Sunday, December 30, 2012

...and a Happy New Year

It is New Years Eve.  At least the morning of.  It won't be 2013 for another 22 hours give or take.  I don't know if I will even stay up.  Probably will since I am usually up past midnight on ordinary nights.

I went to visit a mom and her new baby today.  Her 2 1/2 year old little one was there too.  I helped with baby #1 with some breastfeeding issues too.

I see and work with so many mothers and babies that sometimes I lose track of how many.  I keep written records of all the visits I make, and about once a year I go through them, partly to reminisce, and partly to count how many.

It is really amazing to be involved in such a private and sacred part of the beginning of a love affair between a mother an her baby.  And most of the time, the dads are right there.  They don't want to miss anything.  They want to understand what the issues are and they want to know how to help.

Every now and then a dad will ask if he can take pictures and occasionally he will want to make a video of what we are doing.  I always say yes.  So often these pictures show exactly what the parents cannot see for their up close and personal point of view.   I suspect that some of the time just having these pictures is a sort of insurance policy.  They may never get looked at or used again.  But they are there.  They are proof that this parenting thing, this breastfeeding thing can really be done.

Every so often I will get a thank you note.  I treasure those notes.  I also occasionally receive pictures of the babies I have worked with.  I treasure those as well.

I read as much as I could find in 1977-78 Bangkok while waiting for the birth of Courtney.  I found so much that really touched my heart and soul.  The best book was the early, blue edition of the La Leche League manual, The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding.   That book was full of practical information and advice on the possible difficulties and how to overcome then.    The approach was very baby centric.  There was no "us & them" that I encountered in so many other books.  I felt at home with the attachment philosophy of parenting.  I learned the concept of "people first".  I learned that our babies are people too.

After the breaking in period (breaking me in a a new mom) nursing and mothering Courtney was amazing.  I was so young and excited and full of awe and energy.  I bathed her and changed her and cuddled with her and breathed her in.  I was head over heals in love.  I felt good at what I was doing.

It got easier with each of the next three babies to fall into the mothering role.  There were no big surprises except for the one that LLL had warned about;   love does not divide, it grows!  It also made me understand and fight for what was best for Chance in his premature/ failure to thrive state.

I hope that I am giving some of the feeling of wonder to new parents.  At first I was a young mom with young kids, and so even though I was a peer, and so I was accepted, I had a lot to learn.  Now I am as old or older than the mothers of the women I help.  I hope that they see me as a mentor.  I am often educating the grandparents too as I go along.

I have learned a lot.  I know a lot.  I continue to attend seminars on breastfeeding as much as possible. I keep learning.

I want to share the joy and peace you can find when parenting -especially the first time with the first baby.   No wonder I wanted five.  Really I love the baby part.  I am such a good mom to small babies.

Surrender is a soft and strong word at the same time.     When a mom is totally , well... not fun, and she does"t know what to about it, I offer the word, "surrender"  It has worked amazingly.  Babies and toddlers thrive when a parents gives their full attention..

I must sleep now before I make any more typos.  I will publish now and check for errors tomorrow 


Monday, December 24, 2012

It's Christmas

What a strange time of year-when I go through every possible emotion.  The main emotion is sadness and melancholy.  Sad because Christmas was a most anticipated day when I was a kid.  And every year it ended up the same- with my parents fighting and us kids crying.  What a sad, sorry legacy.

Melancholy I guess because I now have forty good Christmases first as a wife and then as a mother as a part of my history, yet the kids are all grown up.  I cannot hold them in my lap and giggle with them like I used to be able to.  I don't get to see the look in their eyes- such wonder when they first walk into the room and  see the lit up tree with stacks of toys spilling all over the place.   "Santa came" they used to whisper in awe.   What priceless moments Nick and I have shared.  What memories we made together with our babies as they grew up.   And now we just get to see them some of the time.   They have busy lives.  We have less busy lives.   No, I am not sad, just wistful.   Wishing it could have lasted a little bit longer.

There is so much about being a child that is magical.  And it is such a privilege to be a parent and witness each new discovery.  Figuring out how to nurse, then finding your hand for the first time.  Crawling and falling on your face.   Walking- what joy.   Getting on a bike with Mom and Dad running along beside- and then we let you go.  You can balance on the bike.  You leave us in your dust.

You grow and learn and keep running to new goals and don't look back.  And here we are cheering you on.  And worrying about you.  And wondering about your choices sometimes. And worrying about you in our cells, constantly, unconsciously, as we breath.  You are in each breath we take, breathing in, breathing out.

And I wonder if my parents ever felt this way about me and my siblings.  And I wonder if their parents ever felt the same way.

And I wonder if my children will ever understand why we had them.   How, we would have been a complete couple and family even without having had children.  Just as there are people in the world who don't read and don't really know the concept of reading.  They live their lives and are as fulfilled or not depending upon what befalls them in their world.   But teach one of those people how to read and a whole new person emerges from somewhere deep inside.

Having children and being a mother had been that for me.  If I had not been a mother, I would have been able to find happiness and wholeness.  I am sure of it.  In fact, maybe it would have been easier if I only had to focus on my well being and not that of others.   But I chose to invite all of my children into the world and into my life.  And in turn, they taught me to read.  To see the absolute joy of finding your hands and then your feet, for the first time.  And all those other firsts I already wrote about.

I have received so much love that if it were a vaccine I would be the healthiest woman alive.    Nursing a baby who looks at you, nipple in mouth, and the baby smiles, nipple still in, with milk dribbling all over me and the baby is absolutely delicious.

Hearing my three year old sing "skin a ma rink-a dink a do I love you" brought tears to my eyes over 20 years ago, and behind that serious, bearded face I still see that little sweetheart with that soft high voice.  Ah.

And there's nothing quite like helping your teen to drive.  Now try doing it five times with five teens.

And through it all, we keep pouring our hearts and souls into these wonderful people, our children, with the ultimate goal of letting go.  Saying "go, fly, spread your wings".  We will be here hopefully for a good while yet to come.  You are all grown up, but we know that we are still needed, just not in the same ways.

So, Merry Christmas to Courtney, Morgan, Darcy, Austin and Chance.  And to Nick, my life partner who has shared this crazy journey with me.  You never promised smooth sailing did you?

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Hi, it's me again

The last couple of days have been emotionally terrible.  Shootings in Connecticut.   Small children and teachers.   I don't want to talk about it with anybody.   I don't want to argue about gun laws.  Or God in the schools.   I just want to be sad for a while.

I am so amazingly lucky, blessed if you use that word, to have five wonderful, healthy, kind, smart adult children.    I will be doubly blessed if they all outlive me.  They just have to. That's all there is to it.

I wrote on Facebook that I really wanted to go to church today because of the shootings, I really did not want to be around all of the people and to hear people talking about it.  It's not taboo.  In fact I wish everyone would speak more openly and honestly.    I just needed today to have my thoughts all to myself.

It's times like this that I wish I could believe in God and heaven.  I understand the comfort that it brings to have faith.   My faith is different.   I have faith in the goodness in most peoples hearts.  I have faith that when I plant a seed it will grow.  That the day will follow the night and then the night will follow the day. 

Now I need to stop thinking and let my brain and body rest so I can get up and worry another day.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

What do I do next?

For the last eight years, I watched the girls and so had some structure to my day. That plus Nick working meant that I had certain expectation of how the day would go and what to do.

At least that's what my memory is telling me.

Now, Nick and I are home all day together. In get busy with LC calls and other appointments.  I visit my sister.  Stuff like that.

But I really don't feel like doing anything an awful lot of the time.  I am content to sit and watch TV while I knit.  Or I come here, on my computer and stare at the screen for hours and feel guilty about not doing anything.

I am a good, if not great cook. But I don't feel like it most of the time.   The house can always use some cleaning up here and there.  But it isn't urgent.

So, what?

I have already gotten our Christmas cards printed.   I don't think I will include a letter this year and I will hope that not too many people are confused about who's who on the card.

I just printed the mailing labels and return address labels.  We have holiday stamps.   I guess I'll go start stuffing envelopes, and sticking labels onto them.

I am really hungry.  I think I am cooking eggs.  Not sure how I will cook them.  Let's see where the spririt moves me.

And I want to wake up thin and beautiful.  I guess I had a turn at that already and didn't really appreciate it.  Sort of like a Joni Mitchell song; don't it always seem to go you don't know what you've got till it's gone...

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Too Much to Learn all in one week

This has been a crazy week for me and continuing education.   Tuesday I went to a conference near Baltimore, on breastfeeding sponsored by the Maryland Coalition of Lactation Consultants.  I learned so much there about both technique and tender ways to work with mothers and babies.

Today I went to a conference at Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring, MD.  There I learned a lot about mothers and babies in the NICU and some of the harsh realities.  I was amazed at how much the speakers do in their hospitals to make sure sick and premature babies get colostrum and breast milk.  Their dedication and hard work are an inspiration.

I left the Tuesday conference feeling sunny and sweet and thinking of all the ways I can use my newly learned information to help breastfeeding go more smoothly for the dyads I work with.

Today I came out of the conference exhausted and, I am not sure what.  Sad isn't the word.  Just I guess serious.  Most of what I do is help mothers learn to trust themselves and their babies.  Sometimes it is challenging and sometimes I go away wishing that I had one more trick up my sleeve to solve the problem.     But the sick and premature babies are not all about touch feely stuff.  They are about staying well, getting better, not getting worse.  They are often about life and death.  I learned so much both days.  I am happy with what I am doing and glad I don't have the great responsibility the NICU nurses have.

All of the sitting took it's toll on my hip.  When I got home all I wanted to do was sit and knit to unwind.   I couldn't sit on the sofa and find any kind of comfortable position.  I lay on the floor.  Tried stretches.  Pain.

Finally I came upstairs and watched TV in bed, dozing off a bit.   When I went back down, more pain.  I guess I am going to have to find somewhere else to sit.

Tomorrow is our Christmas party!  We expect over 25 people.  I have to make stuffing and cook the turkey.  I may bake a couple of pies.  I am also making a bit, layered salad.  

Nick has worked hard all week getting the tree up and the house decorated inside and out.  It should be a really good time.

Now to bed and rest my aching sciatica!


It is the 32nd anniversary of the day John Lennon died.  I remember where I was and what I was doing when I heard.  So sad and senseless.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

It's December!

Egads!  Time rushes up on you even though you know it will and you try to plan for it to happen.  It catches you unawares.

And so, here we are at the ending hours of Chance's 22 birthday celebration.  Twenty two years since I held a newborn all my own.  That long since I carried a baby in my womb.  I had a baby every three years from 1978 to 1990.  It was a major part of my life and my identity.  Nursing all those babies was my occupation, my vocation, my calling.   Gestating and lactating.  The hardest and most wonderful things all tied together.

I am really happy that I am able to do as much as I do in order to help other women attain some peace and pleasure out of mothering their babies.  It's what I do and who I am.  It is in every cell of my body.  

I am a mother and a mentor.  In a way, because I am about the age of most of the mothers of the new moms I help, I feel that I am a mother figure for them. 

Even before I had my children I felt a calling to be a mother.  Who knew what was actually going to happen.   I had no idea who's mother I would be.  I got pretty lucky with my lot.   They are all unique and wonderful and smart and amazing.  When they were little I was often overwhelmed and tired and angry.  I yelled and swatted more that I wish I had done.  I am sorry.  I have apologized to all five of them and for the most part I feel forgiven.   I am not trying to make excuses, just recognizing that I wish I had been better at mothering- the thing I value most I think.

Five adults on this earth grew in my body and fed from my body and have grown strong and healthy and smart and independent.   I love them with such depth there is no way to say it with any of the words I know.

Sometimes, often in fact, I think I am losing my ability to recall things.  Especially people's names.  But often, conversations too.  I am not totally worried about it yet.  I know that it can be slightly irritating to my kids.  But I don't think it is just for not paying attention or not caring.  I think that there are some real deficits.

My maternal grandmother didn't know who she or anyone else was for much of the last 20 years of her life.  By the time any of my kids met her she could only speak gibberish.   I wish they could have known her in the way I did.

My own mother had a sharp tongue and no filters, so she often hurt people's feelings without even knowing it.  But, she never lost her ability to speak and understand.  She could hear anything from anywhere in the house.  The last few years she took anti anxiety medication which helped take the bite out of her bark and even made her stop barking so much.   She was actually pleasant and fun to be with.

My dad had dementia.  Of course, he was always strange, so I have to wonder how far gone he was before he was diagnosed.

I don't really mind that I cannot remember stuff.  As long as I don't do anything dangerous- like get on the Beltway going the wrong way.    I hope that my children and Nick will be patient with me and kind and understanding.   

And now it is early December.  It's Friday in the early AM.  Saturday I am going to an all day conference that I have to leave for at 6:30AM!

Sunday we are having a Christmas party for about 25 guests.   I am looking forward to it.  I am maybe a little bit stressed, but in a good way.   I love being around people and having good company.

And now, I must go to bed.