Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Ugly: Breast Feeding and Mother Guilt

The past three weeks have been the most difficult three weeks of my adult life. I don’t think I’ve ever cried this much about so much in such a short period of time since I was 17 years old. Why was I crying? Well, yes, sleep deprivation was part of it but the real reason was the dangerous mixture of breast feeding and mother guilt.

Breast feeding is not working for PJ and I. We had a rough start: he wasn’t getting enough food and I was in almost constant pain even when the feedings were over. Then things got a little bit better just in time for us to realize that PJ is having a hard time drinking and has started to play with his tongue against my nipple when he is tired from the stress of trying to breast feed. If you cannot imagine how much that hurts, consider any wound you’ve ever had in your mouth, take away all pain relief, and then talk non-stop for four hours. Really painful, right?

The result was PJ shrieking for what seemed to be hours on end, sleeping irregularly, and being generally restless. Even after 90 minutes of breast feeding, PJ would flip out 10 minutes later. We couldn’t believe it was hunger - he has just been ‘eating’ for 90 minutes! But it was because although he had been at my breast for a long time, he has spent more of that time exhausted. All we knew at the time was that something wasn’t right and every single bloody person that walked through the door looked right at me and said, “He’s hungry.”

Which added to my inability to be kind to myself and my high expectations around breast feeding - I never even considered that it might not work, never ever - I began struggling with incredible guilt that I was (and am) unable to feed my child - something that I have been told and something that I have believed to be normal, easy, and, most dangerously of all, natural. As a result, I have spent hours tense with pain while my son desperately tried to get enough milk without exhausting himself - saying things like “drink damnit” and weeping loudly - and then slumped over a breast pump weeping more quietly (it hurts less) and thinking “how can I already be a bad mom?”.

I have been angry at myself for not getting it right, for failing at something that is - like I said above - “natural”. I have been angry at PJ for doing it wrong. I have been angry at the Mr. for failing to understand how exhausting it is to breast feed, successfully or not. And then I feeling guilty for all of the above until my stomach hurts, my head hurts, my breast hurts, and in the end I couldn’t stand to be near my son out of sheer frustration, fear, anger and guilt.

Thank god for the ability to ask for help (which I wrote about in another post a while ago) and to ask for help loudly. This entire time I have been working with a midwife, now I’m also working with a breast feeding consultant and I might just get another involved as well, and of course I have been reaching out to other mother-friends. The problem isn’t solved but at least I don’t feel so alone (although all of the mother-friends that I spoke to were able to breast feed in the end).

Right now I’m still in too much pain to breast feed, so I’m pumping every two hours and then the Mr and I are giving PJ bottles of my breast milk. When that runs out, we are giving him formula. I’m working on taking a big step back from myself, from my expectations, and the expectations of others. Because my son isn’t going to go hungry, he isn’t going to be stressed out and screaming and unable to sleep for my ego or because breast feeding is “natural.” Yes, there are benefits but they sure as hell don’t overweigh the pain of hunger in a three week old child.

Honestly, I carry feelings of failure, feelings that come from external as well as internal pressure and expectations. I still hope that in a few days or a week PJ will be strong enough and I will be healed enough and relaxed enough to try again. I hope that when we try again we are successful. But if we aren’t I’m going to try my hardest not to blame myself and not to wallow in guilt. Instead I hope, regardless of outcome, I will make the decision that is right for my family and then concentrate on getting to know, spoiling with love, and enjoying this little man who has shaken up my life.

Because isn’t that what really matters in the end?

I’m trying to answer that question with a yes. 

Friday, July 29, 2011

muddervadderkind












thx to the A-woman, great editing :)

mfg se Mister ;)

Week Three: Co-Sleeping of a New Art

Happy Third Week to PJ!

Congrats on driving both of your parents to the end of their nerves, teaching us what a proper scream really sounds like, and blowing through your first of many diapers. Congrats on doing an amazing impression of a chipmunk and a decent one of a little tiger, being The Cutest Thing Ever, learning to turn your head when on your belly, and twice flipping yourself onto your side during a freak out to prove your point.

All in all, we are both so happy that you joined our family and are looking forward to get to know you better and learn what you look like sleeping in your own bed for longer than half an hour. Otherwise we are going to start sleeping with you on your little play blankie more often.






xo

Monday, July 25, 2011

Baby Wearing


Our little guy may have been evicted from his first apartment 10 days after his lease was up, but he still demands certain luxuries, particularly the Constant Heartbeat Soundtrack. Thankfully over the past 17 days he has gotten a lot less picky about whose heartbeat it is; we’ve branched out from just mine and the Mr.’s to just about anyone’s. My son, the heart beat whore. Bless him.

Yet carrying him around on our chests isn’t always the most practical solutions. Enter baby carrying with Didymos.

Thankfully PJ seems to enjoy the wrap (as long as he is calm when slipped in) and has been known to enjoy a nap lasting up to two hours. And while he sleeps we can use our two free hands to things like laundry, write blogs, tidy up a little, or just sit or lay with our hands free.

It really is the little things.


xo

Friday, July 22, 2011

2 Weeks

PJ is two weeks old today! To 'celebrate' we took a nice walk around our little town. It was PJ's third outing. Here are some pictures from our first:






It was really good to get out of the house.

xo


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Gettin Better

This picture pretty sums up week one: exhausted, confused, and overwhelmed with theory crashing into reality. Because theoretically I'm against binkies; you'll notice that my theory is worth about a dollar two-ninety-eight in the real world when PJ had another meltdown that I'm sure had a reason, I just couldn't figure out what it was.

But we survived! Still exhausted, still confused, still overwhelmed, but at least I'm back to smiling.
Yes, time played a role, but so did many of you. Thank you for not asking and just stepping in. Thank you for answering my desperate call for breastfeeding help on Facebook (even reposting my call for help). Thank you for the reminders that I can absolutely abuse my midwife with questions, questions, questions. Thank you for calling and leaving messages that it all gets better. Thank you for coming around and staying not-too-long or for still waiting - impatiently, I know - for us to finally get back with a day that works (this boy needs an assistant to schedule all his appointments already). Thank you for the food, cake, and drink.

Thank you.

Week two is shaping up to be a chaotic but far more enjoyable ride.


xo

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Momentary Moods of PJ

'Nuff said:





xo
PS: Thank you for all of your messages! We're still settling in; I promise we'll respond soon. Thanks for your caring and your understanding.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Week One!

Happy one week birthday, PJ! The first week was like all first weeks (according to our midwife, family, and friends): chaotic, rewarding, stressful, very (!!) painful for mom's breasts, lacking in sleep, and overwhelming with beautiful, moments of a joy I never knew could exist. I'm sure it was even more but I'm too tired to remember what I don't write down the moment it happens.

The three of us have gotten a little more comfortable with each other - most of the time:
 And when we aren't all completely happy, we all chip in to maybe make it a little better:

Little PJ has also changed so much in this first week. His strength has multipled by a gagillion percent and his lung capacity has certaintly increased as well. In those sweet moments, its amazing. It those flip-out moments, its, well, strong and loud. We still managed to celebrate that first moment when PJ pushed himself away from the Mr.'s chest with the strength of his legs along while shrieking his head off. Fascinating what parents can get excited about.


A lot has changed for me as well, especially in regards to my shape and the relationship I have with my breasts. For the sake of this blog entry, lets stick to my shape - more on the breastfeeding some other day when I'm less emotional about it all.

Here I am exactly one week ago.

Here I am just 7 days later. Amazing how quickly a body can change!

The Mr. has also changed a lot. One week ago he was looking forward to getting to know his little guy and be an active part of his life in as many ways as possible. 
He is now absolutely active, in all ways, including holding mommy when she can't stop crying, walking little PJ up and down, up and down when he can't stop crying, taking over bottle feedings when breast feeding wasn't working, changing diapers, and so much more, including burping. I like to think that PJ is grinning a little at this art piece.

Here we go into week two!

xo

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Welcome Surprises

A few of the Mr.'s friends surprised us with a lovely welcome for our little guy by decorating the hallway outside of our apartment. Thank you!







xo

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Meeting Family

Want to know a great way to make five days just disappear? Have a baby!

We have been incredibly busy with our little dude who yesterday decided that sleeping longer than one hour is an okay idea. Not a super fabulous one, but an okay one. And not all the time, but every once in a while. Now we just have to convince him to keep that bottom lip open so that he can eat pain free (for mommy, otherwise mommy might have a nervous breakdown).

For the first few days we had a few visitors. The first were Oma and Opa in the hospital, followed by Tante S-Squared and finally Uncle Handsome. Photos below.



And PJ - the new star of this blog - himself in all his glory:



xo

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Most Glorious Sound of All

After choosing to hang out in his luxurious and rent free studio apartment for an extra 10 days, our little guy roared into the world yesterday.

On Wednesday a stress test showed some signs of difficulty for him, so I was checked into the hospital for an induction. Thursday was a long and boring day full of almost hourly check-ups for both of us but without any signs of moving towards birth. On Friday morning we started the same routine at 8am, then the Mr. and I ate some breakfast and then took a nice long walk about a beautiful Heidelberg neighborhood. I had a few mildly uncomfortable contractions during the walk but nothing to write home about. I was gearing up for another long, boring day.

I showed up for another standard check-up at 12:30 and this is where it all sort of blurs. Between 12:30 and when PJ arrived around 15:30, I went from expecting a long, boring day to being a mommy of a healthy, long little boy.  Somewhere in between there I was convinced I peed on a midwife (just my water breaking); yelled at that same midwife to, quote, “make it stop” (and that was the nice stuff); fell in love with the anesthesiologist (I believe I may have told her that I love her an embarrassing number of times); gave the Mr. a hell of an upper body work-out while he helped hold me still enough to push; screamed “what are you doing to me?” at two doctors that were inserting some sort of vacuum device and the midwife was literally leaning on the top of my uterus to rush PJ out because his heart wasn’t beating (thank goodness they ignored me and got the job done); and lots more that I didn‘t quite catch.

The blur stopped when PJ was safely out, heart going, lungs working and he let out the Most Glorious Sound of All: his first, loud, seriously pissed off and, most importantly, healthy cry. That moment when he took a deep breath and then let it rip was the moment. The moment my nightmares disappeared and I heard, “I am here, I am alive, I am healthy. Here me roar.”

Welcome to the party little man. Thanks for joining us.











xo

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Why I Work For a Global Company

This weekend the Mr. and I ran out of real maple syrup.


I picked up this bottle while in Vancouver last year for business. The quality of the maple syrup available in the average German grocery store is, um, not quite as high as one (me) would hope. But I didn’t panic because my first thought was, “Oh, I’ll have to ask X or Y or Z to bring some over the next they are in Canada or the US.”

Which is one of many reasons why I work for a global company. I mean the career opportunities, the pay, the daily on-the-job learning, the benefits, the travel, and the opportunity to work with colleagues from literally all over the world and all walks of life are all reasons I work for a global company. But really when it comes down it, it’s the unofficial import (PopTarts, maple syrup, Tums) and export (Haribo candies, Ritter sport, and mustard) trade.

So, any volunteers for a maple syrup trade?



xo

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Aren't You Jealous?

This morning, the morning of my 42nd week of pregnancy – which means I have been pregnant for over 10 months – one of the online pregnancy communities sent me their weekly newsletter. Its directed to everyone around the overdue pregnant woman and is titled “10 Things Not to Say to an Over Due Pregnant Woman." I attended a Baptist church a few times and it seems I picked up some of their more interactive behaviors because I was calling out “Amen!” and “That’s Right” and especially when I reached number 10 “Preach it!!”



Being 42 weeks pregnant is tons of fun. While we are blessed – the Worm and I are both very healthy and I live in Europe, so I still have an income coming in – the heartburn has never been stronger; the nausea approaching constant waves in the evenings; TV & Internet more boring; my legs have literally never been this sore; and the ‘projects’ more brain-numbing. And since it appears that a number of people think I’m pressing my legs closed in a successful attempt to extend my pregnancy for as long as possible, I thought I’d share some of the very exciting things I do each day. Like laundry and cleaning floors and surfing the internet and this one:


Yes, indeed, de-icing my freezer.

You should be jealous. Very jealous. I’m living the life of a rock star! Rihanna step back.



xo

Monday, July 4, 2011

PostSecret: Make-up


I could have created this PostSecret. I also feel stronger, more confident, more beautiful, and more ME when I’m make-up free, with a touch of mascara. Thankfully the universe blessed me the perfect excuse to remain all natural; I have a nasty perfume allergy that turns my skin a light violet color and then dry and flaky if I wear perfume, make-up, hair styling products, etc. But the truth, the real truth, is that:



 
xo

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Shopping with S-Squared

My sister-in-law, S-Squared, aka the hot babysitter, is invited to a few weddings this summer. As a beautiful, tall, slender, fashion conscious woman that translates into a new dress. So recently my sister-in-law, mother-in-law, and I spent an afternoon shopping in a city close to where we all live.

Let’s take a moment of pause here please: I went shopping. With other women. Voluntarily. For a dress that I wasn’t going to wear. Ever.

Dear friends and family, I swear I’m not making this up. Actually it gets better, I asked if I could join them.

I assume if you know me, you’ll need to take a moment to close your mouth and catch your breath. I am the woman who went to a grand total of two shops to explore wedding dress fashions and options and then took half of one day to choose the dress pattern, the fabric, and all the trimmings for the final dress. I go store-shopping maybe twice a year (mostly in back home in the U.S.); the rest I order on the internet. And boy am I thankful for Internet shopping.

But I’m darn bored waiting for our little worm to arrive, so I asked if I could join them and we had a lovely afternoon. The weather was perfect, cool and sunny. The city was alive with energy and movement. It did me really good to get out of the house, into a busy area, watching the darn interesting people out there. And we found The Dress. Thank goodness because I need results.

S-Squared looks stunning in the gentle, feminine color in flowing, layered fabric that emphasizes both her amazing skin and her tall, womanly stature. After the weddings, I might share a picture of it here.

Until then…while I did voluntarily join a shopping trip, I didn’t completely lose my mind. When I saw a very special dress – hanging in the “exclusive, high-fashion” area of one of the stores with a price tag of about 300euros (that $435) – I knew S-Squared had to try it on. Thankfully, she is an amazing sport, even letting me take a picture with full knowledge it would end up here on Pickles and Onions.


Yes, that is indeed a peacock on the side of that dress. (Okay, we might have added that headband.) I may not know much about fashion and I use even less than I know, but if this is ‘high-fashion’, I'm holding onto my jeans and t-shirts even tighter!



xo
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