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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.


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…and I’m not sure that “I feel fine”.

Wow. So this is it, huh? My little girl is no longer a nursling now at 27 months old. We are moving on to new ways of relating, coping with tantrums and boo-boos, and generally finding and covering new ground together. I just was not expecting it to be so soon.

Back when I was newly pregnant I honestly didn’t think much about breastfeeding or how to feed a baby until a friend of mine had her baby and breastfed her daughter. I remember thinking how great it was that we’d still go for a coffee at Starbucks and her daughter would just get fed right there while we hung out and chatted. How convenient! So THIS is how babies are meant to be fed! A ha!

I am SO indebted to this friend for normalizing breastfeeding for me while I was pregnant and also nursing in public. It meant that when I had my daughter, I knew exactly what I was going to do and so formula never entered the picture for us. Sure… there was that one time at 5 months old when she woke every 45 minutes to an hour and a half, all night long, when I begged my hubby to buy a bottle and some formula in an effort to get her to sleep longer. She, however, would have nothing to do with it. Now looking back I thank my lucky stars that she didn’t like the bottle nor the formula. We went back to nursing and I held fast and desperately tight to my parenting mantra “This Too Shall Pass”. Right? Right? And it did. Things got better.

My goal in the early days was to get to 6 months of breastfeeding until we introduced solid foods. Then as that date got closer, and I realized that if we stopped nursing we’d need to do formula instead, I decided I wanted to nurse for a year. Given she’d need formula that long if we didn’t, and by that point I’d read enough to realize how good mama milk was, I knew that I’d much rather continue breastfeeding than to switch to formula and lose out on all the benefits.

So on we went… nursing on demand. And when she fell down and got hurt. And when she was teething. And when she needed comfort. Oh… and when she was hungry, of course. Or bored. Or sick. I soon came to realize that breastfeeding was my best and most valued parenting tool. Indeed it was my “one thing does it all” tool I often thought. Was my girl having a bad day? Press reset: breastfeed! Was she sick and couldn’t breathe? Breastfeed! Was she tired and wouldn’t go to sleep? Breastfeed! Were we out and about and I had forgotten to bring along a snack for her? Breastfeed! It was just so handy. How did parents do it without breastfeeding I wondered?!?! Honestly, I realized that it fit perfectly with my not-so-energetic personality. I could nurse in bed at night and not even have to get out of bed or fully wake up. Co-sleeping and breastfeeding meant I slept more. Thank God as I couldn’t imagine how much harder it would have been given the sleep deprivation was HARD that first year as it was. And as I stayed at home and didn’t return to work, I never even started pumping either. No pumping, no cleaning pumping supplies, no cleaning bottles, no boiling and cooling water. Ahhhhh! Everything was always “straight from the tap” for my little bean, and frankly I think we both preferred it that way.

When she turned one I realized that we weren’t ready to stop just yet. She was still such a booby baby and I knew that my breastmilk didn’t suddenly turn to water at age 1 so on we continued. I once heard it referred to as that each day she was only one day older, and indeed, that is how I felt. If she needed it yesterday, why would she suddenly not need it today? Or tomorrow? I knew that some day our time to wean would come but hoped that it would come peacefully. By a year of nursing, I felt rather “lactivisty” to be honest. I was so impressed with what all I knew about breastfeeding at that point, having read much about it, that I thought everyone should know the benefits too. I remember how shamefully little I knew or understood pre-baby and hoped that I could share information in a supportive manner for anyone who might need it. I read Kelly Mom, The Leaky Boob, Code Name: Mama, and the Lakeshore Medical Breastfeeding Medical Clinic pages on Facebook religiously. I learned so much about so many issues from mamas and experts alike.

So, given I now knew that the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended breastfeeding to two years and beyond, it became my new goal. A woman in my birth club had posted a funny little post about “earning breastfeeding badges” as though it were the Olympics or Brownie badges. They made me giggle, but still… I wanted to earn my “platinum boobs” at that point.

Breastfeeding Length & Badge Earned:

3 months = Bronze Boobs

6 months = Silver Boobs

12 months = Gold Boobs

2 years = Platinum Boobs

So on we continued. Then when my daughter was 16 months old I became pregnant. How exciting! But what would happen with our breastfeeding journey? I had read quite a bit about nursing in pregnancy and tandem nursing. Could we do it? I knew it might be hard. It certainly was tough for a while there while pregnant. I felt aversion some times. The physical sensation was tough. I remember continuing to nurse her to sleep and praying to God to make it through and for her to sleep as I could barely contain myself with the heebie jeebies I felt some nights. I focused my mind elsewhere to distract myself from the physical sensation. But she needed it. She had been nursed to sleep since birth and how could I let her down now?

Somehow we made it through! My little man was born a week before she turned 2! Then tandem nursing began. It was rough those first days… I had no milk and they were both demanding. My little man was HUNGRY. He was born large at 9 lb 4 oz and frankly he wanted milk!! My daughter needed comfort as there was this new crying baby requiring my attention. My hubby was a GOD. He helped me to latch them both on a few times to settle the meltdowns. And a few times in those first few days I had the joy of watching them both melt into my arms and fall asleep one at each side of me post-mama-milk fix. It was glorious! I had my hubby take pictures. I was a Goddess! I was all-powerful!

My daughter also learned to sleep through the night during my pregnancy. We finally night weaned gently using Dr. Jay Gordon’s method of gentle night weaning and she continued to co-sleep with me. She actually settled in quite nicely as the milk really wasn’t there anyway. So she continued to nurse to sleep and then slept through and I’d nurse my little man who was now co-sleeping on the other side of me. I was a human pillow all night long often covered in my toddler’s feet and my little man snuggled up into my armpit on the other side. They were adorable.

I was willing to continue this way for as long as my daughter needed at this point. Why rock the boat? She only nursed first thing in the morning (it was always the first thing she asked for when she’d wake up), then at nap time and at bed time. And once my little man was born, she decided naps were for chumps anyway, so often it was only twice a day for nursing her.

Then… the biting started. I had introduced a “ten count” while pregnant to save my sanity. When I had all I could take of nursing physically, I’d say “milk is over in ten” and then count up to ten and unlatch her. This worked relatively well for a while. Then she started to protest when I’d say it. She would start whimpering while still on the breast. She would cover the breast with her hands to try to stop me from unlatching her. I was gentle but insistent that it was time to stop. It was SO tough. I knew she loved her mama milk SO much and I hated to do something she didn’t like. But physically, I could only handle nursing her for maybe 10 minutes tops.

After a few months she started biting when I’d go to unlatch her. She would nurse and then I’d start the ten count and “YEEEEOOOUCH!!!!”. I told her not to bite mama, that it hurt and mama didn’t like it. She persisted. I eventually started saying that if she bit at the end of a session she would not get to nurse next time. She still bit. I was at my wit’s end. I couldn’t take the biting and I had my little man to nurse and if she damaged my nipples I was in trouble with a 3 month old to feed. What to do? I started telling her that if she continued on we would have to stop nursing entirely. No more mama milk. Well… after about a week of warnings and biting… I decided we were done. Just like that. And I was completely heartbroken. I had hoped that begging her and telling her that mama milk would end would mean that she would finally stop biting me. But it didn’t matter. She kept on biting… even when I would tell her while she was nursing that she was NOT to bite mama. She still did. I wanted to cry each time she bit me. And so one last time on April 2nd, 2012… 27 month into our breastfeeding journey, I told her I would nurse her at bedtime but there would be no more mama milk if she bit me. I made sure she was paying attention. And at the end of the session I told her not to bite before I said “milk is over in ten”. And she bit me one last time. That was it. I wanted to bawl my eyes out. She went to sleep like nothing had happened, but I knew better. I knew something major had happened. Our whole world had changed in one night. We were no longer nursing.

But what would I do if she got hurt? What if she had a meltdown? How would I deal with her if she was begging me for mama milk? It was such an easy fix and such a good way to connect and calm her down. Would she let me soothe her in other ways? I didn’t know. About a week after this night she woke one morning and I was out of bed already. She came to me crying about needing mama milk. I told her we didn’t do that any more because she was biting me. She insisted. So I told her we would as long as she didn’t bite me. She said OK, nursed and… bit me. Le sigh. I thought for a moment that maybe we would go back to nursing again. But… not. It was not meant to be.

For the week or more following the end of nursing, she would ask at the usual times for mama milk. I would dread the question as I HATED saying no to her. I really did. But I hated being bitten more. So I would say to her sadly but calmly “I’m sorry honey, we don’t do mama milk any more because you were biting me. We do cuddles instead now.” She might ask twice and I would reply with the same response every time. Then she seemed satisfied with that answer and would cuddle and go to sleep.

I wondered how she was really doing with the weaning though. Did she understand? Was she okay? I sort of felt that I was taking it harder than she was. I had not expected to be done so soon as she was SUCH a booby girl for SO long. Was she really ready to move on? Then one night as I was nursing my little man in bed for sleep and she was beside me ready for stories, she came over to watch and said that my little man “loves mama milk”. I said “yes, he does” to which she replied “I bite your nipples”. I tried not to giggle and said to her “yes, that is why we don’t do mama milk any more, right?” and she nodded her head and told me “we do cuddles!” very emphatically. I was SO happy and proud of her. “That’s right precious!” I told her “we do cuddles!”. I held her tightly and gave her extra cuddles and love that night. She understood. I couldn’t believe it.

So we are done nursing, but we are far from done loving and cuddling. Nursing through a pregnancy and the first 3 months with a new baby also helped with the adjustment to these changes in her life. She knew that mama was there for her as well as the new baby. And surprisingly enough, she does not seem jealous of my little man either now. She tells me “I so love him” and kisses his head gently. She does not seem jealous of his getting mama milk either. I am amazed. My little girl grew up on me over night and I wasn’t ready for it, but it appears that perhaps SHE was.

If anything, she is even more my mama girl now. She cuddles when she’s hurt or sad. And she is safe in my arms. I know I am going to hurt and grieve the loss of our nursing relationship for some time to come. But we will learn new ways of relating. Nursing my little man is easing the pain a bit as well. I don’t know how I’m going to survive his weaning though with no new baby. I hope that with him we will just slowly ease to a natural end of weaning together with it tapering off until he doesn’t need it, but only time will tell. And we have a long way to go with him being not yet 4 months. Perhaps after more than 4 years of nursing between my daughter and son (to get him to the 2 year WHO goal) I will be more than ready to get rid of my ever milk-stained wardrobe and move onto the next phase. At least my daughter weaned me gently to break me into the idea of what that next phase will look like. But for now…I will continue to grieve a bit longer. She’s still just my little girl, and only a day older than she was yesterday.
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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):

So… it has been over a year since I’ve posted here. The blog, she languishes…

So much has changed since I last wrote. For one, the first thing that comes to mind as I read the last post is that the whole “CIO” thing? Didn’t last. Nope. Not right for us after all. After maybe a week of sleeping quite well and going to sleep on her own without crying she started waking often and crying (the first couple of times trying the “sleep training” she cried for 15 minutes tops and then went to sleep).  Well, as it turns out, I wasn’t up for letting her cry any longer than that and certainly not denying her nursing at night either.  I started nursing and holding her until she fell asleep in my arms and then putting her back in her crib. Then, after discussing with my husband and realizing he wasn’t in any hurry to come back upstairs into our bed and that he was truly OK with me co-sleeping with my girl and all of that, we quickly resumed co-sleeping and night nursing and no longer trying any sort of CIO.  Within 3 weeks of trying a bit of sleep training, I had decided that we would NOT be doing that again and that it was just not my thing.

I know plenty of WONDERFUL moms who have done some sleep training with their children and they are warm, kind and caring moms. Many of them also have done extended breastfeeding and other attachment parenting types of things. But moms, parents… we need sleep in order to function.  So I don’t fault anyone for sleep training.  I did it too.  For me, and for our family however, it was just not the right choice.  Turns out we get better sleep and are able to feel better during the day, too, when we co-sleep and comfort each other that way.

I did eventually try some night weaning using Dr. Jay Gordon’s gentle method of night weaning but it seemed each time I tried, my little girl would get sick and I felt she needed that night nursing to get better.

Then in early May of 2011 we discovered I was pregnant again!  Yay!  So… what would become of our nursing relationship?  Would my girl continue?  Would I want to?  What about sleeping?  How would that be affected?

We raised the bed up a bit as I got heavier in pregnancy as getting up off the mattress on the floor was getting rather uncomfortable and so we put it on the box springs and that helped.  But we continued nursing to sleep for naps and bedtime.  Then… something miraculous happened and I’m not sure exactly when, but my sweet daughter finally started to sleep through the night.  Perhaps the lack of milk partway through my pregnancy along with my gentle urging that “milk is sleeping” finally did the trick and she started blissfully sleeping until morning.  Once in awhile she’d wake briefly and ask for her water sippy cup using her familiar “drink” sign she amended with a finger in her mouth and a gurgling sound.  Then back to sleep she’d go.  Now if only my bladder had cooperated, but it did not, I was still not sleeping through the night because that pregnant body kept waking me up!

In any case, my pregnancy went really well.  I was never the “burping rainbows and farting unicorns” type of pregnant woman.  Pregnancy was a means to an end for me, but the ends certainly justified the means!  Still, I was blessed with a really uneventful pregnancy aside from a few UTI’s at the end.  I got huge like the previous pregnancy and was pretty uncomfortable.  I had nausea for longer than the first trimester.  And my desire to eat meat was greatly reduced.  But… I was able to continue nursing my daughter through the pregnancy.  I also went the midwife and doula route this time around instead of the OB/GYN route.  It was the most wonderful experience. Hands down.

With my OB/GYN, she was wonderful, but she was not on duty the day I had my daughter.  She also was not often present at many of my appointments and I had her alternate instead who was kind of “old school” for my taste.  In her birth, I had my water break naturally a few days before her due date.  Then the doctor suggested induction and along came the pitocin.  Despite what I had learned prior to birth from our prenatal class taught be a doula, I was so tired at that point having not slept that I caved and just wanted things to “speed up” myself.  If I had only known then what I know now!  But, that was not meant to be.  In time I ended up with gas, some fentenol (sp?) and an epidural which lead to not being able to feel how to push, and eventually a birth with an episiotomy and tearing. UGH.

With my son’s birth, my water broke and things were much different.  I called the doula and midwife.  They told me to eat and rest which I did manage to do a bit.  I went to the hospital and labored for a long time in the shower with the doula helping me through contractions.  Then my husband, doula and midwife all helped me to figure out how to push and I was able to have him with just using the gas to get me through transition.  It was easily the most primal thing I have ever done but I LOVED it in comparison to my daughter’s birth.  I felt so much better afterward.  I had that baby boy on my stomach immediately (as I had with my daughter) and I got to see that they truly waited for the cord to finish pulsing before clamping.  I also breastfed him right away compared with waiting in the case of my daughter until after I was fully stitched up.  It all was a better experience all around and I do have to thank my first experience for informing me of what I DIDN’T want and reading up enough to know what I DID want this time around.  My son and I both benefited!

Anyway, now here we are… my toddler is now 2 years and 4 months and the baby boy is 4 months old.  Things are going well and life is good although we watch more TV than I would ideally like.  :-)  In any case, there is more to update but I hope to be posting soon about my story of weaning my sweet precious daughter right around the time she turned 27 months old (after 3 months of tandem nursing).  So… thought it was as good a time as any to post a quick update.  I hope to fill in the blanks sometime soon and start posting again more often.  It seems like as good a way as any to keep track of so many important memories as well as to carve out some time for me to collect my thoughts.

 

Fresh Start

And so a new year begins.  2011.  My little Ba-Bean has turned one and the day before she did, she decided she could take more than a couple of steps at a time.  Yes, she resolved for the new year to walk longer, better and faster!  Off she went.  For her birthday I started to make a healthy baby-friendly carrot cake.  I say started because she decided not to nap in the morning and to be VERY grumpy in the afternoon so Mommy ended up having to haul her around while Daddy finished the cake.  And I use the word “cake” loosely here.  Because the texture was decidedly un-cake-like.  Could have been the recipe.  Could have been our wonky oven that cannot keep a consistent temperature and always ends up running hot and burning things.  But it rose.  Then it sank.  And it was a very moist dense… cake/bar/pound cake?  I’m not really sure.  But I slathered it with a mixture of cream cheese and whipping cream and we put candles on it and she liked it.  I think she mostly liked the icing.  She loves dairy this kid, much like her Mom.  I think she was also just happy I gave her a big piece all to herself to play with and demolish.  Success!

Then, as my new year resolution, now that baby girl was a year old, I felt ready to implement my custom sleep plan created for us.  I must admit to dragging my feet on this myself, but then the sleep plan took forever to get sent off, and never did physically arrive in our mailbox so I had to wrangle a PDF copy from our sleep consultant.  When it finally arrived in my email, BaBean was suffering from some pretty severe teething (grumpy viking, hear me roar) and caught her Daddy’s cold.  So… sleep train we did not.  Until the day after her first birthday.  We were finally ready.  It was time.

I was quaking in my boots on the inside.  I’m not going to lie to you.  I was terrified she would cry so hard she would vomit and not sure I could follow through if things got that harsh.  I hate hearing her cry at any time, even in frustration.  And she had slept with my for months, always falling asleep at the breast, with her warm little body next to mine.  If it was cold out at night, I’d awake to find her snuggled up firmly against my side under my armpit and I was stuck sleeping wedged between her and the bedrail.  But it was worth it in a way.  I gave her the best start I could.  She had lots of love, and nursing, and warmth at night.  She grew big and strong.  And now she is one-year-old and her independence is growing every day.

She’s not going to be leaving home any time soon.  But she is becoming her own little toddler person.  So we did it.  I followed the plan in the big picture and the main important points.  But… there were a few areas I made my own.  A year of mothering my little girl gave me the confidence to tweak a few points that I felt were in her best interest and that I really felt with my Attachment Parenting vision would help and not hinder allowing her to go to sleep by herself safe in the knowledge that Mommy still loves me and will be there for me if I need her.

I gave her as much time to nurse before sleeping as she wanted (no “brisk feeding” as it was noted to do) for me.  My little girl would get the comfort and nutrition she needed as she knows better than any time constraint or sleep consultant what she needs from my body.  And it worked.  The first nap and first night were the hardest.  But she learned SO quickly.  And she slept.  And fell asleep on her own for the first time in months.  And slept in her crib!  She had NEVER slept in her crib before.  I was SO proud of her I could just burst!

Now here we are at Day 3 of the plan and she allows me to put her into the crib and leave her to go to sleep and not even a peep.  She was ready.  I was ready.  I miss her though.  I really do.  She may sleep well and not wake often or for long, but I am still waking up every 2 hours or so.  And my breasts miss the night time nursing.  Yikes!  I haven’t seen them like this since my milk first came in a year ago!  Crazy.  But it will be good for us.  I can see it.  I am enjoying no longer being her human pacifier.  Now when we breastfeed it is even more enjoyable than before as it isn’t frustrating if she doesn’t go to sleep.  They aren’t needed for that any more.  Our time together nursing is now that much more precious and wonderful to me.  I’m so happy as I want to do extended breastfeeding with her, and this just makes that all the more possible I believe as there is no resentment, just enjoyment.

I’m also not going to lie that I am not “proud” of the actual CIO.  But… I am proud that my little girl took it in stride and was ready.  I feel very glad I waited although it was a really long year.  It made the whole thing so much less painful than it might otherwise have been and feels like I made the right choices along the way.  Hallelujah!

Now if only I could get some sleep too.  Perhaps I will have to CIO myself?!?!  :)

So, I have been trying really, REALLY hard over the last 10 months or so to get Savannah to sleep well.  I have read enough about baby’s sleep to know that both naps and nighttime sleep are vitally important to their growth and development.  Not enough sleep and they can’t concentrate and learn things, plus I think just physically it can impede growth if they are not getting the restorative sleep they need.

So, yes, sleep is very important to me.  I have been trying to keep a schedule for her for a long many months now too.  From what I understand, routines are ALSO important to babies.  It gives them comfort to know “what comes next” and to be able to count on consistency and routines.  So, I try to make sure the days follow a fairly consistent path from one day to the next.  There are different things that we do sometimes, like trips to get groceries, or appointments that we have.  But I have been trying to make sure we get back home at reasonable times so that we can hit those elusive optimal nap times and to make sure she is fed regularly, etc.

I have to admit, this has all been rather hectic for me.  I’m not sure why it seems like so much work, but it does.  I spend time planning meals and trying to be sure she is getting a good mixture of fruits, veggies, grains, meats, dairy.  And now that I’ve introduced snacks, well, gosh, it takes even longer for my poor sleep deprived brain to figure out what to do each day (yes, I ensure my daughter gets her sleep, but me, on the other hand, I am the all night breastaurant still nursing her every 1, 2 or 3 hours when she wakes briefly so that it is, indeed, brief and we can go back to sleep and not stay up for 2 HOURS).

Should I do peas for lunch?  Dinner?  Have I given her something green?  Yellow or orange?  A fruit?  A veg?  What grain did I give earlier?  OK, maybe I should do this.  How about some dairy.  Oh crap.  What meat am I going to make or use?  Hmmmm.  How long will it take me to cook some pasta and add frozen beef puree so that she gets a meat in?

I swear, it is a full-time job for me right now.

I wonder to myself often how other Moms do this and make it look so darned easy?!?!  Seriously!

I am sure that my sleep deprivation is not helping either as I KNOW I have had “attitude” with the dog and the cat when they meow or bark and wake the baby.  Then I’m seriously NOT happy with them.  One day I was certain I was shipping the cat off to the SPCA I was so frustrated with him… hopping into the crib, meowing to get out of the crib, hopping onto the bed, meowing and pawing at me.  GO. AWAY. NOW. CAT. IF. YOU. VALUE. YOUR. LIFE.

Oh, yes.  And let’s not forget my poor hubby.  Sleeping in the basement as it were.  Because, yes, I am the bad Mom who still co-sleeps with her daughter at 10 months of age.  I just can’t bear night wakings that require me to physically get OUT of bed, so I do what is the path of least resistance.  And, what has felt right for many months as well.  To be there physically to comfort my baby girl.  To build that connection.  To “Attachment Parent” if you will.

But the time has come where I really am starting to think it is in everyone’s best interest for us all to get better sleep.  I need to sleep in order to function at a higher level.  My daughter needs to learn how to go to sleep without requiring nursing to do it (it has to happen sometime, although I am glad to say that I have given her this comfort for this long).  My hubby needs to come back upstairs (besides which, when he is back upstairs and Savannah is sleeping in her crib by herself, when she wakes early on weekends I might actually *gasp* get a day to sleep in and Daddy can get up with the baby… God I can dream about it… if I could only sleep…).

Anyway, so I have gone ahead and contacted a sleep consultant.  It occurs to me that my foggy brain is no longer competent to sift through the rubble and books and make a good plan for us.  So we have help on the way.  A person who has helped other Mommies and Daddies I know.  She comes highly recommended.  And so I am putting my trust in her to help me “sleep train” (choo choo) my daughter.  I am SO nervous about the crying part.  I never ever wanted to resort to CIO.  It truly is, for me, a last resort.  But I am trying to remember that I have given her a really good start with 10 months of cuddles.  And I will make it up to her with as many daytime snuggles as she needs.  But at some point, I am realizing she also will need to learn the hard lesson that Mommy can’t always say “yes” to all her demands.  That sometimes, when something is better for her, I will have to say “No” much as it may pain me (and her).

So, I will continue to be “working on the railroad” with my daily routines and schedules and meal planning.  That part of this choo choo train will keep on turning.  But hopefully, in the not so near future, at least the sleep train will involve ZzzZzzzz’s for all.  And when it does (crossing fingers and toes), I am going to join my Belly Buddy (oops… she reminded me, we aren’t pregnant Belly Buddies any more, so I am going to have to start referring to her as “little mama g”) my friend little mama g in a Slumber Party!

Sweet Dreams!

Movember

So Movember is upon us.  The Month of the Mustache (or Mo).

Now I don’t have a mustache (yet).  Nor the capacity to grow one (yet).  And I don’t have a prostate either.  But I DO have men in my life.  Fabulous men.  A husband.  A father.  A grandpa.  Brothers.  Friends.  And I want to raise awareness of men’s health issues.  I know that most women I know will make a yearly appointment and go and get their pap smear done.  They will also be the ones who will prompt and prod the men in their lives to go out and get an annual physical as well.

How often will a man ignore a lump, growth or otherwise annoying health issue simply because he doesn’t want to be bothered with going to see the doctor?  Unfortunately, too often I suspect.

So if there is a man in your life that you love, get him thinking about his health today.  Get him to make an appointment to get his prostate checked.  It is important.  Let’s help keep the men in our lives healthy.

To get involved in Movember, you can check out their website.  In Canada it is ca.movember.com

If you would like to donate to the cause, you can feel free to support me and follow my journey as a “Mo Sista” and see my many Mo’s this month at this site:

http://ca.movember.com/mospace/925438/

Let’s show the men in our lives some love this month and change the face of men’s health.

Finding Time

Before I was a Mom, I don’t remember having to “find time”.  I know there were some times when I was busy, but I don’t remember ever being so busy I couldn’t find time to do things.  Like put on makeup.  Like having a shower.  Like brushing my teeth.  And using the bathroom.

My priorities these days have shifted rather drastically.  I am chasing time all over the place looking for it.

I used to watch Grey’s Anatomy regularly on Thursdays (when there were new episodes).  Now I try and squeeze in watching it online during Baby Bean (Ba-Bean)’s nap time.

I used to get my hair cut and colored quite frequently (almost every month it seemed).  Now, I am lucky if I get my hair cut once every 5 months.

I used to shower every day.  Now, I have a bath every day with Ba-Bean but the showering has to wait until Daddy is around to help out with the Bean.  It is sad.  I definitely look forward to the day she is big enough (and/or has longer and consistent naps) when I can shower regularly again.

This weekend we did a little photo shoot with Ba-Bean in her Halloween costume.  So cute.  And I showered.  And put on makeup.  And blow dried my hair.  I had on mascara, people!  And lipstick!  And blush!  Oh my!  For once, a yummy Mommy emerged (or so I imagine in my dreams).  It was kind of delightful.  Except for hubby who had to take care of Ba-Bean while I primped for an hour.  :-)

I know these days will go by too quickly and I will miss them if I focus on the things I can’t do right now.  Because some day not so soon there will be things I can’t do that I CAN do now.  Like nap with Ba-Bean.  And cuddle with her in my lap.  And lift her in the air and say “Oooopsie” and watch her giggle.  And hold her hands while she takes tentative steps.

Who knows.  Perhaps some day I will even miss changing diapers as it is time when I can kiss her little belly.  And it is the time I come closest to truly knowing what wrestling an octopus would feel like.  ;-)

Nap time is that rare time that I often have to myself.  But what to do with that precious time?  Some days it is email.  Or clean-up.  Or Facebook.  Or reading a book.  Surfing the web.  Making food.  Eating food.  Using the washroom.  Or blogging.  It has been awhile.  But I am here for a few minutes again today with my little update.

At last I have found a little time for this today.  Tomorrow who knows.  I have a new magazine to read, after all…

Seasons Changing

So fall is upon us here in Vancouver.  The leaves are turning colors and there is a crispness in the air that cannot be denied.  It started awhile back and is now in full swing.  We have had some days like today where the sun is shining and it makes for a glorious fall day.  Other days it is gloomy, gray, wet, cool and to be honest, a little depressing.

Fall has often been one of my favorite times of year as it signals colorful landscapes and “back to school” feelings.  The chance to “start over” with a new year of school, brand new corduroy pants, a fresh pencil case and new protractor.  :-)  As an adult, I am no longer going back to school, but it brought fresh fall fashions with gorgeous fall colors, warm cozy sweaters, tall boots and still… those great new corduroy pants!

But now with my daughter, I am realizing how much it is also about change.  For whatever reason, the other seasons bring about changes, but never so much as fall does for me.  It signals the coming winter.  And so many changes in my daughter’s life.  She’s 9.5 months old now.  She is truly crawling now on all fours and not just “army crawling”.  She is sitting up on her own (and getting there by pushing herself up off her tummy).  She is pulling on furniture and things and finding herself standing (with a little help from the furniture).  She is off exploring on her brand new adventures.  The toys that once preoccupied her well are now often left lying where they were and she would rather find a leaf on the floor that the dog tracked in.  She would like to cruise on into the kitchen and inspect the dog’s food and water dishes.  She wants to go places!

And yet she is also right smack at the beginning of separation anxiety.  It is a strange push and pull.  Let me go explore Mommy!  Look at me Mommy!  I can stand!  I can crawl!  I can go places!  No, Wait, Mommy.  Don’t leave me here in my Exersaucer while you use the bathroom.  I HATE being alone… I am going to sob great big crocodile tears until you come back even though I can still see you.  Nope, peekaboo is NOT going to cut it.  I want to be held.  NOW!  I don’t care that you have dishes to do.  Can’t you see I hate being ignored even for a minute??

Sheesh!  We Mommies know NOTHING some days!!  ;-)

Oh yes, so the seasons are changing and so is my daughter.  But then so is my relationship with my hubby.  Babies are truly tough on relationships.  I can understand this so much better now from the inside than from the outside just reading about it.  It is all such a balancing act.  There is limited time in the day and limited energy in Mommies and Daddies.  And so many things to do.  Chores to be done (the never ending laundry, dishes, vacuuming, grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, beds to make, garbage to take out, diapers to wash, recycling to be sorted).  And never mind the time caring for a baby takes.  Bath time.  Meal time.  Cleaning up.  If only the dog would eat fruit it would make the floor clean up easier!  (insert cheeky grin here).  She’ll eat the peas and corn and carrots but heaven forbid she should scarf down that mushy banana that I will inevitably step in and make even messier – le sigh.

So we have had a bit of a rough go at times.  I’m not going to lie to you.  Co-parenting and finding your footing together as Mommies and Daddies is tough work.  But luckily we have come through some rough times and are on better footing now.  I am going to make a concerted effort to get out of the house on my own at least once a week for awhile and let Daddy and baby bond together.  They need that time without me bossing them around (it is hard not to point out how I do things and therefore how I think they *should* be done, so it is just better for me to leave them to it so that I don’t interfere).  I know in my heart of hearts they will do just fine and that Daddy’s way may be different than my way, but that it is OK.  Still, it doesn’t hurt for me to disappear so that I’m not tempted and frankly I need to learn to let go a little bit of that control in any case.  I think it is good for everyone.

So I went shopping on my own this weekend!  It was amazing.  I got a new pair of jeans that actually fit (I’ve lost too much weight running after my almost 23 pound baby) and some new long-sleeved t-shirts for fall.  I felt like a brand new woman with my fresh fall clothes and a chance to just be ME again.  It was amazing.  And wouldn’t you know it?  Baby Bean slept for 1.5 hours while I was out.  Lucky Daddy!!  When I came home I was actually singing again as I cleaned and put away the dishes from lunch.  What a lovely chance for some renewal.

I really hope we can keep up this new way of being together.  I found a part of myself again this weekend.  And in doing so, I KNOW that I became a happier person in the process.  That allowed me to reconnect on a much more positive level with my hubby and that is such a blessing to me, my hubby and our child.  That alone made me want to continue with our new way of being.

Time will keep on moving on, and now I feel like we are moving ahead in a positive direction.  There is light at the end of the tunnel and we are working together as a team again.  What a relief.  I’m still not getting more sleep, but I know this too shall pass.  One day in the not so distance future she will sleep better and so will I.  Then perhaps I will miss our nighttime snuggles.  But hopefully, we’ll just make up for it with daytime snuggles and it will mean I am getting more sleep so all things will not make me as melancholy as they do now living with sleep deprivation.

So here is wishing all of you parents out there a fresh start like we have had recently.  I’m turning over a new leaf!  And it feels pretty good.  Just need to keep the momentum up now to make it through the next school year to come.

Being that it is Thanksgiving weekend in Canada, it seems as good a time as any to remember to give thanks for all the blessings in my life. I like to think that I practice gratitude regularly, but sometimes it is good to have a holiday that reminds you if you’ve been slacking in the gratitude department a bit.

As a sleep-deprived new Mom, I can admit there are times I am practicing more in frustration management and patience than real gratitude.

But then there are times, even among the frustrating moments, where awesome things happen (and by awesome, I don’t mean surfer-dude awesome, but the original meaning… things that create awe, or perhaps even in some cases, in a new sense… things that create “awwww”).

Yesterday, for example, I was trying to make a lasagna. My daughter needed to let out some steam and move around so I set up some play space with lots of toys in the kitchen and tried to barricade the dangerous spots from her reach. I then set about making the lasagna. Of course I was almost done when I discovered I was short one lasagna noodle and needed to boil one more. Argh. Frustration. Plus every 2 minutes I was picking the baby up and moving her back to the middle of the room where she would quickly tire of the toys and go back to investigating various things. The dog and the cat got in on the action, driving me bananas. Then a diaper needed changing.

So I start the noodle boiling, go change a diaper, come back, get the cat off the table. Again. Then put my daughter in her Exersaucer so I could enjoy a few minutes of her being “contained” for play while I finished the lasagna up and could get it in the oven so I could give her my undivided attention. She started fussing, the cat was climbing all over the counter, the dog was lying in front of the counter and I was losing my mind. I thought to myself briefly “this is why women go back to work so they don’t have to deal with this!” and then just as quickly it occurred to me that actually, women who work have it harder as they have to go to work all day, miss spending time with their babies, and then come home and deal with making dinner and entertaining the baby, dog and cat anyway!

So amidst my moment of “bananas” I suddenly let out a sigh of exasperation only to turn around and look at my baby girl playing in her Exersaucer. And then magic. She gave me the most beautiful smile. Just grinned at me. “Look at me playing Mommy! Aren’t I a good girl?” her smile seemed to say to me. It was just what I needed at that moment and I felt my frustration melt away. “What a good girl you are!” I said “Mommy loves you very much”.

Yes, I have much to be thankful for.

I am thankful for (in no particular order)…

  • my husband who supports me even when he disagrees with me, and who is such a good listener
  • my precious baby girl, who is big and healthy and happy
  • her beautiful smile and contagious giggles
  • the opportunity to stay at home with her and watch her grow and develop
  • my parents who are such inspiration and support to me still and who I can REALLY talk to
  • my extended family – I have a sister-in-law who has done so much for us in terms of bringing us baby clothes, toys and gear from her brother and his wife.  Invaluable to us!  I also have terrific nieces and nephews who are so much fun to be around and such a joy in my life.  My older brother and his wife have also agreed to be our guardian for baby girl heaven forbid something should happen to hubby and me.  That gives me so much comfort.  I have a little brother who has such a great sense of humor and always puts his fun and unique twist on things in life.  I have a new niece and nephew through my hubby and this new niece is such a neat person.  She loves music and to reflect on life and I am enjoying getting to know her.  I have a cousin who is like a sister to me and she has a baby girl too who is just 7 weeks ahead of ours.  It is such a pleasure knowing they are growing up “together” even though we live in different cities.  She also shares a lot of my philosophies on life and parenting and it is great to share ideas and thoughts and emotions along the way with her.
  • my friends – both new and long-term for their support, tips, wisdom and laughter
  • my Belly Buddy who helped me through my pregnancy and has been an ear when I needed to talk (especially when no one else would likely want to hear THAT much detail about all the steps along the way)
  • breastfeeding and that we are still going strong, especially knowing how good it is for her (and me)
  • co-sleeping allowing me to get more sleep than I think I would otherwise and allowing me more bonding time with her
  • our pets (they drive me crazy for sure, but I also have many reasons to love them too – furry cuddles and protection)
  • the fact that my fear of spiders is getting a bit better (I still HATE them, but I have the inner strength to kill them and breathe a sigh of relief every time I do so)
  • that we live in the age of the internet so I can research all things baby, and have been able to meet other like-minded new Moms (both on the net, and some in person – I LOVE Internetworking)
  • cloth diapers (cute AND good for the environment)
  • books (I love continuous learning and have read some fantastic books that feed my mind)
  • fresh sheets and towels
  • music (and especially lyrics)
  • cuddles
  • inspiration
  • creativity
  • empathy
  • Grey’s Anatomy (a girl needs a little escape once in awhile)
  • fashion
  • hot water
  • my financial savvy (thanks Mom & Dad and the Wealthy Barber)
  • Baby Centre (and to the Moms there who have shared their stories with me and each other)
  • Facebook (much as it sometimes annoys me, I also love keeping up with friends and hearing how people are doing, sharing photos and videos, etc.)
  • Skype – for allowing me to converse and see video for free with family and friends far away
  • Excel (God I love my spreadsheets – I have kept a personal budget tracking my spending for 10 + years now on one!)
  • Turkey dinners complete with all the fixings (gravy! mashed potatoes or scalloped potatoes! that yam dish with the marshmallows and brown sugar on top!)
  • Roast beef dinners complete with all the fixings (gravy! yorkshire puddings! mashed potatoes!)
  • Pasta (every kind from ravioli to spaghetti to lasagne to KD)
  • Lobster and other seafood (gosh, you’d think I was hungry, but I just ate, I swear!)
  • Sunshine-y days
  • Sunbeams
  • Rainbows (no, I am not going to say “unicorns too”)
  • Showers (the kind where I can wash my hair, not rain showers – although I like rain showers in specific circumstances like when lying in bed at night and listening to the soothing rain sounds outside)

I could go on, but I won’t.  I’m tired, baby will likely wake again soon, and I am going to go and climb into bed and be thankful for my bed, for sleep, and for the cuddles and the smell of my daughter’s skin that come with nursing when I’m not sleeping at night.

So I was reading some Attachment Parenting (AP) articles today on Mothering Magazine and came across one discussing “Cry It Out” (CIO) and how it likely came to be popular in parenting circles.  It then, given the AP nature of the article, goes on to talk about how CIO is not exactly terrific for babies (at least for babies who cry alone) as they exhibit an increase in cortisol which is a known stress hormone.  This after just 5 minutes of crying alone.  I recalled as I read this that I had also seen some research elsewhere that high cortisol levels in adults may also be linked to heart attacks.  Yikes!

Well I must admit I have considered from time to time whether I should use “CIO” to help my daughter to sleep better for longer at night.  Sleep deprivation means you will consider all kinds of things to get more sleep.  But I haven’t been willing or able to listen to her cry yet.  So I have been using more “gentle” methods to get her to sleep and have found that AP really fits with most of my thinking on this and many other things.

But one thing I hadn’t read about or considered before was the potential power of crying for babies.

Now I am not talking about just letting a baby cry for hours on their own.  But the article talks about allowing a baby to cry “in arms”.   It was a new thought to me that babies might have experienced trauma at birth, and may be stressed out or frustrated by things in their life such that they may just need a good cry now and then.

I’m not sure why this thought never occurred to me before, but it hadn’t.  It is strange, really, considering that for many years I have known the power of a good cry for myself.  In fact, I am not ashamed to admit it, but I used to watch “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” every Sunday night just so that I could have a good cry to release any pent up stress and or frustrations in my life.  I knew that they would showcase some poor family who had fostered 20 kids, many disabled, were living in a run-down house that was unsafe, and would build them a terrific new home that would thrill everyone to pieces.  Always a great tear-jerker moment for me to see these families rewarded for all the love and support they have given to these kids and their communities over the years.

In any case, I have had a very demanding career for the last 15 years.  Somehow I always seemed to end up working in a job where lots of unpaid overtime was required to get the job done.  It took a toll on my stress levels.  I would wake up at night with a thought about something I needed to do work-wise or a change to an Excel spreadsheet that I should make based on something I dreamt.  I would pick up my cell phone and call my office and leave myself a voicemail.  Yup.  That was what it was like for many years.

But those Sunday nights I could count on Ty Pennington and crew to make me sob like a baby.  And feel immense relief at the physical release of a good cry.  I always felt so much better, and like the world was a more manageable and friendly place after that cry.

So why would it be foreign that a baby might also get release and return to homeostasis from a good cry?  In fact, I kind of love this idea.  That perhaps my baby girl might sometimes have all her immediate needs met (food, breastfeeding, clean diaper, shelter, not too warm or cold, etc) but still need a good cry?  What must it be like when trying to master a new milestone?  Learning how to stand and being frustrated at times that your own limbs do not always cooperate when you want to do something new?  It might just be a little annoying to my baby girl.  So if she needs a good cry, and her needs are met, I am going to do my best to remember to honor her in the way this article suggests.

I will hold her, look into her eyes, tell her I love her.  And I will let her cry.  In my arms.  She will come to know that all her emotions are safe with me.  That my love for her will not change.  And she can “tell” me anything whether it is good or bad.

Sometimes you just need a good cry.

http://www.mothering.com/parenting/crying-for-comfort

So I am a big fanatic of the “To Do List”. Again, it most likely has to do with the fact that I love writing. Even something as simple as writing down things I need to get done (and know that I will forget what they are if I don’t write them down). But I have found, over the years, that the To Do List is a never-ending process. Just when you think you are getting ahead and whittling some good ones off the list, more crop up and the list grows yet again.

I suppose part of the problem is that life goes on. It doesn’t stop for me to finish the list. So every day there are chores to be done that I can’t just do once and strike them off and be done with it. The most simple and mundane things (hello – making dinner? buying groceries?) will always be on the list. Yet I still write them down. Groceries because I won’t remember 10 minutes from now that I used the last piece of bread. But also because I like the satisfaction of crossing it off the list when I do it later.

I know it may seem kind of pathetic, but if I don’t write down the mundane stuff, I sometimes wonder just how often I will ever get to cross off the other stuff?

This week has been good for the To Do List though. In the last 2 days I took my daughter out and got her weight and height measured so that I’ll have a record of where she was at at 9 months of age. Hooray! I was so pleased. Then today I went to Service Canada and got my name changed for my SIN card. Now I will officially have my husband’s last name as far as the Government of Canada is concerned.

I must say that the whole name change process is a never-ending task in and of itself it seems. I started with my Driver’s License. No biggie. Then my bank. The teller did it incorrectly but luckily I have a “financial guy” (he’s so awesome) and he sent me all the required forms to fix it. I thought it seemed a little too easy the first time I tried!! :-) Anyway, then I had to change my VISA as my ID wouldn’t match the name on my VISA (different bank). These were the big ticket items. Oddly enough, did you know you can simply phone Revenue Canada to get your name changed there? Weird! But it got done too. Then came the BC MSP health care card. The home insurance. Hotmail account. Facebook account. Paypal account. Utilities. Car loan. The list goes on and I find new things each day lately.

I changed my name at work, but not for my professional designation. Not sure what to do about the latter one. Also, in the future for job hunting I am not sure what I will do as everyone I have worked with has known me by my prior surname from birth. It is a bit of a quandary. I suppose people who get married (and stay married – LOL) young and change their names may not encounter this issue, but for me, changing my name for business purposes is a bit tricky. I even read an article that said that women who take their husband’s last name are viewed as being more empathetic and caring, but less dedicated to their careers. Not sure what is up with THAT.

However, I am changing my name so that my daughter and my husband and I all have the same last name. That is how it has been in my family growing up, and I like the idea of us being a family through name.

It was not easy giving up my prior last name however. It was mine from birth to 39 years of age. I’m kind of attached to it. I’m pretty sure my Dad liked me having it too. But I have my own new family and it is time for us to bond. Luckily, my hubby’s last name starts with the same letter (no change to my initials!) and is simple enough that a new signature came quickly.

Now on to make dinner so I can cross something else off the list…

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