Thursday, December 24, 2009

Quick Takes for Christmas

I'm short on time (always), but I wanted to update on little Nolan and also put a few other thoughts in my head in written form. Today, we get 7 quick takes.

1. Nolan went back to the doctor on Monday for a weight check. They were hoping he would have gained 2 ounces (1/2 ounce a day for 4 days), and he gained 9. So, that's thrilling. Of course, that was with breastfeeding, formula, pumping, and almost no sleep for Mama. So, we've backed off just a little hoping to find that perfect balance of weight gain and sanity in our household. Right now I'm breastfeeding about every hour and a half then offering a bottle. I've been pumping enough (SO MUCH PUMPING) that I'm able to offer breastmilk as a supplement most times, so he's only had formula twice in the last 3 days (both times he spat most of it back out, so I don't know if he was full or just thought it was yucky--because it IS yucky). He is taking less and less from the bottle and seeming satisfied after breastfeedings, so I think that my milk supply is increasing and he's getting stronger. THANK YOU for your prayers, kind words, and even meals. I'm serious that I couldn't have gotten through this last week without all your support.

2. I talked to a lactation consultant this week. She told me that a big part of breastfeeding is mental--if you think you can do it, you can do it. If you decide you can't, you can't. Now, I don't know what the ratio is of mind power:science when it comes to the actual mechanics of breastfeeding, but I definitely see where she's going with this. She said that there's no science to prove that mother's milk tea actually improves milk production, BUT if a mother is willing to give Daddy the crying baby and make herself a cup of tea and take the time to drink it before breastfeeding, she's already in a better state of mind and will produce more milk as a result. I think this can apply to most areas of parenting. If you walk away for a few minutes (take a walk, call a friend, go to your room and listen to Sarah McLachlan's Christmas album--which is fabulous, by the way) you come back in a better state to do whatever task is on your plate. So, it's not always easy to put into action (it almost never is, in fact), but it's really remarkable how much difference a shower in a locked bathroom can make in a tired mom's life.

3. This week a very dear old lady in my church passed away. She was the oldest church member, so this was hardly a surprise, but it still stings when someone you love passes. I only had one grandparent in my life, and she lived far away. Not that I didn't love her, of course, but she wasn't an active part of my daily life. So, when I came to my church, part of what I was looking for was that extended family that I didn't have. Boy, did I find it. There were plenty of grandmas and grandpas who surrounded me and cheered me through graduations, weddings, babies, and life's everyday ups and downs. I clung to 4 of them most dearly. She was the last of the 4 to pass. When I got the news I felt very personally sad. My boys will never again sit in her bony lap. She will never again hold my hand in her very frail one and whisper in her old lady whisper (which was really quite loud), "I sure do love you." But the news also made me extremely happy. She's finally Home for the holidays. I know that she's glowing as she greets her lost loved ones and celebrates her first Christmas Home.

4. Christmas is tomorrow. Once again it snuck up on me. I was going to be ready this year. And then I had a baby. And then the baby needed me more than I anticipated. And then it was Christmas. And the gingerbread house sits on my kitchen counter unassembled. And the presents sit in my garage unwrapped. And my Christmas lights sit in a bin unhung. And Christmas still came. And somehow all that stuff seems totally unimportant in the grand scheme of things. And I'm not even sorry that I didn't get around to all that stuff.

5. I'm struggling with Santa. The Jolly Old Elf has my gut in knots. I grew up with Santa visiting my house every year, and it just seemed natural that the same would be true for my kids. But the boys have been asking questions--too many questions--and I don't know how to lie to them. And I once heard a lady in my church talk about when her son started asking questions. She told him the truth. So, he asked next about the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny. She, again, told him the truth. Then he asked about Jesus. You know, it makes perfect sense that those things would get all tangled up in a child's mind. They can't be seen, and yet grown ups insist that they're out there somewhere. Believe in the unseen. That's faith, right? So, how do we nurture their faith in Christ when they take a blow to their faith in all the imaginary childhood icons? How credible will I be when I tell them that those guys weren't real, but BELIEVE ME THIS TIME Jesus is? So, I think Santa is coming this year just because I don't have time to really sort it all out in my head before the boys go to bed tonight, but I need to do some serious thinking on this before next year. If you have advice or thoughts on the topic, I'm all ears.

6. I really didn't have 7 things to write about today.

7. Have a very Merry Christmas and a blessed 2010.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

If I Had Only Known...

I didn't know.

I didn't know that when I chose to feed the boys lunch AFTER Nolan's doctor's appointment on Thursday they wouldn't get to eat until Mike came to pick them up at 3:00.

I didn't know that when I left the house for the routine checkup at 12:00 that I wouldn't return home again until well after 6:00.

I didn't know that when my baby sucked his pacifier so vigorously he was actually searching for food.

I didn't know that when he cried he was trying to tell me that he was literally starving.

I didn't know that every time I put him to the breast he would suck until he exhausted himself and fell asleep but only received a small amount of food.

I didn't know that his tiny body was the result of hunger, not genetics.

I didn't know.

If I had only known. I would have done things so differently. I would have started pumping earlier to increase my milk supply for him. I would have insisted on frequent weight checks to make sure he was gaining appropriately. I would have forbidden pacifiers and put him to the breast every time he wanted to suck, even if it was just 15 minutes after our last feeding. If I had only known. But I didn't know. And this happened.

And now. Now my baby is scheduled to have a second blood test next week. Now he is drinking cold formula from an artificial nipple. Now I'm pumping every hour and a half and nursing too and my breasts are sore and my older children are feeling neglected. And I'm still not making enough milk. His weak suck and my ignorance allowed my milk supply to decrease to nearly nothing, and I'm not sure I'll be able to build it back up. I'm feeling betrayed by the very body I was so in awe of only weeks ago. I'm feeling cheated because I won't be able to breastfeed my very last baby the way I had planned. I'm feeling exhausted because my routine right now consists of nursing the baby, giving him a bottle, then pumping, then about 30 minutes of down time before the process starts over (day and night). I'm feeling ashamed because I let this happen--what kind of mother lets this happen? When I checked in at the hospital for his tests, I was horrified to see that I knew the admitting nurse. I handed her the orders for the tests with the words "failure to thrive" written across the top, and wanted the floor to swallow me up to avoid sitting in the room with her thoughts of how I was neglecting my baby. Failure to thrive is something that drug addicts' babies have. Good mothers have fat babies and laugh about their pudgy thighs. My baby's diaper leaks every time he pees because his legs are too skinny to get a good fit. How could I have not known? I'm terrified that his "failure to thrive"--my failure to parent--will have long-term affects on his brain and his development.
So, if you are so inclined, please pray for my very little man. And, if you don't mind, for me too.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

More Like Mary

Advent started this week. Having just had a baby, I'm especially deep in thought this year about Mary and her place in the Christmas story.

I've already shared with you my birth story, in which I revealed that things didn't go quite as planned in my labor and delivery. My mom wasn't in the room as we had planned. Plus, it hurt like crazy, and I just couldn't imagine that it was supposed to hurt that much (and maybe it wasn't--the placenta was abrupted, after all, and I have nothing to compare it with having never experienced a natural childbirth before). It would have been super-nice to have had the doctor standing there with me telling me what was going on, why it was hurting, what was going to happen next. But it didn't happen that way. This baby was coming, and there was nothing anyone could do about it. I felt helpless and scared. I went into a bit of a panic, to be honest. And this was in a hospital, with a RN standing over me and my husband by my side.

But, Mary. We don't get to know a lot about Mary's labor and delivery. This is because the gospels were written by men. If we had a Gospel According to Mary, I feel certain we would have details about Jesus' entry into the world. Men, though. Luke writes "...the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son," as though it was as easy and automatic as taking a breath. He says nothing of her pain, her fear, her embarrassment. I mean, we've got to assume that Joseph had a hand in delivering the baby, and let me remind you that the two still did not "know" each other. If you've never attended a birth, I'll be the first to tell you that it's not a modest event. Talk about a get-to-know-you session for the young couple.

I wonder if Mary was a little (or even a lot) upset with God over the situation. Let's face it, God really asked a lot of the girl (and I say girl because, historically speaking, it's very likely that she was merely a teenager when all this happened). First she has to deal with an unplanned, out-of-wedlock pregnancy and public ridicule and the possibility of losing Joseph. Then she has to postpone her wedding plans so that she can remain a virgin for the entirety of the pregnancy. Then she has to travel the 70ish miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem during her last trimester, the part of the pregnancy when most of us complain if we have to waddle down the sidewalk to check the mail. When she gets there she doesn't even get to crash in a nice hotel room with a plush bed and room service. No, she's sent to the stable where she can enjoy the pleasant aroma of animal manure and the softness of itchy straw for her bed. At least she can rest after her journey, right? Wrong. Now comes the really hard part. She labors and delivers the precious baby Jesus in an unfamiliar city, many miles from her family and her home. The Baby was coming, and there was nothing anyone could do about it. I wonder if she cried out to God in fear or anger or both. Then again, she was no ordinary woman.

Oh, but then. The baby was born, and her labor pains stopped. She got to hold that tiny baby and, if she was anything like me at all, it made all the pain and suffering worth it. She looked at the baby in her arms and saw something beautiful: the face of God. Can you imagine? I know that I can hardly hold my baby without crying just because of the miracle which has taken place in my life. It's almost too much to fathom--a human woman holding the savior of mankind, nursing him at her breast, He as helpless and tiny as my little Nolan.

I'd love to meet Mary. I'd love to ask her how she did what she did. I'd love to ask her how she kept her cool (IF she kept her cool) with all that was required of her (not even ending with the birth of Jesus). I'd love to BE like Mary. Because there are times in my life when I realize that things aren't going as I planned, and I get more than a little irritated with God for changing the plans on me at the last minute. I'd love to be able to say, "This baby is coming, and there's nothing anyone can do about it," with a positive attitude, trusting that God has a plan and is taking care of me and my family. The truth is that I DO believe that, it's just hard to remember in the midst of life's labor pains.