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Archive for October, 2013

This has been bugging me for a while, and since I’ve decided to try and make more of an effort to blog regularly, here goes!

From the moment my son made his escape from my uterus, the comments started about it being time for another one. Seriously, the kid couldn’t roll over yet and he somehow needed a baby sister.

And when you tell people that you may never have another child, they look at you as though you’ve just told them you routinely feed your current child poison. Somehow it’s like not wanting more children makes you a bad parent to the one you’ve got. I even had someone tell me that my mom, who passed away five years ago and never got to meet my son, would be disappointed if I only had one child because she loved children so much. Oh, HELL NO. Leave my mother out of it.

I’m not saying there’s a 0% chance we’ll ever be more than a family of three – four, if you count the dog. But, for the foreseeable future, that’s what makes us happy. We’ve never wanted a BIG family. It was always our plan to see how pregnancy and infancy played out for us the first time before deciding if we’d have more than one child. And, as it happened, neither of those stages was particularly kind to us.

First, I had a miscarriage. Yeah, I know, it was a fluke. There’s a pretty good chance it would never happen again. But that doesn’t mean it was any less excruciating – both physically and emotionally. My husband and I were devastated – we withdrew from everyone for a full week while we leaned on each other and grieved.  You can’t shut out your current child while you grieve the loss of one who never got to live. It doesn’t work like that. When you have a child to care for, life goes on. Even if it feels like it shouldn’t. And I can’t imagine it would be an easy task to explain to a young child why mommy is curled up in bed crying in pain. So while having had a previous miscarriage wouldn’t be the thing that would make or break the decision to have another child, it’s always lurking there in the back of my mind.

Then there was the actual eight solid months of nausea. Pregnancy was really NOT my friend. I didn’t enjoy it. I didn’t glow. I dry heaved. I vomited. And sometimes I did it with such force that I peed myself a little. I even tore a muscle once. I was nauseated before I even knew I was pregnant – it was one of the reasons I tested so early. I threw up so much between 6 and 7.5 weeks that I lost ten pounds in ten days. I couldn’t keep water down. I missed two full weeks of work at that time because I couldn’t stop throwing up long enough to go. Even after I was medicated, I still spent the majority  of most days feeling sick and still threw up at least once or twice a day during my first trimester. After my first trimester, the actual vomiting decreased to a few times a week. But I was still nauseated every.single.day. And then in my third trimester, the vomiting returned full force. Imagine having varying intensities of the stomach flu for eight months straight. Yeeeah, it sucked. I can’t imagine doing it with a toddler in tow. Plus I feel like it would make me a really shitty mom. I felt like a really shitty wife the entire time I was pregnant. I can probably count on my fingers the number of proper meals I cooked for my husband during the entire eight months. I had no desire to go anywhere or do anything. I wanted to be left alone with my yoga pants and barf bucket. I know every pregnancy is different. But what if it’s the same? Having my kid stroke mommy’s hair while she lays on the couch and sips gingerale every day probably won’t get me on the short list for the mother-of-the-year award. And I have a feeling making my kid entertain himself because I feel too crappy to interact with him properly won’t either.

Plus the kid didn’t sleep for ten months. Seriously. He didn’t sleep consistently well until he was over ten months old. For the first eight months (EIGHT MONTHS!!!), he woke every 1-2.5 hours. He never slept more than two and a half hours. Then he finally started sleeping for 3-4 hours at a time. I’ve said it before, I was bitch. And I could get away with being a bitch to my husband. He got it. I’m not proud of it, and we still had our share of fights. But he’s an adult and he was (to some extent) going through the same thing. You can’t be a bitch to a kid just because you’re excruciatingly exhausted. I mean, I guess you could, but you’d probably screw him up pretty badly. And I don’t want to do that. My kid is pretty awesome.

Oh, and if that wasn’t enough, we’re happy as we are. We love our son. We love each other. We’re happy.

So, to summarize, I have a long list of reasons why I may choose to never have another child. Not that I should have to justify my decision to anyone. (With the possible exception of my husband.) It’s nobody’s business how many children I choose to have or why I choose that number. And it doesn’t make me a bad mother because I don’t want to have an entire litter. It doesn’t mean I love my child any less than someone who wants to have two or three or ten. Hell, maybe it means I love him more because I don’t feel the need to have another to make our family “complete”.  Actually, no, I don’t believe that at all. I feel that some people could have a dozen children and give them all an amazing amount of love. I don’t judge anyone’s choice to have multiple children and don’t think it means they love them any less. But I also don’t think you need to have more than one (or even have one at all!) to love adequately either. My best friend doesn’t EVER want to have children, and I don’t think that makes her any less of a woman or any less affectionate. She loves my child. She just doesn’t want any of her own. And that’s perfectly fine. My brother-in-law and his wife decided not to have children right away after getting married. They have other goals and priorities. Maybe some day they’ll have children, maybe they won’t. And I think it’s ridiculous when people ask when they’re “starting a family” – they ARE a family. They just happen not to have any children.

My point is, I don’t care what anyone else does with their uterus. I don’t care if someone wants a bunch of children or just one child or no children at all. They can decide what works for their family and I’ll decide what works for mine. So I wish other people would learn to keep their opinions out of MY uterus!

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As I mentioned in a previous post, I made the decision to stop breastfeeding when Alexander was about seven and a half months old.

 

My original plan – long before Alexander was born, or before I was even pregnant really – had been to breastfeed exclusively for the first six months and then to continue breastfeeding until the one-year mark. Of course, the plan was quickly squashed when I had a teeny tiny preemie who was too weak to fill his needs through exclusively breastfeeding and wasn’t stimulating my breasts enough for my milk to come in before he was ten days old. So we had to supplement until my milk came in. And, even then, I had to pump every three hours around the clock for the first five weeks of his life and supplement with pumped milk to ensure that he was getting enough to eat. But after he was ten days old, he ate exclusively breast milk. And after he was five weeks old, he rarely had a bottle of even pumped milk. I hated the pump. I didn’t respond well to it, and had to pump around the clock in between feedings for an entire day or more just to get enough milk to make a full bottle. So it wasn’t worth the time or energy. When he wanted milk, he got the boob.

 

I was always a little worried that he wouldn’t take well to breastfeeding or that he’d learn to prefer bottles since we had to start them right away. But those fears were completely unfounded. That boy LOVED him some boobies.

 

Loved them.

 

Loved them so much that he nursed every three hours around the clock right until he was weaned. Loved them so much that he woke up EVERY.SINGLE.HOUR at night just to hold them and touch them and comfort suck. And that became part of our problem. Combined with his intolerance to dairy and the necessary diet modification that came with it for me, breastfeeding became too much for me. I couldn’t eat any of my favorite foods. (Because a dairy intolerance isn’t like have a glass of wine – the protein stays in your system, and the baby’s, for weeks. So you can’t just cheat and skip a feeding. If you even slip up once, you pay the price for a loooong time.) I comforted myself by eating a lot of crap that I wouldn’t normally allow myself to eat. I was sleep deprived from being up every hour at night. I was (irrationally) resentful of my husband for not being able to help with Alexander overnight, and (again, irrationally) resentful of my poor innocent baby for needing me so much. Things were a mess. Something had to change.

 

But, yet, I continued to breastfeed. It was “THE PLAN”. I was “supposed” to do it for a year. It was the “best” thing for my baby.

 

So for months after I knew that something had to change, and that breastfeeding was probably that “something”, I continued to resentfully whip out my boob every time my child wanted it.  I grew more and more sleep-deprived and more and more resentful. And then one night, while rocking my precious little man, I realized that I wasn’t even enjoying him. He was cuddled in, loving me like I was the most amazing thing in the entire universe, and I wasn’t even enjoying it. I wasn’t rocking him because I loved the snuggle time. I was rocking him because he had just nursed and it was the only way to ensure that he stayed quiet for a few more minutes. And, even sadder still, I realized that most of our days were spent like that – with me gritting my teeth and tolerating the moments I should have been treasuring. That night, I rocked my baby and cried. SOBBED. I mean, I really bawled my eyes out. I’m surprised he slept through it. But I had finally made the decision to stop breastfeeding. I knew I had to do whatever it took to start enjoying my baby. I FINALLY realized that what’s “best” for a child is whatever makes sense for the family. Maybe that’s breastfeeding until the baby is three. Or maybe that’s not breastfeeding at all so the baby can have a happy mommy who actually enjoys him. The next morning, I went out and bought a can of formula.

 

… but I couldn’t bring myself to use it. That can of formula sat on the kitchen counter for almost another week, while I cried every night at the thought of using it the next day, before I finally gave in and made the decision to really switch. Had Alexander not had an intolerance to dairy, I probably would have just supplemented him with formula at night to see if it would help him sleep and continued to breastfeed on demand during the day. But I needed to stop the restricted diet. So my plan was to slowly wean Alexander over to formula over the next month or two, and then add dairy back to my diet when he was fully weaned from the breast. But once we started the weaning process, I just wanted to be done. I could see the light at the end of the tunnel, and I wanted out, And weaning wasn’t an easy process for Alexander. He did fine when he had a few bottles in a row. But if he got the breast for a few consecutive feedings, he fought the bottle something fierce. When he got used to having boobies again, he wanted boobies.  So I decided to stop pretty much cold turkey.

 

I went out and bought cabbage leaves to stuff my bra. I took allergy medication to hopefully help dry up my supply. And I suffered through hugely engorged sore breasts for a while. For the first time in the entire time I had been breastfeeding, I leaked through my clothes at night and woke up covered in my own milk. I had to stuff towels inside my sports bras to soak up all the milk I was leaking at night. I hand expressed minute amounts of milk to relieve pressure when necessary, and nursed once a day for the first few days when things got totally unbearable. Every time I nursed, I cried. I cried because it was possibly the last time I’d ever nurse my baby. I cried because I wasn’t sure I was making the right decision. I cried because my hormones were going crazy at the sudden change in my breastfeeding habits. I cried… and I cried… and I cried.

 

After about a week, I was pretty much all dried up. I could still express milk if I tried. And I occasionally leaked a tiny amount from time to time. But I was done. Alexander was completely weaned to bottles. And the actual last time that I nursed him, I cried for what felt like forever.

 

It still makes me sad that I wasn’t able to breastfeed until Alexander was a year old. I would have loved to have been able to do that for him. But it just wasn’t the right decision for us. I’d never take back my breastfeeding experience – tears and all – because I am so proud that I was able to provide my son with breast milk for as long as I did. Especially given the obstacles we overcame in the beginning. And sometimes I do wonder if quitting was the right decision. Maybe I could have gotten medication to help me deal with my emotions and I would have been able to continue breastfeeding. Maybe I should have just sucked it up and powered through it for the sake of continuing to breastfeed my son. But, deep down, I know that I made the right decision for us. When I’m laughing with my son and playing with him and enjoying snuggles in the rocking chair without an ounce of obligation or resentment, I know I did the right thing. I’ve enjoyed him more in the last five months than I did for the first eight months of his life. Hell, I’ve probably enjoyed him more in the last eight days than I did in the first eight months of his life. I feel terrible even typing that. But it’s true.

 

I wasn’t always so confident and pleased about my decision. About a week after we were completely switched over to formula, my cousin (who formula-fed both her children without even considering breastfeeding) asked me if I found bottles to be more convenient. My answer? HELL NO. Whenever my baby was whiny or unhappy or hungry before, all I had to do was whip out a boob. BOOM. Problem solved. It didn’t matter if he wasn’t hungry, boobies were the answer. He loved them. They fixed it. You can’t just give a kid a bottle of formula every time to comfort them every time they need something. Well, I guess you could, but your kid would be obese. And giving bottles meant WASHING bottles. Every.single.day. Not just one bottle on the occasional time that I decided to pump and give him one. Multiple bottles. Sometimes multiple bottles multiple times a day. And you have to MAKE bottles. You don’t just whip them out. So when the kid wakes in the middle of the night, you actually have to listen to him wailing while you prepare a bottle instead of just filling his mouth with some delicious boob juice. And you have to prepare ahead when you’re going places. You actually have to BRING bottles… and water… and powder. And you have to consider how long you’re going for because you have to bring enough of all those things. With breastfeeding, his food was always just THERE. But, over time, formula-feeding becomes just as easy as breastfeeding. And you hardly even think about the extra work involved.

 

Of course, I don’t think I could have EVER been formula-feeding long enough to get used to the extra money involved. Alexander required a hypoallergenic formula that costed nearly $25 for a can that lasted approximately 3.5 days. DO THE MATH! Over $200 a month just for formula! And that was after he was eating solid foods! I can’t even begin to imagine how much it would have cost at peak consumption!

 

But! Extra work and extra cost aside, I really do feel that switching over to formula was the right decision for our family. We’re all much happier now. And Alexander is no worse for the wear. He’s still as smart and cute as ever. And still weirdly obsessed with my breasts.

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Yup, I have a one-year-old. Actually, it has taken me so long to get around to writing up this post that I’ll soon have a thirteen-month-old. Time is literally just flying by.

 

But, anyway…

 

HAPPY (slightly belated) BIRTHDAY ALEXANDER!

 

Once again, so much has changed since my last post. My growing-up-waaay-too-fast child is over 22 pounds now! He’s above the 50th percentile for his weight and height – quite the growth spurt since his last appointment. He says “mama/mommy”, “dada/daddy”, “daaaah!” (for dog), “nan-nan” for his grandmother, “pop-pop” for his grandfathers, and “ball”.  He claps his hands when he does something he knows is good. He waves. He shakes his head no. He points when he wants something. He WALKS! (He’s still a little unsure about it, but is slowly gaining confidence and takes more and more steps unassisted every day.) And he finally FINALLY sleeps. He has recently started sleeping 10-12 hours per night uninterrupted. And, if he wakes after only sleeping for 10 hours, he drinks a cup of milk and goes back to sleep. It’s glorious! We’ve also finally managed to phase dairy into his diet and transition him to drinking whole milk. That actually went much better than we were anticipating.

 

I am absolutely IN LOVE with the person he’s becoming. Watching his personality develop has been amazing. He’s so funny and affectionate and smart and loves to learn new things. I am seriously so proud to be his momma.

 

He absolutely LOVES Thomas the Tank Engine, and breaks out his dance moves every time it comes on. So that was the theme we did for his birthday party. I even made him a Thomas cake from scratch! Christmas at our house this year is going to be very Thomas-y! He loves to read Thomas books and play with Thomas toys. So it only makes sense that we get him some Thomas stuff.

 

And, speaking of Christmas, I can’t wait to see his reaction to the tree and the lights! We’ve decided to leave some of our more delicate decorations in storage this year because Alexander really isn’t old enough to understand that he can’t play with them. But I’m so excited to experience Christmas with him. Last year, he was still so teeny tiny and had no idea what was going on. This year he’ll really be able to react to it. I can’t wait.

 

Yes, I did just write about Christmas. Before Halloween. Get over it. 😛

 

The week after Alexander’s birthday, I started back to work. To be quite honest, I wasn’t looking forward to it and was kind of hoping I wouldn’t have to go back. But I’m actually enjoying the little bit of time away from the house and the extra adult interaction. My manager was absolutely awesome and agreed to schedule my shifts around my husband’s work schedule. So we didn’t have to find daycare or a babysitter for Alexander, and we’re saving a ton of money because of that. So I’m able to only work part-time, and still be home with my boy the majority of the time. It’s a pretty great arrangement. Of course, if something full-time in my field comes up, I’ll have to take it. I’ve even applied on a few postings recently. But, for now, I’m enjoying just getting out a little and not having to leave Alexander in someone else’s care.

 

And that’s all the news for now! 🙂

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