Monday, December 31, 2012

Thinking about weaning

This past month, breastfeeding has been hard. JP had his 23 month checkup, and he did great: his weight is good, and he seems to be hitting all the right marks and milestones. My sweet baby is now a funny little guy, sometimes a goofball (he gets that from me), sometimes a rascal, and a great hugger. He loves music, his trucks, and is learning that smacking the kitty is a terrible idea. I know how blessed I am, and you know I rarely, if ever, use the word "blessed."

So I'm still breastfeeding. And he's waking up at night still, sometimes (usually) 3 times, and asking for "milk!"

On Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, when I'm home with him, we are on a pretty good schedule (he's had a cold since Christmas, and hasn't been eating as much solids as I'd like, so he's been nursing a little more than usual when I am home), and it's doable, during the day. If he would just sleep for, I don't know, six hours without needing me, I might feel better about things, but he doesn't. And so I am never caught up on sleep. I am never not exhausted. I never feel that feeling of being rested, and it's really starting to wear on me. I'm dragging, man. I'm fucking tired.

On Saturday, I emailed a friend of mine, and this was the whole of my message:

"I am literally a cow. Milk!"

"Literally" used mostly correctly (I believe that since my milk isn't really a dairy product, I'm technically not a cow... oh, forget it).

I've been talking about it with my friends who breastfeed or who know more about this than I do. Truth is, this feeling has been there for a couple of months now. I had a big emotional discussion with my La Leche League person a couple of weeks ago, and she was great, but the thing is, LLL wants you to nurse until baby decides to give it up on their own. I have a feeling that's not something I can wait for.

I feel terrible. The LLL lady, when she heard my schedule (I work four days a week, 10 hour days, so I'm away from home 12 hours a day), was all, "Wow, mama, that's amazing!" And she listened to me (cry) and tell my story, and then she was all, "Do you think you can continue? Because your baby is still getting a lot of good stuff from it." I think she mentioned antibodies and stuff like that. I know this part intuitively.

And I said (sniffled), "Okay..." because my baby is still getting a lot of good stuff from it. If he needs it, what kind of mother would I be to stop now?

And that's where I keep getting fucked up.

I'm all wrapped up in this, like my "good mother" status is based only on my ability to breastfeed him. I actually said to my sister, "But will he still love me if I start refusing him?" There have been a few times at night when I'm just too damn tired to nurse him again, and I've had Patrick try to take him into the other room, where he cries - and I feel about "this" big. I don't know if I can do that, every night. And what's he going to learn from that? My job as mama is to comfort him and hold him and if he needs his "milk" shouldn't I just give it to him? to make him cry on purpose... I don't know, man. That's not a happy prospect. Isn't it selfish to say, "but I'd just feel so much better if he didn't wake up."

But. I would.

I. Need. Some. Sleep.

It's affecting everything. Patrick and I haven't talked about it very much yet: he knows I'm thinking about it, but I don't think he gets the emotional burden I'm feeling. I know he thinks I'm too emotional (we got into a fight on Sunday morning. I was playing the new David Byrne/St. Vincent CD, and he was all, "I wish David Byrne didn't always sound like David Byrne." He had other comments about it, and I took it personally, as if DB is a friend or relative of mine. And I accused him of "acting like you know everything about music" and never liking the stuff I play for him and expecting me to be fascinated by the weird shit he plays for me. It wasn't really fair of me - maybe my points felt valid to me, but I know I didn't make them in the nicest way. I thought I had learned, after almost 15 years of marriage, how to have this type of conversation in a way that works for both of us, or at least how to shrug it off, but I guess not. Yes, I freaked out over something stupid, but you don't always get credit at the time for "being tired"), and then sometimes... even though he's a great husband and father, I don't always get exactly the response I want/need from him right away. I don't know how to explain this without sounding overly critical. (I was reading somebody else's blog about their husband, and that guy sounds like a drooling idiot. I happen to know the guy, and he isn't. So I try to be fair, here.) Like, if I knew how to tell him what I needed in a way he could understand, this wouldn't be an issue, and he does a GREAT job... but this is my thing, and how can he truly understand? It's part of me, breastfeeding. It's the special thing that only I can do. It's what makes me special to Jules. It's like my body, my blood: I share that with nobody but Jules, and I want to just stop? How can he understand the conflicting things I am feeling?

I don't know, man. Maybe he could.

At the 23 month checkup, the pediatrician, who I really like, was all, "you can stop now! He doesn't really need it!" But I have been taught by LLL not to trust pediatricians! So, while she was pretty much telling me what I think I wanted to hear, I'm not sure it's the truth.

And then, I can't make decisions on my own anymore: I totally waffle. I've put a ton of stuff in my Zappos shopping bag today, and I killed the whole fun experience of shopping the sale because I couldn't decide if splurging on an awesome pair of Frye boots was the right thing to do, or which Frye boots I even wanted. I know, this is totally superficial, but it feels weird, too.

At work I've even gotten a bit unorganized, and scattered, and I have some big projects that will be due soon. I also have an exam for a promotion in a couple weeks. I have to get my head straight.

I mean, I know how some of this sounds. Shopping? There really is more stuff I could tell you. But what you need to know is that, I don't feel like me. My normally decisive, opinionated self is needing more reassurance, more hugs, more everything. I'm not really even talking about it very well: it's just a big ball of worms in my stomach. Lack of real sleep is no joke. I don't know how to think about weaning in an unemotional way: I cry every time I start to talk about it. That can't be good, you know? Mentally?

So I'm going to start looking for some books. I missed the December LLL meeting, but I'll try to go in January. Though, I went in November and didn't really feel like I got to talk about my issues. I get shy sometimes in that room. I guess I have to get over that.

Meanwhile, I'm going to try to get some naps when I can.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


On Friday, December 14, 2012, I heard about the horrible shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut because I got a text alert on my iPhone from the NY Times. I didn't stop and read anything because I was busy with Jules at that point.

Later, he went down for a nap, and then I turned on the TV.

I knew I wanted to stay away from the local news shows, so I looked to cable. I didn't want to watch CNN, so I settled on MSNB. I watched a little, to get a feeling for what had happened. It was Martin Bashir's show, and I watched until I saw that he was showing clips of someone interviewing one of little kids who had survived. My stomach turned, and then I turned it off and went to take a shower.

I don't like Martin Bashir that much, but I didn't think I could take Anderson Cooper's sometimes sort of blank personality, or Wolf Blitzer, either.

In the shower, I thought KPCC might have more respectful and better coverage, and I remembered that it was time for Larry Mantle's show, so my hopes were high. I heard them (I think before Larry came on I heard NPR's news) giving details about what happened, many of which, I found out later, were wrong. I guess you can't blame them: that stuff came from somewhere, and people want to know, and there's not a lot of time to verify things. Then, unfortunately, Larry chose to interview one of the teachers, who seemed obviously still incredibly shaken.

At that point I turned off the radio and cried in the shower.

Larry is always very tactful and sounds like a caring man, and I have a lot of respect for how I've heard him handle issues on the radio in the past, but I was sad to hear him talking to this woman, who should never have agreed to be interviewed.

I don't believe in my "right to know" everything as it happens. I know we have freedom of the press, and all that, but it's sad, all the incorrect information that floated about right after this happened. The damage that can be done just by misidentifying the shooter, or his connection to the victims, or his mental state, or his psychological profile. I don't want to hear anybody's hypothesis on how this happened. It's not the time to play, to guess, to make shit up. This was not a hurricane or an earthquake. This was, it is, 20 little girls and boys, dead.

As days have passed, it's gotten even harder for me. I don't know what that says about me. I'm avoiding my usual habit of reading the paper because I saw that the NY Times was posting photographs of the victims - the beautiful little kids - on the front page. I opened up the LA Times this morning (looking for some local news) and the words that jumped out at me were "tiny coffins." I gave up on the local news.

It seems like every other story on KPCC in the past few days has been about this, and I just can't handle it. They keep talking now about the funerals, and giving details about the individual children. I know that each and every one of those kids, those babies, were precious: I don't want to know their names. Not yet.

It's heartbreaking and unimaginable, what happened. I can't believe it, I don't understand it. Who could? It's made me think about the world in the past almost 2 years since I had my own boy. The earthquake and tsunami in Japan, the Sandusky business, this. I've been thinking about him in school, with those people we trust to keep him safe. I've been thinking about how we put him in his car seat and drive around, trusting that a drunk driver won't rear end me on the freeway. I mean, this might sound stupid, but we live near the Long Beach airport. Small planes fly over my house all the time, sometimes even jets. It's happened, that planes crash on neighborhoods. It happened near by, in Cerritos.

There are things that you can control, and things you can't, and I'm just having a hard time understanding how to protect him, how to handle this in a way that makes sense. I'm trying to think, and not to think. My mother would say, it's time to pray. Maybe it is.

And I've been thinking about the parents and the teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The staff, the little kids who had to walk out of school, and were told to close their eyes, so they wouldn't see the carnage. The parents who had to sit around and wait to find out if their child was OK. The way I heard the police chief describe the "catastrophic" wounds of the children. The way the police chief said, "If you haven't been reunited with your child yet, you won't be." That's what makes me cry. This much I heard on Friday, when I was listening to KPCC.

On Sunday, my mom was watching the church vigil, and waiting to hear our President speak. I, luckily, had planned a trip to Target, and so missed it all. When I got back it was dinner time.

I know that I have to face it eventually. I mean, I'm lucky. Imagine those poor parents, the families with huge holes in them, they have to deal with it now. There's no hiding from it for them. I've been distracting myself with music, with silly Stewart Copeland-related fantasy. After the tsunami in Japan, after a few weeks had gone by, I went back and read about it, sucked up a lot of detail. I watched videos and looked at maps. It took me a while to process everything, but eventually, I did tried to understand it a little better. But that's a weather event. It's not the same.

And now, what can we do? I have no idea. The world is a random place, where just about anything can happen. For someone to be so disturbed, so incomprehensibly violent and cruel: I don't understand how this happens. I'm not ready to find out about him, the shooter. I'm glad he's dead. I guess people will try to figure him out, and I guess that's a good thing, but I don't want to know, just yet.

I'm also thinking about gun laws, and what kind of place this country is, politically. Congress allowed the ban on assault weapons to lapse, and I have to read more about that, because my first thought was, what the fuck? How does stuff like that happen? These people are supposed to protect us, to understand these issues better than I do: but who, what kind of person thinks that we have the right to assault weapons? Me? A normal person? Someone mentally unbalanced? A thug? It's just craziness.

And then I got an email from my friend Hollie Butler. Instead of feeling frozen, or hopeless, Hollie is making an effort to reach out to the kids of Sandy Hook. Hollie has set up a fund to buy each child at Sandy Hook Elementary School a teddy bear.

Look, I'll admit it: my first thought was, "what good will teddy bears from strangers do those children?" And I do keep thinking about that. But it's like saying, what good will more gun laws do?

Who knows? But it's something. We can do something.

You can help buy a bear for every child at Sandy Hook Elementary School.