Friday, September 28, 2012

Quick Takes (vol. 6)

This version of Quick Takes is dedicated to the things Junior has said recently that made me smile.  Speaking of smiles...look who is intentionally smiling these days:

My child has a dimple!

While listening to "Enter" by Meta.llica one evening, instead of "we're off to never, neverland", Junior sang, "I'm off to buy a rubberband."  I guess all that metal music I treated him to in utero didn't take.  Sad face!

Yes, I know that song is not exactly child friendly, but we were looking for songs with strong drumlines to encourage Junior in his drum practice.

Celia sleeps through the daily pounding practices and concerts.  Lucky girl!

The day he got his drum set...he's much better now.

After slamming his head on the recliner in the family room while we were rough-housing, I apologized for getting him too close to the chair and said, "I feel terrible."  While holding a bag of frozen green beans to his forehead, he responded, "me too!"

Healing in process

As Celia slept in my arms after polishing off her 3rd 4 ounce bottle of the day before noon (she's a little piggy!), he climbed up next to me and sat on the arm of the recliner.  He looked sweetly at her, leaned in really close to her face as if he was going to kiss her, and shouted, "BABY SISTER, IF YOU DON'T WANT TO GO TO SLEEP, YOU JUST HAVE TO GO TO SLEEP!"  His logic is unassailable.  We are frequently treated to such preschool logic as, "if you fall off your chair, you have to just fall off your chair", or "if you drink all your water, then all your water is gone."

While taking his pajama shirt off, it got stuck around the top of his giant Belgian head.  He let it dangle down, looked at himself in the mirror and started dancing & singing "Happy Birthday to Junior."  Strange child.

As he gazed as his adorable baby sister lying on the floor..."Hello, precious!"  Then he promptly looked at me and said, "Hey, how do we get her cradles off?"  Yes, Celia has cradle "crap", as misprnounced by her big brother.  And all her hair on top is falling out :-(  That's OK.  Same thing happened with Junior, his hair grew in thick and waterproof (like a duck) in no time.

"Mom, when I talked to Jesus, I ate all my food.  Maybe I need to be locked in."  Huh?  Exactly.  We were driving past our church so that's where the Jesus part came from.  We had eaten food that day and would eat again in a few hours (truly, I have no idea) so that's where the food part came from.  The locked in part came from last year during Lent when he got locked in the Narthex after Stations of the Cross because he wasn't listening.  We walked out assuming he'd follow us, and he did, only he couldn't open the door because he wasn't strong enough, and it was locked so we couldn't open it from the outside either.  When we finally got him out, he said, "Jesus locked me in to talk to me because I wasn't listening?"  If only.

 Junior:  "Momma, are we going to church today?"
Me:  "Yes"
Junior:  "YAY!" while clapping and jumping up and down.

Does it get better than that?

Ignore the "pierced side", we had chocolate ice cream for lunch and it mostly melted all over him.

Now go check out Jen at Conversion Diary for more Quick Takes from much more talented and interesting bloggers :-)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Thanks for the Mammaries...

"I think she wants mama's milk," Junior said to me.

"AAAAAHHHHHH!"  I screamed in pain as my daugther latched on to my breast.  My three year old jumped up from his seat, a horrified look on his face.  "Are you crying mommy?"

This was the scene in our family room the last time I nursed my baby.

I have studied the Theo.logy of the Body.  I know that God gave me these fine mammaries with which I can feed my children.  I didn't nurse Junior, save a few painful episodes, rather I pumped for a month, got barely enough daily for one bottle, then he was exclusively formula fed.  My reasons for not nursing him were many; he didn't latch well, I had a difficult recovery after my c-section, and I was stressed more than normal, which caused my milk supply to dwindle hopelessly into oblivion.

During this most recent pregnancy, I concentrated on getting psyched up for two things...1) a vaginal birth, and 2) breastfeeding.  The VBAC was a success and was relatively easy for me to accomplish.  Breastfeeding was my next hurdle.  I reviewed materials I had received during the breastfeeding class I took when I was pregnant with Junior, I did some reading on-line to review holds and what to expect.  I took some great advice from some lovely bloggers, Justine and Jenelle, both of whom are amazing mothers who have successfully nursed their children.

I didn't even get bottles out at home to force myself to breastfeed and not give up out of convenience.  I only supplemented with formula in the hospital at the insistence of the doctors because of a diabetes medicine I had been taking which causes the baby to have low blood sugar.  I still put her to the breast before giving her about 15cc of formula one drop at a time from a cup.  She was born on Thursday evening and my milk came in Sunday.  Despite having bleeding nipples and being in excruciating pain and having managed to feed the baby about 12 times on Sunday, I had developed a painful mastitis by Monday morning.  I went in to see the doctor right away and was put on antibiotics and told to nurse through it, do massage and use warm compresses to alleviate the pressure and pain in the blocked duct.  It was a physically, mentally and emotionally draining experience.

I nursed through it.  I finished my course of antibiotics.  When Celia was about 10 days old, it finally got a little better.  I thought we were finally beginning to hit our stride and I would be able to do this.  Although it was getting better, Celia was wanting to nurse every hour and a half.  This meant that I would spend about an hour nursing her, get a break for about half an hour, then she would be screaming again for more.  I would literally pray that she would stay asleep so I wouldn't have to hold her (my breasts and nipples were really sore) and that I wouldn't have to feed her again so soon.  I cried during each feeding because of the pain.  I felt like the worst mother ever for wanting to quit nursing, for not wanting to hold my baby, for dreading her cries.  I felt like we weren't bonding because of the pain I was experiencing.

Although I drank over 100 oz of water each day, drank the herbal's Milk T.ea, tried my best to eat a decent diet, my supply started dwindling again.  I added pumpings in-between nursing sessions (wasn't getting much).  I continued to nurse the baby 10-12 times per day.  When she cried after each session, turning purple from the intensity of her screams, I gave in and gave her a bottle.  She sucked down 2-3 ounces quickly and was finally satisfied.  She didn't seem to be getting enough at the breast. 

I am completely on board with the self-donative style of parenting (sometimes confused with attachment parenting).  The core of the self-donative parenting philosophy is that I (and my husband) should be willing to give up my wants in order to fulfill my children's needs.  I am committed to this type of parenting.

I struggled, thinking I was being selfish for not wanting to continue nursing.  I know breast milk is the best food for my baby, I also knew that we were not bonding.  I was an emotional wreck, crying and sobbing through each feeding.  My mental health was suffering.  Was I not willing to give up my wants (wanting to be relatively pain-free) to do what my baby needed?  The guilt was overwhelming and flooded my entire being.  I cried out to God to help me get through it; I prayed that I wouldn't be in pain, that I wouldn't be selfish, that I would be strong enough to be the mother my child needed me to be.

Finally, on her one month birthday, she latched on and I screamed in pain and the tears started to flow.  I wasn't able to be the mother she needed while I was breastfeeding.  The pain, stress and worry was causing me not to produce the milk needed to nourish her physically; the pain was causing me to distance myself from her emotionally, resent her legitimate needs and not be there to nourish her emotionally.  I knew what I had to do.  I was finally able to admit that I wasn't being selfish, I wasn't putting my "wants" ahead of her needs. Stable mental and emotional health are essential to my well-being.  They are essential to me being the mother she needs; one that wants to hold and cuddle her, one that doesn't cry at the sound of her cries, one that wants to be with her rather than chase the setting sun to escape.

In the end, we went cold-turkey to formula.  It wasn't easy.  Though I wasn't producing much milk, I still became engorged and went through almost a week of pain as my body realized it could stop producing all together.  I cried at her 1-month pediatrician appointment out of guilt when I admitted we had stopped breastfeeding.  Celia is much more content and is finally gaining weight (almost in 0-3 month size clothes!).  At last, I am able to hold her without being in pain.  I can even hold my big boy again (helpful during his incredible 3 year old tantrums).  She is still up at night and doesn't go more than 3 hours without eating, so I am not getting more sleep than I was before the switch.  Best of all, we are bonding!

In the end, I had to do this for my own mental health and the emotional health of my family.  To those moms that can breastfeed...I have a healthy envy for you.  I wish I could do what you do and I tried, but I can't.  My self-donative parenting is looking a little different than I planned and hoped, but I am still committed to this lifestyle and am just going to keep going one step at a time and making decisions that are right for me and my family.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Grief Amidst the Joy

The grief of losing some of my children overwhelmed me at the birth of my daughter.

As I sat in the hospital the first morning after Celia was born, I checked the Nat.ional Cath.olic Regi.ster blog round-up and found a review for a book I'd been looking forward to.  It's a book on miscarriage from a Catholic perspective.  It was a very bad idea for me to read that review right after giving birth.  It was still dark out, I had just nursed her (ouch!) and it was raining.

I thought about our children that aren't here so that Celia can be.  I cried and cried.  I said a prayer to each of our little ones asking them to pray for us, thanking them and God for letting me be their momma.  I miss my children every day, I am grateful for the gift of Celia to our family.

It's such a paradox to miss them so much and wish that each and every one of them was here with us, yet knowing that if they were, this sweet child I get to hold in my arms today wouldn't be here at all.

Our son, José, would have been about 13 months old had he lived to be born in this world.  We would probably not have been trying to get pregnant and Celia wouldn't have been born had he stayed here on Earth with us.

Our daughter, María, would have been about 6 months old when Celia was born.  Our other daughter, Sophie would have been about 3 months old when Celia was born.

I don't know why the Lord sent us these children that would not live with us here.  Whatever their purpose in their brief lives, I feel certain that they accomplished what the Lord asked of them before they returned to Him.  Though their lives were short and lived entirely within my womb, they were no less meaningful than any other. 

These children of mine have firmed my resolve to do my best here on Earth, so that I can hear the words, "well done my good and faithful servant" at the end of my life and join them in eternity with Christ.  I will do the best I can to help my husband and my other living children make it to heaven so our family can all be together.