Sunday, June 30, 2013

No More Nursing: Day One

Day one of not breastfeeding is today. I did nurse in the early morning. I think so long as my body allows it, I'm going to do that as it works and it's very convenient. I've read about other mothers who have managed to do only one feed a day. Maybe I can too. If not, oh well.

It's been seven hours since I've nursed. Strangely I'm not terribly engorged. I certainly was at 5:00 a.m. this morning, though. I was leaking all over myself and my boobs were firm to the touch. I didn't pump before bed like I usually do and that seemed to be the result.

This morning the Dude and I took Jack out to the grocery store and I wore a normal dress, an empire waisted summer dress with a bra that I can't nurse in. It was very freeing. I have pads in my bra to absorb any leaking milk. I haven't pumped all day. I slept in while the Dude took care of Jack and did some housework, and I didn't have to worry at all about my milk supply.

I knew I'd know the right time to quit and it's finally here. I'm so ready.

And it's just the boost I need because yesterday I went out for a hair colouring (Nearly four months without one!) and the hair stylist asked me when I was due. Womp womp. I wasn't terribly generous with my tip.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Ready to Stop Nursing

I'm reaching that point where I want to give up breastfeeding. I knew it would come eventually. In four days, Jack will be three months to the day, and I'm feeling like I've given all I have to give in this area.

I pump all day and take meds to garner between 7 to 10 ounces of milk, plus one breastfeed in the morning. And for what? When I try to feed my son my breast milk, oftentimes he'll make a face or flat out reject it. I've been adding it to formula to trick him into it. But it's like he's getting wise to me. He'll guzzle formula down like candy, but his mother's milk is a bother to him. He'll cry at the bottle, go back for another drink and then disengage and cry again. I can't describe the feelings of frustration and rejection I feel when he does this.

When I go out I'm wearing nursing clothes, just in case I start to leak and I can try to offer Jack the breast. It's never worked out. Pointless. And I hate my nursing clothes. They were expensive so I had to buy on sale and they're really nothing special and I don't feel special in them. I want my wardrobe back. I want my body to function like normal again. I'm tired of this. Also, it's been making my teeth sensitive.

It wouldn't be so bad if he was actually on the breast and feeding. Then it would be worth it. But seriously, forcing this issue is really making motherhood less and less enjoyable for me progressively each day.

And this is on top of the isolation I'm feeling.

I'm lonely. There. I've said it. I'm mostly reliant on the Dude for social interaction during the day, and I have to wait until 6:00 or even 7:00 some days to get it. None of my friends have babies. It's been raining almost every day, keeping me in the house with someone who can't hold a conversation. His smiles are great, but I'm a grown woman. I need more.

I'm not cut out for this. And by this I mean staying at home with a baby. Even though I love him, I am not "loving every minute" like the parents police command me to. They're the ones who nod approvingly when they ask if I'm taking a year off and I say yes. I don't mind the approval, it's what follows it, the forceful assumption that of course this is best for everyone and I must be very happy.

Maybe once Jack becomes more interactive I'll be more into this stay-at-home mom experience. That, and less rain chaining me inside my house.

And admittedly, I have a good baby. The problem really is who I am, which is not a baby person. And also the lack of family in the area. Grandparents would be a godsend. But they're all hours away. In many ways I just feel so alone. I miss my social life. I wouldn't give up Jack for anything. I don't regret my choice. I knew the first year would be very hard on me. But it still hurts.

Maybe removing breastfeeding failures from my daily life will improve things.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Baby Road Trip

Taking a baby out of town for the weekend requires as much planning as a week-long road trip. My mother-in-law wanted to throw Jack a party, akin to a shower, and my own family wanted to meet the boy so the Dude and I figured we'd get it all done in one shot, one car rental, one weekend.

Sweet Jesus.

So, everyone knows a baby needs a lot of stuff. They don't sleep in regular beds, eat regular food or use the toilet. So one must provide provisions. Enter the Pack-n-Play, swaddles and fan (For white noise); bottles, formula, breast pump, bottle brush and kettle; and diaper, wipes (disposable because I wasn't about to wash cloth diapers on the road, areyoukiddingme), and changing pad.

Then his clothes. Babies expel fluids all over themselves. I packed Jack a knapsack of clothes, pyjamas and receiving blankets. He also needs a bath to fall asleep at night, so we packed his baby tub too. And leaving for the weekend without his vibrating bouncy chair would be foolhardy because otherwise we'd barely be able to sit him down, so that came too and it doesn't fold down or anything.

So we had a game plan. This list was created of all we'd need for Jack (Plus, you know, a suitcase for ourselves) and we figured we'd pack the rental car, bathe the baby at 7:30 like we always do and go. Babies sleep in cars.

No, not our baby. He'll sleep like a dream at night, but turns out he's particular. He likes to be flat and swaddled and then he'll drift off all night. But car seats don't allow for either of those things. Kiddo was awake and miserable till 10:30 p.m. when we pulled into destination one, my mother-in-law's place.

The Dude set everything up while I changed Jack and MIL did her best to be quiet, but found it hard to contain her excitement since it was her first time meeting her new grandson. Unfortunately, he wasn't up for cuddles from someone new and it was one of those occasions where he wanted his mom. I rocked him to sleep very quickly and felt very motherly.

The party MIL threw was lovely. Her sisters all came, plus the Dude's best friend and his mother. Jack got so many adorable things for when he's a little older and the wisdom of throwing the party after his birth was obvious, since we already had everything we needed for the next few months. My particular favourite was the little yellow raincoat from MIL. All he needs now are little yellow rubber boots.

Packing things up from MIL's was as ridiculous as it was from home, only more so because 20 minutes away from her house she called because we forgot, of all things, his formula among other essentials. Jack isn't fond of the car, and so this was 40 minutes of extra time on the road with a cranky infant. I had to sit in the back with him to keep his soother in his mouth and otherwise calm him down.

At my aunt's Jack was in bed at a sensible hour and I indulged in white wine. Opportunities to enjoy wine are few and far between. The Dude drinks very little and I can't down a bottle on my own. I haven't felt a buzz in somewhere around a year's time. Oh, it was nice.

What was also nice is how much over the weekend Jack was held and loved by so many different people. Not only was it good socialization for him, but it gave me a break, much needed after all that frazzling time on the road.

We were smarter about leaving town, slightly. We popped into see the Dude's grandmother and made it on the highway around 6:00. We'd planned on 5:00, but, yeah. Babies. We got Jack in bed by 9:30 and he slept till 8:30 this morning, obviously exhausted from his first trip.

Our next big outing (though nothing compared to this past one) will be strawberry picking. I'm a makin' some jam! Also, it would be a good chance for Jack to wear his spiffy new hat.

That giant apple's got nothing on that cute hat.

Friday, June 21, 2013

What Is A Natural Mother?

Most New Moms Don't Feel Like Natural Mothers

I relate to this. I relate to it so much it made me cry. It speaks to me because I don't feel like a mother. I know I spend my day caring for a little person who is very cute and whom makes me smile. I have an instinctual need to tend to him and his needs. I worry about his wellbeing. I take pride in his growth and development.

But do I feel like a mother? Do I feel like I'm a good mother, even?

These are questions I find harder to answer.

There's an entire internet of people out there piping in about how babies should be raised according to their standards ("If you're not going to stay home with your kids, why did you bother having any?"). There's a whole industry devoted to telling you how it should be done (Breast is best. No screen time until they're 2 years old. Soothers are to be avoided. Let them cry it out. Don't let them cry it out. etc.") There's another section of the community at large that says having kids is either a waste of time or a choice you should be alone in handling ("Why should my taxes pay for daycare subsidies? I don't have kids. If you can't afford kids, don't have them!")

And that leaves new mothers like me feeling adrift.

I have no one here with me. So I turn on the TV because as much as I'm supposed to be talking to my baby so he'll develop language, he doesn't talk back. It's very one-sided. I need to hear adult voices. If I can't have adult conversation, I need to at least listen to it. Sometimes Jack watches with me. So, no more Criminal Minds. But there goes the "no screen time" recommendation. It's just not doable, not if my sanity counts for anything.

I'm having troubles with breastfeeding. Not ready to give it up entirely yet, but doing a combination of both is giving me extra challenges. My breasts leak all over me, yet my baby doesn't want to feed on them most of the time. I have to pack formula with me whenever I go somewhere, yet I still need to wear nursing clothes to give him the chance to eat from me first. I'm cleaning bottles and a pump, and taking the time to feed him with the bottles and pumping afterwards.

And I try to read advice on the internet about how to make this more manageable. I want to read other mother's experiences. What I consistently find is lactivists piping in asking why use formula at all? Have you tried Fenugreek? Have you called a lactation specialist? Breast is best! None of which is remotely helpful.

Then there's the fact I'm not a baby person. I love children. I think they're great. I love spending time with kids, hours on end. I enjoyed babysitting as a teenager and I was good at it. I didn't choose to have a baby for the experience of having a baby. I'm doing this for a child one day. Caring for a baby is exhausting and demanding. I knew it would be hard, but living through it is the only way to really appreciate the fatigue.

I'm looking forward to going back to work. Mostly I think my son would be better off in a daycare through the week. I feel like I'm not the best place for him day in and day out. I'm not cut out for this. At a daycare he'd have a solid routine, socialization, a rotation of toys and caregivers who are talented, educated and experienced in his age group. Then in the evening he'd be with his dad and me, we'd have quality time and then on the weekends we would be able to have fun together. Working from home would help me stay on top of housework too, freeing up time at night like I used to be able to.

There just seems to be something unmotherly about this feeling that I'm biding my time till Jack is a child. The thought of hearing him call me "Mommy" brings tears to my eyes. But I'm so grateful to women who have the guts to share things like the above article. There's too many loud voices telling mothers to cherish every moment. There needs to be more saying, "It's okay to feel inadequate and bored with certain stages. It's normal and it doesn't make you a bad mother."

Monday, June 17, 2013

Movies For Mommies

Today was my first Movies For Mommies, which meant for the first time since Jack was born I've been able to go to the movies. The movies! I loves me some going to see a flick. It's one of my favourite things to do. I saw Man Of Steel at the Humber Theatre. There are several independent theatres that do MFM and this was conveniently located off a subway with an elevator. Elevators have become extremely important to me as of late.

As soon as I sat down my baby began to cry and I immediately felt like that mother. But after a feed, buddypants calmed down and slept a wonderful 90 minutes, enabling me to both enjoy the movie and feel gratitude that the other crying babies, for a time, weren't mine. The final 15-20 minutes were spent on my feet holding Jack and swaying and dancing, keeping him calm so I could catch the end of the film. And no one thought this was strange or disruptive because we were all in the same boat.

You wouldn't think a theatre full of babies would be a calming place to be but it was. Every time a baby cried out or cooed it wasn't annoying, but rather a reassurance that if your baby did the same thing it wouldn't be a big deal. Babies that carried on were carried out. There was a changing station at the entrance, which was helpful. There was an accessible bathroom that had tons of room for my stroller.

And I got out of the house. I have another outing on Wednesday where I get to meet other moms for coffee. I've been to this meet-up twice before and I've already started seeing familiar faces. I'm hoping to make friends, though I'm terrible at doing do. Keeping friends? Sure. I can do that. Making them? Well, that's always taken a lot of time. I never know when or how to progress a new acquaintance. In fact, all my friendships seem almost accidental or extensions pre-existing friends.

And it's not like I'm hurting for friends. The ones I have are wonderful and close. I can be myself and relax in their company. It's just there is a gulf now. I can talk to my friends about my baby, but sometimes I want to run by some things with people who've been there, or talk "shop" to someone in the know. Kind of like how work is sometimes only interesting to other co-workers and can bore people who don't do the same thing. I'm cognizant of this and so I really limit my baby talk around those who don't have one.

Around other new parents this kind of talk is free flowing. Daycares, anxieties, birth experiences, hard days, night time wake-ups, everything is okay. I'd really like a mom friend or two, someone I can relate to not just as a mother, but also as a person, someone on the same wavelength.

But even if these outings don't lead to new friendships, it does lead to a happier, healthier me. Reasons to leave the house are good for me. I've spent a week at home and it's pretty bad for my mental health. I don't think we're meant to raise our children in such solitude or isolation. Good thing I don't live in the burbs.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Father's Day

Today is Father's Day, and the Dude is out getting a massage. I made pancakes for breakfast and put a pen in Jack's hand to sign a card I bought on his behalf.

I was very particular about marrying a man who'd be a good father. I've always felt calm and confident about the Dude when it came to kids. I watch them flock to him. He entertains them and plays and makes them happy. He enjoys the cuteness of babies and toddlers. Seeing him with Jack is a joy.

As Jack babbles, the Dude will then respond, "And then what happened?" When a diaper needs to be changed, the Dude will do it. He does bath time and takes pleasure in Jack kicking and splashing in the tub. He does Face Time with his parents throughout the week, showing off his baby, bragging about all the little things he does.

I picked the right man.


Monday, June 10, 2013

Stay At Home Mom Validation

The rain is unending. Why even bother wash your hair so you can look presentable when you're not going to leave the house and enter into the soggy mess that is the outdoors? I mean, I like that I don't have to water my zucchini and everything, but I would like to make a trip out with Jack at some point.

I did get to see my friends yesterday. The McPal house threw a tea party and the four of us (Tea party regulars) enjoyed the decent weather in the backyard amongst scones, sandwiches and custard tarts. It was my first visit with friends without my baby. I didn't ache with missing him either. I needed the break and it was guilt-free. I have a wonderful group of friends and spending the afternoon with them was restorative.

When I got home, the Dude was full of validation and praise for how I spend my days. Though I was only gone a little over five hours, about half the time I have Jack on my own each day, he was exhausted. Child care, he realized first hand, is challenging and makes one very tired. It's easier to go to work. At least at work if you need to take five minutes and clear your head or eat a snack, you can. At his job there is a catered lunch and designed time to sit down and eat it. With a baby, just going to the bathroom has to wait.

I sort of suspected that, despite his positive hands-on attitude towards being a dad and his willingness to give the nightly bath and change diapers, he didn't really get it. He thought going to work could be as tiring as staying home with a baby, and I knew this to be false, as I've had a number of different jobs in my life and none compare. But now he understands. I really feel he does. And this improves my mood.

The Dude's attitude has also undergone a slight shift. He came home with a headache, took some Advil and spent time with his son and gave me my break. Before, I think he would have said he needed to lie down, not realizing I was in need of relief.

At the three month mark is when things are supposed to turn a corner and a baby is likely to be more predictable in a routine and easier to take out. I certainly hope so. I love my boy and I like being home, but even I have my limits.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Hermit Mom

I haven't left the house in four days.

I am not evening kidding.

The entire week it's been rainy and gross, and I can tell you that while going out in dreary weather is a bummer under normal circumstances, with a baby and a stroller you have to disassemble to get in and out of your home, it's a nonstarter. Why bother? It's dry in here and the temperature is stable. Out there is a recipe for a terrible experience.

So I'm spending day in and out in jammies, pumping my breasts (Which have begun to produce a little more lately. Score!) and trying to discern a routine. At this point I want to know what's going on rather than react to Jack's cries. I want to know right away what his damage is so I can address it.

And lo and behold, I think it's starting to happen. I've realized he takes three naps a day lasting from 45 minutes to two hours. He eats every three hours. He needs a change every 2-3 hours. He likes to spend time staring off at things, but he sends signals when he wants interaction. When he starts to grumble now, I can almost always guess what he wants. So, I don't think all this home time has been a waste. When I'm out I'm not observing him. When I'm home, I pay more attention to the details.

I've been thinking about the Dude's role in all this. He's been the sort of partner I need. I've heard so many stories about husbands not pulling their weight, not partaking in the childcare enough, not doing housework. The Dude isn't home enough to do a lot of childcare, but when he is, Jack gets quality dad time.

The Dude does the bath routine, which Jack loves. He changes diapers. If he has to get up earlier to do something for the baby, he does it. He does the dishes and makes dinner. He does the yard work. He cleans the cat litter. On the weekends he takes the baby in the morning so I can sleep in, and then does a big clean after I wake.

Babies can strain a marriage, but I think with the right partner, and being the right partner, two people can make it work. Of course, having a mellow baby really, really helps. Jack truly is the kind of baby I'd always hoped I'd have.

Look at that little face!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Post-natal party dress

I'm in the market for some party dresses, or rather, at least one party dress. I have a few in my closet that should probably see the light of day, but I am a nut for cute things. Mainly dresses. Every woman has a thing, something she can't help acquiring because it makes her feel like a million bucks: shoes, purses, accessories, workout gear, makeup, lingerie, scarves...

I do dresses. And now that I'm no longer pregnant, I salivate over many of them. Whenever I leave the house without Jack, I scour my collection, looking for just the right one to wear. When you leave the house/look nice so infrequently, you really want to make it count.

Below are my current picks for a new party dress. Swoon!

My top contender, as I love shoulder details
and chiffon skirts.
My second choice, because the colour is amazing
and the rose detailing is unique and gorgeous.

This one has an adorable skirt,
but it might need to be shortened at the shoulders.

This is so 1950s, and I love it for that reason.
Slightly too dark, but perfect for fall/winter.

My body is the same size it was pre-pregnancy, but my abdomen ain't lookin' cute. No sir. Most of the skin has receded back to its proper place, but my belly button is still a little large and hollow looking, and I have a pouch of skin above my scar that juts out in an unnatural way. It's shrunk slowly over the past eight weeks, but I don't know if it's done yet. I hope not. I have no way of knowing my recovery is over. This could be it.

The weirdest thing about my tummy is the lack of muscle. There's more there now than there was, but I'm nowhere near what I'd consider normal. Several weeks ago it was so squishy I could poke my finger in and there'd be no resistance. My finger would disappear into the flesh and I would quietly wig out.

Wearing my dresses reminds me I can still be cute, regardless of my messed up figure. I also went out for a me day yesterday and enjoyed a professional blow-out for my still unmanageably thick pregnancy hair. The thick(er) hair I developed during pregnancy still hasn't fallen out yet and I'm at a complete loss as how to wrangle it. For now, it looks awesome, like a hair commercial. But seeing as I can't do that myself, I'll welcome the massive hair loss. I just used the word "hair", like, a million times.

This month marks a year since I got pregnant. And I'm stilllll feeling the after shocks.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Spots and Dots

I've been Googling things like, "My 2 month old is spitting up a lot" and "When do babies get more fun?"

The second one has been on my mind. I feel like I've gotten the hang of newborn care and now I'd love some more interaction. Mainly, I want to watch my son play with his toys. This sounds mundane and uninteresting, I know. Before having a baby I would have thought, "Okay, toys. That could be cute." But now that I have a baby, I see the appeal. Everything he does that's new makes my day more interesting and means he's becoming a more complex human being.

And these are excellent things. They break up the monotony of diaper changes and allow me to see the world differently, through brand new eyes.

I mean, a baby can't even really see. For example, this book is what he's capable of processing:

These bold contrasting patterns are discernable. Everything else? Meh. Fuzzy details I guess. We got this book as a gift and Jack loves to stare at the pages. It's wildly fascinating to him. Explains why he seems so in love with our lamps.

He's been given a number of toys by our friends and family and they're sitting in his nursery or on the floor, aching to be used. Occasionally I'll put a crinkly soft block in his hands, which only recently have started to grip, and he'll kick and bug his eyes out and the block will fall out of his hands. I'll take what I can get.

His first doctor's appointment is Monday. And actually, my first doctor's appointment in a year is then too. She doesn't even know I was pregnant. I never felt the need for a check-up while I was seeing my midwives, since they were always testing my urine, blood and blood pressure. It just seemed like yet one more appointment out of many so I didn't bother. Plus, I was worried I'd have to explain why I wanted a midwife instead of her.

So this should be interesting. Hi! Been a while, eh? Look what I did! The Dude thinks I'm nuts.