Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Fantasy

Ever since I was pregnant with Finley and Oliver I've had a fantasy of learning how to play the acoustic guitar. Seriously. The other day I even saw one out by my neighbor's trash and thought of picking it up. It had no back, though, and I thought it might be more trouble than picking through trash in my own neighborhood was worth.

But this afternoon, when we went to my parents' for the second half of Christmas, I unwrapped a beautiful little guitar with my name on it. Actually, it says Fender, but same difference.

I am going to be a totally different person now.

There are actually some pretty decent lessons out there on the internet. For free! And I know it's cheap, but hey, I'm not going pro or anything. This is strictly for the purpose of being the coolest mom ever. I've already learned three chords, which is further than I ever got with guys who were trying to hit on me by teaching me guitar.

. . .

Okay, so I'm not going to be the coolest mom ever. Probably. But I need this. A hobby I can do at home that kids will put up with. That might sometimes put them to sleep. My cello (did you know I played the cello for like 10 years?) is pretty much dead, and considering that it is a whole-body stationary affair, it's not the most motherhood-compatible instrument out there. This thing? It straps on!

But I suddenly had a waking nightmare about the little one swallowing picks. I might have to keep those in a lockbox.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Let's Get Real about Breast Feeding

Okay, so I try not to soapbox about important things on this blog, but I just have to get on this one.

First, I'm going to say the most important thing about breast feeding: It will probably be hard, but YOU CAN DO IT.

I'm not sure how many of you know what I had to go through to breastfeed Finley, but (in short) it took six full months of pumping and bottle feeding, three different types of bottles/nipples, nipple shields, lactation consultants, and TONS of work, practice, and persistence to get it to happen. It sucked. And I know a lot of women aren't willing to do that and can get away without doing it because their babies don't need it like mine did. I wouldn't have done it if I didn't have to.

But after seeing so many NICU babies and knowing the complications and illnesses that can be prevented by using breast milk, I just can't imagine that anyone would choose not to try before their baby is even born. I mean, there are a handful of REAL things that stop women from breastfeeding, and I think most of those women are sad that they and their babies miss out, but it's not like they have a choice.

But then there are women who just don't bother. They don't even try because of fear of failure or of saggy boobs or who knows what. These tend to be the people who get all pissy about "breast is best" articles and try to deny the fact that they've essentially given their child a disadvantage in one of the major parts of the newborn stage: feeding. It's not fun to think you've done that to your kid, but if you didn't even bother to try, well, you have. Don't deny the stats on breastfeeding because of it!

Then there's the group that tries to breastfeed and fails. My heart goes out to these women. It's NOT easy. It certainly doesn't come naturally for most women the way you'd expect. And the education in hospitals is PATHETIC. The consultants I saw even in the NICU were unhelpful. And for most women, unless they can somehow shell out hundreds to see an independent consultant (and it takes that much, especially if you're going more than once as you'll probably need to do), that's all the educated help they get. Two days maybe of help.

This is the real problem. It's such a small percentage of women who actually can't breastfeed because of uncorrectable low milk supply, and yet many women stop for just this reason. There's nobody there to help them through the tough parts, and workplaces are often stuck in the dark ages when it comes to lactating women. Nobody should have to pump in the bathroom (would they ask a man to make his kid a sandwich in a toilet stall?), and adequate break time is essential to a mother-friendly workplace. People need to get over pumping. It's not that weird, and women who do it for their kids are dedicated and working VERY hard.

But back to lactation education. It just needs to be more available. I got lucky because Finley's pediatrician has an IBCLC on staff, and she really got me and Finley breastfeeding and gave me the help and confidence to actually do it—and do it right!

I imagine if this kind of help were available to every woman, we'd have much higher breastfeeding rates and happier moms. So many of us are left to struggle on our own and it's super frustrating. And there are plenty of people out there who say, "Just give up!"

But I'll tell you, if you stick with it, you CAN do it. Statistically, you're not incapable. You WILL make enough milk. It CAN happen. But I think we need some social change. Insurance should pay for lactation counseling—period. Most don't even help with pump rental. We have awesome insurance and still had to pay out of pocket even though Finley was in the NICU and his survival counted on getting breast milk.

I think when you look at the long-term health benefits for children who are breast fed—lowered obesity rates, less likelihood of smoking, fewer episodes of illness during the breastfeeding period—it's clear that any initiative for public health should make helping women breastfeed a number one priority.

In the meantime, if you're struggling, try not to give up yet. If your supply is low, and you can't get baby to help you bring it up by BFing more often, try renting a pump—Medela's are the most comfortable to use. If you can't get a good latch, try a La Leche League meeting. Keeping a lactation consultant on staff at a pediatrician's office isn't uncommon. Ask your pediatrician if they have one. They may be able to bill your insurance for a regular appointment and then you just pay a co-pay.

I don't want to make anyone feel bad about getting frustrated and giving up. You know when enough is enough. But if you've still got energy left in you for breastfeeding, there are resources. And most importantly, you CAN do it.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Terrible Mother

I've been a bit sick lately. In fact, there is a support forum for people as nauseated as I am. And today, I am having an incident.

Finley pooped some time during his morning nap. It is a most disgusting poo, which can be smelled rather disgustingly from about 8 feet away from his bedroom door. If I penetrate the poo-stank barrier for longer than a few seconds, I gag. Any longer, and I'm sure I will barf. Who knows what will happen if I actually open the diaper.

Anyway, since I simply cannot stand the thought of turning my day into a vomit- and poo-cleaning party, I am leaving that poo there until Tim can come home. I'd rather keep my stomach acids off of both baby and nursery floor.

And apparently this makes me a terrible mom. My "support" forum, where I posted my problem thinking maybe someone else would understand, has deemed me unfit because I'd risk my baby's bottom skin for an hour waiting to change that poo. Because, as a mother, I should be willing to vomit like crazy AND clean up poo to save my baby from diaper rash.

But you know what? I'm not. So if you're sitting there thinking how much better of a mom you are than me, enjoy it! You win! I am a selfish whore! If you think you could handle my life so much better than I am, you can have it.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

My Lame Gift to You

"Each of us will experience over our lifetime physical pain, emotional anguish, heartache, grief, even betrayal in one form or another. If we attempt to deny the problem or to cover it with a façade of forced sweetness and light, we imperil both ourselves and each other—ourselves because we deny the healing that can result from the love, strength, and insights of true friends, and each other because people then assume we are our façades and feel even more isolated with their problems"
-Mary Stovall

I found this quote last night in a book someone gave me when I was on bed rest. I felt like it summarized why I keep this blog. So I hope you don't feel isolated. And I pray that when you feel like I do, at least you don't feel alone.

And I get the gift of you guys. So many of you have given me your love, strength, and insights, and I can't thank you enough.

Wishing Home Smelled Like Christmas Instead of Dirt

I think I'm going to heat up some apple cider. Not out of any desire to drink apple cider, but because I hope if I do so my house will smell a little more Christmas-y. We put up our tree yesterday, but since it's fake, there's no exciting smell or pine needles to vacuum. And it's not old enough to have built up that musty garage smell that meant Christmas when I was growing up.

Of course, we've already had Christmas Miracles galore this year. We've had Santa come in pieces as many gifts from loving friends, prayers and kindness, and enough fat on my belly to jiggle like a bowl full of jelly. Also, somehow our gas fireplace is non-functional. So what more could we ask for?

I mean, besides everyone's Christmas wish this year: money! Mostly in the form of jobs for our family members. And maybe in the form of a car that will fit our growing clan comfortably. I am shocked at how fast a sedan becomes way too small.

So here's the deal Old Man. If you bring us that stuff, I will keep your belly for another year. Sound good?