Sunday, September 5, 2010

All things 'no'

My mornings generally start like this: I get BabyJaguar out of his crib and put him in my bed where he lazily reclines back on my propped up pillows and drinks his milk while I try to wake up. This lasts about a whole five minutes and then he is off and running. Literally. He hops off the bed and heads full speed for all things 'no'. As in, "No litter box. That's for the kitties." And, "No dirty diaper. Mommy has to take that downstairs with us and throw it out." And, "No billy club. Daddy has to use that if he ever has to beat a burglar." (Am I the only one whose husband is ready to defend the family on a moment's notice? Yeah, it's tucked against the wall behind his side of the bed. Ben has discovered it.)

And so it goes for the rest of the day with the exception of nap time (and people wonder why mommies still nap even as their children get older. It's nap or drink). I gotta tell's completely exhausting. I don't really know how I sustain this pace everyday. Nor do I know how I'm going to manage returning to teaching with my child going at this current pace.

And, in my defense, my house is reasonably baby proofed. I've got locks on several cabinets and enough gates to simulate a lockdown at a state prison. But still, it's not enough.

And when I say 'no' to something, in BabyJaguar's head it means, "GAME ON." And he will proceed to go for the 'no' object seventeen more times in a five minute span. And I read up on parenting. I try the avoid-a-power-struggle-with-your-little-one-language to avoid the big N-O as in, "We can have the Cheerios after we eat lunch," instead of, "No Cheerios." No luck with that in this house. Actually, when I tell the little man he can't have something right when he demands it, he gets this little glint in his eye. His face shows nothing but sheer amusement as he thinks, "This dumb hieney thinks she can take me." (He knows he can't use the word ass. He at least respects the no swearing rule. I guess that's something.)

What does this all mean? Does he have ADHD? Oppositional Defiant Disorder? Is he destined to become a common criminal? A lawyer? Or just a regular ol' fifteen month old with some kind of stubborn streak? I think it's the latter (at least I hope!).

So how am I handling all this? I'm counting (a lot). I'm taking deep breaths. I'm trying to think of the ridiculously adorable things he does during the moments when he is at his most challenging. I'm visiting him often when he is asleep in his crib to cherish a completely still moment with him. Daddy and I are taking turns a lot so the other can take a break when they need it. I'm being consistent, consistent, consistent.

And I'm remembering that I would never give up being BabyJaguar's mommy for even a minute.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

No time for that, mommy. I'm a mover and a shaker now.

My little monkey is all done nursing....well, almost all done. He's all done for function's sake anyway. Every now and then, he kinda remembers I have boobs and decides to hop on for three seconds and then is right back off and running.

I introduced cow's milk after BabyJaguar's first birthday. We eased into it. Just a bit mixed in with a bottle of breastmilk that got sent off to daycare. Each week, I added another half-ounce or ounce until eventually, lo and behold, his daycare bottles were nothing but cow's milk. We continued to nurse at home. I stopped pumping at work (insert picture of me with my arms raised to the heavens shouting, "PRAISE!!!"). Life was good.

And then gradually, my milk lessened a bit and the little monkey was not as satisfied after nursing and would take a bottle afterwards. And then, even more gradually, he started wanting a bottle instead of nursing.

Hmm. Such mixed emotions about it.

It was a good fourteen months, bunny.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Absence of thoughts

I've been MIA for quite a bit. It's not so much that I haven't been on the computer or even that I haven't checked in on my blog. I have. I guess I've just been quiet. I'd sit here at the computer, fingers ready to type away, only my brain was either still or blank (mommy brain). I tend to think of something to say when I'm not actually sitting at the computer and then I think to myself that I should jot it down so I don't forget and then my mind jumps to a new topic and I forget to write it down so I remember it for later. It's tragic really. When I think of all those lost blog posts. Just tragic.

Apparently this mommy brain (previously called pregnancy brain) is permanent. Mommies don't tell other women this. It's a secret that they don't share with anyone outside the club. You need a secret password to be privy to this inside information and the password involves babyfood in your hair and a faint smell of spit up combined with baby poo. Sure, when you join the I'm-with-child club, we'll give you the watered down version of the secret and tell you that your IQ is going to drop 40 points and your brain will turn to the consistency of rice cereal all because you're pregnant. But when you pop that little one out, that's when you hear the real bombshell. This newfound IQ level is permanent. Welcome to the idiot club, sister. So nice to have you.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Muted apprehensions

Motherhood has left me with me with this very frequent, intense feeling of being so very blessed. It's not always at the forefront of my mind, but it's constantly there. At least a few times a day it makes it way to the very front of my consciousness and shouts at me, "Boy!! Are you lucky!!"

And I am. So very very lucky. I look at my son and I can't help but feel like my world is just so....full. With joy. With hugs. With giggles. With pride. With smiles. With just immeasurable love. It's indescribable. Like the parents who came before me told me it would be. And while I believed them, I could never grasp the depth of it all until Ben came into my life.

But with this newfound joy and wholeness comes this nagging anxiety that whispers to me, it could all slip way. Like suddenly life is so amazing that I realize there is just so much to lose. And it's absolutely terrifying. Because I know that if Ben ever somehow slipped away, I wouldn't know how to get out of bed every morning or how to force my lungs to fill and empty over and over. I could never go back to life without Ben.

When the topic of old age comes up, I tell people flat out that I plan to die in my seventies. Seriously, I know I can't control much of dying before that beyond the obvious don't smoke, don't drink and drive, don't play on the train tracks, blah blah blah, but your late seventies seems pretty ideal. Hopefully your body isn't completely failing you yet. For most, the mind is still intact. Many maintain a good deal of independence. After that, it's just kinda downhill. My grandmother lived into her nineties. She didn't have much of a life near the end. I don't want that for myself, relying almost exclusively on others.

Anyway, when this discussion came up recently, I shared my plan and then I realized that my late seventies is in 40+ years. And you know what happened? My stomach dropped. That anxious feeling returned as I realized that means I only have 40+ years with Ben. That's not enough time. And right then, I realized. No amount of time will ever be enough.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Banana Sunday

These days, I usually start my morning by pumping one breast before getting Ben from his room and then I feed him on the other. I have a manual pump that I use just for mornings. Its portability seems to make life a bit simpler.

Today, Ben woke up early and was ready to get out of his crib before I pumped. I obliged, fed him and then crept out of my room with Ben on my hip and the pump in my hand. I figured Mr. Jaguar could sleep in a bit.

Once in the den, I put Ben down on the floor and got settled to pump. Well, Ben went bananas. Bananas. He was so intently looking at my boob and howling. It was quite clear that he did not want me to pump. I tried anyway. He continued to go nuts. I finally gave in, put the pump down and nursed the boy again. He snuggled in and was completely content.

Ten minutes later, he unlatched and sat up. Are you ready for what he did next? You won't even believe me.

He handed me the pump.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Who da thunk it?

I got a period. As in PCOS-and-nursing-got-a-period. It was quite a surprising development. About a month ago I started having a lot of pain in my lower abdomen. It felt an awful lot like when I had ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome so I was obviously a little freaked out. Was I ovulating? And if so, was I somehow breaking my body in the process? It really hurt! There was a point when I tried to lie down on one side and I couldn't. After 4 or 5 days, I called my midwife and, given my history, she sent me to get a pelvic ultrasound. Well, the radiology place couldn't fit me in until the following week and by then the pain had mostly subsided but I went anyway, still concerned that something might be broken. I checked out okay and then a few days later, I got a period. Bizarre, I know.

And in complete and utter inconvenience, I was out of town when it happened, had just arrived at my brother in law's house, could not drive myself to the store for supplies since we took my husband's car which is a stick and I only know how to drive an automatic. So I had to go ask my brother in law if his wife had anything I could use. It was great.

"Hey, I know I haven't seen you in months but could we awkwardly discuss tampons? That'd be super."

Still, score one for the girl with PCOS...she ovulated!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

And then it all came crashing back...

It turns out that there are a handful of women from my school who have also dealt with infertility at some point. Once you join the club, you hear about who the other members are. Most of us ended up going to the same RE and, eventually, becoming pregnant.

But one of us didn't. We'll call her Nora. Up until this particular day, I don't know if Nora knew I was infertile and I don't know if she knew that I knew she was infertile.

It was a Friday morning. And it was a jeans day. That's a recipe for a good day for any teacher. Throw in a pay day and we actually click our heels in the hallways. I bumped into Nora as I signed in at the office and she stopped to ask what was on my necklace.

"It's a mother necklace. It has Ben's name on it," I happily answered without thinking at all. I love this necklace. I love wearing something that makes me feel like Ben is with me even when I am here and he is there.

"You're so lucky," she responded. Those three words...they were so much more than three little words. Four syllables that were just filled with distant pain, the kind that is stored in the back of your mind. I can't even explain her voice when she said it. Wistful is the closest I can come to capturing it.

"I know," was the only reply I could come up with. The conversation ended and we both continued on in our separate directions. I eventually ended up back in my classroom and I was a wreck. I didn't know what to do. All I could think of was all of those moments back before I got pregnant when someone's innocent comment would tear away at the infertile me. I needed to talk to her, to apologize for starting her day off like that, to let her know that I wasn't one of them, a fertile. I had to go tell her that I was sorry if the necklace had upset her. That was exactly what I would say. I am sorry if the necklace upset you.

I headed out the door towards Nora's classroom. Then I stopped about ten feet later. What happens after I say that? Where would this conversation go? I don't even think she knows that I know about her infertility. How will she react when I just throw it out there? After wrestling with these questions to no avail, I turned on my heels and headed back towards my class.

Crossing my room, I stopped again. What do I do? I turned back to go to Nora again and stopped again. What the hell? What is the right thing to do?

Finally, I decided I needed to go talk to her. I didn't know how the conversation would go or how she would react but I couldn't bear the thought of starting off her day the way I had without at least attempting to fix it. I ran into her in an empty hallway.

And I just blurted it all out. How I was sorry if the necklace had upset her and how I was infertile and how I didn't know what to say after she told me how lucky I was and I was just sorry. And I cried and I felt like an ass for that so then I apologized a lot for crying.

And she hugged me. And then she cried. And then I hugged her.

And then we moved on to the rest of our day. We chatted for a few minutes about our dysfunctional families and laughed about that. Eventually, we had to separate because we both had kids arriving shortly.

I thought a lot about that ten minutes of my life in the following days. I'm an infertility cheerleader. I've always been the one with the mindset that we all become mothers, some how, some way, we eventually find a way to the beautiful child that we are destined to hold and nuzzle and cherish. But Nora didn't. And she won't. I don't know why. It's none of my business why really. But I'm just so struck by the fact that some of us don't become moms, like it never even really occurred to me because I've always stayed in this positive, determined, focus-on-the-goal mindset when it comes to other infertiles.

Some of us don't become mothers.

And now that I am a mother, that's one of the most heartbreaking realizations I've ever had.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Where's hannah?

So, though I have thought about this often, I've yet to post about it.

Where does your infertility go once you have a baby? Does its bitterness continue to hover over you? Does it sit across the room from you, staring at you while your little one dozes on your chest? Or does it simply disappear?

For me, it was none of these. And I know this may sound cliche or overly dramatic, but I swear, I had an infertile-to-mommy transitional moment.

During Ben's first few days at home, I was grappling with my infertility. What do I do with this huge part of my identity that I've been carrying around for so long? What happens when the hand that has only known alcohol swabs and needles now is grasped by tiny yet perfect fingers? What happens once the infertile is a mommy?

And then one day, it was only Ben's third or fourth day home with me, I was standing over his swing, staring at him contently swaying. He was the most amazing creature I had ever seen and I couldn't believe he was mine. I could keep him. Nobody (the fertility police?) was going to show up and say there was a mix up and that I hadn't actually been pregnant. At least I was pretty sure that wouldn't happen. Half my brain knew that wouldn't happen but the other half still thought it was a pretty strong possibility.

I've spoken before about how my infertility, or Hannah, seemed to always be hovering over my shoulder, invading my brief moments of peace. I never felt completely alone to fully relax and let my guard down. Napping, studying, hot showers, private moments with my husband. They were all invaded by her presence. And now, standing there admiring my tiny son, this exquisite little being, I felt her there, literally just over my left shoulder and I again pondered how I'm supposed to reconcile these two very different pieces of this new me: infertile and mommy.

And then she stepped back. Into the shadows of my subconscious. She stepped back. And as she did, she whispered softly that though she wasn't going anywhere, she would let me just be a mommy for now.

I can't even begin to fully explain this moment. I physically felt her step into the background of my mind. It was strange. And powerful. And finally, after a long and difficult journey.....peaceful.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Caution: wide load

My baby weight is gone, as well as some of my just-husky-in-general weight and this pleases me. I will be the first to admit that I have done absolutely nothing to make this happen except nurse and so I make no effort to take any credit for this loss, but still, I'm happy it's gone.

However, my current body is quite different from my previous body. There's more jiggling involved. And a thicker middle. And my arms look their best ever. And my butt is gone. It's just flat and weird. So now most of my clothes fit differently and I'm working with the new me, adjusting to this similar but just different enough to make my old wardrobe tricky body.

I weigh myself a lot because it feels kinda good to see the number. It could be even lower but it's good. I admit the weighing frequency may be (definitely is) a bit compulsive. A few days ago, I learned that I should just stick to weighing myself and not get carried away.

Are you ready?

I tried on my bathing suit.

It was a really bad idea. Like one of my worst ones ever. Like when I thought it would be funny to let the cat play with a large piece of masking tape bad (in my defense, I just wasn't thinking).

I truly thought, I can't look that bad in a bathing suit, right?


It was alarming and scary and wide.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


I wrote this in Ben's first weeks and never got around to publishing it. Looking over it, I'm so glad I got some of these tidbits recorded because, already, he no longer does so many of them. He has moved on to new and just as beautiful little habits. How quickly he is changing and growing right before me.

There are so many things I don't want to forget about you, Ben, and our time together so far. You're growing and changing so fast. I can't even believe it. Here are some of the things I want to remember to tell you later...
  • In the early weeks of nursing, you were so funny! You would push yourself back off my boob and growl at it! Then you'd pounce on it in true BabyJaguar style. You would do this over and over again while whipping your head from side to side. You looked like a wildcat hunting and attacking its prey and it was absolutely hysterical.

  • You would make this adorable surprised face and hold it. You'd raise your little eyebrows and form your mouth into a perfect little 'O' and then just stare at me like that. Cutest thing ever.

  • You are so loved.

  • You have freakishly long nails and use them like weapons. They grow so fast and are really sharp! You claw at me when you're upset and I try to grin and bear it so I don't get you more upset by startling you.

  • When you'd be up on my shoulder being burped, you'd try to nurse on my cheek. Now you prefer to mouth my (and everyone else's) neck or shoulder. It's really cute even though it's really wet.

  • When you're tired (and you see a theme?), you often cover your face and my boob up with your arm. Daddy throws his arm up over his face when he sleeps, too.

  • When you're almost entirely asleep, you make these big smiles....all while still nursing.

  • You have made my heart swell with love.

  • You don't like having your back rubbed when you're eating. You arch your back to get away from the touch. But you like the back rubbing when you're up on my shoulder.

  • I love when you give the side-eye. Sometimes you're in a position to look at me head on but you push your head off to the side and then side-eye me instead. It's really funny. That's another face that you hold for a few seconds for dramatic effect.

  • In the beginning, I would stroke your hair to settle you (I love when people do that for me). Now I often catch you with your little hand up on your head doing it yourself. It makes me happy.

  • I love having you beside me in the co-sleeper at night. Sometimes when you're already asleep, I fall asleep holding your hand.

  • You are loved beyond words.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

The holidays wrap up

Here we go....the holidays in pictures

First there was Halloween. I killed myself to get this costume for him. It was way expensive but I found it on Craig's List for cheap! Then, after agreeing to purchase it, I learned that it was an hour drive away. And yeah, I drove an hour one way. That was a total freak mom moment for me. A few weeks later, when Halloween rolled around, my husky little man had grown out of it! I had to squish him in a bit. See the ankle sticking out?

We hosted our first holiday! Thanksgiving was kinda crazy but really nice. MrJaguar was recovering from knee surgery but he cooked up his first turkey and stuffing. It was amazing.
My bunny turned seven months old but we had a bit of a hard time capturing the moment with a sign.

And then there was Christmas! It was so fun opening gifts with Ben. We actually had a white Christmas which is unheard of around here. We got nearly two feet of snow which is also unheard of around here.

He was shocked to find out that a fat man in the very same outfit as him would bring him toys!
He got a new hat!
And a wagon for rolling with his homies!
And he celebrated the new year with his mommy!
Truth be told, I have mixed emotions about moving into the new year. This is the year when I heard my son's first cry, when I stayed home to savor his first few months, when I discovered all the silly ways to make him laugh. And while I know this coming year will be filled with many new firsts, it's hard to let go of the old ones. This growing up at the speed of light thing has been hard on me.

Friday, January 1, 2010

The Notebook

It's full. The notebook is full. And I am sad.

Way back when, I received a gift from a friend and fellow infertile nestie, Stephanie. It was a notebook that she had taken the time to personalize and send to me with a thoughtful card. As I admired it, I wondered what I'd used it for and decided it would have to be for something special. I set it aside and waited for that special time to declare itself.

Finally, after a long summer of being stuck in the same cycle with doctor appointment after doctor appointment trying to kick my body into gear, I finally got the go ahead to start injectables. I decided the notebook would be the perfect place to keep track of my injections, the bloodwork and ultrasounds and anything else that seemed important.

Finally, after that cycle proved quite successful and I had carried my little one for forty weeks and one day, I used that notebook to record the times for my contractions before deciding to head off to the hospital. I even recorded the mundane details of those unforgettable hours like the fact that I insisted on unloading the dishwasher between contractions in an effort to keep my mind off the blinding pain that was wracking my body every three to four minutes. The notebook was tucked into my dufflebag for safekeeping. Later, as I focused on the challenges of labor and delivery, my husband and brother were given the task of recording the stats in the notebook.

The notebook really got going on Ben's very first day at home. It was initially intended to track his neverending breastfeedings and dirty diapers but it quickly grew into so much more. It became the place where I recorded all of his firsts; his first smile, his first laugh, his first coos. It became home to the copious notes of his milestones. It became my treasure chest of little thoughts for my Benja-Bean, telling him how grateful I am to have him in my life, the endless ways he amazes me and how he is the greatest gift I have ever received. The notebook became sacred.

And then I started realizing that it was running low on paper. I actually felt really anxious every time I noticed the dwindling supply.

Until, last month, when it was full. With a heavy heart, I closed it up, carefully tucked it away and walked downstairs to make this distressing announcement to my husband. Then, I went out to the store and bought a new notebook.