How I’ve Milked Newbornhood

by Alison Friedman in Amazing Arielle, Baby Land, Boobs, Mommy's Musings

Wednesday marks eight weeks of an accomplishment I never thought I’d make.

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Before she was born, I knew I wanted the experience of breastfeeding Arielle, It’s what I’d planned to do with Madelyn, but I had to stop early due to the infection at the C-section site. As she grew, I remained sad about not having the opportunity to breastfeed and harbored a lot of anger toward the doctor who dismissed my suspicion that something was wrong with me. I knew that if we ever had another child, I would attempt breastfeeding again.

I don’t really know why it was so important to me. After all, I am not even against formula or claim in any way that it’s poison. Thank goodness for formula! It’s what nourished and grew my happy and healthy first child who rarely suffers illnesses, accomplished milestones ahead of or on time, eased into developmental transitions, and continues to outsmart us in almost every area of life.

Still, though, I longed for the experience that formula can’t give; the utter (udder?) mammalian connection between mother and biological child.

So when it was time to feed Arielle about an hour into her life in the outside world, I was essentially starting over. The nurse helped us latch, gave me tips about positioning, and explained to me what I should listen and look for. As the days went on and I was able to move better and better, we continued to establish a breastfeeding relationship. It was simple at first, but then became more and more painful. Nurses said our latch looked fine, and I was told I was doing it right, but I should just keep nursing and power through the pain that would leave within the week as my body became used to all the new sensations and activity. So I did. In the bubble of the hospital, I learned how to breastfeed Arielle.

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Milk came in the day before we were discharged so on top of all kinds of lightning-like pain, I suffered some pretty intense engorgement. Our wonderful pediatrician came in one morning to do her routine assessment on Arielle, and we giggled together as I greeted her with pillows of ice across my chest.

I don’t know how I did it, but I just kept telling myself to keep on keeping on.

Our first night home was a disaster. I’m still looking to meet the mom who hasn’t cried on her first night home from the hospital. Are you out there, Miracle Woman? Do you exist? Has anyone ever had a peaceful night without tears the day the baby comes home? Between hormones and the absence of the safety net of the wonderful nurses, I lost it. The pain suddenly increased and I was noticing blood and scabbing. The engorgement seemed out of control, and I swore I was going to float away like the house in “Up” due to the balloons under my shirt. The discomfort and the resulting crying baby left me in a puddle of tears from The Ugly Cry.

Twelve hours later, I had a lactation consultant in my house.

She taught me how to latch differently. She inspected my breasts. She assessed Arielle’s anatomy. Even though my face was still puffy from hours of crying, I began to feel better about having this personal support at my fingertips six days after Arielle’s arrival. She did notice, however, that Arielle’s tongue didn’t seem to wiggle out past her gums. And after additional inspection, she decided that Arielle was tongue tied; that her frenulum (the tissue that connects the tongue to the bottom of the mouth) was tight and preventing the tongue from making the necessary movements to suck and swallow correctly. I learned that this is very common, but usually goes undiagnosed if the baby is not breastfed because it’s the uncomfortable experience that brings attention to the tongue tie. If the baby is not breastfed, later in life, the child or adult might have issues with range of motion, speech, behavior, or ear, nose, and throat channels. I was glad we caught this, not only for my own comfort, but for Arielle’s overall health.

So on her eighth day, Arielle had a tongue bris. The ENT physician was so knowledgeable and supportive of breastfeeding. The procedure was hard for me to watch as I held her hands, but immediately after, I was able to nurse Arielle and I noticed a difference. By releasing the frenulum with a small cut, her movement was more breastfeeding-friendly, and we were able to continue on our journey while I simultaneously healed.

It wasn’t smooth sailing though. I continued to encounter bumps in the road. My pump was uncomfortable. Engorgement took over again. A plugged duct killed an entire day that I was sure would also kill me. Two weeks in, and I was miserable. I had threatened to quit breastfeeding approximately 47 times and every time, I chickened out because I didn’t want to quit breastfeeding. I wanted to like it. And I knew I could get to that point eventually only because so many friends had been in my shoes and told me it passes. This was a test of my strength and stamina.

Milk coma selfie: things have changed since college.

Milk coma selfie: things have changed since college.

I am part of a wonderful Facebook group with local moms who all gave me great advice. Two friends from the group spent hours replying to texts and looking at photos to consult me during those hard times. Late night FaceTime sessions helped talk me off a ledge. Therapeutic phone calls with friends added to my arsenal of information to battle the challenges I experienced (thanks, Gretch, for the APNO recipe!). I began going to a breastfeeding support group on Wednesdays and it has since become my favorite day of the week.

The weeks went by and the pain began to dwindle. What was once pain throughout an entire nursing session became pain only during the first few minutes. Then those minutes turned into only one. That one became a half. And now, when Arielle latches, I don’t feel pain. I feel pride.

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The nurses said it would take about two to three weeks. Well. No. Biggest lie of my life. Six weeks in, I stopped having anxiety before each feeding. And now, we’re at eight weeks, and the only reason why I find myself sighing before she eats is because the dog needs to go outside, Madelyn needs help putting on her socks, errands still have to be completed, I haven’t showered yet, and it’s 5 o’clock and I need to start preparing dinner. I didn’t need a breastfeeding miracle. I need a clone.

We’ve even figured out how to successfully nurse when we are out of the house. At first I was so nervous to leave home because I wasn’t sure how I would perform the breastfeeding choreography without the comfort of my special chair and positioning. But now, I can nurse while waiting for a table at a restaurant, off to the side at Target, and even standing up while microwaving Madelyn’s dinner. I don’t profess to know everything, but I know what works for me. So far. At this point. I know things will change as she grows and develops, but I now feel equipped to roll with it.

Before we could be seated to eat at the restaurant, Arielle dined at the breastaurant.

Before we could be seated to eat the restaurant, Arielle dined at the breastaurant.

My mom breastfed me during a time when a lot of moms felt that formula was the magical milk that was just as good as breast milk. Maybe it was. It was the 80s after all. But what interested me in breastfeeding and inspired me to try it and work through my obstacles was the experience itself that she shared with me. She told me about the amazing bond she felt, and the closeness of our relationship. She shared with me that it felt good, and how sweet it was. While she didn’t breastfeed me for an extended amount of time due to being a working mom (again, it was the 80s after all), she still felt the depth and benefits of nursing. Needless to say, I was intrigued, and wanted to understand first hand these memories my mom had of nursing me. So every time i swore I was going to quit between gasping, snorting sobs, she encouraged me to keep going and power through.

So many friends who support breastfeeding told me it was OK to quit. That my happiness mattered most and Arielle would be fine. Of course she would. Madelyn is a shining star. My stubbornness was selfish. I didn’t want to quit for me. I knew my baby would get fed regardless; but if I quit, I would never have this experience again. It was now or never. I wanted to reap the benefits of breastfeeding for myself and make the choice to quit for whatever reason after we were established, not during a low moment. I didn’t want to regret it later on because I knew the pain of regret would be greater than the pain at the breast.

But my true rock? My greatest support? My husband. He doesn’t have boobs and he was raised on formula. He’s not a hippie and he hated seeing me in pain. He usually chooses the path of least resistance, but is just as stubborn as I am. He was there for me with a glass of water and a flexi straw every time I was due to nurse. He helped me plan a blueprint of a schedule to get us through a good day. He could have told me to just forget it; that my constant crying was stressful and annoying; that it would just be soooooo much easier to shake up a scoop of powder and water. He was sympathetic and gentle, exactly what I needed to keep going. He continues to be there for every middle-of-the-night feeding, not even because I need help with breastfeeding specifically, but because we are a team and he wants the best for me and the best for our daughter. So while I prepare to nurse Arielle, he changes her diaper and brings her to me. It’s a relay and we work well together. I am so, so thankful to have a supportive partner like him because even though he can’t possibly understand what I’ve gone through, he knew how important it was to me. He wanted me to succeed, so he did everything to empower me. True love.

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My personal opinion is that everyone, if they can, should try to breastfeed. I’ve never felt more female or important. I feel much more bonded with Arielle than I did with Madelyn at this stage of newbornhood. My mental state is completely normal and I feel extremely clearheaded and recovered from surgery and post partum symptoms. My weight loss kicked into gear much sooner than it did last time, and I not only feel connected with Arielle’s body, but with my own, too. I am constantly in awe of the fact that I have the ability and honor of feeding my baby and how miraculous my body is for making it possible.

Breastfeeding is not easy. The fact that it’s the most natural thing a woman’s body can do does not mean that it’s the easiest thing. I don’t know very many women who say it’s not painful in the beginning, or messy, or stressful. It was all those things for me. Between inconvenient leaking that left a trail like I was Hansel AND Gretel to predicting feeding times with opportunities to sleep, I found beginning breastfeeding to be extremely challenging. I did it anyway. Anyone who knows me knows that I usually quit things that are difficult and too much trouble. Except this time.

A woman’s anatomy is truly amazing, and I have nothing but pride to do what it’s been made to do along with all other mammals. Our society has made breasts to be acceptable as only sexual accessories, but nobody is grossed out about the mama dog feeding her puppies or the new baby giraffe nuzzling with its mom for milk. I joke that I’m Arielle’s pantry. The kitchen is always open and I will continue to feed my baby until one or both of us is done. I’ve come so far and have never felt more proud. With the ongoing support of my friends, my mom, and Bryan, I know Arielle will continue to get the best. I love that she and I have a unique relationship that nobody else in her life can duplicate and I have the ability to take her from frantic to calm with cuddling and milk.

On the left: Before Milk. On the right: After Milk

On the left: Before Milk. On the right: After Milk

***

When new moms come to the Wednesday breastfeeding support group filled with anxiety and tears — the usual signs of having a one or two-weeker — I empathetically tell them it will all be OK and it gets better. It wasn’t long ago that I was hearing the same thing, and I am now honored to take my place in the sisterhood and support others from the other side of the fence.

  1. Marissa
    4/30/2015 12:37 AM

    A wonderful post and so spot on! Thanks for writing it. I’m four weeks in and have had a similar experience but I’m so glad I’m doing it. Also – we have the same udder cover!

  2. Jocelyn Morelli
    4/29/2015 9:35 AM

    Wonderful read. Flash back to the cruise we went on many moons ago. (I was still nursing Joa at 18 months.) I’m not sure you guys were on this shuttle. While exiting it in Croatia, a new mother dropped her container of formula. She immediately started crying. Tears of frustration. She was going to have to return to the ship and miss out on the tour. I distinctly remember her saying she was so sick of schlepping bottles of spring water and formula. I was so grateful to not have to worry about Joa getting nourished, as long as she was with me. I never considered the benefit of being able to provide food for my baby in the event of an emergency. Pretty cool!
    I breast fed until she was 2 1/2. For me it was the easy way. I would have continued to breast feed her longer. The weight flew off. I was eating like a maniac and in single digit sizes for the first time since high school.
    I was hospitalized for 10 days after a brown recluse bit my bottom and had to quit breastfeeding cold turkey.
    Which brings me to another point. I became encouraged immediately in the hospital. I was hooked up to a morphine drip after my surgery. High powered narcotics could not touch the pain I felt. So, I’m just sayin’… You’re a badass for getting to the other side!

The Story of Our Second Baby

by Alison Friedman in All In The Family, Amazing Arielle, Baby Land

After things were settled when Madelyn was born, I wrote up the story of her birth while it was still fresh in my mind. None of her story had been written before she arrived since it was all being created in the moments as the events actually happened. This time, though, the story was mostly blueprinted and predictable, with only the smallest details missing. What a completely different experience to go into a birth with almost all of the events planned ahead.

We woke up Wednesday morning with a jumble of emotions. Madelyn was super excited. Bryan was super excited. I was super… nervous. I tend to shut down and get quiet when big things are about to happen, so I was pretty out of it; numb, even. We took one last glimpse of the baby’s room before it would be filled with an actual baby.

Ready to go out the door and had to take one last photo of Madelyn as the youngest princess of the house. Confession: I cried when I took this picture.

Ready to go out the door and had to take one last photo of Madelyn as the youngest princess of the house. Confession: I cried when I took this picture.

We dropped off Princeton at doggy day camp where I emotionally said goodbye. He’s always my consistent and calming furry pile of love, and I wished more than anything I could smuggle him into the hospital.

When we arrived at the hospital, the first thing I saw was this sign at the entrance where the valet station is. I hoped that the quality of surgery was better than the spell checking. I chuckled to myself, which left me in stitches. The stitches before the stitches. Har har.

Valet parking goes with bad spelling like peanut butter and jelly... spaghetti and meatballs... a pregnant teacher and a red pen

Valet parking goes with bad spelling like peanut butter and jelly… spaghetti and meatballs… a pregnant teacher and a red pen

And my last dose of Vitamin D and natural light was with this cutie.

We are holding hands, but you can't see me white knuckling on her hand because nerves.

We are holding hands, but you can’t see me white knuckling on her hand because nerves.

Because I’m overdramatic, I had a lot of moments where I said “This is our last X without a new baby…” From the time we arrived until the time the baby arrived, I made my last self-made, unassisted pee, sent my last text message (shout out to Krissy Winters), felt my last belly kick… Life as we knew it would soon be over and I was marking everything I did as a final milestone before writing our new chapter. It all makes sense in my head, but it’s very possible that this incessant thought pattern requires heavy therapy. I don’t know.

After I was all set up in my pre-op room, we had one last moment of time as a family of three and I. Lost. My. Shit. I stood up to hug Madelyn goodbye and I burst — more like imploded — into tears and it was not my best mom moment because even though it was 100% out of love and a little bit out of fear and guilt, but mostly love, all Madelyn saw were the tears coming out of my eyes and then as if right on cue, she cried too, and then we were both snotty, sobbing messes. Because she was upset from seeing me upset/happy/scared out of my mind/mostly happy, she wouldn’t take a photo with us before I headed to the operating room, so that’s the story of how I single handedly ruined our very last moment as a family of three.

Then I walked down to the operating room and that’s weird because the last time I was in the O.R., I was also a hysterical ball of emotions, but I was wheeled down because I had no feeling despite having allllll the feelings. This time, I still had all the feelings, but could walk… nervously with heart palpitations because I was moments away from being cut open while awake and trusting a man with a long needle to make sure I wouldn’t feel a pinch.

Meanwhile, back in Normal People Land, Bryan suited it up for the big show before leaving the big sister with the grandparents to wait.

Meanwhile, back in Normal People Land, Bryan suited it up for the big show before leaving the big sister with the grandparents to wait.

The O.R. was cold, just as I remembered, and I sat on the table where my new daughter would be born just 45 minutes later, and I was given instructions about what to do to receive my spinal block, but all I heard from the anesthesiologist was Charlie Brown’s teacher’s voice: “Wah wah wah waaaaaah wah waaaaaah wah wah wah waaaaaah.” Between the nerves, the chills, and his mask that covered any possible audible sound, I seriously had no idea what was going on and my brain was numb as I just went with the flow of the procedure. I didn’t love it. This particular anesthesiologist was not as quick and smooth as the one who did the job with Madelyn’s birth. I felt lots of pressure and aches and what felt like hammering into my back. Good times. He kept asking me if I could feel things and I thought long and hard about my answers because they determined my fate and comfort. Pinch or pressure — two options I don’t want to have to choose from again.

But then it all went cold and heavy and the connections my brain made to my legs stopped working and the wonderful nurses did all my body manipulation for me. I would say there’s nothing more humbling than other people having to lift your gigantic body a few inches while you lie there helpless and unable to move a molecule, but I’d be wrong because… post partum care.

Then the stars of the show arrived: the doctors. It was a reunion of many kinds because assisting Dr. Replacement was my beloved and long lost Dr. Fiiiine! She had told me that even though she wouldn’t be able to be my obstetrician for this pregnancy since she was no longer doing OB, she could still assist in surgeries, so we worked it out that she could be there. She hadn’t done any deliveries since she stopped OB in December, so the whole O.R. gang was happy to see her back in her old stomping grounds. So was my uterus.

After what felt like decades, Bryan finally came into the room, the music started to play, and things got started. I had no idea what was going on despite requesting a mirror. Oh yes, minor detail: I asked for a mirror so I could see… stuff. People thought I was nuts, but I really don’t know how seeing a baby come out of your incised belly is any different than seeing a baby come out of your war zone vagina, which plenty of non c-section women do. The good news is that the angle of the mirror plus the action of the doctors prevented me from being able to see myself get cut open, so that’s probably a good thing. But minutes later, I heard Dr. Fiiiine say, “Oh, she has lots of hair and she’s a cutie!” and I knew the big moment was about to happen.

You see, with Madelyn’s birth, I felt very disconnected. In a state of confusion, I was horizontal on the table while a baby was excavated from my cavity. I would have felt that way with this one, too, if I didn’t have a mirror because inches in front of my nose was a blue drape that went as high and wide as I could see. My arms were out to my side, my eyes only reached so far peripherally, and all I could hear was white noise of medical equipment instead of play-by-play conversation that I could tell everyone else was having around me. The mirror, though, helped make sense of what was going on in the O.R. and brought me into the inner circle a little bit more, like I was sitting at the cool kids’ table. So when Dr. Fiiiine remarked that she could see the baby, I could feel the official Mother-of-Two moment was near.

TA DA! Dr. Fiiiine holds mah bay-bay in her very own Lion King moment.

TA DA! Dr. Fiiiine holds mah bay-bay in her very own Lion King moment.

At 1:00 on the dot, I saw her emerge and it was the most amazing thing. I saw Dr. Fiiine lift her up with her umbilical cord still dangling and attached to me, and I felt so connected to her arrival, ironically, as they disconnected her from me. I heard — and saw! — her cry, and watched as their hands dashed to prepare her for her next moments. The mirror was taken away, which was acceptable, because I did not need to see the rest of the procedure where they put me back together like Humpty Dumpty, and Bryan and the nurses brought the baby to me and I could see her inches away from my eyes and felt her on my chest where I was able to kiss her on the head.

Bryan literally cuts the cord. He will figuratively do it again when she's 32 and sleeping on our couch.

Bryan literally cuts the cord. He will figuratively do it again when she’s 32 and sleeping on our couch.

Hi. I'm your mommy.

Hi. I’m your mommy.

Cliche c-section awkward first family photo with shower caps and an upside down mother.

Cliche c-section awkward first family photo with shower caps and an upside down mother.

We spent a few moments together before Bryan left with her to go to the nursery. I remember tearing up because the moment felt very defined just as I imagined it would: BOOM. Now I had a second daughter. BOOM. Madelyn was a sister. BOOM. Life changed and I’d never experience pregnancy again and this stage of my life was officially over.

The rest of the surgery was pretty routine and boring. Unlike last time, this c-section had no bouts of nausea and vomiting, and no complications due to bleeding, so I wasn’t preoccupied with discomfort or fear. Instead, I was laying there and wondering what was going on in the nursery with the baby.

I found out later that everything in the nursery went fine and the baby took all her poking and prodding and washing like a champ. The proud grandparents and big sister watched it all through the windows as they got their first glimpses of the new member of our family.

Pride.

Pride.

Someone's excited to be a big sister.

Someone’s excited to be a big sister.

Who doesn't love baby feet?

Who doesn’t love baby feet?

The baby and Bryan met up with me in my recovery room and the three of us bonded and exchanged a lot of “I can’t believe its” and “This is so weirds” and we stared at our new baby and marveled at the fact that everything was different and this was our new chapter to write together.

Madelyn came in the room shortly after to meet her sister and it was an amazing moment. She had seen the baby from afar through the nursery viewing area, but this was their first encounter. We made sure the baby was in her little isolette so that Madelyn could see me with empty hands that were all for her hugs. I was so glad to see my number one girl and I told her I was OK and that I was so glad she was a big sister. Then we officially introduced her to her sister and Madelyn was over the moon. The proud grandparents joined us afterward, and they were all giddy with anticipation to see the baby up close and hear her name. Madelyn had the honors of doing the big reveal and she told them that her baby sister’s name was Arielle Jane Friedman. We told them it was Arielle because we liked it, and Jane was in memory of my Grandpa, Jules, who passed away 23 months ago. Collective “awwww”s rang out, and it felt so good to officially link this baby to our family.

We got settled in our new room that would be our home for four days. I spent the rest of the day nuzzling Arielle, learning her every body part, and connecting to begin breastfeeding together. I dozed on and off while people took turns holding her. The family stayed with us and our magical time in the hospital cocoon that I remembered so tenderly from last time was beginning.

After months of not knowing how I'd welcome a new little love in my life, it felt really good to have her in my arms.

After months of not knowing how I’d welcome a new little love in my life, it felt really good to have her in my arms.

I got sunshine on a cloudy day. I even got the month of May. Talkin' 'bout my girls.

I got sunshine on a cloudy day. I even got the month of May. Talkin’ ’bout my girls.

Baby's first family reunion.

Baby’s first family reunion.

Perhaps one of the greatest moments of Arielle’s birth day was at the end of the evening, before going home with Mimi and Poppa, Madelyn sat on a chair and held her little sister. It was the scene everyone warned me about: the emotional satisfaction of seeing your first born with your new baby, and the bonds beginning to build. As an only child, I have no idea what this experience is like on either end of the birth order, but as a mother, it was extremely satisfying, rewarding, and delightful. I looked at Madelyn and Arielle together and knew that my life’s greatest works were right in front of me. At 31, I peaked.

Alllllll the feels. All of them.

Alllllll the feels. All of them.

At 39 weeks and one day, the day that Arielle arrived was a roller coaster. I went in as ball of nerves and finished as a puddle of mush. I felt guilt and fear and discomfort and happiness. It was a hard day of, literally, doing nothing but experiencing everything. Compared to Madelyn’s birth day, Arielle’s was medically relaxed and predictable and the scheduled, repeat c-section was a breeze considering what it had been for me in 2011. And now, after almost five weeks of Arielle, it’s all slowly becoming a blur so I am rushing to write down my thoughts and experiences from the day she was born. We’ve been busy, learning about life together and Arielle fits in quite nicely with our family.

She’s ours for keeps.

My people forever.

My people forever.

  1. Mimi
    4/7/2015 10:55 PM

    So HAPPY to be a part of that wonderful day! The events of the day could not have gone any smoother. It was perfect. Arielle is perfect!
    I am looking forward to watching my 2 beautiful granddaughters grow up & thrive & just having tons of fun with both of them. LOVE!!
    Welcome to the world, Arielle Jane! R E L ;-)
    Mimi LOVES you!!!

  2. Donna Vlassich
    4/7/2015 5:22 PM

    absolutely beautifully written! Congratulations to all of you! You have been blessed with a beautiful family????

Introducing Arielle Jane Friedman

by Bryan Friedman in Amazing Arielle, Daddy's Corner

Now that she’s one week old, it’s time to share the vital stats from the second Baby Friedman’s birth:

Name: Arielle Jane Friedman
Place: Los Robles Hospital in Thousand Oaks, California
Date: 3/4/2015
Time: 1:00pm
Weight: 7 lbs, 11 oz
Length: 20.5″

If you were placing bets on weight or length, you would have done well to stick with the same exact stats from Madelyn’s birth. What are the odds?

Everything went great during the scheduled C-section, and we had a very nice time living in the bubble of the hospital for four days. Just like last time, we appreciated all the love from our friends and family as our phones lit up with endless Facebook notifications. We could not be more grateful for all the amazing support from everyone.

The Name Game

You may remember that Madelyn’s name was kept secret until the day she was born. We did the same thing with Arielle this time around.

Naming a person is hard. It’s a lot of pressure! When we were naming Madelyn, Alison and I started by each making a list of five names we liked to see if any matched. Alison’s list included both “Arielle” and “Madelynn”. My list included neither. But I liked both of those names more than most of the ones on my own list. I just hadn’t considered them before. So we ended up zeroing in on those two options.

We actually agreed on “Arielle” at first. We loved the name, but we had some reservations. First of all, we were worried it would be frequently mispronounced as AIR-ee-elle (like the mermaid) or AH-ree-uhl (like the former Israeli prime minister) instead of ar-ee-ELLE (the right way, like simply saying the letters R E L). We also figured we’d get the frequent cries of “Oh yeah. Like the Little Mermaid!” which no doubt would get old quickly, especially since Arielle’s pronunciation isn’t even like the fishy princess.

So for these reasons, we ultimately settled in on “Madelyn” instead. The spelling changed from Alison’s list because it didn’t look right to me for some reason. We didn’t want to do “Madeline” because, although we both liked it, we knew she’d go her whole life correcting people’s pronunciation of it. (Not mad-uh-LINE, it’s mad-uh-LYN.) So we figured ending in the -YN would help solve that problem. We also opted for the single N at the end to avoid having her run into spelling mistakes her whole life too. (Alison-with-one-L and Bryan-with-a-Y are well-versed in this arena.) You can see, we thought a lot about it. So unlike us, right?

Anyway, for this second kid, if we’d had a boy, the name decision would have been pretty easy for us. Our boy lists matched pretty closely. However, when we found out we were having another girl, we thought we’d start fresh with a clean slate of names and pick which one we liked best. But it turns out, we didn’t like any of them more than we liked “Arielle.” We just kept coming back to it. Except we still had all the same reservations this time. Even more so actually because of Madelyn’s obsession with The Little Mermaid. Would it now seem like the name was because of this? Would it be confusing for Madelyn?

We flirted with other names, but eventually just decided to go with what we liked the best. Madelyn won’t be obsessed with a mermaid forever, and let our reservations be damned! We just love the name, so forget all that stuff. We even told the name to Madelyn (risky!) so we could hear her say it and her cute little way, lovingly and sweetly saying the name in a sing-songy voice, sealed the deal. Arielle it is.

We weren’t wrong; most of our concerns have been validated over the past week as we find ourselves constantly correcting mispronunciations and dodging Little Mermaid references left and right. But we knew what were getting into. So little girl – you’ll just have to get used to it. Take it from Bryan-with-a-Y and Alison-with-one-L – we feel your pain. You may grow tired of repeating the phrase “it’s just like saying the letters R E L” – but we know you’ll grow to love your name as much as we love it. It’s beautiful and unique, Arielle. Just like you are.

* * *

We’ll write more soon about Arielle’s birth day and the following days at the hospital. We are settling in at home and Arielle is a sleeping and eating champ. The best part is watching Madelyn adore her baby sister. It’s a whole new era in the Friedman household and even though change can be hard, ultimately, things are good. They’re great.

  1. Sarah
    3/12/2015 9:14 AM

    I have a friend with the same name (but spelled like the mermaid) she also tells people “like saying the letters R E L” or ” like the way Sebastian pronounces the mermaid’s name”

    I think the spelling you went with will be much less confusing for people

Big Steps for Big Sis

by Alison Friedman in Marvelous Madelyn, Mommy's Musings, Pregnancy

A big sister must be prepared for her sibling duties, so just like my mom made me take an SAT prep course in my junior year of high school, we enrolled Madelyn in “Siblings R Special” at Los Robles Hospital to make sure she passed the ultimate test with flying colors.

Initially, she was scheduled for the class the weekend before. It’s only offered once a month, and I opted for the date closest to our c-section so that Madelyn would have all the information fresh in her head. I was so excited to watch her have a sister experience that’s all about her, so imagine my utter disappointment when we got to the class and it had been canceled due to the teacher’s illness. The high school volunteers at the hospital almost had to admit me to a room with rubber walls.

I called first thing Monday and begged them to reschedule the class. They did! So, four days before Eviction Day, Madelyn got to take her class and we enjoyed the little nuggets of information the teacher shared. Madelyn learned how to hold the baby properly, and the teacher also explained that the belly button would look funny.

Always place the baby on a hard table and  squeeze at the neck.

Always place the baby on a hard table and squeeze at the neck.

The baby will always be very still and quiet.

The baby will always be very still and quiet.

Even professional Daddies need practice. Also, it's totally OK turn your babk and leave babies unattended on tables.

Even professional Daddies need practice. Also, it’s totally OK turn your back and leave babies unattended on tables facing the wall.

Madelyn got to color a picture that would go on the baby’s cart-bed and — nice touch — the volunteers took a family photo of us at the beginning of class that was ready by the end, so we could affix the photo to Madelyn’s picture.

This is the first piece of art that Madelyn's little sister will see in her own little baby Louvre.

This is the first piece of art that Madelyn’s little sister will see in her own little baby Louvre.

The class ended with a tour of the maternity level and a stop at the nursery so she could see where her little sister would be right after delivery. We looked at the new babies in there and she recalled pictures she’d seen of herself in the very same nursery just over three-and-a-half years ago.

I definitely think she aced the class. The final exam is on Wednesday. We’ll see how all her studying pays off.

Madelyn recalled her entire experience in this nursery. Home videos are a magical device.

Madelyn recalled her entire experience in this nursery. Home videos are a magical device.

Oh, and P.S., I cried about 6 separate times during the class. That’s pretty much every ten minutes. I blame hormones. Either that, or there was an invisible kitchen in the classroom with an invisible chef cutting up onions in the back. Why would seeing Madelyn hold an oversized, plastic, lifeless baby doll without any of my DNA make me well up? Or walking past the nursery and seeing other strangers’ fresh, new babies? Psshhh. Hospital fumes.

After Big Sister Academics on Saturday, it was time for Big Sister Extra Curriculars. Madelyn, ever the ultimate girly-girl, has always admired my nails after I come home from a manicure or pedicure. She loves to rub her fingers of the smooth polish and analyze the color I’ve picked. She also likes to watch me put on my makeup every morning and regularly declares, “I’m not a big girl yet, but when I am one day, I will get to wear makeup and get my nails painted, right Mommy?” I always tell her that, yes, makeup is for grown up ladies and that painted nails are for super big girls. Honestly, I’ve avoided putting nail polish on her fingers simply because I haven’t wanted to open up a can of worms of vanity or set up expectations that it can be a regular thing for her.

But between solidifying the idea that she’s about to be a big sister — and, therefore, a “big girl” — and the selfish fact that I’m an emotional mess, holding on to every last bonding opportunity with my only child who made me a mommy in the first place, I decided that the week of the baby’s arrival would be a good time to finally treat her to her first manicure!

After school on Monday, I told her we were going to do a surprise. She immediately began guessing. “Trader Joe’s?” “The bagel store?” “Nordstrom?” I suppose she has me pegged. But I told her it was something she’s never done at a place she’s never been to. She guessed: “A new Target in a new city?”

This girl is a victim of routine.

We walked into the nail salon and she didn’t seem to catch on right away. So I explained to her what we were doing and her eyes lit up. I told her to pick a color and she immediately picked up a sweet pink — shocker! — but then I switched it out for a better brand! OPI’s “Pinking of You” was the winner. I explained the pun. She was not as impressed as her mother. One day.

Some of the most important life decisions a girl will make.

Some of the most important life decisions a girl will make.

Pinking of You -- always, pinking of you, Madelyn.

Pinking of You — always, pinking of you, Madelyn.

I had my nails done first; a set of sparkly, soft pink gels to really ensure a good two weeks out of my paws. Madelyn stared at the UV box in horror and I reassured her that her manicure did not entail this exercise.

When it was her turn, her manicurist, Nancy, simply painted her nails pink and Madelyn watched with very big eyes. I had to keep reminding her to stay very still and to let her hands relax and stay away from touching anything. At the very end, Nancy added white flowers to her thumbs with jewels in the middle of the petals. Madelyn lit up. She loved it. She could not stop staring at her nails and I loved watching her awe.

She was nervous for the moments before, but settled into the experience pretty quickly.

She was nervous for the moments before, but settled into the experience pretty quickly.

A girl could get used to this.

A girl could get used to this.

These are the silliest milestones, yet those are the ones that are most memorable: "Baby's First Mani"

These are the silliest milestones, yet those are the ones that are most memorable: “Baby’s First Mani”

Mother-Daughter manicures forever! Mother-Daughter tattoos NEVER!

Mother-Daughter manicures forever! Mother-Daughter tattoos NEVER!

Having a daughter just got a little bit more expensive.

Having a daughter just got a little bit more expensive.

When we got home, she ran into Bryan’s office and was so excited to show him. She’s been staring at her nails all night and I made sure to remind her a few times that she got to have a manicure because she’s a big girl and it’s what we do for very special occasions — like becoming a big sister!

Next big beauty milestone will likely be an eyebrow wax in about ten years. That’s a little less exciting and glamorous, so I hope she savored today.

I’m so happy that all of the photos of Madelyn holding her sister on Wednesday will have a glimmer of our special, surprise mommy-daughter manicure day together.

Reunited With Some Old Friends

by Bryan Friedman in Daddy's Corner, Pregnancy

A few months ago, I climbed a ladder in the garage to grab bins and bags full of clothes marked “onesies 3-6 months” or “pajamas 9-12 months” or “dresses and leggings 18 months.” God bless my wife – she’s so organized. As we readied the nursery, we furiously unpacked the clothes and meticulously hung them in the closet, running out of hangers in no time. This girl is going to have some wardrobe! Alison was close to crying multiple times – either just from getting emotional about seeing Madelyn’s old clothing, or being sad that some of them were ruined by milk stains gone nuclear after three years to really seep in.

Then, a few weeks ago, it was time for round two of digging into the storage areas of our garage – this time to find and haul out all of Madelyn’s original baby gear. Mr. Jungle Gym Mat. Mrs. Swing. Dr. Bouncer. Professor Pack-and-Play. All of our old friends, tucked away in boxes, now entering the world again. Out of retirement. Back in service. I feel like it’s Toy Story or The Brave Little Toaster and these items are all secretly gleeful to be getting ready for use again.

All I had to do was remember how to put them all back together. Not from scratch, but from some variable level of disarray – just enough to have packed them nicely away in boxes. From upstairs I’m sure Alison could hear gasps of “Oh yeah! I forgot about this piece!” and “Argh! I remember this being a pain last time too,” and “What was I thinking packing it away like this?” But before too long, everything was back together, ready and waiting for the new resident to join our party.

But of course, before the new baby can use them, they must be tested by their previous inhabitant and current preschooler.

Wheel of Fortune: Before and After Category

Wheel of Fortune: Before and After Category

Hey Bouncer! Nice to see you again. Meet Mr. Rock-n-Play. I swear, you're not obsolete. We have a bunch of rooms now!

Hey Bouncer! Nice to see you again. Meet Mr. Rock-n-Play. I swear, you’re not obsolete. We have a bunch of rooms now!

It took me three years to finally get The Animal Fair out of my head, and only three seconds to get it back! The sight of Madelyn pushing the buttons and flipping the switches on this stuff was really something. The last time we saw any of it in person she could barely hold her bottle, let alone push buttons or flip switches. I think with Madelyn in the house, I will have to replace these batteries a little bit more frequently.

There’s only one week to go before the pack-and-play, swing, bouncer, and jungle gym mat are officially reenlisted into active duty. And of course, I look forward to meeting up with Miss High Chair and Colonel Jump-a-roo again real soon too. Needless to say, I’m excited for all the brand new experiences to come, but it sure is nice to have some familiar old friends around.

  1. sharon
    2/24/2015 7:59 PM

    I LOVED reading this blog entry and seeing Madelyn in the then & now pictures with all the baby gear. Great idea. It looks like you’re ready. Let the countdown to next Wednesday begin!!