The Dead Cat in the Freezer

Lansinoh Breastmilk Storage Bags 2

It’s during the deep freeze of winter, and your favorite cat dies. They lived a good long life, and it came to an end, peacefully, naturally, and you want to honor their life. But the ground is frozen solid. And so, with a pioneer wagon train spirit, you bundle the sweetly sleeping-looking kitty, and bundle it up in a bag and stick it in the freezer. In the spring, when the ground thaws, you’ll have a proper burial. There’ll be a shoebox and a eulogy, and a bouquet of catnip on the mound of fresh dirt in the backyard. Maybe some rocks or a stick lashed cross will adorn the little grave. But it’s winter now, and so you wait.

But the space in the freezer fills up. Groceries from Costco are bought, things re-arranged, and time gets away from you. Spring comes, and passes, and suddenly it’s Fall and you remember the cat-in-the-back of the freezer and think ‘well now’s not a good time, it’s almost winter. plus I’d have to take everything out to get to him,” and then the pain is fresh and real again and you think next spring. That’ll be the date for sure. And maybe it will. Or maybe five years will pass. I don’t know.

And I haven’t actually had a cat since college, and he ended up living with a friend’s aunt, and I doubt is in their freezer, but when the New Year rolled around, and we were officially weaned for two weeks, and I thought back to the two times our freezer has thawed since Potamus was born I really thought to myself:

“It’s time to get rid of those bags of milk. They aren’t good anymore. They haven’t been good for awhile now.”

He only ever took a few bottles. And we mixed some in with yogurt around 9 mos of age, but he was exclusively breastfeed…and not always by choice. He refused the bottle. Screamed his ever loving head off any time anybody got close to him with it. He knew what he wanted, and mama’s milk straight from the tap was it. Stubborn as a mule that one!

But I kept pumping. Long past the point where he would ever switch to taking a bottle. I did it out of an animalistic need to provide and seeing the ounces fill the bags that he wouldn’t use was somehow satisfying. I tried to donate some to a friend but my freezer thawed and most of it spoiled and then it re-froze and has been sitting there, labelled with love, for now two years.

It’s time to bury the cat.

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Two Going on Annoyed

My budding teenager

Look at that face, it says it all! My boy is two and he’s clearly annoyed with mama’s antics. Though the mood swings go the other way, too, and we find ourselves giggling in bed at night before he finally nestles down to sleep. It’s only been two weeks, but I’m amazed at how smoothly weaning went. There are times I still find myself reaching to flop my boob out, but I haven’t, and it’s all just seemed so easy that I could pinch myself. This is why I kept my goal in mind over the summer, when I was having a rough patch, because ending easily for both of is was totally worth it!

I’m really enjoying the “terrible twos,” though tantrums aren’t very fun, it is neat to see how he’s asserting his independence and asking for things. Today on our walk he ran twenty five feet ahead of me and then turned to look where I was. Or how when we passed a dead end, he turned to go down that street and waved ‘bye bye’ to me and blew me a kiss before giggling and running back to me. He’s funny most of the time, and can be easily distracted from a tantrum when I let go of my expectations and do something silly, too.

I’ve really enjoyed Winter Break, but truthfully I am looking forward to the exhaustion of a normal schedule. Not having any predictability to speak of for the better part of two weeks has begun to wear on me. Sure I don’t like getting up at 6am knowing I HAVE to be out the door by 7 to get to work, but at least it’s consistent, ya know?

How Child Led Weaning Worked for Us

This summer I was exhausted, emotionally and physically, and the act of nursing was contributing to my overwhelm. I had no idea how hard the weaning process would be, and wrote about it over on Offbeat Families in an article entitled “I knew breastfeeding might be hard, but had no idea weaning was impossible.”  I knew, then, that my goal for Potamus was to be done at 2 years, but I tempered that desire with my deep philosophical heart belief that it wasn’t set in stone, because there are two people in this nursing relationship. And so I powered through some rough toddler months and then we found our groove again.

Ultimately I kept thinking about our weekend away, in December, as my end-goal. Boof and I had never been away overnight, and I figured that the slowing down of the nursing relationship might end in a gradual *poof* it’s gone and then we would come back and suddenly ‘mama snacks’ wouldn’t be available. We left on Friday the 13th, my 31st birthday, and I remember thinking ‘this is me giving me the gift of my body back. I’m not going to nurse him anymore.” And I was sad, and nostalgic.

And it didn’t happen.

When we returned from our ‘trip,’ of course he was clingy excited to see us, and desperately needed some comfort for bedtime routine. And so, banishing the voice in my  head to ‘stick to your guns! don’t let him win!,’ I “gave in,” and nursed him. And it was sweet. And tender. And everything he needed.

Four days later, on the eve of his 2nd birthday, when changing him into his jim-jams, Boof asked, “you want some mama-snacks buddy?” (our cue for nursing), and Potamus shook his head  no. He grabbed his water bottled, snuggle down with me, and sipped himself to sleep holding my hand. Just like that, he weaned himself. And the next night, when he made his sign for mama snacks, and I said, “just cuddles buddy,” he hunkered down without a peep and promptly fell asleep. There was no wailing and gnashing of teeth, just peaceful sleeping next to his mama.

A few nights have gone by, now, and he hasn’t asked for mama snacks again. He sometimes reaches down my shirt to feel meh boobies, but mostly it’s hand holding and water-sippin’ for this little man. The transition even managed to carry over to a new place, since we spent two nights on the other side of the state and he had to get used to sleeping in a new bed with me. I couldn’t be more pleased. It was hard to make it work to fit both of us, but I am so happy that he’s happy and that giving up nursing wasn’t a traumatic event for either of us. I hope that in the future, if I ever have another child. I follow my instincts again…

Offbeat Lovin’!

I can’t believe it ya’ll, I’ve been on Offbeat Families TWICE in one week! I love their community, because it really feels like I’m able to learn about other people’s lives and get support in my own!

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So, you want to start with seeing Potamus having a lovely conversation with his Uncle Tio, check out: Reader photo time: future world leaders, ninjas and hair stylists.

And, remember that King Midas post I wrote awhile back, about the struggle with weaning? Well, a version of it hit the Offbeat site today entitled: I knew breastfeeding might be hard, but didn’t know weaning would feel impossible, so if you care to get in on the weaning discussion, head on over there and check it out!

Much love to you fellow bloggies!

 

 

slow the fuck down

a boy and his dog. a rare moment in the mids of crazy.

I’ve been doing a lot of self-reflection as it relates to my parenting style/philosophy/way of being in the world. While my overall anxiety has remained pretty high, some conversations with really good friends, an appointment to begin therapy on Friday, and a quiet night that included 6 WHOLE HOURS in a row, has reigned me back in from the crazy cliff of burnout.

I have this bad habit of going full steam until burnout and it needs to stop. I know it’s part of my personality, and the stressor this time was Boof’s crazy work schedule, but truthfully I’ve been stuffing my anxiety and emotions for awhile. I’m not sure how long, probably since Potamus was born, but maybe even longer. The pioneer-buck-it-up woman has been working her ass off, because, in so many ways, moving forward full steam feels safer than pausing and acknowledging what is going on. That it’s hard. I know I say it with my head and mouth, but I haven’t let myself feel the weight of the difficulty for fear of breaking into a thousand little pieces.

And, while I’ve written about it before, I have come to this realization, that my tool for stuffing all my emotion is Facebook, my smart-phone, endless hours of mindless television. As an introvert, and a sometimes selfish person, I want “me” time. Lots of focus on “me,” and what gets in the way is this kiddo who I love and is trying his best in the world. In an effort to get MY needs met, I end up stressed.

But last night was different. Instead of facebooking, I spent 2 hours talking to different friends on the phone. Potamus was eating dinner, but I wasn’t mindlessly zoning out ‘liking’ things and surfing for the best answer to solve this to-wean-or-not-to-wean question. Or this co-sleeping-until-eternity dilemma. I was intentionally connecting. And, when Potamus had enough of Jake and the Neverland Pirates and his helping of tortellini, we played outside. He toodled around and I chatted with my other friend. And then we came inside and got ready for bed.

He was out by 8.

I didn’t feel guilty for nursing him.

I didn’t feel like I needed to be anywhere else.

I forgot about the dishes/laundry/crumbs on the floor/ and the anger that Boof wasn’t around to help.

We didn’t watch any TV past 5:30 or even listen to music on the TV and dance like we normally do. It was quiet, and focused, but not so intensely goal-oriented.

And I ended up with 6 hours of sleep in a row, and a feeling of being refreshed.

I don’t know if this relaxed way will always ‘work,’ but I do think that Potamus picked up on my calm and focused energy and it mirrored back at him a way to be in the world. I think, if I can’t figure out how to unwind, how can he learn it for himself? I have no idea how tonight will go, or how I will monitor my on-line habits, especially since summer is beginning and I will now be home with Potamus 3-5 of the 7 days out of the week, but I do think that the evening ritual was helped by this long unwind time.

Thoughts? Have you tried slowing down to achieve your parenting goals?

 

King Midas Syndrome

it's hard being his world

it’s hard being his world

This morning, after a particularly rough night of anxiety (Boof was gone, again, for the 3rd night in a row…5th night this week), I nestled into my bed and read Charlotte’s post  Exhaustion over on her lovely Momaste blog.

The things she said are so striking and so true. While I don’t think I’m sliding into depression, I certainly can relate to the image of spending days or weeks in bed, and then resting in the sunlight of recovery. This week when I got a massage, Courtney asked me what I wanted, and my answer? A hotel room, with big white down comfortors, by the ocean, where I can stay in bed all day listening to the ocean, and sleeping, and reading, and sleeping. Because, I, like Charlotte, and so many mamas I know, am exhausted.

In my exhaustion the anxiety has become overwhelming. After a wonderful day yesterday I found myself with a toddler who refused bedtime. At 9:30 he finally fell asleep, but not after I cried for 30 minutes and threw his lego car across the room. While I’m not actually afraid I would hurt him, or myself, the thoughts that run through my head are a level of crazy that even a non therapist would recognize as destructive.

I’ve given up the idea of weaning. We were down to two times a day and it was working out so nicely. But, with Boof gone so much, I have no other options in my arsenal. I just need five more minutes of sleep and nursing is the only way to get it. And I blame myself for being this exhausted. Like King Midas, who wished for everything he touched to turn to gold, realized the destructiveness of his wish when he turned everyone and everything into gold.  I wanted desperately to have an attached baby. In the beginning I loved that only I could soothe him this way. I loved breathing in his soft baby smell, and laying next to this angelic creature at night was beautiful.

And then, everything turned to gold. And being bodily responsible 5-6 times a day, again, is becoming an albatross around my neck. I’m feeling drowned, a choking closed throat feeling that I can’t get rid of. I’m beginning to be resentful, of Potamus, and Boof who doesn’t have to worry about this issue. I worry that maybe I made the wrong choice, that I was trying to be something I’m not, and that I will grow to resent ever becoming a mother. I worry that our talk of adding another will make me end up in the loony bin.

Leaps and bounds…

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Last night I got 6 hours of sleep in a row, which piggy backed on the 4 hour nap I took on Memorial Day, so I am mostly feeling like a new woman…which means I am approaching this whole “weaning” experience from a new angle. Mostly, the angle involves a lot of questions about practicality of those gentle weaning tips that article espoused. Cover the boobs? Okay, I can do that…sort of…but things like “don’t offer, don’t refuse” seems muddled. Don’t refuse? As in…never refuse?

Maybe my thinking is too black and white about that, but it doesn’t seem to jive with the recommendation of “setting boundaries.” Which is it, lady, ‘not refusing’ or ‘sometimes-refusing-when-I’m-setting-a-boundary’? Also, Potamus doesn’t have words yet, so he points to his lip and makes an “eh, meh” sound to indicate he wants to nurse. Or he pulls on my shirt. When my eyes are closed in the middle of the night and he’s crying I don’t see the lip-pointing motion and sometimes he’s too distraught to ask, so I just offer. Ooops, guess that goes against the rules suggestions.

Also, he’s used the lip pointing for Corn Chex, so maybe I’m just reading the signs wrong.

Also…there are darn tootin’ times that I don’t want his newly vampiric teeth anywhere near my nipple, and so, even if he asks nicely, I’m going to say “hell no.”

But something has shifted in my thinking. I’ve felt this sense of calm about the whole weaning issue. It’s not about weaning, it’s about letting my baby grow up. In the past week he’s tried so many new foods, begun RUNNING and CLIMBING (like onto the couch, no big deal, just chillin’ with the dog), throwing the ball, KICKING the ball…it’s like he’s gone from baby to kid, overnight. He has had a few long sleeping stretches and suddenly has only been nursing 1-2 times a day. This might change, but I have looked at him and realized…

I don’t need him to nurse to feel bonded with him.

I know that I’ve nursed for his sake, but also for my sake, and I’m okay now with him weaning if he’s ready. I’m also okay with it going on a little longer, too, if he wants. I feel like it’s just happening all in leaps and bounds, and we’re both growing up so fast. It’s amazing what a little sleep will do for perspective, eh?