Sunday, September 29, 2013

Why I Decided to Procreate

In today's day and age your choices are often called into question by others. Why do/don't you: you eat meat, recycle, buy organic, vote, exercise, drive, believe in global warming, etc., etc.? Here I address why I decided to have kids. I know the general population is divided by this. Some view it as irresponsible to introduce more humans to the planet, that having kids is a selfish way to feed your ego, and so on and so forth. Meanwhile the other side views childbirth and rearing as some sacred, natural, rite of passage. I'm kind of between the two, honestly.

When I was a child I wanted a dozen kids one day. I also wanted to dress them up like a moving color wheel and carry them around in my backpack though. Once I learned where babies came from I didn't want to have my own because boys are gross and they make babies with the same hole they pee out of (true fact). A notion I held on well into my teen years.

When I was a young adult and particularly selfish with my time and resources, I definitely did not want children. Life was one big party. As I matured and got bored of a life where my only responsibilities were paying rent on time and feeding myself regularly, I realized that I wanted something more. I realized that I would like to shape the future of our planet by having or adopting a child and (key component here) having an active role in its upbringing and development -- not like those mothers who have a child only to essentially leave it up to daycare professionals and nannies to raise.

It's my belief that the problem isn't too many people having children, it's the wrong people having children. People who don't have the time for them, the money for them, or worse didn't even want them to begin with.

I don't want to have children to fill some psychological void in my life like those people who try to make themselves feel better by hording, buying things they can't afford, gambling, being promiscuous, or abusing substances. I don't need children to 'complete' me. I'm well aware that the only entity or object which can complete you is, in fact, you. It was more or less my looking at society and having the epiphany that I alone will never change it for the better in my lifetime, but realizing that perhaps my children could take up the banner for change once I could no longer hold it up.

It's much more than that, once you do it. You come to understand a love so genuine and pure that no amount of words could accurately depict it. It is unconditional, absolutely. Anyone who thinks true love doesn't exist has never had children.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Sugar High

Normally I'm very diligent with Jude's daily intake of sugar. He gets Graham Crackers as a snack, but never more than two unless we're out of the house, and that's pretty much the extent of his sugar intake outside of the fruits he has for breakfast and lunch. Today he had a little sugar high though.

Aaron and I were watching Attack on Titan and eating lik-a-stiks and Jude was super interested in what Mommy and Daddy were eating and really wanted to try mine. So I dipped it in the powder and offered him a taste. He made the funniest face about the powder flavoring but loved the stick so much he almost sucked it right out of my hand and crawled off without giving it back. I let him have a few more licks before reclaiming ownership because of how adorable it was.

Then he came up onto the bed with me and stole my saltwater taffy. It was still in the wax wrapper so I figured there was little he could do to harm it but then I look over and he is sucking the taffy, that he's warmed in his hands, through the end of the wrapper like it's the world's messiest straw. Oh geez.

It didn't hit him until dinner time, where 90% through his meal he suddenly had to practically hurl himself off of my lap and bounce all over the floor. I was a little worried it'd keep him up, especially since he didn't nap today, but he sugar crashed at around 7:40 and I went ahead and just put him to bed early so he wasn't too miserable about it.

Yeah, the adults of the household eat candy and watch cartoons. What? :P

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Hi Inconvenience, How's It Going?

In this house you cannot put the baby to sleep without feeding the cats first because the cats will just yell outside the nursery or barge in and either keep him from falling asleep in the first place or wake him up. Low and behold: no cat food -- we apparently even ran out of canned food this morning. Aaron's asleep (he got up at 6am to take my mother to the airport) so he can't run to the store for me as planned. I sit Jude in his walker safe from harm, rewind Sesame Street to start Elmo over, and then literally have to sprint to the corner store in the rain to fetch a can of cat food.

I get home, cold and wet, feed the disgruntled felines, release Jude from his oppression, and begin the bedtime routine. Jude dozes off as per usual but then wakes up screaming the moment I set him in his crib. What. The. Fuckery? This has not been a problem in months. I pick him back up and start over. Greaaaaat. Second time takes longer but is at least successful. Only now there are people moving into the apartment that shares a wall with the nursery. At 9PM. Yeah. Insert endless string of expletives. Here's hoping they at least realize it's a shitty time to move furniture and don't wake the baby being careless and loud.

Climbed in bed to say, "&#@* this day," and curl up in bed only for the baby to get up right then. Coaxed him back to sleep and then crawled into bed all defeated. I couldn't fall asleep fast enough, that's how done I was with this day. I wasn't opening my eyes for anything once my head hit that pillow. The fire alarm could've gone off and I'd have just died there comfortably.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Breastfeeding Can Be Hard

A lot of people think that just because something is the "natural" way to do something that it inherently means the "easy" way to do it. When it comes to breastfeeding, that couldn't be further from the truth. Even if breastfeeding goes swimmingly for you overall, I guarantee you will experience doubt many times and run into at least one or two pretty major hitches along the way. Whether it be supply, chapped nipples, nipple confusion, tongue-tie, engorgement, clogged ducts, mastitis, or an infant who just doesn't want to latch -- it will not be the TV perfect experience society leads everyone to think it is.

I had a HUGE issue with supply. Still do, really. My son was born two weeks late. He was born with an appetite (meaning colostrum wasn't cutting it) and my milk didn't come in until a week and a half later. And only in one breast, the other didn't decide the join the party until a week after that.

As a result, my baby lost an unacceptable amount of his birth weight over a single weekend. It was scary. I was nursing on demand, my supply wasn't increasing. I was trying to pump between feedings to increase supply, but could not pump more than 1/4th an ounce over the course of 40 minutes combined from both breasts. This meant I would go from feeding to pumping right back to feeding with no time for anything else in between because pumping took so long with so little result. I was literally draining the breast around the clock and my supply wasn't increasing.

I had to supplement with a bottle and formula so that his birth jaundice would clear. Thankfully he didn't suffer from nipple confusion and would go from breast to bottle and back again without incident. I continued nursing on demand though (and always before he'd get a bottle), in the hopes my supply would increase. It did, somewhat, a little over a month later. He finally gained sufficient weight from nursing and supplementing that our pediatrician said it was okay to stop supplementing.

I still could not pump at all so now that we were nursing exclusively, I had to be in charge of 100% of the feedings 100% of the time. Every 2 hours day or night. If you aren't sure what that means, it basically means no rest as you count from the beginning of the previous feed. So Jude would start nursing at, say, 12pm for an hour then doze off. I would lay down beside him in an effort to get some sleep and at 2pm he would be up hungry again. Meaning I would average about 45 minutes of sleep total, if at all (I may use that time for something else like bathing or trying to feed myself). I was a wreck.

To make matters worse, he was still underweight. At his next check-up I was told to begin introducing solids. He was only 4 1/2 months old, but he hadn't grown at all since 3 months and had actually lost several ounces of weight. My supply was still lacking. I started eating oatmeal, taking fenugreek and drinking Mother's tea. My supply increased, not enough to pump still, but it was enough that he began gaining with only a single meal of rice cereal per day.

I had to mix his food with white grape juice or formula, because I was unable to pump even enough to mix with. How frustrating! He took to solids like a pro though, he had no issue eating off of a spoon and no problems with digestion.

By his next check-up he had put on weight, but not quickly enough, so the pediatrician had us introduce a second meal. He was now nursing on demand but also getting rice cereal for breakfast and dinner (as well as full length nursing sessions, mind). By his next check-up he had gained so well the pediatrician thought I had put him back on formula! When I said I hadn't, she was surprised. Unfortunately it took over 7 MONTHS for my milk supply to increase to the point of being able to even remotely sustain my baby on its own.

By then he was ready for more than just rice cereal and we added all manner of fruits and veggies (7 days apart of course). I fully comprehend the trials and tribulations of the mother who wanted so badly to breastfeed but couldn't. I was almost that mother, and it made me feel so worthless every time I saw his weight drop on the scale. I can only imagine how much more devastated I'd have felt had this challenge been thrown at me on top of postpartum depression. Thankfully I realized it didn't truly matter. I'd do anything to see him thrive, even if that meant I could not breastfeed exclusively for a whole year as I'd wanted to starting out. Any breast milk is better than no breast milk.

Now that it's almost time to wean him, my supply is finally substantial enough that I could probably nurse and nurse alone, wouldn't you know it? It only took 11 full months of nursing on demand at any hour, eating oatmeal daily, and shoveling fenugreek into my head like I need it to survive.

Don't get me wrong; I enjoyed every second of breastfeeding, like, the act of doing it. The closeness and the serenity of it. I just wish there had been more support for me. The media makes it look so effortless. Other mothers conveniently forget how hard it had been even if everything went perfectly. I can see how anyone faced with such challenges might be driven to give up. Every lactation consultant and professional I spoke to kept telling me to just keep nursing on demand and "never supplement!!" but, had I followed that advice, I don't think I'd be a mother right now. Really.

There comes a point, ladies, where you have to let go of the 'ideal' and just go with whatever fucking keeps your baby alive. Breastfeeding is best, I say that a hundred times all over this blog, but if it's not enough, it's not enough -- you do what you must. That's what's best, imo.