Monday, July 30, 2012

Someone replaced my baby with a land shark

I think most breastfeeding moms get a little worried once their baby starts cutting teeth.  Those little baby teeth are so sharp!  We have all heard that a baby won’t bite if they are latched correctly on the nipple.  The truth is that a baby will bite if they want to bite.  He would bite and laugh at my pain with a devilish smile.  Orion has bitten my nipples here and there and we just went through a very bitey stage which I thought would never end.  He liked to conclude our nursing sessions by dragging his teeth along my nipple.

Getting your nipples chewed on hurts!  I have a pretty high tolerance for pain but the biting would often come as asuch a surprise.  La, La, La, La, happy, happy nursing, oxytocin for me, la, la, happy, CHOMP, OUCH!  He would bite and I would scream and fight my knee jerk reaction to hit back. (There is never any reason to hit a child or anyone for that matter!)   I found that I would brace myself during every nursing session and hope to catch him so I could pull him off before the chomp.  It became so frequent that I would scream and put him down at which point he would start to cry.  If my husband was home, I would tell him that I needed some time and go into the office and close the door.

I have heard that you should NOT react when your baby bites you which is easier said than done.  I know my baby loves cause and effect like I press this button and the TV goes on.  I bite mommy and she makes a sound, awesome!  Maybe it was a new game he wanted to play with me.  I tired to stifle my scream but sometimes I would just have to let it out.  i would not exaggerated my pain but at times my frustration may have made it a wee bit louder.

I have also heard that you should make a noise, then put them down and tell them no biting mommy.

“A mother's natural response to pain may discourage further biting. Many babies startle at their mother's loud exclamation and immediately release the nipple. Some may even cry. This negative reinforcement seems to make many babies stop completely. In MOTHERING YOUR NURSING TODDLER, Norma Jane Bumgarner observes,

Perhaps the reason that the vast majority of children learn not to bite so quickly is that we invariably react immediately and firmly to biting at the breast. There is probably no instance in which we apply behavior modification so immediately, decisively, and consistently. Besides, our children love us and respond to the urgency and sincerity with which we insist that they must not bite.

Such prompt and direct responses occasionally backfire with sensitive babies, who may react by refusing the breast altogether. This sudden disinterest in nursing or outright rejection of the breast is called a nursing strike. A nursing strike can be distinguished from actual weaning by its sudden onset and the fact that the baby seems miserable. It may take lots of coaxing to persuade a baby who has been "on strike" that it's okay to resume nursing. Therefore, it is wise not to exaggerate your response to biting beyond what is natural for you.”

I know he won’t nurse forever and I hope he is fully weaned by the time he is 2 years old.  I would like to get pregnet again after his 2nd birthday but I would also like to spend some time neither breastfeeding or pregnant.  My body has not been my own since August 2010 and i would like a break before I do it all again.  Now that Orion is 15 months old but still nursing like a 4 month old and the “don’t offer, don’t refuse” method of weaning has gotten me nowhere, I realize that I do need to actively start to wean him.  I am not a water fountain or squeaky toy. I am available for comfort which doesn’t need to involve my breasts.  I want him to separate food from comfort. 

When I nurse Orion, I promise to focus my attention on him.  Maybe he was biting to get my attention because I was reading on my phone.  We no longer nurse for hours, maybe a half hour at most.  I can take the time we spend nursing to look at his happy face, enjoy our time together, and watch my milk pool in his mouth (I am surprised I still have milk! I thought maybe he was biting because I had dried up but nope.) 

I will also try to keep him as busy as possible during the day.  We will have playdates, run errands, go on adventures.  If he is happy and active he will not think about nursing because he is bored.

I will also keep his belly filled with food!  In the morning I usually get him up and bring him into bed to nurse in the hopes of getting more sleep which never happens.  I need to get him up, changed, and then feed him something very yummy for breakfast like yogurt or zucchini bread.  I can’t just put him in the highchair and give him cheerios because he never fills up on them.  I need to offer him food every couple of hours.  He never took to the bottle and has not been too happy with a sippy cup of milk but I will keep offering it and using his leftover milk in my coffee or cereal.  I will also offer him a sippy cup of water which he really does enjoy.

Orion and I made it through our recent shark phase but I am not sure how or why.  Maybe it was seeing his mother cry from frustration.  Maybe he got the message that it hurts and he shouldn't make mommy scream.  Maybe that game got old.  Whatever it was, I am glad it is over.  I hope being more present during our nursing sessions and offering him more to eat and more activity during the day will prevent the shark from resurfacing.

Will i see you at the Great Nurse-In at the National Mall on Saturday?

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Mom's night out

Woot, mom’s night out! I was really excited to stick my husband with a super fussy baby but as luck would have it I was able to get Orion to bed by 6:30.  I have a very lucky husband.  I had a night out and he had a night off.  For the first time, I wasn’t even worried about the baby or my husband or my husband dealing with the baby.  I was totally like “I am out and I will be back when I get back, peace!” 

I threw on some lipstick, a real bra and footwear other than flip flops, so fancy!  I drive our little Fiat 500 thumping M.I.A. but wishing I had Santogold.  I felt so liberated, I wanted to go dancing but settled for dancing in the car.  I get to the theater and meet up with 3 other moms to see Magic Mike.  It was a super nice theater with huge seats and you didn’t need to fight for a piece of the arm rest.  The floor was wood and not nasty sticky carpet, I wouldn’t feel bad about letting my baby crawl around on those floors.

The movie was fun.  My favorite was Big Dick Richie and not because the obvious or because he is an enormous muscled man, which does help.  But because the first time we see him he is behind a sewing machine working on a gold thong, wearing thick black glasses.  The movie also made me feel old because (SPOLIER) once drugs came into play I knew it would be the downfall.  We enjoy the movie with abandon, hooting and hollering but director StevenSoderbergh  (yeah, right, I was surprised before I saw this movie that he was the director this was far from Ocean's 11 or Erin Brockovich) was really great at cutting just when things started to heat up.   
After the movie, we walked up the street to grab some drinks.  I enjoy 2 (2!) cucumber/cilantro gimlets which were very yummy.  I am sure we would have sat there longer chatting, dishing, and getting to know each other if last call hadn’t been at 11.  We are planning to get crazy at a real strip club one of these nights. I am going to start saving my dollar bills in a jar label thong money.

I got home around 11:15 (big night!) and my husband was in bed and the baby (I know he is no longer a baby but a 15 month old toddler, he will always be my baby much like every dog to me is a puppy, until it is too embarrassing for him) was still asleep.  The house did not fall apart without me for 4 ½ hours! Orion woke up around 4am for about 45 minutes and we both slept till about 8am.

You hear it said that it is important for moms to make time for themselves. But it is more important for moms to allow themselves to enjoy that time.  There have been a few other occasions when I got out of the house for a few hours for me time but spent so much of that time stressing and worrying about the baby and that the baby was driving my husband crazy.  It is so seldom that I get me time, that when I do, I will never again let worry spoil it for me.

I only wish the weekends were longer so I could have a day and my husband could have a day and we could still take care of all the other things which usually fill up a weekend.  I do think that weeknights will start to get easier with Orion going to bed earlier and sleeping through the night.  I can have a mom night out on a week night and Patrick has his dad’s night out.  It really is important for us to get out, talk with other moms/dads and have fun.  I am really thankful that we have found such a great group of people to enjoy these times with.

It took me 9 months to get out of the house and go to a mom group and I am so glad I did.  Every Friday we get together for a playdate, it keeps Orion busy and me.  We have both made some good friends and Patrick is now getting to know some of the dads.  How cool would it be if Orion was making friends in this group that he will have for years!  And I get to watch all these other little babies grow up which is really special.

I encourage all you mom’s out there to join a mom group!  Find one you like and that fits your schedule. You and your baby can make friends, get out of the house, and your baby will sleep so well after he is all tuckered out from playtime.  Then you can have a mom’s night out and hopefully the dads can get it together for a dad’s night out.  It really is good for the whole family!

Break it down

I have over 50 blog post ideas typed up and 3 other topics that I have started to write waiting for me to finish and post them.  Honestly, I just have not been inspired to write. Which is weird because for a while there it was all I was thinking about.  Some of those 50 ideas don’t even make sense to me anymore.  What did I mean when I wrote “contacts and crewcuts”?  I have also had a few ideas lately that roll around in my mind grapes then disappear. 

What have I been doing these past silent weeks? I wish I could say that I was at the beach on a nice, fun, and easy family vacation.  But that is not going to happen this summer.  We had money saved for a vacation and have decided to use most of it to pay off a credit card bill.  That makes me feel like a real grown up.  Not raising a baby but working on the house hold budget makes me feel adult.  I have a hard time feeling like an adult as we rent our house and are very far from buying a home.
This past week was exceptionally difficult. Orion has been walking around crying and fussing and dramatically throwing himself against the furniture.  He was also biting my nipples at the end of almost every nursing session.  It took me a few days before I realized he was teething, cutting molars.  I spent most of a morning crying my eyes out feeling like everything I'm doing is wrong.  I don’t feed him the right food, I don’t talk to him enough (15 months old and hasn’t said a real word yet and I’m trying to not freak out), and that he watches too much TV. 

Mostly, I wanted my mom and dad.  I was missing them so much and wanted to talk with them to get their advice.  Maybe my mom could tell me that I was bitey at that age and it would soon pass.  I knew I needed to talk with someone because I couldn’t stop crying (yes, I was a bit hormonal having finish my period a few days before).  So I got in touch with my aunt, my mother’s sister. 

Talking with her made me realize what I need to do.  I know that I need to actively start weaning this toddler and get him to nap without me or a car ride.  For the past 15 months I have nursed him whenever and wherever.  I have let him nap on me, fall asleep on me, or taken him for a car ride to nap. She also reminded me that I have been raising a great baby even though right now things are difficult.  I do need more time to myself (which is part of the reason I have not been writing).  If he could nap without me I might get an hour or two to do what I want like write or sew. (I have been a bit obsessed with sewing lately as I am just learning and it has been what I want to do with any second of free time as I cannot use my sewing machine when Orion is awake because he loves to grab the foot peddle or pull out the plug) 

It was also nice to hear that she had just been thinking of my mom and missing her like crazy along with their other sister.  Where we live, we have no family and no one down here ever met my mother.  They have no clue how awesome she was not to mention that most parents in their early 30’s still have living parents (yes, i do get jealous).  But who can you call when you are crying? I have a hard time talking when I get upset or talking about why i am upset.  I didn’t want to call my husband at the start of his work day and often I don’t want to bother anyone.  So I took the easy route and sent a text message to my aunt asking her to call me when she had time.

I know that I can call her when I need her.  She can tell me stories about my mother and give me parenting advice.  I know she loves me and thinks I am doing a great job raising my son.  That I have devoted the past 15 months to him but it will not always be that way.  One day he will be is school and before I know it he will be going off to college.  It can be hard when you are stuck in the difficult present to remind yourself that it won't always be this way.  Speaking with her reminded me of the strength she has, which my mother and my grandmother both possessed.  That strength is also inside me even when I feel tired and weak.

The night after my break down, I had a mom’s night out at the movies already planned.  I really needed that night out.  As I drove to the theater, thumping some good tunes, I felt like dancing.  The next day I felt so much better even though I was tired (out till after 11, oh shit!).  Orion hasn’t bitten my nipples since my crying jag.  I understand cutting molars is tough work so I am going a easy on him.  We are not going to try to change how he naps right now as he is dealing with enough change.  I am trying to keep him extra busy so that he will be too distracted to waltz over to nurse just because he is bored or knows that he can.   

Just writing this has made me think of a few more posts I want to write.  I need to make the time to write, I will make that time even if it means letting Orion watch Yo Gabba Gabba for a half hour or so.  I am also $700 closer to buying a laptop, I just need to find the one I want or keep saving for that Fujitsu lifebook.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Honk You!

In the past few months there have been a few occasions when I was putting Orion in his car seat and someone would be trying to park next me. The driver would honk at me as if to say "Hurry the fuck up because I do not care about the safety of your child and my time is way more important and I know there are other spots where I could park but I want this spot".  This makes me so angry!!! Do not honk at me! Maybe my baby was asleep and you just woke him up and made him cry, does that make you feel good about yourself?  

I think, for me, part of being from Philly is always being ready for a fight and these encounters really make me want to go off.  Now that I have a child, I do not want him to see his mommy going off on a person screaming and cursing.  Nowadays, you never know where a confrontation could lead to and I would not want to risk bodily injury to myself or my child.  I have such a clear memory of my mother getting mugged and punched in the ear when I was a kid and I would rather my child not witness such an act whether the violence is physical or verbal.  "I learned it from watching you" is one of the classic lines from a public service announcement and it is totally true about so many things.  If your child sees you being an ass then chances are they will also act like an ass.

If you see me strapping my baby into his car seat, or into his stroller, or on to my chest with our Becco carrier, do not honk at me! You can either:

a) Be patient because it will only take 2 minutes
b) If you wait, maybe I will notice you and step aside 
c) Fuck off and park somewhere else

Honking at a person is just down right rude! Go stand next to your car and have someone honk the horn and hear how loud it sounds. You should use your horn for safety, like when you need to warn someone that they are about to smash into your car.  You can also honk your horn if the light has turned green and the car in front of you has failed to notice just try to wait at least 30 seconds.

Maybe we all need to take into account more bumper sticker wisdom like "Mean People Suck", "Don't be a Jerk", and "Choose Civility".  Obviously, these honking encounters really piss me off and no one needs that kind of stress. I am sure the person who honked that horn has long forgotten about the encounter and maybe they didn't realize the effect it would have but stop and think if that is how you would want to be treated.  Parking just a little further away will not kill you and it will not take much more of your precious time.  And just a quick note, for the love of god do not park or idle in a handicapped parking space unless you have a handicap parking permit. Those spots actually exist for people who need them, not just because your girlfriend is only running into target to buy an EPT.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Irrational Fears

I have jumped out of bed, scared shitless, that something was wrong with my sleeping baby.  Why did I think something was wrong?  Because it was too quiet and I couldn't hear him breathing.  I lived in fear of SIDS for the first year or so of his life.  I am still afraid to have a pillow, blanket, or anything in his crib while he sleeps even though SIDS is no longer a risk.  I do allow his soothing seahorse in the crib with him but that is it and I am still afraid he will crack his head open on it.

When Orion was about 8 months old I watched Million Dollar Baby for the first time.  I would replay that climactic slow motion neck cracking scene over and over in my head starring Orion and every toy and surface in our house.  Once I get an idea in my head, it is really hard for me to shake it off.  Then I worry that if it were to actually happen it would be all my fault because the thought crossed my mind.

Last week we went for a boat ride and I saw my baby sinking like a stone to the bottom of the Potomac River.  This did not happen of course and I was sure to keep my hands on him whenever he got near the edge of the boat.  But the image, the thought, was so disturbing and I felt horrible for even thinking it that I felt sick to my stomach.

Every time I buckle Orion into his car seat I wonder if it is tight enough, am I doing this right, will he be safe.  I have become a very cautious driver and adhere to the speed limit (ok maybe I go 5 mph over) and leave plenty of room between me and the car in front.  This means I have become an extremely jumpy passenger and I don’t know how my husband puts up with me.

When I was pregnant I worried that something would be wrong with my baby.  Maybe it is my experiences coupled with the fact that I have a chronic health issue but I always brace myself for the worst.  I was also on a medication that was generally considered safe during pregnancy and breastfeeding but no one knew for sure.  I did know that I need my medication (Copaxone for treating MS) and would not do well without it and I need to be as healthy as possible in order to carry my baby to term and to take care of my baby.  So far, so good, but I still worry that down the line we will find out negative side effects of this medication.  Or any of the number of things Orion comes in to contact with on a daily basis could end up being harmful.  This is why I am very picky about what he eats and what I put on his skin.

I watched the film Temple Grandin during my pregnancy and had a big huge crying fest.  What if my baby is autistic and won’t let me hug him?  It was a severe breakdown and I knew I was getting worked up over a possibility.  Then I realized that whatever happens, we will deal with it.  Temple may not have hugged her mom but she did wonderfully amazing things including revolutionizing the cattle industry.  When you are pregnant people ask if you want to have a boy or a girl and usually the answer it that it doesn’t matter as long as the baby is healthy.  And what if it’s not?!  As long as Orion is alive I will love him and care for him and any and every way he needs.

Will my irrational fears every go away?  No, they won’t and I am sure they will get worse once Orion is driving or getting into the car of young drivers.  I do not let these fears stop me from letting Orion explore his surroundings and grow.  I allow the thought to cross my mind and then I try to move on even though it can take me awhile to shake the thought.  Now that he is learning to walk, we have had more boo boos than ever but this is something he needs to learn.

The first time Orion bled, I was more upset than he was.  We were at an indoor playground and he face planted on one of the few hard surfaces (inside a mirror cube) and split open his lip.  He cried, I almost cried, and we were both covered in blood.  The staff was really nice and gave me a cup of water and some paper towels and I cleaned him up and the bleeding stopped.  In no time he was ready to play some more.  When we came back the next week, he was happy to play in the same spot where the accident had occurred.  He spent a lot of time in that mirror cube and I was too afraid to touch him while he was in it that I just let him go in and out on his own.

The scene of the accident one week after he split his lip open.

I really don’t need any reminder that children don’t always outlive their parents.  In part because i can't handle them.  You think pregnant women are emotional?  I am way more emotional then I have ever been.  I cry during movies more than ever and for the smallest thing.  Any movie dealing with child loss I have to avoid entirely or I might flood my living room with tears.  I think about it daily and I am sure that I will on most days for the rest of my life.  Parents worry but I do not let my worry incapacitate me and hopefully I never will.  I buried both of my parents and I hope Orion buries me.

I do not think I could survive the loss of a child and I hope I will never have to find out.  But writing these words feels like tempting fate.  Then I think that I have already been through enough in my 32 years that there really can’t be any tragedy left.  My heart goes out to all those who have lost children.  Whether that loss was while the child was in utero or when that child was 60, a parent burying their children is always a sad sad shame.  These parents are the strongest people I know.  I read this great blog post recently, if you know someone who has lost a child you may find it helpful.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Caption This!

                                                         I am such a bad mommy!

Bloggers for Birth Kits

 I recently got together with a few local moms to assemble 125 birth kits.  These kits contain soap, a pair of gloves, 5 squares of sterile gauze, a razor blade, 3 pieces of string 10” long, and a 3 foot square of plastic sheeting.  All of this fits inside a sandwich sized bag.  I can’t believe that this is all a woman needs has to give birth in a third world country.  Something so small and so simple could save the life of a mom and the life of her baby.

In America it is really easy to take simple things for granted like clean water and access to soap.  We know that hand washing is the first step to prevent the spread of germs but something this simple can be really difficult if you can't afford soap.  We also assume that you will have some sort of professional help when it comes time to give birth whether that is an Obstetrician, a midwife, or an EMT.  Many women in third world countries have to rely on family members or friends to assist in the birth of their baby.  If my friend asked me to help deliver her baby I would think she was crazy!

I do feel lucky to have been born in America even with its problems*.  We cannot control where we are born and some women are not as lucky as me.  I want to help those women and this was something simple I could do for them.  I would love to teach everyone in the world how to use a condom but that would be meaningless if they did not have access to condoms.  I think that any woman who is about to give birth  should be given the chance to have a clean and safe labor for her and her baby.  The contents of this sandwich bag can help with that.

It feels good to know that 125 moms and babies will have a safe entry into this world because of something a small group of moms in Virginia did in a few hours.  In typical Charlotte fashion, I dove into this project head first and may not have read the fine print.  I hope this post will encourage others to assemble birth kits or donate to this cause.  If you are going to assemble kits, here are a few things I learned. 

I used sterile gauze but you do not have to I just want everything to be as clean as possible.  I also used razor blades that were wrapped in paper in the hopes that they would be cleaner and safer to handle when opening the kit.

You can cut a regular bar of soap into 8 pieces.  I wrapped the little pieces is plastic wrap but this step is not necessary.

I used painter's tape on my kitchen table to make a 10" section for cutting string and a 3' section for cutting the plastic sheet.  

I did not want to open up the plastic sheet to keep it as clean as possible so i wanted to buy sheeting that was already 3' on at least one side.  I was able to find sheeting that was 3' by 50' and 4 mil in thickness.  I also used sheeting that was only .31 mil thick and 9' by 400' which was way more cost effective.  I honestly cut this plastic down so it was 9' by 3' because it was so thin.

I mailed these to Austrailia and from there they will go to Papua New Guinea by ship.  The package was about 27 lbs and shipping cost $140!  After the transaction was completed, the helpful USPS employee said next time to pack them in multiple smaller boxes for less expensive shipping.  Now you tell me!

I definitely made this project more expensive than it needed to be but now I now know what to do for next time.  My husband also did not mind spending the money on such a worthy cause.  If you want to assemble kits at home, I hope you will learn my experience.  You could also make a donation here or here.  I want to thank The Feminist Breeder and Bloggers for Birth Kits for turning me on to this worthy cause.  Does anyone know of an organization doing this in America?   

*Infant mortality is still an issue in America.  We have a lot of issues but that is for a different post.