Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Back to school for Mr. Man

The Childcare Center at my husband's work has started up for the school year. Mr. Man's first day back was yesterday and it. was. glorious!

First off, Mr. Man LOVES it there. His classroom this year is similar to last year's and he was 100% comfortable, even after a summer's long absence. It probably helped that one of the teachers moved up from the infant to the toddler room with the handful of kids returning from last year. Same as last year, Mr. Man will be there three days a week; except that this year I plan on actually sending him all three of those days, whereas I kept him home as much as possible when he was widdle and teeny.

But the very best part of this arrangement is that R and I both have most Monday's off. So yesterday Mr. Man went to school and we had amazing adult time:
1. Breakfast. That I actually ate all of, myself, in silence while R and I both zoned out and stared at our phones because it is quiet and that does not mean that anyone is getting into something they shouldn't!
2. Shopping for household items. By ourselves. Quietly and efficiently! 
3. Lunch out! The witty banter was for our own amusement, involved no animal noises of any kind, and our food could sit near the edge of the table without being in imminent peril!
4. Time spent in a book store!! (ironically we bought a kid's book)
5. We watched Guardians of the Galaxy. We held hands. We are popcorn. Awww. Clubbing has been replaced with an afternoon matinee. 

When we picked Mr. Man up in the afternoon we were recharged and Mr. Man was pleased to see us...at least he waved the string cheese he was eating around a bit and insisted I sit near him while he continued to shovel food in his mouth. The teacher, the new one, went on and on about how much Mr. Man ate that day. Because she obviously didn't believe me when I told her that he has a black hole for a stomach. I'll admit, when you look at him, you'd probably think I was just a new mom wow'd at the increase of food that can accompany true mobility, instead of believing that my little guy, the youngest in his new class, can eat as much as most of his classmates put together. Which, apparently, is what happened.

FYI, the school provides meals but parents are asked to donate snacks. We hit up Costco to get our donations. The old teacher nodded in acknowledgment when we carried it all in. The new teacher laughed. At the end of the day, the new teacher told us she now understood why we brought so much

Monday, August 18, 2014

Shopping for a Bit of Patience

We often let Mr. Man walk when we are in the stores. I'm trying to teach him to walk near me and not pull things off shelves while he is still wobbly enough and slow enough that I can intervene when necessary (which, since I'd prefer he not be run over by carts or topple an entire store display, is all the time).

If you were to follow us around the store, which means you would be walking very slowly because Mr. Man stops every three steps to point out interesting things*, you would hear these phrases repeated continuously:
"We stay close to mama in the store." or "We don't pull things off the shelves, please." or "Yes, that's very interesting, isn't it? But let's leave that there." or maybe you'd just hear me sigh.

*Note: Interesting things are often ceiling fans. Also, have you ever noticed how many animals are on packaging? As each animal is now pointed out to me, I can assure you that they make up a high proportion of what's out there.

Now, just so you don't get the wrong idea, most store walking is done during times when the store is mostly empty or in home improvement stores that have very wide aisles, which we are still frequenting all the damn time because my house continues to be a sucking vortex of in-progress home improvement projects, but I digress. My point is, I'm not letting my 14 month old (that happened! 14 whole months as of today!!) toddle around in the midst of busy shoppers, because I don't want to inconvenience anyone. Also, I'm allergic to death stares.

My ultimate goal is to teach Mr. Man self-control. Like his little leg muscles, self-control must be exercised in order to be strengthened. So we practice different forms of self-control...and I really do mean we, since I'm having to practice pretty hard myself. Certainly it is easier to just carry him or plop him in a cart...actually, he's only ridden in a cart twice and he was pretty sure he wasn't a fan, so that's really not easier. Anyway, my point (yes, I have one) is that I believe taking the time to work with him now, teaching him to stay close to me, be responsive to my redirection, and that he doesn't get to choose what we are getting at the store, is going to make things easier in the long run.

And though it can be draining, it's good practice for me. I'm not going to lie to you, though. There are many times that I don't have the time and/or patience to let his little feet touch the ground. But we make a concerted effort to let him down as much as possible when it's safe to do so.

We still don't let him walk by the toddler snack aisle, though. We aren't that crazy.

Friday, August 8, 2014

To Wean or Not to Wean, episode 2

The first pic of Mr. Man I've ever posted to this blog and he's got a boob in his mouth.

It's National Breastfeeding Week, so let's talk about ma bewbs.

A while back, I talked about my ambivalence? confusion? frustration? with weaning, or the potential for weaning, or the general mommy guilt for even thinking about weaning*...obviously it still isn't very clear to me.

*For the record, I wasn't thinking about weaning him before a year, just realizing that a year was coming up fast. The fact that I even had to write that shows how deep the mommy guilt goes. Ack, don't judge me!

Mr. Man was 10 1/2 months old then.

I just stared at that sentence for a full minute. It seems like I was just writing that post. Now my baby is not a baby. He's a toddling 13 1/2 month old. And he's still suckin' on the boob.

When I wrote my original post I was all, "he doesn't even ask to nurse." BAM. He started asking. There for a while, he was asking A LOT. Then we stopped nursing in the middle of the night **throws confetti into the air** and started offering him a sippy cup more often.

By the way, when he asks to nurse, he gets a very surly expression on his face, plucks at my shirt, and says "drink." I like to imagine it's the toddler version of walking up to the bar in a saloon and demanding whisky in a dirty glass.

For the last 2 months, Mr. Man usually only nurses 3 times a day. First thing in the morning, mid-afternoon, and before bed. Unless he's sick (we experienced our first bout of flu a few weeks ago, a.k.a. The Exorcist Experience). Or, like yesterday, he's teething up a storm and really needs his mommy. Or her boobs. Whatever. I've decided to equate the two. He loves me and my boobs.

So, how do I feel about breastfeeding now?

I still don't have strong feelings. Sometimes I super love him all cuddly and sweaty and pressed against me while in his jammies. Also, he stopped trying to do head stands while he nurses, so that makes things more pleasant. However, sometimes he wants to bob from one nipple to the other and back again, or insists on pointing out my eyes/nose/mouth/teeth/tongue over and over, which translates to getting repeatedly jabbed in the face. But this is balanced out by the special smile he gives me while nursing. It's always the same and I only ever see it when he pops off mid-nursing and grins up at me. Just thinking about it makes me all teary.

For those of you out there who are nursing or thinking about nursing, let me throw my two cents your way. In the beginning it can be hard. Your nipples hurt. It's messy. There's a lot riding on your tired shoulders. Over time, at least for most of us and I sincerely hope you can be included in that number, it gets easier. Get help if you need it and sooner, rather than later, Mama and baby will learn how to navigate the process.

Then, over the course of your nursing relationship, problems crop up. Biting. Distractions that cause baby to stop and start over and over. Growth spurts. Illness. Schedule changes. In my experience, there's a lot of ups and downs. Things will go very easily for a while then a new challenge springs up.

I'll admit, other than having an insatiably hungry child, my experience went pretty smoothly. I've never had a blocked duct or mastitis (thanks to the insatiability of said hungry child). The flip side is the time it took to nurse and pump and nurse and pump enough to satisfy him. Happy tangent: R is watching Mr. Man over the summer and I haven't had to pump in 2 months!!!!

Now that we have over 13 months of nursing under our belts, or diapers, or whatever, the process of nursing is easy. Our nursing schedule is predictable and I don't have to nurse in public so I largely avoid judgement for nursing a toddler. Of course, I get asked all the time by family and friends if he's still nursing. Mostly people just seem curious. I've never gotten any negative comments (yet), though friends who have already weaned obviously feel defensive, which is just weird and makes me feel the need to justify. I almost just wrote justify my decision, but it hasn't been a decision. If anything, it's been an indecision. I haven't tried to wean (except that middle of the night weaning, which was a gradual prolonging of when I would go to him, and within a week and a half he'd stopped waking up at all *throws confetti into the air again*). I don't want to take away something that brings him comfort. I also don't want to feel guilty when this part of our relationship comes to an end. But I know I will.

There's a lot of back patting in the breastfeeding community. I have seen several facebook posts where friends announce how long they have nursed or are still nursing. I also have friends who couldn't nurse and I can only imagine how that feels to see the virtual high-fives. I imagine they feel a lot like slaps to the face.

I feel hypocritical to tell anyone not to feel bad about how they fed their baby when I already cringe with anticipated guilt. I doubt we'll still be nursing a year from now. I hope Mr. Man weans himself and, though a bit of me will miss nursing, we will be able to just cuddle without the necessity of a boob in his little cherub's mouth. He's a very cuddly boy. I get lots of hugs and kisses throughout the day. He likes me to hold him and he hums while a sway back and forth. I think this will be enough to ease my guilt.