Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Tomorrow can't come soon enough.

Brandon is off work tomorrow. This is good. Lately I've been struggling a little bit. I haven't felt like my usual positive, annoyingly calm, incredibly patient, chipper self. The last short while I've been quick to anger and frustration, snapping all too often and being far too confrontational and far too short on tact. I've felt sort of hollow. Like when I'm not angry I can't feel much else, so I almost WANT to be mad because it's an emotion I can hang on to. Even when I feel somewhat ok, I'm not at peace.

I've struggled off and on with depression for a long time. I was diagnosed and medicated at 13, and couldn't stand what it did to me. I didn't feel like a person any more. I didn't feel anything at all. I gained a bunch of weight, went through the motions as far as existing, and slept all the time. So I kicked the meds and never looked back. They didn't work out for me at the time. I did other things to cope with my downswings. For my seasonal depression I up my vitamin D intake, do more physical activity, and make an effort to get dressed and accomplish a handful of small tasks every day so I don't get overwhelmed. These bouts of clinical depression that I get every so often last a lot longer and hit a lot harder, and are much more difficult to cope with. If I continue to feel this low, I'm going to call my doctor and get help so it doesn't get worse.

My family has a pretty extensive history of depression, and I watched my mother, aunt, and grandmother struggle with it my whole life. After Cooper I had mild PPD, which I was able to deal with. There are times, though, that I go into a tailspin and it doesn't get better for a long time. Years. So I'm making an effort to get help early. My family deserves to have the best me possible, and right now, I'm not that person. I know I'm in a bad place when I start to wonder if my family would have been better off if my midwives hadn't been able to get my bleeding under control and I just wasn't around. Time to get some help.

I'm so glad I have Brandon. He supports me and tries to understand. I have a good man.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Let's talk about breasts, baby!

I have never been super zealous in any of the mommy wars. I'm pretty much the live and let live type of mom. I vaccinate, left my son intact, formula fed my son (reasons being unimportant) and currently breastfeed my daughter, let my little boy play with girl toys if he wants and grow his hair long and wear nail polish, we don't spank, we eat well, but leave a little room for moderation when it comes to junk food. I don't attack people that feel differently, or give my opinion without being asked as a general rule, even when I feel strongly one way or the other. I'm basically very easy to please, and very easy to get along with. Which is probably why I wouldn't have called myself a breastfeeding advocate in the past.

Oh how that has changed. I am still very pro-choice about parenting decisions. You wanna formula feed? Go for it. I'm not going to harass anyone. I formula fed my son. It's not the end of the world. However breastfeeding my daughter I've come to a major realization: People suck ass, and I HAVE to advocate for myself and other women who choose to nurse their children.

I had heard stories of breastfeeding moms dealing with assholes in public, being asked to leave places for feeding their children, having to deal with covering or being shamed. I've heard about the breastfeeding moms holding nurse-ins and trying to advocate for themselves and their right to feed their babies as they see fit. I've seen a lot of hate from both sides in the online community. I've heard of Facebook and Instagram accounts being banned for posting breastfeeding pictures that show less than the swimsuit photos posted by tweens twerking their way to early parenthood that never get removed, which seems like nursing mothers are getting it from the "slut shamers". Being a formula feeder, I never understood the war on breastfeeding. Who cares, right? I mean, it's just a little bit of flesh, and a child eating. It's not sexual, and the kid has to eat, so really, why waste time flipping out when there are so many more important things? I also never got why these breastfeeding moms had such a problem with using a cover or going into another room. That was then. This is now. I get it now. Being sequestered and anti-social because you have to feed your baby sucks. Stopping in the middle of a shopping trip to take your children into a bathroom so you can feed your baby is not fun or healthy. Cutting off air circulation in hot weather and covering an infant's head so as not to offend is awful, not to mention how hard it makes getting a latch when you're still figuring it all out in the beginning. Being shut in your house because you can't go anywhere in case baby gets hungry isn't fair to anyone.

I am exclusively breastfeeding my seven week old daughter and I have a two and a half year old son. We are a pretty active family. We go to the park, the store, the library, meet up with friends and family throughout the week. It's in the 90s during the day right now, and we do a lot outdoors. We recently went to the fair, and most weekends we have fun plans for family activities, like the local pool. My daughter needs to eat every few hours during the day, sometimes more often. I can't get a letdown with alternate expression, hand or pump at this point, so I exclusively nurse. It works for us. The really great thing has been that usually when I need to feed my daughter, I'm able to do so, quietly and respectfully, while continuing on with our usual activities. It's been really great. I don't cover her or go to a gross bathroom or sequester myself to feed her, and rarely does anyone say anything, and only occasionally do I get a sour look. I honestly was having a hard time believing that people could take serious offense to me feeding my daughter, because it just hadn't happened yet. I had actually gotten a couple POSITIVE comments about it. Maybe the haters just didn't exist in my community.

My dad has issues. Of all the people to flip out about me breastfeeding my daughter, it was my dad. The man who changed my diapers, saw my mother breastfeeding me, washed my hair in the bath when I was small, has seen me in a bikini, and who should be one of my supporters and pillars of strength when I need him. HE was the person to tell me I was being inappropriate in his house, when I had always tried to be respectful. He was the one to rant about my boob hanging out and being disgusting and how he didn't want to see that. My own dad was sexualizing my feeding Penny. He was the one disrespecting me and putting me down. Not some angry stranger on a high horse. My daddy.

I don't announce when I'm feeding her. Most people don't even notice unless they come close. My breasts are just hanging out. There is a small bit of exposed flesh. My nipple, which is SO OFFENSIVE, isn't even visible unless you're looking for it, and then it's for the half a minute it takes to latch my baby or to cover back up when she's done.

I honestly don't get it. Breasts are bad. Breasts are evil. Let's plaster scantily clad women all over every form of media, and then take offense to a woman feeding her child? No. That is not ok. It does not make logical sense. I will not allow myself to be objectified like that. Even my husband supports me fully and doesn't see me feeding her as a sexual act. Time to educate America. This is wrong. Formula feed if you want, but understand that I made a different choice and expect the same tolerance. Thankfully the law is on my side. I get to feed my daughter wherever I see fit in public. And I will. Don't look if you don't like it. This is kind of a big deal.

These were stolen from my mother-in-law's blog (with her permission):
Someone explain how this offends? I am feeding my happy baby.
It's a beautiful thing.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Confession time.

   I try really, really hard. It takes a lot of effort to be the kind of parent I am, the kind of parent I want to be. There are a lot of days I just feel like I'm just barely keeping it together and nights I cry myself to sleep because I feel like I'm coming up short. There are days I'm so tired I can barely hold my head up, let alone pack around a toddler and a baby and go through the motions of the day on my own. Most days I barely see my husband because he's sleeping and then working all night, and I feel like I'm falling farther and farther behind, being away from home, living on 3 hours of sleep a night.
   I've been short with Cooper lately. I catch myself raising my voice, which I NEVER did before. I've had to remind myself to be patient, and sometimes it's too late and I've already hurt him. I've snapped at him when he needs me. I've been so rushed I have forgotten that he is small and learning about the world, and instead of fostering that love of discovery, I have rushed him and brushed him off lately.
   Right now I'm looking over at my tiny sleeping boy and it occurs to me that he really is the epitome of unconditional love. Even though things have changed, and I don't always have time to play with him on command or get him a snack RIGHT NOW, and even though I'm cranky sometimes and I've snapped at him, he still wants me there. He still asks me to play, wants to sit on my lap and snuggle with me, tells me he loves me, tries to make me proud. I am. I am so, so, so very proud of him.
   I'm going to have to try harder to breathe before I react, and to be more patient. I have a fantastic son, and he deserves the best version of me possible. I need to slow down and be more of the mother I was before Penny was born and I let myself become so wrapped up in life that I forgot that it's going to go on whether I take that microsecond to enjoy my awesome little boy or not. The only difference is that not hurts my baby.
   Cooper has been so loving to Penny. He wants to help with her, hold her, rub her hair, share toys with her, buy her things, and tell her stories. He is the best big brother I could imagine. Penny is the luckiest little girl in the world to have such an awesome brother. My family is amazing. It's definitely time to refocus and be the best mother, wife, and Amber I can be for them. I want fewer nights crying and thinking about how far short I came.