Saturday, February 05, 2011

Communique from the library

As I lay awake listening to everyone else in my house snore this morning at 5:30am, after pumping milk, I read this blog post on the less-than-ideal aspects of working from home and recognizing some of the benefits of putting your kids in daycare. It was such a nice relief to read some of those thoughts to consider the benefits it will have in my life as well in order to help balance some of that guilt I was/am grappling with. I'm also thinking more of some preventive measures and organizing I can do to make our family's weekend less about doing every single chore we ignore Monday through Friday, so that we can enjoy each other on the weekends and make sure the time that we have together is quality time. More about that when I've thought it through more.

Currently, I'm parked at the public library waiting my turn for free tax preparation. Here's some random thoughts that have been rattling around in my sleep deprived mommy brain:
  • Note to self: When planning long errands, IE-doing taxes, out side of the home and away from lil man, I should probably start bringing my breast pump along. That breast milk I've been so anxious about saving? Yeah. It's probably about to get wasted a bit and just end up on my shirt before this errand is through.
  • Baby Signing. Hm. I hadn't really thought too much about trying that before. But it seems like a good idea to try now that I've killed some time browsing in the children's section.
  • Lullabies- did your parents sing you one/some? My family used to sing "You are My Sunshine" to me. I'm not sure I know all the words to it though. My family probably didn't either, but I never really cared. I tend to sing the baby whatever songs come to mind that I know a decent amount of words to. This has included songs by Mary J. Blige and Florence and the Machine recently.
  • We are going to be participating in our first CSA this summer through Soul Fire Farm. I'm super excited about it! I would like to be eating more locally & am happy to be supporting these rad folks in their farm.
  • I miss my worms. (As in, compost worms) I've had intentions of making a longer post about the subject, and even took pictures to do so! Maybe I still will. But after successfully making and maintaining my first attempt at urban compost, my SO talked me into giving them away because those duties unofficially fell on him when I was pregnant and there were some (understandable) doubts about my ability to maintain them with a newborn. I had to pick my battles since he was already doing the cat litter box (after I had to show him some data to prove this exposure to cat poop wasn't just some urban myth I was using to torture him).
  • Anyway, maybe I'll make another worm bin. Someday. ::Sigh::
There's no good way to tie up a post this random. I have a million other thoughts rattling around in my head. Things about money & debt, doing service work with kids, traveling, things happening in the middle east, and Santa Claus-but my eyes are starting to hurt. Maybe I'll write again soon. Three posts in a week has got to be a record for me! We'll see.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Counting the days

I'm getting practice trying to be that "present parent" that I so hope to be, as I attempt to enjoy my last few days before returning back to work on Monday.

Even though we began looking at daycares since back when I was about 5 months pregnant (yup, I'm an over planner), we only just officially selected one yesterday (yup, I'm also a procrastinator. A strange mix, I admit). I hemmed and hawed over the merits of daycare centers versus a daycare run out of a person's home. How would this affect our budget? Our vaccination choices? Our commutes to work? What were their philosophies on infant care? (You get the picture)

Then after much evaluation, and re-evaluation...well, I had wasted a lot of time. It came down to me deciding that I was procrastinating at this point, because frankly I just didn't want to leave my kid with anyone else. In the meantime, my top contender for an in-home daycare had filled it's last infant slot.

But in some ways, I think it's best we waited so long to decide. Not only because we've managed to find someone who has a lower child to adult ration, is very reasonably priced and in a more convenient location, but more so because in the few days between that decision and my return to work- I am completely deconstructing this woman in my head!

Perhaps she wasn't as "warm" of a personality as I'd hoped. Did I really check every corner of her house to ensure it was clean? How much TV does she watch during the day? Why doesn't she have a rocking chair? Was she believable when discussing her belief in an infant needing to be held often? Shouldn't I have hooked her up to a lie detector? Why did she have an infant space available anyway? Is that an indicator of something?

Any more time to think about it and surely this woman is going to start having horns and a tail in my mental image. She didn't raise any alarms when I met her at all. And I'm trying to remind myself to go off of those instincts. It's the not knowing for sure that kills me. I'm not good at not knowing. And my kid has no sure fire way of telling me if he's mistreated. Of course, there will be some signals he could give me if the setting is unfit-withdrawn behavior; not being well cleaned or fed; injuries or excessive illness. But it would break my heart for it to ever have to come to that.

The challenge here folks, is how to stay present when anxiety looms. As a therapist it's a question I help others grapple with often. Positive thinking; activities to stimulate your senses and remind you that you are in the current place and time; cognitive behavioral techniques that help identify irrational thinking. It would help me to practice what I preach right about now.

I'm working on keeping that anxiety in check by enjoying the baby's gummy smile, reading about how other mom's make working outside of the home work for their family via blogs of other conscious parents and rad women, and reminding myself to trust my instincts. Those instincts served me well in pregnancy and birthing, and (so far) in realizing what my baby needs. I have to trust that they will continue to serve me well in who I pick for child care.

And if all else fails, maybe I will take a picture of the baby being held by his new daycare provider. Something I can look at during the day at work to re-acknowledge that he's safe in her capable hands. Or, at the very least, something to remind me that she does not, in fact, have horns.

Monday, January 31, 2011

When Breastfeeding Sucks

I am one of those detestable women who loved being pregnant. While it was certainly not without it's discomforts- I was fortunate enough to have a complication free pregnancy which allowed me to work up until the day I gave birth and gain no more than 35 pounds. And giving birth? Oh my, I'm still in awe at how well that went. Hopefully one day, I'll write more on the subject, but to sum it up quickly-I gave birth at home with no drugs in just a little over 8 hours. (Yes, I know- you want to slap me right now, don't you?)

But breastfeeding? Breastfeeding has not invoked the dreamy eyed state of bliss the books all promise. So I was pretty relieved when I came across this article the other day which critically examines this particular facet of motherhood.

Waking my newborn up every two hours when he wanted to sleep, I wanted to sleep, and my body was still recovering from giving birth...well, for lack of a better word- IT SUCKED. Constantly considering my wardrobe and destinations in terms of the ease at which I can whip out my boob, in the middle of winter no less- not so dreamy. Seven weeks later, and I still can't figure out how to breastfeed on my left breast as easily as my right. And then there is just the lack of general mobility...

Yes, I have spent countless hours staring into the eyes of my beautiful babe as he fed. But I've also spent many of those hours thinking, "Seriously dude?! Aren't you done yet?!" And lecturing him that I was not a walking pacifier, and that if he wasn't going to eat, he needed to let the boobie go! He's already learned to ignore my lectures.

The best thing to do, isn't always the easiest-I know this. And ideologically speaking, it's terrible for me to think of buying a manufactured mix to give my kid when my body can already produce it. And I'm actually really in awe how amazing it is that my body is capable of producing all of the sustenance he needs at this point in his life. Seriously, that's some kind of magic.

But I miss feeling like my body was MINE. And it's intense feeling so responsible for someone's every meal, comfort and bowel movement. The first time the baby went without pooping for a few days, I was riddled with guilt as if I had eaten (or neglected to eat something) that reduced the efficacy of my milk.

But perhaps the worst part of breastfeeding, in my opinion, has been it's impact on the parenting dynamic between me and my partner. Rosin's article addresses that quite well. Going out for even a few brief hours has meant preplanning so that, in between already frequent feedings, I can pump more milk for his Dad to have on hand while I'm out. It limits G's bonding time with the baby, means I'm the one up with him whenever he wakes in the night, and that he is quickly handed back to me when in need of comfort (read: a boobie). And because I am part of the great American dream, my excessive debts mean I have to return to work next week, so I've been frantically squirreling away every drop of milk I can lest my poor kid starve while I'm at work.

This is a passing phase, I know this. But it's still really effin hard, and not enough people acknowledge that! And our society, for sure, does not account for the time and energy needed to provide this type of care to our children (much like many other aspects of family it doesn't account for either).

We just recently decided that perhaps occasionally we will give the baby some formula if I can't store enough, or if G needs to feed the baby while I'm out or need a rest. Plenty of folks do that. And I should feel relieved in that decision. I want to feel relieved. But I don't. I feel guilty and have in some ways upped my pumping efforts because it still feels like I'm giving my baby crap because I'm being lazy or selfish in some way. Even on the sample formula can we have in the house, it says "Breastfed is Best" for Pete's sake!!

I'm realizing that this is just the first in a long line of situations to come in which as a conscious, feminist mother living in a consumerist, privileged and individualist society- I'm going to feel torn. Like I have to have/do/be "it all". Like nothing I do is going to be ideal, or good enough. These are the battles of motherhood, I suppose. And breastfeeding feels like the first battle that I'm not going to feel like I'm winning no matter what I do.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Don't call it a comeback...

This is not going to be one of those posts where I solemnly swear to be a more dedicated blogger. It's not-I promise. I will say that I have been thinking about doing more writing in general which I hope to do on here from time to time. I've also been thinking about new ways to nurture creativity in my life which is impacted by several factors.

For one thing, my laptop died somewhere around Thanksgiving. Yes, I have been without a computer for the past two and a half months! ::gasp::

Okay, but not reeeeaaaallly, because I have an iphone so that's kind of cheating.

More importantly, however, is the new arrival of this beautiful lil bean....
Yup, I'm a new Momma. And it's funny to me that only two posts ago I even came out as being pregnant. That feels like a lifetime ago and so much has changed since then. So if I am going to be posting on the ol' blog, it's going to involve mommy things now & also what it means to be creative with my kid as well as stealing moments to myself for creative pursuits. Perhaps it goes without saying that any posts will happen during the baby's erratic and brief naps.

And of course it will include pictures of this cutie in hand knits. So check back in from time to time, wontcha?