World Breastfeeding Week: What Support?

In conjunction with World Breastfeeding Week three bloggers have launched I Support You, an online initiative to destigmatize how any mother chooses to feed her child. The mission statement is one of acceptance and kindness and it cuts through the cruelty and bullshit of the “Mommy Wars”. I fully support a woman’s right to choose how to feed her child. So why does this initiative make me uneasy? Yes, we should support a woman’s right to choose. But why are we not addressing that so many women want to breastfeed yet are unable to do it? Why aren’t we outraged on their behalf? Why isn’t more being done to help women nurse successfully? We should be able to explore these questions without alienating women who formula fed.

I’ve done a lot of thinking about breastfeeding over the last several months. Hell, I wrote a 20 page paper titled “The Human Right to Food Applied to the Problem of United States Breastfeeding Rates”. In addition, the reality that my own breastfeeding days are nearing their end is weighing heavily on me. I plan on weaning C shortly after his second birthday at the end of the month. It is the right choice for our family.

During the first several months I nursed T I struggled through nipple pain, a wicked case of thrush, and the removal of a precancerous lesion that abutted my areola. I was shocked by how hard nursing was. The first few months were brutal, but after we figured it out the year plus that followed was magical. As much as I reveled in nursing T, as much as I grew to love it I also felt incredibly angry. I was able to make nursing work because I am privileged enough to choose to be a SAHM. I was lucky enough to have a Mom who was able to buy me a medical grade pump I couldn’t afford on my own. I saw multiple lactation consultants. My doctor and T’s pediatrician were cheerleaders on the breastfeeding front. Z supported me every step of the way. All that fantastic support, which again I received because of my socio-economic position, all that support was enough to get me through the terrible times-the lactation consultant who told me it wouldn’t hurt if I was doing it right, the feeling like glass was tearing through my nipples when the thrush set in, the constant worry that my guy wasn’t gaining weight fast enough.

But what about women who don’t receive that kind of support? Women who are suffering from low supply, women who need to go back to work immediately, women that don’t receive information about the benefits of breastfeeding. Shortly after giving birth to T I had two friends attend two different childbirth sessions at Women and Infants, an excellent hospital for labor and delivery. In both classes the participants were told breast is best without being given any information on how to successfully nurse.

Guess what? Breastfeeding isn’t intuitive. You don’t just stick a baby onto your boob and have everything work out. Guess what else? Sometimes it does hurt when you are doing it right. Some ladies have super sensitive nipples. Some ladies don’t. Guess what else? Because breastfeeding rates are so low in this country there isn’t a built in support system of Mothers and Grandmothers and friends who have an intimate understanding of how breastfeeding works and who can help new Moms troubleshoot. Guess what else? Sometimes two lactation consultants in the same hospital will give you conflicting information and leave you more confused than before you talked to them. Yes, I’m speaking from experience.

My OB told me that in countries where there is no access to formula the rates of Mothers with low milk supply are very low. In developed countries the rates of low milk supply are much higher (I haven’t researched this myself, am planning to in conjunction with a project this fall and will definitely write about what I find out). His analysis is that women are forced to figure out nursing when there is no other alternative. I am not saying that women who suffer from low supply in this country are crying wolf. Not at all. It has to be a terrifying thing to go through. If my infant was losing weight you better bet I would feel him formula immediately. I feel frustrated on the behalf of women who have supply issues. Why aren’t they getting effective help? Currently there are 70 federally funded studies on erectile dysfunction and 10 on breastfeeding dysfunction. To anyone who says breastfeeding is a naturally occurring bodily function I’d remind them that boners are naturally occurring as well. And yet, viagra and cialis are not only covered by health insurance, they are huge money makers. Nature clearly isn’t working for a lot of guys.

Over the last month or so another idea has been bouncing around my head. The United States Government through the CDC recommends exclusively breastfeeding for 6 months. After delivering that message the government sets up new Mothers to fail. How are you supposed to exclusively breastfeed if you do not have adequate maternity leave? If you are working a minimum wage job how are you supposed to afford a breast pump? How are you supposed to express milk if your boss won’t give you time on the clock and a clean and safe place to do it?

The responsibility to nurse is placed on the shoulders of women. They are told it is natural, they just need to try harder, it is their failure if they can’t figure it out. Well, bullshit. Pardon me for being a hysterical feminist, but if that doesn’t smack of misogyny I don’t know what does. It’s like telling a bunch of sixth graders that they need to pass a math test in order to go to 7th grade, yet not teaching them what is on the exam.

I wholeheartedly agree that we should support choices each Mother makes about how to feed their baby. But forcing the message down women’s throats that breast is best while not being able to follow through with support is an issue that is not talked about. It seems breastfeeding is a vocal issue for two groups, those who only see boobs as a sexual objects, who insist women nursing in public are offensive or by those who expect women to achieve the impossible with no help and who shame those who fail.

During World Breastfeeding Week I propose we advocate for change:

  • If the government advises babies should be exclusively breastfeed for 6 months than women should receive paid maternity leave for that period.
  • The CDC estimates that 2.2 billion dollars a year would be saved on medical costs if higher breastfeeding rates were achieved. The numbers are not going to increase through education alone-extensive research needs to be conducted concerning breastfeeding failure. At least as much research that is devoted to erectile disfunction.
  • The United States committed to following The International Code of Marketing of Breastfeeding Substitutes in the early 90s, yet nothing has been done to enforce The Code. It is time to halt predatory marketing campaigns by formula companies.

And listen, us Moms out there aren’t always helping. I’ve seen comments online by breastfeeding Moms who self righteously proclaim if they were unable to nurse they would secure expressed milk. The Human Milk Bank Association of North America, a nonprofit, charges between $3 to $5. An ounce. Give me a fucking break self righteous breastfeeding Moms. Then there are comments by Mothers who were unable to nurse-they are hell-bent on proving that breastfeeding does not provide any advantage to newborns. It enrages me that Moms who choose to formula feed, or who are unable to nurse are made to feel less because of it. But it also enrages me that they would try to undermine the science behind the benefits of breastfeeding.  Advocating for breastfeeding should not to be synonymous with denigrating choices made by formula feeders. Defending formula feeding should not be synonymous with trying to disprove the upsides of nursing. We are all better than that nonsense.

hugging boys

T was nursed until he was 20 months. I was entering the second trimester of pregnancy and my milk dried up. Neither of us were ready to stop, honestly I still feel terribly guilty about letting him down. C will be 2 on August 31st. He took to nursing immediately and we are still going strong. I might feel like the I Support You campaign misses out on the systemic lack of support in this country, but the truth is, from the bottom of my heart, I do support you and whatever choice you and your family make to feed your child.

Advertisements

18 Months Postpartum

A couple of days ago I realized something alarming. My boobs have deflated much like a discarded balloon lost under the sofa for a month. At first I was crushed. I had big boobs long before I got pregnant. And then I was worried-was C still getting milk? That question was answered in the affirmative when he vomited spectacularly after nursing on Thursday. But finally I was….excited. Yup. I’m happy to have flappy little saggy tits.

I’m going to say something nice about myself now. I know. Weird. As a young woman my boobs were magnificent. They were not small and yet they defied gravity. I could get away without wearing a bra no problem. They kind of didn’t look real. My girlfriends were in awe of them, hell for once I was proud of how a part of me looked. Alas, they were completely too awesome to last. They were the boobs of youth.

I’m 36. Those babies are gone forever. Well, not totally. They are tattooed onto Z’s chest. He got a topless mermaid that was taken from a picture of me on our fifth wedding anniversary. So a cartoon version of them lives on.

My boobs didn’t get small again when I weaned T because I was pregnant with C. I should have realized size has nothing to do with milk production because even though they were big my milk dried up because I get so sick during my first trimester. My body just couldn’t make milk and a new baby. T nursed until he was 18 months and I still feel guilty for weaning him before we were both ready. But I’m not pregnant now. (woohoo!) And I don’t plan on being pregnant again. Currently my hope is to nurse C until he is at least 2, but very slowly I feel like I’m getting my body back from the boys. It’s a major relief.

So my new boobs might not be much to look at. But the world of summer clothing is opening back up to me! I can wear tank tops with spagetti straps again! I can wear halter tops! I’ll be able to purchase a bra without super wide straps! Maybe I can even wear a sundress! Small floppy boobs for the win!

t new

About ten days after T was born. They were bigger than his head.

k bathroom 2

Today. Um, the image speaks for itself.

k mirror

I mean, I would consider just wearing the nursing top out in public. Man, I’ve been jealous of the Mamas who could do that in the summer. Goodbye two inches of cleavage! I won’t miss you at all!

And an added bonus? My postpartum hair loss was truly epic. I mean, I convinced myself I was balding. Well, it is growing back! My standard hairstyle, if you can really call it that, has been hair parted on the left and pulled back with two barrettes. Yes, like a preschooler. Whatever. I’m low maintenance in that I take zero pride in my appearance.  I know, I know, Z is super lucky. Well I haven’t been able to use the barrettes for ages because I only had like 14 hairs left. But I can do it again, damn it! I’m back, baby!

old hair

Those of you who went to high school with me will recognize this look being I have been relying on it for well over 20 years. You say try something new? In the early aughts I cut it boy short. Z could barely make eye contact with me for a year. As I have no problem making a fool of myself online I just wasted half an hour looking for a picture, but I can’t find one. If Z knows where our stash of actual photos are I’ll update later. For now just use your imagination. The more hilariously awful the better.

Z is coming home tomorrow. I’m making rice and beans for my guys today. Things are looking up.

Crazy, Periods, And Some Good News

This whole anxiety disorder thing is never going to go away. I know that. Nevertheless when my therapist reminds me of that fact, as she did yesterday, it always kicks my ass.

Check out this blog post, especially the second half. Go ahead, I’ll wait. Ok, I know it is from an atheist website that proselytizes against religion with the same small minded zealotry of the very evangelicals it purports to be smarter than, but the author is spot on in his assertion that those suffering from mental illness are “separated from reality” who often need the help of friends and family in order to recognize they are ill. Can I take a sec to thank Z yet again for convincing me I needed help years ago?
My separation from reality is often in the form of paranoia that is occurs when I’ve done nothing wrong, yet my crazy convinces me that everyone sees a monster when they look at me. I was not even in the room when T got his black eye. Not only did I believe that the entire faculty and staff of his school thought that I’d given it to him, I felt guilty about it. WHEN I ACTUALLY KNEW I DIDN’T FUCKING DO IT! It is exhausting and confusing and frightening to carry guilt for actions I know I haven’t taken. 
Currently there is a bigger issue that is making me more vulnerable to the paranoia. In May I wrote about being worried about the return of my period. It finally came back in August and boy-o was I right to be concerned. Listen, I feel ridiculous writing this. I’ve had my period for almost 25 years, clearly it shouldn’t be a big deal. But the terror I feel when I bleed now is suffocating. It is a textbook trigger, it brings me right back to hemorrhaging. I feel so helpless. I can’t spend 5 days a month as a complete basket case. I can’t be running to the bathroom every few minutes to check that blood isn’t pouring out of me, especially because I know that blood isn’t pouring out of me, I do know it, I swear. Evidently knowing it doesn’t prevent me from needing to check to be triple sure. 
This last period was awful, and not just for me. Z suffers when I’m in bad shape, and I’m sure the boys know on some level. Rather than enjoying the blood free two and a half weeks in front of me, I’m already stressing out about the next one. What has really crystalized for me is that another pregnancy would not be a good idea. My track record blows; T = huge clots that were dismissed by my former doc as not a big deal which were actually the warning sign that I had retained some placenta that led to a D&C 5 days postpartum. Incomplete miscarriage of twins = eventual D&C to remove “products of conception” that didn’t seem to feel like passing on their own, plus ER visit due to clots because not all “products of conception” successfully removed, followed by nearly two months of blood tests as we waited for those “products” to finally pass. C = hemorrhage of more than a liter of blood six hours postpartum. My body does not like to let go of the contents of its uterus. Why the hell would we risk it again? That said, if I accidentally get knocked up I’d super appreciate it if you guys could say stuff like, “Oh Karen, I’m sure your uterus is going to cooperate this time!” Thanks, friends.

This is the face of a crazy person who is afraid of her period. Not quite sure what to do about that. 

Ready for some awesome news? My professor told me he and I should leave after the seminar portion of class next week in order to trick or treat with our kids. So I get to be on my “I’m totally responsible about not cutting class” high horse and still spend Halloween with Luke Skywalker and Yoda.

Our front stoop is ready for trick or treaters.  

 It was in the 70s today and T took advantage by doing some bike riding in the leaves.

Evidently Z and T have been doing this for ages. They are both nuts.
My sweet baby.

***Also, I cleaned up my “Stuff I Follow” list. If you haven’t posted in forever I went ahead and removed your link. I’m still subscribed in my RSS feed and if you start posting again I promise to put you back! I just thought it was weird to have links to blogs that weren’t being updated anymore. Hope I didn’t hurt any feelings! If you want your blog back on the list even if you aren’t posting email me and I’ll do it.

For the New Parents Out There

When T turned us into parents on August 13th of 2009 it was life changing, exhilarating, terrifying. If I had to choose one word to describe the first few months with T it would be overwhelming. We were overwhelmed with love, but also with the enormity of being responsible for another life. Z had a four day business trip before T was 12 weeks old. I remember sitting on the sofa holding T and weeping on that last day, just waiting for Z to get home so I could get a break from the unrelenting demands of a newborn. Actually, all that Fall I spent a lot of time sitting on the same sofa and weeping because the intensity of the love I felt for T was almost suffocating.

On August 31st of 2011 C made us parents again. And it was simply exhilarating. After you’ve given yourself a bunch of gray hairs shepherding a baby through infancy the second time becomes old hat. Last Fall we knew how to keep a newborn alive and safe and loved. We kept saying to each other, “What was the big deal with T? Compared to dealing with a toddler this is easy! What was our problem?” I’ve thought a lot about our attitude almost a year ago. You know what? Parenting C wasn’t easy, it was known, and it wasn’t accompanied with never ending fear. That said, if Z took T on a trip last Fall for four days and I was left with C alone it would have felt like I was the one on vacation.  
Experienced moms can occasionally be a bit, um, insufferable. I know, I am one. When I was brand new at this mothering business I’d roll my eyes when moms would dismiss the stage I was dealing with. “You think this is hard? Wait until they are toddlers…or school aged…or teenagers…or when they are in college!” I try really hard not to say that stuff to other moms, not that I haven’t caught myself doing it at times. Yes, moms who have been doing it longer are a wealth of information, but you can’t understand the struggles of motherhood until you do it yourself, until you feel it in your bones. Each mom needs to go through the process and discover all its ins and outs for herself. I think that is one of the many reasons the pregnancy and newborn books can be so unhelpful. I’m a life long obsessive reader, but this is one area in which reading let me down, at least in the qualitative sense. Don’t get me wrong, the info in those books is important. I had one that listed what was going on with the baby developmentally week by week and I loved reading it. The quantitative stuff-like if your newborn has a temp above 100.4 you need to take them to the hospital, that is valuable information. But your panic at being responsible for another human? Your exhaustion from being up all night with a baby? Reading about it doesn’t make you understand it in your bones. 
I feel so grateful to T for making me a Mom. He’s my Guinea pig and he is a rock star for weathering the emotional storms of a couple of novice parents. I also feel so fucking guilty. C has parents who pretty much know what they are doing. He hasn’t had to absorb the angst of two people transforming into a mother and father. Oh, I feel guilty about other things when it comes to C, but he has parents who knew the drill on day one. T deserves a shit load of credit for prepping us. His gift of changing who we are in the most basic sense is the best gift I’ve ever been given.
When friends of mine have a baby I am thrilled for them and excited for the adventure they are embarking on, but my heart also aches for them. Because it is so fucking hard at first. The awesome outweighs the hard, but man, it’s pretty damn close. The mechanics of dealing with one kid who is getting close to exiting toddlerhood and one kid who is getting close to entering toddlerhood are difficult and overwhelming and unrelenting in a new way. But if I really think about it nothing is like those first few months. So to the new parents out there, I salute you. I empathize with you. I admire you. You are doing the hardest of the hard stuff, and it is only going to get easier. Becoming a parent is amazing, personally I wouldn’t change it for anything, but do not doubt that you are doing some of the most difficult work you will ever do in your life. You deserve a lot of credit. Don’t be too hard on yourself when it wears you down. You will get through it. And if you choose to do it again your confidence will astound you. 
This was the second best gift I’ve ever been given. Z gave me a “blue canary in the outlet by the light switch who watches over you” on December 18th, 2008, my 32nd Birthday. In just under two weeks we’d find out I was pregnant with T. It hangs in our kitchen here in Syracuse as well. I love looking at it every day.
T calls this “riding the crane”. I think Z calls it “having a sore arm”. And you can see the bottom of my gift hanging on the wall. You can almost see the little copper strip on the bottom right corner that is stamped l-i-t-e. Z thought of everything.
And then there’s this kid. 

Fair Warning: This is About My Period

In early December of 1988 my family had just relocated to Wellington, New Zealand. It was summertime down there and one day we made plans to go to the pool with our new friend and neighbor Kylie. A few minutes before heading out I got my period for the first time. Bummer city for an almost 12 year old. After a few years I was getting cramps so severe that I was missing a day or two of school a month. My mom took me to see her midwife and that very kind lady put me on the pill. I wasn’t sexually active at the time, but it turns out that the pill was developed to help ease symptoms of menstruation and the whole controlling birth thing was a happy side effect. I know the pill doesn’t work for a lot of women because the side effects are too severe, but I loved it. My period was regular and so light I only needed a panty liner. And after I did become sexually active the controlling birth thing was pretty awesome. I was on it for 15 years, long enough for my risk of ovarian cancer to be significantly reduced.

In December of 08, 20 years after my first period, I found out I was pregnant with T. I’d stopped taking the pill two months earlier because Z and I were talking about trying to maybe have a kid down the line. I’d had a conversation with my GP about it. She told me it would be 6 months before I’d start ovulating again. So I didn’t worry about birth control. When I told my midwife what the doctor had said during our first pregnancy appointment she was appalled. She said my body hadn’t released an egg in a decade and a half, that it was immediately ready to start shooting them out, that my risk for pregnancy was majorly increased.

T was about 8 or 9 months when my period showed up again. But I was pregnant within another 2 months. After the miscarriage early that September I got pregnant again in late November. Charlie will be 9 months old in a few days and my period still hasn’t come back. My time of the month hasn’t been my time much over the last 3 1/2 years. I’ve gotten very used to not dealing with the inconvenience.

Why the rather boring rundown of my menstrual history? I’m starting to think mine is going to be reappearing any day now, and I’ve been dreading it. The thing is I’m pretty damn terrified. This annoying, but rather benign regular part of my existence suddenly feels very menacing. After T’s birth there were the huge clots that were the result of a piece of left behind placenta. After the miscarriage and D&C there was the trip to the ER because of more clots. And a few hours after C’s birth there was the hemorrhage. My body is not very good at no longer being pregnant. And my recent history with bleeding has been pretty horrific.

Until I stopped bleeding weeks after C’s birth I was scared every time I went to the bathroom. Actually, I was scared all the time. Just waiting for that terrifying sensation of passing a clot. After the hemorrhage was under control I confided to my doc that the thought of having my period again made me lightheaded with fear. He explained I absolutely wouldn’t hemorrhage with my period, that they were two different kinds of bleeding. But knowing that hasn’t really quelled the queazy feeling I get every time I remember what happened 6 hours postpartum.

I’ve written about the hemorrhage a few times before. Probably because I really haven’t come to terms with what happened. Not because of my care, like with the left behind placenta. Even when you receive excellent care a health “event” is hard to move past emotionally. One of the worst parts, and there were a lot of worst parts, was how scared Z was. He doesn’t show he fear in the moment and he always lets me know that I’m being a huge baby. Which is legitimate, I’m almost always being a huge baby. But when the clots started he was the one that insisted there was a problem. And when the hemorrhaging began in ernest he couldn’t hide the terror on his face. The pain as they reached into my uterus was as bad, if not worse, as the contractions before the epidural took. It hurt so much I wondered why I didn’t pass out, frankly I wanted to pass out. And seeing the fear on his face when I looked at him to reassure me everything would be OK made my terror so acute I couldn’t catch my breath. And now I’m scared every time I bleed I’ll be transported to those awful memories.

The return of my period also is my body’s way of telling me I’m ready to have another one. My sweet little baby is starting to grow up. He’s gotten so long lately. I can’t really say big, dude it a skinny-minnie. But he isn’t going to be a baby for much longer. And he might be my last. We haven’t decided if we are going to try for a third. If we do try and have another, what then? Is it safe to put my body through childbirth again? My doc says we’ll just do all the drugs that stop hemorrhaging right after delivery if I have another, but based on my previous experiences I suspect it won’t be that simple.
It is crushing when your body does not behave properly, complications surrounding childbirth make you feel like a failure. Facing either alternative is frightening. Do we accept we are a family of four and mourn the lost possibility of a third child? Or do we risk further complications by bringing another child into our family? My looming period feels like a monthly reminder of a difficult decision we have to make soon. I’m not getting any younger.

I thought some of this stuff would get easier with time. What 35 year old is scared of her period? I suddenly feel like I have a lot in common with the 11 year old who couldn’t go to the pool in December of ’88.

Do you see my handsome man? I’m not gonna lie, I like making babies with him.
Our porch is falling off our house. The big project this summer is to fix it. T is ready with his crowbar and hearing protection.
And sweet little C is hanging out in the yard.

Go Read My Friend’s Blog

Kelly was an acquaintance  in high school, and I was rather terrified of her. She was all sorts of confident and sexy and all the guys wanted to get in her pants, but the amazing thing is they also wanted to be friends with her. She was by far the coolest member of the drama crowd, which I know isn’t saying much, but she’d be cool no matter who she hung out with. It was like she almost legitimized the band of freaks that we were to the rest of the school. So fast forward a decade and a half and she and I become friends on facebook. And we somehow morph into actual friends. Z, T, C, and I visited her and her family a few weeks ago at her home in NC. First time I’d seen her in 17 years. The internet is weird.

Anyway, her blog is awesome. It is incredibly honest about the hard stuff and honesty is like crack to me. She had a baby last week and today she posted about the hormonal nuttiness that happens when you are very recently postpartum. She wrapped it up with a photo of her belly one week after giving birth. And it made me think of this post  that I wrote 30 days before C was born. I included pictures of myself in all my huge glory and promised to post pictures in the same dress a few weeks after C arrived to show how a flabby postpartum belly looks.

I’ve felt guilty about not putting on the dress and taking pictures ever since. But the reason I didn’t do it wasn’t that I didn’t want to show my gross postpartum self. As someone who struggles with positive self image, any opportunity to rake myself over the coals in a public forum is welcome. Instead I felt guilty because I was one of the ladies who ended up losing weight quickly. And I felt like posting pictures would have been bragging. Look at me! Yes, I’m technically still overweight, but I weigh less than a did when I got pregnant! How gross. It wasn’t just the bragging aspect of things that kept me from posting the picture. The rapid weight loss was a direct result of the hemorrhage that occurred six hours after C was born. It was another example of my body failing me. With T there was the preeclampsia and retained placenta. With the miscarriage there was THE MISCARRIAGE, and the D&C because it was an incomplete miscarriage, and then the never ending saga of passing all the “products of conception”. With C there was the hemorrhage.

It was hands down one of the scariest moments of my life. A few weeks after it happened Z told me it was one of the scariest moments of his life, too. He said that blood was actually gushing out of me, he said it was like a bad horror movie because if you saw that much blood on the screen it would look fake and ridiculous. And the next several weeks were scary as well. I was so incredibly weak. My postpartum emotions were tied up in the fact that I was physically unable to care for my newborn and toddler. I was so lucky to have my parents there and desperately clung to them and their help.

Kelly was able to have the birth experience that she wanted, unmedicated at a birthing center. I am so proud of her for achieving her goal. But I’m jealous, too. Not so much of the unmedicated part, I’m a total epidural gal. And I’m not interested in the holier-than-thou battle of epidural vs. natural (though I chafe at the term natural-it indicates there is something not natural about giving birth any other way). Like in most things I think there is a choice to be made and just because my choice was epidural doesn’t mean I look down on those who made other choices. I admire the hell out of the unmedicated ladies and the c-section ladies. All roads to birthing a baby are tough. Hell, sometime circumstances dictate the situation no matter what choice you make. We should be supporting each other rather than judging those who have different ideas than our own. And honestly, C’s actual birth couldn’t have gone any better. I still get the warm fuzzies when I think about pushing him into this world.

What I’m jealous of is that her body didn’t betray her. She didn’t hold on to a piece of her placenta, she didn’t gush blood while doctors took turns reaching into her uterus to pull out blood clots, her body behaved itself. When I think of my body’s weakness I feel shame and guilt and fear. I think about those first few weeks of C’s life when all I could do was lay in bed. I think about the middle of the night calls to the doctor’s office when I was convinced I was going to hemorrhage again and needed to be talked off the ledge. I think about wanting another child and being scared my body can’t handle it. I was too ashamed to post a picture of who I was at that time, I might have had a relatively flat stomach, but I felt like a colossal failure.

The picture Kelly posted is beautiful. She looks strong and happy. This is the woman who left the birth center hours after having her daughter and walked into her home while carrying that baby. She is a total rock star. I may be jealous of her, but I don’t begrudge her the success of her experience one bit.

Sometimes your kids are sitting on the sofa and looking totally adorable and you want to share that adorableness with the world and this is what you get instead. 

Check out this kid’s lashes. I’ve always had the shortest thinest lashes ever, it amazes me that my boys have such thick beautiful ones. 

Loving My Boys

Part of my problem with taking a bit of a blogging break is it’s somehow overwhelming to get back into it. So much has happened that I’ve wanted to write about but I’m worried that I’m forgetting details and missing opportunities and frankly I’m so damned tired it is just easier to look at cool things on Pinterest than to write. Have you guys checked out Pinterest? It. Is. Awesome. And yet another time suck. So here I am almost 24 hours after the last post and I still need to get writing.

It is beyond amazing to have Charlie in our lives. I remember when T was tiny feeling incredibly overwhelmed. I was happy and completely in love with him, but especially before he started smiling it was frustrating to get absolutely nothing back from him. This time there is a toddler in the house who is giving back all sorts of affection it doesn’t matter a lick that the baby just blankly stares off into the distance. It’s amazing to feel two completely different kinds of love at the same time. We know T, his personality is very well developed, he is becoming more of himself every single day. Our love for him is not just based on the fact that he is ours, we really do adore who he is. We are biased, but we think he’s a neat kid and we are tickled we get to be his parents. And at this point our love for Charlie is intense, instincutal, almost animal. We are starting to see glimmers of who he will be, and we think he is beautiful. But we are hard-wired to feel that way. And evolutionary imperative or not, it is a heady and exciting love.

Before C was born I couldn’t comprehend loving another child as much as I love T. It’s not that I didn’t believe it would happen, I just couldn’t imagine it. But as soon as I held C my heart swelled. I’m not trying to make a tired Grinch analogy here, I’m saying I felt my heart’s capacity increase. The tired Grinch thing actually happened. And I know it would happen again if we were to have another baby. In fact, it was such an intense rush it almost makes me want to have another baby. This whole impulse to continue the species is a powerful thing.

Everything is different this time around. During T’s infancy I was so overwhelmed and terrified. I couldn’t believe we were allowed to be parents. I was sure everything I did was somehow wrong. It is so much more relaxing this time. The nursing only hurt terribly for under two weeks. C is an amazing sleeper, he barely cries. He’s just a pleasant little blob. The flip side is he spends way more time in his bouncy seat than T did. We always had T in our arms, but that just isn’t possible right now. T needs too much attention.

T smiled very early at around 5 weeks. Last night Z and I were cooing over C and I said I felt so guilty about not being able to give C more attention. I’d put money on C’s first smile being later than T’s. We aren’t constantly in his face, trying to get him to do it. I feel very conflicted that I can’t give the boys the same experience. They have the same amount of my love, but I need to get used to the fact that I will never be able to give them the same exact parenting. The circumstances are different and they are different people. They are going to need different things from me, and I’m going to respond to their personalities in different ways. My parents went to extremes to let my sister and me know they wouldn’t play favorites. I don’t want to favor either of my boys, but I also want to be realistic about the fact that they are individuals and I will never be able to provide the exact same experience for them. I want to get over my guilt because deep down I think it is good that we recognize they are individuals. All that said, I still wish there was more time in my day. I wish I was able to spend much more time holding my sweet baby who is already growing too fast.

Brothers cuddling. 
C was not thrilled with his first bath. He’s really warmed up to them recently. 
He did enjoy getting dry.
He so isn’t allowed to do this.