Tuesday, October 25, 2011


When will I be whole again?

When will I pick myself up?

When does this end?


I'm tired.  Bone-achingly tired.  My eyes are parched and my soul is withered.  Isn't it enough?  When does it stop?  Just when I think I'm better, the anger creeps back in.  I'm not me, I'm some raving, angered, screaming ball of nothing inside.  The worthlessness and the pain, they come in and beat me upside my head, then leave me wondering who the hell did all of that.  I want the ride to stop I want to get off.  I want to be who I was then.  One thousand, six hundred and nine days ago.  Back when I knew bliss and I took it for granted.  I want to be her, looking at the other possible realities and thinking, 'Hmmm, unlucky her.'  This rock on my chest doesn't help me float.

I want to go outside and scream it.  I miss you.  I need you.  I haven't forgotten you.  Not for one of the 8335872000 seconds since I was happy with you.  I feel like it's that next day, 1608 days ago.  That's how raw it all is.  I am frozen right there, losing you every day, over and over again.  All the smiles, the tears, the love, the laughter, the raging hormones of a teenager, more love, leaving me and coming back again.  You'd walk out that door and you'd come back.  You would.  I walked out that door, and I'm never, ever coming back.  Not who I was, not anymore.  I left with you.

Friday, September 16, 2011

And so, she's 2.

That was fast.  It felt like the pregnancy was longer than that.  Actually, if you count the trying, the loss of Zoe, more trying and then the bed rest, it was just over 3 years waiting on Amelia to get here.  And now she's 2 and all that goes along with being 2.  She's a right handful, running and going until I throw my hands up and just sit back and watch.  I'm more worn out now than I was during the no-sleep infant stage.  She's definitely a live-wire kinda girl!

She's also still nursing.  I, personally, can't believe we made it past the first 6 weeks of nipple shields, supplemental nursing systems, bottles (thank you, NICU) and latch issues.  Then there was over supply and overactive letdown.  Next, we battled a dip in supply as my cycles returned and I had surgery.  By the time Millie was one, we'd had thrush, plugged ducts, and more latch issues after her torticollis was corrected and then her first teeth came in.

Our struggles didn't end there, either.  Starting the second year of nursing felt like a chore and I contemplated weaning on more than a few occasions.  We did eventually night wean around 18 months and by then we weren't bed sharing any more.  I still sleep very close to her or neither one of us sleeps well, but it's easier to convince an active toddler that you are NOT an all night diner if your boobs aren't right there in her face.  We are practicing our own form of 'don't offer, don't refuse' but I don't feel like that's weaning as much as it's me just following her verbal cues now that she can use words for things she needs.

Just to clarify, I don't have thoughts of weaning because of outside pressures, but they sure don't help!  I can tell by the look in a persons' eyes when they are going to launch into the 'when will you wean' monologue.  Actually, I've become fairly adept at the shift and shift.  It's where I shift around in my set and look uncomfortable while I try to shift the conversation onto something else.  As difficult as it is for others to comprehend why we are still nursing, it is equally difficult for me to comprehend why it is anyone else's business.  But I try to be diplomatic, for the cause, and inform or educate or just side-track.  Depends on who they are and how much of my time and energy I'd like to invest.

Most days I just feel touched out and over extended on parenting.  It's difficult to find other things to redirect her into doing so that we can head off the 'ninny, peas' and the puppy dog eyes, especially when I'm exhausted from chasing her around all day.  Then there's her allergies which have caused her to change form in nursing.  Now, she nurses with her teeth clamped to my nipple so that it doesn't go anywhere and she can take a few suckles and then breath.  I know it's not her fault, but even when her nose is clear, this is how she nurses.  I think she may have forgotten how to latch correctly but she's not quite ready to let it all go.  And so my nipples have little holes in them, my breasts are covered in snot, and my shirt is hiked over my head so that she has plenty of 'breathing room.'

So, she's 2.  I know the tone of this is less than happy, but right now, on this dreary day, I'm feeling a bit less than happy.  I wanted to savor it;  really suck in all of the baby goodness and enjoy the last.  The reality of the whole thing is that it flew by, just as it did with the others.  She's never been an easy child, so there has been little time for sitting back and soaking it up.  It's been more of a 'get on this damn train now 'cause it's heading outta hear at 100 mph and it ain't lookin' back' kind of 2 years for us.

We couldn't be more in love with a child, but we also have never been challenged like this before.  She's smart, she's high-energy, and she's so alive that everyone who sees her KNOWS that she will wear you out before she even gets started!  They see the exhausted but loving expressions on our faces when we watch her go.  Oh, she's one of those kids.  Yup.  She is and she's here and she's ours.  And, wow!  She's 2 already.  I'd better start planning her wedding now because as fast as she goes, it'll be here before you know it! 
Amelia, 9/17/09 in the NICU with Daddy

Amelia (in the foreground) 9/13/11 at the Zoo with her big sister

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Something's Missing...

We just moved into our new home.  It's a beautiful home: 2600 square feet, four bedrooms, two bathrooms.  I am in love with it and the neighborhood.  Moving has been the usual stress, compounded by the fact that the average temperature was over 100 degrees.  There have been a few hiccups along the way and the usual expenses, but we managed okay.  We've moved the furniture, our personal belongings, some junk and gone back to the old place a few times just to make sure we got everything.

I have been busy unpacking as well.  I feel like I've got the house in fairly good working order.  There are a few boxes that still need to be unpacked and Bill hasn't gotten the stereo or computer situated, but he will.  I've wondered around the last few days looking to see what doesn't fit or is out of place.  I've moved things around and then moved some of them back.  Things look great, but I couldn't shake the feeling that something wasn't in it's place.

And then I found it.  The box.  It was in it's usual place, at least, in the place I've kept it since I had Bill make it.  Under the passenger's seat in the Suburban.  I've known it's there for the last four years but it startled me this morning to find it as I was vacuuming out the truck.  The tears immediately came.  I had to go in and get a drink of water and sit down.

Then, I had to look inside of the box.  You see, I haven't looked in that box since the day I put all of the contents inside and put it under the passenger seat.  I wanted it with me, watching over me, no matter where I went.  We agreed that we'd bury it when we got a home of our own.  As I pulled it out, the lid toppled off and I HAD to look inside.  Everything was just the same:  little green booties, hat, mitts;  forms and paperwork from the hospital and a couple of hospital bracelets;  two ultrasound pictures and two pregnancy test strips with + signs.  All the things in this world that I have to prove that one day in late May, 2007, I lost my precious baby.

I'm going to bury that box in my new yard.  She will be out there, watching her sisters and their new home.  She will be out there and we will be in here.  The family that will never be complete, who will always have something missing because SOMEONE is missing.  Zoe Evelyn will be forever waiting until the rest of us no longer need an Earthly home and we can join her, in her home, out there.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Fighting the Good Fight

This post is in response to a call for sharing of breastfeeding experiences in 100 words or less from Amber McCann over at Nourish Breastfeeding Support .  Feel free to send Amber your submission, too!

Here's what I sent in and before you read this please know that EVERY word I've ever said to any of you encouraging you to breastfeed, I have meant from the bottom of my soul.  I believe in YOU, your breastfeeding powers, your child, and myself as a person who supports and champions breastfeeding.  However, I am at a turning point in my own breastfeeding relationship and I am not going to lie and tell anyone that I'm looking at doing what is best only for Millie.  There are two people directly invovled in this and I will consider us both when approaching what we do in the future.  Also, for anyone who believes that breastfeeding well into the toddler years is 'only for the mom' or to 'keep the baby a baby longer' or some other horse-shit, don't let the door hit you in your horse's ass. 

It seems I'm always fighting for breastfeeding. Whether in the NICU with my baby, for friends and family who struggle, for women who get kicked out of public places. Now, I'm fighting with myself. My nursling is almost two and I'm burn-out. She's never been a great sleeper and nursing is so important to her. I fought hard to get her to nurse; why am I so keen to have her stop? She's my last, and I know it's what she needs, but I'm on the verge of shutting down. I'm trying. I'm fighting for you, Millie! 

Friday, July 8, 2011

Yea, she's a toddler!

I've recently encountered less than positive attitudes about my breastfeeding relationship with Millie.  She's approaching the big "2" and I guess some have taken it upon themselves to judge us negatively for continuing to nurse her.  My husband is supportive of nursing, but he and I both agree that she does need some boundaries now that she is an older nursling.  However, weaning is nowhere in our immediate future.  She's one of those kids who could nurse PAST nursery school! 

If you read my last post, There's Something About Toddlerhood, you'll know that breastfeeding her has become quite challenging.  She is very distractible and wants to nurse every time I sit down.  She's also very vocal about her "NINNIES" and she loves to try and get her whole body into my shirt while she is nursing.  And it doesn't help that she's very big for her age.  She's as big as Natalie was at 3 and she is currently at 95% for height and 70% for weight at 21 months old.  For those and several other reasons, my husband and I have decided to limit her nursing a little.  I feel torn over this decision but I know in the long run, I am doing my best for her and still saving the relationship.  I was starting to loathe the time nursing her and it's not so skin-crawlingly annoying now.

The negativity that we have received comes in two ways.  The first is from those who openly exclaim, 'OMG are you still breastfeeding,' said with extra grossness emphasis placed on the word breastfeeding.  The second is more subtle, a sort of ninja approach to disapproval.  It's little comments like, 'Oh, but aren't you a big girl,' when she starts asking for ninnies or the ever popular anectdotes about children who breastfeed a long time are spoiled and their cousing Suzy is living proof.

First off, I really wonder why people feel the need to interject their opinion onto my breastfeeding my daughter.  I certainly do not ask them to tell me how nasty they think breastfeeding, in general, is.  And when compared to some of the crap they feed their kids, I can think of a whole lot worse to give Millie, nutrition wise.   

Second, not their boob.  I have a friend (Hello, Alaina!) who would say, 'If they can see my boob, they are too damn close and they need their eye poked out.'  I'm more of the subtle, 'Can't you mind your own damn business,' camp myself.

I'd also like to clarify a few points about nursing an older baby or toddler or preschooler.

What nursing a child over the age of 1 is:

  • Challenging
  • Good tantrum control
  • A way of reconnecting
  • Annoying (sometimes)
  • Nutrition for very picky eaters
  • Comfort
  • Not for everyone
What nursing a child over 1 is NOT:
  • Easy
  • Detrimental to anyone's health or well-being
  • Unusual (the average weaning age around the world is 4)
  • Done because of sexual feelings
  • Bad for a current pregnancy
The last point I would like to especially clarify.  I did nurse through one pregnancy, and that pregnancy did result in a miscarriage at 12.5 weeks.  However, none of my tests came back showing why I miscarried and all of my hormone levels had been normal just before the baby had died.  She didn't die because I was still nursing her 18 month old sister.  Most likely, she died because the lining of my uterus was not what it should be because I had had an IUD and I have endometriosis. 

It is generally considered safe to breastfeed while pregnant.  There isn't much research directed specifically towards breastfeeding while pregnant, but direct inference would lead one to believe that it is safe. 

At birth, a mother doesn't automatically make milk.  The birth of the baby triggers a drastic lowering of several hormones  and allows the prolactin secreted during pregnancy to overcome those hormones and produce milk.  During the months post-partum, those hormones level out and progesterone and other hormones level off.  In order to become pregnant, progesterone levels must be higher and be maintained at a higher level.  It would seem that the progesterone and the prolactin are in a battle, but if they truly are (as in the period of time before any other source of food or nipple is introduced) then becoming pregnant in the first place is difficult.  Decreased levels of progesterone and increased levels of prolactin would deter becoming pregnant and are a major reason that breastfeeding, along with other Natural Family Planning techniques are a choice of birth control for some families.

Breastfeeding also releases oxytocin, which is the hormone that is released during labor to help the uterus contract.  As stated in the above, oxytocin receptors in the uterus are very minimal until such time as labor is warranted (about 38 weeks) and therefore the uterus is not succeptible to irritation by the oxytocin.  The exception would be women who have had a preterm labor and or birth.  The exception would be me.  However, I didn't have any abnormalities during the pregnancy that I lost.  I didn't even have my usual spotting and heavy cramping of early pregnancy and was not diagnosed with Hyperemesis Gravardium as in my other pregnancies. 

I was having a 'normal' pregnancy until one day, quite unexpectedly, our baby died.  It had NOTHING to do with me nursing her sister.  My body was prepared to do what it had to do in order for all three of us to survive as far as nutrition went.  It was, however, deficient because of synthetic hormone use.  I lost my baby because I had previously used birth control that was not approved for use in those with endometriosis (and my doctor knew this), not because I breastfed.  Natalie weaned long before I got pregnant with Millie, so that was a non-issue in my difficult pregnancy with Millie. 

I hope this novella clarifies a few things.  It probably won't;  I can always hope!  In short, I breastfeed Millie because she and I want to.  If you don't like it, I'd be glad to spew research and scientific evidence at you all day long.  But right now, she's asking for "NINNIES" and I'm going to go with my old stand-by:  MIND YOUR OWN DAMN BUSINESS!

Edit:  I am not currently pregnant.  Sorry!

Monday, June 20, 2011

There's Something About Toddlerhood

Yesterday, I fell off of the Peaceful Parenting bandwagon.  I yelled at my 21 month old.  It was a long and tiring day and after nursing her several times and being used as a trampoline, a spring board, and a cuddly lovey most of the day, I was touched out.  She is at the stage where run-by nursing and on-demand EVERYTHING are the flavors of the moment.  My husband, bless him, is of little use when she wants MAMAMAMAMA.  So, I yelled at her.

I felt awful.  I berated myself.  I moved on.  I ran back up to the AP wagon and said, in my most humble and GENTLE in-door voice, "May I please get back on?"  Because I'm a good parent!  I am also human and I have 5 other children (and one 'grown' child) and a husband and all of the responsibilities that come along with that PLUS house hunting and physical therapy for my back and worrying about my aging grandmother and .....  My life is NOT low maintenance and stress free.  Somethings, sometimes, have to give.

Attachment parenting a child is a wonderful experience.  However, parenting a toddler sometimes falls outside of the 'attachment' zone.  There are days, hours, moments that I really do not want to be in the vicinity of the once lovely but now having a mini mervous breakdown little girl that calls me MAAAAAAMMMMAAA at the absolute top of her voice.  When toys are being flung at random around the room like a lawn sprinkler and the only sound I hear is the ear splitting scream of "MIIIIIIINNNNNEEEE" even when she stopped yelling it 3 minutes ago.   I want to run and hide when she grabs and paws at my shirt and my breast, demanding "ninny" right now and for the next hour or whenever she decides that I can put them away.  There are times I'd really love it to be just me, and maybe my husband, without her needing to 'hugga me' every 30 seconds when her sister takes her toy back that toddlerzilla so swiftly, and LOUDLY stold in the first place.

I really do not want to be attached to the octopus on speed, especially not when that octopus has my tender breast in her razor-loaded mouth!  I swear, she flails so fast and so much that her 4 appendages become 234 as she simultaneously hits, pokes, jabs, kicks, and bites me.  Just when I think I've got that kicking leg tied down, here comes the jabbing finger.  And there are 10 of those!  I feel outnumbered.

And a sling.  Bwahahahahaha.  I've never seen a funnier word.  I always suggest babywearing to green mamas struggling with their newly born cling-ons, but try putting Octotoddler into a sling.  The only thing you'll get out of that one is a busted lip and a contraption strapped to your back that is very reminiscent of a straight jacket.  The wrap is bad, the ring sling is useless, and the mai-tai becomes the hangman's noose when flail-o-toddler gets within 10 feet of it.  I've never in my life been more flustered that the few times I've actually gone out on a limb and prayed for her to go in the carrier and give me some peace.  Did I mention physical therapy on my back.  Yea.

Yet, there has to be something about toddlerhood.  Something that makes us go back and do it again (and in my case, again and again, and again...infinity!)  There has to be something redeeming about toddlers.  Some wonderous, magical thing.  It's the markers on the wall just after you've cleaned them?  No.  Oh, I know, it's the food fling fest and constant bathing afterwards?  Urm...well.  The screaming?  Demanding?  Melt-downs in public?  Innocently repeated curse words at grandma's?  The refusal to wear clothing, especially clothing appropriate to the season?  Help me out here.

Good thing humans don't eat their young and that those young are so cute and lovable.  Because she would have been served up on pasta LONG ago.  :) 


Thursday, March 31, 2011

Upcycled Diapers Tutorial

Just a small disclaimer to start.  I am NOT a seamstress!  These were done based off of a pattern on With A Tangled Skein and I modified it to a "T" pattern that fits my baby better.  You might find her tutorial to be more complete or easier to follow.  This is my first tutorial, so if you see anything amiss, please let me know!  Now, on with Upcycled Diapers!

The Pants

 I brought these home in anticipation of making diapers out of them, but my kids thought otherwise!  It does give you a perspective of how big the pants are (4X) so that you don't go thinkin' you can make 3 dipes out of a pair of regular jogging pants. 

Here are the pants laid out in preparation of the first cut!  They are jogging pants from a local retailer, clearance price of $1.50.  So, with 10% tax, that's $1.65 for the pair.  You can use a sweat shirt, but you'll only get 1 diaper from a large sized shirt.

First, I cut the waist band off.

Second, I cut the seams apart so that I had 2 pieces that looked like this.

Next, I found a diaper that I had made previously that I liked.  At first, I made the preflats as mentioned above, but they didn't fit well, so I modified them into a "T" shape. 

I tried several configurations and finally managed to get 3 diapers out of the material!  You'll need to draw your diapers a bit larger than actual fit in order to figure in seam allowances. 

After you've drawn all your diaper shapes (you can draw on front side or back side because it will all get covered once you sew), place the cut out shapes onto the other larger piece of material RIGHT SIDES TOGETHER and draw the outlines.  This time, you can draw the exact shape because you've already built in your seam allowances. 

Cut out the second set of diapers. 

Put the originals RIGHT SIDES TOGETHER and sew around the edges using a 1/4" seam allowance and a zigzag stitch.  Be sure to leave a small opening in the short end of the diaper for turning the fabric.  You will want to use a smaller zigzag, but not too small so that the material doesn't bunch.   

Trim up your edges and snip notches along corners and bends.  It's important to have neat and close edges!

Turn your diaper right side out.

Next, make sure all corners and edges of the diaper are fully turned out.  Fold under the open space along the short end and sew together using a very narrow straight stitch. 

Finally, sew around the perimeter of the diaper with a larger zigzag stitch and using about a 1/2" seam.

You could put more layers together, but these diapers work great as 2 layers with a liner and a wool cover. 

And just one more of the gorgeous model, helping mama make the diapers: