Friday, July 23, 2010

Released from Duty

H and I would like to announce that we have officially stopped nursing. Like completely done now, finito. Returned the breast pump rental today.

As I said here before, it had been petering out for quite some time. The last couple of weeks, though there were a couple of feedings with better volume, had started to feel sort of sad, as if the whole thing was past its expiration date. On Wednesday, he looked up at me and made this face, like give it up, mama. I'm good. So I decided to hang up my nursing bra. I had hoped to coast to six months, but was sort of easier to decide like this, in real time, based on signals from him, than decide going into it that this was The Last Nursing Session.

I think before I had him I would have thought that getting sentimental about ending nursing was sort of creepy. But it's hard to let go of it for a couple of reasons. First, I still, even up until the bittersweet end, wished somewhere in the back of my mind that somehow I could be one of these earth mothers able to satisfy all her baby's dietary needs at will. Yeah, not so much. I need to get over this. Sometimes, my body doesn't do what it's supposed to. It didn't when I was trying to get pregnant, and it didn't when I wanted to nurse exclusively. But it did when it needed to carry my gorgeous baby for nine-and-a-half months. So I think all is forgiven.

Of course the other reason is that for the first time since he was an embryo, he doesn't depend on me for anything life-giving. He's on his own now, fully. He's growing up. All is as it should be, but that doesn't stop it from being a little bit sad.

I would say overall, I feel pretty positive about the whole nursing deal -- more so than I expected going into it. I will never forget the scene in the recovery room after my c-section, me still a complete disaster, recovering from anesthesia and hopped up on anti-anxiety meds, shivering uncontrollably, how he looked up at me and latched on like I'd been nursing him for years, like okay lady, you're a mess -- let me handle this. He got enough in the weeks that followed, all the positive benefits. There's nothing to feel about the whole thing except great. And all the militant breastfeeding pushers who think I totally failed because I give my son formula can totally suck it.

Meanwhile, I have my body back for the first time in over a year. Which means I'm free to poison it as I please. Bring on the cabernet, the caffeinated lattes and the pale-skin curing self-tanner, please.

Random post-script: I just caught up on this week's "Boston Med," and lo and behold, there was the ob-gyn resident (the one my husband affectionately called the 12-year-old doctor) who handed me the fateful prescription for misoprostol during the third installment of the Longest Miscarriage in History a year and a half ago. I was still on the fence about taking the drug when I went to the IVF clinic to make a plan that day, but found her manner so reassuring that I decided to go ahead with it. Which, as some of you may remember, turned out to be an unequivocal disaster. But that wasn't her fault, so I hope she keeps plowing ahead with this medicine thing despite the thoughts of quitting that she expressed on the show. Meanwhile, this town is getting to be too small. You'd think I could turn on a show about medicine in a town overrun with doctors without seeing one that's familiar with my vagina.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Reason #719 Why I Am a Bad Mother

I am a bad mother. Today, the reason for that is: I just put my baby down for a nap. On his stomach.

Before you go all it's-back-to-bed-lady-don't-you-know-anything-about-infant-care on me, I need to state my case. I never would have done this in the early weeks and months, obviously. But H has been rolling onto his stomach since 12 weeks, so after getting over the initial anxiety of it, I have become accustomed to watching him roll over immediately after I put him down in his crib. His favorite sleeping position is belly down, butt in the air. The pediatrician told me that we can't keep vigil over his crib all night, so once they can move around like this you really can't do anything to stop them. So after a couple of nights of keeping vigil over his crib all night (oh, doctor, you underestimate my anxious powers) once we transitioned him out of the bassinet, where he'd been held back from rolling by a sleep positioner, I finally accepted that I couldn't do anything to stop it. H officially became a belly sleeper.

For the past few nights since we got back from our first mini-vacation with baby in tow (more on this later), he's been all out of whack, and putting him down to sleep has been a knock-down-drag-out ordeal (the parents being the ones knocked down and dragged out, natch). He's been so upset when we put him down on his back that he can't even muster the wherewithal to roll over as he normally does. So I? Rolled him over for him. And he was out like a light.

I know he normally sleeps like this and the pediatrician has given us the green light to let it happen. Putting him down on his belly intentionally still does give me pause, which I suppose is a proof point to the success of the back-to-bed campaign. This message is drilled. But I'd like to see the leaders of this campaign to come to my house, witness my poor tired baby screaming his head off then instantly calm down when I put him on his belly, and not do the exact same thing.

Incidentally, though I hope it read ironically, I feel I should add the following disclaimer: I don't actually believe that I'm a bad mother. I'm not even explicitly looking for comments that exclaim, "You're not a bad mother!", though they are always welcome. I actually know I'm a pretty good mother -- in fact, I've never felt so confident about anything in my life. Oh, I make a ton of mistakes, all the time, and some days I feel like I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing, as clueless and nonplussed as if someone handed me a scalpel, put me in an OR and asked me to perform lifesaving brain surgery. But for every mistake I've made, I've done something right. I get up every day and try my best to keep him fed and happy. I give him crazy love. All you have to do is turn on the local evening news to realize that, sadly, that's a lot better than the BS that far too many babies in this world must accept as mothering.

We do the best we can. We consult the experts, but in the end, in the final translation from the latest parenting advice book to the day-in-day-out of real-life parenting, we make the best decisions we can for our babies in the moment. That is all we can do.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Worse Than Mom Jeans

Let me tell you something: If you start to feel that you're living too charmed a life, that you could use a little grounding, a little humbling, do the following. Have a baby. By c-section, just for a little added pain. And then go bathing suit shopping.

I realize my last post was along the same lines: a long, whine-y rant about my new body. I promise this will not become a blog all about my "weight loss journey" or whatever you call this post-baby search for my waistline. But I went to find a bathing suit the other night, because although I think wearing a hazmat or space suit to the beach would be really awesome, it's possible that it would just draw more attention to me and my very un-beach-worthy body.

So I dragged myself to shop for one. I decided to look at the discount stores (Filene's Basement, Marshalls), because I believe, perhaps naively, that this particular suit will be a one-season investment. My days of wearing anything ending in the suffix "-ini" long behind me, I scanned the one-piece racks for something, anything, remotely palatable. What I discovered is that the line between modest and matronly is precariously thin. There were lots of bold floral prints in unfortunate colors that I can pretty confidently say aren't going to do anyone any favors. There were flouncy skirts and awkward belts. There were thick, molded bra cups. Much of what I saw just screamed "mommy who has given up."

Most of what I then tried on was obviously out of the question. Two seemed within the realm of the possible, but since I have no objectivity, I decided to take them both home and ask my husband's opinion. I have yet to work up the nerve to try them on for him, but I'm going to have to soon. One is slimming up top, with ruffles and a plunging neckline that is totally unlike me to wear but I'm hoping might wag the dog and keep eyes away from my lower half. I'll let you know what he says. At the very least, the lighting in my house has got to be better than what the fitting room lighting, which was definitely no one's BFF.

The other thing that happened was that I turned 34 yesterday. Which means, well, that I'm one year older. And it's also the last year before 35 and that invisible line of demarcation they've created between good and bad eggs. Since we already know my eggs aren't great, and we have to get science involved to find a good one that makes a baby, this is a bit unsettling. I'd love to have all kinds of time to figure out whether we want to try again -- would love for it to be as easy as deciding to throw away the pill pack. But it's not. It requires lots of planning and processes, and we simply don't have the luxury of waiting if we want to optimize our chances of ever having a sibling for H. So, even as we still have a baby young enough to wake once a night for feeding, we're debating the pros and cons of going for #2. Stay tuned for more on this unfolding saga.

Meanwhile, though my husband disagrees, I declare that 34 is still officially early 30s. Mid-30s is 35 and 36. Everyone knows that.

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