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I am writing on the train, on my way home from London. I’m sitting in the first class quiet coach. Traveling by train is delightful. Better than car or plane, I think. Britain is an amazing, beautiful country. It is so green! Even London is green! I am sure there are parts that are as urban as any city, but there are so many parks and tree. The University of Roehampton is in greater southwest London. It’s the only uni in London with an actual campus. There are a few small lakes and while the uni is a mish-mash of architecture and planning, there are several spots that are green and secluded. Overall the uni feels like a real, honest-to-god uni, with students of every race and creed and a library that was actually being used. I had really nice accommodations, quiet, and with the best shower I’ve had since I left the US.

I got to go out on Tues night. I took the bus into neighboring Putney. I stood on the edge of the Thames!! I sound like a total tourist, but wow –the Thames is an inspiring river. There is something that feels quite alive about it. So beautiful. That night I went to a movie: I saw Iron Man 2. Such fun! It was sheer brilliant ridiculousness. The plot was quite weak in parts, the science laugh out loud absurd, but who cares? Scarlett Johanson is sex on a stick. And I am not ashamed to say that if Robert Downey Jr/Tony Stark asked me to run away with him, I’d go in a heartbeat. SO HOT. The one thing that annoyed me about the movie was seeing Gwyneth Paltrow and Scarlett Johanson walk around in 4 inch Laboutins. They could barely walk. They minced. It gave them sway backs. So very awkward and actually quite disturbing (they are actually rendered mildly disabled by these shoes). Oh and Mickey Rourke, who is HUGE by the way, was excellent as the baddie, but whoa does he have some wierd fingernails. After the movie I took myself to Wagamama, a Japanese chain, and had noodles and a glass of wine. Then went back to my room and crashed for 10 hours.

As soon as I get home I must nurse. MUST. NURSE. I am in a goodly deal of pain – sharp pinpoints and what feels like internal bruising, as if I’m being pummeled from the inside-out. My breasts are hard as rocks, lumpy, and hot. I am quite surprised that my brief journey away from Bennett –who is nearly 2- has caused me so much discomfort.
*******

And I’m home. Wow, Lampeter is out back of the beyond. So beautiful and wonderful to come to.

Happiness

Apr. 15th, 2010 01:29 pm
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The other night Adam and I started gleefully giggling. We had just crawled into bed (well, me into bed and him onto the air mattress on the floor) and I said in a whisper "Every day here is like a vacation." That phrase sunk in and we laughed with joy. It's true! I'm not sure we've ever been happier. It's not like this place is exciting. Honestly, it's pretty damn dull. The only museum is a Welsh quilt museum. No cinema or theatre, no bands, only a small handful of restaurants to eat at if you want to go out for dinner (and really only two if you want to eat good food). But since we have a small child those things don't matter. There's nothing to spend money on here, so we can live frugally. Adam really only has to work part-time hours for us to pay our bills (though more money and work is always a good thing!). Adam loves what he does. I love what I do. We both get ample time with Bennett. It's clean and fresh and safe. We are outside all the time. The people here are friendly and things move at much slower pace than the city. The fact that we get to do what we love, that's there no rush: it's really truly like a vacation every single day.

And it's getting EVEN MORE so, since Bennett is night weaned. Last night was night 5 and he slept through the night. I discount to the two quiet requests for water. No nightmarish freakouts like the previous nights. No trying to nurse. He just slept, curled up tight in the crook of my arm, one hand on a boob at all times, but hey! It's a victory! It has had unintended consequences: I think it has sped up his daytime weaning. That's not a bad thing. As much as I'll miss the intimacy of it, it feels like it's time. My guess? By his second birthday (end of May) he'll be done. And to think: when I was pregnant I thought extended nursing was weird.

I wonder if this is contributing to my fading urge to get pregnant. I don't know if it's the return of more bodily autonomy, more sleep, or the fact that spring is here and I want to get moving, that has nulled the ovarian cry for another baby. I definitely want another child. If I was pregnant I wouldn't be sad. But I'm not in a rush anymore. I'm also losing weight. The jiggly tummy fat seems pretty damn permanent, but in general I'm getting more exercise and I'm almost back into my smallest pair of pants. Which means I need yet more pants. SIGH. It would be nice to have at least a few months of a fit, relatively svelte body again before I go back to work that is being pregnant. There are a few ladies that I interact with in town that are pregnant and I've been watching them swell. I'm so short that I just look like an oompa-loompa when I'm pregnant. My already substantial boobs grew to an enormous size. That I do not miss!
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I'm feeling just better enough to get up off the floor/couch/bed, but not well enough to actually do anything. Can you tell? I figure I'll finally get around to a few things I've been meaning to post all week.

Breastfeeding Matters by Maureen Minchin review: Read more... )

My refried bean recipe )

Excellent inexpensive bath scrub )
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I'm 2/3 of the way through The Politics of Breastfeeding. The author is at her best when discussing the social history of breastfeeding and the rise of the formula companies. The snark present when talking about women and choices is absent. It's worth reading these chapters. The back of the book has a quote comparing this book to Fast Food Nation at al, and this is where I can see the comparison.

If a mother has a healthy baby, adequate sanitation, access to clean water and reliable refrigeration, using formula is relatively fine. I think anyone reading this knows that. However, the vast majority of the profit of formula companies comes from the developing world, where women do not have the last three very important components for making formula. The evidence the author documents is HORRIFYING. For example, Nestle, until the 80s had a practice of dressing up saleswomen in Africa as nurses and sending them round hospitals and clinics encouraging women who had just given birth to use Nestle formula. The women believed that medical professionals had given them advice based on their personal situations. In Nigeria, which had had a good/low infant mortality rate thanks to a history of breastfeeding, medical professionals had to come up with a new name for the formula-induced diarhhea that started killing babies en masse. The aggressive ad campaigns used in Africa were deliberately misleading - particularly if you were a relatively uneducated woman in a developing country.

It makes me ILL to think that I supported this industry, albeit in a small way. I will work doubly hard to not need even the slightest amount of formula next time around.* More and more I really believe that the Medical-Industrial Complex** hates women and children. How else could formula companies so blatantly disregard the lives of these babies? Another example: between 1978-79 a formula brand took out all the salt from its recipe, causing many babies to suffer from problems brought on by lack of sodium chloride. After the case went to court in the US, the company won approval from the USFDA to 'donate' the recalled formula to the Third World.

So.... Hi. A happy, uplifting post to start your weekend.


*I hope by now everyone knows that I feel very differently about mothers who cannot breastfeed, and I recognize that your politics may not be my politics.

**Patriarchal in general, for though there are doubtless women who work for these companies, it is historically the work of men who created and continue these practices. And I don't think that all men are complicit in this.
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Bennett's communication is exploding. In the last 24 hours he has said, in context: home, house, car, cook, up, pup, hop (thanks Dr Seuss!). Continuing favorite words are: hot, mama, uh-oh, and 'go go go go' - yes, four in a row. He has signed poop, sad, bath. His empathy is also expanding. He gets sad when others do, he was concerned for Elliott Cat because Schmell has a bad sore, and he's running around giving hugs. Adam has started playing a strictly vocal version of Marco Polo - Adam says Marco and Bennett responds 'pogo.' So cute.

ETA: I forget that he also says cocoa and coch (red in Welsh). And this morning he said poop!

I'm reading The Politics of Breastfeeding as my 'at home' book. It's full of fascinating information, nothing which surprises me all that much. It has cemented my already pretty firm belief that formula is nasty shit and that boobies are amazing. But there's something about the book that is off putting. It's her tone. I can't quite put my finger on it, but perhaps that's because I only have ten minute chunks of time to read. I think her book is not going to win any converts. If I was a mother who had problems breastfeeding and I wanted to try again, this is not the book I'd recommend. Basically, if you've ever used formula I think her tone and content could make you feel like shit.

What I'm walking away with, though, is how freaking amazing human bodies are. First, like I said, boobies are incredible. We make a perfect food, it's regulated in just the right make up and just the right amounts; it cannot be replicated. But even though formula is sketchy stuff, humans can thrive! Hell, we are what we eat - literally - and Americans eat high fructose corn syrup by the truck loads and some how don't keel over dead from it. I would never drink martinis and smoke while pregnant, but millions of mothers did in the middle 20th century and their babies turned out fine. We are incredible, hardy creatures.
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Bennett has hardly been eating food lately. All he wants to do is nurse. My nipples hurt and my body needs a Time Out.

He's had a cough for about a month now, maybe just over. It's intermittent throughout the day but without fail he has a 10-30 minute coughing/hacking/crying fit in the night. I took him to the doctor a few weeks ago and it was just a cold. I'm tired, folks.

Bennett has also discovered books in a big way. He was interested loosely before. He had a few favorites. However, he wants books ALL DAY LONG, and the same story over and over and over in a row. Good thing he is so stinkin' cute.

The washing machine decided to die halfway through a load of dirty diapers. .....and..... the machine started again and started gushing dirty diaper water all over the kitchen floor.
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STILL SICK. 4th week, 3rd virus. Now manifested in my right ear canal. Possible ear infection? Bennett has a bit of a cold and a blood shot eye. Conjunctivitis? Nothing boobie milk can't cure! I did indeed squirt breast milk into his eye. If it doesn't clear up by Monday we're both going to the doctor.

Today two American friends of ours, Adam's best friend and his wife, are coming to visit us. They now live in London and we're having a makeshift Thanksgiving. Adam is going to make his gourmet turkey sandwiches. Our friends are bringing home made cranberry sauce, and a tofurkey and pumpkin pie from the Wholefoods in London. I'm making mashed potatoes and garlicky salad and stuffing. Speaking of stuffing, all I have are two pounds of breadcrumbs. Can anyone recommend a vegetarian stuffing recipe?

So what am I thankful for? Free health care, an awesome partner, the greatest little boy ever, a warm home, few distractions, peace, the dark, new flannel sheets, friends coming to visit.
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It's not so much that I've been *sick* but more that I've been really run down. Of course we've been under a ton of stress. We've only been here for 8 weeks and 'settled' for less than that. We've got a kid. We're adjusting to new germs. Blahdibah. But being run down, with kid, plus a sinus cold, and now - yep, let's add one more thing on to the pile! I have a blocked duct (more than one?) in my right boob. Given how run down I am and how fast it's getting worse it could turn into mastitis at any moment. FUCK. You know what the remedy for this is? Bed rest and nursing like a mofo.

Dissertation? Paper? Maybe Bennett, with his infinite energy, could write those for me. Guess I should teach him to read....
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First, the New York Times posted this article on the effects of a NICU stay on parents. While I don't feel I suffered from PTSD, I will say that it was the worst month of my life (that I remember). And Bennett was the healthiest kid in the NICU. We knew he wouldn't be there for 4, 5, 6 months.

Second, Wales. FUCK YEAH! Getting an answer from the Home Office has re-energized and motivated me. Adam and I have a few leads on housing, not sure how they'll pan out, but a lead here and there is hopeful. We have a place to mail our boxes. I think I'll be able to send over the winter coats, since it won't be so cold for the next month or two. Looking at last year's weather for September and October I am excited for cool and damp. A real autumn! Yay!

Thirdly, we all went shopping yesterday. I scored, big time. Kohl's was having a massive sale, everything was 50-60% off. It's like a slightly nicer Target. I got three tops (from the junior section), a pair of earrings, an awesome aqua purse, and some cute underwear. Then I went to Victoria's Secret and bought non-nursing bras. Why do I ever try to buy bras from places other than Victoria's Secret?? I don't know. Hands down VS makes the most flattering and comfortable bras for big busted ladies. HANDS DOWN. I wish they made nursing bras.

Speaking of which, nursing mamas, any recommendations? I need to get another one. One of my two is falling apart.

Thirdly, Bennett is on a growth spurt. I swear he's two inches taller than last month. He's saying "hot" and babbling up a storm. Also trying to say "moo." He's just the most happy, easiest going kid ever. Who still wants to nurse all the time. I'm thinking of night weaning at 18 months. Right now, B's great grandpa is chasing him around the den on his hands and knees.

Lastly, tonight I'm going out into San Diego to meet up with some women I went to high school with. Martinis! No nursing! Ladies night out!

Life is good. Again. Or, life was always good and now my attitude is matching up with reality.
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Bennett slept like a rock last night. He's happy as can be. Thank god. He was even able to nurse. PHEW. It feels funny, though, when he does it. It's not quite the same as regular gums. It's all uneven and a little pokey. He's got the GROSSEST blood clot on the left side. But all is well. He is even giving honest to goodness hugs. This kid amazes me.

I am still unwinding from the whole ordeal. I did yoga this morning and I had that feeling in my stomach that if I let go anymore I'd throw up. My whole person was scrunched up tight. Unwinding is going to take some effort. Healthy food, sleep and a happy baby will help for sure. I'm still grieving the accident. I'm sad that Bennett is going to be funny looking for several years. It's a really minor thing, I know, and I'll get over it, but it's still hard.

More happy things to look forward to: the cats are now indoor/outdoor cats. Elliott is a happy camper. Four years ago I promised him this would happen and I'm finally following through with it. Nigel isn't so sure about the whole outdoors thing. Today Adam, B and I go to get our biometrics done for the visa application. I believe this is the last piece and we can mail all of our paperwork in tomorrow. Tomorrow night I'm going to preview night for ComiCon. Friday night Adam and I are going to go see live music! My god, I'm so excited. A guy called William Fitzsimmons (sort of reminds me of what John Mayer and Iron and Wine's baby would sound like) at a coffee house called Lestat.

Now to shower.
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I am applying to be an Adopt-a-Mom breastfeeding mentor. It's a community on LJ that pairs up experienced mamas with new mamas in an effort to support them. My aam, [livejournal.com profile] said_by_me, was incredibly patient and supportive of me during a time where I felt overwhelmed and uncertain. Part of the requirement is that I publicly post my breastfeeding story.

Cut for those who don't care! )

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