Posts Tagged 'baby'

I Am Scheduled Mommy, Hear Me Roar

sad babyI have always said I would not be one of those moms with the “schedule.”  As a nanny, I worked for several of these moms, quietly calling them names as I dutifully wrote down every nap, diaper, and drop of food on their meticulous spreadsheets.  “Suzie MUST go down for nap at exactly 2:01!!”  Oh, give me a break.  When Suzie’s tired, Suzie will sleep.  When I’m a mom, I vowed, I will never   schedule my baby.

The lack of schedule fit right in with the attachment parenting philosophies I found myself aligned to.  I would wear my baby, cosleep, and generally follow the “baby-led” ideas wherever applicable.  When baby is hungry, he will let me know.  When baby is tired, he will let me know.  I am flexible mommy, I am super mommy, I am super attached mommy.  

And then I was blessed with my little Virgo baby.

Actually, the whole shedule-free idea was doomed from the start.  Because he was early and had so many issues with feeding and blood sugar, the pediatrician put us on a strict schedule of two ounces every two hours.  Which meant, of course, that I had to wake J up every two hours and make him eat.  Not fun, and certainly not baby-led.  Once the danger had passed and we were given the all-clear to feed at will, J continued to cling to that two hour schedule.  Right on the dot, two hours, he wanted to eat.  He might even eat for the entire two hours, and then go right into the next feeding.  All night long.  He held on to that schedule until he was about six months old.  I could watch the clock and know without a doubt that two hours from when he woke up (and ate), he would want to go back to sleep (and eat).

Gradually, that two hour cycle faded away, and I thought, here we go–I am flexible mommy, I am super mommy, I am super attached mommy.  No more clock watching, we will just go with the flow of each day, we will follow baby’s cues.

So we went, flexible and free, naps taken at will, me waiting for his sleepy cues before I put him to bed.  And each day, it got a little harder to to get him to take a nap at all, even when he looked tired.  By the time bedtime rolled around, it was like wrestling a demon monkey.  He would sometimes sleep through the night, or most of it, but sometimes he would be awake every two hours, every hour, every ten minutes. 

I kept thinking, what am I doing wrong?  I’m following his cues, I’m trying to be flexible, why isn’t he sleeping?

Finally, I realized that this particular baby really needs a schedule.  Not the rigid, spreadsheet-based schedule I had learned to associate with the word, but instead a predictable routine to the day that told him when it was time to sleep and when it was time to eat.  (Actually, all babies benefit from this routine, my baby just happens to be very sensitive to any deviation from that routine.)  I adjusted my thinking, and started putting him down for nap at the same time every day, two solid nap blocks.  I stopped playing bedtime by ear, and instead started following the more traditional bedtime routine around the same time every night.  I am still flexible, but our days have started to follow a very predictable pattern.  It was baby-led scheduling, if you will.  My Virgo baby was very happy.

I was thinking about all of this today because we somehow got very off this past week.  Between teething, birthday parties, doctor visits, and  general chaos that is the weekend, any semblance of schedule has flown right out the window.  I am back to baby wrestling before bed and a cranky over tired baby all day.  The teething issues are exacerbated by the sleeping issues, and the cycle continues.  Last night he was up until 11:30, woke up several times throughout the night, and we were up at 7 this morning.  He took two short morning naps, refused to go down in the afternoon, and then completely passed out at 4 (really not the optimal napping time).  It took me an hour to get him calmed down and in bed tonight. 

And so we start again.  It’s not the first time I’ve had to get him back on schedule after some disruption in the routine, but for some reason this time feels more overwhelming.  I can’t quite remember how to begin.  Perhaps because I haven’t slept for over a week. 

I am scheduled mommy, I am super mommy, I am super attached mommy.

Suck This (I Will Breastfeed Wherever I Please)

NursingA few months ago, I went to lunch with a friend of mine.  Predictably, halfway through the meal, J wanted to nurse.  As I settled him down to the task, she made a comment about it weirding her out.  “It’s just food,” I told her.  “No, it isn’t,” she said firmly.

I changed the subject after that, but the comment has stayed with me, along with the many others made by family, friends, and complete strangers. I remember feeling embarrassed, like I should apologize for needing to feed my son in her presence. 

I know I’m not the only one who faces such negative attitudes towards breastfeeding.  Go to any parenting forum, and you’ll find at least one post about some poor mom trying to deal with criticism.  In fact, La Leche League has an entire forum devoted to dealing with criticism.  You’ll find stories of strangers telling breastfeeding moms that it’s “disgusting,” that they’re being “indecent,” husbands pressuring their wives to give it up, family members asking them to leave the room to nurse, and doctors paying lip service to breastfeeding while encouraging the use of formula.  I personally have been asked to take my baby in the bathroom to feed him, told (at the beginning) that I needed to supplement with formula because he wanted to nurse all the time, and told I was spoiling him by feeding him on demand (why is it spoiling a baby to nurse him, but not to give him a bottle?).  My doctor, while being a pretty cool doctor in general, seems unsure about the fact that I’m still breastfeeding, and when J was four months old the people in the WIC office expressed shock that I was “still breastfeeding.”  That’s not counting disapproving looks I frequently receive when nursing in public, even though I am decently covered and try to place myself in the most discrete location so as not to offend anyone. 

It is frustrating and disheartening.  I didn’t start out feeling self-conscious about breastfeeding, but I quickly learned to be.  It’s no wonder that so many moms give up breastfeeding, or don’t try at all.

Despite the Breast is Best campaign, which strives to promote breastfeeding in order to improve general health, the majority of Americans remain fairly uneducated about breastfeeding, and the negative attitudes remain.  Even doctors seem to lack critical knowledge of breastfeeding, which is why we see a lot of instances where supplementing is encouraged.  In one survey, it was found that only 37% of pediatricians encouraged breastfeeding for the first year, and most of them felt that formula feeding was equal to breastfeeding.  The majority of them had not been to any sort of presentation on  breastfeeding for at least three years, and admitted to needing more education about breastfeeding.  Without doctor support, many women not only lack the encouragement they need to breastfeed successfully, but also lack vital information–or in some cases, receive incorrect information.  For example, as I said before, I was told that I needed to supplement in the beginning, but all that would have done is reduce my milk supply.  A lot of women fall into that trap, where they are told to supplement with formula, but then they are not keeping up with baby’s demand, so they have to supplement more and more, and eventually they give up breastfeeding altogether.

The campaign has not been totally ineffective.  Most Americans seem to agree that breastfeeding provides a lot of health benefits for mom and baby, which is an improvement.  Yet many still feel that women should not breastfeed in public and feel grossed out by breastfeeding in general.  It seems that the attitude is Breast is Okay, but Bottle is Better.  I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised.  After all, you can’t turn on the TV or open a magazine without seeing an ad for formula that claims in some way to provide the same benefits as breast milk.  And isn’t bottle feeding easier/more convenient/less embarrassing?  And don’t you have to stop breastfeeding as soon as they get teeth anyway?  The misconceptions abound, fueled by a multi-million dollar ad budget.  (For more on this, there’s a really wonderful blog post  about formula ad campaigns.) 

At the same time, I know a lot of moms who feel pressured to breastfeed and feel like they’re bad moms if they end up bottle feeding for whatever reason. Yet  there’s all this negative feedback about breastfeeding, especially in public.   You really can’t win.  (And just so everyone is clear:  I am not in any way against those who bottle-feed.  My issue is with attitudes towards breastfeeding, not other’s parenting choices.  🙂

I talked to a friend of mine about this, and she said she thought it was more of a modesty thing: that people just don’t want to see something they shouldn’t.  I thought about it, and while that may be true in some cases, I think as a generalization it doesn’t work.  (Besides, I have an issue with the idea that women’s bodies are something that should not be revealed, unless of course you’re at Hooters or an act on America’s Got Talent.)  For one thing, no one seems to have a problem with skimpy bathing suits, and they’re way more revealing than the average woman breastfeeding.  For another, it’s not just actual breastfeeding that freaks people out, but breast milk as well.  There was an article in Parent’s magazine just last month about a lady who was trying to bring home milk she had expressed during vacation.  It was really quite amusing to read about people’s reactions, and yet it got me thinking… why is breast milk, this amazing fluid specifically designed to provide the perfect nutrition for our babies, treated as something gross/weird?  Why do we see so many instances on TV shows/movies where someone inadvertently picks up a bottle of breast milk or, God forbid, drinks it? (I know I’ve seen it on Friends, Look Who’s Talking, Seinfeld.. and I don’t even watch TV!)  I have never seen this happen with formula (and have you *smelled* that stuff?). 

I don’t get it.  I really want to understand, but I just don’t.  Is it that breasts are viewed as  sexual objects in our culture?  Is it simply the lack of education?  The result of formula marketing campaigns?  An extension of sexism?  What, please tell me, so we can fix it. 

When we trust the makers of baby formula more than we do our own ability to nourish our babies, we lose a chance to claim an aspect of our power as women. Thinking that baby formula is as good as breast milk is believing that thirty years of technology is superior to three million years of nature’s evolution. Countless women have regained trust in their bodies through nursing their children, even if they weren’t sure at first that they could do it. It is an act of female power, and I think of it as feminism in its purest form.” —– Christine Northrup M.D.

Happy Birthday, Baby!

And so we meet...
 
One year ago today, a miracle landed in my life.
 
Literally, landed.  After hours of back labor and doctor drama (a story in itself), Jayden Eli surprised everyone by arriving in a rush and landing on the hospital floor.  The nurse had just enough time to put her hand under his head, but the rest of him met the ground with an audible splat.  How was it the doctor put on the chart?  Oh yes, “arrived precipitously on the hospital floor.”  He was immediately nicknamed Crash.

He was a month early, tiny and blue and I’m not sure which one of us was more surprised to find him suddenly in the outside world.  There was a long moment when everything froze, and we just stared at each other.  I probably would have stayed frozen like that for the rest of the day, but nurses rushed in to lift me to the bed and move J to the baby warmer where they spent a good deal of time trying to get him to breathe.  I’d tell you how terrifying that was, but in all honesty it didn’t become scary to me until much later.  I think I was in shock, because I just stared in silence as the doctors and nurses fluttered around him. 

The next few hours were utter chaos.  We’re not even sure what time he was actually born, because no one managed to look at the clock.  Not that I cared much about that.  Nothing mattered beyond the tiny little being that had finally been placed in my arms.  It wasn’t until the dark, quiet hours of that following night that it suddenly connected in me that the bundle I had been clutching for hours was actually the same baby that had been inside of me for all those months.  It was a very strange, powerful moment.  I had not slept for over 48 hours.  I had been through the most intense, grueling, powerful experience of my life.  And yet… I have never been so incredibly exhilirated as I was in that moment.  I couldn’t have slept, even if I had wanted to.

We had a rough start, Jayden and I, but you wouldn’t know it looking at us now.  He has thrived and grown (perhaps a little too quickly for my taste), evolved from the tiny helpless stranger that fell into my life to the  happy, quirky, opinionated toddler who lights up my world. 

It’s been a good year.  Happy birthday, baby.

Lists of Another Kind

How is it that it’s almost midnight on Sunday, and I have gotten absolutely nothing accomplished? 

Okay, that’s not entirely true.  Saturday was a very full day, what with the trip out of town, my nephew’s (four hours of) football games, and of course, birthday shopping.  In fact, we walked around so much that my legs are still protesting today (and this is where you point out that perhaps I should exercise like I’ve been promising to do for weeks now.  Yeah, yeah, add that to the list of things that didn’t get done today).  So make that just today that I was completely unproductive.

I had plans.  I was even up early (thank you, J) with plenty of time to accomplish my goals.  There’s not only the laundry baskets full of laundry that need to be washed, but also the mountains of clean clothes which are plotting the hostile takeover of my entire room (the victory is very near).  The dresser needs to be sorted, all of J’s outgrown clothes need to be boxed up for my sister-in-law.  The stack of papers that I need to weed through and file or throw away.  The fridge needs cleaned out.  The bathroom garbage is a science experiment.  There were people I was going to call and chat with, blogs I was going to write, a week’s worth of menues I was going to plan in order to be organized for the week.  The gluten-free cake recipe that I need to pick.  I was going to take the boy to the park, enjoy the sunshine, relax.  Hell, I was going to take a shower. 

What in the world happened to my weekend?

Looking back on my day, I am honestly drawing a blank as to what I was doing that prevented me from getting anything else done.  I know that I wasn’t relaxing, because I would have had to sit down for that.  Somehow, by the time I got J changed, fed, cleaned up, down for nap, changed, fed, cleaned up again, the day was pretty much done. 

Days like this make me feel very… incompetent.  How is it that other mothers manage to chase their wee ones, provide stimulating educational interaction, cook yummy food, and still have time to get the house clean?  Please, share your secrets of success with me (especially where the food is concerned, my menu needs help).

I did manage to get J all wrapped up and take him for a walk, though.  And J did seem to have fun today.  I suppose the list will have to wait yet another day, and I will have to continue to dream of Supermom powers.

Speaking of Messes…

Well, I don’t think I need to worry about writing my acceptance speech for the Mommy of the Year award anytime soon.

It started last night, when I couldn’t figure out why J was so awake and restless at 11. Then he got diarrhea, and I clued in that he wasn’t feeling all that great. It was a long night of patting and soothing and having a very wiggly baby wanting to be right on top of me. Still, he slept in and seemed better this morning… Until a major blowout diaper as I was leaving for work, which of course not only meant a change of clothes for the boy and myself but also somehow ended up meaning a total change of bedding was necessary as well (dang, he moves fast). Finally get out the door, officially late for work, and there he goes again.

It’s at this point that a smart mommy would just turn around and call it a day, but he seemed ok (other than the smell), and with it being a short week I really needed to get in at least a couple hours. J didn’t have any more bad diapers, but he was incredibly clingy and spent most of his day sitting on my lap pushing his head into me and yelling “MAMAMAMAMAAAAA!” He didn’t take an afternoon nap, which really improved things, all the way around. It was so frustrating because there wasn’t anything I could really do for him.. When I heard myself whining back at him “PLEEEASE, baby, mommy needs to work,” I finally realized it was pointless and packed it up. Of course, by then it was 4:00 and we were both hot and sticky and more than a little cranky.

Then there was dinner to be figured out and sheets to be washed and then the after dinner clean up and bath and pjs and how am I going to get the bed made before it’s time to get in it? All the while there’s his hot little body pressed against mine while he yells “MAMAMAMAAAA!” (Wasn’t I just wishing for him to be small and cuddly just a couple days ago?)

Get through the bedtime routine, he’s asleep and in bed and I finally can go to the bathroom in peace-oh, but he is crying again, repeat. Up down up down… And I know he isn’t feeling well, I know he just needs his mommy, I know the extra nursing will help with his fluids, but mommy’s hot and tired and sticky and somehow the room still stinks like bad baby poop and right now I’m really regretting this whole attachment parenting/co-sleeping thing. (Even though logic says no matter where he sleeps, he would still be wanting his mommy tonight.)

And it’s times like these when I think, is this really my life? When did my world start revolving around baby poop? Why do I have baby food on the back of my neck? I used to be kind of interesting, I used to go out with other adults. Now I just want to sleep, preferably without anyone touching me (even as I write this, he is half draped across me, something that just started last night and I hope doesn’t stick).

And of course I feel guilty and selfish for having these thoughts when my baby so obviously doesn’t feel well, but there you have it. The Mommy Store has run out of patience.

Bye-Bye Baby

My son’s first birthday is eight days away.

I admit: I am a bit of a mess. I know I’m supposed to be excited about this new first, and I am, really. When I’m not completely heartbroken.  Every day he is growing and changing, rapidly shifting from my sweet little baby into a giant toddler (tantrums and all). I find myself wanting to yell, “No, baby, slow down!” Not that I’m not excited about all the new tricks he has (have I mentioned the tantrums?), or the new adventures still to come (he’l be walking any day now). I just thought the baby stage would last a little bit longer.  Silly me, I should have listended to all the other mommies when they told me how fast it was going to go by.  For me, the big birthday event is really just the final send-off to my baby… Welcome to toddlerhood, little one.

Mommy’s not ready.

As the day rapidly approaches when I officially become the mommy of a toddler, I thought I would take a moment and reflect on the last year. It’s been a big one for both the boy and I. Let’s see… I had a baby, left an abusive relationship (and lost a stepson in the process), moved back to small town Montana, and began the quest to become an awesome single mommy.  It is certainly not the way I had envisioned things going, although I am proud to say we’re doing alright.  This has been the single most emotional, life-altering and rewarding year of my life.   And somewhere tucked in all the upheaval and personal change are all those little moments of my baby’s first year of life… The first time I held him in my arms… he was so tiny.  That baby smell, completely new and fresh.  His first smile. The way he used to fit so small and perfect in my arms.   The first time he sat up on his own–he got excited he threw himself backwards (actually, he still does that).  His first laugh. The day he said mama.

Now there are sippy cups and bonked heads and the constant refrain of “Don’t bite the dog!” and his charming new ability to scream at the top of his lungs because he wants something RIGHT NOW.  And his sweet kisses and peekabo and first steps and… yeah, I love this age, too.

So when the day comes, I will wipe my eyes and hold on tight to my new little toddler. I have the feeling it’s going to be another big year, and I don’t want to miss a thing.