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[livejournal.com profile] erinya commented on my last post and got me thinking. Bennett is discovering male and female. Erinya liked that I asked if he wanted to be a woman when he shook his head no when I told him he was going to be a man. I realize that gender is something we're not supposed to play around with. I mean, I know this in grown up life. If you're gender-queer or a cross-dresser or transgender or just plain don't conform then you're in Big Trouble. But for kids gender continues to be Serious Business. Of course there's the whole pink/blue nonsense and I would probably die of a brain aneurysm if I had to watch children's advertising. But how is it bold to suggest to my toddler that he could be a woman? We play pretend all the time. Kids pretend to be fire trucks, dogs, lions, ghosts, monsters, etc and we don't bat an eye. But to let a boy play girl or a girl play boy... well, that's radical.

I suppose the radical part is that I seriously believe my son can be anything he wants to be. And if he grows up to be a woman, so be it. I admit that my heart would break (and heal up) if he felt so disembodied that he needed to surgically and hormonally alter it - since I love every pore on his little body, every hair and curve and crease. I have had a loved one go through that before and it was deeply difficult. But, ultimately, I want my son to be happy. I don't care if he's male or female, gay or straight or bi or poly or monogamous or asexual. I just want him to not be a jackass and to be happy with healthy relationships.

So far, he seems very boyish: trucks, cars, ka-pow, hitting, wands, and penises (which we call penne). But whatever.
theatokos: (Default)
Ok. Discipline for a bright not-quite-18month old. Lay it on me. It seems too early for time outs. The only thing we need to discipline for is hitting. He is my child so this is not surprising at all. If my mother knew she'd be overjoyed. He loves to throw things and waves sticks around and hit. It definitely seems more out of energy and love of the action than out of malice. He's just as quick to hug and kiss and he doesn't hit other children, just me and Adam. But now some times we get whacked with whatever it is he's carrying around. We give him lots of attention, play time and room to be loud and active.

Any suggestions? Right now we say No firmly, say he may not hit, and if he keeps doing it we hold his hands or arms. He doesn't see us hit nor do we have tv, so it's not by example. I'm sure tired of being hit.
theatokos: (Default)
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! )

Bakers?

May. 13th, 2009 04:34 pm
theatokos: (Default)
Does any one have a good and relatively healthy carrot cake recipe? I'm thinking of making a whole wheat carrot cake for Bennett's first birthday. It's not the full on cakefest that most people do, but seeing as how B hasn't had that much refined sugar or flour, I don't want to overload him on his first go!

Any ideas? Maybe a great vegan recipe?

ETA: I think I might try this unless anyone has better ideas.
theatokos: (Default)
Being a mother is the most amazing thing I've ever done. Hands down. It is the most clarifying and creative thing I've ever undertaken. From conception up to this very moment, the mysteries of the universe unfold just a bit more for me than before I chose to become a mother.

I use the words choice and choose deliberately. For a woman being a mother is not inevitability. It is something I am grateful that I've been able to choose and I wish this choice, this ability to choose, for every woman. I wish that every woman had the knowledge, self possession, and support to say yes or no to motherhood. Motherhood is chaos. Motherhood is change. Motherhood is life and death in each moment. It is vibrancy and exhaustion, selfishness and selflessness. It is completely irrational and insane, and therefore it is the most powerful thing I've ever experienced. It is pure love - and that power is dangerous.

To my mama friends, happy mother's day! May your family bring you joy that surpasses understanding. To those ladies trying to become mothers, may the seed bloom when the time is right (as if there is ever a "right" time to embrace chaos!). To those who don't choose motherhood, may you support the mothers in your world.

To life!

My brain

Dec. 1st, 2008 03:58 pm
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It's coming back. I've had creative impulses. I want to read again. I've actually remembered stuff and had the occasional graduate level thought. IT FEELS SO GOOD.

But of course, I still have some holes in my brain. Sometimes I am flabbergasted at what I no longer know.

Today was a slight triumph for Adult Self. Bennett stayed home for 5 hours with a friend while I went to work and had meetings and phone calls and Did Stuff, all without having to worry about flashing my boobs (mostly - I am grateful no one needed the bathroom while I was pumping), or crying fits or drool or spit up or naps.

Better yet, when I came home it was clear that he was well loved and cared for and having a great time.

This bodes well, although I know my mental health is not out of the woods yet.
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Holy crap. Is this what I signed up for?

Car share to run errands. Should've stopped while at Whole Foods and nursed and chilled. B hates car seats and after being awesome for the first two stops (birth cert - he's legal! groceries - we'll eat!) he had a melt down. Began as a standard "I'm hungry and I hate car seats" fussy fit. So we stopped and nursed for 15 min. But then at the next stop. I was gone for 90 seconds when I came back he was in convulsions. Like, he looked like he was in pain and choking. Bug eyed. Red, sweaty, swollen face with tears streaming and a cry/scream I'd never heard before. My heart has not leapt out of my chest like that ever before. If Adam wasn't calm I think I would've freaked completely. I jumped into the back seat (car not moving) and got him out of the seat and clutched him to my chest. We decided to drive home that way. No car seat. It took most of the way home to de-escalate. I sang and rocked and held close.

I still want to cry. Even though as soon as we got into the house and had a 5 minute nurse he was a-okay. He's now sitting in Adam's lap talking up a storm, smiling and chill. Me? I'm a wreck. I need to cry (not like it's there, but I can feel it all gunked up inside of me). I have a stiff drink next to me. I am breathing.

And grateful that all was fine driving home with him not in a car seat and that the only person who will have trauma from this afternoon is me.

Brain and heart and body. I have officially learned that these are three different mechanisms. I have learned today that being a mother means opening myself up to moments of panic unlike any I've ever experienced before. I have every thing to lose.
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Sometimes it is still difficult having a premie. I hate having to explain why our baby is so small when we go out. It's hard to hear how fast other babies are growing. Bennett is finally packing on the weight and it seems that each morning he is a little rounder, has a little more heft. But he's still small: probably over 8 lbs, maybe 8.5, and he'll be 12 weeks on Sat. Weight and feedings were so fraught for so many weeks. I feel like my confidence was undermined. My capitulation to the nightly bottle of formula comes from this. In all of Kaiser's determination to support breastfeeding, they actually intimidated me: did I need that much help? Doesn't the body produce enough to me the child's needs? Our nightly bottle/s of formula are doing good things for Bennett and for us, but I know that if B had been born "on time" we wouldn't be doing that.

I've been told not to compare my baby with others, since he's on a different schedule. This seems true. I don't see any signs that he is slow, struggling, sickly, etc. Still, I wonder if his lack of smiling at me and Adam is just his chill personality or a developmental problem. He's so chill around other people too, that I do long for him to smile just for me, just some recognition that I'm a little bit more special than other people. [ETA: He is smiling, there's just no discernable pattern, it's not gas. Maybe it's a me? Hard to say.]

I'm still harboring resentment for Bennett's month in the NICU. I joined a premie group on LJ and one mother who had her baby 6 weeks early only had to spend 6 days in the NICU! I feel cheated. I feel cheated, even though circumstances necessitated the NICU. B contracted a UTI, which in premies usually means that there is a valve that hasn't fully developed (50% of cases). But after doing some reading, two rounds of tests, and talking with my midwife and the pediatrician she consulted, it appears that Benn just got sick from the NICU. B is STILL on prophylactic antibiotics and Kaiser still has not called to arrange his final test so we can get off these meds. I am grateful that antibiotics exist, but I am very much against the overuse of them. My delivery, recovery and our time in the NICU had too many elements of ass-covering for my liking. These meds smack of it too.

RAWR!!

Aug. 8th, 2008 03:39 pm
theatokos: (Default)
So angry!! AGAIN! Only this time some bitter lady threatened (in so many words) my family and I just fucking lost it. I am not an angry person and I don't yell much, but I was like a woman possessed. Holy lord, do not even mildly hint at harming my family. I am not a nice lady.

What happened was this: We rented a car for the weekend because we have a lot of running around to do. We live on a busy 4 lane street and our building has four single garages on the ground floor, but no driveways, so if you want to load or unload you have to pull in front of the garages. At noon today Adam got the car and pulled in front of the garages to install the car seat base. Just as he started trying one of the people that rents a garage pulled up and told Adam to move. It's her garage, she said. So Adam pulled out and went around the block. Benn, in his carseat, and I stood on the sidewalk. The woman pulled in front of the building but didn't go inside the garage. "I'm just going in for five minutes," she said. "We were just going to be a couple of minutes," I replied. "I PAY for that space," she retorts.

What I should have said was "Last I heard you only rent the garage, not the street or sidewalk."

Adam pulled around and was now in a lane of traffic with the flashers on. Back to installing the carbase. I had Benn on the ground, behind the lady's car, about to go into the car and she came out and walked past me saying "You'd better move. I'd hate for my car to burp on your baby." (Benn was near her exhaust pipe.) So I grab Benn and go back to sidewalk. She got in her car and yelled out the window to Adam, who had the passenger door open to put Benn in, "Do you want that door?"

That is when I lost it. All of this seems so tame and stupid in writing. But her tone from the very beginning was one of bitterness and entitlement, which are really two faces of the same vice. She didn't need to back up! There was plenty of space to just pull in to the road and leave us to finish. Why threaten to back in to the car and my husband?! I rushed to her open window and just started yelling at her. Of course, that is the least productive thing to do with people like this because she just started yelling over the top of me. Yelling about how she pays for that space (but she was blocking the second garage opening too, so I don't see her logic). Finally she pulled out and left, but I was left upset and shaking.

I coulda just punched her in the face.

Before Benn that lady would have made me angry and annoyed, but holy hormones. I seriously don't know what came over me.

Why, o why, are people so awful sometimes??
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Oh man. The voices are loud in my head today.

And I feel like rthe worst mother ever. Adam is taking B this afternoon and he even made me lunch. But I head B making noises and the first thing I thought was "Oh please don't wake up! I don't want to feed you!"

But of course, when he wakes up I will.
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This might elicit a "so what? you used to do that all the time." But I haven't since I had Bennett. I've cooked two honest to goodness meals since giving birth (Annie's mac n cheese with chard doesn't count). Tonight I made chicken enchiladas verdes. I got good meat from a butcher. I roasted the chilies and tomatillos and made my own salsa verde, made the chicken with my own homemade chicken broth. YUM. SO GOOD.

This meal did not come with out a price. It is *very* hard to manoeuver in a kitchen with a newborn. Benn was content in a bouncy chair thing for about 20 minutes and then he started to fuss. I was in the middle of chopping onions, their juice all over my hands. I had to finish and wash my hands before getting to him. By that time he was screaming. So I stuck him in a sling and, as per usual, he passed right out. Trying to negotiate the knives, fridge, stove, sauces, and oven with a baby on me was hard. And.... I hate to admit this, but... leaning into the oven to rotate the pan with the chilies and tomatillos Benn let out one cry. I thought it was the heat in the face. I backed out quickly and held his head in my hand. Later, during the meal, with him on the boob, I realized I had burnt a small patch on his head. Oh god. I'm a horrible mother! I relieve my guilty conscience by remembering that he wasn't that upset (he didn't cry more than that one cry), that I didn't break the skin, and his little blister will pass.

(I'm not really worried about being a bad mother. How many stories have I heard about kids rolling off tables or falling over in carseats or some such awful ocurrence? Some how we all grow up just fine.)
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Gentleness. It's all about adjusting and gentleness. Being gentle with Benn, even in the middle of a crying jag, is easy. Being gentle with myself, at 4am, trying to change a diaper when all of my fingers have turned to thumbs and I can't stay awake long enough to even keep B on the boob is much harder.

Last night should've been a triumph: B slept for 5 hours straight. No shit. And then he slept for 3 more hours. I was so exhausted, but kept waking up to make sure he was alive. I've had it drilled into me that he needs to eat every 3-4 hours. But I've also been told repeatedly to let a sleeping baby sleep. Ack! B went nearly 10 hours with out a substantial meal. ....And he survived. I barely did. I think getting so much sleep at once only highlighted my exhaustion. I have done nothing all day. And felt worried about that all day long.

How am I ever going to do all the things I like doing? Work, my degree, yoga, my spiritual practices, cooking and being domestic, sing - all while having an infant?

Right. Gentleness and adjustment. Adam reminds me that I'm only in the middle of my second week of having B home. We've hardly settled in and we're still decompressing from the 4 week ordeal that was the NICU and my mother's 2 week stay. Gah. I'm an overachiever. I don't want to be the woman who has a child and turns into the person who doesn't shower for days on end, only wears sweats (I don't own any of those, so I'm safe there), and neglects all her friends and ambitions, watching reruns of Oprah and then waking up at 40 and wondering where her youth went. Catastrophizing? Me? No.....

Still, it's hard not to be depressed when I'm sitting at the dining table, with B in my lap, eating a Safeway frozen dinner of lemon chicken (Adam's mother bought us a freezer full of frozen, factory meat filled, safeway dinners. Thoughtful, but, ew). Basically it's like some one threw up chicken chunks and pasta and then doused it in lemon juice to disguise the smell. The meal is coupled with a glass of the blandest chardonnay, a bottle of Weston chardonnay (avoid this) that Adam's aunt got us. Adam's family, generous, but lacking any interest in food whatsoever.

I just didn't have the desire to cook tonight and Adam is out. I think the rest of the evening is going to involve me smooching my baby and watching Scrubs.

I know I can find a balance in my new life. I am even more inspired than I was before to do things that I really want to do. But gentleness, patience, and adjustment - I must keep reminding myself of these things.

Overall though, for all of my fears (I thought I had choked Benn today when I gave him his vitamins, and I fear sometimes that if I don't wake him every 3 hours to force feed him he'll never gain weight), I love being a mother. Really. It's way more amazing and lovely and inspiring and beautiful than I ever expected.
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Finally, Adam and I are alone. My mum left this morning. This is the first time we have ever truly been left alone with our baby. He is 5 weeks old.

I am this guy's mama. That reality is slowly setting in. At last. The other night I shed some tears while breast feeding, overwhelmed with happiness and the immensity that this little person is *mine*, I built him, flesh of my flesh and all that. I even got choked up at Wall*E* (Adam & I took advantage of my mother to have a date), the innocence and very black heart nature of the main character reminded me of those qualities I see in B (and infants in general). I was also (am usually these days) extraordinarily tired and just haven't had much space to process the stress and intense emotions of the last 5 weeks.

I still feel hounded by Kaiser. Since coming home, a week ago tomorrow, I have been back to Kaiser for my postpartum follow up check and have had 2 home health nurse visits to see how Benn is doing. I thought once we left the NICU we would be done with taking his temperature and logging how many minutes of breast feeding (how many minutes on each side? how often? how many times during the night? etc), at what time was his last poopy diaper and what was the color and consistency of it? AHG!!! Plus, he must be weighed (new borns, at least this one, hate being naked, and he has to be naked to be weighed). The home health nurse wanted him to gain 2 ounces in 2 days, but he only gained 1/2 an ounce so I had to listen to yet another litany of suggestions for better feeding. I'm going to call on Monday and cancel any repeat visits. I'm sick of it. I feel beset by Medical Advice. Do all new mothers have to keep such detailed tracking of the minutae of feedings and diapers and hours slept?? I was so hoping that would end when we left the hospital.

I am more worked about this than I realized.

However, I have realized some things about our NICU experience for which I am grateful. I will post about those, maybe later today.


*Wall*E is spectacular. I hope it gets nominated for a best picture Oscar. The first third of the movie is some of the most beautiful animation ever. Pixar's ability to create films that have meaning (the environmental and consumer messages of this film may or may not be subtle...) as well as keep a 4yr old amused are unparalleled. I want to go see this again, soon.
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Little B was supposed to come home Saturday morning, but he bradied again. (Bradycardia) The earliest released date, as of yesterday morning, is Thursday. But whatever. I haven't been to the hospital for two days. After finding out Thursday night that he wasn't coming home I had a bit of a breakdown and decided I needed a break from the 9 hour days at the hospital. I feel like a bad mom - I know babies heal, grow and develop best when curled up on their parents' chests, but I cannot handle the hospital anymore. I have spent more time at the hospital in the last two weeks than I have at my own home. I am exhausted from the constant platitudes of the nurses and the constant checking in when I'm there:

"How's everything going? Is he latching? How many minutes [of breastfeeding] has it been? You know, this is just his way of saying he's not ready to go home. You wouldn't want your baby to go home if it's not safe, would you? It'll just be a few more days. Any day now he'll grow out of this. It's just a developmental issue common to premies." Seriously, I get those statements EVERY time I'm there.

I am going to go in today for one feeding and to hold him for a couple of hours. And that's it. No more. Just one feeding a day. For my own sanity. I am so grateful that he'll never remember this time, although I fear his time in the hospital, time mostly left on his own, swaddled up and left to sleep in a crib by himself, will be imprinting on him. I don't want him to feel or perceive to be abandoned. He is used to hearing my heartbeat every moment of his life - then he gets born and is whisked off to a plastic bed without me.

Another reason to be pissed at Kaiser: Adam went the day before yesterday and I gave him a big swatch of fabric from a t-shirt I wear to bed, a t-shirt I've had since I was 12 (I haven't grown very much since then). Cut up for a good cause. I was hoping Benn could snuggle up with it. Yesterday it was no where to be seen. What nurse didn't give it to him? I'm so disappointed.

Actually, it's just days on end of disappointment.

I have decided that when I go in today I am going to tell the nurses I do not want them to talk to me, that I will get them if I have questions. I do not want any information about him. All I want is a 12 hour heads up that he is coming home. I can read his chart if I want to know what is going on. I'm tired of getting my hopes up. As far as I'm concerned, Kaiser has custody of my child and I've only got visitation rights.

These mothering hormones are crazy. I feel like I have been taken over, reprogrammed, invaded. I am not my own person anymore. Adam cannot relate to how I feel. This is the first time I felt a huge biological gap between me and him - or between women and men. This Mama Bear urge in me is powerful. It would be amazing if I wasn't in a position to have my heart broken every two days.

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