Tag Archives: motherhood

An Evolution

7 Aug

I always knew I’d breastfeed. But when I set out to nurse, I think I saw breastfeeding as a static, uniform thing — you did it or you didn’t, and for those who did, it was just all the same. As a new parent, it was both enlightening and reassuring to discover that’s not true. It is, in fact, extremely nuanced, as individual as the ones doing it. But I also discovered that as soon as you find your footing, things change. Like your baby, breastfeeding and the breastfeeding relationship is a living, ever-changing creature.

So in honor of World Breastfeeding Week, I’m sharing with you the evolution of my breastfeeding experience… two and half years of the ups, downs, tears, joys, and mundane of nourishing my little one (and myself) in the process.

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Pre-birth – I suppose this started years ago when I watched my step mother nurse twins for 18 months. I’d never seen a baby breastfeed before and this seemed revolutionary to me at the time (at 15). Closer to time for z-baby’s birth, though, I took a breastfeeding class at work and attended some lunchtime discussions at work for nursing moms (led by a lactation consultant). A few days before I gave birth I started getting nervous and watched every video I could find from Dr. Jack Newman. I watched healthy newborn latches over and over and over…

Birth – Let’s just say it didn’t go as planned. I wanted to nurse right away but z-baby was in a transition nursery for over 6 hours. When I did get him, we started right away and he latched — but not a great one. I had already asked for a lactation consultant and we saw them three times before we left the hospital. Z-baby was a sleeper… he wanted to eat, but he wanted to sleep even more. So my most vivid memory of those days was stripping him down each and every time he needed to eat (so he didn’t feel too cozy) and gently nudging him awake throughout every feed. Z-baby’s papi took this very seriously, like his personal mission those first few days.

Month 1 – My milk came in quickly and plentiful and z-baby was a great eater. I loved nursing, but it was soooooo painful. But not in the way I could have imagined. I had a bit of Carpal Tunnel during the pregnancy, and it kicked into overdrive those few weeks following birth. My hands would freeze up like hooks and I was terrified I’d drop the baby. And my hands didn’t just go numb, they ached and pain shot up through to my elbows. I remember crying through several of those feedings from the pain. My mom or husband would have to either support the baby or my breast or both. It sucked (no pun intended). I couldn’t sit down to nurse without water and a towel because there was so much milk it seemed to get everywhere!
*Nursing equipment was very important: Boppy upstairs, Brest Friend downstairs, multiple towels, nipple cream, pads for the bra, nursing bra.

Months 2-3 – When the painful claw hands went away, nursing became a breeze. I loved it still, and enjoyed every minute of it. Then I had to have my gallbladder taken out and we happily fell into co-sleeping, which made the night-time nursing even better. Z-baby loved nursing and was still in that pre-wiggler phase where he’d pretty much stay put through a whole feeding and was serious about his nursing… no playing for this guy… yet!
*Equipment: We dropped the nipple cream around this time and started trying the pump and bottles. 

Nursing z-baby, 5 weeks

Months 4-9 – I went back to work after 3 months and it was hell. H-E-L-L. Z-baby refused all bottles and reversed cycled. My first day back I had an off-site meeting and tried to pump in the car, only to realize I had no batteries or charger. I got so engorged but survived. I was at a leading public health agency in the country and they had lactation rooms and pumps which were great, but it was still a challenge to find the time during the day to do it and an open time slot in the rooms. I luckily telecommuted several days a weeks and had someone watching the baby in the house, so I could just nurse those days. But on days when I wasn’t home, z-baby waited for me all day and then we nursed all night. I welcomed the nursing, but he would be so hungry that he’d overeat and puke everywhere and I could never keep up with the laundry. We introduced some solids in here but he could care less. Most of this is a blur for me because the postpartum depression set in during this time, though I wasn’t fully aware of it. But I know I worried all day about z-baby not eating and raced home to be with him and only then was I ever at ease. And in those early days of still undiagnosed postpartum depression, it was the nursing that kept me going… alive even.
*Equipment: Pump, pump, pump. And pump some more. Sometime during this time we also stopped using the nursing pillows.

Months 10-14 – I finally started getting treatment for the postpartum depression, and while this was still a very difficult time, it did start to get a little better. Breastfeeding was still the light at the end of the tunnel each and every day. Looking down and seeing z-baby and seeing him relish the time as much as I did left me speechless. Or maybe it was from the biting, I can’t remember. No longer just a wiggler on the couch, he’s a roller during nursing, too. He nurses upside down and sideways, bouncing and swaying. I never knew my nipples were so flexible… I still overproduced and donated gallons (and gallons…) of it to a friend. But I’m finally not gushing every time I go to nurse.
*Equipment: I think I still used nursing pads when at work or separated from z-baby, and the pump, of course.

Months 14-24 – I stopped working, put away the pump, and started staying at home with z-baby full time. Life is goooooooooooooood. Nursing becomes something I do often throughout the day, but no longer think about. Z-baby became vocal about his nursing during this time and asked for it frequently. Nursing in public became both easier and more difficult. Easier because he could just sit in front of me and I could angle away from people… harder because he never stayed in one position and insisted my shirt be ALL the way up to give him total access. I struggled with the decision to wean or not so that I can get pregnant again, but it just never felt right. Z-baby went through lots of ups and downs… times when he needed to nurse a lot (usually growth and developmental spurts and teething) and periods where he didn’t nurse as much. Biting still an off and on issue, and the nipple fiddling started (playing with one while eating off the other). Momma became a serve yourself buffet during this time — z-baby would pull up my shirt and insist on his “deeta” whenever he wanted it.
*Equipment: A chair. That’s it. No pads, towels, creams, pillows, nothing. Oh, and a nursing bra. But I had to be careful somedays because he sees the act of sitting down as an open invitation.

Months 24-30 – Here we are, nursing at 2 1/2 years. Nursing is still an acrobatic act, day and night. We’ve pared it down to going down and waking up from naps and bedtime. He’s starting to respect my wishes some — needing to wait or stop during the night, for example. But he manages which side he wants and the exact position he wants it in. I also have to nurse cars and trains, and he’s even tried to push it up so I can have some, too (such a helper!). He even managed to get chocolate milk out of me one day (that’s a post for another day)!!! He had his first sleepover with grandma (our first night apart!), which was his first night ever that he didn’t nurse. And just very recently did I hit the nursing wall. I’ve finally gotten to the point where I’m ready to wean. I know I’ll miss it, and I can’t imagine motherhood without it (at first at least), but I’m ready. Is he? I don’t think so, and we’re working on potty training so I won’t do anything right away… but we’ll see what the future holds for us.
*Equipment: Nada. Except for the darn bra! There are times when he needs a quick comfort session of about 3 seconds and I don’t even sit anymore… just bend over.

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Two and half years of breastfeeding. No cracked nipples, plugged ducts, or mastisis. A little bit of yeast once. Overproduction and numb hands. Gallons of milk in my freezer. Lugging the pump to work and z-baby on a week-long business trip. Surgery and anesthesia. Postpartum depression and medication. Nursing pads, pillows, and towels. Reverse cycling and cosleeping. Nursing in bed, on the couch, at the table, typing, writing, on the phone, in the car, in public, in therapy, on planes, in meetings, standing up, sitting down, bending over. Two and half years. And I wouldn’t trade a single minute of it for anything in the world.

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800 days

6 May

800 days. Even.

It has been exactly 800 days since z-baby was born. And in those 800 days, we have been separated for no longer than 12 hours.

But tonight, for the very first time, he is sleeping over at my mother’s. His first sleepover.

He helped me pack his bag and reminded me over and over again not to forget his hat. He was so excited as he rolled his bag up to the door. He gave me a little kiss, said, “Bye, Momma!” and was off to play.

It pained me to leave him… and I kept myself busy this evening so that I wouldn’t think about it. But after sig-o got home and we started winding down for the evening, it hit me again.

I miss my baby. I may have cried a little. And I’ve been fighting the overwhelming urge to go over there just to be close to him.

I know he’s with my mother, but I feel like he’s all by himself. He’s still such a baby (only 800 days old!) and I’m still not ready to share him.

Sig-o says he’s just a part of my life, but not all of it… and that I’m not his whole life, either. But I want to be. For now, at least. Is that soooo wrong?

You’ve come a long way, baby

30 Apr

Today marks a major milestone for me — I’m sharing my 100th post.

100 posts.

100 times that I’ve bared my pain, vented my woes, shared my secrets, bragged about z-baby, opened my soul… and hoped to nourish yours in the process.

100 times that I’ve wondered what to divulge and how much to share.

100 times that I’ve hit “publish” and felt a little of the weight lifted.

I browsed through my old posts last night, and as I read through them, it was like reading some other woman’s diary. I couldn’t even remember writing some of them. I laughed at some (at least I can make myself laugh, heh?) and flinched from the pain of others. And I was thankful for this woman. Thankful that 1 1/2 years ago, this woman decided, on a whim, to start a secret blog and document her struggle with postpartum depression. I remember that woman… lying on her bedroom floor in the dark, afraid to move a muscle for fear that it would wake up her baby and she’d never get him back to sleep… wondering what other women with this illness actually thought and felt… wondering if she would ever be able to move forward… wondering how to fight the dark thoughts that kept pushing their way into her head.

I can only hope that something I’ve written in these 100 posts has resonated with someone battling postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety and/or postpartum OCD, and helped them to know that they’re not alone and that things can get better.

This is a small, humble blog, and I want to say thank you to anyone who has ever read it and for those who have ever left a comment.

And for those of you who are new to The Vaca Loca, I still write a little about postpartum depression, but it has evolved into thoughts and stories about my real life, rather than just my illness. So for nostalgia’s sake, and as a celebration of how far I’ve come in 100 posts, I thought I’d share some of my earlier posts with you all…

  1. How did I get here? — the path to my PPD/PPA/PPOCD
  2. A minute inside my head — the painful record that played in my head 24/7
  3. What tipped the scales — the evolution of thoughts that made me get help
  4. Down with rubber duckies — my meltdown over a rubber duckie
  5. The spa episode — the one where I very nearly killed sig-o before I got help
  6. I do good guilt — really… but what mom doesn’t?
  7. Birth Story — reflections on how z-baby came into this world
  8. Taking care of mom — what happened after the birth story
  9. It’s a love-hate thing — watching sig-o parent through the lens of PPD
  10. And yet — still in the midst of PPD, but know it’s getting better

Pre- preschool

2 Mar

Over the past few months, sig-o and I had been discussing the possibility of putting z-baby in preschool soon. Let me re-phrase that. Sig-o kept bringing up the idea of putting z-baby in some form of daycare from time to time to give me a break. But I don’t like the idea of having him in daycare or someone’s home just because I’m tired… I became a stay-at-home mom because I wanted to be with my baby. Yes, I could use a break every now and then (ok, every day about 6pm), but still… I tried a mother’s morning out program a few times, and keep getting called back to get him because z-baby just sobs uncontrollably no matter what they do. So I kept ignoring sig-o and suggested he might benefit from a preschool setting, but was in no hurry.

Then in late January we had the daycare/preschool back and forth yet again and I started to wonder when he might be ready. And then as a fluke — or a sign — I saw an announcement for a pre-school open house. Then another and another and another. Only thing was that they had all just passed. Hmmf. Being new to both parenthood and our city, I wasn’t tuned in to all the nuances of the preschool registration mayhem process, and didn’t realize that January was the open house month. But then on the last day of January, I found it. Not just an open house, but an open house fair. Yep. Multiple schools would be there. It was like getting a parenting do-over!

I researched schools across the city and we went to the fair. The choices…astounding. The prices…mostly insane. The pressure…disgusting! They make you feel like you don’t love your kid and want the best for him just because you don’t have him in this school or that program. I mean, he’s barely two. This isn’t really preschool. This is pre- preschool! Nevertheless, we finally narrowed it down to two schools we could afford and that seemed like a good fit for us and decided that if he didn’t get one of the very few slots still available, it was no biggie and we’d look at it again next year.

The first program on our list (goes once a week for four hours) had just one spot left for a 2-year old. A mom from the school who ended up being a client of my husbands and recognized us when we walked in, told us to practically camp out to try and get that spot. For real? I don’t think so. But by the time the day had rolled around for registration, sig-o decided he would get there by 5:30am and wait for the doors to open at 9am. When he got there at 5:40am, someone was already there waiting for the 2-year old spot. Wow. But he waited and I guess it paid off because they decided to open up just one more spot and we got it. A bunch of others behind him ended up on the waiting list. Crazy!

My mother got z-baby his first backpack for his birthday, and we’re still pumped from the adrenaline rush of registration.  Now we just have to wait until…September…for school to start.

KZG Mochila

I was THAT mom today

20 Aug

Yep. I’m so proud of myself. I took little z-baby to the pool today and after a while I noticed that I was the mom laughing out loud and having a ball playing with my baby. And it didn’t feel forced like it has oh so many times. I was truly enjoying myself and the baby. Now THAT feels good!

Fresh as a summer’s breeze

23 Apr

In preparation for our impending move, my house is very nearly all packed up. Just a few things left in the kitchen and on the walls. So when I went to give the baby a bath tonight, I realized that sig-o had packed up all his soap and bath supplies. I was left with three options: Head & Shoulders shampoo, tea tree oil and peppermint bath gel, or Summer’s Eve feminine wash. I went with the latter and lathered him up head to toe. I mean, it’s hypoallergenic, ph balanced, perfect for sensitive skin, and gynecologist tested. What else could you ask for in a baby wash?

I’m in here… somewhere

21 Apr

We spent this past weekend with my mom. Or I should say that sig-o and I sat on the sidelines while the grandparents played with the baby all weekend long. During our stay I noticed that the baby laughed so much more with them than when he’s with me. Is it a grandparent thing? A mom is good for milk but otherwise boring kind of thing? Or is it the postpartum depression?

See, that’s the cruel and frustrating thing (ok, one of many) about postpartum depression and anxiety…you have an altered sense of reality. At least I do. It’s hard to distinguish between normal anxiety and what can be attributed to the other. I don’t see the lines at all so I end up feeling like no cause for anxiety is normal, which can’t possibly be the case.

And take the example above. Would I even care about it if I didn’t have PPD/anxiety? Would I be  a different parent without it? Without question, yes! Of course I’d be a different parent. Maybe one that can make their kid cackle until they almost puke. As a new mom, it’s infuriating to know that the real you, the real parent, is in there somewhere…and we’re basically just biding time until we find them again. Again, the cruelty of PPD knows no bounds. So what happens to that “lost” time. We live it. Day by day, minute by minute, and try to squeeze out every grin and chuckle that we can.