Sunday, September 26, 2010

ambivalence about breastfeeding

Breastfeeding was INCREDIBLY hard at first, and so I struggled and struggled to make it work. I was on the verge of calling it quits, around five weeks, and then it suddenly got easier, due to no brilliance of my own making. It was probably just timing and good luck. Since then, W and I have had a fine time of it. Pumping absolutely sucked, and my supply through pumping was never very good. I think I just failed on that account. I tried to pump every two hours and follow the directions, but the little bags would fill up with just barely enough to get him through half of the next day at daycare. Ugh.

Now, at 9 months, I'm feeling like quitting yet again, not because it's not working, but because I'm just feeling done with it. I want my body back. W is also biting more than I'd like and when he feels like it, he hits me as he feeds. Lovely. I feel some guilt, though, because isn't that what motherhood is all about? I know the facts, that he's probably had enough BM to develop the immunities we all want babies to have by the time we reached six months. That he likes formula a lot and is completely comfortable with the bottle. That he's more interested in food these days anyway, and the breast is probably largely providing comfort and not just nutrition. But it's hard. I may never have another child. On the last day I breastfeed, it may be the last time my body does this amazing thing of feeding another person. And my irrational brain asks whether W and I will still be close without it--irrational because I'm actually certain we will. There is plenty of snuggling time without feeding already, and there's no reason to think it will end.

So we're down to two or three feeds a day--morning and night. And eventually, I'll drop one of those, too. It's like this phase is ending and another is beginning. As many people have said before me, change is really what motherhood, and what life, is all about.

I don't have any readers yet, which is still fine with me, but I want to add one beautifully written link here to Mel's posts about breastfeeding at Stirrup Queens. Even though I was one of the lucky ones able to breastfeed, I absolutely support the idea that we STOP putting so much pressure on women about the wonders of breastmilk. In that awful time where I was struggling and wanting to give up, I encountered my fair share of lactation consultants who berated me for thinking about it. They had me convinced that the problem was all mine, and that if I just wanted it enough, I could breastfeed. I shed more tears than necessary because of those women, and while they were also sometimes helpful, I see no reason to package the tears and the help together. Anyway, Mel is saying it far more eloquently than I, so here are the links. If I ever do have readers, again something I'm ambivalent about at the moment, someone might find them useful. And if I don't, I'll revisit these posts again to remind myself when I'm faced with other new mothers who don't need to be berated or scared into thinking that breast is always best. Breast is one fine option among many. Breastfeeding does not turn anyone into a genius, and it doesn't make mothers into goddesses. In fact, it's damn hard work, and anyone who says otherwise can fuck off.

Breast is Not Best

Friday, September 24, 2010

I suck at this

I have wanted a blog for many years, not so much for other people to read, but to collect my thoughts. Journaling has gotten boring for me lately. I love paper, pens, special notebooks (my favorites have always been Moleskine ones). But I wanted a new outlet. I wanted to be pushed to write, not to find the notebook and say, "Oh, yeah. I keep a journal. Better start writing again."
And yet it's not working. I'm not giving up on it, though. I'm still convinced this can work. Maybe the issue is that journaling, either in ink-paper or internet form, is difficult right now. I can't find time to breathe, much less journal.
I should breathe more. I need more space in my life that is not required or mandated by a screaming child. I need time for me again. How cliche is that? And yet, it's also true.
So here I am. Breathing for a moment. Writing for a few moments. And hoping that this will stick somehow.
In other brief news, W said his first real word today: bye bye. His grandparents were walking out the door, saying "bye bye" over and over again (while I gritted my teeth and wanted them to walk faster so I could get on with our day). And after one of the many "bye byes," W clearly said "bye bye" in the sweetest little voice, his hand opening and closing like a slow starfish. We all heard it and it prompted many attempts to get him to say it again. Of course, he babbled about other things and we couldn't get another "bye bye." Oh, it was so lovely. It was like a little window into what we're going to be hearing soon. We'll hear actual words, we'll know what this little guy is thinking about, and a new chapter in our lives will begin. I can't wait, but I also want to savor this little moment. One small word among the babbles. One bit of meaning. So beautiful.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

it never ends

One of the legacies of miscarriage is that even now, all these months after W has arrived, I still find myself checking the TP every single time I go to the bathroom. I still expect to see blood. And when I see it because it's that time of the month, I still catch my breath. Just for a moment. I used to hate this phrase, but I feel it: I keep expecting the other shoe to drop, even when there is no shoe in the air.

Saturday, September 4, 2010


I made my first cubes of frozen baby food today. Very exciting. I'm not very homemaker-y. In fact, I probably have fewer skills than most. But I've been trying to feed him real food now that he's eating more than purees. I use a sweet little hand grinder that minces soft foods nicely.

Sadly, those cubes of zucchini were the bright spot in an otherwise challenging day of parenting. I think W's upper two teeth are coming in (he has two little sharp shark-like teeth on the bottom and he likes to bite). If he's not really teething, though, then he's just cranky for no reason, which sucks. I feel like I spent my whole day today wrangling him. He would not sit still, would not be put down, would not play on his own. And yet when I held him, which was (I repeat) all day, he was squirmy and whiny and kind of mean. He kept hitting me, which I knew wasn't really aggression against me (he's 9 months old), but which hurt nonetheless. Patience was the word of the day.

So I'm taking comfort in those zucchini cubes. At least today included fresh foods and a bit of planning ahead. Here's hoping that tomorrow is better.

Friday, September 3, 2010

how I got here

I thought it might make sense to write a little about how I got here, and by here, I mean how I got to be 41 and the mother of a very small child. I'll give you the short version: met my husband late in life, had some trouble getting (or mostly, staying) pregnant, and then got lucky with W. Today, he's almost nine months, which is shockingly old. He's a real little person.

But what was I doing all that time? I sometimes wish I had gotten my shit together to have a baby earlier, especially now that I know how much I love having a kid. Ah, wishful thinking. I suppose I wasn't ready for all of this until now, and for what it's worth, I'm not sure I'm really ready for it now. Today, for example, I would love to curl up with a good book. It's a cloudy quiet day and it's perfect for that big sprawling novel I got from the library on Tuesday. Instead, I'm sitting here watching the video baby monitor for signs that W is waking up early from his hard-fought-for (by me) nap. He's cranky today. Barometric pressure? The lingering cold that he can't seem to shake? Maybe he'd rather be alone and read. Whatever the reason, today is a rough one for us. And it's one of the few days that I'm home with him all day--I work four days a week (equalling full time, so I actually work a bit from home at nights and on weekends). I'll save the work-or-stay-at-home issue for another post, but for now, I'll say that this one day home is bittersweet. Sweet because I'm with my boy. Bitter because I don't really get a day "off" and it doesn't always go as well or as smoothly IRL as it does in my daydreams when I'm at my office desk.

So today, I'm grateful that I have W and that it's not completely perfect. If it was, I might *really* regret those years in my late 20s and 30s reading and going to movies. In reality, life is complicated and motherhood is especially complicated.