baby wearing

I am listening to the sweet little snores coming from Potamus as he is wrapped all snuggly up inside our ring sling. He’s been crabby lately, not sure if it’s a cold that he got from grandma, growth spurt, or the fact that my diet has consisted of Oreos and spaghetti for the past few days. At any rate, I have no idea how parents who don’t babywear do it. Potamus handles the swing/bumbo/vibrating chair for maybe 15 minutes at a time (tops) unless he’s already asleep (after much bouncing/rocking/walking/swaying) and then we can maybe get 45 in the swing if we’re lucky and he doesn’t wake up mid-transfer. With him all wrapped up in a carrier, we are able to get some things done around the house. I have folded laundry, done dishes, swept, made the bed and Boof’s specialty is playing video games while babywearing and bouncing on our large exercise ball.


Even when I was pregnant, I knew that I wanted to be a babywearing mama. What I didn’t know was that Boof would be on board just as much as me.Granted, he has embraced the Baby Bjorn that feels more masculine to him (and laughs at my suggestion that he try the Moby). I mostly use the Moby, but have also begun to use the ring sling and have an Ellaroo Mei Tai type that I want to use when he can spread his legs a little more. I bought that one for my mother-in-law who wants to carry Potamus around, but doesn’t want the complicated tying that comes with the Moby wrap. Today, as Potamus was wailing, and I put him in the ring sling and he began to calm down, Boof joked and said “we sure are baby carrier afficionados,” and I had to agree…my desire to wear my baby on my person had taken a whole new turn fromwhat I expected. We have a 2nd hand bjorn, an Ergo, a Mai Tai, a ring sling, and a Moby. I am sort of addicted and need to quit trolling Craigslist for more baby wraps and carriers!

But wouldn’t a cute hiking backpack add something to my collection? 😉

 

Boundaries

As a rather intimidating person, (my sister says I have the ability to change the temp of a room by walking in), I was shocked in the change of the general public in relating to me while I was pregnant. Normally my height, size, and general energy that I put out, left people leaving me alone while out and about. Somehow my pregnant belly was seen by these same people as an invitation to talk to me, ask me personal questions like the gender of the little womb-traveller, or the date when I would be pushing this being out of my vagina. Yeah, I mostly was annoyed by the lack of boundaries that happened while pregnant, but nothing prepared me for the even thinner boundary between me and the public by having Potamus with me.

So I braved a trip to Target on my way to baby group. I was running in for cold medicine and a birthday gift for my 8 year old half-sister. 10 minute trip, tops. With cold meds in hand (er…cart) I loomed over to the toy aisle, when BAM, Potamus decides that he no longer wants to be shopping and begins to cry. We’re not talking a little fussy wahwah, but a full blown screaming fit, with flailing arms, red face and tears streaming down his miniature face. Cheap cold meds weren’t worth standing in a long line, so I headed toward the door.

And that’s when a grumpy woman in sweats came up to me and said “oh, I love the little new baby cry”. Really lady? You think THIS is the time to COO over my baby, now that I am clearly rushing to get out of the store? She then proceeded to FOLLOW me toward the door asking 372 questions about Potamus (gender, age, etc). Seriously. She wanted to know whether the screaming human in my shopping cart had a pens or a vagina. If I wasn’t trying to compose myself and get the hell out of there without ruining the rest of the shopper’s morning, I could have probably thought of a witty/snarky remark to put her in her place, making her think twice about personal boundaries, but instead I just lifted his car seat out of the cart and carried it out the door, with her standing next to the candy/gum staring at me.

Weirdest experience ever. 

Body Image

With my smart phone glued to my fingers, especially during nighttime nursing, I have noticed myself compulsively reading new mom forums. Some of the posts or questions I find humorous or insightful, but others I find downright annoying. I am especially annoyed by young twigs who whine about their post-partum body.

Now don’t get me wrong, I didn’t really want to be 250 during my pregnancy, for even at 6’1 that felt quite heavy and WELL over what my normal heaviest was. And despite the fact that I only lost a quick 25 and am would love to weigh less because it feels so much better, overall I am not condemning my body for the metamorphosis it went through to make me a mother.

Overall, I have always seen my body as rather functional and not something to hate, so when I read breastfeeding mama’s refer to their “gumball pink” or “floppy skinny” nipples disparagingly, I get annoyed…and then actually feel sad that is their perspective. When they complain about stretch marks I wonder why, as I had a growth spurt in HS and have always loved to touch my fading stretch marks on my love handles because it is a reminder that I grew from a child into a woman. Perhaps I am a unique woman in this way, that very rarely have I had any body image issues, least of all now postpartum. Of course I am not perfect and think it would be nice to have skinner jeans or perkier breasts, but overall I feel good inside my skin. My legs are strong to carry me. My hips wide enough to birth a child. My breasts full of life-sustaining milk for Potamus. It’s all beautiful, really…

Road trip

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Babies are clearly more flexible and resilient than their mamas. Boof and I took Potamus across the state this weekend to meet his great-grandma before she succumbs to Alzheimers completely. I was worried and stressed in the weeks leading up to the trip, as I actually love going places but actually hate the process of travelling…and with a breastfeeding baby I had no idea how long it would take or how I would adjust to sleeping with Potamus in a new place. I should realize that traveling is always worse in my mind and that we would be just fine if I could simply relax and enjoy myself. Potamus slept most of the trip and was a great sleeper at our friends house. We co-slept using a blanket in a coffee box from Costco to make our situation safer. Reminds me of my parents who used to have me sleep in a dresser drawer when they would visit relatives when I was a baby. Way easier than bringing a pack n play at this point!

Valentine’s Day

I think the biggest lie that we believe is that we are alone and that nobody else could possibly understand our inner fuckedupness, and so in order to not risk people leaving us, or judging us, we keep things hidden inside and inhibit the process of truly creating intimacy in romantic or friend relationships. For example, I have only disclosed to a few people (my husband, mother-in-law, midwife and one friend) that I am struggling with postpartum depression/anxiety and that I am taking medication for it (which is helping tremendously). I haven’t shared this with many others because of shame/guilt/embarassment that I am going to be judged for being a bad mom. After all, people could certainly judge a woman who has thoughts of hurting her baby or herself, as motherhood has this saintly ideal to it.

So I was asked to coffee by an acquaintence of mine (she’s a HS friend of my cousin), who gave birth a few days after me. We hung out a couple times before we had our little ones. We met up at the cutest little coffee shop and talk turned to all things motherhood. About halfway through the conversation she mentioned that she was thinking she had some “post partum stuff” going on, and that she might go and see her doctor. That little opening left me spilling my guts about my own experience being on meds, the events leading up to it, and how crappy I felt even having to go through all of this. It was a immediate connection. When you’re sitting there, about to sob into your latte, telling the deepest secret, that you even contemplated hurting your baby, you can’t help but feel connected, because before this you felt like you were the only one in the world who could possibly be in this dark place.

I am connected to another person now. And in my recovery we can support each other. And because of this, I have expanded myself. My heart has been opened to another, who I can call a friend. And the ripple effect is more love, at the end of the day, for myself, for Boof, our real life dog, and of course the sweet little Potamus.

A Whole New World

For some reason the lyrics to Alladin’s “A Whole New World” keep running through my mind, especially the first line “I can show you a world, shinging, shimmering, splendid…” Surely these lines weren’t written about a mall’s bathroom, but alas, my new found mommyness is having me look at the world in a whole new way.

I have been ushered into this whole new world of mall-going-with-baby by an old friend from collge. She has an almost 2 year old daugher and finds that drinking Starbucks in the mall play area is a much easier way to get in conversation than doing it an actual Starbucks. Probably less shattered coffee mugs and temper tantrums upsetting snobby coffee patrons. To be honest, before Potamus was born I wasn’t even aware that the mall had a play place, let alone that it would be strategically placed next to a Starbucks. And a maternity store. And 4 children’s clothing stores. A Hello Kitty store. AND a candy store. Yeah, somebody was thinking in the strategery of building this wing of the mall. I am seriously questioning my lack of observational skills, but then again, perhaps my brain needs to compartamentalize things and realized that before now, the play-place in the mall was as relavent to my life as those pushy dead sea salt scrub sellers.

But beyond these already amazing new learned experiences was the cherry on top of the whole sundae: the family “lounge.” Not to be confused with your run-of-the-mill family bathroom, that is really a glorified handicapped bathroom with a changing table, this lounge lived up to its name. Wide enough stall for a deluxe jogging stroller, a television with leather chairs AND toys and magazines for kids/parents to read, resembled a chic doctor’s office more than a public restroom. And, for breastfeeding mamas like me, the best part was a few private nursing stations with a leather chair and a curtain to pull for privacy. While I am not opposed to nursing in public with my nursing cover, the fact that there is a private place to step away for a few minutes before resuming shopping seems downright heavenly. In fact, while I am not much of a mall shopper, I might just start perusing the stores simply to be able to use that family lounge.

Wow, admitting that makes me sound really sleep deprived.

Clearly I will chalk this up to things-I-never-thought-I-would-do-or-think-while-having-kids list that I am creating. But seriously, this whole new world of things catering toward parents is downright flabbergasting.

Mommy Comparisons

Mommyhood comes with a strange set of insecurities. It’s almost like being back in junior high school where every pimple and out-of-place hair was subject to intense scrutiny. We were so busy worrying about fitting in that we almost didn’t have time to worry about whether other people were fitting in. Almost. But there, of course, were cliques and in-groups and people who bonded together over common or shared experience and part of that was excluding others from the group based on often-sketchy requirements.

While at my moms-of-newborns group I noticed that I was becoming quite self conscious about my own experience of parenting. While Potamus is only 7 weeks old, and other women have babies of similar ages, I was the only one in the group who hadn’t brought toys to entertain him while he layed there on his blanket. My mind whirled through thoughts like “oh no, what stage is he at, should I have brought toys? I am a bad mom, I need to get on top of these things. What if he doesn’t develop normally because I didn’t expose him to toys early enough?” Clearly this thinking is delusional, as all over the world there are babies growing into healthy, well adjusted and smart, kids and adults without the abundance of plastic colored flashing first-world toys that are on the market today. However, I couldn’t help but feel inadequate.

And, because we are new moms and are trying to get to know one another on both a personal AND a mom level, the topic of giving birth came up. I was surprised that, once again, I didn’t fit in, as I gave birth vaginally, with only fentanyl at the last minute for pain, and the other four moms of newborns (versus the other moms who had babies a few months old and didn’t participate in this part of the conversation) had given birth via c-section, all not by choice. As they were commiserating about their c-section, the recovery, and how they were sad to have not had the experience of birth that they wanted (vaginal, no medication). While I could commiserate on having pain medication when I thought I could do it without, I, once again, didn’t fit quite in with the birthing experience that these ladies had. And while I tried to insert myself, there was this sense that even my trying to commiserate wasn’t quite welcome, because, after all, I had as close to the birth experience that they wanted and really didn’t have any need to complain.

I can’t escape the divide online, either. I am invloved in reading several forums and blogs and find that I am still not in any group fully. There are the offbeat mamas, which I consider myself a part of, but, while I consider myself a hippy at heart, I don’t really think of my mothering as all that hippy-like (though I baby-wear, and Boof baby-wears, and we might end up doing cloth diapers, and we co-sleep and sometimes bedshare). But I don’t have pink hair or go to rock concerts and I am not all organic and from the outside we look like just your typical all-american family.
So the other websites, where they have almost a disdain for breastfeeding and babywearing, but probably fit my personality in other ways, label us “crunchy” and “granolaey” which I normally wouldn’t take as an insult, but I want to fit in.

So I think thats what I need to examine…my desire to fit in…and why mommyhood is a club with cliques and why I feel so insecure, when really, we are all just trying to do a good job.

Baby Reiki

Something wonderful happened after our last crying filled reiki session. While lying on the table with Potamus, as he cycled from being relaxed and alert to fussy to full blown screaming and finally to calm rest. I have been seeing Courtney for four years and know that it is a safe place for whatever emotion that comes up, but I noticed that my thought patterns went toward anxiety, embarassment, guilt and frustration during those crying moments. I tried to breathe through them and tell myself “he is a baby, it is okay for him to cry,” but the other voice in my head kept saying, “you’re annoying her, you shouldn’t have come today, this is a waste of money, why can’t he be calm he was so peaceful last time?!”

Since I only had a few moments of incredible depression filled rage, it’s hard for me to remember that I AM still suffering from postpartum depression, and that it is the medication (and reiki) that is allowing me to be in a place where those negative thoughts are not taken as the absolute and automatic truth. I was able to breathe and process with Courtney the anxiety in my heart about wanting to calm the Potamus down and feeling completely helpless to figure out what exactly he needed.

But the shift that happened after that session has been life-changing (or perhaps, on a smaller scale, week-changing). Potamus has had moments-to-hours of fussiness, and I have noticed a difference in my heart and mind during these times where I want to scream ‘tell me what you need! i don’t know what to do!” I have noticed myself slowing down, breathing, not beating myself up about being a horrible mom who doesn’t know what her kid needs, and realizing that I have already experienced an “embarassing” moment where he cried and I couldn’t do anything about it, and we both made it through just fine (and still bonded).

This shift has rippled out into other areas of my relationship with Potamus, as I have begun to enjoy the sudden shift to him latching perfectly and not needing the nipple shield, to late night feedings because he is growing again, to experiencing his first pacifier and first bottle moments. When I went to our session today, she asked me how the evenings have been going (since that was my initial crazy anxiety/depression time) and in looking back over the past two weeks I was amazed…night times are actually becoming my favorite time with Potamus. We’re sleepy and it’s dark and warm and snuggly. He nurses and then we both fall back into dreamland…him in his co-sleeper and me right next to him in the bed. These moments of sweetness are the result of these reiki moments, where I asked to recieve what I needed most, and while it wasn’t what I asked for verbally, it clearly was what I needed on a different level.

If you haven’t had a chance to experience a reiki session, I highly recommend it!