Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Feeding for all to see

The last of the started but not finished until now posts from the draft folder.
I hesitated to put this one out there at first because bre.astfe.eding (BF) is one of those topics that usually end up in battles or tears. I know that I'm incredibly lucky that BF has worked out so well for me and that for some folks it isn't so easy or sadly even an option. I believe that we all make the best choices we can for our babies and ourselves and if someone doesn't agree then they can $!#$!! It truly doesn't matter how we feed our babies - just that we do.

Nur.sing my boy has been an unexpected joy. When I was pregnant the plan was to give BF a try and see how it goes. I liked that it was free and good for the boy but mostly I was digging on the free. I would read about women who love, LOVE, love the BF relationship and are sad when it ends and I admit I just didn't understand what the big deal was. It's just a way to feed your kid and you don't hear anyone gushing over spoonfulls of chee.rios, right? Well, I'm still not gushing but I think I kind of get it now. It's both a physical and an emotional thing. My body responds to his hunger cues and schedule and if I don't nurse him the full feeling is a tingly kind of uncomfortable. I love being all snuggled up together while he's eating. I can look down at that tiny face and nuzzle his fuzzy little head. These days he's so busy moving around and trying to get in to things that the only time he'll sit still for a cuddle is when he's eating.

I was a BF baby but growing up all of my cousins were formula fed and being the oldest of all those cousins I helped feed a lot of babies their bottles. I didn't take any classes or read any books but a few days before Mr. O was scheduled to make his appearance I did take a look around the internet to see if there were any tips or how to videos on BF. Not really all that helpful. I guess my plan was to wing it and keep my fingers crossed that it would work. It felt a little pinchy at first and I wasn't sure if the boy was latched on correctly. The nurses tried to help but mostly they would just grab a handful of boob and stuff it in the baby's mouth. I was lucky that we really didn't have any problems. It just worked. I did feel a little sore at first but those little sample tubes of La.ns.inoh really helped. It would take a month or so before I no longer needed to use the Lan.sin.oh after every nur.sing session.

The toughest thing about BF for me was doing it in front of other people. Especially in the beginning when I was still figuring it out. In those first few weeks I had a constant parade of family and friends visiting and staying with me. It was pretty isolating to be trapped in my bedroom for hours at a time because I wasn't comfortable feeding the baby in front of everyone. I have a 13 year old nephew and I absolutely did not want to be the owner of the first pair of boobs he sees! Nur.sing in public - ugh! I really struggled with my need for privacy and my baby's need to be fed NOW! RIGHT NOW! I remember taking Mr. O to get his photos taken at the mall when he was a few weeks old. It took longer than it should have and he needed to be fed. I put on my big girl panties and found a bench off to the side in a quieter part of the mall. I have a nur.sing cover but I still felt so exposed. It was torture. After that I planned any outings around the baby stores because they have mother's rooms for feeding (why don't more places?!). If he got fussy while we were at a restaurant or some non baby store I would go out to the car. I used to spend a lot of time in the car.

It has gotten easier to BF in public and while I'm not entirely comfortable it's no longer the torture it once was. I realized that most of the time people don't even notice that I'm nur.sing. When we're out I'm constantly scoping out quiet spots off to the side just in case I need to feed the boy. If we're in a restaurant I ask for a booth because it's easier and more discreet than a chair at a table. I will even ask to be seated away from the crowd in an emptier section if possible. I have now nur.sed Mr. O at the top of the Empire State Building, FAO Schwarz, the Lincoln Memorial, Fenway Park, Disney World, Busch Gardens and some places a little less public than those! I'm so grateful that Mr. O doesn't pull off the nurs.ing cover because if he did I would probably go back to hiding out in the car.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


Another post from the draft folder. I started writing this one in April.

I didn't blog too much while I was pregnant. I meant to and I had things that I wanted to say but I just never managed to get them written down.

I didn't have any of the typical pregnancy symptoms until I was almost 2 months along. In fact I didn't feel one teeny tiny bit different. I felt like maybe I had dreamed that positive pregnancy test and it wasn't really true. It doesn't help that once you get a positive test you have to wait weeks and weeks to see a doctor. I was so afraid that I would get to that first ob appointment and they would tell me that it was all a mistake and I wasn't really pregnant. Around 7 or 8 weeks I had my first wave of nausea and I was so excited. Ha, ha, ha, I laugh now at how dumb I was because from that moment until the baby arrived I was sick every single day. I even vomited during delivery. It's funny that people always said that once you have that baby you'll forget the pain of labor and the discomfort of pregnancy. While I was pregnant I thought there was no way that I would do it again because being sick all the time was so miserable. Now that I'm on the other side it's not that I've forgotten (not one little bit!) it's more that the reward is so worth all the misery. Fitting into pants that I haven't been able to get past my knees in years has been kind of nice too.

I always thought that once I got pregnant that I wouldn't be able to keep it to myself and would be telling everyone the minute I found out. I was the complete opposite. I told my immediate family as soon as I found out and then threatened them with all kinds of torture if they didn't keep it a secret. At first I was nervous that it would be another miscarriage and I didn't want to untell the news. Once I got to 12 weeks I was still hesitant about making big announcements. It seemed like such a private thing and I didn't want to share. I kept putting off telling people that I don't see all the time until I was 6 or 7 months along. I think a big part of that was being afraid of folks asking about the father. I was comfortable with the fact that I had used a donor but since I had never really encountered any opposition or negative reactions it was easy to be confident with my choice. It just seemed like it would be exhausting to deal with. My immediate family was easy because I knew they would love me no matter what but opening up myself and my baby to the judgement of others gave me pause. When I told my parents I gave them both a lecture about how this was their grandbaby and the story of how he came to be was something to celebrate. I also made it clear that I absolutely would not tolerate anyone making him feel like it was a shameful secret and that it was up to them to make sure that the extended family gets that message too. In the end I was so surprised at how much of a non-issue it was. My mother took the celebrate bit a little too much to heart because she told EVERYONE all about her miracle grandbaby and how wonderful it was. The neighbors, multiple sales clerks at multiple stores, waitresses, etc (she loves to make new friends!). Funny thing is that everyone she talked to was so positive and sadly she heard from more than one that they regretted not making the same choice.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

15 Weeks of Wisdom & then revisiting it at 37 weeks

I was cleaning out my drafts folder and found a few posts that I never got around to finishing. I started writing this one back in June when Mr. O was just 15 weeks old.

Mr. O has been on the outside for 15 weeks and here are a few things that I've learned. I hope this doesn't come across as complaining or whining because it's really not how I intend for it to sound. Mostly it's stuff I 'knew' before but now that it's a reality it can be challenging. Especially as a single parent.

For me the absolute hardest part of adjusting to motherhood has been the fact that my needs do not come first. I can no longer pee, shower, brush my teeth, eat a meal, complete household chores or spend time reading, gaming, watching tv or reading blogs whenever I feel like it. All of those things are put off and crammed in to those little moments when baby isn't demanding some kind of attention. Even when the baby is happily playing on his mat or napping you just never know when they are going to start crying for you. It could be 3 minutes or it could be an hour so it's hard to start more involved tasks because you just never know when you'll need to stop what you're doing. I asked for this and I'm not the least bit resentful it's just that the reality takes a bit getting used to. We're still finding our rhythm over here but I have found that the more organized I am the easier it is to eek out some moments for myself.

Be prepared! Repack the diaper bag when you return home from an outing instead of when you are already rushing to get out the door. If you have to be somewhere the next day get everything you're going to need together the night before. I've found that this simple step has increased my chances of actually being able to take a shower.

Eating! Some of these nursing sessions can last hours and hours (ok, I'm exaggerating... a little) so I make sure I stock some easy to grab snacks near the nursing chair. I also try to pack up leftovers in single serve portions so that I'm not wasting precious moments wandering through the cabinets wondering what I can eat.

Take advantage of extra hands! Ask for help! Friends and family want to help but unless you tell them what you need they won't know how. If you feel weird asking friends to do housekeeping stuff ask them to hold the baby so you can shower, nap or put laundry in the dryer.

and now at 37 weeks....
What struck me rereading what I wrote is how many times I talked about showering. It was a rare thing in the early days. It was also a really intense time. It was a good day if I managed to get one non baby thing done. Mr. O is 8 months old now and thankfully it has gotten easier to find time to bathe! I've always been a be prepared for every scenario type of gal so for me the only way I've been able to survive this parenting solo thing is by being organized and planning ahead.

What stategies work for you?