Monday, July 23, 2012

A public complaint about you, darling daughter

Yeah, super neglectful of this blog, but only because I'm so preoccupied not-neglecting you - especially at bedtime.

This is going to be a super big problem starting this Friday.

You see, darling daughter, the 2012 Summer Olympics start on Friday and because of stupid TV network ratings crap, 99% of what mommy is going to want to watch will be airing between 8pm and midnight. 

This means your ass needs to learn to go to sleep on time, pronto.  Mommy's kind of done with it all right now and she really wants to watch the Olympics. So, get with the program, please.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Transit of Venus

Yesterday, June 5, 2012, was a big day. It was Election Day. Only 24% of eligible voters bothered to vote. That's sad.

But aside from that, yesterday also bore witness to one of the rarer predictable celestial events: The Transit of Venus. Venus, the second planet from the sun and the planet closest in size and character to Earth, passed between the Earth and the sun.  This even happens in pairs, but the pairs of events are spaced many, many years apart. The last transit was in 2004. The next will be in 2117.

That is 105 years from now.

People were urged to check it out as it wouldn't likely happen again in our lifetimes. What they mean is, our lifetimes won't likely extend long enough to see it happen again. That's the sort of statistic that makes adults pause.

I didn't put the special glasses, obtained for the annular eclipse of just a few weeks ago, on you and urge you to look as I was scared you might look again without the glasses and hurt your eyes. You won't remember, anyway. And if you don't take to science, you may never know about the event.

But I probably share a hope with the parents of your other 2010 baby friends: maybe you'll see the Transit of Venus in 2117.  A few people live to be 107 nowadays and why not hope - even think or expect - that it might be more common by the time you near the century mark.

Thinking about events outside of my own lifetime is troubling. Thinking about events outside of your lifetime makes me feel entirely too mortal, small, and transient.

Footnote: Yesterday, on that celestially important day, famous Science Fiction writer Ray Bradbury also died. I hope he saw the Transit before he went. He was 91 years old and might have seen the 2004 event, but not one before that. Somewhat relatedly, he wrote a story called "All in A Summer's Day" about a girl who moves to Venus from Earth and misses the sun, which is only visible on Venus for 2 hours every 7 years. She is bullied for being the only person to know what the sun is like from her time on Earth. Her classmates cause her to miss the sunshine.

Ray Bradbury was the commencement speaker at my college graduation.

He was quoted in a newspaper article saying something I want you to remember and take to heart:
"In my later years I have looked in the mirror each day and found a happy person staring back." he wrote in a book of essays published in 2005. "Occasionally I wonder why I can be so happy. The answer is that every day of my life I've worked only for myself and for the joy that comes from writing and creating. The image in my mirror is not optimistic, but the result of optimal behavior."

Friday, June 1, 2012

Lies Your Parents Tell You

The other night, I accidentally stepped on a snail on the top step of our front path.  The crunch was loud and sickening. I hate stepping on snails. I like snails. They eat our vegetable patch and leave nasty, slimy trails, but I don't like killing them. It just feels like we have far too great an evolutionary advantage over these slow movers to wantonly squash them.

The look on your face, darling daughter, was horrible. You looked to my foot and then to my face, locking eyes with an expression equal parts horrified and accusatory.

"It's okay! The snail wasn't in there! It was just his shell! He's out for the evening. I swear."  "Yes, yes," chimed in Daddy.  "The snail moved away, he's on holiday, he needed a bigger shell."

Your knitted brow eased somewhat and you moved on to some other front yard mischief.

Later, I noticed two new snails eating the remains of their friends.  I could see the motion of their swallows, chunks of Cousin Snail moving through their snail heads and down their snail throats and into their snail gullets deep within their snail shells.

Maybe they don't need my deference after all.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Three Months Post-Mup: An Evolution of Thoughts On Weaning

Welcome to the Carnival of Weaning: Weaning - Your Stories
This post was written for inclusion in the Carnival of Weaning hosted by Code Name: Mama and Aha! Parenting. Our participants have shared stories, tips, and struggles about the end of the breastfeeding relationship.

It's been nearly three months since we officially transitioned from nursling-and-mamma to toddler-and-mamma.  After reading about the call for submissions for the Carnival of Weaning, I realized I had more left to say on the topic. And of course, it would be a lie of omission if I failed to note the influence of a certain magazine cover image on my renewed thoughts.

To review: after a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad 10-week introduction to nursing, my daughter and I hit our stride. Around her third month, I finally latched on to nursing in public.  And we enjoyed - or at least engaged in - a nursing relationship for 24 months until February of this year when my husband went home to England to attend a good friend's wedding and took our daughter along (mainly to visit doting grandparents and family, but also because, since he's a stay-at-home-dad and I work outside the home, his two-week trip presented insurmountable child care challenges. It would be another lie of omission if I failed to note that the thought of a working mommy staycation wasn't a little bit thrilling as well).

We knew about the wedding a year in advance. At the time, she was still very much a nursling and I had no intention of cutting her off and she showed now signs of walking away from the tap. Surely, though, we thought, over the course of a year, we'd find a way to gently manage the two-week separation from mummy and "mup" (her word for nursing/milk). Maybe she'd even have chosen to wean by then herself.

A brief flashback is in order: four years ago or so, I called my sister one evening and knew immediately when I heard her cracking voice answer the phone that something was wrong. I felt my heart pound in my chest - what's wrong! I asked in alarm. "Liam [sniffle sniffle] . .. . weannnneeedddd," she cried into the handset. Is that all, I asked? Hey, I wasn't a mother yet and thought it was weird and a little crazy that my over-two year old nephew was still on the boob anyway. I was, I'm sad to say, of the "well, if they are old enough to ask for it by name, then . . . ." camp.

Flash back to my present motherhood and I get it. I got it from the end of year one onward. A 13-month old is still a baby. I was thankful every day that her sometimes-picky eating would be supplemented by mup every morning and evening and frequently throughout the night. Frankly, it eased my worrying about eating habits generally.  I am nothing if not lazy, after all.

I still had an inkling back then, however, that I wouldn't react to weaning the way my sister had. We're strikingly similar in many ways, but divergent in some - our natural affinity towards motherhood being a key area. I love my daughter, of course, but my sister could teach a master class in nurturing. She inspired my desire to nurse from the moment I first saw her nurse my newborn nephew - I swear I could see a heavenly shaft of light beam down upon her - or at least beam from her face to her son's - and I'm pretty sure those were faint angels' choirs singing in the background. Piece of cake! (Haha, as if).

When it came time for our trip, however, I had a minor freak out. It wasn't based on my feelings - well, I guess it was - but based on my fear about my daughter's feelings. We had, of course, made zero progress towards weaning - at least, I thought.  Everything I'd read put a skull-and-cross-bones-like danger sign over the Cold Turkey Method.

Despite weeks of talking about her "big adventure" with daddy and reading Maggie's Weaning approximately eleventy trillion times in the months before, there we were, 24-hours before her flight departed for England and she was still the same nursling she ever was. Whose bright idea was this, anyway?  Did she get it? Was she going to sob all the way to England? The books and stories and discussions and preparation and hugs and kisses and photos - had any of that stuck in her brain?

I think the message was received, at least enough for daddy, toddler, and family to have a great two weeks. Thanks to her rock-solid bond with daddy and because they had their own system of comfort honed over the daily stay-at-home grind, she was fine in England. She ate fine. She slept fine (well, after the jet-lag passed). She was fine. With Skype chats and phone calls, everything was okay. I think this was because I wasn't there not-nursing her. She was days from two-years-old - it's not like she didn't get that mup came solely from mummy and if mummy wasn't around, then no mup, either.  And maybe the weaning book had helped.

I made no effort to preserve my milk supply while she was gone. Pumping was never effective for me and I had abandoned the practice when she was 11 months old (we used goat's milk and slowly transitioned to cow's at around 13 months - though she mostly drank water with meals and was, of course, still getting human milk anyway).  I felt little discomfort until the day before their scheduled return when, I can only assume, my subconscious completely betrayed me and I felt a few hard, burning milk sacs swelling on my chest.

She nursed one final time when she arrived home and once more at night. We had two slightly rough nights where, in her half-asleep, jet lagged state, she was pretty pissed that mommy wasn't as all-access as she wanted me to be. (Considering her age and her proclivity towards tantrums generally, though, these weren't too bad - one grumble session per night.) "Please mummy, mup?"

I remembered the book. Remember Maggie? I asked her? Uh-huh, she nodded? Remember Maggie was a big girl and didn't have mup anymore and she was sad too, sometimes? Uh-huh, sniffle snarffle.  But Maggie's mommy still loved her and Maggie still loved her mommy, right?  "Okay, mommy," and back to sleep.

Ultimately, I think she's her father's daughter and his nature plus his nurturing helped tremendously. She's a roll with it kinda kid. She has flashes of her mother's temper, to be sure, but her calm side prevails.  She didn't hate me. She didn't regress.

And we moved into the next phase. There are still days where she'll wake up and point at my chest and say "there's no mup in there!" (we still bed share).  In a very strange way, I feel like our relationship is more rewarding now - I feel like the cuddles are more for me than for my milk, if that makes any sense at all (though I know, at least on a rational level, that it was the same when we were nursing, too).

If she hadn't taken that trip, would I have taken steps to encourage weaning? At some point, yes. When? I'm not sure. I've certainly evolved since that late-night conversation with my crying sister.  Would I nurse a three-year-old? Probably. A four-year-old? I don't know. Five? Less certain still. There may be a line, but it's not my line to demarcate, that's for sure.

The two truths I'm left with at the end of two years of nursing are these: First, as Hanna Rosin wrote in her infamous article, "[nursing is] only free if a woman’s time is worth nothing" which I think is extraordinarily important to remember as we struggle, culturally, in America to encourage increased nursing and longer nursing.  And second, that weaning isn't the end of the world for anyone and it is, in many cases, a cause for celebrating what's been accomplished - whether for 3 months or 3 years or anything in between, given the barriers to breast feeding that challenge women so frequently.

I still point out nursing animals in books and nursing children we see in public or pictures because I want to raise her to remember and to understand that it's normal. Sometimes she notes it on her own, sometimes she doesn't bat an eye.

Sometimes, I miss nursing because it was a handy way to quiet a fussing child or get an overtired child to sleep. Mostly, I embrace my new freedom - and hers. There may be no more mup in there, but there's a lot of world out there that we still get to explore together. And there's no weaning off that excitement.

Thank you for visiting the Carnival of Weaning hosted by Dionna at Code Name: Mama and Dr. Laura at Aha! Parenting.
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants (and many thanks to Joni Rae of Tales of a Kitchen Witch for designing our lovely button):
(This list will be live and updated by afternoon May 21 with all the carnival links.)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Save this for when you're much older, Darling Daughter

I wonder if, years from now, when you're studying American history in high school or political science or gender studies in college, if this year will really seem as hostile toward women as it does currently, while we live in it.  I won't clutter this with links to what's gone on, but suffice to say, it seems like an insane number of voters are extraordinarily concerned with possible abortions and promiscuous women above all other concerns like the economy, national security, poverty, or the environment.  It's a bit of a scary time, frankly.

A lot of this came to a head a few weeks ago when a popular, loud-mouthed "shock jock" (oh I hope that term is unfamiliar to you in 15 years time), jokingly (he claims) called a young woman who testified to a congressional panel about access to birth control a "slut" and a "prostitute."  (Oh I hope those terms are unfamiliar to you in 15 years as well).

Let me pause here and tell your Nana to skip the next part. Nana, skip the next part. I think our views might diverge.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Nursing: A Brief Two Year Review

Ed.'s Note: We're more than a bit behind on monthly updates. And we've also flown past a birthday post due date. We'll get there. Promise. But first, some boob chat.

After a punishing birth experience, some serious jaundice issues for baby, and more pain than I was prepared for, I sat in my OB's office convinced I was suffering from some sort of breast infection. Surely that was the cause of the fiery pain and abject discomfort I experienced with each, interminable nursing session.  No dice.  I was fine. It was the worst clean-bill of health I'd ever heard. There would be no magic medicine to ease the pain. My OB said it had taken her 6 weeks to get into the nursing groove. I had a 3 week old daughter. I cried. And cried and cried. No way was I going to make it to 6 weeks.  In the end, after one particularly nasty week with a nipple blister that caused me to sweat, writhe, and claw at the bed sheets while I nursed, it took a full 10 weeks until both she and I hit our stride on this whole feeding thing.  So now, twenty-four (that's 24. double digits, y'all) months later, was it all worth it? What would I tell a friend about establishing and pursuing breastfeeding?

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Fidg at 22 months

I'm still looking for the right photo to match this post. And I'm still looking for the Fidg at 21 months. Time isn't my friend these days, my little one.

It's 2012 and you are two months shy of two years old. You speak in sentences now. Sometimes they seem very complex for someone so little.

This week, we weathered our first bout of family stomach flu. It was a New Year's gift from your god-cousin, Lucas. We knew what we were risking and gambled anyway. Sorry about that. I'm usually a real stickler for minimizing exposure, not sure why I rolled the dice this time except we so rarely get to see your godmommy, Debbie, that we went for it.  I'm still glad we were able to visit with her.  It's been a long, trying week.  I'm not sure when the house will feel germ-free again. This was, without a doubt, the part of parenting I've dreaded since . . . always.

But enough of that, let's get on to what I wanted to say to you at this time of new beginnings and yearly renewal.