Friday, October 4, 2013

You can do it Mamas!

I saw this video today, and it made me so happy to see this message being promoted in New Brunswick.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qMv4PlT1938&feature=youtu.be

I've probably mentioned before, I was so surprised to discover that the feelings and discussion around breastfeeding in New Brunswick were so different (negatively so) than I had encountered in Nova Scotia, where I began my parenting and breastfeeding journey.

I just want to pipe up on the issue to encourage new moms! I often see new moms breastfeeding and just want to say, "Good job, and keep going!" It's a skill to learn and then it gets easy! It really does. Beyond the health benefits I knew breastmilk provided over formula, I feel breastfeeding improved many other areas of my mothering in ways I didn't expect - spending more time with my babies, holding them, soothing them easier and quickly, relaxing my attempts to schedule their sleep and eating, co-sleeping and touching base with them throughout the night, just generally appreciating how they forced me to 'stop and smell the roses'. 

I feel often like I should be quiet about breastfeeding, that I sound like I'm bragging and being judgmental. I'm really not. I am proud of breastfeeding successfully and I feel I may have a bit of experience that might be helpful. Four babies in I might even be an expert, if I can say so myself. But I'm certainly not trying to alienate and judge my friends. Mothering is hard, I know you don't need guilt over what you think I think about you if you quit breastfeeding laid on top of it all!

Sometimes I do find it hard to believe that people, very smart ladies I know and love, decide to not even try. But I also realize that I am lucky to have received those supportive pro-breastfeeding messages - a husband who saw the benefits and was supportive, a mom who breastfed and valued it (at a time when few others did), and sisters who had been there and got it too - and I want to pass it on. (Especially before it's long enough ago that I forget the details!)

So here goes, my big breastfeeding tips to encourage those new moms out there:

1. Relax. And learn to nurse lying on your side.
It can start out hard and it can have bumps along the way. I think back on parenting our first babe - how concerned I was with having him sleep in his own crib at night and attempting to feed him on a schedule, with a certain amount of time between nursing - and in retrospect I realize we only created unnecessary chaos and discontent for ourselves (and him!). I thought you couldn't do everything that a baby wanted, that you would spoil the baby. You can actually. It makes for a very happy baby, with their needs met and their own schedule established. With Thane (our first), I would sit up and rock and nurse him and be sooo tired, trying to get him to sleep in his crib. Then, I learned to nurse him lying on my side and stop worrying about him developing a habit of being in our bed. Ahhhh. I rested, half-slept, while he nursed and snuggled. That would be my biggest tip for new breastfeeders - to learn to nurse lying down.

2. Get the latch right. Then give it time to practice, get better and find your rhythm.
In my experience, the first 1 - 3 weeks are difficult. The baby and you need to learn how to latch on properly. It's a skill. When they latch on wrong, it hurts. But I've found once we get it, we've got it. When you nurse latched on wrong, it makes it hurtful and very daunting to attempt the next time. Doing it wrong causes a few grin and bear it days. If baby doesn't seem to know the way, ask for help right away to avoid that altogether. There are amazing women who know, ask the right one. I also think I'm lucky that my firstborn seemed to just know what to do. It was my third baby who didn't seem to know how to latch on, and I'm not sure how I would have made out if she had been first! The first two to three months are a learning curve - things like how to remember what side you nursed on last and not to wait too long between feedings. Finding your rhythm with baby. Get a nursing tank top that covers your belly (that was a favorite discovery for me). Every new skill learned needs practice. Then you're off to the races, and each baby gets easier. In my experience.

3. Don't complicate it. Just Nurse More.
My last big tip - I think I really only have three - is to not over-complicate it. With my first and second, I would express milk for when I was away and try to have someone else give them bottles occasionally. I found expressing milk VERY HARD and soon gave up and supplemented with formula. Thane nursed until he was 10 months old. With Seth, when he was 5 months old I started working part-time and all of the sudden I found he preferred the bottle! The easy flow over the cheek muscle workout needed for breastfeeding? I wasn't sure, but I didn't like it. I bottle fed him from then on (and that I certainly found difficult and just too complicated!). Not to mention expensive, and I felt bad about giving him formula. I was only starting to be as conscious of what we were eating as we are now. I didn't realize how much I valued breastfeeding until I couldn't go back.

With Claire and Max, I had enough experience under my belt to realize I didn't need to go anywhere they couldn't go with me, and just how fast that year or so goes. I would be able to attend those adult only functions next year. I worked as a freelance designer instead of leaving. We were a unit. I realized any difficulty breastfeeding threw at me, it was best to just nurse more. Blocked duct? Nurse more. Apply heat. Mastitis? Nurse more. Get my butt to the doctor if it felt like the flu. Growing baby? Never seem to be enough milk? Nurse more. Enough/more would seemingly magically produce.

So there you have it, my big tips.

Actually, I think I have one more.

4. Decide to do it.
In most of my life decisions, working through something challenging was easier if I wasn't comparing it to the thing I decided not to do. University was tough, especially with an unplanned first baby. But it would have seemed tougher if I was constantly comparing myself to highschool friends who took one year courses, had a job and by now were sporting a new car. I didn't consider quitting, I had to keep the long-term benefits in mind. The same goes with being a working mom. When I delve into the daydreams I've always had about being a stay-at-homer, normal day-to-day work challenges seem harder. The theory holds true for breastfeeding too. I really never considered bottle feeding instead of breast feeding (I sometimes complicated nursing by adding bottles), and I think that singularity of mind took away that part of anxiety and indecision, leaving only the hurdles of learning the task at hand, feeding my babes.

This is my 'Good for you mamas'. Know breast feeding is encouraged where you are (it is, for as many doubters there will be 50 supporters) and nourish your babe with confidence. You're doing great. ;)

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Check off the right boxes

Yesterday, I had a conversation with an elderly man at the Gallery. He informed us he was 91. He was recounting fascinating stories, glad to have an audience. He was shaky and unsteady, and said he had lost a lot of the sense in his hands and feet. When he headed off to go we asked if we could help him with the stairs and mentioned the elevator. At this point he stopped to talk about the perils of growing older. 

He said that the future doesn't seem exciting for him now, that what he has in store isn't good. He mentioned that he's a 'reluctant atheist', and it seemed that the reluctant part had a lot to do with the nearing proximity of death. I've thought about that a lot, mostly in conversations with my kids, about what after life holds for us. My mother's voice and strong faith speaks to me, that faith is believing without knowing. My intellectual side wrestles with that idea, needing to know to say I know, so I tell my kids many different ideas people have - that their grammie believes this, some people believe that, that I'm really not sure who is right or what I believe, or maybe that everyone is right. We agree that we like the idea of coming back as animals, or wind, or a tree, it comforts us that our loved ones could be near us in nature, and that we could come back.

This elderly man said that he used to be able to run up a muddy slope, but that now he needed help putting dishes away or getting things out of the fridge, for fear of falling into the fridge or pulling all of the items out. He expressed that it was 'so frustrating to feel so damn useless'.

It reminded me of my grandfather before he died, frustrated that he couldn't work anymore, seeming to give up with no point to fight for, refusing to treat the cancer that he had beat 40 years before, saying 'the carcus wasn't worth the trip'.

It reminded me of how I have briefly felt when I'm sick, or exhausted with a newborn, useless and unable to aid in the speed of life around me. It must be terrible to know that is your new constant, that it won't get better. How can people face their last years without depression?

After the man left, this question and his conversation hung with me. Reading this post: "I'll Never be Done" today was timely. It made me think of a possible answer, that the focus in our later years needs to be on our legacy. After checking in on his sleeping kids, the author writes;

"When I checked in tonight,  I realized something: I'll never be done.
I'll never be done checking in on them, although how I do so will change over time. I'll never be done teaching them, because they'll learn from me every day – even after I'm no longer around to do so in person. Whether they read my work online, my book, or the journals I'm leaving behind when I shuffle off this mortal coil, they will always be getting something from me. 
Then they will pass morsels of what I've sent their way to others, whether it will be my grandchildren, their partners, or those they meet along the way.... aspects of me will keep getting passed on. 
So I'll never be done. 
When I think about it that way, I really want to make sure that I check off the right boxes rather than every box."

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Anniversary's

Missing important dates makes me think of my Mother-in-law. The numbers just don't seem to stick. I don't know why. Troy and I have always joked about changing religions to the one that doesn't celebrate birthdays or anniversary's. Just because I don't remember your date of birth doesn't mean I don't know you and love you!

Carolyn would always laugh and shake her head at us. Then she would look at Troy and say, "I don't know how you managed to marry another you!"

I couldn't, however, forget that a year ago today was the day Carolyn died. It seems ironic to me that after all those years of only remembering her birthday on the day of (too little too late), I would not be able to forget the anniversary of her death.

I have few, if any, pictures of Carolyn and I. And the pictures I have that remind me of her the most, she's not in. Her and I were outside the frame, watching my kids. Her beloved grandbabies.

There was this one day, Thanksgiving weekend, where we sat on their front lawn, just relaxing and enjoying the company. Claire was being the delightful entertainment. It was really warm, the kids were calm and happy, and Seth had just figured out how to climb trees. He was barefoot in dress pants but I didn't want to break the general good mood by telling him to go change his pants. Carolyn was reminded of how little the trees were when they moved there. She was happy. It reminded me of a fall scene from "Stepmom", that movie with Julia Roberts in it. The fall, and the lawn chairs, the mood of acceptance and enjoying a moment because cancer looms.

It was the last time I saw her healthy. Well, not healthy, but herself. After that her fight went very much downhill. I wish we had done more, been there for her better. Too little too late.

If there's anything though I learned from Carolyn, it's to look for the positive side. I hope I'll realize more fully to appreciate what's here while I can. To let those I love know it. Take on that daunting 'now'.

I want to post this tonight, before life gets in the way once again, but I'll add the pictures soon. The power just went out, just me and my screen in the dark and the howling wind outside.

Goodnight Carolyn. We love you, wherever you are. You would enjoy Max, (although he would have you at your wits end with his dangerous stunts!), and Thane has been such a little man lately. So helpful, you would be really proud of him. Seth would love a snuggle with you, and Claire, well, she'll always be your girl. She talks about you a lot, and her smile reminds us of you.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Year three for this youngest.

Phew. That was a marathon evening. The flu I was hoping we would miraculously escape unscathed may have touched down in the Hutt household. Two little sickies were up feverish and delirious, staunchly refusing Tylenol while temperatures reached dangerously high. The horror stories of fellow mom friends makes my fear of high fevers causing seizures and brain damage outweigh my fear of drugs. So, long story short, once we convinced the two littles medicine going in their mouths would feel better than the cool facecloths, the whole night got much better. Thank goodness Troy was here, they would have outnumbered me.

This New Year's Eve was spent home, on the couch with our oldest between us. It was the best start to a new year I've had in a long time. Video games, a new project cast on knitting needles, and sweatpants! Thane had remembered that at one point I had said when he was 10 he could stay up until midnight on New Years Eve. I remember 10 years old seemed so far away at that point.

This New Year it hit me that this was the year I've been waiting for. My stomach flipped in excitement. We did it. I've made it.

My youngest turns 3 this year!

It's been my light at the end of my baby tunnel. One of my most beloved friends, her family a ten year older version of mine, said once (probably on one of my darker baby days), that "Life fundamentally changes when your youngest turns three." And I so got it.

Two years ago I watched with a baby in my arms as Troy put the wood in alone, with mild help/interference from the older boys. One year ago I tried to help while Max sat in his puffy snowsuit, falling over and crying when he tried to move. I really wasn't much help, more there in spirit than anything. Last fall, I did a fair amount of the piling in between 'helping Max help' (watching his cuteness bring in small sticks so excitedly) and exiting to get him down for a nap at some point.

Now don't get me wrong. The other three certainly wreak their own brand of havoc. But there's conversation, solo bathroom trips, negotiations around bedtime instead of, I don't know, that maniacal laughter toddlers do when not staying in bed, and most importantly, when I'm busy I can often help them just with verbal instructions. Amazing thing, developing communication skills.

But it's the youngest, the youngest who dictates the order of the day. When under three anyway.

I loved my time with each of these babies. It's been so precious. The magic of pregnancy and their births. Their soft snuggly sweetness, so cute milestones, their non judgement, their honesty, genuine everything, their neediness. But now, after year ten of babies, I am ready to raise my increasingly independent preschoolers and big kids, and snuggle other people's babies when I can.

Yesterday. Yesterday I painted a room while the kids were awake. My two and a half year old mostly understood not to touch the walls.

Things are getting easier. So far I like you 2013. Even though I should go to bed before the rest of us get struck down by the flu.

That will be great. Let's cross our fingers I get it last.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Oh great.

It's that week where I hate everything.

What I knew but didn't really notice when I was pregnant, then nursing, then pregnant, then nursing, for oh, about four years, was that I was on this lovely hiatus.

Now, I have demon hormones. I'm not just tearful, like the pregnant/nursing caused. I'm angry. I feel like the Hulk. 

This third week, it's the precursor week, where my mind slips somehow and manages to forget again and I'm left going, "What the hell is wrong with me? And more importantly, what the hell is wrong with everyone around me!?"

Everything is wrong and bad and I just can't keep up. I am trying so damn hard and it's not good enough ever. My house will never ever be clean enough, I am apparently absolutely incapable of being a good housekeeping multi-tasking woman like I am supposed to be, and why in the hell won't my kids eat what they're told?

And this week I cannot possibly deal with a fourth toddler learning to stay in a big bed. And by learning I mean climbing out a hundred times. At that stage where they really need an afternoon nap in the afternoon but that nap now makes them not tired at all at their regularly scheduled bedtime. This week I really feel like letting the toddler rummage around in his brother's room in the dark like he seems to want to do, but since he is the fourth toddler I know that if I succumb to this laziness in this particular situation he will only learn how much fun it is to roam after bedtime and this 'training' will be met with much more of a fight than the smile and giggle I'm getting each time I tuck him back in now. So that work that I desperately need to catch up on this evening for that meeting tomorrow? It has to wait until later this evening, when said toddler has finally succumbed to sleep, and when I have then faced the two older kids who have taken advantage of the oversight that they have not been made to go to bed because of that toddler chaos and are still playing video games. Which the whole world tells me I am a terrible mother for letting them play in the first place but I do not have enough willpower to stand up against. I quite frankly just don't have the energy to ban anything and will quite likely buy them more screen stuff for Christmas.

Even though the Mars needs Moms movie was clearly telling me yesterday that machines shouldn't raise babies. I get it screen. Shut up.

Did I mention my husband has been traveling for training lately? And by lately I mean we're on week 8 of 8?

This week makes me want to lie on my dirty kitchen floor and stare at the fan.

But I can't. Dead-eyed crazy petulant mom would probably scare my children. I know world. You told me already. Cherish the crazy little short people, they'll grow too soon.

Just. Need. To. Get. To. Next. Week. Where gentle, sane, positive Victoria lives.

And bonus! Next week is Christmas.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

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