Formerly Babyfruit: The Miscarriage Diaries about miscarriage blogging, miscarriage advice, celebrity miscarriage and other miscarrying obsessions. Throw in pregnancy, and severe post partum depression. Now juggling life as a 40-something mom of a 6-year-old.
I know this might sound terrible, but hey, I'm used to saying what is on my mind even if it does sound damn awful.
I don't think I really loved my baby until recently. And yes, I know, she is not a baby. She is a toddler, practically a little girl.
It took me almost two and a half years to find my love for her.
And how I love her now. I just want to eat her up, cover her with kisses, breathe in her smells, squeeze her with bear hugs. And talk with her to learn more about who she is and who she is becoming as a person.
This was not my "normal" feeling about her.
I can barely remember the first year beyond a blur of anger and frustration. But those dark feelings began to slowly slough away with the help of medication for post partum depression. I was left with puzzlement. I was completely confused about how to tap into feelings of love for this tiny person thing.
As NG has developed her personality - and a very strong one at that - I realized (after receiving priceless advice from a dear friend) that she is me. She is everything in myself that I struggle with. And she is my teacher. I can learn as much, if not more, from her than she'll learn from me.
While I was out of town last week, she said this to my husband:
"I like my mommy. She is a nice lady."
After battling for years with feelings that my own mother was NOT a nice lady, it was supremely gratifying to hear that my 2-year-old daughter thinks I'm nice. After over a year of my own struggle with PPD which affected both baby and husband, it is amazing to think she can come out of that crap unscathed and think that I'm nice.
I'm finally getting this Mommy Love thing and learning more about it every day. And I'm just here to say that if you don't yet feel the love for your child, seek help, seek support, but also have patience. It can grow over time. You aren't weird. You aren't a bad mommy. You're just human.
It has been too long since my last blog post. What - life got in the way of blogging? Blasphemy! But it is true. The Speed Reader's Digest Version: lots of work, baby sick, mommy sick, husband away hunting for a week so mommy solo, hubby injures arm, mommy taking care of hubby and baby, hubby gets an operation to repair arm, mommy taking care of hubby and baby, mommy falling behind on work, mommy needs Calgon.
But now on to the real news.
NG finally is calling me something - she calls me "Mom-MAH." It is very cute. And not only is she saying it, but she is relating it to me. When G. asks "Where's your momma," NG points to me. She hugs my legs and looks up and says "Mom-MAH." She looks down the stairs when I get home and smiles and says "Mom-MAH."
The thing that makes this so significant - to me at least - is that she didn't call me anything until she was 15 months old. She had "DAH" and "DA-da" all down pat for months, but she had no name for me. I understand that Dada is easier to say than Mama. But I have to admit it was a strange feeling to go for months without her calling out to me or identifying me. Yes, she'd respond to me, but she didn't have a way to refer to me.
So despite the craziness we've been experiencing in our household these last weeks, I'm just basking in the glow of "Mom-MAH." It seems to make everything right with the world.
This is Day 5 without pumping and Day 4 without the pump in close proximity. Went out of town, left it behind. It was a snap decision on my part. There it was - The Pump - sitting on the bedroom floor as I packed a suitcase for NG and me. I could have bent down, picked it up and placed it carefully between our clothes, but I didn't.
The last few days have been surprisingly torment-free over this decision. The boobs aren't really aching except for an occasional tweak. My heart is not aching as much now as it was immediately before this decision. NG is happy and healthy, eating dirt, tasting rocks, pulling up grass. Other than stinkier, harder poops, I'm not noticing any major difference right now between NG with and without breastmilk.
I am different. I am calmer, more patient with her, more attentive and appreciative. I'm feeling less pressured and no longer put off by yet another plastic pump flange to the boobs session. No more suction, no more watching the dribble barely fill the bottom of the bottle. The time I spent pumping is now spent hugging and kissing NG and making her laugh. Time well spent then. Time well spent now.
So this is the lesson I'm taking away from this experience: Sometimes we work ourselves up over a decision - agonize over it, pick it apart, create unnecessary layers of complexity and stomp on our hearts - only to find that once the decision is made, it really was no big deal at all. Sure, there are ramifications either way. But 5 days pump-free, and I can honestly say I'm happier and even a better mother emotionally because of the decision to hang up the pump.
I can't say my experience will be the same for others, however, I hope by sharing this, other women will feel better about their decision, regardless of the way they go. We all do our best, and our best at one time may differ from our best at another time. We have to keep reminding ourselves that the more we beat ourselves up, the less positive energy we have to give to the ones we love.
Oh yeah, I have to remind myself of this. Consider myself reminded.
As many of you who have been following this blog know, I had a series of breastfeeding mishaps that led to a 12+ week nursing strike and eventually a complete refusal on NG's part to breastfeed. We tried absolutely everything under the sun known to woman and man regarding breastfeeding, and even had advice directly from Dr. Jack Newman, Canadian breastfeeding expert. Nothing worked other than one blissful week before our travels to France & Chile when NG latched on like the entire previous 12 weeks were no big deal and nursed until we were overseas.
So, for me, pumping was a necessity if I hoped to get any breastmilk into NG. And my milk production has been paltry at best despite all kinds of remedies to increase it. At one point (around 3 months), I was able to work up from barely 1/8th of an ounce each breast to 4-5 ounces each breast per session and then it plummeted again. My high the last 2 months has been about 1 ounce per breast, but usually I'm lucky to cover the bottom of each pump bottle with milk.
NG is a year this month, and I've been on the fence about not pumping anymore. I am really torn. On the one hand, I know I've done so much for her by pumping this long - 11 months - and even the slightest amount of breastmilk is supposed to be helpful and good for her. My naturopath even suggested that I continue as long as I can beyond 1 year. But I'm spent. I'm just so exhausted and want to ease up.
I'm down to 1 or 2 pump sessions a day, and the supply has remained steady but negligible. Today, I have yet to pump. I feel fine as long as my breasts aren't aching. Then they hurt, and I start feeling guilty and selfish and thinking maybe I should keep it up just a little while longer. Yet when I think about not pumping, I feel an incredible sense of relief. I've got all these feelings going on at once and don't know what to do and how to make my choice without guilt, regret, sadness, disappointment. Be gone bad feelings. Be gone.
Any thoughts or suggestions on how to make the transition away from pumping less troubling? Anyone else been there, done that?
I've started getting a new feeling that isn't a bad feeling. Imagine that. I'm calling it the "Mama Bear" reaction.
It started the other day in the car. I'm driving through town - and this town has some of the worst drivers in the world. I think that when people fail as drivers down in the Lower 48, they are sent to Alaska.
I had just seen the aftermath of a terrible car wreck on the main road I always take to get anywhere. A teen boy was killed when a woman driving her daughter lost control of the car on ice, went up on the median, then literally drove over the boy's car. Moments later, a police car rushing to the scene was hit smack dab in the passenger side by an old man who didn't stop for the siren. Everyone else escaped with minor injuries but it reminded me of how the road conditions here suck and how people do not stop at lights or for sirens.
So I'm driving with NG in her car seat in the back and see some guy racing toward the intersection to make the light - toward me even though he shouldn't be coming at me - and my instinct is to turn the car quickly and sharply to the left. But I don't because if I did that - and if he was really plowing into me - he'd hit NG's side of the car. So I brace myself to turn sharply right and risk getting hit myself. But it was a no brainer. Protect my child.
Luckily, he skidded and turned onto another road.
Then yesterday, NG was playing in the living room while I did some work in the dining room and next thing I knew, she was screaming. Well, our living room is pretty baby proofed now or at least we know where all the hazard points are for non-walking baby. But she has figured out how to open the bottom drawer to a very heavy cabinet in the living room where we keep our DVDs, under the TV.
I run to her and find her sitting with her legs out in front of her and the cabinet bottom drawer on top of her legs. I start to push the drawer back and realize that her legs are caught underneath. She must have had her feet turned outward so they were flattened to the ground allowing the drawer to roll over both legs. But then she couldn't get her legs back out.
So I try to lift the drawer, an exercise in futility since the cabinet is incredibly heavy. That is when I start to scream for G. who is downstairs in his basement office with music playing, not to mention he has hearing loss so rarely hears me calling for him. I screamed his name 3 times and at the third time, I hear him racing up the stairs.
At some point during my screams, I was lifting the drawer and suddenly, NG was free. I don't know how I did it. Maybe her feet flattened to the side again. Maybe I actually lifted the damn cabinet. By the time G. hit the top of the stairs, I was lifting NG up and trying to comfort her. She was, by now, screaming hysterically - probably more from hearing me scream than from pain.
G. took her from me to comfort her as I breathlessly explained what had happened. He handed her back to me so I could comfort her and let her know that I wasn't upset with her (like that one time I screamed at her and didn't really mean it - gotta love that PPD). She finally calmed down, humongous tears on her cheeks.
We peeled off her tights to assess the damage. A bruise was already forming on one leg surrounded by redness, but that was the extent of her injuries. She was ready to crawl around and explore as if it had never happened.
G. said that he couldn't make out my words when I was screaming (his name) - he just heard it loud and clear and knew something was terribly wrong. I think it was a Mama Bear scream. And I'm very damn grateful to have it.
NG's 9 month appointment yesterday. She is growing growing growing. The pediatrician feels that the growth spurt in height is contributing to her waking at night wanting more food. Last two nights she has woken up only twice so maybe she is slowing down her growth spurt.
So that is the good news. The sort of not so who knows if it is bad news but still not great news is:
1. She is anemic. I am supposed to start her on liquid iron supplements (prescription pending). And how does she get anemic on both formula and b-milk and eating high iron foods?
2. The pediatrician detected a heart murmur. She says she detects this in 1 out of every 10 babies at this age and attributes it to NG's heart trying to keep up with pumping blood into her new larger body. Hmmm....
She said that as long as her sonogram showing the 4 chambers of the heart being fine, she isn't worried but is giving up a heart specialist's number just in case. Because I told her that when the sonogram technician could not see the 4 chambers of NG's heart clearly, our midwife said she didn't think it was necessary to look again even though the technician said we should schedule another look.
Now I cannot remember if we ever went back to look at the heart. I know I did get one more sonogram because I mentioned my concerns to my RE who thankfully ordered it for us - but that is the time that they found the possible carbon monoxide damage to my placenta so I just can't remember if we saw the entire heart. I'm making phone calls this morning to make sure it was done and NG's heart looked fine.
Pediatrician says she expects NG will grow out of the murmur or her heart muscle will actually strengthen and grow so there won't be a murmur anymore.
I'm feeling like getting her checked out again - this time by my naturopath or the nurse practitioner - just to make sure.
Yes, I'm trying to be positive and not panicky but still have a healthy dose of concern.
Anyone out there have experience with anemia or heart murmurs in babies?
1. I am less depressed or stressed or anxious or panicky or freaked out or angry or whatever I have been, and this could be a result of the Mayan Abdominal Massage combined with the 2 squares of dark chocolate I'm eating daily now.
2. NG finally started rolling over last week at over 9 months. She went from tummy to crawling but was getting stuck like a bug on her back unable to roll. Now she rolls constantly including when I'm trying to change her diaper. Luckily, I change her on the floor but she ends up crawling away diaperless & peeing on the carpet.
4. I bought a Maya wrap hoping to carry NG around more as part of my quest to bond more with her. Will report back on how it is working.
5. NG cried out over a dozen times last night although some of the time she was still sleeping. I heard that babies can start waking up more in the middle of the night when they start reaching major milestones like crawling and rolling over. Basically she is rolling over on her tummy and sleeping on her knees with her head down on the mattress. This doesn't look comfortable but if I try to turn her onto her back, she instantly rolls back to this position.
6. NG was whimpering this morning (in the above position which in yoga is called the child pose but in a crib looks like a weird way for baby to be sleeping). I picked her up and bundled her in her favorite blanket then held her and rocked her for 45 minutes before the babysitter arrived. I felt very much like a mommy doing this. She then stretched and opened her eyes and smiled at me. Have to admit that was pretty sweet.
7. NG is eating dehydrated apple, smushed lima beans, unsweetened rice puff cereal, Puffin gluten free molasses sweetened cereal pieces and wedges of apple (she sucks on/rubs her bottom semi-teeth on them) for snacks. Any other suggestions on good finger foods for a still pretty toothless baby that does not have WHEAT in them? I tried banana but that might as well have been Play-doh for all the squishing and minimal eating.
8. NG has discovered cupboards so this weekend we have to lock the dangerous ones and fill some of them with unbreakable pots, pans and Tupperware to create a new adventure for her.
9. I'm teaching NG how to blow kisses and give hugs. Right now she squeals with delight when I hug her - a far cry from the back arching "don't touch me mommy" way she was reacting only a month ago. For blowing kisses, she is fascinated and watches intently but so far she responds by clicking her tongue. We have been having a lot of tongue clicking conversations lately.
10. I'm hopeful this week. Maybe a little tentative because I know I've felt better before but then sank deeper into the thick mess of PPD. But this time I'm feeling pretty even keel. Highs aren't too high. Lows aren't too low. Mind is a little more clear and I'm able to come up with creative coping mechanisms to avoid anxiety and anger triggers. Any more of this, and I just might start thinking I'm getting better.