Thursday, March 31, 2011

Solid Snafoo

loving her bananas
How in the world does a person spell "snafoo?" Snafu. Snafue? I don't know.

Lydia's been a bottle snob lately, apparently for good reason, as you'll see. I've had to be gone from her more than usual this week with work and board meetings, which necessitates her taking a bottle from her caregivers. Fortunately, I thought "no sweat, she'll be with my mom or MIL, they're amazing with her and Mom always gets her to take a bottle."

No dice.

Both Charlie and I have been off and on sick, leaving our noses stuffy and our senses of smell decidedly less accurate. So when my MIL tried giving Lydia a bottle Tuesday afternoon and Lydia didn't take it, it didn't register that something could have been off with the bottle (it smelled fine, after all....) Then yesterday, when my mom tried, she didn't have anything to do with it, and the same with Charlie when he got home from work and took over for my mom. By that time though, instead of politely refusing and going on with playing or whatever, she screamed after taking a few swallows and refused the rest.

The milk we used Tuesday was fresh out of the freezer and fridge that day; since she didn't take it we should have thrown it away and tried another, but with the different caregivers and whatnot it didn't happen.  So the same bottle was tried on Wednesday without success. When I got home last night from work and Charlie told me of her vehement response to the bottle, I smelled it and indeed, it smelled a tiny bit off. Not terrible, but enough to dissuade her from wanting to drink it. I wasn't stuffy when I smelled it last night, but who knows, maybe I was still unable to smell things fully and it was worse than I thought. Anyway!

mmm, carrots and squash. We gave up the spoon halfway through.

Here's our game plan from now on, because I hate it when my daughter gets filled up on solids with a tiny bit of milk, and not the other way around--at this point in the game, most of her nutritive needs should be satisfied with my milk, not puffs, baby food and cereal. Those can certainly help boost calories and other nutrients that I can't keep up with, but her main food should be breastmilk. We'll always try a fresh bottle; if I'd have been thinking I would have pumped a fresh bottle and tried it after I got home from work on Tuesday. And I'll really make sure to keep my pump and its associated hardware super clean while pumping. My milk stays frozen in our big chest freezer, so partial thawing and contamination shouldn't be an issue. Charlie feels so bad when we have to dump out milk because he knows how hard I work to pump enough, but I can pump more. Not a big deal.

So yeah, we're still struggling a bit with that. We really should give her more bottles because of conundrums like these. Anyone have any helpful ideas for us being more than six months into this and still struggling with the pumping/bottle giving process?

Otherwise, our venture into the world of solids has been going okay. It's tricky to figure out a balance where Lydia gets the nutrients she needs during the day, but doesn't OD on solids like I know she'd like to. I've never met a kid that liked to eat as much as she does (imagine
that). It's a joy to feed her, which has led us into some trouble with constipation and allergic reactions. Apparently Lydia's tummy doesn't like mangoes, which made her break out in little red patches all over her body. But she's tried, and loves, the following:



Vegetables (she loves veggies way more than fruit, atta girl!)
sweet potatoes
mashed potatoes
green beans

And she loves puffs, especially the Greens from Happy Baby Organics, and her breakfast cereal mixed with my milk and a little fruit. It makes me happy that she's such a happy and easy eater, but still, we need to remember that my milk comes first.  To make it so, though, we need to be really conscious and intentional about how we collect, store, and give it to Lydia.
Don't worry, she had peaches for lunch, not Daddy's jambalaya.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Call for Authors: Meeting in the Middle

Hello wonderful readers!

I'm putting a call out to authors for posts included in a series called Meeting in the Middle. This is a chance for moms who breastfeed/fed in different ways (pumping exclusively, supplementing with formula, struggled with nursing, etc.) to tell their stories and shed light on varied issues that aren't generally covered in the quick Breastfeeding 101 you get at the hospital.

I have two wonderful posts so far, one from a mother who exclusively pumps to give her son with Down's Syndrome breastmilk, and another who had troubles with terrible mastitis (Melanie, I'm re-posting your blog because it really hit home for me and fits in this series). Please share your experiences and let us learn about challenges in breastfeeding. Posts don't have to be long, and I can always edit for spelling and grammar if you'd like. Just send some heartfelt text my way :) to my email address or on Facebook:

Thank you so much! I can't wait to read the resulting experiences.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sunday Funday

After a long day of shopping in Sioux Falls yesterday with a VERY cooperative six-month old, Charlie and I are ready for a nice and slow Sunday. Lydia woke up around 6:30am and nursed, and then I got Charlie up around 8:00 so that I could get in the shower and dressed for the day. Afterwards, I baked cinnamon rolls and hubby made breakfast bowls (grilled seasoned yukon gold potatoes, green peppers, onion, mushrooms, pork sausage, eggs, salsa, Cholula, and cheese); I made Lydia some cereal with bananas and pears, and we sat down to a big family breakfast. Now in food comas, we're relaxing before tackling the dishes.

I hope we can instill in Lydia some fun traditions and familiar, routine-y things we do together as a family. Family breakfasts whenever we can. Going out to the lake after breakfast dishes are done to walk and check out what's new at the state park. Watching fishing shows with Daddy as breakfast cooks. Making good food from scratch and reveling in the process, and eating said good food at the table family-style. When we were at Home Depot yesterday I bought some herb starter kits...basil, parsley and oregano. Hopefully I can get them started in our windows and Lydia can smell fresh herbs as they grow; another Sunday Funday project.

I grew up with the old adage of something close to "work done, then fun" and making work fun. It's something I still believe in, which is why I'm also going slightly crazy as I sit here blogging, knowing that I have a big messy kitchen to clean up. I also believe in family projects, getting the whole fam damily out there doing some gardening, or building a chicken coop/tree house/play set/play house (you should have HEARD Charlie and me in Home Depot brainstorming all the fun projects to do with Lydia as she grows up). Or something as easy as cleaning the house--when everyone pitches in, it gets done faster and we can get going on doing something more fun. And I think that everyone having a hand in big team projects gives a sense of responsibility and ownership. When I was growing up I hated it, but now I can honestly and without reservation say that my parents were right (Don't let it get to your heads, guys).

So today is Sunday, and we have some Funday plans. We had a big yummy breakfast, and we'll clean up the big, messy kitchen in a few minutes. Charlie's going to put together a shelf above Lydia's changing table for me this morning, and I have to launder cloth diapers. After I get done with work at New Horizons, we'll head over for my FIL's (father-in-law's) birthday party tonight. Maybe we'll even get a nice family walk in. Whatever the case, it's my hope that Lydia grows up knowing that her family is fun. Dorky, deliciously, deviantly fun :)

Friday, March 25, 2011

Mud Butt Giveaway!

Lydia in her Mud Butt: Dark Chocolate PUL, Candy Pink and Sky Blue snaps!
I found a new mama blog to read, and with it comes a Mud Butt Giveaway!

Mud Butts are the new cloth diapers we've found, and boy do we love them. I have two, and hope to add one to the collection via a giveaway that Holly over at A Mommy's Blessings is doing.  I love finding new blogs to read, and Holly's seems really sweet. Give her blog a read, and enter the giveaway to secure a new Mud Butt!

Steps to getting a spot in the competition:

1. Leave a comment on her blog with the PUL cover and snap colors (you can choose up to two) on her blog, A Mommy's Blessings (here's the Mud Butt website)

2. Find and follow Mud Butt Diapers on Facebook. Leave a comment there.

3. Find and follow A Mommy's Blessings on Facebook, and leave a comment there too.

4. Blog about this contest, and leave a comment on HER blog with a link to yours.

Pretty simple! The Mud Butt diaper is worth it. I'll be doing a review of them after we get a system down...we literally just got them last week, so I'm trying to work them into our daily routine.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Dear Lydia

happy, happy little girl
One of my favorite bloggers, The Feminist Breeder, is doing a guest post series entitled Letters to our Daughters. Although I neglect Lydia's baby book, I wanted to partake in this opportunity because I think letters are a fantastic way to communicate our deepest feelings and thoughts. Sometimes it's easier to write out what you're feeling rather than say it out loud. I hope I never have that lack of communication with my daughter, but in writing this I'm glad she'll have a tangible record that she can read over and over (or rip up in her angst-ridden adolescent years, if she so desires). So, without further ado...

Dear Lydia,
At this point in your life your father and I have known you for almost sixteen months; ten in the womb, and six glorious months on the outside. We found out you were alive around the seven-week mark in our pregnancy, and from that day (I took the test on January 17th at Applebee's...long story) forward, you've been well...our life. Some people choose to say "part of our lives;" the reality is that our lives revolve around yours, little one. And that's alright. I feel like it's the territory that comes with giving birth, that my life (and your dad's) immediately should switch gears to your needs, your wants. I dropped my life to pick up yours.

In letters like these I feel like I'm supposed to outline my deepest dreams, my brashest hopes, my most indescribable joys in raising you toward a future of success. But to be honest, I'm not really there yet. With you, focusing on the days are enough for now. I joke that you'll be admitted to Harvard next week after you finish their entrance exam. That we'll have you carted off to a boarding school so Daddy won't worry about those pesky boys we're sure you're bound to gather. I pray you'll love being in the kitchen and share in all the hobbies we hold dear, and that you'll become the person every intentional and progressive mother hopes her daughter will be. When it really comes down to it, though, the little moments you and I have together every day form themselves into the dreams I thought I'd be dreaming up myself. Your dad and I will look back after you've graduated from Yale and realize you've been doing it yourself all along, concocting the amazing person you're already becoming.

One of those little moments happened just a couple weeks ago. You and I were bored out of our gourds, having played with all your toys twice, fed your fishies until the water was decidedly murkier than before, looked out the window at the squirrels fighting in the trees...let's just say that Mama expired her repertoire of things you're fond of doing. So into the tub we went, at two in the afternoon. We splished and splashed, played with toys and kicked water all over the place. At one point my hands slipped, and down you went; you did a sort of back flop as you sat down and flopped into the water. I rushed to lift you back out as your ears went below the waterline, but then stopped as I saw a massive grin spread over your face. Your big blue eyes closed in complete bliss as you floated and stretched, and it was such a joy to see you so happy over something you'd never experienced before. Being a concerned new mom (yes, even though you're six months old I'll say new mom at this point) I lifted you up after you'd been floating for a few minutes because I was scared you'd get water in your ears, then we'd get ear infections, then you'd get tubes in your....well, you get the point. The moment passed, we got out of the tub, I dried your ears very well, and we nursed the next hour away, cozy and drowsy.

I wish I could record all our little stories. I used to be so deliberate in my journaling, recording with painstaking detail the moments that made my life seem so fulfilling (or not, depending on the situation). I have journals upon journals to give to you after I die, journals in which your grandma Paula and I even wrote to each other. Maybe it's a bad excuse to not write, but it seems that my days get eaten up so fast and that stories like the one of your tub experience slip into the back part of my brain, never to see paper. And I think that's okay too. If I spent a quarter of the time recording memories you and I shared together every day that I do playing with you and writing your life story, I would...well, I'd have a treasure trove of written goodness and a serious case of carpal tunnel. But I don't know if I believe in recording everything anymore. Part of the beauty of you is living moments as they happen and letting some of the details slip away, happy to have happened, happy to make room for more.

I love you more than you'll ever know. I love you with such a fervent, intense passion that it breaks my heart every day. I love nursing you, I love playing with you, I love rocking you to sleep, and I love watching your life unfold before my very eyes. Your father would say the same thing. Someday, maybe when you have your own babies, you'll get a glimpse of that love, and then I'll feel complete, like my life has come full circle. I can't wait to teach you the ways of womanhood. We all write our stories in one way or another; whether journal or blog, memory or scrapbook, mothers write on their hearts the journey we travel every day in raising our babies.

Goodnight, my sweet darling sassafras. Mama loves you.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

PPD: an unspoken struggle

Post-partum depression.

We'll go over this topic more than once.

A friend wrote me a heartfelt post illustrating her struggle with post-partum depression, and I am more than happy to publish her words. It's a topic that needs more light, more understanding. PPD is more affecting than I think people want to believe, but we never talk about the constant paradox of believing with our whole hearts that we should, and can, be happy, yet never quite make it there...something always gets in the way, which my friend speaks to very well.

After the birth of a child, there is a lot of talk about the baby blues and postpartum depression. I always was very confused by this. How could you be depressed after the birth of such a beautiful, wonderful little angel! What an amazing experience. This is true but what you don’t think about is all the stress that goes with balancing your perfect little angel and the rest of your life.

After the birth of my last baby, I felt everything was fine. I had 6 weeks off of work and I enjoyed my time with my baby and my other children. What a great feeling it was to just be a mom and enjoy my children! After 6 weeks leave, I had to go back to work. We could not financially afford for me to stay home any longer. I was tired and exhausted but figured in time it would all work out. I just needed to adjust and I did adjust to the day to day but I was still exhausted.

As the weeks and months progressed, my relationship with my husband has been becoming more strained. The baby is almost 6 months old and there is little intimacy in our relationship. Some may think, well that is normal in a busy household with multiple young children and a full time job, but it isn’t normal for us. I have a complete lack of interest in sex, to the point where I can’t even pretend that I’m interested. We don’t talk like we used to. I am able to talk to other people but struggle to talk with my husband whom I love and have always been able to communicate with freely. We just go through the day to day together but feel no real connection.

When any little thing happens around the house I may just get extremely upset. It may really be nothing but to me it seems huge. A child not keeping muddy boots on the carpet may be enough to put me over the edge. My husband not doing a very small favor for me may result in a complete argument. Why? Am I just over reacting? Is there something wrong with me? Am I a bad person? Why am I so irritable?

I look at my life and realize that I have everything a woman could want - a wonderful husband and children, supportive parents, the career I dreamed of having since I was a little girl, a great place to live, and wonderful friends! How can I not be happy?

This past week I realized that I am probably suffering from postpartum depression. I really don’t want to be medicated and want to try to deal with this in a natural way. I will be starting an herbal supplement soon and hope that it will help with the feelings I have been having and help me work on my relationship with my husband again.

As I talk with other friends, I realize this is much more common than I have ever realized yet I have a really hard time admitting that I am dealing with it. If there are others dealing with these feelings/situations know that you are not alone. Talk with friends/family that you trust and seek medical help if necessary, but know there are plenty of herbal/natural remedies that may be able to help your imbalance also. It is amazing how much better it makes me feel to simply talk with others about it and hopefully my herbal formula will help with the imbalance in my body.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

here fishie fishie fishie

Hey Mom, did you see these? Can I have some?
What in the world are those things?! Wantwantwantwantwant!
So many can we choose just one?
Mama caved.
Of course I will buy you a fish tank, my adorable little one. Not because I completely dreamed up a conversation between the two of us in my head at Walmart that ended with you begging me to buy you a fish tank and my relenting noooooooooooo, that would make me crazy. In my defense, I thought it'd be a really cool thing for you to have in your room, and judging by your reaction to just having a running tank without even having fish in it yet, I'm going to go ahead and say that this goes down as a WIN in the Mom book. We'll go get some fishies for it this weekend after the water has a chance to settle and get warm and filtered out.

Backing up though, we really did have a great time looking at all the fish in the tanks at that horrible big box store. My mom, Lydia and I ran to Marshall for an afternoon of shopping while it was still sunny and gorgeous out, and I think the beautiful weather rubbed off on Lydia...she was perfect all day as we bounced from store to store, in and out of the car, nursed on a bench at the mall...perfect. I wanted to check out the fish anyway, and Lydia was absolutely blown away by seeing so many. I held her up to each tank and identified all the fishies for her; call me crazy, but it was such a fun way to spend the better part of an afternoon, just the two of us hanging in the pet department at Walmart. I finally looked over and saw the DIY kits for assembling a fish tank; Lydia caught my eye and smiled, sealing the deal. :)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Plugged up. Ready for spring.

playing away the morning
excited and directing the band :)
oh, you're blogging about me?
We're plugged up around here. Stifled, bored, sick, and just plain plugged up.

I've had a cold that's varied in intensity and style for the last three weeks, and Lydia's been going through the same on top of teething and being stopped up in her little belly. We're getting tired of the same old toys, the same routine, the constant nose-wiping and nursing with nose-wiping breaks (THAT, my friends is sexy, when you have boogers on your boobs from your little one, pretty sure Charlie's never going to go near them again).

A few things have been going right, though. Charlie and I are on pretty good terms these days; we had a date night last Saturday, which was more than needed [we got in a fight on Sunday, cancelled our hot date on Monday and rescheduled to Saturday]. We laughed our way through a ridiculous dinner that cost way too much for the quality we received, and screamed ourselves hoarse at a following concert. I've also been seeing more of friends. Definitely need the break in the action (ha) around here, and it's amazing to see Lydia's face light up when new faces come to the door. That little girl loves (loves!) company! She's about half the size of her buddies Eli and Collin, but she loves taking swipes at toys with them and holding their faces with her tiny hands.

She's also been talking more, which lights up the house. She stopped babbling and cooing for a spell of about four weeks, and I was getting tired of the one-sided conversation. Now she's back to making some fun noises and surprising us with a new vocabulary. I found out a couple weeks ago that she loves hearing people whistle, and I'm more than happy to oblige for such a fascinated audience.

But like I was telling Jenny last night (said friend that visited), I am feeling cooped up, stifled, stuffled, and so incredibly ready for spring. More than ready. It's like a little anxious bubble inside me waiting to burst open like the irises and crocuses and daffodils in my MIL's garden. The stroller's sitting by the door, seed packets are on my kitchen table, Lydia's spring outfits washed and folded in her drawers, my sandals and running shoes out and waiting, windows ready to be flung open for some de-stuffing and spring cleaning! How bad can it be if I'm super ready to tackle spring cleaning?

For now, Lydia and I will continue to have good days with each other; we'll spend time with friends, eat good food, and focus on our family and the time that shouldn't be wished away. We'll go to the library and get some new books, take walks when the weather's cooperating, nurse away a lazy afternoon or two, and wait in hope for a beautiful spring :)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

a grateful rant

Thank you, Jennifer, for a wonderful reminder on the importance of gratitude in our daily lives! I am very grateful :) you chose to write on such an imperative do we teach our children to be thankful? My thoughts are exemplifying it through actions and words; we are our children's first and most important teachers, and we as parents have the ability to encourage gratitude in our "littles".

Maybe the peanut gallery could leave a comment today with something you're grateful for? What do you think, readers? What calls you to be thankful each day?

I briefly read an article today in the Star Tribune. It, poorly summarized, was at what age and how do you begin to teach your children to be grateful?  It was a nicely written article. The author reflected on how they had a gratitude board that they filled out every night. Her children were around the age of 5-10. I know poor research on my half… I really skimmed the article.

This got me to think. At a sweet 7 months old how do I begin to teach my “little” about being thankful, using please and thank you, and being grateful? I mean we work day to day trying to conquer self feeding, crawling, patty cake etc. Why would I think for a split second that at 7 months old I should be teaching my little about being grateful? (Side note: I nickname my daughter little among many sweet nicknames… little came about because apparently I was so “little” when I was pregnant with her… I beg to differ)

I know why I had this profound urge to teach the lesson. I need to start living it. I think it is safe to say that day to day we all mill from one task and routine to the other. I wake up, shower, get ready, bring little to grandma’s, go to work, work, pick up little, dinner, play, bed. {Rinse} and repeat Monday through Friday. Add in a few life events that occur throughout the year (ours this year is preparing for our wedding in May). What we forget to throw in there for the most part on a daily basis is taking the time to be thankful for simply simple things.

I need to pick up little today and just let my mother know how thankful I am that she spends her days with her granddaughter. My little has received the most precious time with her grandmother, I have saved a few bucks on daycare and everyone wins. I think that situation is very rare these days.

I need to appreciate my future mother-in-law’s dynamic personality. She has the best intentions, I need to learn to looks past the surface and understand her intentions.

I need to be grateful and display my gratefulness towards my future husband more. There is never a stone left unturned at our house or the house of my future in-laws or the homes of my future brother and sister in laws. He is Mr. Handyman for all. And just when I get frustrated because I feel like his time at home is taken away, I need to be grateful he has the physical ability to help others, because I know it means he cares for his daughter and me ten times over.

In the large picture I need to be thankful that at the end of a 10 hour work day I do get moments with my child. I do get the pleasure to make a meal, I have food on my table, and I have a house for that table. I have the ability to work hard to provide my little a room of her own, a soft carpeted living room to learn to crawl around in, and a place to let her favorite playmate, the dog, live.

Through the hustle and the bustle of being mothers, companions, daughters, aunts, care givers, grandmothers, sisters, etc. as women I think that if we can live with grace every day we are teaching, regardless of the age, our children to do the same. To me that is the best lesson I can teach my child. For if one can live with grace in their lives for the most part, can one truly live the best life for themselves and those around them.

{and I say for the most part, because some days when I have gotten my hopes up for that delicious Caribou mocha and the line is far too long, I get a tad cranky. But I need to live in grace and remember at that moment I am beyond blessed to have the luxury to get that mocha if the time allows… and I have time. Someday I know it will run out… and I can only treasure every second until then.}

So tonight, when I am rocking my sweet little to sleep (yes I am VERY guilty of that) I will whisper to her what I always do “I love you , god bless, and sweet dreams babe”, and I am going to add “I am so grateful to be your mother”.

{Katie's note}: Don't be guilty to rock your little one to sleep :) I got an earful on Facebook the other day when I admonished myself for doing so. They're only tiny and willing to be snuggled for so long!

Monday, March 7, 2011

our baby is growing?!

One and a half teeth.

The ability to look under a bucket for a toy she misplaced.

23 inches long and 15 pounds.

Eating solid foods with gusto.

Taking a bottle better and better each day.

Where did my little girl go?

Lydia will be six months old in a couple weeks, and I'm either in severe denial or complete oblivion. She's playing in front of me on the floor, sitting up unassisted and digging around in a bucket full of toys. I can hide her favorites, a long black ribbon and a string of pearls, at the bottom and she'll look through the others until she finds them. Then I pile all of them back into the bucket and start the process all over again. Her little hands deftly manipulate objects and bring them to her mouth to test them (edible? non edible?). Textures captivate her attention; she loves those little silk squares, and her grandma Chapman made her a quilt accented by chenille and flannel that keeps her running her hands over it all the time. She figured out how to open and close the door to the toaster oven while sitting on the counter in her Bumbo chair, so now whenever she helps us cook the kitchen rings with its slamming. And Daddy taught her how to bang on a pot with a wooden spoon.

I wish it were summer. I'd never actually wish time with Lydia away, but we are getting bored. I'm so tired of winter. We've exhausted all our favorite things to do around the house; the other day we looked at each other and sighed, having played one too many times with the kitchen sink and tub toys. So instead we spent an hour in the tub, splashing around at two in the afternoon.

But oh, child of mine, this summer we'll do so much!! I can't wait to take her to the state park every day to hike around Loon Island and explore the fishing ponds, looking for salamanders and turtles. I cannot WAIT to take her to the pool, and the park, to swing and slide and play outside. She'll probably be walking by September, her first birthday, and we'll be able to toodle hand in hand.

Here's to another fantastic six months, my darling. My friend Melissa wrote a very similar post about her Lydia Claire and mentioned that subsequent posts about her daughter would grow increasingly sappy as they neared their first birthday. I suppose I have to echo that and warn you of the same...every day I continue to be amazed by our little girl :)

Thursday, March 3, 2011

the rhythm to our days...

Or lack thereof.

A rhythm. I've been dying for organization, rhythm, something Lydia and I can depend on to keep our week flowing without so many forgotten tasks or hiccups. Something we can look forward to or dread, depending on which day of the week it might be. So far the only real routine Lydia can trust in our home is her bedtime process, which is pretty much set in stone: play till 8:30-9:00, take a shower with Mommy or Daddy (or maybe even Mommy and Daddy!), get all cozied into jammies without throwing too big a fit because we got out of the warm shower, nurse until baby's in a coma, rock for a little while so baby's good and out, and finally down to sleep in her crib.

I remember when I first began thinking about developing a routine for Lydia; it was unfathomable to me that she'd ever come to understand that these things happen and that she'd actually abide by the rhythm. At the time it occurred to me to try, she was rounding the bend on being about 6-8 weeks old, and just starting to sleep more and interact with us on a personal level, not just on a "I need something and I need it now!!" basis. I also remember thinking that I'd never be able to stick to it! What if I screwed up? What if one night we didn't shower, or I didn't sing the right lullabye as I rocked her? Did everything have to be the same every night--same song, same times, same sides for nursing?

That answer would be a big fat no. As long as I managed to do the components of her routine in some semblance of an order, it became easier and easier for us to get her down every night. Now she's almost six months old, and reliably sleeping through the night, going to bed on time, and waking up proverbially bright eyed and bushy tailed.

All of that of course is wonderful for Charlie and me, but it doesn't really give us the rhythm and routine to our days that we need as adult beings. Here comes my idea that is scary, but invigorating and something I can't wait to try: thematic days. Remember those? Our grandmothers, and our grandmother's mothers, and so forth abided by themed days for years; they hemmed dishtowels with the days of the week and their purpose in my family, and my mom has stories of my grandma Leone doing laundry on Wednesdays, ironing on Thursdays (a whole day devoted to ironing, sheeeeeeesh if a wrinkled shirt gets thrown in the dryer with a Bounce sheet that's ironing)...

Now we have to figure out how to spend our days in the Chapman household. My friend Laura up in Alaska with her fantastic blog (click the link and learn a ton about homemade amazing food, boy-rito rearing, green living and more) wrote a few days ago about working on developing a rhythm with her boys, which ignited the whole process of my thinking about it (lightbulb, "duh, why didn't I think of that" moment).

If I could divide up my household living tasks into a weekly schedule, it would look something like this:
  • Monday: Funday. Who wants to start a week doing laundry or cleaning? Not me. Mondays are a day to write in the baby book, send out some snail mail letters, scrapbook, take Lydia to the library, go get my hair done, etc.
  • Tuesday: Paperwork day. Fun's over, now it's time to get some business done. From doing all my student loan and taxes forms to keeping up on work emails, my inbox is usually full of papers that need places to go. And go they shall on Tuesdays.
  • Wednesday: Cleaning day. Dusting, swiffering (oh swiffering is too a word, Blogger), tidying, sweeping, taking out trash, you name it. A total necessity in our house, but I get overwhelmed when I try to do a cleaning task every day. I'd rather get rid of it in one fell swoop during the day. And since we use green/nontoxic cleaners, I'm not worried about Lydia being around all that cleanly hoohah.
  • Thursday: Food day. Make baby food and freeze it. Go to the grocery store and stock up for the week. Create an awesome baked good, and make a fantastic lunch for my lover and me. Food=happy in this house.
  • Friday: Laundry day; this may have to change as we phase into using cloth diapers (they're on their way and I'll blog about that later!!), but my goal is to do all clothes on Fridays.
  • Saturday: Lazy, do whatever the heck we want day. It's the only time I have with Charlie to do fun projects around the house, or stay in with a movie.
  • Sunday: Recycle, reuse, return, regift, reorganize. Donations. Goodwill runs. Trips to the recycling center.

Am I forgetting anything? I really think this rhythm will be good for Lydia. Right now we float through our days, unsure of what's to come. By having these themes and projects in place, we know what to expect and are better able to structure our days instead of going through them willy-nilly.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

lactation lamentations

I'm not too keen on pumping, which is probably why I currently have four ounces (but four precious ounces) stashed away in my deep freezer. Lydia and I have been able to nurse almost exclusively since day one, which means that a) she's juuuuuuuuuuust starting to take a bottle well and b) I make juuuuuuuuuuuust about enough milk for her and a few ounces on the side. I have friends who have bags and bags of the stuff hanging out in their freezers, and, in the words of a favorite cousin, "If they say one more time that they've up to here in breastmilk, I'm throwing them off a cliff."

Pumping sucks. I'm not going to lie, sitting there for the better part of an hour watching tiny little drops form tiny little ounces isn't exactly how I want to spend my time. Lydia watches me pump and I can see the confusion written on her face (by the way, having my baby near me while pumping increases the number of letdowns I have); it's like she doesn't understand that I have to be gone at times and she'll have to eat from the hands of someone else. But I believe with all my heart that it's how Lydia wants me to spend my time, so that she can reap the benefits of my milk even when I'm away from her.

I think it's obvious by now that I believe with a fervent passion in breastfeeding. I will do everything in my power to retain my ability to nurse my daughter for as long as possible. She's rounding the bend on being six months old, and for six months I have breastfed my daughter, supplementing occasionally with some solids here and there. And I hope to continue for another six months. I hope to continue maybe for another year, with pumping after weaning. Maybe by that time I'll be awesome at pumping and we can sell the stuff on the breastmilk black market (by the time I get around to making enough to sell on the side, I'm sure the FDA will have regulated every facet of breastmilk transfer in the United States; no more borrowing from friends, I guess).

It hasn't all been buttercups and roses. The best advice I have received to date with breastfeeding has been "Survive the first two weeks. Just survive. By then you'll be ready to make the call as to whether you'll remain steadfast or quit." And survive barely describes how I was feeling at the end of those two weeks. I felt accomplished that I'd made it that far, but I was also suffering from chapped and cracked nipples, a lack of sleep, dehydration, emotional distress, and, on the side, all the other fun things that came along with delivering a child.

But if I'd formula fed Lydia, thrown in the proverbial towel, I'd still be tired. Probably even more so, from having to get up and get bottles warmed and all that hoohah that goes along with it. I'd have lost out on burning 500 or more calories a day just from feeding my daughter. I'd have lost out on the incredible relationship she and I now share. I'd have lost out on seeing my partner look down at us nursing with an incredible sense of pride on his face (and the many times I've heard Charlie utter the phrase, "Man, sometimes I wish I could nurse her, you guys always look so cozy").

So steadfast I remain. It's my hope, my wistful, passionate hope, that all breastfeeding mothers will at one time in this crazy world receive the true support, time and encouragement they need to continue breastfeeding our sons and daughters. Charlie and I have been blessed by support from people on both sides of the nursing fence, which doesn't happen too often. I've nursed Lydia in front of his friends, and my friends...well, my friends were more about breastfeeding than Charlie's to start :) We're making progress in a world that makes it easy to give up for the wrong reasons.

Now I'm sure you're saying "Is there a wrong reason to give up breastfeeding? If I don't want to do it, I don't want to do it, and it's my choice." I will probably lose a few readers by saying that there are many wrong reasons to give it up, but I will also say that I'm entirely unsurprised that people do because of them:

  • If it hurts, people say to quit and save our bodies and our sanity
  • If we're tired, people say to quit and let Dad get up to feed the baby every once in a while (even though Dad probably works outside the home full time to make it possible for Mom to raise and just be with their child)
  • If our bodies revolt and fail to produce, we're encouraged to give it up rather than exhaust every possible option to keep going
  • If people look down on us for breastfeeding, we give it up to save social face
  • If people get after us for feeding our children in public, we become hermits and feel ashamed

Do you see where I'm going with this? I have true sorrow in my heart because breastfeeding isn't as much a priority for other mamas; the benefits are undeniable and diverse, and yet some moms throw away the chance to do this for their babies because they're unsupported, unencouraged, uneducated, and completely undone by the vast walls that are set up around breastfeeding to begin with.  And other moms are emotionally compromised, struggling, sad and lost in a country that has yet to accept that breast is best, and choose to stop because of the barrage of unsupportive remarks, looks and (usually wrong) information presented to them.

That all said, I'm getting up and I'm going to snuggle in for some bonding time with Lydia. Breakfast for the both of us calls. This is a subject I'll revisit from time to time as I try to figure out to to make breastfeeding more accessible and just plain better for mamas out there.  Love to all.