Monday, November 30, 2009
On Friday, Tanya at the Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog wrote:
Earlier this week I encouraged everyone to provide feedback to their hospitals about your breastfeeding experiences. . . .
So I thought, during this week of giving thanks, that I'd balance things out by encouraging you to write to anyone who has made your breastfeeding experience better.
I'm running a little behind on this "assignment," but seeing as today is one year since my boobs and I "hit rock bottom" and I was the closest I ever came to giving up, it seemed like a good time to say these things.
There are many other people who supported me along the way, and I feel bad that I'm not thanking each and every one of them personally, but I think it's fair to say that these four are the ones who really made the biggest impact on our success.
I suppose I should begin at the beginning.
When Peeper came along, you were there when I needed you, with support and advice. You remind me that you and Kiddo1 made it through some similar challenges (jaundice, nipple confusion), and suggested that a nipple shield might help us as well.
But, more importantly, thank you for
You taught me most of what I knew about breastfeeding before Peeper was born, and you showed me the benefits of full term (I don't like the word "extended") breastfeeding.
You made me a lactivist, decades before I ever lactated.
Because of that, I went into this 100% determined to breastfeed Peeper, come what may, and without that, I know I couldn't have stuck with it through our difficult start.
I don't know how I would have made it through Peeper's first six weeks without your advice and support, starting even before she was born.
Thanks in large part to you, Peeper's birth was as close to my ideal as possible, given the situation (four weeks early, in a hospital, unknown Group B Strep status, and her varying heart rate), and I was able to avoid an epidural or C-section that might have caused us even more problems.
I can't even begin to guess how many hours I spent on the phone with you over the next six weeks - often because you'd called me to check in, just when I was really needing someone to talk to.
You gave me tons of great advice and great suggestions, but even more importantly, you listened to me, and told me that everything we were going through was normal, and reassured me that Peeper would eventually figure this all out.
The one thing that kept me going in on the toughest days was that you kept telling me that she could do it, and that the effort - and pain - that I was going through would pay off in the end.
Even since we've been past that, and she's been nursing like a champ, you've continued to help us, with both practical advice and emotional support, especially during the time of her surgery.
There is no way that I can possibly repay you for all that you have done for our family; I can only try to "pay it forward," by helping and supporting other moms and babies, and hope that I make even a fraction of the difference for them that you have for us.
Dear Dr T:
I can not get over how lucky Shrike and I were to have found you. After our first session, we knew that you were a good fit for us, and that you "got" us, but we had no idea just how well-matched we were or how important that would turn out to be.
When we began seeing you, a little more than three years ago, we didn't even have any plans to become parents, and certainly weren't shopping for a therapist with any particular viewpoints on parenting, birth, breastfeeding, or anything of the like.
Since then, between us, we've been through three pregnancies (hmm, does that mean it's my turn again?) and along the way, we've found that as far out of the mainstream as we might be, with our parenting choices, you are swimming way over there with us.
Under the best of circumstances, it would be important to have a therapist who understands and supports the parenting choices that we're making, but given how difficult the early weeks were, and other issues that have arisen along the way, it's been even more crucial.
When I read other mothers' stories of their experiences with mental health professionals regarding breastfeeding, postpartum depression, and the like, I almost feel guilty for having had such great support!
Based on these women's accounts, I can easily imagine that many a therapist seeing me at two, three or five weeks postpartum would have told me that breastfeeding was just too upsetting for me, that I was on the brink of postpartum depression and that I should stop putting so much pressure on myself, accept that I was one of those women who "just can't breastfeed," and switch to formula.
I can't imagine anything that would have been worse for my mental health.
Instead, you told me that everything I was feeling was not only normal, but absolutely to be expected, given the circumstances. You commiserated with me about how much pumping - for lack of a better word - sucks. You understood, as only another nursing mother can, how important this was to me, and encouraged me to stick with it.
Of course, before Peeper was born, before she was even conceived, you were with us every step of the way, helping us to deal with the whole process of making her (Including months of biting your tongue about your own pregnancy as, week after week, we talked about our baby plans!), and wrote not one, but two letters to our fertility clinic, telling them that we weren't too crazy to have a baby.
And you've been with us through all the ups and downs of her first year - not only our breastfeeding struggles, but all of her health questions, her surgery, and so many other things that we've dealt with as new parents.
Through it all, you've supported and understood - not just intellectually, but really understood - our parenting choices, and helped us to feel secure in them, even in the face of criticism.
All the advice and encouragement in the world would not have mattered without your support.
From day one - from long before day one - you have been there for me, for Peeper - for our family.
I know you've not always completely understood all my neuroses - and there have been plenty - but you have accepted them, and have supported me through them.
You gave Peeper all her feedings for the first few weeks when I couldn't bear to give her a bottle myself.
Then you gave her no feedings for months, when I couldn't bear for anyone to give her a bottle.
You hung in there with us, encouraging me to put her to the breast as often as possible, even when I'd have rather skipped it, because it hurt so much when she refused.
You held me as I cried, and held her as I pumped, and helped me hold her to try to nurse, and never suggested I should give up.
You listened to endless hours of nipple-talk.
You were there for us both in those difficult early days, and you've been there for us all along, even when we've not been so fun to be around.
There is nothing I love more than to watch you and Peeper together; it makes me so happy to see you making each other so happy.
I couldn't ask for anything more, and it makes me love you more every day.
Last Wednesday, I wrote about Peeper's new and improved sleep habits.
So, of course, thanks to Murphy's Law of Mommy Blogging, the past two nights, we've been up for 2 - 3 hours in the middle of the night, with a whiny, sniffly, snotty, coughy, exhausted-but-no-sleepy baby.
She has a cold, though, so (knock wood) that's still in line with what I said before about her only getting us up in the night when she's sick.
Saturday, she'd napped early, and went to bed and 9:30. I wasn't sure if that was a nap or bedtime, but she was still asleep when we crawled into bed at 1 am, but then she woke up at 2 am, and was up until close to 4:30 am.
Last night, she napped late, and was having trouble getting settled and asleep when we tried to go to bed around 11 pm. We were up and down and finally went to sleep at 1 am. Then she was up around 2 am - until about 5 am.
That time, she was doing a lot of coughing, and it definitely seemed to be "productive" - rattlecough, rattlecough, gaggycough, swallow - so I was worried that the cold was moving down into her chest.
After we sat in a steamy bathroom for a while, it seemed to settle down, but I still wanted to get her checked out.
As luck would have it, we were already scheduled to get the second dose of her seasonal flu shot today, so I called and left a message in the middle of the night, asking if we could see a doctor instead, and take a peek at her ears and a listen to her lungs.
The doctor said that her ears are fine, and her "heart and lungs sound great," and that the cold is "all up here (her head)" so that's very good to hear.
It really did seem that she had some congestion going on last night, to do that kind of coughing, but maybe it was just post-nasal drip? (Ew.)
I was much more worried about a chest cold than a head cold, just because it would be the first time that her lungs have been "challenged" since her surgery, and although she is all fixed up, I don't know that I'm 100% confident that her lungs are 100% okay, after dealing with the excess fluid and pressure for her first twenty weeks.
No doctor has ever indicated that she would have any kind of permanent damage, mind you, but I'm just nervous about how they'll handle an infection or congestion or whatever, when the do encounter it.
So, the upshot of the whole exam was that "She has a cold. Keep doing what you're doing - humidifier, Tylenol when she seems to need it, keep an eye on her."
I felt a little silly about asking to see a doctor to hear that, but while in the waiting room, I did read a poster about runny noses that said to call a doctor if the runny nose is accompanied by a cough. So there.
Oh, and our original purpose for the appointment? She did get her second seasonal flu shot - and she didn't even cry!
She maybe made a little "Eep!" as though to say, "What the fuck?!" but then was fine.
I started to offer her some goody (I had her in my lap for the shot, with my bra already unhooked, ready to go.) but instead, she wanted to get down and "walk" around.
I was so proud of her!
(You'll notice that I didn't say that nobody cried.)
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Too many good, unrelated photos to decide.
The Little Lactivist
We almost didn't buy this outfit, because it's just so grown-up. I would totally wear this if it came in my size.
Totally got lucky on this. She just happened to cruise down the hall as the afternoon sun was coming in through the living room windows.
Friday, November 27, 2009
It was tough to get the panda photos this month.
What I wanted was Peeper (finally!) standing on her own in front of Mr. Panda.
Which would've been no problem, except that she really wanted to play with the camera, so instead of a quick photo of her standing still, she got lots and lots and lots of walking practice, as I stood her in front of the panda, and she ran toward the camera - over and over and over.
We got a few good ones, and lots of outtakes.
You can be the judge of which are which.
You are lucky-thirteen months old today. I guess that means that I have to stop telling people that you, "just turned one," doesn't it?
At the moment, you have a bit of a cold, which totally sucks. You don't seem to have fever, nor do you seem to feel particularly yucky, but you're sneezing a bit and your nose is running like a Kenyan marathoner.
You started with the sneezes and sniffles just as we got home from Texas last week, and I was very worried that we were going to have to cancel our plans to attend the La Leche League conference, but after two days, you'd not gotten any worse, and in fact your nose had pretty much cleared up, so we went.
On the way home Sunday, I noticed your nose running again, though, and it hasn't stopped all week.
You've handled it pretty well, though; it's only really seemed to bother you when you lay down and try to nurse to sleep, but that's to be expected.
Of course, you really hate when I try to wipe it or suction it out, but a Mama's gotta do with a Mama's gotta do, and you always seem to forgive me afterwards.
This has been a really big month for you, with lots of milestones and big developmental leaps.
You've gone from finally "really" cruising to just damn near walking. "Toddling," perhaps?
The day after we got home from Texas (sorry, Anonyfamily!), you started letting go and taking steps, with much encouragement.
Over the past nine days, you've gone from that to voluntarily letting go and taking several steps when it suits you - like when Mommy moved the dog food into the middle of the room, to keep you from it!
It's always on your terms, though. If we try to coax you to let go and walk to us, you hold out a hand and ask (whine) for help!
As you move around, you are still mostly keeping a hand on something for balance, but often taking hands-free steps between objects, and then occassionally taking a few steps on your own.
And you quite often stand on your own, usually when you're holding something in both hands, and concentrating on that, rather than the standing.
Today, I even saw you drop the toy you were holding, bend down to get it, and then stand back up - all completely on your own!
I know I've said things like this before and had to eat my words, but I'm quite confident that next month's letter to you will start off with something like, "You are now walking everywhere!"
You've also learned more signs in the past month. You now know:
- more - This one is still hard to tell apart from "all done" sometimes, and now that you're clapping, you also might mean "Hooray!"
- all done - See above.
- doggie - One of your favorites. This was the first sign you would do on request. You also use it spontaneously when you see or hear the dogs (or cats).
- milk/goody - You usuall yonly use the sign when you're not close enough to me to just try to help yourself.
- hello/bye-bye - You wave when you hear the words, "hello," "bye-bye," "good bye" or - get this - "see ya later!"
- gentle - You do a good approximation of the sign and definitely associate it with the word. (When we tell you to "be gentle," you make the sign.) We're not exactly sure what you think that word means, though. You do it in reference to animals and other babies (that's when you hear it the most) but also at other times. Sometimes I think you're telling us to be gentle with you (like when you signed it as I was in the middle of putting you in the wrap!) but I'm really not sure about that.
- flower - This is another one that you do "on command," and will also often do when you see a picture of a flower, or a real one. The "sign" is just to sniff, like you're smelling a flower. It was an easy one for you to learn because you already liked to sniff sniff because we think it's funny.
- "hooray" - You started clapping open-handed while we were in Texas. Sometimes it's hard to tell if you're meaning to clap or sign "more" (or "all done"), but sometimes it's definitely "Hooray!"
You've also just started using your index finger to point with, and last night was the first time that I saw you point to something far away.
You've been "pointing to" (hitting or thumbing) pictures in books for a while (usually thdoggie), but last night, at Eena and Papa's house, you pointed to some pretty lights that were hanging a few feet above your head.
Then, earlier today, when I asked you "where's the kitty cat" you ignored the picture in your book (which was what I meant) and pointed at BoyCat, who was sitting next to us.
Well, duh, Mama. He's right there!
You're also verbalizing more and more, and we think you're saying a few words.
You definitely say "Mama/Mommy" - or something that sounds like Mama or Mumumum or Ama, which can refer to either of us.
However, we've decided that when you're eating, and you say "mumuh mumuh" that you aren't talking to us, rather you're saying "yum yum" or - as we prefer to think of it - "nom nom nom!"
If we ask you "Is it yum yum?" you will say it back to us, so we're pretty sure that's what it means.
It does sound pretty much identical to what you call us, but it's all about the context.
You're still saying something that could be "kitty cat," on occassion, too, but that's much less obvious.
You make lots of other very intentional sounds that are probably "words" to you, but we've not quite managed to match up your sounds with the objects yet.
That's one reason that we are so glad that we're teaching you to sign, because it's just amazing to be able to "hold a conversation" with you, and if we were relying on your verbalizations, we'd be screwed.
Between the signs and following simple directions, it is obvious that you understand so much of what we are saying, that it's a bit frightening!
Recently, you've started handing things to us, both spontaneously and on request. In the past week, you've gone from putting everything that you pick up directly into your mouth to, oh maybe half the time, picking it up and handing it to one of us, and when you get hold of paper, you'll tear off pieces and hand them to us, one by one, instead of eating the whole thing.
That's a big improvement!
A couple of days ago, you were "helping" me to put away laundry in your room, taking things out of the basket and handing them to me.
At one point, I said, "Can you please pick up that blue outfit that's on the floor by your feet and give it to me?"
Granted, it was the only outfit on the floor by your feet, but you picked it up and handed it right to me!
Then, I put all the grownup clothes back in the basket and asked you to push it into the bedroom (directly across the hall from your room) for me.
I had to get you lined up aiming the right direction, but you took off, and pushed it all the way in there!
What a big helper-girl you are!
You've also made some big changes in your napping and sleeping habits, going to bed and waking up earlier, and staying asleep in the bed all by yourself for naps and from the time you go to bed until Mommy and I are ready for bed.
I do feel guilty about this sometimes, because it just seems wrong to leave you all alone, but the fact that you can stay asleep or even rouse up a bit and settle back down to sleep tells me that you must be ready for it - you couldn't do that a few months ago.
Now that you're usually having one nap a day on your own (and one in my lap, because I'm not ready to give that up), plus being on your own for a while at bedtime, Mama's running out of excuses for not having her shit more together.
I think I'll make a New Years resolution to try to get back to cooking at least a few times a week, and to grocery shopping more efficiently, making a plan and using coupons and buying ingredients rather than stuff-in-boxes. Maybe.
You've also been doing very well hanging out with Mommy when Mama goes away for a little while. I feel even more guilty about that one, but again, you do seem to be ready for it - at least for short periods.
When you turned a year old, it didn't seem possible, because you were still so very much a baby but, now, it's suddenly very, very hard to avoid admitting that you just might, indeed, be a toddler.
You communicate (sort of), you follow simple directions (sort of), you're getting that awkward-stage toddler hair (definitely), and you, well, toddle (more and more every hour).
But you will always be our baby.
And we will always love you, little big girl. More than anything.
I just sent the following email to ParentHacks.com.
This is probably not an original idea, but just in case it is, I thought I'd send it in.
After Thanksgiving dinner at my inlaws, I put my 13-month-old daughter down for a nap in their bedroom.
I didn't want to shut the door, because we wouldn't be able to hear her, but I knew we'd wake her up if we left it open.
What we needed, of course, was a baby monitor, but they don't have one - so I improvised.
I called my partner's cell phone from mine, put them both on speaker, and muted my microphone. Then I put her phone in the bed with the baby and left mine open on the table where we were all sitting. We could hear the baby but she couldn't hear us.
Calls to each other are free, so we weren't even using any minutes!
Look, Peeper's watching the Cowboys. I'll take a picture of her for Anonymama.
Wait, Grandma, I'm taking a . . . nevermind.
Oh look, there's Shrike, her mom and her sister all standing together.
Hey, look over here for a picture!
Um, why do you have my wife in a choke hold?
That's so sweet, let's take a picture.
Oh, now she's done.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
I am a big fan of harnesses ("leashes") in crowded public places for kids who are big enough to want to walk on their own, but young enough that they can't be trusted to not run off.
(They provide more comfort, security and freedom than holding hands. I took LadyKay's kids to an amusement park both with and without them, and we all enjoyed "with" a lot more.)
That said, I really don't think you're supposed to use the actual harness that the dog used when he was a puppy.
I assume this happened because Peeper was playing with the box of leashes, harnesses, etc, and then Shrike got silly.
When they walked into the room, it took me a moment to figure out what was going on.
Peeper actually didn't seem to mind it a bit, which is good to know, because we actually already own a panda backpack / harness that we'll probably use when she's older.
We'll wear her as long as she (and our backs) will let us, but when she's at that running along beside stage, we'll probably go that route.
. . . for oh, so many things that I could never list them all, but I will try to cover as many as I can before Peeper wakes up and we have to get ready to go to dinner.
First and foremost, of course, for Peeper, and for the fact that she is a happy, healthy, nursing thirteen-month-(tomorrow)-old. None of that was at all certain this time last year, and I will never take it for granted.
For Peeper's doctors, especially her cardiologist and surgeon, and everyone who helped to take care of her during her surgery.
For those who have helped to keep me sane through it all - Shrike, Dr. T, DoulaK and numerous other family and friends.
For Shrike. I couldn't ask for a better wife, nor could Peeper ask for a better Mommy. Thank you for being ours.
For the Anonyparents, for all of their support, emotional and otherwise.
For my brand new niece and nephew, and that they and TheirLovelyMother are healthy.
For family and friends who listen when I need to talk, tell me what I need to hear, and are there for me when I need them, in whatever ways that I need.
That Peeper and I were able to spend "Thanksgiving" with my family a couple of weeks ago, and we'll spend Thanksgiving with Shrike's family today.
For our newfound "early" to bed, "early" to rise routine, that's allowed us/me to get out and socialize more.
That Peeper and Shrike seem to be enjoying spending a couple of hours on their own every now and then, and that Peeper's enjoying having the bed to herself for a while during naps and in the evenings.
That Peeper seems to have gotten over her dairy sensitivity. The holidays will be so much more enjoyable, not being dairy-free!
For baby signing. It's just amazing that Peeper can communicate so effectively at her age.
For breastfeeding, cosleeping, babywearing, and all-around attachment parenting. They've made our lives so much easier, and so much better.
That Shrike and I are mostly on the same page about these things; that she has been so supportive of breastfeeding - especially in the early, difficult weeks - and that she loves wearing Peeper and cosleeping with her.
That I've learned (mostly) to follow my gut and do what feels right for our family, and to ignore criticism and pressure from outsiders.
That we've found other like-minded Mamas to support, affirm and validate our parenting choices.
For the Internet. Of course, because without it, I never would have met Shrike, but also because so many of my friends live there.
Thank you for being one of them!
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Top 5 Reasons to Give to LLLI (La Leche League International) Now
From Breastfeeding 1 - 2 - 3
It's Thanksgiving Eve, so that means pie, and Peeper helped, just like last year.
Well, maybe not just like last year.
Pie Making, 2009First, she just hung out and played while I worked on the pie. (Notice the hands-free stance here!)
She really got a kick out of the blender noise!
Then she came over to inspect my work.
When we were done, she licked the
Which is something of a tradition in and of itself.
If you're new around these parts, here's the recipe for Lemon Icebox Cheesecake.