Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Is almost upon us.

Thankgiving is my favorite holiday. Christmas, for many years, was a big source of stress for me. Because I was alone. On Thanksgiving - my family would all gather together - for many years at my mom's house - or one of my sisters - we would all be together, my mom, me, my two sisters and their husbands, and their numerous kids. I did not get married until I was 32 - and so when Christmas rolled around - my oldest sister and her children were at her in-laws house. My second oldest sister was out of town and usually at her in-laws house with her kids as well. My mom was very busy with church on Christmas Eve and Christmas - and for a while there - busy with her second husband's family (until they got divorced.) And I was - alone.

I never actually stayed home alone - I don't think. I usually foisted myself off on somebody - my in town sister and her in-laws (where I felt out of place - why am I my sister's in-laws on Christmas Eve?) ... or I'd be with my mom and her husbands' family ... one year I actually flew to Los Angeles with a friend and stayed in the Georgian Hotel in Santa Monica for Christmas. I can't remember what we actually did on Christmas Day though. Maybe that was the day we flew out. Anyway - I pretty much dreaded Christmas. But I have always loved Thanksgiving.

Last year though - we pretty much skipped Thanksgiving. I was a hot post-partum mess - with scabby, bleeding nips from my ill fated breastfeeding adventure ... Jack was a week and a half old and losing weight (and would soon end up in the hospital diagnosed as failure to thrive) ... I was so stressed out and exhausted. I stayed home and nursed my anxiety and attempted to nurse my (literally) starving child and cried and someone brought us turkey later in the day.

So last year sucked.

Far worse than my breastfeeding misadventures though - was the October death of my nephew, David. A month before I gave birth - my nephew took his own life. He was 15 - and he climbed up a tree in the woods near his house - put a rope around his neck - and jumped. He was found a day later. My sister, his mother, was still pretty much in shock when Thanksgiving rolled around last year. I think it takes a long time to register that your child is not just at a friends house or temporarily absent somehow - but truly has died and is never coming back. I still don't think I've really dealt with David's death. I was in the middle of welcoming a new life - and I don't think I really have ever wrapped my mind around it, to be honest. And so this year will be somewhat somber as well, because this year, my sister does know that David is gone - lost to suicide - a suicide that no one predicted, that he never threatened, and that rocked his family to its core. David left his mother, father, 4 brothers and a sister behind.

November is also the month that my other sister's husband died. Four years ago, on November 9, from an accidental drug overdose, at age 39. Leaving behind my sister, a son, two daughters, and a pile of debt. That son, my nephew, struggles now with a serious anxiety disorder and may be bipolar. At 22 years old, he spends most of his time at home, in his room, cannot work, but refuses to go on disability - "welfare" - as he calls it. My sister is chronically depressed, and approaches life - and problems - with a lethargy that alternates frustrates and angers me -- and makes me sad. She and her children get by on very little money, and are always struggling to make ends meet. Her youngest daughter, now in second grade, is also anxious -- her oldest daughter, 16 -- doing fairly well -- but not as well as she would be if her father hadn't become addicted to drugs - died - and left behind a mother who is literally crippled by her own depression and fear.

But with November - comes my son's birthday. And Thanksgiving. And though I have tears in my eyes as I type this - I am thankful. I am thankful for my beautiful son. I am thankful for his November birthday - a light in what could be a dark season for all of us, year after year. I am thankful that all of us will be together this year - at my home - and though it will not be perfect, and there will be sadness - there will also be laughter, and good food, and we will manage to have some fun.

Life is hard. Harder for some than others. Savor every beautiful moment you are graced with - and eat as much as you want this Thanksgiving.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.


Saturday, November 14, 2009

How Did This Year Go So Fast?

Almost one year old. Impossible.

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Slow down little man.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Oh. Um .. hi.

It is pathetic - PATHETIC! - that it has been this long since I last blogged. So let's catch up!

I left off thinking Jack's helmet would be off in early August. Nope - mid-September! And his head is still not perfect - but we definitely achieved some correction. I am a spaz though - and lately (a month and a half out of the helmet) I find myself focusing on some of the facial asymmetry that I literally DID NOT SEE before - a slightly fuller right cheek ... the remains of the forehead bulge ... to the point where last week I felt panicky wondering if his head was regressing ... if the helmet did not do what it should have ... if we took him out of it too soon (we had too though - one of the helmet "sideburns" was starting to press into his face.) I talked it over with the specialist at Children's Hospital - she was mildly helpful. I'm taking him in for another scan at the orthotist's office next week. Just to see. I really hope she scans him and says "you're crazy, his head looks better than ever." Because if she says "hmm. Yeah. There does seem to be some regression" - I don't know what I'll do. I really don't. Ugh. It never ends.

In other news ... head and face imperfections notwithstanding - Jack - is beautiful. (Maybe that's why I obsess - he is such a beautiful child - I just don't want him to ever have to worry about a cranial-facial deformity that never should have happened in the first place. OK deformity is a dramatic word but I don't know what else fits.) Hospitals should educate new moms and dads about PLAGIOCEPHALY - not just say "do tummy time!" That means nothing. There should be clear instructions to alternate the side of the head your baby sleeps on - EVERY NIGHT. The whole thing pisses me off. If we ever have another baby (and that's another topic for another post) you can bet your ass I'll be more on top of it. Plus everything else that "went wrong" with my fledgling attempt at motherhood. Don't get me wrong - I am blessed with the best baby in the world - he is beautiful, sweet, not fussy - I am so lucky. And I know I'm a good mom - and I know that every mom has to figure these things out as she goes. People can only tell you so much - most of it - you just have to make up as you go. And then you understand how it all works. Like many things in life!

OK .. so that no one is alarmed and thinks poor Jack has a big weird bulbous head now or a deformed face .. here is my beautiful baby boy - just 2 weeks away from turning one (which is equal parts wonderful - and awful. How did it happen SO FREAKING FAST???) I want another one.

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And because I haven't posted in so long .. here's a few from our August beach trip as well!

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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Heading Toward Helmet Free....

... well, I don't want to jump the gun but Jack's head looks GOOD. Helmet check tomorrow morning - and we should get an END DATE tomorrow - probably within 2 - 3 weeks. Woot!!!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


Some good friends were laid off at my company today. I am still standing - but very possibly - not for long. I am sick about it. I hate how fucking stressful life is - for some of us. And for some people - not at all. Nobody said it was fair though, right?

Thursday, June 25, 2009


So I got a bill from the Orthotic and Prosthetic company the other day .. for TWO THOUSAND DOLLARS. Um, what? I thought for sure it was a mistake as they told me we were good to go as far as insurance coverage. I didn't check, but they did - or so I thought. Well, I guess they didn't. Because Highmark denied us. The cost for the helmet is 3000 dollars .. the discount for non-covered patients is 1000 dollars - hence the unexpected bill for 2000 bucks.

I'm fighting it. Will appeal to the insurance company. But it's yet ANOTHER battle to fight and if you've read this blog over time - you know I have fought and fought and FOUGHT. From infertility ... to a risky pregnancy ... to breastfeeding disaster ... and then fighting for the plagiocephaly diagnosis after pedi blew me off and now - this. Another fight. (And I've never even gone into detail here about the battles outside of my immediate family ... my sister's loss of her husband and the (ongoing) battle to keep her and her kids afloat ... my other sister's unspeakably tragic loss of her 15 year old son last fall. Yeah, we've had more than our share heaped on us in recent years.)

And even stupid stuff ... working to get our house refinanced (successfully! woot!) Laboring over whether or not to go part-time in the fall so I can spend at least one more day a week with my son (I think I'm doing it. We'll take a hit financially but working five days a week is eating my soul. I fought so hard for my little guy - it's too much time away from him. But that's a battle I fight with J - who is afraid of financial insecurity - and understandably so in this shaky, fucked up economy. So it's an internal battle I fight with myself too - my own fears and doubts - wanting to make the best decision for JACK.)

Mama's tired.

But I'm on it. I found some really well written successful appeal letters (insurers love to deny coverage for these helmets) so I am cutting and pasting the good stuff and customizing it to reflect Jack's situation. And making calls to the specialist he saw at Children's and asking them to gather up paperwork and help me out and having my mom sign an affidavit that as his childcare provider she participated in efforts to reposition him since before he was 3 months old and etc., etc., etc. I'm on it.

BUT THIS NEEDS TO BE MY LAST BATTLE! At least for a few months. I need a break. Really.


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

3 millimeters!

That's how much Jack's head has grown in 2 weeks - this is good - we are trucking right along in helmet-ville!

I brought up our August vacation and the fact that we'd be going from PA to SC - where it will be HOT HOT HOT and at first the orthotist was just very matter of fact "he'll be fine, and you can take it off as needed if he gets overheated" and I was so bummed because I was hoping she'd say "oh, you''ll probably be done by then" but then she DID say "and you could be done by then anyway" so that made me happy!

Grow Jack's head, grow! (It is noticeably better too - was never too bad to begin with so I am hoping we ARE done by early August. All depends on how much and how fast his little noggin grows - the helmet guides growth but can only do so if there IS growth.)

Monday, June 8, 2009

Super BAby, Super SPACE MAN!

That's how we sing it! Here's my beautiful baby, rockin' his helmet!

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Sunday, May 31, 2009

Doing a little better...

... well, a lot better actually. He slept in his helmet last night - and he is sleeping in it now. He napped in it yesterday and today as well. He was in bed with me most of last night and will probably end up there again, which is fine with me. Whatever it takes to help him through this.

Pray for a big cranial growth spurt that gets us out of this thing FAST.

The helmet is my nemesis. Ugh.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Helmet Heartache

It's not going well. We had a really difficult first night in the helmet. Well, scratch that - because he's not in it. Close to an hour of exhausted screaming and crying - the helmet is off - and Jack is asleep. He literally crumpled with relief once it was off. I don't know how we're going to do this. I'm really beside myself.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


My little trooper cut not one, but TWO teeth over Memorial Day weekend. He was fussy Saturday afternoon and I could see one front bottom tooth under his gums but did not realize it was THIS CLOSE to busting through.. Well, by Sunday - it was through! Sharp little sucker too! And by Sunday I could tell the other was not far behind - it came through by Monday (Memorial Day.) He's been teething for a while - but once they hit 4 months, every fussy episode is attributed to "teething" - but you never have clear evidence that indeed - this IS teething - until you can see a tooth beneath (or above!) or notice inflamed gums.

I cried because it is evidence of time passing ... and because someday Jack will grow up and leave me. That is insane, I know, but I'm having a hard time with all of it. Knowing that he is probably my only baby (and wishing I could have more, while at the same time trying to remember to be GRATEFUL for the amazing little boy I am SO BLESSED to have in my life.) He is such a wonderful baby. So, so pleasant, so beautiful - I am so lucky.

Let's see .. what else. I pumped for what appears to the be the LAST TIME yesterday morning - so that's contributed to my emotional state too. I am glad to be done pumping, but as I've said before, SAD that this chapter is over, and that it didn't go how I'd hoped. I would love to still be nursing my little boy. We were robbed of that opportunity. I know I have to let it go. And I do, little by little. I had no trauma over my very medicalized birth as crunchy birth wannabe's sometimes do. But I do suffer from not having been able to breastfeed - especially as it was a situation that with the right information - probably could have been fixed. That's hard. Ugh. I guess this is the place to write about it though - and to get those feelings out - and set them free.

Here is a pic of my beautiful boy - one week before he cut his first tooth! You can tell he was feeling teethy though!!

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He is the love of my life. Hands down. And I sure love his dad too - but this little guy, wow. It's surely nothing I've ever known before. Pure love. Teeth and all!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Hanging Up The Horns

Well, my breastfeeding story is coming to an end. And I’m really, really, really, really sad about it. Which is crazy – given that for the last 5 and a half months – my “breastfeeding” story has consisted of feeding exclusively pumped breastmilk to my child. (See “my breastfeeding tale of woe..) And EP'ing, as it is known, is not for the faint of heart. It's really difficult, and very draining. So for me to be sad that it's ending - is somewhat bizarre. But it's not just the end of pumping. It's the end of my breasts producing milk for Jack .. the end of what I had hoped would be a beautiful experience (but wasn't) .. the end of any possibility that Jack will ever nurse again .. the end of something I wanted very badly for him. My inability to nurse Jack will always be a hurt in my heart. I do not dwell or obsess about it. But it's there. It broke my heart.

I decided, a while ago, that 6 months would be it as far as EP'ing. If we were nursing at the breast - I have no doubt we'd go much, much longer. But that is not our story, and EP'ing bears no resemblance to nursing at the breast. It is incredibly time consuming .. means living your life in 3 - 4 hour increments, always tethered to the pump .. basically you breastfeed a machine while your child waits .. it's all the work of breastfeeding AND formula feeding - but none of the beautiful bonding of nursing at the breast -- and none of the ease of simply readying a bottle of formula. Just not a simple endeavor - by any stretch.

Jack turned 6 months old this past Sunday – May 17. Unbelievable. My big boy. He is so amazing. But as I wrote before – he needs a helmet for plagiocephaly – so that means lots of appointments which make pumping on any kind of a schedule even more ridiculous than it already is. And also – with warmer weather upon us – I decided that I want to spend my time with Jack doing other things besides pumping – which has actually taken time AWAY from Jack. I have questioned myself more than once – am I doing the right thing? Do the benefits of feeding him breastmilk outweigh the fact that it is interfering with my ability to spend as much time with my son as possible, especially given that I am a working mom?

Up until 6 months – my answer was “yes”. But now – it’s no. At 6 months – Jack’s digestive system is mature enough to handle solid foods – and – an all formula diet. To make myself feel better – I have switched him to Earth’s Best organic formula (before I was supplementing approximately 2 bottles a day using Similac.) But formula will be his new solo beverage – soon (I’m still pumping a couple of times a day right now – just today dropped from 3 to 2 .. before that had dropped from 4 to 3 for over a week – and before that had been at 5 pumping sessions per day for months and months and MONTHS.)

I am very proud of myself. I wanted to quit a hundred times, I had so many obstacles, and I have big, ugly, purple keloid scars on both nipples from all the damage done the first 2 weeks of Jack’s life while I was still putting him on the breast. But I kept going. I believed he deserved breastmilk and I am a stubborn, stubborn lady. So I found a way to give it to him.

I love you Jack. So much. I hope I did the right thing by you. I think I did. But I’m hanging up the horns – for good (at least this go round…) – very soon. And I think it will be a good thing for both of us. Or at least an OK thing. With some good ... more time for walks together ... no more letting you fuss on your playmat alone while I finish pumping ... and a less exhausted, more relaxed mommy.

It hurts to think I won’t be giving him breastmilk any more though. I have always taken GREAT satisfaction in watching him drink a bottle of breastmilk. It always made me feel so happy – made all the horrid pumping worth it. And now that is coming to an end. And it’s hard. But it’s time. Soon.

Thursday, May 7, 2009


So my poor little bub has plagiocephaly. Here is a note we recently sent to family and friends to explain what's up:

Hi friends .. sorry for the “mass” e-mail - but rather than explain the same situation over and over again we thought we’d send out one “informational” e-mail to those of you who are going to be seeing our darling son Jack this summer, either in person or pictures.

Jack has been diagnosed with a treatable, fixable condition called unilateral positional plagiocephaly. The back right side of his head has become somewhat flattened - from Jack’s propensity to always sleep on that side of his head (despite our efforts to keep him off of it over the past few months.) In the early 90’s - when the put your baby on his/her "back to sleep" campaign began - the incidence of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) dropped by something like 40 percent. Unfortunately, the incidence of plagiocephaly shot way up. When we all slept on our tummies, this wasn’t an issue. Now that babies sleep on their backs - plagiocephaly affects 1 in 70 babies. However, as plagiocephaly is treatable - and SIDS obviously is not - the healthcare community views plagiocephaly as the lesser of 2 evils.

The slight flattening of Jack’s head has also caused slight changes to some of his facial features and the position of his right ear. So - to help Jack’s head and face round out properly as he grows - he will be outfitted with a special orthotic device sometime in May and wear it this summer - it looks like a helmet - you have probably seen babies wearing these as it is an increasingly common condition. Once his treatment is complete - there should be no lasting effects on either his head or his face.

Jack’s brain and development are not affected by the plagiocephaly. So while in essence this is a “cosmetic” condition - it is important that it be corrected while his skull is still soft. We feel bad for our little guy - but have been told that babies adjust to the helmets very well. He will wear it 23 hours a day - for a minimum of 3 months. We were also told that we haven’t done anything “wrong” as parents - some babies have softer skulls than others - it's more common in boys -- and in fact our efforts for the last few months to keep him off of his head while awake and to reposition him while sleeping have kept his condition from getting worse. Still - a specialist at Children's has determined that treatment is necessary - and so our Jack will be in his corrective “helmet” this summer. We know that he will rock that helmet, and look as adorable as ever.

So .. when you see Jack in person or pics in a month or so ... now you will know that he is not playing on some new 6 month old baby lacrosse team. He is doing just fine, just needs a little reshaping.

Best -

A & J (and Jack!)

Ugh. We'll get through it. But it's always something.. you know?

Friday, April 17, 2009

Yep, 5 months.

I don't know who this LONG baby in my house is - he is such a beautiful big boy. I love him more every day. Don't know how it's possible he was born FIVE months ago though. It's awful how fast it goes.

He is getting better and better at the whole sleeping thing - 9pm to 6 or 7am - then bottle - and usually back to sleep for another hour. And often puts himself to sleep at night and for naps with just some loud "talking" beforehand or minimal fussing (but if it veers into crying mama still comes to the rescue and bounces and soothes until he can fall asleep - I'd do that every night if he wanted me to but sometimes he just wants me to lay him down so he can do his own thing! My big boy. *sniff*)

He "talks" and yells and "sings" and laughs. He likes to bite stuffed toys and likes when mommy and daddy try to eat his face or his neck or his feet. He is wearing NINE month clothing (remember when he couldn't gain weight and we spent 4 days in the hospital? Sure not a problem anymore!) but he is not a super chub - he is tall, long back like mommy and daddy.

He is teething and sometimes fussy and mad - pretty drooly too - no teeth yet though. He still eats mostly bottled breastmilk and formula - but we'll start rice cereal in a couple weeks and see how we do. (And mommy is looking forward to hanging up the pump around 6 months!)

He is the best thing I have ever done. I am so lucky to have him in my life.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

5 months?

How is it that my little baby will be 5 months old this week? I still feel like this all "just happened" - but in many ways - his "newbornhood" feels like a million years ago. I was looking at newborn pics the other day and cried - because that tiny baby is gone forever - I will never hold him again (newborn Jack that is - certainly I'll hold Jack again for as long as he'll let me!) But that newborn baby ... he is like mist who slipped away - I was so busy, so stressed, so tired, so hormonal, so steeped in the throes of baby blues and breastfeeding problems and so overwhelmed ... it's a blur his newbornhood. A blur. I feel like I remember it in bits and pieces (and this sounds loony given it wasn't 5 years ago, but only 5 MONTHS ago - but it truly is a blur.) And the thing is - I didn't really "know" Jack at that point, I had just met him, he was a stranger to me - albeit a stranger I knew I already loved as I had felt him moving around inside me for several months prior to his birth. But I didn't know him then the way I know him now - and now that I know him - I want to go back and hold him as a newborn. I was so "afraid" of him - and I loved him but not with the fierceness that I do now. Were I to hold him as a newborn now - actually I'm not sure I could handle how much I'd love him given how tiny and SO vulnerable newborns are. And today he is of course still vulnerable - but he's turning into such a real person. He laughs, and "sings", and tells me things ... he looks at me, and tries to communicate with me in his way - and he is so, so, so beautiful. Big eyes, and beautiful skin, perfect nose, beautiful little lips, long eyelashes. I love him so, so much.

I should probably file this post under "loony mom musings", good grief.

In other news, I am still pumping - longingly looking at the finish line (6 months is the goal!) but yet, it will be hard for me to hang up the horns. I have mixed feelings about going all formula (nothing wrong with it! my feelings are my own and based on everything I've gone through - see previous post!) So we'll see. I'll definitely drop a pump in a month .. and then another pump .. and see where I end up. I want the time back and it cuts right into the middle of our mornings - and that's my biggest chunk of time that I have with him as I leave for work at 12:30pm. I want to take leisurely stroller walks and not have to rush home to pump and live my life in 4 hour increments. So something's gotta give .. I hope I can let it go and be peaceful with it.

That's all I got! New pics coming soon. :-)

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Breastfeeding aka My Sad Tale of Woe

In my family - babies are breastfed. It's pretty simple. I have two older sisters - who have given birth to 9 children between them (one has 3, one has six. No fertility problems there!) After giving birth - baby is put to breast - and that's that. There are no visits to lactation consultants .. there are no tears .. there is no supplementing with formula .. there is just the "simple" act of breastfeeding and away we go.

And so - when I was pregnant - I fully expected to breastfeed my child. It was a given. I would never feed my child formula - such a thing was just not done in my world. My two sisters, breastfeeding champions the both of them, in fact looked down on formula feeders .. thought of them as lazy or less giving to their child .. an opinion I had grown to share since I KNEW I would breastfeed my lucky little baby...

Yeah. Well. Then my baby was born with a condition called "ANKYLOGLOSSIA" - or - "tongue-tie". Basically - it's a condition that results in a short frenulum - that tiny piece of tissue under your tongue that sort of anchors your tongue to the floor of your mouth. Jack's extended all the way to the tip of his tongue. And prevented him from being able to extend his tongue past the tip of his teeth. Breastfeeding and tongue tie don't go so well together. The baby's tongue is an important component of successful breastfeeding and successful latch. I knew none of this. Had never heard of tongue tie - had no idea what was around the corner...

The day Jack was born - my husband was great, he was very successful in gently nudging everyone to HURRY UP so that Jack could be at my breast within one hour of my C-section - that was the magic number - under an hour!! - for successful latch. I had Jack at the boob within 59 minutes of his birth. And - he latched on - and started sucking. It was so cool. And I was so happy. The midwife who had come to my C-section as a support person was thrilled - said it's rare for C-section babies to latch on so easily - and left shortly thereafter.

My C-section was on a Monday. By Wednesday - my nipples were raw and starting to bleed. By Thursday - they were forming black scabs and nursing had become very painful. I saw the hospital lactation consultants every day. It wasn't until my last day in the hospital that one of them suggested that Jack was tongue tied - and that it was having a negative impact on our attempts to breastfeed.

Well I don't mess around. We left the hospital on a Thursday - had his first out of hospital pediatrician visit that Friday morning - got the name of an ear, nose & throat specialist - and had Jack in HIS office Friday afternoon - at which time the tongue tie was corrected. Basically, they clipped the frenulum - so that he would have greater freedom of movement. He was 4 days old. My little baby. But we did it in an attempt to save our breastfeeding relationship - and also because from what we read about tongue-tie - breastfeeding was not the only issue. Speech impediments - and physical discomfort can also result from tongue-tie. So having it corrected seemed like a good idea all around (and I still think it was.)

By Saturday - breastfeeding was still painful - moving rapidly toward excruciating - and I started making calls. I called the Breastfeeding Center in my town .. I called the county Breastfeeding helpline .. finally I got a call back. It was suggested to me that I be seen at the Breastfeeding Center - and that I get a prescription for something called All Purpose Nipple Ointment. I got the ointment later that day and started using it - and made an appointment at the breastfeeding center for the following Monday.

Oh - I should mention too that on that Saturday - Jack was NOT interested in nursing. He was very, very sleepy, somewhat jaundiced, and probably in a little pain from having the frenulum clipped the day before. My milk had sort of come in - but wasn't terribly impressive. I was getting worried - but still had no idea how worried I needed to be.

OK you know what - this is getting too long. So I'm going to speed it up.

Things continued to go downhill. My boobs were a mess - Jack lost too much weight - we ended up in Children's Hospital for 4 days. THAT was awful. AWFUL. No one knew what was wrong with him because it seemed he just could not gain weight - even after we started supplementing A LOT with formula. I thought he was going to die. But on the 3rd day there he started to gain and then just took off. Thank God.

Back to my boobs - it would later turn out I was allergic to the "magic" ointment (no one figured that out until I'd been using it for several weeks and it had done a ton of damage to my boobs) - before that - at 2 weeks old I had to take Jack off of the breast and start exclusively pumping (or EP'ing) in spite of the idiot pediatrician who not only told me to stop breastfeeding but ALSO told me to stop pumping (as if it had ANYTHING to do with her but I was exhausted and vulnerable and listened to her - thank God a nurse at the midwife center spoke with me later the same day and convinced me to continue pumping - I would have been so angry down the road had I listened to that IDIOT pediatrician) - time went on - my boobs didn't heal - I ended with misdiagnosed mastitis, was given antibiotics, got thrush - more burning, pain & itching ensued .. then a few weeks later I got REAL mastitis - sick as a damn dog - more antibiotics - more thrush.

Finally - when Jack was a little over 8 weeks old - I was diagnosed as being allergic to the ointment and stopped using it for good - I also did a 2 week course of diflucan (that I had to beg my midwife for a prescription for, she was REALLLY leery of it) and it knocked out the thrush - and for the first time since my son was born - at around 10 weeks of age - the last sore healed over (and left a nice purple keloid scar on my nipple as a souvenir) and I could pump without pain.

There is so much more to this story - bad advice - missteps - but suffice to say - I learned A LOT. If there's a next time .. boy will I approach it differently.

I also learned that breastfeeding CAN go terribly wrong - that it can be really hard - and that it is just not for everybody. And that judging people who don't breastfeed is very stupid - because you NEVER know somebody's reasons and some people just don't want to breastfeed and that's OK. It's not the only great thing you can do for your baby and there's a lot more to raising a child than starting him or her out on the boob. And formula is not poison. (Edited to add: And my sisters, the breastfeeding champs, have learned this too. And changed THEIR attitudes as well.)

I am really glad I'm still pumping. Jack is 16 weeks old today. I never thought I'd make it this far - and my new goal is 6 months. I don't have a full milk supply (that's the "more to the story" that I'm too tired to even get into) - I pump about 20 ounces a day so Jack gets 4 breastmilk bottles of around 5 ounces each and 2 formula bottles around 6 ounces each - and if he wants more food he gets more formula, and I am fine with this. I'm doing the best I can. What more can a mom do, really?

Friday, February 27, 2009

Blogging Again

I don't know why I have paid so little attention to this blog over the last 14 weeks. Certainly life has been a whirlwind - bringing Jack into the world - taking Jack home after 4 days in the hospital - having breastfeeding go terribly, terribly wrong - ending up in Children's Hospital with Jack when he was 16 days old because he could not gain back the pound he lost after leaving the hospital - going BACK home with Jack - pumping intead of breastfeeding round the clock - quitting pumping 100 times .. but never really giving it up - finally getting an answer as to why my breasts were in such bad shape (after surviving weeks of open sores .. mastitis .. thrush .. and continued pain - we realized I was allergic to the famous All Purpose Nipple Ointment touted by breastfeeding expert Dr. Jack Newman. It's great stuff! If you're not totally allergic..) - OK where was I - trying to get into a rhythm with my baby - worrying that I wasn't "doing it right", whatever "it" is - getting so very little sleep (still haven't made tons of progress there - but we're making a little!) - discovering that Jack was a "hot" baby who was sweating big spots through his night clothes and swaddles - freaking out about the sweating and worrying SO MUCH that it was an indicator of SIDS - feeling fearful and anxious all the time that he could be lost to me (I can't even type out what I'm being euphemistic about here) - trying to maintain some kind of relationship with J (and usually failing miserably - we are best friends but in many ways very disconnected right now) - ignoring housekeeping and hating how messy my house is - finding that my relationship with my dogs has TOTALLY changed even though I swore I'd never be that type of person (who has a baby and then doesn't care about her dog(s) - it's not that I don't care - but I don't care as much, I hate to admit it) - wading through what feels like neverending drama and sadness with my family (when will we get a break? Maybe Jack's our happy break, I don't know)...

I guess THAT'S where the last 14 weeks have gone. But I could have been writing about it - should have been writing about it. Oh - not to mention I'm back at work now - and taking a 20 percent pay cut shortly having decided I CAN NOT work full-time anymore - so I am going down to 4 days a week and hoping it's not a ridiculously bad decision as in this economy - layoffs are always looming both at my company and at J's. But I can't be away from Jack 5 days a week. Truly - 4 days a week is too many as well - 3 would be more palatable - but we can't afford 3 right now. 4 is a stretch actually but I made one of my "leap and the net will appear" decisions and am just going for it. Screw it. It will have to work out. It's only money, right?

God it feels good to write about this stuff. REALLY good. I am such an idiot. This is such a good place for me put it all into words - all of my "stuff" and fears and failures and triumphs and total idiocy and smashing brilliance - and I've been, I don't know, noodling around on other websites .. lost in baby blues .. just totally distracted I guess. But I think I am back.

I love being a mom. I love my son. But I have definitely battled some blues. It was a long, dark winter - and I was very isolated. I didn't feel comfortable taking Jack out - for reasons including his immature immune system ... the possibility of a baby meltdown in public ... the difficulty of just getting ready and getting out of the house (what used to take 15 minutes now takes 45..) ... and also as an "Exclusive Pumper" (I'll blog about that next time perhaps) - I am tied to my pump every 4 hours. It really, really limits my ability to do outings of any length .. and it also has contributed to my wasting a lot of time on the internet (not here - but on other sites that require nothing but mindless participation - or non-participation.) I find much of the work that goes along with new mommy hood to be draining - the bottles (washing, sterilizing) - laundry - pumping ... and when I have a free moment - I don't spend it very wisely. I'm realizing this today because a good friend has just "quit" one of the sites I waste a lot of time on. Her doing so has really made me look at how I've been spending time on-line too. I don't think blogging here is a waste of time - quite the opposite. I need to be doing this - especially as I am hoping to get back into writing - freelance writing - something I used to do and used to make a little money doing! But I keep putting off a lot of what I think I'd like to be doing or should be doing - and my life doesn't change (well, except for the whole I HAVE A BABY thing.) But the whole I have a baby thing is a factor here .. recently I was especially struck by the fact that I was ill prepared to deal with having to make money, while being a mom. As my maternity leave came to an end recently - I felt like a failure. Like I hadn't planned correctly - hadn't realized I'd really have to go back to work. It was a day I had dreaded since long before I ever got pregnant - and I'd had so much time to figure out a better plan - and had not.

So I need to figure one out now. Going part-time - down to 4 days a week - is a step in the right direction. Now, I need to figure out how to only work 3 days a week - without making any less money. And how to really "own" my life - rather than selling myself - short - to others. And doing work that truly, I find boring. And that requires me to spend far too much time away from home.

So, yeah, that's what happened. ha! And I'm back now.

Big blog entry about my breastfeeding comeuppance - and my decision to exclusively pump (and supplement with GASP formula - something I equated with poison before I was forced to come down off my high horse and feed it to my child) - next time.

It feels good to blog again! Even if just for myself, for now...

And here's a few pics for anyone who hasn't totally and completely abandoned this blog...

Jungle Jack!
jungle jack

Sleepy First Neighborhood Stroller Ride!
jack sleepy stroller

mmmm.. hands ... Nom nom nom!
jack stroller fist


Friday, February 6, 2009

Hello stranger...

I really, really have not forgotten about this blog. My son is almost 12 weeks old - and it has been a whirlwind. I go back to work on Monday and am crushed .. I hope to go part-time in the very near future. I cannot work full-time away from Jack. I really can't. I hope J and I can make it work financially. I will have more time to post, ironically, once I'm at work! But for now .. here are some pictures of my beautiful, beautiful son.

jack the steeler

kissing jack

jack the beautiful

jack the clean

santa jack 2

close up jack

jack's birth