are you my moms?

the musings of yet another lesbian couple on the journey of mother(s)hood

Make a Difference. November 25, 2014

Filed under: Rigby — areyoumymoms @ 4:50 pm
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Dear Rigby,

Sometimes the world is a shitty place.  (Sorry, Mom couldn’t come up with a better word there – it wasn’t for a lack of trying.)  Last night after you went to bed, we learned that a grand jury could find no probable cause to indict a police officer for shooting an unarmed teenager in broad daylight.  At least six times.  With witnesses.  I’ll agree with many whose thoughts I heard this morning, that without seeing the evidence as the grand jury did, I don’t know all the facts.  But we’re not talking about a “preponderance of the evidence” or “beyond reasonable doubt.”  We’re talking about probable cause to indict someone for killing someone else.  The lack of decision in this case, and those like it, is something I’ll always question.  And I hope you do, too.

Last night’s decision hit me like a punch to the gut, and in addition to being angry, disappointed, and nauseous, I’m also twitchy and unproductive.  I’ve tried to figure out – for the sake of Michael Brown’s family and Trayvon Martin’s family, and all the other nameless grieving families out there – what I can teach you so that you won’t be a party to anything like this in your lifetime.  Here’s what I’ve come up with:

  • Learn from everyone.  Let’s be honest – the odds are pretty high that you’ll be bullied, picked-on, or otherwise called out for being different, simply because of your moms.  By the time you read this, I’m quite sure you’ll have already learned that your family unit is a loving, awesome place to grow up – but it is also not what some people consider “normal.”  On the other hand, your odds of being shot in the street by a cop if you aren’t armed are awfully low.  You were born into a diverse environment, surrounded by families of all racial, ethnic, and religious backgrounds.  But the inherent privilege that comes with being born white will stay with you no matter where we live.  Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying to you, and likely to themselves.  That’s one of the reasons we choose to raise you in the city; so that you grow up seeing more than just a reflection of yourself.  It is our hope that you will absorb all the history, beauty, and pain our diverse surroundings have to offer, and that the lessons you learn will stay with you for the rest of your life, informing your world view.
  • Speak up.  Don’t misinterpret this one.  I don’t want you to grow up with a misplaced lack of trust for authority.  You should respect authority in all forms, as the good guys do usually outnumber the bad.  But you should also ask questions of your moms, your teachers, your friends, and ultimately your government.  If you see someone being mistreated in any way, speak out.  If something seems out of place, it probably is.  If something appears unjust, it probably is.  Say the words you would want someone to say on your behalf.  And if no one listens, say them again.  Say them louder and with more and more passion until someone hears you.  If you’re smart (and I know you will be) you’ll realize that a choir of voices carries farther than a soloist, and you’ll get other like minds to join you.
  • Look through another lens.  I’m afraid the U.S. history curricula won’t have changed by the time you enter high school, though there’s more than a decade before that happens, so I suppose there’s hope.  You may get a teacher who talks about our government with a singular view, as though it is the same government for all constituents.  I hope I can get to you before that teacher does: our government isn’t the same for all people.  The world isn’t colorblind, so everyone’s lens has a different filter.  Once you’ve taken the time to recognize others’ perspectives, you will see that the criminal justice system is particularly flawed.  I think it’s important for you to learn now that the system which purports to protect us all was not designed with that objective in mind.  If you and your generation can master the idea of acting on your compassion for others’ perspectives, maybe you will be the ones to change the system for the better.
  • Value everyone.  Today you are 2.  You believe that everyone you meet is inherently good and that pretzels and juice can fix any problem.  This view will undoubtedly evolve over time as you become jaded like the rest of us.  But if you hold on to one toddler trait, let it be the unconditional love you show everyone you come into contact with.  Cling to the fantasy that love can melt the frozen heart.  If someone was taught to hate you because of who you are, show them that you were taught to love them, no matter who they are or what they say or do.  Let them know that everyone has value in your eyes.

One of our parental duties is to protect you.  We teach you how to look both ways when crossing the street, not to touch the hot oven, and to hold our hands in a crowded parking lot.  I’m grateful every day that there are tips I don’t have to provide: don’t walk too fast down the street (someone might think you just committed a crime), keep your hands out of your pockets in a store (someone might think you just shoplifted), or don’t hang out in groups of more than 3 (too many friends may be misinterpreted as gang activity).  It breaks my heart that so many of my friends have had to learn or teach these lessons.  If your Mama and I can raise a child who sees things differently, maybe we will have done our parts to make a change.

Go out into the world to make a difference.

Love,

Mom

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Rigby’s Birthday Letter (#2) August 21, 2014

Filed under: Birthday,Rigby,toddler — areyoumymoms @ 4:04 pm
Tags: , , ,

Dear Rigby,

Well, it’s official.  You’re 2 years old.  I really can’t believe it.  I’m looking at the first picture I ever took of you – I was still being attended to by our wonderful doctor when I snapped this one of your mama holding you and smiling the biggest smile I’ve ever seen.  And in a little while, I’ll be sitting on the floor while you use me as a human jungle gym and tell me all about your day.

Last year I wrote to you about all the things you accomplished in your first year of life.  I hope to make that a tradition, though I’m sure eventually people will get sick of seeing it on the internet and I’ll just jot down a few bullet points on a post-it to save for your future spouse to laugh at.  In the meantime, here’s a look at year 2.  It’s been a good one:

  • People still talk about your hair.  And they think we’ve never had it cut.  This means they’ve never had to try to keep you distracted through an estimated 15 trips to the salon.
  • I’m always amazed by your smarts.  Before you turned 2, you could say your alphabet and you knew the letters and some full words by sight.  You can count to 10 (13 on a good day), point to about 10 body parts, and your favorite TV show is still Jeopardy.  I’ll take smarty-pants toddlers for $1000, Alex.
  • As smart as you are, you took your time finding your words.   You understood us early, and you babbled for months in a dialect that can only be called Rigbese.  But it wasn’t until you were just shy of your second birthday that you started reliably using words we could recognize.  The list of your first real words is pretty diverse: dog, apple, violin, please, thank you (you say “ta” like a sweet little British kid), flower, cookie, and house.  Once you started, the words came like a flood.  Every day I hear you say a word I didn’t know was in your vocabulary.
  • One of my favorite Rigbese words has been “BEEE-AAAHHH.”  No, you are not requesting a lager in Maine.  This is your word for please.  Don’t know why.  Don’t care.  It’s just cute.
  • One of my least favorite Rigbese words is “pettit.”  I can’t begin to figure out why, but this is your word for ball.  We still call it a ball.  And you must still think it starts with a “b” since you say “A – APPLE, B – PETTIT, C- CAT” etc. when reciting your abc’s.   Why?  Why on earth?  And when will you start using the real word?  For now I’m just going to assume some of the Baby Einstein lessons in Spanish have kicked in and you’re trying to say “pelota.”  Here’s hoping that by the time I write birthday letter #3, you’ll have moved on from that one…

    DOH!!!

    DOH!!!

  • You are a truly fearless world explorer.  I watch in horror as you run, climb, and generally plow your way through life without so much as blinking an eye.  Meanwhile, your mama just beams with pride.  I have learned so much from both of you in this regard.  You both remind me every day to approach life without fear and just to jump in.
  • Your adventurous ways are on full display when we’re at the beach, or any other fence-free environment.  You run barefoot through the yard, into the bushes, under trees, and out onto the sand, directly into the water.  And then you turn right around and run back the way you came without a care in the world.  Sorry about that time I was too busy taking action photos to prevent your face-plant.  Though I’m not sure you noticed; you never even batted an eye…just wiped the sand off your hands and kept on running.
  • This year you got sick for the first time.  (And before you readers start typing your comments, yes – we do know how truly blessed we are to have such a healthy boy.  We thank the stars every day.)  Once I realized that you weren’t seriously ill and started recognizing the signs of an impending up-chuck, everything was ok.  And I hate to say it, son, but it was better than ok.  For 4 days, you just wanted to lay with your mama and me.  We held you for hours in a way that we hadn’t been able to since you were a baby, and haven’t been able to do since.  I’d never wish that you were sick, but I know it’s going to happen.  And now I know what a special time that can be, and how warm it felt…not just your feverish little body melted into my arms, but how warm and just right it felt having you turn to us for comfort.
  • Whether it’s a new word (ahem…if you can say “fork,” you can use one), a random unsolicited hug around my neck, or when I walk in to wake you up in the morning and find that you’ve stripped off your pj’s, you still surprise me.  By the way, that includes the tantrums you now occasionally throw in public.  I’m never ready for those.
  • One of the most important lessons I learned from you this year is that Monsters, Inc. is a true story, or at least part of it is (if you haven’t seen it, watch it; I’m not going to apologize for “spoiling’ a 13-year-old movie).  Sully & Mike learn that a child’s laughter can supply the energy required to power all of Monstropolis.  And they’re right.  At the end of a day, no matter how long or frustrating it has been, I come home to you and mama.  When we sit on the floor and read books or play with Big Battery Drainer Elmo…I mean Big Hugs Elmo, your tiny voice energizes me.  When you crawl on me and make sweet little pretend snoring noises while we “nap,” I’m totally refreshed.  And when I get to exercise my right as your parent to find and take advantage of all your tickle spots, your uncontrollable giggling completely re-charges my battery.  It’s exhausting being a parent.  But just when I think I can’t go another step, your laugh pushes me on.  Thanks for that.

Rigby, you have changed who I am.  And what’s more, you’ve changed who I want to be.  I am forever better for having you around.  You’re my boy, blue.

Love Always,

Mom

 

 

A Mom by Any Other Name August 11, 2014

Filed under: Rigby,toddler — areyoumymoms @ 4:01 pm
Tags: , , , , ,
Have you guys seen my mom?

Have you guys seen my mom?

I’ve been called a lot of names in my life.  Those of you who know me well are probably having a bit of a laugh recalling the things you’ve called me (to my face or behind my back), or have heard others hiss at me.  Even at MKL’s and my wedding, one of our bridesmaids noted in her toast that “everyone knows” I’m a bitch.  More than one friend calls me “the boss.”  So, right.  I’m that girl.

It doesn’t really bother me to be called names.  But it has historically bothered me to be called something other than my name.  Don’t call me “sweetie” or “baby” if you didn’t put the ring on my left hand, and especially don’t do it if you’re a business colleague.  Don’t assume I’ll answer to “ma’am.”  While I appreciate my southern upbringing, there’s just enough yankee blood coursing through my veins that I will assume you think I’m old.  And I’m not allowed to be old.  I have a toddler.   Don’t think, mother, that you can give me a name with the express intention of calling me by a nickname.  I let everyone know at age two that wasn’t going to fly, and I still only answer to that abbreviated version of my name when it’s used by two of my cousins.

There’s an exception to this rule that I’ve been waiting my whole life to envoke.  I’ve always wanted to hear some tiny voice calling “Mom” or “Mommy” and know that it was meant only for me.  It’s one of the milestones I’ve been looking forward to since finding out I was pregnant.  MKL and I toiled over what our child would call us: Mama and Mommy, Mom & Mama, Mimi & Momo?  The choices for lesbian maternal monikers are endless.  We decided on Mama (MKL) and Mom (me), and ultimately knew that he’d call us whatever he comes up with.  But I didn’t think he’d come up with Dad.  Or Dog.

The saddest truth a couple of lesbian parents will face is that the vast majority of children say “dada” as their first syllable.  In a straight-2-parent household, this is awesome.  Daddy gets to brag that his new child has called him by name first.  Unfortunately, daddy’s brags are usually crap.  It’s just what kids say first.  It’s not that they favor one parent over another – it’s just easier to say “dada” than “mama.”  When it happened in our house it was hilarious.  For a minute.  For a month, even.  It was his cute little parlor trick he did for company – watch me call my moms “dad” and see how much it bugs them!!  And then we had to teach company not to request that trick anymore.  After a few months it became something that would push all kinds of respect-our-two-mommy-household buttons we didn’t know we had.  So eventually he stopped.

“Dog” was Rigby’s first official word.  We followed any utterance of “dog” when directed at our dog with “what’s your dog’s name?” in the hopes that Rigby would one day yell out “STELLA.”  Instead, we’ve inadvertently made him associate the word “name” with the word “dog.”  Now if you ask him “what’s ___’s name?” the answer comes quickly: DOG.  It makes no difference who you’re talking about: me, MKL, Stella, his grandparents, his godmother…everyone’s name is DOG.  If you prompt him and remind him of the name you seek, he’ll say it happily.  He just doesn’t do it unsolicited.  Until last week.

1 year and 356 days after I introduced myself, Rigby finally called me by name.  He saw me coming up the driveway after work and said “MOM” just as clear as a bell.  Of course, I was outside the house at the time, so I didn’t hear it.  But I saw his little mouth move and watched MKL jump up and down, so I know it happened.  He called her “MAMA” a few hours later.  So it seems he does, in fact, know who we are.

Since last week I’ve spent a lot of time focused on getting a repeat performance of his mom-o-gram.  I’ve heard it a few times, though not with the vigor he used last week.  I find it so strange how this affects my sense of identity.  I felt like I became a mom when I got pregnant.  And then I felt it again when the pregnancy got scary.  I felt it again when we had baby showers and opened cards addressed to “Moms,” and again when I started my maternity leave.  Of course I felt a surge of mommyhood when I held Rigby for the first time, again when he choked on a piece of fruit, and even more when he was sick for the first time and just wanted to be held.  But there’s something truly special about Rigby’s acknowledgement of our roles in his life – as though he has just figured out who MKL and I really are.  I know that I’ve been this sweet child’s mother for almost two years.  I know that we bonded as mother and son and that he knew my name long before I knew his.  But now when I’m in the store and he wants to tell me something, he can call me by name and everyone around us will know he’s my boy.   I’m not his Dad.  I’m not his Dog.  I’m his Mom.  And with every time he says my name (yes, even when he whines it or yells it at me later in life) I can assure you I’ll fall in love with him all over again.

 

Moms Say the Darndest Things July 31, 2014

Filed under: Rigby,toddler — areyoumymoms @ 4:37 pm
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The other day as Rigby started to wake up, he began that telltale whine that let me know something he wanted was out of his reach.  I went into his room to find him looking over the crib rail, exclaiming, “TOWER! TOWER!”  And sure enough, 2 prized lego stacks (towers) had made their way out of the crib and onto the floor.  A few minutes and a diaper change later as I was pouring his cereal, I heard myself say something I never thought I’d hear, let alone say: “Please don’t put your legos in the sink.”  Whaaa?  And then I realized MKL and I say strange things like this all the time.  So today, here are a few of my favorite things we’ve said since becoming moms.  They’re all funnier and weirder if I leave out the context altogether but I’ve included it a few times just in case any of you work for DFCS.  I don’t need a case worker showing up…

"You're bored?  Here - play with Stella's leash."

“You’re bored? Here – play with Stella’s leash for awhile.”

  • “We don’t eat seashells.”
  • “Don’t throw your milk at the dog.”
  • “Are you playing with the bubbles on your pecker?” 
  • “Do you have to put your head in there?” (you don’t want to know)
  •  “You have a Cheerio stuck to your butt.”  (this has been said to every member of our household, human and canine alike)
  • “Stop humping the baby!!” (yes, we’ve had to say this to our female dog)
  • “Eeeewwwww – don’t step on the condom!!” (on a walk around our particularly colorful downtown neighborhood…)
  • “Sure – come on in here while I go potty.”  (if you have a toddler and haven’t said something like this, please leave a comment and let me know how you’ve reclaimed your right to privacy in the bathroom)
  • “No, no, no, NOOOO – don’t put your hands in the poop!!” 
  •  “In fact, I am not your Dad.  I am your Mom.  Please stop calling me Dad.”
  • “Please stop pointing that at me!” (no, not his finger…baby boners start very early, and if you’re not prepared, the first one you see will continue to blur your vision for weeks to come)

 

Remember that show “Kids Say the Darndest Things?”  I can recall sitting with my grandmother and laughing hysterically at the cute things the children used to say (“Who was George Washington’s wife?”  “Miss America.”)  And now that I have a child and the world is just aching for another reality show, I think someone should just follow parents of toddlers around and catch the insane things that come out of our mouths on a daily basis.  Toddlers lend perspective.  And, thankfully, context.

 

Viva La Revolution July 25, 2014

Filed under: Rigby — areyoumymoms @ 12:52 pm
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Last night it happened.  The revolution began.

Rigby has been babbling for a year – having full conversations with us without actually using very many words.  About a month ago his vocabulary started to expand seemingly overnight.  Over the past week it has exploded.  It’s as though each time you talk to him he picks up another new work.  He has started answering questions (How old are you? Teeewwww!  What’s the dog’s name?  Stewwa.)  And he gets true joy out of the fact that we can understand him – he finds it hilarious.  I’m in love with this phase.  He’s so much fun and the new words are simply adorable.  In the bathtub he not only recited his numbers, but he picked up some blocks and counted them.  He’s so eager to show us what he knows and we are a more than willing audience.

Last night after his bath we were combing his hair (just try to do it without his help…I dare you), and he’d apparently had enough.  He picked up the brush and yelled “NO!” as clear as day and reached up to put the brush back on the shelf where it belongs.  I stood at the changing table staring at him, stunned.  Rigby has never said that word before.  Nana confirmed that I heard him right and I knew life as we know it will never be the same.  Out little boy has started to rebel.  My mind raced to a 5-year-old Rigby, standing in his room refusing to put away toys.  And then to a 10-year-old Rigby who just says no to homework.  Next I saw the teenager who won’t come out of his room.  And before I knew it, he was a full-grown man shouting about how out-of-touch his old moms are and telling us NO…NO…NOOOO!!! 

I had been so proud that “no” wasn’t one of his first words.  I’m pretty sure I said it early (and often everyday since) so when his first words were things like dog, apple, violin (!), flower, and a strange combination of syllables that  may sound like a New Englander asking for a beer but actually means please, I was thrilled.  All these words are so happy and are said with such a sweet little voice.  NO isn’t happy.  And it wasn’t said sweetly.  It was shouted loudly, with intent, and in my mind it represented such a huge leap in development that I couldn’t see my little baby anymore.  He’s a tiny person with opinions now, and he is finding the words to express them.

So I took a breath.

I decided to bask in his no.  This is progress.  He’s not defying us.  He’s just asserting himself.  And besides, a year ago he barely understood what that word meant when we said it.  Now he understands it so well that he chooses to use it.  Toward his mom.  Who loves him.  And only wants to brush his hair.  Ugh…NOOOOOOO!!!

 

Toddler Tips July 22, 2014

Filed under: Rigby — areyoumymoms @ 2:53 pm
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Well, another year gone, another blog ignored.  If you could all just be here for the witty observations as they happen in real time, I wouldn’t have to write this.  (Pretty inconsiderate of you, if you ask me.)  But since you’re not here and I still have a head full of observations…

A rare moment of pause.

A rare moment of pause.

Our sweet Rigby is about to turn 2 whole years old.  I’m not sure how that happened, but it did.  Around his first birthday, I wrote that he was a full-fledged toddler.  HAH!  Kudos to all you parents out there who didn’t publicly shame me for thinking that’s as “toddler” as it gets.  He no longer needs a destination to start running, and at a mere 23 months he has the reach of an NBA forward.  He talks now, too.  Well, sort of.  His vocabulary is expanding every day (whose isn’t?) and his comprehension level is amazing.  Sadly, that probably means he’ll be swearing soon.  His gorgeous hair is still all most people can talk about when they see him for the first time…I try not to get offended when they ask where he got it.  And he’s still wonderfully independent.  His toys of choice are simple: give him a book or some legos and he’ll entertain himself for an hour.  (However, give him a toothbrush, and he’ll fight to the death to keep his little fingers wrapped around it so he can do things without any help from his moms.)

As I’ve watched Rigby’s progress over the last year, I’ve made a mental list of a few helpful tips for parents of toddlers.  I could give a disclaimer about how this advice is not from a professional, but the way I figure it, anyone who has parented a toddler for more than 10 consecutive minutes is a pro. 

A boy is not a girl.  Seems like an elementary reminder, but when it comes to toddlers, this has real meaning.  Little girls like to sit and read, sit and color, sit and play with toys.  From my experience, little boys barely sit down to eat.  Rigby seriously doesn’t stop moving during the waking hours.  Fortunately this means he’s usually tired when it’s time to sleep.  So let your little boy run – take him on those slightly embarassing walks outside nice restaurants; ignore the common-sense-meter that goes off in your head when you see him headed the opposite direction on the beach; and just move your furniture around to create some more running space in the house.  Chasing toddlers burns calories, and wears them out in the process.  Win-win.

Your child will talk eventually.  I know every expert has already told you this, and if you think you have a late-talker, you’re not buying it anyway.  But it’s true.  I thought we’d never hear him say more than “dog” or “dad” (grr), but Rigby’s first words have come flooding out in the past few weeks.  He now counts to 10 – with particular attention to 2 and 8 – and says his abc’s (ok, 18 out of 26 isn’t bad).  So what if your friend’s 9-month-old is reading Shakespeare out loud?  Your kid will amaze you with his smarts just as soon as he’s ready.  And since there is no sound cuter than toddlers having full conversations without actually saying words, bask in the adorableness as long as it lasts.

Treat every child like the youngest.  I’ve heard parents of more than one child say that with each baby born, the rules get progressively more lax.  The first-born is virtually cocooned in bubble-wrap until she reaches age 16, and the 3rd child gets to do relay races in a meadow of broken glass.  I say treat them all like they’re the baby.  This is a lesson I had to learn from MKL.  I was all ready to start wrapping Rigby in plastic when I realized that she not only let him do things that made me gasp, but she encouraged it.  Now, it’s not as though we’ve put his crib in the middle of the road for naptime, but if he wants to run up and down the hill in our backyard, why not?  Jumping on the couch?  You bet.  If he falls, he falls.  And because she lets him fall (and I do my best to follow suit), he handles each fall brilliantly.  Just wipes his hands off, points to anything that might hurt, and moves on with very little fanfare.  As it turns out, children are not made of tissue paper, and ours is fearless. 

Ignore your child.  There.  I said it.  Sometimes you just have to pretend they’re not there, both for your sanity and their development.  Rigby is a well-adjusted, self-sufficient kid, and I think a lot of it has to do with how we react to him – or more to the point – how we don’t react to him.  He’s reaching the age where he cries for any reason: I want to read a book, I don’t want to read a book, I want to go outside, I don’t want to put my shoes on, I don’t want to take a bath, my bath is over, etc.  The key for us is to avoid giving in every time he makes a whiny noise.  For as long as we can take it, we start a conversation with one another and try to pretend the ear-shattering screeching isn’t happening.  And in a few minutes, he’s done.  He has found something to distract him from whatever made him mad, and he’s back to his giggly self.  That, or we find ourselves 6 verses into Old MacDonald and having built a lego tower while blowing bubbles in an effort to take his mind off things.  (Note that this tip is not applicable in public.  Just because your child’s every noise sounds like a choir of angels to you, doesn’t mean everyone else wants to hear the concert.)

Toddlers are hard.  For serious.  They don’t care what your priorities are, or what you expect them to be doing at any given moment.  But at this age they’re also learning how to show unsolicited – and in Rigby’s case, unlimited – affection.  The occasional whining, the constant running, and the lack of full sentences are a small price to pay in exchange for hugs and kisses from my boy.

 

The Tit Monster August 29, 2012

Filed under: Hormones,Rigby,Uncategorized — areyoumymoms @ 3:55 pm
Tags: , , ,

Seriously, Mom? Again with the boobs?

I have two obsessions of late.  1 – in a word, Rigby.  And everything that makes him feel like home.  2 – in another word, boobs.  Mine, and their food-providing skills, to be precise.  Since the day we came home from the hospital, I have been at war with my breasts.  Some of you have just sighed and said, “I see where she’s going with this and that’s the whole problem…it’s not a war…her attitude is what is keeping this from happening.”  You may be right.  But I’m not sure who could’ve wanted it to work more than I did, and self-sabotage isn’t really my thing.  As it turns out, I have a milk supply issue.  So as with my natural birth plan, out the window goes my “exclusively breastfed baby” plan.  And in the process, I have become – as Charlene Frazier would say – the tit monster.  My very patient wife has had to listen to me try to process emotionally what was happening physically.  So has our bff, our mothers, a few friends, and my cousin.  And now you get to hear about it to.  Once I’ve said it this time, I think I’m done.  (That’d be a good thing to have happen the day before we visit the therapist.)  So with sincerest love and apologies in advance to my very natural friends who will most naturally frown on this story, here’s where I stand on breastfeeding.  And why we’re not.

I had latching problems in the hospital.  Some of these little struggles took place in full view of our visiting friends and family.  I think I had a pretty cool head about it, except for a 10-minute meltdown on our last day there.  I knew that establishing a good nursing relationship between Rigby and me would take some time and patience.  So I just tried to relax and “let it happen.”  I took in all the advice the nurses and lactation lady had to offer and planned to put it to good use.

And then we came home and I got this sinking feeling…this tiny child still depends on me for life just as much as he did when renting space in my womb.  I loved my time with him, set up in the nursery with the lullaby Nirvana playing.  At first he did really well.  He latched for 15-25 minutes at a time per side, and was ready to eat every few hours.  The first few days I didn’t really think much of it…he was giving all the feeding cues I’d read about.  His stomach is tiny, and breastfeeding at that age is just as much about bonding as it is about nourishment.  Awesome.  Except that somewhere along the line it turns into an issue of nourishment.  The baby has to eat.  MKL made a wise decision to start supplementing with formula after a particularly long and futile attempt at nursing one night.  I’d still offer the breast with the bottle to keep stimulating milk production, but at least he was getting something in his belly.  And then came the screaming and chest-pounding phase.  Those were a dark 48 hours.  He’d latch for a few minutes and then start to cry and beat his fists against my chest.  I tried to stay light-hearted…even made a few “we are not Celine Dion” jokes.  But we could tell something was wrong, and it was starting to take a toll on my psyche.  As nutty as it sounds, it was hard not to take it personally.  Like he just didn’t have a taste for his mom.

Everyone says breastfeeding is the most natural thing a woman’s body can do.  Not so for me.  I, apparently, needed some instruction.  I was ok with that.  I had talked with friends who told me not to get discouraged.  They told me to use my resources and ask for help.  So I did.  I read every book and website on how to stimulate milk production and then called in the big guns: a home consultation with a lactation specialist recommended by our hospital and pediatrician.  Late last week a polo-sporting, ponytailed soccer mom arrived at my door for a 3-hour discussion of my 100% sure shot at being able to feed our child on my own.  Rigby got weighed and had his mouth examined (I tried not to take offense when she maligned my son’s frenulum.  Frenulua – actually – she managed to insult both of them.); we did an observed feeding, and then he got weighed again.  I was examined, lectured, and instructed to within an inch of my life.  I was admonished for referring to the breast pump as a “medieval torture device.” And yet when she left I felt somewhat more confident about the chances that Rigby and I would eventually get on the same page.  For awhile things started to look up.  We were doing great on the supplement feeder tube and I was faithfully pumping away…despite feeling like a dairy cow.

By the time a woman has been pregnant and given birth, she has every right to claim her body as her own, and trust the signs it sends her.  Mine was telling me, not so subtly, that the milk I wanted to feed our child would not be arriving anytime soon.  My first clue?  My boobs never got big!  As a matter of fact, as I began to lose a little baby weight and was pumping them both for 2-3 hours per day, they were shrinking.  Sore and shrinking.  I can’t think of any two adjectives I’m less eager to associate with my breasts.  There was no getting around it – these boobs are merely ornamental; kinda like my left hand – pretty, part of the overall ensemble, but not the least bit functional.

I’m quite sure that I could’ve done more to get the milk to come in.  Teas, herbs, another trip to the acupuncturist, etc.  But in truth, the whole thing was putting entirely too much stress on me and on our household.  Feedings went from a beautiful bonding time between Rigby and me to a “feed and pump” routine that I had to do 8-10 times per day.  The pumping (intended to stimulate milk) produced nothing, and I began to see a decline in my supply.  Here’s where it gets a little bratty, folks: Frankly, I feel some sense of entitlement when it comes to making a decision that doesn’t involve a whole set of “extras.”  We’ve already done hormone pills, shots, extra ultrasounds, ovulation predictors, acupuncture, herbs, and 8 individual inseminations to get here – not to mention 8 weeks of mid-pregnancy bleeding.  If my body is telling me not to nurse, so be it.  I will relax and go mix some powder and water.  I was raised on a bottle and so was MKL.  Rigby will do just fine.  He’s perfectly healthy and a much happier kid now that he is getting more to eat.  Peace and order have restored to our house, and that makes the whole thing worth it to me.

The pediatrician asked me yesterday if I’m sad about our decision.  And if I’d made it to the end of this post yesterday, I’d probably have said yes.  Absolutely.  I hate being wrong.  I hate quitting.  I hate failing.  I hate that we’ll miss out on all the health benefits of breastfeeding.  I hate that I no longer have an excuse to walk around topless, and that my breasts are still the less-than-impressive rack they’ve always been, instead of those awesome plumped-up new-mommy boobs I’d been looking forward to.  Fortunately today feels a little different.  I’m able to sit back and focus on the dreamy little face currently fart-grinning from the bouncy seat.  You know…this one…the face that melts my heart a hundred times an hour.

Eventually we’ll teach him to buy locally sourced food whenever he can.  For now, I’m pretty sure he doesn’t care where his food comes from – just that it’s delivered with love by his moms.

 

 
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