Thursday, April 29, 2010

Back Home

Last week was trying. Mostly in good ways, but I've decided it's probably not healthy - mentally or physically - to be that busy. Which is ironic, considering that's how I spent my high school and college years.

I'm not sure how, but I made it through last week. It was a bit of an emotional roller coaster, to say the least.

DS is teething something major. I think his molars are coming in, though he won't let me look and bites me if I try to get a feel. That led to a rather sleepless night last Sunday (before my trip), which led to both of us passing out around 7pm on Monday night. So I got nothing done that evening. Tuesday and Wednesday night were meetings, and I got home at 10:30 and 11:00 pm, respectively. Thursday night was departure night! My flight didn't leave until Friday morning, but I wasn't driving and the ladies who were lived 20 mins away, and closer to the airport. It would be a bit much to expect to be picked up at 4:30 am just so I cold hold DS for a few hours more. Didn't stop the tears, though.

Let me say that I am not a crier. No offense to those who are, but I tend to keep my emotions in check and hate the thought of being seen as "weak." A pride issue more than anything, but I'm working on it. Regardless, I was bawling like a baby when I left home Thursday night. I barely slept that evening and spent a marathon day traveling on Friday.

California itself was a blast. Everyone was really cool, and I had a lot of fun. And a lot of drinks. Really took me back to my college days (not that I was a boozehound, but I knew how to party). And, as sad as it is, being drunk each night certainly helped me sleep, instead of laying awake worried about DS.

We got back Sunday evening. He was in tears on seeing me, and spent about 2 hours firmly attached to my breasts. He had refused any bottles or sippy cups of milk while I was gone, so he was making up for it with a vengeance. And that made me very happy, though I can't tell you how sore I was the first part of this week. It was almost (almost) as bad as nursing a newborn again. But the emotional joy makes up in spades for the physical pain. I know which one is temporary, and which one will be with me forever.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

First time for everything

This has been a stressful week. The new job is going well, but I have two meetings (one yesterday and one tomorrow) at which I must represent my new company, take notes, and write something intelligent for distribution. That would be much, much easier if I had any clue what was going on. A lot of the information is highly technical, and my English degree didn't include a concentration in trade policy. My new boss understands, though, and just wants to expose me a bit more to the industry. I wonder if they'll be serving wine at the lunch meeting tomorrow? I could certainly use some fortification.

In addition to work stress, one of my part-time web business clients has given me a slew of information to post and set up this week. And that would normally be ok, except the 3rd week of the month is my "meetings week." LLL and ICAN meetings Tuesday and Wednesday night. Even with the stress I'm not willing to miss those - they keep me grounded.

And to top it off, this week I'll be going on my first overnight trip sans-baby. And it's not a small trip, either. I'm flying to California and will be gone for 3 nights and 3 days. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't freaking out something major.

A is still night nursing and co-sleeping. He stopped taking bottles two or three months ago, and doesn't really care for expressed milk in a sippy cup, either. I've been a bundle of stress worrying about how he is going to do at night, if he's going to drink any milk at all, if I should resume pumping this week, if there's enough milk in the freezer should he decide he likes it again... so many ifs!

Thankfully, the wonderful ladies at LLL last night talked me down. DH has been saying these things all week (well, really all month), but it was good to hear it from others. It was unfortunate that no one there had been in a similar circumstance, but they convinced me of what I already knew - trust your baby.

So I'm working on that. And on not stressing. And on being organized enough to get everything done that needs to get done. And clearly, blogging is not on that list.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

When the breasts hit the fan

I haven't blogged in a while (sorry!), but this week the blogosphere has been exploding and I can't NOT write. A study came out this week that concludes that breastfeeding saves lives and money. Obviously, it met with a LOT of contention as it touched on that most sacred of all mommy-wars topics, breast vs. formula.

How sad it is that we as a society, and as women, have come to such a silly dichotomy. Instead of addressing the issue head-on of WHY more women don't breastfeed exclusively for 6 months (currently <14%), we bicker about guilt trips, power trips, and egos.

I've been following The Feminist Breeder for a long time, and her post on the issue hit the nail on the head, in my book. Yet glossing over the comments, there are still women who got angry at Gina for her statements. If breastfeeding is physically impossible for you, why would that make you feel guilty? Allow me to throw out my own crazy analogy. If you happened by a car wreck, and saw someone trapped under a 2-ton truck, would you feel guilty that you couldn't lift it up off of them? Of course not! And I'm sure you would do all you could to help - calling 911, talking to them, giving the police your witness - and then go home and feel good about what you did. So the same can be said of mom's who tried, really, really hard, and still couldn't do it.

Now let me flip that example on it's head. Say you're a body builder, and your trainer and everyone else in the world expects you to be able to lift 2 tons, easy no problem. Except your trainer hasn't been helping you with a good weight lifting program, and your nutritionist said it was OK to eat junk food and skip the protein and carbs, and your family made it almost impossible for you to get to the gym every day. So, you SHOULD be able to save that person's life by lifting that truck, no problem. And everyone looks at you and says, "hey she's a body builder she should be able to do this." But you try, and you can't. You keep trying and give yourself a hernia. But you fail. THIS is what (in my best guess) over 90% of women who don't breastfeed experience. They should have all of the tools and support, yet they are undermined and simply not up to the task when it's presented to them.

I was one of those moms. Incredibly ill-equipped to handle breastfeeding. I had a terrible c-section, an awful recovery, and a post-op infection that saw me bedridden for over a month. But guess what? I did it. My baby is now 13 months, and still breastfeeding like a champ. I saw two LCs in the hospital. When I was discharged, I was still clueless. He just wouldn't latch. We had to feed him formula our first night home because he was screaming from hunger. The very next morning, we packed up and went back to the hospital LC. Rented a pump and got more private instruction. Went home and I still managed to fail. Saw the pediatrician (and my OB) the next day and asked for more help. Went home - and did just a little better. Returned to the hospital for a group class the next day. Failed at that, and had to return the next day. All this time I could barely walk, or function, but I was determined. The next week we had to return to the pediatrician again, because DS's weight had dropped so much. I saw an LC because we were still having tons of pain and latching issues. She gave me 2 cans of formula. We returned to the hospital, brought back the rental and bought a pump. I gave myself oversupply and that caused another host of problems.

The pain and problems didn't let up until I was almost ready to return to work at 12 weeks. But they did resolve. We persevered. It cost a lot of money in LC fees, pump rental and purchase, and a lot of stress and sleepless nights. I probably cried several times a day, and I am NOT a crier. Once a month when the hormones get to me, I might shed a tear. That's about it. My family and friends were at a total loss as how to help me, because they'd never seen me like that before. My own mother - who breastfed all her kids - kept telling me to give up and give him formula.

How do we expect women to succeed in this type of environment? I know I persevered, in part, because I HATE IT when people tell me I can't do something. I like to be contrary. And I'd already failed at birth, so I wasn't going to let this get to me too. But not everyone is like that, and not everyone should HAVE to be like that in order to make something natural work out.

So next steps? The addition of pumping space requirements at work in the Health Care legislation is a start. Getting free formula out of hospitals is another step. And establishing paid maternity leave across the board will help immeasurably. But at the end of the day, we need a dialog change. We need to stop the bickering, look at the facts, and then re-frame the issue and argument. Only then will we save lives and protect our bottom line.