Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Deadly Sin or Completely Understandable?

I know that pride is one of the 7 deadly sins, but it's also one of the first things that comes to mind when I think about James. I am so intensely and unendingly proud of him.

Here's what I am proud of...

  • His adorable little grin
  • Dimpled elbows
  • Little whimpers while he nurses
  • The way he rocks back and forth when he's thinking about crawling/scooting somewhere
  • How he nestles into my neck when I pick him up in the morning
  • His two cowlicks that result in hair sticking straight up off his head
  • The way he kicks his legs when he gets excited
  • How he is so easily distracted by whatever colorful object I flash in front of his face
  • His penchant for rubbing my face and playing with my lips
I just adore this kid so much. He lights up my days and nights and fills me with such joy. I treasure my time with him so much.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Who's In Charge Here?

Oh, crap, it's me. I'm having an off-day, following an off-weekend. We went to the lake this past weekend, which had lots of super-fun moments, like James swimming in the lake for the first time and liking it! Also, I slalom skied for the first time ever, even if it was for about 5 seconds, I did it!

It also contained a kernel of familiar frustration. I am slowly coming to terms with the fact that, no matter what, I'm in charge here. The ultimate responsibility for my son rests on my shoulders. I know, I know, that's how it's supposed to be when you have a kid, but I've always held out hope that the burden would fall equally on my husband and I. But, it does not. I could sit here and try to convince myself that he needs to step up, but I think I'm realizing that the right thing to do is to acknowledge that biology has made child care and rearing primarily my responsibility.

We've been going to the lake every summer for the past 7 or 8 years. We try to make it there two or three times each summer. The day is almost always structured like this: wake up late, eat a small breakfast, swim in the lake/lounge on the dock, have lunch, go on the boat to swim/ski/wakeboard/hang out in a cove, have dinner, drink, drink, and drink.

In preparation for this trip, Brett and I talked about how things would have to be different this time because we are parents now. We just can't stay up until 2 or 3 am drinking and still be the parents James needs the next day. James woke up at 6:30 am every morning when we were at the lake and I looked after him every morning, which meant that I didn't really get to stay up late with the big kids and drink. Brett did. Yesterday morning, even though I had gone to bed around 11, I just wanted to sleep in. I was, plain and simple, tired.

At 6:30 am when James started crying in the pack 'n' play, I turned to Brett and, for one of the first times since I became a mom, asked plainly for what I wanted. I said, "Brett, will you watch him for an hour so I can sleep longer?" Bam, there it was. My request, my needs from my husband, states plainly and clearly. It was his opportunity to rise to the occasion and he said, "Maybe if we wait longer he'll fall back asleep" and then rolled over and went back to sleep himself. As I expected, James continued to fuss in the playpen, so I woke up with him.

I felt so deflated. I'd finally done what's so hard for me to do, which is to admit that I need help. I think of myself as some kind of superwoman who can and usually does find a way to squeeze in everything. But I was finally ready to admit defeat and it didn't work out.

Of course, I was a confusing mix of angry, disappointed, and flat out sad. I cried while I changed James into his clothes and cursed myself for asking for help. Brett felt horrible and spent much of the day trying to make it up to me. As upset as I was at him for not pulling through when I needed him, his solution to this problem upset me more than anything. He said that he thinks we need to plan these things in advance. That, if he'd known I was going to need him to watch James the next morning, he wouldn't have drank so much and then he would've been more able to get up early and watch him.

And, there it was, spelled out so clearly. If I needed help from him, I needed to ask for it, in advance. On neither of the two previous nights had he pulled me aside and said, "I'd like to have some fun tonight, so you'll need to watch James tomorrow morning." It didn't need to be said, it was the assumption, the default. Without a word exchanged, we both assumed that I'd be the one taking care of James each morning. And that, my friends, is the difference.

Don't get me wrong, I don't think Brett's a bad guy. Rather, I think he's probably a lot like almost every other husband out there. Despite all the advances we've made in achieving gender equity, the basic assumption is that women will take care of their children.

Do any of you have similar feelings or are your husbands all amazing superstars? Any working moms feel like they're teetering on the brink of breaking down? I feel like I have no energy left for myself anymore.

On that bitter, sad, depressing note, I will leave you with an absolutely dashing picture of my boy, for whom I would get up at the crack of dawn every morning for the rest of my life...

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Baby Food

Before I had James, I heard people say that they made their own baby food. To be honest, I thought they were a little crazy. They talked and talked about steaming, pureeing, freezing, storing, etc. and it all sounded so difficult to me. And, frankly, it sounded difficult for no reason. Was store-bought baby food bad for their kids, because I eat store-bought food all the time and I'm doing fine?

Well, here 6-months later, I've learned a few things...

I want James to have pure and simple foods. I don't think store-bought baby food is bad for him, I just think it has lots of ingredients. Given that Brett had horrible allergies as a kid and that James has pretty severe eczema, his pediatrician and I suspect that he's going to be allergy-prone. I worry about giving him food with multiple ingredients, simply because if he has an allergic reaction, it will be that much harder to pinpoint what he reacted to -- was it the sweet potatoes or was it the food coloring?

It's amazingly easy to make your own baby food. I've been cutting corners all over the place, but that's made it completely do-able for me. So far, James has had rice cereal (store-bought, organic), peas, avocados, and green beans. We are starting spinach on Friday. For the peas, I bought frozen peas, boiled them, mixed in a little breastmilk, and pureed them. I put them into ice cube trays (which, by the way, is the perfect serving size for baby food) and froze them. A day later, pop them out and store them in the freezer in a plastic bad. To serve, microwave on defrost for 35 seconds and you're done. The avocado I handmashed. I also handmashed a banana that was on the verge of turning brown, so that's waiting in the freezer. I did spinach and green beans too. Again, I started with frozen veggies, microwaved, and then pureed with a hand blender. One frozen bag of green beans yielded 20 ice cube-sized servings.

Not only is making baby food easy, it seems easier to me than buying it. I feel like being able to make it myself gives me a lot more options. James' next food will probably depend on what fruits and veggies we have around the house.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


I have no idea whether to chalk it up to nature or nurture, but there it is, James has his own little personality. He loves to sit back and study things, especially random household objects. He loves to play with the wicket thatching on the back of the rocking chair. When I set him upright to burp him, he immediately brings both hands to the chair back and pokes his little fingers around, runs them back and forth, listening intently to the sounds his hands make.

Sometimes he's goofy, which I just adore. He'll get in "moods" where he's just seeking excuses to laugh. I can tickle his toes, make a surprised face, or rub my nose to his and that's all the encouragement he needs to let out a full, glorious giggle.

When he's sleepy or hungry or overstimulated, he just wants his momma. He can't bear to be set down, even in his favorite toy -- the Johnny Jump Up. If I wrap him to the front of me, he just sits there contentedly, looking around.

It makes me so curious and interested to see who he'll be a year from now, five or even ten.

Monday, June 7, 2010

6 Month Video

Here's a video recapping the past month. I've been doing one of these every month, but I think this is the first time I've shared it on this blog. Today is James' 6 month birthday! I can't believe how fast time is flying.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Sometimes I Wonder

Sometimes I wonder why I still work. At the end of days like this when I'm sick, tired, and feeling stressed by my job, I can't help but wonder why I do it. Yesterday was Brett's first day in his new role at work. He's now making 20k more than he did previously.

I still make a pretty hefty income, but am no longer the "primary" breadwinner. I just feel so frustrated in my job. I leave my boy for more than 40 hours each week, but I don't feel like I'm making much difference in the world, which is very frustrating.

At the same time, I know that time really does fly and James will be in school in no time. If I stopped working now, I worry about what it would do to my career in the long-run. I'm making 65k a year right now and the reality is that we could cut our household expenses to absorb the loss of my income but we'd have to give up certain things we really enjoy and sacrifice future big purchases we hope to make (like a second home where we hope to enjoy lots of special memories with our son).

I just feel so depleted right now. It feels like somebody or something always needs more from me than I can give. I work really hard to fulfill people's needs and expectations, but at the end of the day I have no energy left to take care of myself.

My Boobs

I'm going to jump onto my soapbox for a second or two, but I promise to step down after that...
  1. I love breastfeeding. I love, love, love it. Sure, there were a couple weeks at the beginning when my nips hurt and it felt like there was a kid hanging from me all the time, but now that we are passed that stage, I love it. James has started to open his hands and place them on each side of my breast when he nurses. I swear he thinks it's just an oddly shaped bottle. He makes the cutest little noises while nursing. He's starting to be distractable and if I so much as hiccup while he's nursing he pulls off to look up and give me a big grin. Right now he's sick for the first time and I feel like such a source of comfort to him when we curl up and nurse together.
  2. I have had an easy time breastfeeding. I recognize that it's not so easy for everyone. I've got 200 ounces of milk in the freezer and have been able to exclusively breastfeed James all this time (we started rice cereal on Friday). Maybe, I'm "blessed" with a bountiful supply, but I also think that part of the reason I have great supply is that I allow James to nurse on-demand. There were times during those first six weeks where I thought, "Seriously, you're hungry again?" It seemed like I was nursing him all the time, but I just kept giving him the boob when he wanted it and I think that's part of the reason breastfeeding has gone so well for me.
  3. My boobs have gotten huge. I was a 34C and am now a 38DD. I only hope that they deflate after I'm done nursing and that they aren't too saggy.
  4. I'm just 5 days away from the 6-month mark, but I plan to continue nursing as long as it continues working for James and I. I hope to make it to his first birthday and even beyond. I've heard plenty of people say things like, "You'll stop once he _______, right?" Insert "has teeth," "can ask for it," or "is walking." I don't have a hard and fast rule about when I'll stop, but I think that it will happen gradually, naturally, and on a timetable that works for James and I. My only hope is that I can stop pumping at work by the time he turns 1.
  5. I know they're a little extreme at times, but I have used a local La Leche League leader multiple times over then past 6 months. She's been so kind and full of helpful advice. I oftentimes check in with my pediatrician about something, check in with the LLL leader, and then form my own opinion that's somewhere between the two extremes. As an example, my pediatrician said that I could begin introducing solids at 4 months, but that I should wait until close to 6 months, if possible. The LLL leader said not to begin solids until around 9 months. I split the difference and decided to start close to 6 months, especially since James already had two teeth and could sit unsupported.
I guess all this is just to say that I'm a total BFing advocate. I don't think any women should feel bad or guilty about the choices they make (why are we always doing that to each other, by the way?). I simply think that the breastfeeding experience has been wonderful for me and I hope other women can have similar experiences. Having the support of a lactation consultant and a lengthy maternity leave helped me so much. I attribute our great breastfeeding relationship to the success of those early days.