stuffed owl that he INSISTED come into the store with us. And no cart. Yep, you read that correctly. It’s like I’m a glutton for punishment.

So as I surmise the situation — three little cartons of live chicks, a squirmy kid who does not want to leave the chicken area of the store and a stuffed animal that said kid will now no longer have anything to do with — I start to come up with the most plausible out, bribery.

“Hey Miles, if we go home we can get a special treat!”

“What treat? Nevermind, I don’t want a treat. I want to stay here! I want to be with the chickens and the bunnies. I want to stay ALL DAY LONG!”

“When we get home we have our own chickens that we can play with.”

“But mom, there’s lots of chickens right here!”

Desperate I look around.

The yellow, painted chicken tracks leading from the front door back to the chicks catch my eye. Yes.

“Miles, let’s follow the duck path!”

“Oh, OK!”

Easy, peasy.

We miraculously make it to the car with six still-alive chicks and get everything back in the house and set up. Miles names two chicks — Mocalotive and Choo Choo; Michael begrudgingly threw two literary chicken names in the mix — Foghorn Leghorn and Chicken Little; and I used girl names that I loved when we were having babies — Olive and Stella.

Chicks in their mood lighting.

Chicks in their mood lighting.

The little chicks seem pretty happy. Right now they are cozy in an oversized tote in our basement complete with a red heat-bulb keeping them toast. Michael put together the coop Sunday afternoon as Miles played and Owen cooed in the sun.

So far all is good on the Doyle farm. I’ll update you when the chicks have made their way outside.​

The directions for assembling the coop were one page of pictures... no words. And he used all the pieces and lost no limbs! Good job honey!

The directions for assembling the coop were one page of pictures… no words. And he used all the pieces and lost no limbs! Good job honey!

The completed coop

The completed coop

Antsy for chickens

My husband rolled his eyes when I first approached the idea of getting backyard chickens.

We were still renting so he didn’t worry too much about it saying, “Sure, you can get chickens one of these days.”

Well, that day is finally here!

It’s been nearly a year since we bought our house (I still can’t believe that) and the chicken-keeping requirements are falling into place. And while Michael is far from excited he’s on board as long as he doesn’t have to deal with said chickens.

The biggest chicken tool — the coop is almost here. I have spent the last several months scouring Craigslist and online yard sales looking for secondhand coops but found none that would work so I switched my research over to the best coop I could get in our “beginner chicken” price range.

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I am certain I’m going to love having our own sweet, little flock of hens in our “urban” setting but Michael isn’t so certain. So while I wanted quality, I didn’t want to break the bank on something he isn’t yet convinced will be around for more than a month or two. I read blogs, message boards, countless Amazon and eBay reviews, consulted my resident chicken guru and friend Stephanie and even went to a few brick and mortar stores to check them out first hand.

We finally, well I finally, settled on one. It’s adorable and green and looks like a little house. Seriously this thing is cute.

It is supposed to be here today (my tracking is telling me it is in Evansville but there’s a “delay in delivery due to weather or natural disaster”) so I’m hoping maybe we can get it assembled as soon as this silly white stuff is gone.

My Facebook ads always revolved around baby topics such as cloth diapers and breast feeding but now it is all chicken coop and feed. It’s like the ads are taunting me making me even more eager to start my feathered adventure.

The next step is more research. I need to determine what breed of chicken to get. I’ve done a little research but haven’t quite decided what’s the most important factor — egg output, egg color, appearance, friendliness, heartiness … I can’t decide. My dream flock would be diverse and fluffy giving me a lot of a variety of different egg colors (cream, brown, blue, green), could handle warm summers and cold winters and would love to be held by me and Miles.

I know, I know … if wishes were chicken poop I’d soon have whatever I wanted.

Speaking of chicken poop …

Heart of the matter

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When I got that positive line on the pregnancy test a million things raced through my mind – I was ecstatic. My husband and I had been trying for months to get pregnant with our second child; I couldn’t be happier.

I had lots of expectations, like most moms, of what this pregnancy, birth and child-rearing experience would be like. And one thing that weighed heavily on my mind was my desire to have a good breast feeding relationship with this baby.

With my son Miles, now three, I struggled with nursing. He lost more than 15 percent of his body weight while we were still in the hospital and continued to lose weight eventually being diagnosed with failure to thrive and falling off the growth chart meaning we supplemented with formula. But I tried just about everything to maintain a good breast feeding relationship – constant pumping, the use of a supplemental nursing system for supplementation, what seemed like around the clock nursing, daily visits with lactation consultants and more. Miles got a mixture of breast milk and formula for nine months before my breast milk diminished completely – not the breast feeding experience I’d at all imagined.

Looking back I see some of my pitfalls – a huge one being no skin to skin in the beginning. I didn’t even get to touch my son for a couple hours. I feel like this may have doomed me from the beginning. So I was determined to make immediate and constant skin to skin contact a priority.

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But things, like with my first breast feeding experience, don’t always go as planned. I have a heart condition and pacemaker which makes things for me a little more complicated, especially in pregnancy. So within the first few weeks of pregnancy I had an appointment with a high risk obstetrician. The doctor said she thought I would either have to deliver in Indianapolis or deliver at The Heart Hospital with my baby immediately being taken to The Women’s Hospital where he would stay for the duration of our hospital stay. I’d get to see the baby once or twice a day.

Once or twice a day? Obviously this wasn’t going to work, especially with my desire to breast feed. I talked to my OB who said that wasn’t going to be the case—that we would figure something out.
After a few more complications arose later on in my pregnancy it became clear I wouldn’t be able to deliver the baby at The Women’s Hospital. There’d been two other babies born at The Heart Hospital and Deaconess Gateway handles one or two deliveries a year but in all those cases either the mother was too ill to care for the baby or the baby needed NICU care. They’d never encountered a situation like mine – a high risk (yet healthy) mom and baby with no complications.

With some persistence on my part and amazing work on the part of Dr. Foster and the entire team at The Women’s Hospital, a plan was hatched. There were meetings, phone calls, e-mails and compromise. I know at one point they had a room full of all the key players who would be involved in my medical care in a care conference. All along I’d stressed that separation not only would be traumatic for me but it would mean the end of my hopes for a positive breast feeding relationship. That was what I kept in mind each step of the way.

The end result was amazing, so much more positive than I think any of us expected. I gave birth to Owen at 38 weeks via a C-section performed at Gateway. The anesthesiologist allowed me to have immediate skin to skin contact while Dr. Foster continued the surgery. There was a lactation specialist in my private recovery area to help with the initial latch and with nursing. Someone from lactation made the trek all the way from The Women’s Hospital to Gateway (through a super-secret tunnel) for nearly every feeding those first 48 hours.

The care I received was amazing! I spent the first two nights at Gateway. While there I had two nurses assigned to just me – a cardiac nurse and a nurse from The Women’s Hospital. They all were aware of my strong desire to have a successful breast feeding relationship and did everything in their power to make it possible.

I was transferred to The Women’s Hospital after I stayed stable for the first 48 hours and spent two additional nights there. I continued to have amazing care and am so grateful to the staff and nurses who made the experience so positive.

And all that work was worth it. Owen and I are still going strong, fifteen weeks in even with a return to work. Until I went back to work he’d only gotten two bottles so the little guy definitely has this whole breast feeding thing down.

After I came home it wasn’t without speed bumps – I got thrush from the antibiotics I received after the surgery, there was a dip in weight gain for a short time and like many moms I struggled with latch. But the amazing care offered didn’t end when I left the hospital – I have taken full advantage of the trained lactation staff at The Women’s Hospital coming in several times for weight checks and to talk to an expert. And every single time the experience was amazing. I was helped, reassured that I was doing everything right and that I was a good mom – something we all fret about.

It’s been hard to say thank you enough. I know that a lot of people went to a lot of work for little old me. I’m not a celebratory, I’m not special, and I didn’t have to pay more. I’m just a mom who expressed a strong desire to successfully breast feed and bond with my kiddo who happened to have some additional medical concerns. And without missing a beat they all made it happen.

I apologized to nearly everyone that first day knowing that I was causing extra work and headaches; every single one of them talked about how they were happy to see the positive outcome. And now the hospital has a plan in place if this situation arises again.

For more information on The Lactation Services at the Women’s Hospital, click here.

This blog was originally published on The Women’s Hospital’s Breastfeeding Connection blog.DSC_0815

Spontaneity at its finest

I don’t think this is the way it works.

The older I get and the more responsibilities I earn the more spontaneous I become. I thought this crazy “fly by the seat of your pants” stuff was for the “kids,” not mothers of two who are just “learning the Twitter.”

But it’s hit me — the spontaneous bug has hit me.

This morning as I was nursing Owen before coming into work I was scrolling through my Facebook feed when I saw a post for Big Splash Adventure, an indoor water park and hotel in French Lick. I’d liked the page for just this reason, to be alerted to deals they had. This one was for a one night stay around Christmas that seemed too good to pass up.
But I thought, “That’s just silly. We can’t do something like that. We’re grown-ups. We plan things out weeks in advance. It’s Christmas.”

While at work it kept gnawing at the back of my head. Waterpark, fun, memories, crazy!
So I dashed off a message to Michael with the details saying, “Let’s do this.”

In typical Michael style he said, “Sure!”

I decided that it would be fun to have my mom join us. So I called her.

“What?” she asked, dazedly. “I need time to think.”

You see, my mom is not of the spontaneous variety, or at least not typically. But she mulled it over for about an hour and called back with a yes.

So, yes, we are nuts and we will be spending Christmas Day at a water park! And I can’t wait! I’m going to bring our stockings, Miles’ Santa present and a miniature tree. And we are having a more traditional Christmas celebration Saturday with mom and my sister and her family. So why not?

Hope everyone else has at least one moment of spontaneity this holiday season. This feels pretty good!

New adventures ahead

Last week I took my first steps into a new world as features editor here at the Courier & Press.

When I was hired about two years ago as senior features writer, I knew this was the kind of paper for which I had always wanted to work.

What I didn’t realize was at that same place I would find a tremendous mentor and friend in the woman I am replacing, Linda Negro.

I find myself trying to fill some pretty big shoes.

As a newsroom, we just said goodbye to five valuable colleagues, tremendously skilled journalists with deep ties to this community. Two of those five came from my department — Linda and longtime arts and entertainment reporter Roger McBain.

Their departure is a loss we will certainly feel in the newsroom. I learned much from Linda and Roger in a short time.

Yet, this big change has also provided an opportunity for a next generation of leaders to step up. In addition to myself, two others have taken on new roles of leadership in the newsroom — Jon Webb as assistant metro editor and Erin McCracken as photo editor.
I am excited that the Courier & Press’ leadership has shown confidence in us as we work to introduce the newspaper to a new audience.

If you haven’t been a regular reader of my occasional column and daily parenting blog, here’s a quick intro. I am a native of Vincennes, have worked for newspapers all over the country for about a decade and came back to Evansville early last year. I have a family — Louisiana-native husband Michael and two little boys. Miles is a strong-willed and spirited 3-year-old who attends preschool at St. Theresa School, and Owen is a lovable two-month-old night owl obsessed with his momma and ceiling fans.

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As a career journalist, I strongly believe that a newspaper must remain a vital part of any community. It is my hope that we can find a way to reach out to people my age and younger, for which to many, the newspaper is seen as a thing of the past.

I don’t think that’s true at all. And in interacting with the public I’ve discovered a number of my regular blog readers — young parents, professionals and more — who like what we as a newspaper do. I’m hoping to help even more discover this too.

This doesn’t mean we are neglecting or forgetting our established readers. We will continue to do many of the things you enjoy. Hopefully you will also enjoy the innovative and exciting storytelling and new ideas we are adding as we try to reach more people and enrich our audience.

Linda’s strong involvement in several nonprofits and service organizations has been a very important part of the newspaper’s efforts to be an engaged and vital member of the community. It’s important for me to live up to that example and continue my own dedication to community service. As a returned Peace Corps volunteer — I taught English and HIV/AIDS awareness in Bangladesh — this has always been a big part of my life.

One of the city squares in Comilla.

One of the city squares in Comilla.

desh goat

I currently serve as the vice president on the board of directors for Project Reveal, a nonprofit that’s working to provide a voice and community for women by sharing their stories of daily struggles and survival through written, video and photo “reveals.”

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My first act as editor was to hire Roger’s replacement, a huge challenge. His talent and connections are irreplaceable. But our new reporter, Kelly Gifford, has an energy and enthusiasm that will serve the arts community well. She’s excited about incorporating new storytelling techniques and will breathe new life into our coverage. Check out her weekly column, Culture Shock, on page D3.

My family and I plan to be here in Evansville for a long, long time. So I have a vested interest in seeing this community thrive and grow. I hope this paper continues to play a role in that by telling the stories that you the reader want to hear.

That’s where you come in. What kinds of stories do you want Kelly and me to tell? What changes would you like to see? I look forward to your input and working to make this paper the best we can for our readers.

Until next time.

Back at work

In one breath I can say, “Eight weeks isn’t enough time!” and “Oh my goodness I was so ready to come back.”

I returned to work exactly 56 days after giving birth to my newest joy and blessing and the little creature that ensures I get no more than three hours of sleep every day — Owen Michael. I loved my time home with Owen and older son Miles when he wasn’t at school.

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Those eight weeks were an amazing opportunity to bond with my new son and also to help Miles adjust to a different home dynamic. It was also a chance to see a whole lot more of my husband and to get our money’s worth from our Netflix account (I’d be embarrassed to tell you how many television series I consumed during those sleepless, long nights.)

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I had all these grand plans of the things I’d accomplish over maternity leave both in the way of tasks that had been put off and Pinterest-worthy activities we’d do as a family.
Wah-wah. (That’s the game show “you didn’t get it right” sound effect.)

Not much got accomplished beyond snuggling. I am nursing Owen so those first few weeks it felt like I didn’t really move much from the little nest I’d created for myself. I was grateful to have Michael there to refill my beverage and bring me snacks when I was tethered down by a baby who was hungry, needed comfort or had fallen asleep and looked too darn comfortable to move.

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Miles was always able to find his spot on my lap too so I would still be able to snuggle him while nursing Owen. Those quiet moments with both of my babies snuggled peacefully and closely to my chest were magical. That’s when I said — eight weeks isn’t enough time! I can’t go back to work. How can I leave this tiny baby and little boy who need their mama? How will I be able to focus on my work when all I can think of is Owen’s pursed little lips and shiny eyes? It’s not enough time!

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And in a lot of ways it wasn’t.

But, there were also days or moments when I was hunkered down in that little nursing nest when it didn’t feel like a cozy, comfortable retreat to snuggle and nourish my baby. Instead it felt like a prison. I wanted out of the house. I wanted to shower on a daily basis. I wanted to not have a baby attached to me 24/7. I wanted to be able to eat a meal while it was still hot. I wanted to be able to sleep more than the hour here or there between nursing, pumping and laundry. I missed my work and my co-workers.

Those are the moments when I would scream (in my own head of course), “I’m ready to go back!”

And of course when my maternity leave finally started to wind down I was feeling less and less ready. A lot of that stemmed from guilt — I was leaving my tiny, helpless baby in the care of someone other than me, really for the first time. Anxiety peaked the night before as I ran over the list of “how-tos” with my husband — who I know is more than capable. I’m lucky he is able to be the caregiver.

An additional factor is that just days after I return I’ll be taking over as the features editor as my editor, Linda Negro, and fellow reporter Roger McBain are both retiring. While out on maternity leave I interviewed candidates to find a replacement for Roger and I thought about (and if I’m honest fretted a little) about how things would work. So in addition to some guilt with my return, I’m facing a little doubt and fears of inadequacy.

The day finally arrived; I came to work. I just cried a little in the parking lot. I have an amazing group of friends and co-workers who surprised me with treats and gifts to distract from the stress of the day, and I kept busy and accomplished a lot. And while things were going well at the office, poor little Owen (and his daddy) were struggling at home. Owen refused to take a bottle. He’d taken about three up to that point so he was far from an expert but at least he knew what he was doing. But he flat out refused. He was hungry. Hungry babies scream.

So much of that first day Michael had a screaming, starving baby, and I worried from work. That night, Owen nursed for about four hours.

Day 2 I got a desperate text message from Michael: “This is not working. The longer I try the more upset he gets and the more frustrated I get. It’s not doing anybody any good. You might need to come home and feed him. I can’t do anything for him.”

That message broke my heart for both Owen and Michael. I hated the notion that my husband felt helpless to soothe and comfort our son, and I was devastated that my son was hungry and couldn’t stop crying.

My first instinct was to run home and nurse him. But I knew it wasn’t the solution. So we waited it out.

I called the pediatrician, the hospital’s lactation services, my mom and my friends. They all agreed that he would eat when he was hungry enough and that it was worse for us than him.

By 4 p.m. Michael texted a picture of a smiling, happy baby.

“I think we have a breakthrough — empty bottle, happy baby!”

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Happy and relieved mommy too!

So, is eight weeks enough? For this mom it might have been. I’m so happy to be back especially with the challenges and changes ahead. I’m not going to lie though, it certainly doesn’t come without sacrifice. But, I’m treasuring my time outside of home grateful that I’m able to support my family and my sanity.​

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Thinking healthy

Last week, I wrote a story about a very nice man, Larry “Ox” Townsend, from Henderson, who has recovered from a stroke he had earlier this year. It got me thinking about a few things, mostly that I need to start taking better care of myself.

I’m 35, staring down the barrel of 40, and some days I feel like I’m 80. Too much bad food, not enough exercise, poor sleep habits, too much stress – all those risk factors that I am sure affect a whole lot of us.

As Mr. Townsend told me his story, I knew exactly what he was talking about.

The main thing is food. I like food. I really like meat, and salty things, and spicy things and cheesy things and fried things. And sugary drinks. Pretty much all the stuff you’re supposed to stay away from.

Of course, as I type this blog, there’s a commercial on the radio for Subway’s new pastrami melt sandwich. See, I love pastrami. I am kind of obsessed with it, actually.

I haven’t even really started the “health kick” and I’m already feeling like it’s going to be an uphill battle.

It’s not like I haven’t tried before. I’ve gone on diets before, dropped 20 or 25 pounds and thought, “Hey this is not hard at all.”

But I’ve never really stuck with it. That’s the hard part. You start to think you have control, and hey, I lost all that weight. I can eat that whole pizza, just this one time. But then one time becomes twice, then three times, then before you know it you’re supporting the Tri-State pizza industry all by yourself and back to your old weight.

I know what you’re thinking. “Hey this guy is talking about starting a diet with Thanksgiving coming up, good luck with all that.” And you’re probably right.

But I think if I start slow, cutting down on the soft drinks …

(Down south we call them “cokes” regardless of whether it’s Coke or Dr. Pepper or whatever, but that’s another blog entry for another time)

… I think I can build up to a better overall plan. Cutting out a few things at a time, instead of just dropping everything at once and expecting a miracle.

With two little kids around, I need to do a better job this time. I’m not committing myself to a “full body transformation” or anything crazy. I won’t be doing P90’s or crossfit or any of that stuff right now. I just want to start eating a little better.

Now if they’ll just stop running that darn Subway commercial…