Monday, February 28, 2011

I Can’t Stop Talking About the Boob. Additionally, I’m a Selfish Jerk

This whole weaning thing happened much faster than I thought it would.  On Friday night I nursed him for the last time before bed.  After more than 20 minutes I detached him and he cried for more.  I gave myself a little squeeze to see what was up and for the first time there was no stream of milk, there was barely a dribble.  Clearly the nursing had turned into an exercise in frustration for both of us.  After talking to Z and a whole lot of ugly crying I decided we needed to be done.  So last night the bedtime routine went as usual.  He had a bath, we brushed his teeth, we read him his stories, bundled him in his sleep sack.  Z told him to give me a kiss, which he did.  And then Z carried him into his room to rock him a bit and put him in bed.  T cried, “Mama!  Mama!”  and “Milk!” and I ran downstairs and resumed the ugly crying.  I haven’t felt so wretched about a parenting choice since we started sleep training. 

Ultimately the sleep training worked for us and turned him into a great sleeper with a much better attitude when he was awake.  I’m trying to hold on to that thought instead of indulging in the one where I feel like I’m a terrible failure of a mother.  A friend of mine left a really nice comment on the last post (I hope your doctor figures out what is going on with you!) in which she said I was an unselfish mom for nursing for so long.  I am glad that I was able to nurse him for as long as I did, but there was nothing unselfish about it. 

Am I the only person in the world that is almost exclusively motivated by selfishness?  I’m going to be supremely and unflatteringly honest with an example here.  One of the many reasons I don’t want a girl is I like being the only girl in the family.  I don’t want to worry about ever going to the terrible competition place with my child.  I don’t want to find out if I would be jealous of that little girl, if I would see her life as a do-over I’d never get the chance to take.  Boys are safer.  And my ridiculous worries about competing with a daughter for Z’s affections feel even more crazy when I realize Z and T don’t occupy anywhere near the same area of my heart.  But I am a small person, there is nothing selfless about me.  I want the easy road.  My relief when the ultrasound tech saw a penis last week was immense. 

Yes, I wanted to nurse T because I actually believe it is the best choice for feeding a newborn.  The statistics on the correlation between obesity and formula are overwhelming, the antibodies passed through mother’s milk that help ward off illness are indisputable.  But I think the reason that I fought so hard to make it happen after it didn’t come easily was it was something I could do for him that no one else in the world could.  It would make me special to him; it would create a bond that was unique.  When he was hungry he would only have eyes for me.  It was a fail proof way to make him love me.  Of course now it sounds like I think a baby won’t love or bond with his/her mother without breastfeeding.  I swear nothing could be further from the truth.    How any woman chooses to feed her child should be completely up to her, and there are many factors that go into the decision.  Not to mention the instances when a woman might want to nurse, but is unable due to a low milk supply.  In fact, just writing down why I thought I needed to nurse really clarifies how crazy my rational was.   And how deep seated my insecurity is. 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad that I nursed him.  I’m glad it did provide a way for us to bond.  For whatever reason it never felt like a burden and it will always be something I look back on with love and joy.  I just wish my motives were pure and unselfish.  I wish I didn’t worry that weaning him would take that bond away in his eyes.  The funny thing is now I really wish I could have waited until he was at least 2 to stop.  I wish he was old enough to understand so I could explain to him why it was time to move on.  I’m not a god gal, but I really do pray this transition is easier on T than it is on me.  Because personally it has sucked balls.   

Little man is very serious about his chocolate chip cookies. 

My mom got him his own computer for Christmas and he loves using it while we are on our computers.  

Friday, February 25, 2011

Whining and Weaning

I just puked up the breakfast I had to fight to get down in the first place.  And that was after putting T down for a nap as he wept, “More!  More!” because my milk has almost dried up and he clearly couldn’t get much out of me.  Every time he latches on now I have to bite the inside of my cheek to keep from crying out in pain because my nipples are so tender.  The sharp stabbing sensation is similar to when we had thrush.  I had a migraine on Monday and have been fighting headaches all week.  I’ve been throwing up like crazy, and frankly it has been coming out of both ends.  It could be the pregnancy, it could be the anxiety, it could be a bug.  But the bottom line is I feel like a huge pile of shit.  And just to really lay it on thick we are in the middle of a snowstorm that is dumping 6-10” on us.

It seems it really is time to wean T.  A few weeks ago I stopped nursing first thing in the morning.  It was a pretty easy transition.  We decided I would shower first while Z grabbed T and hustled him downstairs for a sippy cup of milk.  He cried for me the first couple of mornings, but now I can hear him while Z changes him happily chanting, “Dada!  Dada!  Dada!”  This morning Z and I decided we’d try getting him down for a nap without nursing this weekend.  Z will put him down; I’m going to suggest he read a couple of books to T while cuddling in the rocking chair.  I’m not sure how we are going to tackle the nighttime nursing session, but if I’m not really producing enough milk I guess it will tackle itself. 

When I decided to breastfeed I used to say I’d do it for a year, but I didn’t want to do it when he was old enough to ask for it because that was kind of gross.  Yes, I was ignorant and stupid and judgmental.  Yes, I now know there is nothing wrong with nursing your kid until s/he is a couple of years old.  Yes, the World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding for the first two years and beyond.  Yes, it is a personal decision and while it is the right choice for T and me that doesn’t mean I believe every woman must do it or else.  For us it was a combination of really hard work and lucky circumstances.  I’d heard breastfeeding could be difficult, but I didn’t really believe it.  Seems like the most natural thing in the world, how could there be issues?  T’s latch was poor at the beginning and it hurt like crazy.  As I’d never nursed before I didn’t know the latch wasn’t very good so clearly I couldn’t know how to make it better.  And then we got thrush.  And it was so stubborn that it didn’t go away for 6 weeks.  And then I had to have a mole removed that was touching my areola that required several stitches.  But by then the latch had improved and it didn’t hurt so much anymore.  We were able to navigate those stitches just fine.  But I’d say he was more than two months old before it felt easy.  And it stayed easy.  Yes, he’s a biter and that sucks.  Yes, early on I developed a bad habit of kind of squeezing my boob to try and make it smaller to get it into his mouth and I continue to do that to this day so I only have one hand free (won’t be making that mistake with the next one).  Yes, we can only nurse when we are alone because starting at about 5 months he wouldn’t stay on my boob if another person was around to look at.   But at the end of the day it has been a wonderful way for us to bond and all the struggles have been worth it.

Last summer nursing T became very bittersweet for me.  I thought I was giving it up when he turned one and I just didn’t feel ready.  After his first birthday Z pointed out that there was no reason I needed to stop.  If T still wanted to and I still wanted to there was nothing wrong with nursing him.  And then I had the miscarriage.  Nursing T during that horrible time was ultimately incredibly healing for me.  I was grateful he was still up for it.  But now it seems like I need to let it go.  Even though I’m in the second trimester I’m still losing weight.  I’m still throwing up.  I’m worried about becoming dehydrated.  I’m not producing enough for him.  I need to physically concentrate on the baby inside me.  And I feel like a selfish jerk.  Because he doesn’t seem ready.  Because there are two players in this nursing thing I wanted to base the decision on when to stop on both of our needs.  For the first time his sibling-to-be wins out.  And T is too little to understand why.  Ultimately I understand it will be healthier for him to have to share being the center of our universe.  But the transition from a family of three to a family of four will be difficult for all of us.  

Here is T testing out the super baggy pants with underwear showing look.  I thought we'd have to wait until he was in high school for this one.  This is what I get for putting him in the 18 month size.  He really is a tiny peanut.    

We gave him a phone you can record a message on for Valentine's Day.  Now when Z's at work T can hear his voice whenever he wants.  Which is pretty much all the time.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Quickie About T

For a mommy blog I don’t do a hell of a lot of talking about being a mommy.  The self absorbed navel gazing and mental health stuff seem to be getting in the way of talking about this whole parenting gig.  There is a post I’ve been wanting to write since Monday, but my anxiety is getting in the way of  actually doing it.  And this morning we had to take Z’s car back to the shop which isn’t helping the anxiety at all.  So for now I’m giving up on writing about what I really want to write about.  Instead here’s a quickie about my cute kid. 

I know that most of my tiny readership is friends with me on FB, so hey guys, I’m sorry about the repetitiveness.  A couple of days ago on Facebook I posted this status update:
Last night I put T to bed solo because Z was at a school event. After storytime I picked him up to take him to his room and he urgently pointed behind me and said, "Bobo! Bobo!" I couldn't figure out what his was looking at, but walked to my dresser. It was the 12" talking Boba Fett action figure Z got for my birthday**. I knew he could say Chewie, but Boba Fett, too? We are proudly raising a nerd.

I broke out the Flip a yesterday to record a Boba Fett moment.  Sorry about the shaky camera angles.  Little man was on my lap and, oh no excuses.  I just suck at camera stuff.  

The whole talking thing is so indescribably awesome.

**Yup, Z got me a 12" talking Boba Fett action figure for my 34th birthday.  And yup, we had a little talk about how future presents need to actually be for me rather than for him. 

Sunday, February 13, 2011

And Now For Something Completely Different....MORE ANXIETY!

One of my pregnancy books from the first time around has a week by week section for both the baby and the mother.  For all 40 weeks you can take a gander at exactly where you and the baby are developmentally.  Naturally, my copy is by the john.  It’s been there since we moved into this house the week before T was born, and I’ve been too lazy to pack it away.  This summer I’d look at it ever week and think about the little growing thing in my belly.  When I found out the thing hadn’t been growing for weeks even though I was sure I was still pregnant I felt so pathetic about my hopeful little bathroom reading trips.  Although the book continued to live next to my toilet after the miscarriage and during this current pregnancy (Seriously!  Lazy!) I haven’t cracked it open during this pregnancy.  And then on Thursday afternoon I did.  And I didn’t spontaneously miscarry. 

On Thursday morning we were back at the doctor’s office for another ultrasound to make sure we were on track.  And we were.  We are.  For the first time the little fetus was really looking like a baby.  I was asking if there was still a heartbeat with an edge of hysteria in my voice and the doctor said, “Um, do you see it moving around?  It couldn’t do that without a heart beat!”  It was cool to see him/her moving those little arms and legs.  The heartbeat did sound strong, the doctor was very positive.  And when I go back in two weeks I’ll actually be in the second trimester. 

I’m hoping the terrible anxiety will ease up a bit.  It’s hard not to feel like I’m jinxing the pregnancy just by typing this, but things seem to be going well.  Unfortunately the pregnancy is not the only thing that is causing anxiety lately.  When stressful life stuff starts happening and I’m already having anxiety problems I really don’t seem to be able to function at all.  One of our cars is dying a slow death.  We can’t afford to replace it, but we also can’t really afford to keep on fixing it.  We are more than $1500 into this piece of junk just since the fall.  And the check engine light keeps coming on.  Then going off for a day.  Then coming on again.  And Uncle Sam is still nipping at our heels over the tax rebate from last year.  That one is so very frustrating because we are in the right.  But now they want a document I shredded late this summer (Because I was trying to clean stuff up.  Because I was positive there was no way we would ever need it again.  Hell, we sold the place almost 2 years ago.  Why would I have to prove we rented it out back in 2006 to anyone?).  And of course the management company for the co-op can’t find their copy.  I’ve had to track down the former tenant (good old facebook!) and ask him to waste his time looking for a copy of the lease.  I only have until next Thursday to sort this puppy out.  Because I wasted the first 7 days of the 15 day time limit being paralyzed with fear.  Way to make the situation even more dire!

On top of that junk I got a mild stomach bug on Friday.  It’s hard to figure out if it really is a bug or if it is just anxiety when you are pregnant and have IBS.  Z was sure it was the latter.  But yesterday T had a little diarrhea, and then this afternoon he had A LOT of diarrhea.  And Z admitted his stomach was really upset yesterday and he was mildly nauseated, which never happens.  So it looks like it really was a bug.  But today I’m feeling better.  And I’m gearing up to really attack this IRS thing tomorrow.  I have to.  We don’t really have $8,000+ to give back to them.  And we shouldn’t need to!  We didn’t do anything wrong!  But please do wish me luck.  Both on not ignoring the problem in the hopes it magically goes away and on facing the big bad IRS.  I really need it.  

And finally, in completely unrelated news, T is 18 months old today.  Not a big deal, but it makes me happy.
He seriously is obsessed with the bouncy seat.  I love when he gets all the way in.  He even pushed the switch on so the damn thing vibrates.  It's his massage chair.

The lion plays music.  T plays DJ.

Monday, February 7, 2011

I Promise it Gets Positive at the End

Unsurprisingly today was another anxiety filled crap day.  I’m a broken record over here.  But I’m going to try and ignore the fact that I’m not doing so hot and write about something less depressing.  It’s going to sound like I’m being negative at first, but it’ll come around, I promise.

The thing is I hate being pregnant.  Like I really despise it.  Even when I’m terrified of losing the pregnancy every moment of every day I still hate the reality of it.  When I was pregnant with T I hated it without much worry that I’d miscarry.  For some reason it just didn’t seem like a possibility.  It didn’t seem like a possibility during the pregnancy this summer until we found out it had happened.  I’m hoping at some point I will settle into believing this pregnancy will last.   I’m almost out of the first trimester, maybe reaching that milestone will do the trick.  But I still hate being pregnant.  I hate feeling like my body isn’t my own, I hate that my nipples are so sore that if I brush against something they kill me, I hate being nauseous all the time, I hate the throwing up that is going on this time, I hate not being able to sleep well at night, I hate being tired all day, I hate not feeling any sort of connection to the baby while it is still inside me.  I really truly hate it. 

When I was pregnant with T I hated it so much I swore up and down he would be my only kid.  I never wanted to experience it again.  My friends assured me I’d forget how bad it was and get baby fever and I assured them it would never happen.  Um, yeah.  Only took 9 months after T’s birth for me to want another one so bad I couldn’t see straight.  Because you do forget how much it sucks.  It seems crazy to me, especially while I am going through the grossness yet again, but you forget.  You even manage to ignore the fact you’ll have to go through labor again.  And boy-o, childbirth and the whole retained placenta aftermath was such a horror that I am shocked my baby wanting hormones are so strong they could push that shit show out of my mind. 

The first time around pregnancy was even worse because my hatred was coupled with the fear that I would also hate being a mom.  And that I would suck at it.  But the moment I grasped his tiny shoulders and pulled him out and onto my chest I knew the whole motherhood thing was exactly what I wanted.  I’m not going to win any mother of the year awards, but I think I’m fine at it.  It sort of came naturally in a way that surprised and delighted me.   I can’t wait to meet the little one who is growing away in my belly right now.  The fact that I don’t and I won’t feel bonded to the baby during the pregnancy doesn’t matter this time.  I know how I’ll feel when I meet him/her/it. 

And to the ladies out there who are considering this whole parenthood gig--the way that I experience pregnancy doesn’t necessarily have anything to with the way you will.  I know tons of people who loved being pregnant, who felt great the whole time, who didn’t have a second of nausea, who just glowed glowed glowed.  I also know women who didn’t bond with their kids right away.  It can take a couple of months, I mean it is a huge shock to your system and for the first little while the whole just keeping them alive thing can be completely overwhelming.  Doesn’t mean anything.  The bonding will happen, and it is extraordinary when it does.  The way we go through this breeding thing is both communal and individual.  We feel the way we feel, and it is all cool.  As someone who has to worry about being crazy and controlling that crazy it is with a lot of relief that I’ve realized my hatred of pregnancy doesn’t make me feel crazy at all anymore.  I feel nice and normal in that one area of my life.  And no matter how you do pregnancy you should, too.
One of our best friends in the world, the guy that introduced us and was the best man at our wedding visited this weekend.  Part of the reason today was so hard is I'm already missing him.
Although little man will be 18 months old next week he has developed a bizarre obsession with his infant bouncy seat. 

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

About Yesterday's Post...

This morning the last paragraph of yesterday’s post is seeming very self satisfied and sort of pat to me.  Seriously, saying what I really mean is so much harder than it looked before I started blogging.  So I want to start by saying that I am not a mental health expert.  Clearly.  I’m very specifically writing about my experiences with an Anxiety Disorder and with a former diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder.

What I was trying to say yesterday was symptoms of mental illness can be the subconscious trying to protect the conscious.  My anxiety itself isn’t caused by my subconscious; it is just part of my genetic makeup, much like my mousy brown hair or my blue eyes.  The symptoms of my anxiety, like the agoraphobic tendencies, can be my subconscious trying to ease the anxiety that is already there.  While I appreciate that my subconscious is trying to help, the reality is it is simply creating more problems.   Knowing that the symptoms are caused by my subconscious does not magically make them easily surmountable.  They are still very real and very difficult.  And being armed with this knowledge does not protect me from a relapse.

The last thing I want to do is present this mental illness thing as a simple puzzle that just needs to be worked out so things can get better.  It is real.  It isn’t something you can conquer by pulling yourself up by your bootstraps.  It took me years to believe that, sometimes I still doubt it and think the root of my problem is that I’m lazy and simply a bad person.    

If someone you know is suffering from a mental illness I don’t suggest you ask them what they are getting out of their symptoms.  They might punch you in the face.  If Z, or another family member, or basically anyone but my shrink asked me that I would have seriously considered hurting myself because it would have made me feel like even less of a person.  Back at that time I used to seriously consider hurting myself a lot.  When Z and I would fight I would claw at my face and bang my head against hard things.  Thankfully I never attempted to end my life, but on so many occasions I just wanted to die.  I’m so far from that place now, and I want to live so badly it terrifies me that I could have ever felt that way.  When my shrink would ask how I was benefiting from not leaving the house I hated him so much.  Z had to get permission from his boss to be late to work twice a week so he could get me on the train and up to New York Columbia Presbyterian Hospital for my appointments.  I never would have gone otherwise. 

The reality was so very messy.  Yesterday I made it sound pretty simple.  My doctor asked me tough questions for a while and presto!  I was better!  Bullshit.  It was so bad that my heart was racing as I wrote that last paragraph.  It was so bad I didn’t even remember a bunch of that stuff until I really started to think about it because it is all too painful to revisit on a regular basis.  I never ever want to go there again.  And I will always be terrified that I won’t be able to stop it and will go there.  I’m hoping the stuff I learned the first time around will give me the ability to get help before things get that bad.  And I think I’m on the right track with that.  But the thing is you never know.

Now after all the heavy stuff, how about a quick amusing story?  Z had to go to NYC for a fieldtrip with students this Sunday.  It was kind of a brutal day.   The bus left at 6am and he didn’t get home until after midnight.  Usually we schedule our life so we can each shower without worrying about T, but Sunday was one of the rare occasions when I had to watch him and shower simultaneously.  T hates being stuck in the bathroom so it isn’t a fun time.  I was washing my hair, so I couldn’t see what he was up to for a few minutes.  When I looked down he’d thrown all his bath toys into the tub at my feet.  Which was fine, a harmless way for him to occupy himself.  But I noticed a black blob that didn’t seem to be a toy.  I grabbed it and discovered it was one of my clean socks from the pile of clothes I’d brought in to wear that day.  I look up at him and he was standing right on the other side of the curtain with my underwear on his head.  I laughed for the rest of the shower.  

My wonderful guy doing the regular this morning.  I'm kind of ashamed of myself when I think about how I fought him about buying a snowblower.  You really do need one here in Syracuse. 

Cool ice thingy outside the dining room window. 

Mr. Man has conquered the boat chair Z built. 

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Shitty Thing About Anxiety

Although I keep hoping things will turn around, the truth is I’m in really rough shape.  Last night I had yet another graphic miscarriage dream.  I wake up feeling completely exhausted even when I don’t have nightmares.  My body hurts, my head hurts, my heart even hurts.  The one good thing has been that my IBS has been pretty under control.  I’ve gotten used to having a relatively normal digestive experience.  And I can say being regular rocks.  So it really sucks that the one little silver lining has started to unravel. 

We are getting a sizable amount of snow for the next two days, so I did the responsible thing and got myself to the grocery store yesterday to stock up.   The store is one of my safe places.  I really don’t need to worry about having an upset stomach while I’m there.  Which is why I sort of ignored the warning signs, including severe stomach cramps, on the car ride in.  I hit the deli counter first, and while waiting for my number to be called I realized there was going to be a situation.  So I dry swallowed a couple of those handy Imodium AD pills I never leave home without.  About 20 minutes later I was half way through the shop and I had to stash the cart, grab the kid, and hightail it to the bathroom.  All I can say is that T was a champ.  Well that and it sucks to deal with a toddler while having digestive issues in a crowded public bathroom.

The rest of the trip proceeded without incident.  But my anxiety level was so high that I threw up as soon as I got home.  I think a big part of why I’m so pukey with this pregnancy is my heightened anxiety.  On the days that I manage to relax a little I tend not to hork.  Don’t get me wrong, the unrelenting nausea is there, I am just somehow able to ride it out without tossing my cookies.  Have any of you had the pleasure of regularly puking around a toddler?  It’s kind of hilarious.  T has climbed up my back while I threw up.  He’s tried to get past me and into the incense matches and ashtray we have in the corner.   Throwing up while using your arm as a barricade against an insistent kid is not terribly effective.  I smartened up once and managed to put up the gate at the bottom of the stairs before I puked in the half bath two steps up on the landing.  T hung on the gate laughing hysterically at me and then he started making puking noises himself.  That was the first time in my life I laughed and puked simultaneously.  He now makes the puking noises every time he hears me do it. 

When I was pregnant with T I would have died if someone told me I’d have to deal with throwing up while caring for a toddler.  And the first few times were really awful.  But I chose to be a stay at home mom.  He doesn’t magically go away because I’m dealing with morning sickness.  And you really can get used to anything.  Privacy is a beautiful thing, and when I puke while he is napping or when Z is around I actually appreciate it (who knew you could appreciate anything about puking?)  But the rest of the time I just don’t care anymore.  It doesn’t seem to bug him, so why should I let it bother me?

After the puking I calmed down a bit.  Got to talk to one of my favorite people on the phone.  T and I had fun reading books.  And then my stomach cramped in the way that I knew meant I had about 30 seconds to get to the bathroom.  I scooped him up and ran upstairs.  Poor T pounded on the bathroom door while wailing.  I couldn’t blame him, it was disgusting.  And frankly, I couldn’t believe it.  Imoduim is pretty powerful stuff.  I understand when regular people take it their systems can be plugged up for days.  I was about 3 hours on from taking it and my anxiety was so potent it was like I hadn’t taken it at all.  Anxiety is an amazing thing.  It is one of the most powerful forces in my life.  It shames me, it makes me feel terrible about myself, it provides me with a valid excuse to rarely leave the house. 

I’m sure you are ready for me to stop it with the gross out stories and cut to the chase.  So here we go:  The shrink who Z and I credit with saving my life (not hyperbole, I was really that bad) used to ask me what the payoff was for my anxiety.  He wanted to know what I got out of it when I couldn’t get out of the house to go to work, or when my stomach cramped up in public.  I was so offended that anyone could possibly think I was getting anything positive out of my illness.  Especially because I had no control over the symptoms.  But over time I started to get it.  My body wouldn’t rebel if there wasn’t a reason for it.  As miserable as I was, as trapped as I felt, even if I had no conscious control over it there was a payoff.  The IBS confirmed to me that I was useless, unlovable, disgusting, a freak.  It also provided a perfectly valid excuse for me to never have to leave the house.  That doesn’t mean that the IBS and agoraphobic tendencies weren’t real, or that I had any control over them.  But the subconscious is terribly clever. It confirms your deepest fears and provides you with a way to indulge them.  So as I battle the anxiety this time around I’m armed with knowledge I didn’t have before.  I’m in much better shape now compared to that terrible time.  Of course that is only the beginning.  The IBS is real.  Knowing it is caused by my subconscious doesn’t make it imaginary.  I know why it is there, but for the life of me I can’t figure out how to fight it.  Guess that is why I’m still in therapy. 

That little smirk on his face?  Trouble, trouble, trouble.  Dude is testing every boundary we set for him.  

 Like climbing on the coffee table...