Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Puddin' Boob

What’s funny about making the decision to put Ditto into Hospice care, is that I thought the internal post generation process would also slowly die…and yet, I find myself writing blurbs/quips/stories in my head all of the time. Especially while running, in the shower, or commuting. I call it my mental floss time. I clear out the plaque through story telling. And much of the time, I still write out posts, but I keep them in unpublished format. The difference is that now I don’t feel pressure to post, or pressure to be funny. Or pressure to give equal “face time” to all of my kids (someone once accused me of playing favorites and that the frequency of each child’s representation on my blog—and their images on IG--was commensurate with how much I love them. #ouch).

And I’m still doing my 52 weeks of pictures challenge, but it’s kind of a Facebook thing because all of that cross posting made me cross-eyed. And when talking bang for your buck, my network (most importantly the family segment) is most saturated on Facebook. But then I have moments that I want to transfer some of my thoughts in this space. Coupled with an unsolicited “I miss your blog” from an old friend (hey K!), I am reminded that it’s okay to still make a footprint from time to time.

 I wrote the following last week and figured, why not post...we all could use a little diversion from the daily grind.

***

It’s world breastfeeding week, and as the mammary jungle starts to age and show signs of wear and (it’s like the Annie E. Fales Funspace—amazing in its heyday, but eventually doomed for destruction after lots of loving. And if you get that reference, you also probably had a crush on Mr. Gatley and used the word “bubbler”.), I figured I might as well join in on the conversation. 

Gus still nurses about 1 time a day. It’s not nutritional. It’s a little more Ninja Warrior than I’d like (can a toddler actually deviate your septum? Because I think Gus has tried a few times), but he’s my last kid and it’s some special 1 on 1 time I rarely get having 3—needy—children. And he’s not sending me into preterm labor like Miles, or biting like Felix, so we are just going to keep on keepin’ on until he refuses…or does reconstructive surgery on my face…or goes through puberty (I kid). 

 So, yeah. This whole boobhaha brouhaha over Olivia Wilde and her magazine cover image? First, I have no idea who Olivia Wilde is, but she sure is purdy. Second, before I make my official statement on the image, let me remind you that my journalistic integrity is a hair above US Weekly, so let’s consider this a very biased Op-Ed piece. 

 I feel like the conversation is just another iteration of the mom wars, and part of me just wants to tune it all out and sit down with a pint of Ben and Jerry’s and watch Naked and Afraid (please tell me you’ve seen this). It’s not that I’m not passionate about breastfeeding. It’s not that I don’t care about how others feel about the image, it’s that I get overwhelmed by how complex it all becomes when people talk about how we to feed our babies. It’s like all I can see is a big ole word cloud with entries like: commoditization, alienation, beauty, inappropriate, natural, glamorous, necessary, sexualization, irreverence...and the weight of the words changes from person to person. With such high attention/anxiety/scrutiny, I get confronted with the fight or flight response. And I’m a FLIGHTER. 

Ultimately, it just feels like women frequently walk away from discussions regarding breastfeeding feeling misunderstood, unsupported, angry, confused...because really, the right way to feed a baby is by your breast

…or with an SNS system 
…or under a Aden and Anais blanket 
…or with a bottle 
…or a syringe 
…or an NG tube 
…or with formula 
…or using a wet nurse
…or with half formula half mother’s milk 
…or on the floor of your minivan in the Target parking lot 
…or in plain sight on the NY subway 
…or with powdered infant soylent…AMIRITE? 

I’m creating a new movement, and I’d like you to join.

It’s called BIBU: 
BREAST IS BEST UNLESS 

I really do think breast is best unless:
…you have an adopted baby and are using formula 
…you are on medication that prevents you from nursing
…you are suffering from a raging case of yeasty mastitis and it’s like torture nursing (or pumping) 
…you went back to work and it’s just too much to keep it up 
…you have low milk supply and you are just overwhelmed and stressed by it all 
…you just don’t want to 
…[fill in the blank with whatever your personal reason is—it’s not for me to judge] 

So this about this “conversation” the interwebs got into over Olivia’s picture. I get it. Sometimes you have to make a big deal out of things in order for them to eventually NOT be a big deal. But I just want to be at the point where I can get an “amen” from other moms who relate to puddin’ boobs (see below) without others accusing me of indecency or conceit. I had an acquaintance say to me the other week, “I’m sick and tired of women complaining about breastfeeding when so many of us couldn't even do it. And honestly, it makes me uncomfortable when you talk about it.” I was all “ruh-roh”, and thought “please don’t ever find my blog.” 

I want to get to the point that even if someone doesn't have experience with nursing a child, that me mentioning it doesn't send them into a rage, or want to hide under the towel with all those kids eating cereal whose lactavist mothers are making an example of what some feel to be the cruelty of nursing under blankets. I want to get to the point that on world breastfeeding week, I can reach out to the universe and bemoan the fact although (almost) post-nursing boobs make exercise and the decision to opt for a rash guard top at the pool far easier, that there is a little sadness when I realize that my anatomy resembles used bags of space pudding. 

Okay, space pudding. Take a snack bag and fill it with pudding. Gather 3 ends up, and snip off the end filled with pudding to create like a homemade pastry bag. Dress your kids up in cosmonaut outfits (the space program ended in the US, right? Gotta go with the Russians), and ask them to pretend to be on MIR, eating dessert. It’s a twofor: snack and make-believe. But once the pudding is almost all sucked out of the bag, you get a weighty, wrinkly, almost empty bag that I can only say is a great description of a (my) body post-nursing. 

I don’t regret a moment over the past 6+ years of nursing and pumping for my boys (and I can’t bring myself to use the last of the frozen supply I have), but I would like to feel license to talk about the changes and new realities without issue, judgment or concern. Offer up a: “it’s been fun, but sad you took your elastin and excessive oxytocin with you…” without a blink of an eye. 

Going back to Olivia, personally, she looks GORG. Do I think she is normalizing the actual act of breastfeeding? Eh, not sure. I think the if nothing else it is that the conversation is slowly normalizing. Of course, it is not lost on me that A) the magazine’s intent, in part, is to sell issues, and B) I’m sure Olivia has the money to buy cruelty free, gluten free, paraben free, wrinkle free, reality free unicorn salve to get that flawless appearance (or in plebe speak: Photoshop). Hey, rock on with your bad self, girlfriend! If I had a legion of help to make me look like that, I’d whip off my shirt and nurse my 6-year-old in Waffle House if you asked me to. So I’m giving her a full on round of applause (for which there isn't a vestige of cleavage in a 100 mile radius as my hands hit together sadly) for looking so flawless while feeding her child. While my milk ducts tell me that the majority of nursing moms have never looked like this, I don’t begrudge her for making the process look so beautiful. And let’s be honest, puddin’ boobs never sold a magazine. 

PS- Olivia, if you are reading this, throw some of that unicorn salve over here!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Week 22 of 52: SCHOOL'S IS OUT!

I sense lots of popsicles and sprinklers this summer.

It's great to be a kid, no?

This photo makes me smile. Felix is pure energy (and muscle) and the lighting and the simplicity of loving a sprinkle is so evident.
Ready for take off! 
This picture is from the same night as the first two, but I decided to keep it in color. Amazing how it has such a different feel. Even more amazing, if you know my kids, is that Miles is far more comfortable with the sprinkler than Felix.
Splash day--eating cookies!
Jump!
Splash day pops! Anyone else remember those nasty cuts you get on the side of your mouth?

Lest we forget Gus. He will scoot over to his crib (yes, it's a travel crib) and gnaw on the side and "ask" to go in for the sole purpose of securing a pacifier and his stuffed penguin. 

How can you resist that face? (I was hiding on the bed trying to avoid eye contact. Fail. Also, notice the 3 different kinds of black and white that I toyed with. Such different moods for each!

I have a feeling our summer is going to fly by, but until then, we will enjoy sticky Popsicle elbows and hemorrhaging lots of money on our water bill.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Weeks 18-21 of 52

The past few weeks in pictures...not sure my abilities are getting better, but the boys are certainly getting bigger!
Notice Felix's winter boots that are 3 sizes too big. I love this picture.

Gus's diaper is hanging out and I am teasing him with his "lovey" Douglas

Teefers! We actually have another 0.5 of a tooth on the bottom now. 

This picture cracks me up because I can see him at a metal concert screaming to his friend, "this song is EPIC!"

Please. Mid-air photobomb. CLASSIC FELIX.

Popsicle face. 

Playing around with Lightroom presets
I love this one, too. I feel like it's straight out of a magazine. For crazy kids.

Another classic Felix. 

...and classic Miles

Eye injury.

Where Gus spends his time dreaming about...my guess is breastmilk or pacifiers. Or Douglas.

GAK BATH

Yogurt Bath

Chattanooga Choo Choo hotel. 
As you can see, I am still toying around with all sorts of filters and sliders in Lightroom. It's fun, but I honestly need to take some sort of course because I feel like the biggest challenge is figuring out how to adjust the white and black balance. I've learned that just amping up exposure does bad things. And I think I have a good sense of what kind of "style" I like. I'm a little more "moody" than most, and like things to have less "luminance" and more "sharpness." But with all that income I get from the release of my new book (see previous post), I am going to take a photography class. Right after paying for therapy. I'm not quite sure for whom, but it's been one of those weeks I'm pretty sure someone in this house could use some.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Transformer Nutrition

Oh, hi there...

It's been about 20 some odd days, no?

We've had a birthday (how do I have a 6 year old?), school's out, childcare is almost ending, and I STOPPED PUMPING. Can I get a Moo Moo? While I'm still nursing, you have no idea how liberating it feels to stop pumping. So now I begin to pen my book *on* pumping since I have so many more hours in my week when I am not cleaning membranes and microwaving nipples (like, the synthetic type, not mine), and harmonizing with Medela's rhythmic hum.

No joke. I'm going to write a book. Right after I get my hormones re-balanced. Because what I totally forgot about was how any sort of drastic lactation change can set one's hormone into a tantrum. Lawdy. In the past week I have diagnosed my entire family with things ranging from diabetes to acute hearing loss. And I think almost lost it over a load of laundry. And work stress is like a nice anxiety appetizer to a thanksgiving meal of panic and stress. And that license I gave myself to eat whatever I wanted because I was nursing and pumping needs to be revoked, because despite exercise, my body is not doing that thing that I dare not mention to get droves of other moms angry at me. You know, right before our first legit vacation to the beach. #timing

And then after that book on pumping, I am publishing a book of all the funny things my kids say. I thought that once you passed the 3 year mark, the insanity that pours out of their mouths abates. Felix is proving me wrong. Like all of my kids (save Gus--he is still an innocent baby who can do no wrong), they drive me absolutely CRAZY, but then say or do the funniest things and I'm all, "okay...you can stay."

The other day as I bore (beared?) witness to Felix's morning bathroom visit (brother holds court on the potty. Yawn! Stretch! And let's work on that valsalva maneuver speeding up, m'kay?), he informed me that he wishes he was as small as a strawberry seed. Like when he was little (um, what would that stage have been blastocyst or zygote or something?)...because he wants to play with ATOMS. Right. Okay. If that's the case, who do I call to set this said playdate up--a Mommy molecule? An element? If that's the case, I'm hoping for Mommy Molybdenum. I'm sure Eric could come up with some ridiculous pun regarding covalent bonds or something.

Last week Felix informed me his "penis doesn't work inside" after I told him that he couldn't pee on our azalea bush and needed to go inside to the bathroom. Then I thought about the rusting radiator and toilet that no matter how hard I scrub retains a bread crumb trail of little boys. And by bread crumbs, I mean urine droplets. So I ushered him over to the big pine tree and told him to go at it.

And then today I was schooled on transformer nutrition. Felix asked me, "do you know what transformers eat?" Well, of course my go to was "oil." And then Felix told me, "no, they eat fruit. Green grapes, purple grapes, orange grapes and apples."

So I was all "wow. They certainly are healthy. How do you know that's what they eat?"

And then Felix told me, "because that's what's on my transformer underwear."

Well played Fruit of the Loom. Well played.

***

I'm behind on posting my 52 weeks of the boys, but do have the pictures to share. They are just taking a nap in iPhoto. Until then, last week I decided to capture a quick picture of each of the boy's eye. Eric and I joke that people always comment on their eyes "wow, they have such amazing eyes", because their public behavior leaves a lot to be desired. But I also think they really do have some pretty epic irises. And one of each. We certainly purchased the variety pack on many fronts.





Monday, May 5, 2014

Car Talk (ie, an upgraded "kids say the darndest things")

I've mentioned before, but I have books that I keep on the shelf where I write down all the crazy things the boys say. Right now Felix is owning the crazy talk, while Miles's questions and conversations err on the side of, dare I say it, mature. (And you have to pronounce mature like mah- tour.) You know, things like "will you wait for me at the gates in heaven?" (I mean...kick to the gut on so many levels), and "what if a kidnapper comes into the house at night and I am asleep and don't hear him entering?" "Are fairies real?" "What happens to sewage after it goes down in the pipes under the house?" In comparison to Felix's "knock, knock" (who's there?) "alligator in your BOTTOM!" (mass hysterics ensue while Mom rolls her eyes and walks away.)

More than not, Miles and I have solo time in the morning as I drop him off at school before 8am as Eric drops the "littles" off at childcare. During that car ride, Miles and I have some really epic conversations.

Last Friday, Miles and I discussed politics. It stemmed from him asking who was President, and then we talked about elections, campaign funds, senators, pork barrel legislation, and even medicaid. And then Miles asked if when I grow up could I be president. So then I went all women's studies on his 4T briefs and talked about Hilary Clinton (and also thanked him for thinking I hadn't grown up), and somehow I tried to explain the differences between republican, democrat, and libertarian. Miles said he wanted to be President some day, and I told him "absolutely. You just have to make sure gay marriage is legal in all 50 states and run under a democratic ticket." Okay, just kidding. I said that he had to study really hard and get involved in local level politics--even run for student council when the time comes. Of course, Miles's next comment was classic, "okay, but I just need to make sure I get enough time off." Work-life balance, kid. Work-life balance. Maybe I can get him to pass some sort of law requiring all new moms to get a year paid maternity leave. It was almost surreal talking to him about politics. And one thing is for certain--it exposed how little I know. Somehow I feel very adept at talking political shop with adults, but the line of questioning he had really had me rattled.

Would someone ever want to be a democrat after being a republican?
What is foreign policy?
Why can't I be president more than 8 years?
What if I don't want to be President anymore, can I quit?
How much money do you need for the voting game? (love that he called it a game)

Sometimes I'm like, can't you just ask me about how babies are born or something? I actually feel better equipped to talk about that!

During this discussion, we started to talk about homeless people. I realized that I don't think Miles has ever really heard about homelessness before. He knows about kids who are less fortunate (why we donate old clothes, toys, etc), but I could sense the idea that some people don't actually have a home got him thinking. I told him homeless people live on the street. And as a "preK literalist" he asked, "but what happens if they get run over by a car?" I explained that by "street" I meant sidewalks and parks and even homeless shelters. Then I talked about soup kitchens, at which point he said "what if they don't like soup?"

I don't know if Miles will ever remember all these mornings the two of us shoot the $hit in the car, but I know that it will go down as one of my favorite parts of the day.