My Secret Shame

I have a secret. It’s not really a secret ’cause I tell a lot of people, plus most people who spend any time around me pick up on it pretty quickly. That being said, it still definitely still qualifies as one of those dirty little secrets of parenting. I HATE breastfeeding. I have spent well over two years of my life nursing my kids. And I mean no bottles, no formula, every two hours (if I am lucky to get two full hours) nursing my kids. And I hate it.

I love that I have been able to do this for my kids. I am so, so thankful that breastfeeding worked out for us. It is inconceivably hard to master at first. And no one can understand that except a woman who has tried. When I thought it wasn’t going to work and I might have to switch to formula when my oldest was a week old, I cried for hours. There are obviously a lot of benefits of breastfeeding. The health benefits to mom and baby alone are worth it for me. Plus, once you finally have it mastered, it is the magic cure all for newborns. Baby’s hungry? Throw ’em on the boob. Baby’s startled? Quick, shove a boob in their mouth. Getting a little tired? Suckle off to sleep. Cold? Cuddle in and nurse. Can’t figure out why they’re crying? A boob never hurts! Add to that, not having to deal with midnight trips to the kitchen to sterilize, mix and heat bottles. I will take the roll-over-and-whip-it-out method of overnight feeding. (Yes, we co-sleep, along with a lot of other things I said I’d never do before having kids!)

Yep, breastfeeding was the right choice for us. But I still HATE it. With a passion. I have never enjoyed that special bonding of breastfeeding. I have definitely bonded with my babies, don’t get me wrong. But I don’t find the process of breastfeeding to be more bonding than just cuddling them into my chest. Those moments in the first two weeks or so, when your baby is screaming and hungry and your nipple is actually in their mouth but they won’t close their lips together and suck; yeah, not exactly feeling that wave of maternal love rushing over me. If anything, cuddling is much more bonding to me, since I’m not worried about latches and leaking and all the other breastfeeding logistics.

So, latches, and leaking, and all the other breastfeeding logistics. I remember reading , before giving birth to my first, that breastfeeding doesn’t hurt as long as you are doing it properly. I call BULLSHIT on that. I assumed I was doing it wrong for the first week ’cause my god, the searing pain. In hindsight, of course it hurt! It’s breastfeeding. Sure, it hurts less if it’s done properly but in what world does applying significant sucking pressure on one of the most sensitive areas of your body for 6-8 hours a day, all of a sudden, not result in some pain. And chapping. And cracking. And that’s when “latching” is working well. I don’t know why it is so hard to figure out the latch thing at first, but it really is. All the while you are sitting with your breasts out for the world of visitors, or whoever, to see. And it’s leaking. Like sometimes spraying half way across the room, leaking. And all over your clothes and your baby’s face. And it’s sweet sticky milk, which is so much fun to be covered in, until your next shower which will be god knows when. Of course, all of this is being figured out when you’re on the biggest hormonal roller coaster of your life and your emotions are completely out of control. Your only real job is to keep this thing fed and you can’t understand why it is so hard and how the human race hasn’t died out before this point if it is dependent on getting newborns properly latched onto nipples.

I don’t think there is anyone I have spoken to in the last 4 years that doesn’t know I hate being pregnant. Surprising, since I have three children, but that just speaks to how much I like babies. And how bad my short term memory is now. I am always happy to have the pregnancy over with when baby is born, and have my body back to myself. But it’s not really, because of breastfeeding. I can’t drink coffee because my babies go PSYCHO when I have had a real coffee/decaf mix up (I think we legitimately delayed my brother in law from having kids by a year or two when Owen got a little real caf breastmilk at 4 months old and happy screamed until 2am). I can have the occasional beer or glass of wine, but not without worry and guilt about it. And all that talk about breastfeeding making you lose weight? I know I am in the minority here, but I cannot lose weight while breastfeeding. I can work out. I can eat healthier. I can reduce my daily caloric intake. Nothing! I have dropped my last ten pounds of pregnancy weight within a month of weaning both my boys. Never before then though. And even when the weight is dropped, everything else has too!

My real secret shame is that the reason I hate breastfeeding most of all is super selfish. It’s not that formula fed babies typically sleep through the night way earlier. Or that only I can handle midnight feedings. I can handle the sleep stuff. I just want to be able to leave my kid for a few hours on a date with my husband, or a girls night, or anything selfish like that. I mean, I do do those things, but I know there is a significant chance of her screaming the whole time so I can’t really enjoy any of those things. Especially if they go on for more than say 90 minutes. I feel like the worst mom when we get home and her cheeks are red and tear-covered. And I never fully believe the babysitter when they say “she’s only been really upset for the last five minutes”. Then your baby realizes you’re home and hits the craziest combination of anger and elation. And then she latches on and lets out a sigh of relief ten times bigger than her tiny little body and almost immediately nods off to sleep.

It’s amazing being that person that they love more than anyone and anything else in the whole entire world. But it’s also a terrible curse of responsibility. I can’t help but wonder if that would be all that different if we bottle fed. And would it be all that bad if they loved me a little less and their dad a little more in that first year? I obviously wouldn’t do anything differently, since I have had the chance three times now and still choose to breastfeed. But I am happy to come clean about not enjoying it.

So, to all the mom’s who fought through the pain, the frustration, the limitations and all the other curses of breastfeeding, whether for a day or a decade, I literally feel your pain! To the moms who didn’t, in my opinion, you really aren’t missing as much as some say. To ALL the moms, you do what is right for you. And complain about it whenever you get the chance ’cause damn this motherhood thing can be tough some times.

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Toddler Translations

Oee being "Gentle" with Wossy

Oee being “Gentle” with Wossy

I have officially discovered the language of the toddler, and decided to translate it. It sounds very similar to English, but the differing definitions are astonishing. Here is what I have decoded so far:

“Gentle please” = recreate the Of Mice and Men scene with Lennie and the rabbits, all the while nodding and repeating “Gentle”

“Please don’t touch mommy’s computer” = Pound that keyboard as hard and as fast as you can. Know how to change any settlings? Great, do it stealthily and quickly! The stranger the better, like that time you made the screen display sideways.

“Did you poop?” = Deny everything. You never poop. You never need a new diaper. You never need to use the potty.

“Can you show (family/friend) that new thing you learned?” = stand perfectly still and silently stare at mommy like she has lost her mind.

“Yucky” = Put that in your mouth as fast as you can, before anyone takes it away from you.

“Can you share please?” = Run. Grab that toy and GO!

“Can you take one more bite please?” = Use both arms as windshield wipers to clear your plate. Or the table. Then wipe whatever is on your hands in your hair, in an attempt to ensure a bath.

“Shoes on” = We are going to the park. Make a run for the park, across the street, to be sure you don’t miss out. No need to wait for shoes, clothes or adult supervision, just get going!

“Shh” = Louder please, mommy obviously can’t hear you over the sleeping baby.

“Clean up time”= Mommy is trying to take away the best toys. Forever. Insist on playing with every toy she touches. Lose your mind if a toy goes out of sight.

“Just a moment and mommy will help you” = No one will ever assist you with this task, so you better lose your mind, become inconsolable and blow this WAY out of proportion

With many years of toddlers ahead of me, I look forward to learning more of this new language. And by “looking forward to” I mean I terrified of and desperately hope to keep my sanity through. But boy do toddlers keep life interesting.

My Furry Boy

No, I don’t mean the giant, despite his natural leg sweaters, and fur vest. I mean my real fur boy, Darwin. Darwin has a very interesting relationship with my other little boys. When we first brought Oee home from the hospital Darwin wouldn’t look at me for about a month. He would reluctantly follow commands I gave him but he refused to look me in the eye. He knew I had just completely ruined the life he was so accustomed to, being treated like our baby! (Apparently our dog is a misogynist and has no understanding of the birds and the bees, since according to him, I am solely responsible/to blame for our children.)

Darwin’s relationship with Oee evolved as Oee got older. The pinnacle of his torment was when Oee learned to crawl and Darwin could no longer just move away from the pint-sized maul-machine. Things slowly got better from that point and now they even seem to play together. When we brought Wossy home, Darwin already knew the drill and was resigned to his fate. There was no anger with me, just pity for himself. And boy can he ever look pitiful!

Regardless of Darwin’s frustration with ME for having brought children into our home, he has always been incredibly gentle with, and protective of, both the boys. Oee can climb all over Darwin, put whole hands in his mouth, and even ride him like a horse. (While pounding his chest and saying baby gorilla. I know, we have a strange kid with an impressive and weird imagination) We can no longer take Darwin to the park with Oee because he freaks out as soon as Oee is on any playground equipment and is desperate to “rescue” Owen from the slide or teeter totter or god-forbid another child that wants to play with him.

Oee mounting Darwin for a baby gorilla horsey ride and Darwin watching over Wossy as he sleeps.

Oee mounting Darwin for a baby gorilla horsey ride and Darwin watching over Wossy as he sleeps.

It isn’t that surprising, since Darwin has always been protective of us and he can even sound like a guard dog, when he feels like it. He is so protective that he even barks when people come to the door now. (Great job. The dog takes up barking when I have 2 little ones whose naps I desperately rely on. Awesome.) I noticed this last night, when I ran over to my sick sister’s house at midnight and returned home 20 minutes later. Darwin heard me on the porch steps and tried to wake up all three sleeping boys. But Darwin’s protective instinct seems a bit confused, since he stops barking immediately when whoever is outside gets into the house even if he has no idea who it is. So, monkey bars and Jehovah’s Witnesses beware, Darwin is ready for you, but anyone who makes it in to our house, you’ll probably be fine!

The Sheer Joy of Motherhood

My boys, giving mom some amazing smiles! (Oee on the left, Wossy on the right)

My boys, giving mom some amazing smiles! (Oee on the left, Wossy on the right)

I don’t even mean the title ironically! There are a lot of moments of all-consuming joy in parenting. Having two children has reminded me of this, because I get to feel nostalgic about Oee’s baby moments, while experiencing Wossy’s. One of the absolute best parts of parenting of the past 2 year and 9 month journey we have been on is feeling the love of a baby for his mom. It can literally be seen all over their face. No one else is mom and they don’t love anyone as much or quite the same. I know the biology behind this, but won’t bore everyone with all the details of mammal evolution. This special love is amazing, and the absolute best part of my current life, but it is a double-edged sword, since it means I take on all the feeding, most of the calming and the bulk of the early baby responsibilities. But I’ll happily take it. (Maybe because we have had easy, easy babies!)

I feel that pure love from Wossy. I see the joy in his eyes when I come into his field of vision. I light up his life! But I know from experience that it doesn’t last long. And it really shouldn’t. As sad as it is to see me become less and less the focus of my children’s lives, it is wonderful to watch them flourish without me. Oee will pass me by in a second for an elmo video, or to see his Opa or Poppy, or his tricycle, or for Easter Bunny Candy or for all the things that are more exciting than mom. He still has that special love for me and I am still the one he needs most. When he is tired, or sad, or scared, or even if he just hasn’t seen me for too long he seeks refuge in moms arms. I relish these moments from both of them, knowing that growing up means my boys will inevitably need me less and less. And I remind myself that that is a great thing, and it means we are doing this parent thing right.

But I do take the opportunity to remind Oee (and myself!) that once, I was cooler than Elmo, his tricycle and candy combined!

Parenting, Like a Dad

The giant and I have tried to split the weekend parenting duties, including sleeping in.  Saturday mornings have always been a joy for me. I get to sleep in. Sort of. And almost as good as the sleep in, is what happens when we get up. Depending on how sadistic Oee is feeling towards his father, the two of them may have been up for hours before Wossy and I come downstairs.

The giant is a great father. His parenting style differs from mine a little. He takes very seriously the sentiments “don’t sweat the small stuff” and “choose your battles”. This is very evident when I come down to a healthy, very happy young boy. However, he is frequently naked but for a diaper, with food covering much of his upper half, toys are everywhere and for that matter, non-toys are everywhere mixed with the toys.

A great example of dad parenting happened last weekend when staying with my parents. I spared the giant a trip to the department store to buy Oee’s birthday presents. I took Wossy with me and left Oee with his dad, right at naptime. I must point out, Oee loves being with family and naps and bedtime are especially difficult there, since he knows how much fun is to be had when he is awake. We have to stay in the room and routinely put him back in his bed, but can’t be seen or he wants to talk and play.  I returned about 90 minutes later, Oee and the giant were both out of sight behind the closed bedroom door, and I assumed that maybe the giant had fallen asleep as well. I open the door to find the giant, hidden from Oee’s sight behind the footboard. Oee is in his bed, wide awake, colouring on the walls with markers.

The giant explained that Oee had become quiet so he assumed he was finally falling asleep. And making eye contact with a near-napping toddler is a rookie mistake! But as most parents know, quiet means either they are sleeping, or they are into something they shouldn’t be. Oee’s bedframe, the sheets, the wall behind the bed, and Oee himself were decorated in purple and red.

Luckily, I am learning from my husband and I can parent like a dad too. The markers were washable, Oee fell asleep shortly thereafter and none of us were sweating the small stuff. I’ll save the freak out for when Oee brings up getting a real, Tyson-style face tattoo!

Oee doing an easter egg hunt, right after his nap. You can still see the purle line on his hand, and Hitler moustache under his nose.

Oee doing an easter egg hunt, right after his nap. You can still see the purle line on his hand, and Hitler moustache under his nose.

Oee’s New Nemesis

Howdy parter! Shirtless is how I roll!

Howdy parter! Shirtless is how I roll!

Recently Oee decided he hates wearing shirts. I understand hating pants. They are tight around the waste and give me muffin top and hurt my tummy. But shirts? They are warm and unoffensive. Regardless of my opinion, Oee now hates wearing shirts. He hates getting them on and insists “No shirt. Shirt off, shirt off.” every time I put one on him. Even if it is green!

Now he knows how to take them off. I have found him shirtless in many situations; during parties, going to sleep, when we are getting ready to go outside. None of them appropriate, but some are less appropriate than others. Especially with the winter we have been having! Today, I went to check on Oee during his nap, to find one arm had manouvered it’s way out the neck hole of his rather snug shirt. On some occasions he has managed to get both arms out that way and wears a sweater as a tube top.

When I correct the renegade arm, he usually gets very upset with me, knowing that he was part way to freedom from his evil jail of a top. Fits of crying and flailing normally ensue. I have learned to handle this. The newest trend is the one that concerns me. Oee thinks Wossy also needs to be freed from the constraint of shirts. Now, in addition to protecting Wossy for Oee’s kisses, hugs, attempts at carrying or trying to share the baby’s seat, I need to make sure he isn’t forcbily stripped naked by his well-meaning brother.

Well, I predict a naked summer in this house! For the boys. I will remain very, very clothed.

10 Rules for Buying Toys

So, it’s a month past Christmas, and after clearing out under the couch (aka the collector of toys, shoes, garbage and terrifying quantities of cereal and raisins!) I decided to organize the toychest before putting everything in it. This made me identify the numerous flaws in my previous toy-buying decisions. Here is my new list of rules:

It was organized for 5 minutes, before O-E destroyed it again

It was organized for 5 minutes, before O-E destroyed it again

10. Toys that go in other toys are awesome. Never buy blocks, etc. unless they come in a container. The easier to clean and organize the better.

9. “Pieces” cannot be necessary. Never buy a toy that is no longer useful or fun if one piece (or even multiple pieces) go missing. It will go missing. Most pieces will go missing and when a toddler finds part of a toy he wants to play with, you try to to explain why it isn’t working properly!

8. Books rock! But you better be prepared to read anything you buy literally thousands of times. If you aren’t willing to read it 10 times a day, you are setting yourself up for a lot of frustration. Also, be very careful with voices. Once you do a voice while reading a book, it is expected every time. There are no takebacks with voices.

7. Books shouldn’t move. Pop-up books, or books with movie features is like giving your child an elmo doll made of fine china. They can’t help themselves. Paper will tear, tears will flow, you will be frustrated. Stick with bright pictures and words. That’s what books are for.

6. If they make noise, the off switch should be parent accessible. And only parent accessible. Sometimes elmo doesn’t care if he’s tickled and the kids should not be able to change that on their own.

5. Little pieces should survive the dryer. Toddlers discover their pockets, and it’s a whole new world of what you find in the laundry. Mr. potatohead tongues, blocks, cutlery, the pieces of pop-up books they have destroyed. And those are the things I am not too embarassed to write about.

4. Age appropriate doesn’t just refer to choking hazards. If your kids are safe with a toy, but need your help to play with it because it is too messy or complex on their own (I am looking at you markers!) it is not ideal!

3. Don’t get excited. If you buy an awesome toy that you know they’ll love and they are happier with the box than the toy itself, get over it. Don’t try to show them how awesome the toy is and get frustrated when they don’t care. They’ll love the toy at some point. But never on your terms or timeline.

2. Just go with it. If it’s clean and safe, it can be a toy. There is currently a cleaned out Sunlight Dish Soap bottle, and an old cell phone carrier that snaps on to your belt (it came with the charger, neither me nor the giant are douchy awesome enough to wear cell phones on our belts. Ever.) in our toy chest. If they make your kid happy, and keep them entertained; AWESOME!

1. DO NOT buy toys that you want to play with. Your kids won’t play with them properly and it will piss you off. Mister potatohead’s ears do not belong on the top of his head, but O-E doesn’t understand. Maybe this one is just me. But seriously there are so many toys that he just doesn’t play with the right way!

Just 'cause he was looking too cute while I wrote this.

Just ’cause he was looking too cute while I wrote this.