Tuesday, April 28, 2009

this and that

Mike was out for most of Saturday, and by Sunday I needed a little alone time. So I volunteered to mow the lawn. Yes, folks- what once qualified as "tiresome chore" is now "peaceful alone time". Behold the magic of parenthood!

Once I'd mowed, the edges looked sloppy, so I got out the edger. Once the lawn was edged, the bushes looked sloppy, so I got out the hedge clippers. Guess I needed that alone time! I also guess we've been a little distracted since last summer, because the bushes were seriously out of control. It took me a solid hour to hack them down to size, and two days later I still can't move my arms. In fact, I'm typing this with my tongue! Don't say I never did anything for you.

After I'd given the bushes their girlish figures back, I was quite annoyed to notice that only the tulips on the right side of our patio bloomed this year, leaving the left side without a pleasing pop of color. To correct this imbalance, I hacked down all the tulips, too:

Still life of tulips with plastic crap.

On Monday, upon hearing a prediction of mid-90s on the NPR weather report, I busted out a pair of capris to wear to work, which necessitated a pair of sandals.


I know you won't believe this, but I've largely given up on heels. Temporarily, at least. It's just too hard to haul Lion and everything else down the stairs to the garage and then into the daycare wearing Nikes, let alone 3-inch heels. Now, now, I haven't gone to true flats, mostly because I don't think they look good on me. I'm a wedge girl for now.

Anyhow, the only black sandals I have that are suitable for work also have a heel, and while it's not a very big heel, it's narrow enough to make the morning marathon a bit precarious. Then I remembered them... the loyal black Aerosoles slides that I wore to work almost every day for four solid months when I was pregnant last year.

Those will work, I decided. I had a hazy recollection of Mike wrinkling his nose in distaste the last time I wore them, but I also remembered telling him that they were my only comfortable shoes and I wasn't going to buy new ones when my feet were swollen and he could just deal with them, unless he wanted to take the 30 extra pounds I was carrying.

(he politely declined)

But when I pulled them out the box yesterday, I was horrified that I'd worn these things out in public, let alone to work.


That is some nasty shoe.

See that edge near the toe of the shoe, where a bit of
padding is peeping out?
I super-glued that sucker at least four times.


I felt bad throwing a pair of shoes into the trash, but I'm certain that even in today's crappy economy, no one is desperate enough to want these.

So, not only do I need a new pair of black sandals, I have a wardrobe dilemma.

This June my brother is getting married to a girl I adore- that's the great news. The bad news, as far as my wardrobe is concerned, is that the wedding will be at a campground in New York, about 45 minutes from Manhattan. It should be a blast- after the ceremony there will be dancing and a bonfire, and my whole family is going to camp there that night.

The recommended attire for the ceremony is "campground chic". Ha ha ha! I told you, I love that girl.

Anyhow, as the sister of the groom I know I'll be in lots of family pictures that evening, so I do need to look presentable.

I need a dress:
  • That is appropriate for an outdoor wedding in early June
  • That I can dance in
  • That can get dirty
  • That can stand up to a squirmy, grabby (no strapless dresses) 9-month old (who will presumably be on my lap the entire time, since Mike is one of the groomsmen)
  • That is nice enough for pictures
  • That provides easy access for nursing Thanks for taking care of that issue, Lion!

I need shoes:
  • That go with the dress
  • That are flats or wedges
  • That are comfortable for walking on unpaved trails

So! Who has the perfect solution?


Monday, April 27, 2009


As I was telling Frema this morning, I gave Lion his first bottle of formula on Saturday morning, and he didn't appear to detect any difference. Good thing, since I bought a ginormous tin of it and if Lion didn't like it, Mike and I were going to be drinking it in lieu of milk, because I was not about to throw out $33 worth of magic powder (which I can only assume is made from Colin Firth's fingernail clippings, it's so damn expensive). Naturally, the day after I opened the tin I found the exact same tin at Wegmans for almost five dollars less.

That burns, Whole Foods.

To update those who care about such things, I'm still pumping three times a day, which means that I only have to use 2-4 ounces of formula per bottle, depending. I plan to keep doing that for as long as my supply holds up. Lion continues to dig night-time nursing only, and I am happy to oblige.

Buying the can of formula last Friday was a bit hard, because I felt as though I were admitting defeat. But opening it on Saturday morning was fairly ho hum. I decided to give him his first taste in the morning, in case he had an adverse reaction. I scooped it into the bottle, added water, and shook it up. Lion happily drank it.

The end.

After the roller coaster that was the first week of the strike, the new routine is a relief. I know where we stand. I'm not afraid he'll go hungry; I don't have to worry about how much I pump. I don't have to keep running through every trick recommended by La Leche.

Someday this unexpected transition will be a mere blip on the radar. Even in the thick of it, I knew that. But I needed to try everything possible before I could let it go, and then I needed to mourn. And that's what I did.

I can sleep tonight.

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Thursday, April 23, 2009

The post I didn't want to write

The strike goes on. It's been a full week, and Lion will only nurse in the middle of the night. Every other attempt is met with polite refusal, a response that rapidly escalates to wailing and flailing if I persist.

So, bottles it is. I've been pumping like a fiend to keep up with him, and for a week, I've been able to do it. But in preparing two bottles for daycare tomorrow, I had to defrost four bags of frozen breastmilk. There simply wasn't enough pumped milk left in the fridge, and I am tired. I'm tired of smelling like maple syrup from all the fenugreek I've been stuffing down my throat. I'm tired of pumping every two or three hours to make enough. I want to spend real time with my son when I'm home with him, not sit there on the couch, waving my feet at him and making my socks talk so I can entertain him while I milk myself.

There are only a few bags of my precious frozen stash left, which I'll use to supplement what I pump, but I'm guessing it will only last another few days. Soon, unless the strike suddenly ends, I'll have to supplement with formula.

Typing "I'll have to supplement with formula" makes me cringe a little, because I know there's nothing at all wrong with using formula, whether out of necessity or simple desire, and I never want another parent to think I'd judge. But my personal goal was to breastfeed exclusively for one year, and anyone who's been reading this site since Lion was born knows it hasn't been an easy goal to meet. I remember making it to two months and feeling immensely proud, and in the next moment realizing I'd have to go six times that to make it to a year. And while I'd be lying if I said I didn't die a little inside, I bucked up and kept going because that was what I wanted to do. That was my choice.

Ah, but there's the rub. It's always been my choice. And now, it's not.

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Monday, April 20, 2009

On Strike

Yay. A new event in the Breastfeeding Challenge.

Lion has been on strike since Thursday morning. I wasn't too worried at first, since nursing strikes are common. A day or two and we'd be back to business, I thought.

But Lion has other ideas. He'll still nurse readily in the middle of the night, and sometimes first thing in the morning, but he has steadily refused me for every other feeding. You'd think my pump would be happy about the extra bonding time, but she's such an ungrateful little bitch.

Medela: WTF? Why aren't we going to your office?

Liz: Sorry, you're needed at home now.

Medela: I see how it is.

Liz: What do you mean?

Medela: You only want me when you have mastitis, or when your nipples are bleeding, or when you own baby rejects you. Oh, Medela, come back! NOW I need you!

Liz: Oh, come on.

Medela: This sucks.

Liz: Actually, you suck. Ha!

Medela: You're sad. So very sad.

Liz: Boy, I'm glad you don't have teeth.

At first Lion was just biting me whenever I tried to nurse him, and I figured more teeth were on their way. But then he was clamping his mouth and turning away whenever I offered.

Things I have ruled out:
  • A loud noise startled him when we last nursed (I can't think of anything that's startled him recently)
  • Some new scent is wigging him out (I haven't changed soap, deodorant, etc.)
  • Ear infection (no sign of this thus far)
  • Milk tastes funny (he'll happily drink it from a cup or a bottle)

Things I haven't ruled out:
  • He's teething (drooling to the extreme & chewing on everything, but I don't see any signs in his mouth that teeth are on the verge of pushing through)
  • It's a developmental thing (he's so. close. to. crawling.-?)

Things I have tried:

  • Different positions
  • Not pushing it when he refuses
  • Waiting until he's really hungry
  • Offering before he's really hungry
  • Reducing the amount of solids I give him
  • Giving expressed milk from a cup
  • Giving expressed milk from a bottle with a slow-flow nipple
  • Giving expressed milk from the bottle with the slow-flow nipple, then attempting a quick switcheroo (note to self: do NOT try that one again)
  • Offering when he's just waking up from his nap
  • Offering just before his nap
  • Napping together
  • Trying to sneak it in during his nap
  • Dark room with gentle music playing
  • Dark room with no music playing
  • Every room in the house
  • Center ring at the Barnum & Bailey circus
I did call La Leche League this morning and the very nice woman basically told me that I'm doing everything right, and to keep trying.

I'm writing this post in hope that by sharing my problem with the Internet at large in a fit of emotion and overreaction, Lion will wake from his nap and easily resume nursing, no problem, and I'll have to come back and say, uh.... never mind.

Pre-baby, I'd read accounts like this and think, really, is it the end of the world if the baby drinks from a bottle instead? You've nursed for almost 8 months and if it falls apart at this point, why should you feel bad? You've done your best. This is beyond your control. Go easy on yourself.

But when it's your baby, and you've endured a lot to be able to breastfeed easily, and you've come to understand what a special and emotional thing the nursing relationship really is, well, it's hard not to feel bad.

So GO, magic powers of publishing things on the web! MAKE ME EAT MY WORDS.

Or at least bring me some people who can commiserate.

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Can I borrow your shield?

Here's the deal: I had to post something to get rid of the last post. I don't like to be reminded of "the incident". In fact, for a couple of days I tried to avoid that part of my house altogether, as even looking at that spot on the floor made me feel a little sick to my stomach. Kind of like when my dog saw some avocados ripening on the windowsill and was so traumatized that it was several days before he could bring himself to look out the window again.

Yeah, exactly like that.

Look, I know that falling off the bed is small potatoes compared to the things Lion and I are likely to encounter in his lifetime (suggestion for the next Dr. Seuss: Oh, The Places You and Your Mother Will Go! a.k.a. The Emergency Room, The Bully's House, The Principal's Office, and The Psychotherapist). I know I can't prevent every bad thing, nor would that be good for him, but still- sometimes it feels like motherhood requires a natural armor that I have yet to develop.

I was dropping Lion off at daycare a couple of weeks ago, and sat down on a small bench just outside of the infant room so I could remove my shoes. Lion, perched on my knee, was watching some bigger kids across the way with a look of utter fascination on his face. A couple of boys noticed him and moved closer, pointing their little toys at him.

"Hey, BABY," said one boy.

"Yeah!" said the other, with disdain. "He's just a BABY."

Little Lion smiled uncertainly, then looked up at me. My arm was wrapped around him, my hand on his soft, round belly.

"We don't play with BABIES," said the first boy.

I know it's completely normal for kids that age to want to separate themselves from babyhood. I get it. But a little wave of anger surged up in my chest.

"You should be nice to everyone, even babies," I told them, getting up. "Especially babies. They look up to you."

The boys blinked at me.

You little assholes, I finished, silently.

Since having Lion, I find myself thinking more about my own mother, wondering what she experienced after I, her firstborn, arrived. There are a few short entries in my own recently unearthed baby book, which I greedily devoured within seconds. I wish there were more. And so every so often I write a letter to Lion in which I tell him how he' s changed, the milestones he's reached, and what it's like to be his mother. I'll give them to him someday, if he's interested.

This is from a letter I wrote when he was around three months old:

At home you slept in your bassinet, right next to our bed. I woke up any time you stirred, and kept a nightlight plugged in so I could always see that your chest was rising and falling. Even when I was exhausted, I felt it was a privilege to care for you. I felt lucky. I thought of my own mother, and wondered how I could have lived so long without understanding the powerful love she had for me. A couple days after your birth I was holding you as tears slid down my cheeks. “What if something happens to him?” I wept. “I couldn’t bear it.” My mother stroked my cheek and said, “You never stop worrying about your babies, even when they grow up and have babies of their own.”

It's a wonderful, terrifying life sentence, this motherhood business. So many women tried to tell me, but I just didn't understand until he was here.


Friday, April 03, 2009

Forget the cowbell. We need more guilt!

Yesterday my son was at home, not at daycare. He was supposed to be spending time with his loving, attentive mother, the one who only has one baby and can therefore immediately respond to his every need. The care she provides at home is so superior to that available at the daycare. Remember?

That mother laid her baby on the bed and surrounded him with pillows. She walked four feet away to the bathroom sink, the baby still in view. As she bent over the sink and was washing her face, she heard a sickening thud.

There he was, face down on the floor. The unforgiving hardwoord floor. The hardwood floor that was there because she had insisted upon ripping up the carpet.

I don't even remember running to him. I was just there, and he was in my arms before he'd even gathered enough enough breath to scream. I quickly checked for blood, for arms that bent the wrong way, for focused eyes. I apologized over and over. He cried; I cried.

We were due at the pediatrician's office at 10:00 anyhow, but it was only 9:00 and I was too worried to wait. I called the nurse help line to see if I should go to the emergency room. Lion's screams were so loud, I could barely hear her.

Bring him in to the office now, she said.

I laid him in his crib and raced to get the diaper bag. What if the pediatrician sent us to the hospital? I stuffed a week's worth of diapers and wipes into the bag, a pair of pajamas, his favorite tiger blanket. I stuffed my fuzzy-socked feet into my Nikes and threw a coat on over my pajamas. I gingerly picked up the still-sobbing baby and got him into the car.

Baby, I'm sorry. I'm sorry, baby.

The instant I started driving, he fell into an exhausted slumber.

When we got to the pediatrician's office, I gently woke him and carried him inside. He smiled at the receptionist.

"Uh," I said, trying to speak quietly so the other waiting parents wouldn't find out what a horrible mother I am. "We were supposed to come at 10:00 for two vaccinations, but he fell off the bed and was screaming and the nurse told me to bring him in right away."

She looked at Lion and smiled. "Were you doing your Humpty Dumpty impersonation?"

His grin grew wider, revealing his two bottom teeth. His teeth! I hadn't even thought to check his teeth.

"Ghee!" he declared.

As we sat in the waiting area, I noticed that Lion's pants and shirt were messy from the morning's oatmeal. His fingernails needed trimming. His nose was running. Oh, AND he had just fallen off my bed and landed head-first on the floor.

I was feeling better and better.

We were called back a minute later, where I had to describe to a nurse and then the pediatrician how he fell off the bed, and how high off the ground it was, and how he had fallen onto hardwood floors. My voice wavered each time, but Lion was beaming and happily waving a toungue depressor around in his little fist.

He was fine. He is fine. But I think it'll take me a few more days to recover.

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