Posts Tagged breastfeeding

Two Years

9 November 2012

Yesterday my little boy turned two.

Two Years.  That is how long my baby has been in my life. Feels like a moment, yet the time before we knew him seems to be as if it were another lifetime. How someone who makes the world so rich, so meaningful, so warm and wonderful could have simply not existed two years ago boggles the mind.

Two years ago he was just a tiny mewing infant, small enough to be held in one arm, yet fragile enough never to do so. He spent his days mostly eating and sleeping and eating and sleeping. The boy we know now is so different. He roams through the wide world with eyes wide open, taking in and investigating every possible adventure or fascination. Things we take for granted, or don’t have the interest in studying, Leif brings to our attention with wild amazement, reminding us daily that the world is truly a place full of wonders.  He is patient enough to give his attention to one project at a time for long stretches. He is curious enough to repeat everything he hears with remarkable precision, putting together sentences that seem far too complex for such a young mind. He observes how others play and have fun, and is quick to join in with his own version, never doubting the activity to be any less than thrilling.

It’s hard to believe it has been two years since my homebirth. My Perfect Birth. I remember so vividly the first time I laid eyes on this beautiful child, and I will never forget the peaceful and powerful way he graced us with his grand entrance. The grace and peace that I was given that day will be a lesson I will never forget. I am so lucky that despite all our struggles, he still craves his mommy’s breast and that I get the privilege of staring into his beautiful eyes as he fills his tummy with sweet milk.

Yet often as I watch him lying in bed sleeping, I get a strong sense that he is rapidly growing from a baby into a boy. My heart is overwhelmed with pride and sadness. But with each tear that is shed in mourning over the loss of his babyhood, my heart is doubly filled with elation over the person he is becoming. It is a privilege to watch him grow, to bear witness to his life and development, but the greatest honor is that I am blessed to nurture him through it.

Last week, I was embaressingly clumsy and took a pretty bad dive as I tripped over a toy in our playroom. Both boys saw it, and as I lay on the ground in pain I watched them rush over to me in fear. Leif reached my head first and I saw the fear in his eyes as he yelled “Mommy!” and looked down at me, tears welling in the eyes and heavy breaths waiting to be released. I was fine, but it was so humbling to experience for a moment the depth of his love for me. How I ever deserved such love I have no clue. But I am thankful, and pray that I will be a good mother to him throughout the years to come.

So here’s to many more happy years! However fast they come, I promise to relish every moment, always thankful that I am your mother.

My Yearly Update!

23 April 2012

I never blog anymore.

I think this is because I need to decide what this blog is, exactly. I know i don’t want to be 0ne of those “mommy bloggers” whose blogs I read often. I’m just not as awesome as they. Nor do I see myself being one of those that blog every major and minor life event, with pictures. I’m too much of a slacker for that.

Oh well.

Here’s an update at least:

I am working part-time at Cerritos College now. I teach Acting Fundamentals in the Theatre Dept. It is temporary, substitute. But they asked me to stay until the end of the semester because the reg prof is on medical leave. I am loving it! The class is great. I’ve decided I don’t really know how to act, but hopefully my students won’t figure that out until after the semester is over. Don’t tell. =) Next time I should teach something easy like how to tie shoes the cool way, or alphabetizing my bookshelf… j/k… The hardest part really is dealing with childcare. Andy stays home once a week and the other day we have been using a series of grandmothers and babysitters. It’s really hard to leave them, but I know they are in really good hands, and that they are enjoying the time they spend with their caregivers. I don’t know what we’d do if I was offered a more permanent job, but I trust the Lord will show us if He gives me such an opportunity.

The Downey Arts Coalition is embarking on its first theatrical endeavor! I am so excited to be producing Urban Acts: New Plays from the Street alongside Andrew, a couple other DAC members, and also alongside the critically-acclaimed Urban Theatre Movement. Those guys rock. This will be a staged reading series at site-specific locations throughout Downey. All new plays by new and established playwrights. We are very very privileged to be able to read these wonderful new works and to have most of the playwrights in attendance as well! Check out www.downeyarts.org for more info.

Speaking of DAC, our organization is 1 year old now! I can’t believe the organization that Andrew started has grown into such a huge thing practically over night! I never imagined we would be involved with so many incredible people and doing so many exciting things here in Downey when he first started talking about wanting to form a group like this. That’s exactly it– when he started talking about wanting to do this, it was just going to be a group. Like maybe a support group. Well, God had other plans and it has exploded into an organization! No, a movement! We are even on the fast track toward 501C3 status with our plans to merge with the Downey Art League. This, alongside our friendship with the Downey Art Vibe, is making the arts movement in Downey a force to be reckoned with! Good things are happening and lots of people are getting on board.

It’s also pretty cool to see my husband in this leadership role. He’s always been such a strong leader and he is really thriving in this organization. I’m so proud to be his wife and partner. He stays up way too late, though. 😉

I’ve got a couple of potential directing gigs lined up. Not professional, but I’m excited about both the projects. I hope they don’t fall through! Meanwhile, just focusing on Urban Acts and my new job.

My children are a constant delight. I want to homeschool Peer, we’re learning more about that and considering our options. I might sign us up for a charter in the fall. At the very least we are glad that we can delay kindergarten and keep him home until age 6. A lot of parents are doing that nowadays. “Giving them the gift of time,” as I’ve heard it said. I like that. He will be 5 this summer and I am so proud of the young man he is growing into. I’ve recently discovered that he knows quite a bit of math. He is very adept at simple addition and subtraction, and he’s learning to read and sound things out. I catch him practicing on his own, it’s so cute. What a smart kid I have!

Leif is 17 months going on 5 years old as well.  =) He seems to have his own complete language that he is teaching us, and loves to play and run around outside with his brother. He wants to do everything his big brother (or “Ba-Ba”) is doing, especially the naughty things like smacking and destroying. Also wrestling and horseplay. It’s all a lot fun until someone lands on their head, boys! I am pleased that we are at the point with breastfeeding where it is so easy. But I often miss having a tiny one to nurse. Leif no longer needs/wants to snuggle in my lap for hours nursing. At most it may be 10, 15 minutes and then he’s back to playing. Oh well, he’s pretty heavy and squirmy anyway!

We still go to First Baptist, not a long happening there. Looking forward to several weddings this summer, especially that of our good friend Geoff, when Andy will be a groomsman. Geoff is very special to us and we are so happy for him and his new bride-to-be Scarlet, who is especially lover-ly and wonderful.

I guess that’s our family in a nutshell right now. Sorry no pics. I’m a slacker.

 

A Busty Woman: Mothering Courageously while Homeless

10 October 2011

Earlier this week I was making a trip to the bank with my boys, and while I was trying to navigate my car into the drive-thru ATM, I noticed something I hadn’t seen there before.  A woman was standing there, just a few feet from the ATMs with a cardboard sign asking for money.  This was a little out of the ordinary at a bank (smart move, though) and here in Downey (we don’t see a lot of that), but what was really extraordinary was the fact that she was not alone.  She was standing there nursing a sleeping baby at her breast.  I would say the babe was probably about 3-4 months old. She was not using a shawl or even wearing nursing attire.  She simply had the neckline of her shirt pulled down and baby was asleep, nursing away, as mine often do.  The only “cover up” she has was the cardboard sign she was holding and her baby.

I was extremely moved by this encounter. Allow me to explain.

First, I should say that I’m really interested in the politics of breastfeeding and I love following the Lactivist blogs and facebook pages to learn what’s going on.  Because of this I know that in this country women are thrown out of establishments, harassed, and shamed quite often for exposing far less than what this poor woman was exposing.

In addition, we are the city of Downey.  Now I love Downey, but we are a very conservative, right-wing sorta town.  There are probably many people who do not take kindly to seeing people camped out at banks with cardboard signs.  Maybe freeway exits, but no further.  Now on top of that, we have fairly poor breastfeeding rates.  Our hospital does not have a Lactation Consultant, and I think a woman was even thrown out of the library a few years back for breastfeeding in the children’s area.  Sadly, we are not a very breastfeeding-friendly city.

I don’t think this courageous and loving mother really realized what a ballsy thing she was doing.  (“ballsy”?  No, bad choice of words.  Let’s use “busty.”  And in this case, “busty” can mean feminine courage–courage that only mothers possess) Judging from her accent and limited English, she didn’t seem have been in this country very long.  And usually the American poor– at least in southern CA– do not breastfeed.  I imagine in her country it is normal for a woman to breastfeed, and to do so publicly.  She probably didn’t realize what a novelty–dare I say taboo– it is here.  Here she was, begging for money in a public place, pulling down her shirt to do what’s necessary to care for her child, all the while hoping that a few people will collectively do half as much for her. All in a place where breastfeeding isn’t very visible, and where many would like to believe that homeless people are lazy, or worse: con artists.

Is it possible she brought her infant to elicit sympathy?  Sure.  But she was still nursing a baby while begging for money for food. You can’t fake that. And you know what’s beautiful?  As hungry as she may have been, her baby wasn’t.  What a beautiful testament to everyone around her that God through nature provides a way for even the most destitute to nourish their babies.  And in my opinion, it also sends the message that sometimes people fall on hard times, and they are unable to restore their financial situation, to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps, because they are caring for the very real needs of others.

I find this mother’s courage admirable.  Although I doubt she felt courageous.  In fact, I imagine she probably wasn’t trying to be courageous at all.  She must have been feeling very vulnerable and desperate.  This must have been a sort of rock-bottom for her.  She probably did this because she had to, because she felt she had no other choice.  And that’s what feminine courage is.  We parents are given the task to care for our children in the best way we can, regardless of our circumstances.  And this mother did what she had to do. Pop that baby on the boob and see if anyone will help you with the rest. Multi-tasking at its best.

When I have a friend who has a baby, I usually try to help her with breastfeeding, if she wants help.  I have long phone conversations, write lengthy emails, send them books and articles and buy them supplies.  I pray for their milk supply and for their adjustment and their perseverance.  I cry with them when things are tough.  These are my middle-class friends, all whom have homes and three meals a day.  I wish I could have helped this woman more, although she certainly didn’t seem to need any help breastfeeding.  But a little money and some gift cards were all I had to give.  I did cry a little for her, and ask God to bless her.  I only hope that if hard times should fall on me, that I would possess the courage she had.

When I Was in My Childbearing Years…

1 August 2011

The national c-section rate was 34% in the US. Childhood diseases and unexplainable neurological conditions were widespread, as was maternal and infant death. Though few people would talk about that. Post- Traumatic Stress Disorder was also common with new mothers, as well as Post-Partum Depression. Breastfeeding rates were extremely low, and there was much social stigma attached to breastfeeding.

I was one of the lucky ones. I had two vaginal births. In fact, I was one of the rare ones, since both my babies were born completely natural and one of them even was born at home.

I would consider myself very lucky and indeed very blessed simply to be mother to these two boys, but the fact that I have had the amazing birth and breastfeeding experiences that I have had sometimes blows my mind. It could have so easily gone another way. Many– if not most– of my friends have not been so lucky.

I really hope my future daughters-in-law will have birth experiences like mine, and will be as thankful for their blessings as I am. But I do not wish for them to say, “I am lucky.”

I hope they will say, “I am normal.”

Lactating, Lactation, Lactate!

22 July 2011

Hi Everyone,

Andy was looking at whatever kind of  “stats” one looks at when it comes to a website and it seems that a lot of people click on my link when looking for stories of lactation.  Those exact words, actually. That made me realize that I probably don’t write about breastfeeding enough.  Which is odd, really, because it is such a huge part of my life.  And seeing as how the annual breastfeeding awareness month is coming up (August), I should probably stock up.

So here’s just a few random facts about me and breastfeeding:

  • My 8-month-old is still exclusively breastfeeding.  He’s not really on solids yet.  This makes my life very easy.  I really hope to skip the whole baby food stage, as it sounds laborious.  (laborious because I would definitely make my own and not buy it)
  • We follow child-led weaning in our family.  This means that the child nurses on cue, whenever he wants while he is a baby, and weans according to his own schedule.  Naturally limits can be drawn as the child becomes a toddler and takes on other boundaries in his life, but the breastfeeding relationship continues until the child “self-weans,” usually in the toddler or preschool years.
  • I fully understand that extending breastfeeding is not for everyone.  I think babies that nurse for a year are very lucky babies indeed.  Especially when you compare that to the national average.
  • I often miss the days when I only had one baby and I could sit in the rocker and nurse for hours.  I’d read a book, watch TV, etc.  Now that I have two kids, I simply don’t have that luxury.  But I have learned how to nurse in my Ergo.  That is something I could never figure out with my oldest.  It’s totally common to find me in the kitchen cooking dinner with the baby nursing in the Ergo, fast asleep.
  • I regularly attend La Leche League meetings, and have relished all I’ve learned over the years from this group.  I hope to become a leader someday.  I really love helping other women learn to breastfeed, and rejoice in their successful breastfeeding experiences.
  • Probably the greatest breastfeeding accomplishment that I DIDN’T do is night-weaning our two-year-old.  (he’s almost 4 now)  My husband did it entirely.  Because seriously, how could I possibly do it?  He sees/hears/smells me and he immediately only has one thing on his mind.  Well, Daddy broke the addiction, at least at night and all three of us were better for it.  Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with night-nursing.  I’m doing it again with our baby.  But there comes a time when Mommy doesn’t want to nurse at night anymore and kiddo still does.  And kiddo is obviously old enough to stop.  I put the decision off for a long time before finally biting the bullet. So we did it.  And it was definitely the right thing at the right time.  Once again breastfeeding is proven to be a family affair and not just a mom thing.  Thanks, hon.
  • yes, I love boob jokes.
  • Total Time Breastfeeding to Date: 3 years, 11 months

Things on my mind lately…

21 April 2011

CLOTH DIAPERING:  baby is moving way too fast through his size smalls.  I just pulled out the size mediums and they actually fit rather well.  Many of them are thrashed because PJ wore them for about a year and a half or more.  I found a new cloth diaper store lately that I loved to pieces.  I’m so excited to to buy a couple new things.  Super cute baby bottoms are my weakness.  Oh, and we have also figured out L’s nighttime super-soaker problem.  The solution seems to be hemp inside and wool outside.  Ideally a hemp/cotton fitted diaper by Baby Beehinds, with a help insert layered inside, and a wool soaker to go around the whole thing.  He’s a bowling pin at night but he’s dry!  Wool soaker takes a lot of care in the beginning with the lanolizing and everything, but they say I won’t have to wash it for eight weeks!

LENT:  gave up sweets.  I was frustrated and sad about it until very recently.  I think I now have some spiritual clarity about the whole thing.  Very grateful.  The Lord always seems to speak to me in a new way when I give up something I love during Lent.

THESIS:  still writing.  had a couple of setbacks, but now I feel like I’m in a much better place.  All thanks to my amazing advisor who is such a wonderful guide.  She is so encouraging and yet will never let me settle for easy, always pushing me to go to the next level of intellectual thought.

BREASTFEEDING:  nothing new to report.  i’m flowing with milk and honey (and agave, but no real sugar because it’s Lent)

PRESCHOOL:  should we do it or not?  that is the question.  if we don’t decide soon we might as well just start looking at colleges.

TEETHING:  yes!  one sharp little tooth tip can be felt on L’s bottom gum!  Finally!

GARDENING:  Andy built me some raised beds and we planted seeds and plants.  I’ve got spinach, romaine, chard, cucumber, eggplant, tomatoes, herbs, strawberries, artichokes (already about 3 little ones on there) out back and in front we have sprouting some brussel sprouts, zuchini, sunflowers and watermelon (very unsure about the watermelon).  Our kumquat tree only has fruit on the high branches now but our lemon tree is going crazy!  It is lemonade heaven around here!  We are still planning to buy a tree to plant in the back with L’s placenta.  We have a spot cleared, but can’t decide on a tree.  Any suggestions?

Stories of Re-lactation… WOW!

15 February 2011

So I am a follower of The Leaky B@@b on facebook, which is a VERY active breastfeeding support page. (it seriously confounds me how many posts they get, plus think of all the women who read and don’t post) And they just posted this comment to their wall asking for stories of re-lactating success.  Re-lactating is notoriously difficult, so I never imagined there would be so many success stories.  Apparently there are many herbal remedies and even drugs you can take to help the process along.  Then another women posted a link to her story as well, which had previously been published in Breastfeeding Matters.  I am so impressed with these faithful and determined women.  I love hearing other people’s stories of breastfeeding– I’ve learned so much that way!

Breastfeeding through Pregnancy

21 July 2010

So Peer obviously did not wean before I got pregnant, so I have now ended up nursing through this pregnancy. It’s been quite the adventure. I immediately borrowed a book from my local La Leche League group, Adventures in Tandem Nursing: Nursing Through Pregnancy and Beyond to aid me on my journey. I remember not long after he was born my doctor telling me that if I got pregnant again I would have to stop breastfeeding. I thought this was absurd. How could the human race sustain itself if that was truly dangerous? Later on as I learned more, I discovered why some in the medical community hold this line: breastfeeding does release oxytocin which can cause uterine contractions. But since then, I have seen so many moms nurse through pregnancy that I maintained my original position that to insist a mom must quit breastfeeding when she gets pregnant is just lame. The book is both clinical and practical, so it spends a considerable amount of time going through the research on breastfeeding during pregnancy (and nursing two children at once), explaining each position, the research involved, and arguing why tandem nursing is usually safe. It also gives explanations of situations in which it would not be. The bottom line is essentially that if a woman isn’t starving (as in third-world country type of starving), breastfeeding during pregnancy is safe for mom, fetus, and nursling. And yes, the uterus does contract. It is always contracting– this is good, as it is practice for labor. It does not produce any more oxytocin than having sex, so if a woman is healthy enough to do that during pregnancy, then she can certainly breastfeed.

So, safety and medical issues aside, the body goes through a lot of changes during pregnancy, and those changes definitely effect breastfeeding. In the first trimester, my breasts were extremely sore. Nursing hurt a little the first month, and A LOT in the second and third month. Once the initial tenderness got better, nursing was a little easier. But it still hurts. Every time. It hurts at first, and then after a few minutes the pain subsides. Also, his nursing habits have changed. He now digs his teeth into me more than he ever did. I think as my milk is drying up, he is adjusting his suck so that he gets more, maybe. So now he employs his teeth. We are working on fixing this. It’s obviously unacceptable! Also, breastfeeding him down to sleep at naptime has become sometimes ineffective. This is very sad. I’ve taken to walking him to sleep, but now it’s getting hot outside and I am getting too big to wear him in front in the carrier. The next time I need to do that, I will either take him for a drive or try him on my back. Sucks. Nursing him down to sleep at naptime used to be about my favorite time of day. So it’s sad when it doesn’t work anymore.

Oh, and he also kicks me in the belly a lot. But that also happens in the shopping cart, in bed, and at other random times of day. THAT sucks.

After a lot of soul-searching and pouring over that book, I’ve come to the conclusion that there is nothing wrong with the parent weaning the child during pregnancy. I always wanted him to wean himself, but he’s almost three now, and if it gets too painful I feel I have the right and maybe even the duty to cut him off. I don’t want to have negative feelings toward him or toward breastfeeding in general. It must always be pleasurable! Peer is old enough to be weaned, so if it comes to that, I will do it with a clear conscience, knowing that I have accomplished all my breastfeeding goals with this child, and have done more for him in this area than I ever thought I could. And knowing that he is ready. And acknowledging that he may come back to the breast after the baby is born. That is okay by me. But for now, we are still going. With God’s guidance and grace, we may go all the way up to the birth and beyond. Or not.