Thursday, January 2, 2014

Breast IS Best, But BACK OFF!

There are a myriad of people who will not hesitate to tell you all about the numerous benefits to breast feeding. It is best for the baby and has some pretty great health perks for mom, too, including a decreased risk of breast cancer. Awesome. No, really, I mean that.

Doctors, scientific researchers, lactation consultants, La Leche League reps, other moms, and COMPLETE STRANGERS will tell you all about how formula is the devil and breast feeding is the only way to go. What makes this more unnerving are the nurses along the way who will swear up one side and down the other that every woman can breastfeed, and that those who are unsuccessful just aren't committed to it enough. 

I beg to differ.

My son is almost two months old and I desperately wanted to be able to breastfeed him. I knew that my sisters, as well as other, equally well respected, women in my life had experienced trouble in doing so. I knew that I might not be successful. I kept telling myself that it would be okay. If I could do it, great, if not, formula isn't the end of the world. The nurses at the hospital told me that was the wrong attitude to have. The nurse teaching the 7 week parent preparation course assured me that I would have no problems, I just had to be willing to stick it out. So I steeled myself the best that I could. Outwardly I told my friends and family that I wouldn't be heartbroken if I couldn't do it, but I wanted to try. Inwardly, I thought that was the truth. Until it happened.

While I was in the hospital, several lactation consultants and a slew of nurses tried relentlessly to help me. When my milk came in before I went home they were convinced I just had to stick it out, it was going to work. I was determined, but I had a small problem. My son would scream relentlessly during most of his waking moments. I didn't know what was wrong. He had a good latch. He had a strong (ouch!) suck. He wasn't tongue tied. What was wrong? Finally, one of the nurses from the nursery handed me a bottle of supplementation formula. 

Wait, I was told I just had to stick it out. I was told there was no reason a woman could not exclusively breastfeed her child. I was told it was a matter of will. This nurse disagreed. She recognized his cry and said he was still hungry. I had nothing left to give and my child was still hungry. What else could I do? So I gave him the bottle. And do you know what happened?

He stopped crying. He slept better. I felt horrible. My determination to exclusively breastfeed was starving my child. What kind of mother was I? What was wrong with me? So I continued to supplement with a bottle the rest of our stay in the hospital. And the lactation consultant rolled her eyes at me as if I were some kind of lost cause. She brought me a pump and told me to pump after every feed to increase my supply so I could stop supplementing. That mostly lead to sore nipples and about a quarter ounce, but Rome wasn't built in a day.

Then we went home. My supply continued to decrease and it became harder and harder to breastfeed at all. I was reduced to heaving inconsolable sobbing every couple of hours when it was time to try again. HEAVING. INCONSOLABLE. SOBBING. I have never cried that hard or that much in my life. And that, I'm ashamed to admit, is saying something. What was wrong with me? I thought I had prepared myself for this possibility. I thought I could handle it. Now, though, all I could think was that I was a giant failure as a mother. I wasn't enough for my son. My heart broke over and over again, but I had to put aside how I felt and focus on what he needed. So I kept supplementing and made an appointment with the lactation consultant at pediatrician's office. I hadn't met her yet and prayed that she didn't roll her eyes and tell me I wasn't committed enough, because if she did I might implode into a concentrated ball of white hot rage.

In the meantime, my sisters, my friends, and my mom all tried to comfort me. It happens. Some women have trouble. The nurses were wrong, not every woman can do this. You love your child enough to not let him suffer. He'll be just fine. Some of the sweetest, smartest, healthiest, most beautiful children I know were formula fed babies. It is not the end of the world situation they are telling you it is.

I rented a pump from the hospital to help, too. I had been using the hand pump at home, but needed the heavy artillery. Double electric, hospital grade, #1 trusted brand in America. This HAD to help, right? So I pumped. Every two hours. I ate the foods that are supposed to increase your supply. I drank more water than ever before in my life. I stared at my child while pumping. I smelled his head. I tried everything I had ever heard. I looked up more tips online and tried those, too. My supply was still decreasing.

My visit with the lactation consultant was actually pretty great. She gave me more tips. Showed me some techniques to make the breastfeeding process easier. She comforted me. She gave me 3 grocery bags filled with packages of formula to supplement with and told me not to give up, but to do what was best for my son, which was to feed him enough. She also had me go ahead and make another appointment for two weeks later to check in.

It wasn't an easy two weeks. When I returned, my supply had decreased even further, despite my efforts and adherence to her advice. I dreaded what she might say. Was she going to think I wasn't trying? Because that just wasn't true. She comforted me again, gave me another list of tips and tricks, and more formula. 

My saga continues, but I have learned a few things along the way. I still have moments when I break down in tears. I still have moments when I feel like a failure as a woman and a mother because of my struggle. 

And then there are those moments when a woman behind me in the grocery line while I'm buying more formula, an old friend, a new acquaintance, or complete strangers that happen to see me pull a bottle out of the diaper bag give me that look of disdain that says "How could you do that to your own child? You gave up. You just wanted life to be more convenient for you. Your child will suffer for your selfishness." In those moments I don't want to cry. I don't feel ashamed. I get angry. I get defensive. Would you rather my child be malnourished? You don't know my struggle. You weren't there when medical professionals told me it was time to start supplementing. You haven't been there for both the heaving sobs and the quiet tears during bottle time. I'm thrilled for you that you were able to breastfeed without issue, or at least, without issues to this extent, but I'm having trouble so get off your high friggin' horse and stick your judgement where the sun doesn't shine. I'm not a failure as a mother. I'm not a failure as a woman. I'm not being selfish. I haven't even given up breastfeeding completely. I have changed techniques, taken supplements, and continue to make the changes and plow ahead through it all. I'm trying, dang it. And how dare you try to make me feel like a failure and add to my distress. HOW DARE YOU. HOW. DARE. YOU. I would say I wish similar struggles and failure upon you, but I don't. I'm not THAT petty. I wouldn't wish the feeling of helplessness that I have experienced on ANY OTHER MOTHER. So why the MESS would you wish such a feeling of failure on me with your unconcealed disdain and air of superiority? 

Breast is ABSOLUTELY best, but it isn't the only option and letting my child die of malnourishment is not an option at all so BACK. THE. HECK. OFF.

Thank you.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Thoughts and Confessions

1. Luxury cars are stupid. You are spending thousands of dollars for one MAYBE two higher end features over the cheaper model. Heated seats aren't that valuable. It is like advertising to the world that you have more money than sense. Or a complex. Either way, is that the message you really want to send out to people?

2. I like bad puns sometimes. Ones that elicit a "hardy har har" from most people will elicit smile and a small giggle from me. The picture of the Koala Bear with the caption of "What you do mean I'm not a bear? I have all of the koalafications?" cracks me up every time.

3. I love Pinterest, but I spend about 1/3 of my time looking at pins and saying "You know you can just buy that, right?" or "Yeah, never gonna happen." Side note, because of this I'm pretty sure I'm going to be the world's worst mom by Pinterest standards.

4. Tights are not pants. Seriously. I know they are comfy, but they are an undergarment; as in, you wear them UNDER something else. What you do in your own home is up to you, but out in public, realize the rest of us don't want to see that.

5. If you wear your pants so tight they might as well be tights, see #4. I don't want to know what kind of underwear you have on.

6. Commercials have gotten weirder and weirder over time. Now some of them are downright creepy. I give you the following examples:
    A. The commercial where the gingerbread cookie is stalking the woman through her office? That's a horror movie waiting to happen.
    B. The Charmin Bears family on those commercials? WAAAAYYYYY too close. Weirdly close. Seriously. Any family that talks about toilet paper lint that often is sort of creepy.
    C. The commercial where the guy is "made of money" and dollars are falling off of him as he travels? Is anybody else weirded out by the the fact that if his skin is money and money is falling off of him, then that essentially means his skins is constantly falling off and people are just grabbing it? Ew.
    D. Viagra commercials are awkward enough, but the fact that the latest commercial I have seen shows all the featured men doing activities all by their lonesome with no woman in sight is just crossing the line. Quadruple ew. Quintuple ew.
There are many more examples, but that is really enough for a whole different post.

7. I was taught that it is NEVER okay to ask a woman if she is pregnant, unless she talks about it first. I mean, it is not even okay if she is 40 weeks and about to start labor right in front of you. So, I know it is wrong, but when I was in the Hallmark store last week, and a random lady asked me about my due date without knowing anything about me, part of me wanted to deny even being pregnant for just a second just to see the horrified look on her face. It would have been mean. I know. I didn't. I smiled and told her my due date and she was sweet about it. It occurred to me that I might have a bit of a mean streak. I hope my son doesn't inherit that.

8. Thank you notes are not optional. End of story.

9. Being pregnant can be hard. I'm not talking about the million and one trips to the bathroom each day. I'm not talking about swollen feet, clumsiness, pelvic pressure, congestion from swollen membranes, clothes that don't fit, exhaustion, super weird dreams, or the ever present general discomfort. I can get over that stuff. I think the hard part is the emotional roller coaster ride that never really ends. I'm thrilled and excited, I'm nervous, I'm terrified, I'm worried, I'm happy; in short, I'm a hot mess. No wonder people think pregnant women are a little crazy. We are.

10. I like baseball. I do. However, I find it ridiculous that the World Series is not over until November. They are referred to as the "Boys of Summer" for a reason. November is not summer. The season is too long. This is why I like college baseball and I'm not as enthusiastic about MLB. Seriously, the MLB season (including post season) is almost, ALMOST, the entire length of my pregnancy. That's insane.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Duct Tape Toy Bin

I'm from Mississippi. For those of you who don't know, that means I am a special breed. We all are here. Some of us even more than others. I'm also blessed to come from one of those extra special breed kind of families. By virtue of this, I have learned several key truths that I can carry with me always. One day I will share my wealth of knowledge with you, but today I'm just going to share two key lessons that I carry around in my day to day:

1. Never pay full retail if you can help it.
2. If you can't fix it with duct tape, it probably isn't worth saving.

So how do these two particular lessons apply to my latest dilemma (read: How the heck is she gonna get from this to a toy bin)? Well, as mentioned in my previous post, kid stuff is expensive. Ridiculously and unreasonably so. There is no reason that a plastic box to store my stuff in is only $5, but a toy bin that is essentially the same thing, but happens to have a toy duck painted on the side is $100. 

Stupid toy duck.

So, once again, I took to the internet. The shipping charges for even the cheapest of options still put them over the price range I was willing to pay, which, in all fairness, wasn't much. I mean, really. All I wanted was a plastic bin that I could throw some toys in. It didn't need ducks, a monogram, or "safety hinges". Light weight plastic is not going hurt little fingers.

What I needed was essentially a storage bin with some paint on it. I had craft paint. Storage bins come cheap. However, the thought occurred to me that I didn't want to spend the next several days wasting paint on a cheap plastic bin. My baby won't care if I cheat here and there, and being that he is a boy, he probably won't really care what it looks like in the end, either. So, what would be quicker, and still cheap? 

Duct tape.

Duct tape can fix anything. Especially now that it comes in a myriad of colors and designs. 

I chose my color scheme as one that would pay homage to my alma mater (Mississippi State), because you have to raise them right, dont' ya know, and camouflage, because this is Mississippi, after all. 

So I got a cheap bin.....

...and began covering it strip by strip.

I made sure I only covered to within about an inch around the bottom, so that I could use my secondary "color" as an accent.

Then, I went around the top and bottom with my accent tape.

I went all the way around like this. And then, I made sure to do the top. And VOILA!

Duct tape toy bin.

But what about safety standards for this?!?!?

1. It is lightweight plastic for Heaven's sake. If he can climb into without turning it over, it will take more effort than getting back out.
2. Once you cover it with duct tape, it doesn't exactly latch tightly. 
3. Even if he could wind up inside it, and somehow get the lid on, the lid isn't exactly made of lead. It comes off easy.
4. JUST IN CASE, for you worry warts out there, I will point out that there actually are two air holes, one on either end for just such an emergency. I covered them with duct tape, but then re-cut the tape in that area to match the original hole.

So, once again, pbbbbbbbbbbbbbbb.

And for those of you who look at this and say, "OMG! Could she BE any more redneck?!" The answer is yes, I can, because you don't know the half of it. I'm from the South. We're proud of our crazy around here, don't ya know.

Monday, August 26, 2013

DIY Pacifier Clips

So here's the thing about baby stuff, no matter whether it is for a girl or a boy, a lot of it is pretty feminine looking and none of it is cheap. Note to designers: just because it is blue doesn't automatically make it look masculine. For instance, pacifier clips that are powder blue with frilly green flowers does not scream baby boy to me. And as for the gender neutral options? Still pretty girly.

So what was I to do? Scour the internet for possibilities? That would mean paying more in shipping than the darn things are even worth. I mean, it is essentially a clothespin, some velcro and a ribbon.


I could just make a few. It wouldn't be that hard. And before all you naysayers jump my case for things not being safety standard approved, I actually looked into that. So ppppbbbbbbbbbb!

So I took stock of what left over craft supplies I had on hand. I had some simple snaps (with the attachment doohickey - very technical term, I know - and the hammer I needed to go with it), but I needed some clips and my ribbon selection wasn't great. Nothing was cross grain or appropriate for the task.

Enter Hobby Lobby. I got some really cute ribbon options without much effort (or cash). Now the trick was the clips. What should I use? I wanted something strong so that grabby little hands wouldn't be able to just pull it off. I wanted something sturdy. Most importantly, I wanted something that required very little effort on my part. Priorities. So when I looked through the options, what did I come away with? Mitten/Suspender clips. Laugh all you want. It works in theory (the baby still isn't here yet, so I haven't road tested my finished product).

So how exactly did I accomplish this? And yes, I trust that you are smart enough to figure out what I did, but the whole point of the blog is for me to have a creative outlet and I really want to talk about this for a minute, so bear with me.

My materials:
Ribbon (I chose 3 different kinds to branch out a bit)
Snap attachment tool
Hammer (it is gold and covered in flowers, but I've learned to love it)
Hot glue gun (not pictured)
Measuring tape (not pictured)

I started by cutting the ribbon. Safety standards (see, I told you I looked into it!) say that the length shouldn't be more than 6", but I needed enough to work with each end first. I found that if I cut it about 13" first it worked out once I worked all my magic.

So, I looked at the cut ends of the ribbon and knew they need to be protected from fraying. I didn't have any of that fancy schmancy No Fray stuff. So I decided to use what I had. I hot glued the ends so they wouldn't fray.

I also realized the snaps called for a double layer of fabric, so then I folded the ribbon over with enough room for each snap set on each end and hot glued them again (this seemed a more efficient use of my time than sewing the ends, plus the glue gun was already hot).

Next, I attached the snaps at a short distance from each other, making sure I still had enough room to actually attach them, but not so much that it kept the length of the ribbon too long. I did this at both ends, so that all I had to do was snap in the suspender clips at one end and a pacifier could snap in at the other end.

This is what I came up with (note: some of the pictures show the snaps closed at both ends, making them the correct (mostly) measurement, others are unsnapped and therefore a little longer):

And boom: pacifier clips that I actually like. Of course, you may look at them and sneer. In which case you can take your hoighty toighty opinions and shove.....ahem, I mean to each their own. In any case, this is what I threw together. I think it works. And, another bonus, if ever they get super nasty and beyond saving, I can just throw together a few more with the supplies I have left!

So there you have it. I'm cheap, but I'm resourceful! 

Friday, July 19, 2013

And Just Where, Pray Tell, Have I Been??

My last post was in September. It is now July. Holy crap on a cracker. Where did the time go?

Well, hmmm, let me think about that. I was a first year teacher and soccer coach. Between lesson plans, practices, games, meetings, parent teacher conferences, and actual classroom time, I barely had time to do anything else. And, in all fairness, what little extra time I did have I wanted to spend with my family and friends in real life. I enjoy writing my cathartic blog, don't get me wrong, but I find myself in a shrinking minority that actually still values face to face interaction over the likes of social networking online.

So, after soccer season ended and I at least got that time commitment back, what happened then? Well, after the season ended, I gave myself a small window of time to just be a teacher and wife. All of you out there who look at teachers and say things like "How hard can it be? I mean you get off of work at 3:30 and get summers off?" are rolling your eyes right now because you have NO IDEA how the job takes over your life. School may be out at 3:30, but it was truly rare for me to leave the building before 6. And I took more work home with me more often than not. That is the life of a first year teacher. You have to build so much from scratch, you end up giving up a lot of personal time. The good news is that surviving the first year earns you a badge of honor among other teachers. As for summer vacation, trust me, I earned EVERY LAST SECOND. I love (most of - let's be honest) those kids, and my job, but I work hard to give them my best and still have something left at the end of the day for me. A parent of one of my students put it like this: "I have four kids. I love them, they are my flesh and blood. I wouldn't trade them for the world. However, during the summer I get a small taste of what you get for the rest of the year. I only have four of them and they can be overwhelming. You have exponentially more to deal with all day and you can't put a bedroom door between you when you need a minute. You are locked in a room with them all day. God bless you." I love her for saying that.

So when I had rested and given myself a small recovery time, then what? What was my new excuse, exactly? Pregnancy. I was/am beyond thrilled to be starting a family with my husband. We have talked about it for a while and now here we are. We have a son on the way. I'm going to be a mom. I am so excited, but I have been ridiculously tired. The official pregnancy symptom term is, of course, fatigue. All I know is that it makes me completely zonk out every time I get still. In all of my pregnancy books and apps, etc, I am told that during the second trimester you get this "burst" of energy. I am just a few weeks shy of starting the third trimester and I have yet to experience said energy burst. I think I have been lied to. However, now that I am getting ready for my little bundle of joy (and crying, laughing, smiling, dirty diapers, screaming fits, and sleepless nights), I have found a wealth of new topics to discuss with you.

Be forewarned, though: When the baby comes, I will most likely, once again, take a hiatus from the blog world. I'm a first time mom. Let's just be real. I'll be in way over my head and have very little time for anything else. Surely, though, when I return to bloggerdom my stories will be cuter and funnier. Until then, sit back and enjoy my random and intermittent posts (or rants) about all things pre-baby.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Dear Police Officer

Thank you. You pulled me over for speeding. It was the cherry on top of my "suck it up, cupcake" kind of day. I worked late. Not by a little. By a lot. I sat through a 3 and half hour staff meeting. I had been disrespected, figuratively walked on, openly lied to, etc. It was just one of those days.

And then, when I was finally on my way home, I saw the flashing lights. My heart sank. My head hurt. And this was completely my fault. I couldn't blame the people who disrespected me. I couldn't blame the rudeness of others that was directed at me earlier that day. I couldn't blame the lies I had been told. I certainly couldn't blame you. You were just doing your job. It was me. I was the driver. I was the one who broke the speed limit. I was the one behind the wheel with my foot on the gas. All me.

You came up to my window and asked for my license and insurance. I might have been berating myself in my head, but I knew better than to be mad at you. You had probably had a worse day than me. You catch people at their worst. All day long. God bless you. As I thought about that I tried to be respectful and to give you a smile. You could probably use a break, too, after all.

And then it happened. You told me to slow down. You gave me a warning. You didn't ticket me. You gave me the break I had been praying for all day. You forgave me for what I had done wrong, where I had not forgiven those who had wronged me earlier that day. And then? You pulled out in traffic and let me pull out in front of you so I didn't have to wait for the next 15 minutes for a break in the line of cars.

It might seem like something small, but to me it was big. You were the answer to a prayer. You were actually the highlight of my day (at least until I got home and could spend time with my family, it is super hard to compete with that). No, really.

This happened several days ago. I still think of you with a smile. Not a smirk. Not a smug, "I got away with it" attitude. I think of you with gratitude. You don't know me personally and will probably never read this, but this is my chance to say thanks. Thank you, for making my day better.

You're awesome.



Things Teachers Hate to Hear

There are certain things that ever teacher hates to hear. We can't usually respond how we would like to, because blatant sarcasm to a student is usually frowned upon by the administration. Everybody probably already knows the usual suspects for this list, but this is a cathartic exercise for me so I'm going through them anyway.

"I was absent yesterday, did I miss anything?" No, of course not. You know the entire world revolves around your specific presence. Without you here, I couldn't have class at all. We just had to stare at your empty chair and miss you.

"Can I go to Mr./Mrs. _______________'s room? I need to finish an assignment for her." Sure, my class doesn't matter at all. And there is no way your presences in a class she is trying to teach to a group of students to whom you do not belong will disrupt her lesson plan at all. The counselor assigned your schedule all willy nilly and there is no reason for that to actually serve as a list of where you are supposed to be and when.

"Are we doing anything in here today?" Nope. I thought we would just sit around and stare at each other and see if just being in the same room as my lesson plans would help you to learn anything.

"Should we be writing this down?" Nope, I am going over it solely for my own benefit. I need to review the information, after all, even though I already have a college degree in this.

"Is this going to be on the test?" Don't be silly. I thought we would spend an entire class day talking about it just for kicks and giggles.

"How many points is each question worth?" Study the material I give you and it won't matter because you will get all of them right.

"How many questions will be on the test?" 2,568.

"That doesn't even make sense. That's stupid." Of course it doesn't make sense yet. I haven't explained it to you. Give me a friggin' second. And just because YOU don't understand something doesn't mean it is stupid. Whether or not YOU are is still yet to be seen.

"Are you mad?" No, but if you continue to ask me that I will be.

"How do you do x?" I explain and then two seconds later, "How do you do x?" Is there an echo? I could have sworn I just heard that question and already answered it. But no worries, there is no need to listen to what I have to say. I'm just like the teacher voice from Charlie Brown to you anyway.

"Do we have to turn this in?" No, I thought I would randomly assign a grade for you. I don't need to know whether or not you did it, or if you got any of them correct.

"Do we have to sit in our assigned seats?" No. I just assigned you a specific seat for completely arbitrary reasons. No need to stay in them beyond a day.

"You have the crazy eyes right now." There is no response for this really, except for me to admit that if they keep it up, it won't just be my eyes that are crazy.

This is by no means a comprehensive list. And not every student is guilty of asking these questions. Some students are so spectacular about behaving properly and not asking these questions that teachers want to give their parents gifts of thanks and praise. For the kids that do ask these questions, though, (and the ones who do are usually guilty of asking them repeatedly), you are shaving years off of your teacher's life. Every time you ask one of these questions and your teacher takes a deep breath, smiles and responds in calm manner that is not laced with sarcasm, the restraint that took just shaved several hours off of his/her life span.

Having said all this, I would like to say that I love my job. I enjoy what I do. And I have only laughed in their faces for asking any one of these questions once. Okay, maybe twice. Three times, MAX.....I'll try to stop.